Rob Remark is a lonely soul. At least for the time being.
“We’re moving,” he said as he smiled and sat down in his barren, temporary office on the first floor of the historic Elks Building in downtown Dickinson.
For now, Remark’s desk is a folding table, and his conference table is the kind you play cards at. He doesn’t have anything on the walls. In the area that will become his office, there are two large, antiquated restroom urinals — among other junk — in the process of being removed from the building.
None of that has stopped Remark — the manager and, for now, the lone employee of JLG Architects’ newest branch — and his firm from making inroads in his new community.
Two years after moving into western North Dakota and finding success with a Williston branch, the 25-year-old Grand Forks-based architectural firm has expanded into the southwest part of the state and Dickinson’s burgeoning market.
“It’s important for us to live in the communities we work, so we’re completely invested,” Remark said.
Choosing to create an office in Dickinson wasn’t an “oil jerk reaction,” JLG marketing director Amanda Kosior said. “Dickinson was a natural progression for us. We don’t make these decisions lightly or quickly.”
The firm is locally known for designing the update to the Chateau de Mores Interpretive Center in Medora, N.D. Its biggest projects on the western side of the state so far have been the Williston Area Recreation Center, along with an update to the MDU Resources Community Bowl and KLJ’s headquarters in Bismarck.
They designed the new Highlands Engineering office, The Hub convenience store and truck stop that will soon open in north Dickinson and Remark said they’re working on a multi-family housing project in south Dickinson.
“If Dickinson is going to build it, we’re going to go for it,” Kosior said.
Dickinson was once a refueling point between college and home for Remark, who grew up in Moorhead, Minn., went to school at Montana State University in Bozeman and worked in Fargo before to coming to Dickinson.
Now, the 28-year-old calls the city home, and the talkative, outgoing young professional couldn’t be happier with where he is at.
In his short time in Dickinson, Remark became involved in the Rotary Club and the Dickinson Downtown Association while his wife, Amber, found a job as a third-grade teacher.
Unlike some business-driven newcomers to Dickinson, who use the city and the surrounding Bakken and Three Forks oil boom as a jumping-off point to bigger things, Remark said he and his wife are happy to be here. They enjoy being closer to the nature western North Dakota has to offer. Remark said they often go biking, hiking and skiing.
“Part of the reason for us making sure that right puzzle piece was there was that we wanted to make sure we were comfortable in that environment and that we were going to have the lasting desire to stay and integrate,” Remark said. “We’ve already done things to really help join us with the community, things I’ve been really enjoying.”
As Remark settles into Dickinson, his next step professionally is to expand his company’s business in the growing Dickinson market, which has become competitive for architectural firms as more companies arrive and more schools, health care facilities and housing projects are built.
Kosior and Remark said JLG has specialized teams for different types of architecture and design.
While Dickinson has a handful of small, local architectural firms competing against out-of-state companies with bigger portfolios and experience, Remark and Kosior said JLG wants to be a mix of both, as it has a local presence with the ability to use the resources of its roughly 100 employees throughout North Dakota and Minnesota.
“This is, ‘How are we going to make North Dakota better?’” Kosior said. “It’s so much better to understand the needs of our clients when we’re face to face.”
In the immediate, however, JLG is concentrating on giving its new space in Dickinson a facelift.
Though the exposed brick of the Elks building interior creates a modern office feel Remark wants to keep, he is still working on the main area. The room he uses as his office will become a conference room. Eventually, Remark said, the firm would like to have five to eight employees in Dickinson — more if the market calls for it.
“We’re looking at what the phases of it will be, but we’ll try to fill it up,” he said.