Men of steel: Mott’s Roadmaster makes impact for energy, ag industries by fabrication

Roadmaster manager Corey Johnson stands in the shop the company moved into last December.

MOTT — Mott sits on the outer edge of western North Dakota’s Oil Patch. Still, the small town of about 800 people has found ways to contribute to the bustling energy industry.

The company making perhaps the biggest impact is Roadmaster, a subsidiary of K&K Construction in West Fargo.

Though its name can be deceiving — a remnant of about a decade ago when its primary task was fabricating and welding metals for asphalt paving equipment — Roadmaster is contracted to fabricate and weld structural steel used on electrical substations that end up being used on oil rigs and at major substations throughout the country. Along with that, the shop also makes cattle creep feeders.

“A lot of this goes nationwide,” manager Corey Johnson said. “It’s a big process.”

Video: Jim Ferderer explains what Roadmaster does.

In December, Roadmaster moved in to a new location at the corner of Highways 21 and 8 in east Mott. The company bought the shop and yard from Ernie Jordan, who ran Ernie’s Repair there for about 30 years.

“I was ready to move out and they were ready to move in,” Jordan said with a laugh.

Johnson said, so far, the move has been perfect for the small company.

Their old shop was in downtown Mott on a commercial lot next to a residential neighborhood. That meant blocking the street while loading its products onto semi truck trailers for transport, dealing with neighbors and traffic hazards, such as people walking on the streets and sidewalks, Johnson said.

“It was a dangerous situation,” he said. “That’s what we wanted to get away from.”

Today, Roadmaster’s site is enclosed with fence, it’s in an area where a little noise is more acceptable and there’s much more space to safely load trucks.

In the shop, there’s more lighting — including natural sunlight — and more room to move.

Jim Ferderer stacks pipe in Roadmaster’s new shop in Mott.

“It was time to move,” said Jim Ferderer, an employee of 10 years, as he took a break from cutting metal pipe used as hitches for the creep feeders.

The company has been in Mott since the early 2000s. It formed as Buffalo Commons, dissolved a few years later and was subsequently purchased by K&K.

Being a part of that company has been beneficial for Roadmaster, Johnson said, as they’ve chosen to stay in Mott because of nearly all of the nine men who work 50-hour weeks there live in the town or in other neighboring communities.

“Everybody’s got families,” he said. “We’ve got children in school.”

There isn’t much turnover either, he added.

“Most of our guys have been here a long time,” Johnson said. “We’ve hired new people, and sometimes it gets kind of tough. People from out of state don’t really fall into where they understand what we’re doing very well.”

Jordan said he was pleased that Roadmaster could purchase and move in to his old shop.

He views it as a benefit to the entire community.

“This way, they’ve got eight, nine people working in there that could support a family,” Jordan said. “I’d rather do it that way than say let something else go in there. This way, people could stay.”

Ferderer said he worked several jobs throughout the years before finding this one, “and I kind of like it,” he said with a smile and a chuckle.

“We’re always proud to see something we’ve built go out the door,” he added. “It’s always something new.”

Two workers move a calf creep feeder in Roadmaster’s shop.

Author: Dustin Monke

Former newspaper editor. Now I market the best baked goods and donuts in America. But every once in a while, I write a cool story too.

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