M. A. Mortenson, Sr. Founder
"April Fools Day, 1954. That’s the day I started M. A. Mortenson Company. I had mixed emotions as I hung out my construction shingle. Most companies don’t survive their first few years. Even after 30 years in the construction business, I knew that it would take some breaks along the way to make it.
This wouldn’t even have happened if it weren’t for my wife Jennie. She signed up, without pay, to be the telephone operator, stenographer, payroll clerk, bookkeeper, and chief morale builder for my little company. Yes, with Jennie’s help and encouragement, I thought we would be okay.
My father made no bones about the move. He said I was making a big mistake starting a business at the ripe old age of 48. I said to myself, it’s a big risk – even if Minneapolis and St. Paul are taking off, now that World War II is long over. There are new homes being built, offices and manufacturing plants expanding. But where there’s risk, there’s also a lot of opportunity and I believe hard work, a quality job and honesty in business will lead to success. I want to build so well that an owner will invite us back for additional work."