CRC ready for new HQ

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2001

Cooperative Response Center broke ground Wednesday on a new $1.

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Cooperative Response Center broke ground Wednesday on a new $1.5 million national headquarters in northwest Austin.

Email newsletter signup

The Tax Increment Financing-assisted project is considered the "anchor" in the city’s commercial development of the area along 18th Avenue NW.

CRC employees consider it their new "home."

Steve Healy, chairman of CRC’s board of directors, said, "We’re really excited for our company and its employees. CRC is growing very fast and there is a definite need for a new headquarters."

In the nine years during which negotiations between the company and the city have continued, plans for the building constantly grew – from 5,000 square feet in the beginning to the 12,000-square-foot building to be constructed at the end of a cul de sac along the newly extended Eighth Street NW.

Bob Matheny, chairman of the CRC board’s building committee, praised the "great team" CRC assembled to see the project to fruition.

Only last February, CRC opened a new regional headquarters at Dunlap, Tenn., and making Austin the company’s national headquarters for its electronic monitoring of homes and businesses in the countryside is a coup for Austin and CRC, according to Matheny.

Dick Chaffee, Austin City Council member at-large and president of the Austin Port Authority, said, "The vision of this company and the city of Austin fell hand-in-hand. I truly believe this will be a cornerstone for this development area."

"Austin, Minn., is going to be a lot better off because of this," Chaffee said.

Pat McGarvey, Austin city administrator, came to his post in February 1992, or when CRC made its first overtures about needed more space and wanting to remain in Austin.

The company originated in the Krueger Trucking Co. building at the intersection of Highway 56 and Interstate 90 where IB Industries Inc. also got its start before moving to a new, expanded location in Brownsdale.

Fueled by the impetus of Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services and specifically the cooperative’s general manager, Ronald Steckman, CRC was nurtured along on its way to an amazing growth record in a short span of time.

"This is a grand anchor for Burbank Addition," said McGarvey, who added that interest already has been shown in development two of the remaining four commercial lots along the street."

When the remaining commercial lots are developed, the city hopes to extend Eighth Street NW to U.S. Highway 218 north of Kmart. All that remains is a house and detached garage, belonging to the Burt Plehal estate (Plehal and his wife Esther owned the land where the development project is taking place) and city planners can begin designing the bypass that could relieve some of the traffic on 18th Avenue NW at the Eighth Street NW intersection where a traffic signal will be installed as part of the thoroughfare’s improvements.

Also coming in the near area is the Murphy’s Creek housing development, while commercial properties along 18th Avenue NW remain some of the most coveted real estate in the city.

With Mower County’s plans for major improvements to 18th Avenue NW, beginning in 2001, all the infrastructure should be in place to accommodate any developer’s needs.

Alluding to the lengthy and often frustrating talks between the company and the city, McGarvey said the groundbreaking shows "patience pays off."

Todd Penske, president and chief executive officer of CRC in Austin, introduced CRC board members Steve Healy, Bob Matheny, Steve Glaim, Mark Pendergast, John Luehrsen, Craig DeBower, Ken Richey, Dale Hendrickson and Jack Perkins.

CRC’s information technologies director, Greg Nordstrom, will be the new headquarters’ project manager.

Also at the groundbreaking was Bryan Paulsen, principal architect for Paulsen Architects Inc. of Mankato, designers of the new building.

Craig Holman, construction manager for The Joseph Co., general contractor for the project, was a special guest, representing the company’s president and chief executive officer, Carter Wagner.

The Joseph Co. moved its headquarters near the site for the new building to the northeast industrial park, which paved the way for the CRC project to locate at the site.

Craig Johnson, chairman of the Development Corp. of Austin’s board of directors, and George Brophy, DCA president and chief executive officer, expressed the DCA’s appreciation to be a partner in the development project.

Sandy Forstner, executive director of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, also shared the spotlight Wednesday at the groundbreaking.

CRC’s Penske joined other company officials in expressing their appreciation to the city and economic development agencies for assisting in the project.

Construction will begin June 1 and the building is expected to be completed by December.

Two of CRC’s original employees, who still work for the company, were among the group of workers present for the groundbreaking.

Doug Johnson was the very first employee of seven hired nine years ago.

"What I remember is the dust from the drywall that was put in place when they turned that old building into an office," Johnson said. "We learned as we worked about home monitoring. There was one computer and one work station back then and I was it. Today, there are 10 people in that department."

John Sola of Austin was finishing work on his business administration degree at Minnesota State University-Mankato, and was hired to fulfill the requirements as a marketing intern.

"It was on-the-job training and I got a lot of it," he said. "Looking back, I was very fortunate to get involved when I did, because of the challenges I had."

Today, Sola is CRC’s vice president for marketing and he is excited about the future.

"CRC has the opportunity for continued exponential growth and this new building will be the UL-listed central monitoring station for the company," Sola said. "It will have the ability to offer a secure monitoring service and that will allow us to expand into the areas that our electric cooperative partners are encouraging us to expand as they diversify more and meet the challenges of deregulation in the industry."

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-2232 or e-mail him at