In the News

Posted on October 24, 2023

This article was originally published by Jodi Schwan on SiouxFalls.Business

The noise, the dust, the disruption – there are many reasons to put off a needed renovation, especially if you’re a law firm that needs anything but that environment to work in.

But time catches up regardless.

“I tell people all the time we woke up one morning in our grandmother’s house,” said Jim Wiederrich, a partner in Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith PC.

“We moved in in December 1995 and hadn’t done any updates since then.”

The firm worked with Journey Construction, a division of Journey Group, to form a plan that would minimize impact to the downtown Sioux Falls office while transforming the space.

“We sat down with Journey Construction and identified zones in the office. They would work in one zone at a time, and we would move people out of that zone and into other spaces within the office. There was no way we could shut down and move somewhere for the project to be completed,” Wiederrich said.

“It worked really well. There are things they would do early in the morning or later in the day. They put up a lot of internal dust barriers so we didn’t have a mess everywhere.”

The Woods Fuller renovation is a perfect example of the expertise delivered by Journey Special Projects, a team within Journey Construction dedicated to renovations and somewhat smaller-scale projects generally measured in weeks or months.

“We really recognized that there was a significant demand in our community for quality commercial renovation projects that are treated as the priority and where the client’s functional and operational needs come first,” said Darin Hage, Journey Group’s chief operating officer.

“Journey has always done renovation and remodeling projects throughout our history, but we recognized that many in our community still viewed us as a company that only does new, large-scale projects.”

Glacial Lakes Distillery & Brewhouse’s downtown Sioux Falls location is a perfect example. The 1,100-square-foot space is in a historic building that required a floor-to-ceiling renovation to turn it into a modern industrial-style taproom.

“Our landlord suggested Journey – that’s who he typically uses for construction – and it was great,” co-owner Quentin Robertson said. “They stripped down everything but the outside walls and floors and had to cut out a new legal staircase because the one that was originally there was pretty thin and steep. There’s a lot of rules with historical buildings, and they handled it all well with the city.”

The new Startup Sioux Falls headquarters in downtown Sioux Falls is another historic renovation recently completed by Journey Special Projects.

At 5,500 square feet, the Milwaukee Freight Depot building was smaller in size but “incredibly complex,” said Sara Lum, Startup Sioux Falls vice president.

“Several stakeholders were involved, it was a highly visible project, fundraising occurred alongside design, and we needed to fit a robust multipurpose program into a small footprint,” she said.

“The preconstruction services provided by Journey Construction were particularly helpful to our team, board and stakeholders. Understanding the financial implications of the design decisions we made during the project was critical to delivering the project on time and on budget.”

Journey Construction helped work through project milestones on time so that the Startup Sioux Falls team, members and tenants were able to move in and the organization was able to start generating revenue as planned.

“In the current market, this is more than we could’ve asked for,” organization president Brienne Maner said. “Choosing a renowned, full-service construction group like Journey Construction for our smaller remodel underscored the versatility and commitment to excellence that extends beyond massive construction projects. We were thrilled to partner with them, and their expertise added significant value to our project.”

The creation of Journey Special Projects was inspired in part by the company’s long-time relationship with Avera Health, where Journey Construction continually works on new construction and renovation projects of all scales.

“Working in a hospital, you’re accommodating patients, families and staff, and having to be good neighbors and team members,” Hage said. “We took that same approach and expanded it into commercial settings. The focus is on not just trying to get through construction and survive but enjoy it while we’re there because we’re sensitive to making it work.”

It’s experience honed over three decades, said Mark Lukonen, who leads Journey Special Projects.

“There are lessons learned from being in a hospital environment where you have to be dust-free and quiet and respectful,” he said. “You take that to a professional office setting, and you’re respectful of doing noisy work or how you store materials and interact with staff and customers.”

The approach allows Lukonen’s team to work on a wide variety of projects, from office build-outs to retail tenant finishes, the renovation of Hotel on Phillips, the University of Sioux Falls stadium renovation and a bear exhibit at the Great Plains Zoo.

“We do some out-of-the-ordinary work,” he said. “The group is excited and passionate about being able to go in and do those types of things.”

The model of Journey Construction’s special projects division is designed for maximum efficiency and nimbleness with a high degree of flexibility. This allows the team to take on several projects simultaneously of varying sizes and durations.

“Mark’s done a great job working with his team to build in efficiency, and it allows us to react quickly to a customer’s needs,” Hage said. “If we get a call from a new or repeat customer, we can put together an estimate and get a plan together for a renovation.”

For Woods Fuller, working with Journey was an easy decision, Wiederrich said.

“Over the years, I have worked with Journey on a lot of construction projects and have done related contracts, and quite frankly, we seldom had any kind of complaints from the owners of the projects along the way, nothing in the Sioux Falls area, so it was pretty easy to make that choice,” he said.

“The one thing I remember is the superintendent was always available and really did an outstanding job of communication. Sometimes, that doesn’t happen on construction projects, but he really did a fabulous job. I think they’re a well-trained team.”

Robertson at Glacial Lakes said the same.

“The leadership was fantastic. They were always there. They’d come in the middle of the night if it rained to make sure there were no leaks,” he said. “It was great.”

Now that the Woods Fuller project is done, “we have a lot of client comments when people come into the office about what an improvement it is,” Wiederrich said. “We love the update.”

At Startup Sioux Falls, the finished project is nothing less than “a dream come true,” Maner said.

“Every single person we tour through the space for the first time is generally awestruck by the exposed stone and timber, the thoughtful design supported by our architect team at Koch Hazard and the amount of usable square footage. Journey understood the vision and worked through our budget constraints, and the result is a functional showpiece that our donors and partners can be extremely proud to have invested in.”

Journey Special Projects has capacity to take on additional work. To learn more, email

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