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Akkerman Celebrates 40 Years Strong
From its beginning, tunneling has been a specialty of Akkerman Inc. As the company celebrates its 40th year of continuous operation in 2013, Akkerman remains a leader in underground construction through its development, manufacture and support of quality pipe jacking and microtunneling equipment used to install a variety of underground infrastructure.
The company continues to evolve from its early days when company founder Don Akkerman established a utility contracting business in 1954 which turned into Akkerman Manufacturing in 1973 after he invented his first trenchless machine in 1963, a 44-inch OD tunnel boring machine. Many more inventions and patents would follow before he retired and sold the company in 1987 to his son, Maynard Akkerman.
Under Maynard’s direction, the firm has changed its name to Akkerman Inc. and enlarged the facility to cover 26 acres of wooded property in Brownsdale, MN. From the original 5,000 square-foot pre-cast building where all operations took place and was staffed by three full-time employees, the plant and engineering facilities now encompass 65,000-square-feet of space and a newly built corporate office that is 5,200-square-feet. Today, the company employs 65 people, many of whom have been employed by Akkerman for more than 20 years. Key personnel include Maynard Akkerman, president and chief executive officer; Jay Zimmerman, chief financial officer; Brad Wheeler, engineering manager; Doug Luinstra, plant manager; Randy Gasner, materials control manager; and Jason Holden, director of sales.
Asked what has contributed to Akkerman’s success, Maynard describes a two-pronged approach that combines putting customers first and being unique in the trenchless industry for being the only North American manufacturer of remote-controlled microtunneling equipment.
“Our approach is customer centric,” Maynard explains. “We value customer input, and many of our product developments are derived from customer experience. Akkerman’s manufacturing business was created as an offshoot of its construction company back in 1973. Early equipment prototypes were first used in the construction business to tackle difficult projects. Today, our equipment is engineered with operators in real project conditions in mind. We back this ideal with quick availability of parts and factory-trained field technicians. In addition, Akkerman’s equipment systems are diverse, and our presence and strategic alliances are far reaching while maintaining small business values.”