- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) - Twenty years ago, Douglas J. Boser decided to construct his own career path.

Breaking the news to his wife and young child after deciding to quit his carpentry job in the late 1990s, Boser, then 25, set out to create a name for himself in an industry he had grown to love since he was a kid, the St. Cloud Times (http://on.sctimes.com/2jyODRA ) reported.

With a tool belt, a truck and reputation, Boser began to lay the foundation for his company, Boser Construction, Inc. in 1996.

“It was one of those things that I knew I wanted to do,” he said. “I didn’t go to college for business, but business came easy for me.”

Whether it was selling sweet corn on his family farm in Pierz as a young boy or building and selling cabinets from a chicken coop on his parent’s property as a high school junior, Boser had the drive to become his own boss.

And the entrepreneur was not going to settle for anything less.

Boser has long since hung up his tool belt - a decision he made in 2003 working on the construction of Scheels in the Crossroads Center - and has opted instead to grow the presence and reach of his Sauk Rapids-based company across Central Minnesota.

“It was either keep the company small or slam the throttle to the ground,” he said.

In 2005, Boser switched the company’s focus from subcontracting to general contracting - a move that put Boser Construction in charge of coordinating large construction projects instead of being hired by companies to work on those large builds.

Five years later Boser, along with several area investors, joined forces to create Inventure Properties, a real estate development and management firm. That company has been responsible for the investment in the Fifth Avenue Live! downtown St. Cloud historical renovation. A good portion of that work was contracted through Boser Construction.

And with construction projects like Viking Electric’s Waite Park location, Sartell Pediatrics, and Sauk Rapids’ Urban Lodge and Manea’s Meats, the 48-person team of carpenters, construction workers, project managers and office personnel has been hard at work transforming buildings to fit the growing demands of area businesses.

“With every project we establish goals with the client,” said Ryan Cross, Boser Construction’s manager of sales and operation. “We want to know what their time frame is and how much money they are willing to spend.”

In 2016, Boser Construction expanded its services to include internal architects to help with the beginning stages of building design.

“With the internal architects we can have a bit more control of the (design) process and can control costs for the customer at the same time,” Boser said.

Once a bid is secured, construction can begin. On active job sites, like Manea’s Meats 9,500-square-foot expansion, Cross estimates about 29 people will be onsite to help throughout the project.

“Our number one goal with projects like this is to keep the business operating,” he said.

Aside from some subcontracted specialty work like plumbing, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning, Cross said the majority of the construction is done by Boser employees.

“But we are still an old-school construction company,” Boser said. “We have about 30 carpenters on staff which is very different from most general contractors.”

Cross said those carpenters can do some of the major construction work but also put the finishing touches on cabinets, doors and trim work.

“Carpenters by nature are very precision based,” Cross said. “And because of that we are able to focus a lot on the details.”

Attention to detail is one major quality Boser looks for when adding new members to his staff.

In addition, Boser said today’s carpenters need to be good communicators and understand the needs of their clients, both on the construction side and the financial aspect.

“They need to be able to understand the numbers and show clients how what we do will affect the client’s assets,” Boser said. “Because when we are working on a site we are not just working on a building, we are developing and managing a client’s livelihood.”

Cross said starting pay for entry level positions ranges between $18 and $20 an hour. Wages increase with experience, either through a technical college education or on the job training. And there are plenty of opportunities for advancement into positions like foremen, project superintendent and project manager, where pay can be in the six-digits.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities for young people in this industry,” Cross said. “There is a ton of demand for carpenters, especially as many of them retire.”

While it may be labor intensive at times, Cross insists carpentry and construction are great options for young people to look to when considering career possibilities.

“This is a lifelong career,” Cross said. “There will always be a need for people to build things. And the lifelong skills that you learn (in carpentry and construction) are invaluable.”

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Information from: St. Cloud Times, http://www.sctimes.com

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