‘We really felt like Vermillion found us’

Mark Larson, president of Builders Choice, speaks to a crowd of well-wishers at his company’s new manufacturing center in Vermillion Thursday afternoon. (Photo by David Lias)

It took only "three days shy of three months," but Vermillion's newest manufacturing facility is ready to go.

Builders Choice, Inc., of Anchorage, AK, held its opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday night at its new commercial products division, located at 1212 Norbeck St.

"I really appreciate you guys coming out," company president Mark Larson told the crowd of local citizens in attendance. "It means a lot to us that you did that. You can come by and say hi any time, and just from us as owners, we're really grateful to the community for how you supported us. And thanks again for letting us celebrate today with you."

The arrival of the business was announced in October, after which time workers got busy readying the already-standing facility.

"These guys have really been laying it out over the last couple of weeks to get this plant up and running on time," said Steve Howe, executive director of the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company. "They've been putting in extra hours. They've just been going all-out to make this plant happen."

The new plant will build modular units to serve a variety of commercial applications, from worksite housing, hotels and apartments, to office and administration facilities.

Modular construction helps expedite the construction process and control costs on commercial buildings for a wide range of businesses.

The products manufactured in Vermillion will be used in North Dakota.

Larson, a native of Minnesota, said he was looking to expand his business south – initially searching on the western side of South Dakota, before looking in Sioux Falls.

That is where a Realtor told him Vermillion might be an option.

"We really felt like Vermillion found us at that point," he said. "We found this great facility – we know it's been sitting around for a while. We're going to be proud to use it, and it really is going to fit our needs really well."

Larson added that he has been overwhelmed by the reception offered by the community and its leaders.

"They've just kind of opened their arms and helped us figure stuff out. So, what you're seeing today is pretty incredible to me," he said.

A message of congratulations from Mayor Jack Powell was read, and a University of South Dakota flag from USD president James Abbott was presented, as well.

Along with the owners of the business, representatives from the offices of senators Tim Johnson and John Thune were on hand to offer their support, as well as other officials.

"Thank you for choosing this location," said Alex Smith of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. "We look forward to many, many years of working with you."

Larson said he is looking forward to it, too.

"Somebody asked me today – and it's an important question to answer – 'What happens when this North Dakota thing plays out? What are you guys going to do next?' I think by that time we're hoping to be established enough here in Vermillion and in the area that we're going to start moving into some other commercial products," he said.

Howe expressed his thanks to Builders Choice, and to the members of the community who were on hand to welcome the business to town.

"This is a really wonderful show of support to a new company in our community," he said.

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