Gage Brothers carpentry at its best; company named a winner of the 2016 Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Award

Gage Brothers was recently named a winner of the 2016 Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Award for its production of panels for the Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, North Dakota.

The purpose of the Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Awards program is to recognize PCI certified plants for excellence in manufacturing and craftsmanship of architectural precast and glass fiber reinforced concrete structures and individual components.

The award is named in honor of Sidney Freedman, longtime PCI Director for Architectural Systems. The award was established in 2012 as a lasting tribute to Freedman’s numerous contributions to the architectural precast community, most notably related to production and quality.

Joe Bunkers (second from left) receives the Sid Freedman Craftsmanship Award from longtime PCI Director Sidney Freedman (second from right).

“We are honored to have received such a prestigious award in today’s competitive and challenging construction environment,” said Joe Bunkers, Vice President of Preconstruction. “Our team of carpenters, led by supervisor Bill Crossley, production manager Gary Steinke and project manager Adam Struck are truly the ones who deserve this award for their dedication and superior workmanship.”

The Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Awards focus on issues such as forming, overcoming obstacles to production, finishing, and quality of individual architectural precast/prestressed units and glass fiber reinforced concrete rather than architectural design. In this regard, the Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Awards differ from the Design Awards and Harry H. Edwards industry Advancement Awards, which recognize architectural design and innovation ideas to advance the industry for completed structures and bridges.

Added Bunkers, “We would like to thank all of our partners involved in this project including HKS, Endicott Brick, Mortenson Construction and Landwehr Construction.”

With nearly a $500 million budget, no expense was spared on the 11-story Sanford Medical Center —which has been described as the largest hospital project in North Dakota history.


Sanford Fargo is the largest contract ever awarded to Gage Brothers. At the final tally, 2,326 panels and 334,480 square feet of precast was manufactured at the Gage Brothers plant in Sioux Falls, while the thin-brick was provided by Nebraska-based Endicott Brick.

The Gage Brothers precast that covers the outside of the hospital ranges in size from 10 pounds to 36,000 pounds (roughly the weight of four Chevrolet Suburban SUVs).

The HKS-designed Sanford Medical Center is a classic collegiate gothic architectural style; Sanford’s chosen design for all its new properties. The look is timeless, low-maintenance and serves as a visual embodiment of Sanford Health. From the arches at the arcade to the spires on top, these details can be seen throughout the soaring, 11-story structure.

Gage Brothers worked directly with HKS for more than two years before construction began to create solutions that adopted craft methods to modern requirements or introduced new technology while retaining the look, scale, and feel of traditional design – human scale. It was a constant push/pull between design preference and constructability.

The end result of this collaboration was a highly detailed façade that Gage Brothers could cast and strip.

Carpenters spent almost 22,000 hours building forms for the project

Using a variety of large and small wood-working tools, the team of Gage Brothers carpenters were able to shape, cut and mold standard dimensional lumber into flutes and scrolled arches.

Gage Brothers printed many templates to use while setting up the forms to help keep everything consistent and aligned. Since some of these panels stacked 10 floors, it was very important to ensure that all the relief and details would align as they ascended the building.

A precast panel with a two-barred Cross of Lorraine, the symbol of Sanford Health

To make this vision into a reality, Gage Brothers carpenters spent 21,968 hours building, placing and changing forms for this project. Gage Brothers cast 2,213 in all for a total of 6,599 yards.

“At HKS Inc., we place tremendous value on the solid and lasting relationships we have with our trusted clients and industry partners,” said Clifford Horsak, HKS Associate Principal and Senior Vice President. “Though modesty is what I saw during the collaborative process, elegance and excellence is what we got in the delivered product.”

He added, “Having Gage Brothers on our next team will allow us to further leverage relationships, best practices, knowledge, and expertise to deliver award winning architecture.”

The other co-winner of the 2016 Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Award was Forterra Structural & Specialty Products of Irving, Texas. Forterra was recognized for its work on the Payson Utah Latter-day Saints (Mormon) Temple in Payson, Utah.

Both projects represented the finest standards in craftsmanship for PCI-certified plants.

Joe Bunkers received the award on behalf of Gage Brothers earlier this month at the 2016 PCI Committee Days and Membership Conference in Rosemont, Illinois.

With 384 beds and one million square feet, the new Sanford Medical Center Fargo stands as one of the top-10 largest healthcare construction projects in the nation. The new medical center is on schedule to begin seeing its first patients in 2017.

Click here to view more photos of the new Sanford Medical Center- Fargo.


Shakopee High School addition to be built with Gage Brothers precast

Summer came to an early end for students in Shakopee (Minn.) as school got underway on August 22nd in the southwest-metro district — two weeks before Labor Day.

The Shakopee district kicked off classes early to make way for construction on the district’s high school, which is nearly doubling in size to fit 3,200 students from 1,600. With heavy construction starting next summer, the district decided to start school early and end early to have more time for construction.

Shakopee school.jpg
Rendering of the Shakopee High School addition (Wold Architects)

The Shakopee High School addition will span 335,000 square feet and calls for more than 78,000 square feet of Gage Brothers insulated wall panels. The panels will require more than 545 tons of grey cement and have a combined weight of 8,874,548 pounds.

"102,000 s.f. new 7-12 school.  Rozeboom Miller Architects."
Rendering of the Shakopee High School addition (Wold Architects)

Gage Brothers has worked on close to 500 school building projects since the early 1960’s, including more than 50 in Minnesota. Recent work in the North Star state includes Lake Crystal Wellcome school expansion project, Two Harbors High School and Earle Brown Elementary School.

The Wold Architects and Engineers firm has been hired for the multi-million dollar project. Wold also designed the current Shakopee High School building. This is the fifth collaboration for Gage Brothers and Wold since 1988.

The building contract was awarded to Shaw Lundquist Associates, Inc. Shaw-Lundquist is a family owned, minority owned general contractor headquartered in Minnesota. Totaling just over $73 million, the Shakopee High School Addition and Renovation project is the largest project award in Shaw-Lundquist’s history.

MDA/MDH Collocation Laboratory

This is the third building project that Gage Brothers has worked on with Shaw-Lundquist. Previous collaborations consist of a new clinical sciences building for Minnesota State, Mankato (2015) and the collocation laboratory for the Minnesota Departments of Agriculture and Health (2004).

Shakopee residents overwhelmingly supported this renovation project to create a “megaschool,” rather than build another high school to support the growing community.

The Shakopee High School Addition and Renovation project is geared to improve academic and athletic experiences of students under a new learning model: the academy model. The academy model is based on the Academies of Nashville, a learning network that opened 10 years ago and is considered one of the nation’s best academic models. Nashville families have their choice of more than 40 different academies within the 12-zoned high schools.

Under the new academy model at Shakopee, elective courses would be split into six main areas of interest, or six academies: science and technology, engineering and manufacturing, arts and communication, business and entrepreneurship, human services and health sciences. The seventh will be a freshman academy, which will help ninth-graders with the transition to the high school and serve as a home base for them until they choose an interest-based academy of their own.

The goal of academies is to give students the chance to delve into an interest area before they graduate so they get a better idea for what they want to do after high school.

A rendering of the new performance auditorium (Wold Architects)

The design of the school addition (and redesign of some of the existing spaces) will also tie into the new academy model. The traditional classroom setting of 30 desks in neat rows facing the blackboard will disappear for the most part, and in its place will be spaces that encourage collaboration. The addition will be more accommodating to new technology, as well, with group meeting areas that are electricity and internet accessible. Each academy will be housed in its own wing of the school.

The community of Shakopee will benefit with upgraded and technology enhanced classrooms, innovative collaboration spaces, upgraded kitchen facilities, multi-use performance auditoriums, and three new gymnasiums. Two new spaces will be constructed including a 350-seat performance auditorium and a 125-200 seat multi-use flexible performance space.

Outdoor facilities will include a new track and turf field, and expanded plaza area and parking lot, among other updates.

A ground breaking was held in early August, prior to students returning to campus for the 2016-2017 academic year. The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2018.

Innovative student precast housing: Rocker Square I

Rocker Square I is an industrial design, loft-style building that proudly displays the building materials that many try to conceal.

The design showcases neutral tones, exposed ceilings and stained concrete surfaces to give the building an unfinished feel—perfect for a college like the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City.

IMG_7269The six-story student apartment building was built in 2012 to accommodate rising enrollment and is owned by Technology Housing, LLC.

Instrumental in the construction of Rocker Square was Hani Shafai, President of Dream Design International, Inc. and a professional engineer/real estate developer living in Rapid City.

A Mines alumnus (’87), Shafai razed a block full of blight and quickly erected the privately-owned precast concrete structure for students.

Rocker Square I was a true alumni engagement project. Mines alumnus (’74) Jim Scull of Scull Construction was the general contractor, while Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley is a proud member of the School of Mines class of 1980.

Gage Brothers quickly manufactured more than 63,000-sq. ft. of precast concrete for a superior quality and highly efficient building at a cost that rivalled a comparable wood structure.

Rocker Square’s precast components include corefloor, beams & columns, load-bearing end walls and cladding panels.

IMG_4503The apartments were built in five months—in time for students to move-in at the start of the 2012 academic year.

“The precast concrete option allowed us to meet the very short time table for construction,” Shafai explained. “That was very impressive to all involved; the sound proofing and the energy efficiency of the structure made this construction method our choice for future similar projects.”

He added, “Gage Brothers and Scull Construction, and the rest of the project team did a great job meeting the budgets and the project schedule without sacrificing any of the project quality.”

“It was great to have a local developer team with local contractors and suppliers help a local state institution.”

The Rocker Square I apartments are home to 116 residents and primarily consist of 1,240-square-foot units with four single 10-foot-by-7-foot bedrooms and an 11-foot-by-7-foot living room. There are also a handful of two and three bedroom units. All of the apartment units are furnished and other features include a group study room, free laundry in each unit and easy access to an Einstein Bagels shop on the first floor.

Precast concrete housing structures provide superior resistance to wind damage, fire, earthquakes, decay, mold and mildew provides lower maintenance and insurance costs.

Termites also can’t eat concrete.

IMG_7268“This new dorm is practical and functional,” said Heather Wilson, president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. “As a private-sector project which the University leases, it was designed for flexibility of use, including potential conversion to classrooms or offices.”

Building projects like Rocker Square I to house students are part of the institution’s long-term strategic plan to help the School of Mines become recognized as a pre-eminent technological university, a place that can attract and retain top-notch faculty and students while also benefiting the rest of the community.

A growing college campus can help revitalize a city and create lively pedestrian corridors where there were once downtrodden storefronts and aging neighborhoods.

“Rocker Square I also started the redevelopment of an aging downtown neighborhood on the edge of our campus, which continues with more public and private sector investment. It is a great example of transformative architecture that inspires others to move a city forward,” added President Wilson.

Precast concrete’s enduring materials and flexibility with a virtually limitless set of colors, textures and shapes make it the best choice for collegiate housing projects like Rocker Square I.

Shafai added, “We are very proud to be part of such a great project in the State of South Dakota.”

In the 2016-2017 academic year, Rocker Square I will be reserved for upperclass students—juniors, seniors and graduate students. Rocker Square I was followed by the construction of two more Gage Brothers projects—Rocker Square II (2013) and Placer Hall, which will open its doors this fall.

Rocker Square I
Additional Project Details

IMG_7262Features of Rocker Square I include:

  • 4-bedroom units include 2 full bathrooms
  • 3-bedroom and 2-bedroom units include 1 full bathroom
  • Free laundry in each unit
  • Wireless Internet Access
  • Cable television
  • Furnished living rooms with couch, loveseat, tables, and television
  • Furnished bedrooms with full-sized bed, dresser, desk/chair
  • Kitchen with full-sized refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher plus bar seating

Innovative precast student housing: Jackrabbit Grove

Many colleges and universities across the country have a portfolio of aging residence halls that were constructed for the post-war generation. A place to sleep, a desk for studying, and a dining hall nearby was all that was expected when parents tearfully deposited their children at college to continue their preparation to adulthood. However, times have changed, and today’s college students have no interest in yesteryear’s modest dormitory-style living.

Institutions are asking questions about what their dormitories should be. For research-based universities like South Dakota State University, success in the dog-eat-dog fight for bright, driven students—and the research grants and tuition revenue that comes with them—depends on meeting or exceeding student expectations for on-campus housing.

Hyde Hall
Hyde Hall at Jackrabbit Grove

In 2012, SDSU sought to create a new housing experience that was appealing to potential students and also functioned as the setting for robust intellectual and character growth of the modern college student.

South Dakota’s only land-grant institution requires undergraduates to live on campus for their first two years after high school and in a significant shift in previous design processes, SDSU administrators looked to the student body for input on the design of the new buildings.

SDSU surveyed more than 1,500 students and their collective voice requested residential halls that were affordable, lively, state-of-the-art, and green. They proposed an environment that reflected the creativity of the institution and emboldened students to make lasting connections to people and ideas.

Students also wanted living quarters that were in close proximity to the services they used most; the student union, classrooms and the wellness center.

Ben Riefel Hall
Ben Riefel Hall at Jackrabbit Grove

The end result is Jackrabbit Grove, a four building, 800-bed residential community for SDSU underclassmen and Honors College students in Brookings, SD.  With furnished rooms, community gathering areas, kitchens, and laundry facilities, Jackrabbit Grove has quickly become one of the premiere housing options on the SDSU campus.

Jackrabbit Grove carefully integrated with existing housing and the University’s desire to create a modern housing experience. It was preceded by Jackrabbit Village, a 408-bed residential community that was completed in 2010. Gage Brothers Concrete was the precaster for both Jackrabbit Village and Jackrabbit Grove, while Koch Hazard was the architect of record for both projects.

Precast panel construction was utilized to accommodate a very aggressive construction schedule, while ensuring long-term durability and ease of maintenance. The use of precast concrete also reduced site disturbance, as fewer trucks and less time were required for construction which minimized traffic disturbance on the SDSU campus.

IMG_7081Thin-set brick was included in the panels to complement the surrounding campus architecture and obtain the aesthetic appeal desired by students.

Three separate precast designs teams were utilized concurrently to support two separate and concurrent erection crews which completed within 14 months—in time for students to move-in prior to the start of the 2013 fall semester.

The primary goal for Jackrabbit Grove was student comfort.“We’re after the student comfort factor because that translates into happiness with the living environment which translates into a connection to campus and of course ultimately produces student success connected with their academic efforts,” said Douglas Wermedal, SDSU Associate Vice President for Student Affairs.

Construction of Jackrabbit Grove

Jackrabbit Grove reduces previous SDSU community sizes from 100 residents per floor to 36. The number of students sharing a community bathroom is reduced from 50 students to 18.

This vast reduction assists in community building, encouraging residents’ affinity for their space and interaction with other students on their floor.

“Students told us to get the floors smaller,” said Wermedal. He added that a community of 35 students was determined to be a comfortable number for the Upper Midwest student to connect with initially on campus.

Lounge areas on each floor connect with the large kitchen and include a fireplace and flat screen television.

And according to Wermedal, you have to pay attention to the convenience and the efficiency of the bathroom space in a house that students built. Individual locking units for toiletries have eliminated the need for a portable shower caddy and given each student their own personal space.

For this LEED Silver-certified project, sustainability was considered every step of the way, including daylighting and lighting controls, low flow fixtures, increased ventilation and a very high percentage of regional materials.

SDSU students also stressed the importance of hydration and a healthy lifestyle to school administrators. Every floor in Jackrabbit Grove is equipped with an H20 bottle filling station with a digital counter that shows how many plastic bottles have been kept out of landfills.

The project’s success is ultimately measured in students’ reactions, and Jackrabbit Grove is alive with activity just days into each semester of operation. The newest addition to SDSU campus has set a high standard for residential life projects moving forward.

Honors Hall
Honors Hall at Jackrabbit Grove

“A residence hall is an important building that provides a home away from home and will be the center of most of the cherished memories in a student’s academic career,” said Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley. “It was very energizing to be able to collaborate with the university and student stakeholders to complete such an important project on the SDSU campus.” Click here to view the Jackrabbit Grove photo gallery (c/o Cipher Imaging Architectural Photography).

New USF residence hall will provide community living and learning environment

As students return home for summer or scale back their course work, colleges and universities ramp up construction.

The University of Sioux Falls might lack most of its student population during the summer, but the campus is currently abuzz with activity thanks to the construction of a new residence hall—the first new dormitory in more than a decade.

A rendering of the new residence hall (c/o Koch Hazard)

The plans call for a three-story residence hall that can house up to 188 students— making it the largest dormitory on campus. Gage Brothers was awarded the precast concrete building contract in late June and will manufacture more than 70,000 square feet of precast concrete for the project.

Gage Brothers is the top producer of precast concrete materials for residential halls in the Midwest. Recent collegiate projects include Placer Hall (SDSM&T), Jackrabbit Grove (SDSU) and the award-winning 17th Avenue Residence Hall (University of Minnesota).

The project addresses both USF’s commitment and the city of Sioux Falls’ desire to bring more students into campus housing. The residence hall is the latest in the university’s series of investments and redevelopment projects that USF has planned for the coming years.

Other than the newly-conceived project, the Sullivan Faith and Living Center (2005) was the most recent dorm constructed on the USF campus.

Construction of the new residence hall—the $11.7 million price tag includes additional parking— began on July 7 with the demolition of Patterson Hall on the corner of 22nd and Summit. Patterson was an iconic building in its time, but was in need of modern amenities the 40-year-old building could not accommodate. Safety at this intersection had also become a concern with limited sightlines and increased traffic in recent years.

The renovated corner will feature open spaces and landscaping designed to provide better sightlines and an overall better image for the liberal arts university.

To create space for the facility and accommodate increased parking, several university-owned houses will be removed.

USF took a unique approach to the building’s design. In order to best suit the needs of modern university life, they conducted conversations with both current and prospective students along with their analysis of critical trends in student residence life design.

“We integrated current best practices in the field of student development with the needs and desires of a contemporary college student, gathering ideas not just from current students but also prospective students and their families,” said Corey Ross, Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students at USF.

Ross added that university officials sought to be flexible, functional and forward-thinking with the design because the needs of students and the institution can change throughout the years.

The residence hall will mirror USF’s other residence halls and buildings in many important ways. Students will be held to the same code of conduct in place in other similar campus housing spaces, and resident assistants will live on site.

The currently unnamed residential hall is being designed by Sioux Falls-based Koch Hazard Architects.

Honors Hall
Jackrabbit Grove

Gage Brothers has collaborated with Koch Hazard on more than 100 building projects since 1970. Recent jobs include the Jackrabbit Village and Jackrabbit Grove residential communities at SDSU and Vance Thompson Vision, a 2014 AIA South Dakota Design Honor Award winner.

The two firms are also working together on the new 10,000-sq. ft. Stockwell Engineers offices in Sioux Falls.

USF awarded the construction contract to Sioux Falls Construction, a firm that Gage Brothers has worked with for more than 50 years, giving the housing project very strong local ties.

“USF does its best to support local businesses, and we are blessed to have quality choices in this geographic area,” said Marsha Denniston, the school’s Vice President for Business & Finance.

The three-floor residence hall will feature: 94 rooms that contain two large (11’ X 20’) double rooms separated by a private bathroom. Other amenities include common areas and study spaces on each floor, multipurpose rooms and kitchen facilities, as well as a fitness room, laundry room and theater for the residents to share.

Added Ross, “Our interior is designed to be as stylish and as comfortable as a modern home, replete with bedrooms on the wings that encircle a ‘commons’ in the middle of every floor for students to gather, relax and share ideas.”

Thin-brick cast in Gage Brothers precast concrete adorns the 17th Avenue residence hall at the University of Minnesota

The predominant structural design consists of thin-brick cast in quality Gage Brothers precast panels meant to complement the exterior of other buildings located on the academic quad, while providing a strong presence to the northeast corner of campus as approached from 22nd Street.

The precast structural components to be produced at the Gage Brothers plant are: 44,179 sq. ft. of corefloor, 24,485 sq. ft. of architectural panels and 2,114 sq. ft. of walls for the elevators and stairs.

Siting and design of the new hall will complete the historic USF campus quad and frames the view into campus from 23rd Street.

Drawing 5
Original drawing of the Sioux Falls College library (1964)

Students will also have fewer excuses for not studying since the residence hall will be attached to the Mears Library—making USF one of the few campuses in America where students are living in the same building as the university library.

Talk about living in the library during finals week.

Gage Brothers has a unique connection to this student housing project. The first campus building awarded to Gage Brothers was the Sioux Falls College (as it was called at the time) library in 1964.

A precast concrete ramp was added to the building in 1998.

Drawing 3
Original drawing of the Jeschke Fine Arts Center (1968)

“It’s always fun to dig up old drawings and to re-visit projects like the USF library—a building that is not only part of their history, but part of our company history as well,” said Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley. “This building contains some of the first architectural panels we ever made and they’ve definitely withstood the test of time.”

Other campus buildings that were constructed with Gage Brothers precast concrete products include: Jeschke Fine Arts Center (1968), Glidden Hall (2001), McDonald Center (2007) and the Salsbury Science Center (2008).

Gage Brothers also provided more than 16,000 square feet of tread & risers, architectural panels and trim for Bob Young Field at the USF Sports Complex.

Kelley added, “We’re excited to help make this corner of campus a showcase for the whole university and make it someplace special.”

The residence hall is projected to open in fall of 2017.

Gage Brothers hosts a successful FUN-raiser for Feeding South Dakota

13316810_1308574365823993_5753253394886054117_oIn celebration of the second annual Red Nose Day, Gage Brothers Concrete partnered with Feeding South Dakota for a FUN-raiser on Thursday, May 26.

Red Nose Day is a fundraising campaign run by Comic Relief, Inc., that aims to raise awareness and money for children and young people most in need, in the U.S. and around the world.

Gage Brothers felt that hosting a Red Nose Day fundraiser would be an easy way for people in Sioux Falls to donate and become engaged in the fight against hunger.

According to the USDA, one in seven Americans struggles with hunger.

For every person who stopped by the Gage Brothers office on May 26 and had their photo taken wearing a red nose, Gage Brothers donated one dollar to Feeding South Dakota.

“We are pleased to be working with Feeding South Dakota to support our mutual beliefs that no one in our community should go hungry,” said Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley. “We wanted to use Red Nose Day to help us raise awareness about the issue of hunger during a time in the year when donations to food banks have a tendency to dwindle.”

13268081_1308575219157241_3226842594563087784_o (2)More than 250 people dressed up in silly costumes and said “cheese” for a good cause. Mascots from the University of South Dakota, University of Sioux Falls, Sioux Falls Canaries and the Sioux Falls Skyforce were on hand to entertain the crowd and pose for photos.

Gage Brothers pledged one dollar for every photo and added an additional gift of $500.

Feeding South Dakota was presented with a check for $775, which will translate into more than 3,800 meals made available to those who need it most.

As the city’s hub for integrated food poverty assistance, Feeding South Dakota provides temporary food assistance to more than 190,000 hungry individuals and families in South Dakota on an annual basis. In addition, their BackPack Program gives food every weekend to more than 5,000 kids who otherwise might go hungry.

Feeding South DakotaFeeding South Dakota is part of Feeding America, an organization which offers relief to families in need through its nationwide network of food banks. This network spans 200 food banks and about 60,000 food pantries in the United States today. Last year, Feeding America served more than six billion meals to individuals in need.

“We feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to partner with Gage Brothers on such a fun event,” said Kerri DeGraff, Development Director for Feeding South Dakota. “The event was a unique way to bring people together to share in laughs, while also helping to raise funds to help children who need it most.”

She added, “Thanks to Gage Brothers generous support, 3,875 children in need will be provided a nutritious meal.”

“A core value of Gage Brothers has been to give back to the community in which we live and work,” added Kelley. “We look forward to continuing a partnership with Feeding South Dakota in the years to come.”

Thank YOU to everyone who participated in Gage Brothers’ Red Nose Day FUN-raiser this year!



Gage Brothers recognized as an American Heart Association Fit-Friendly Worksite

Gage Brothers has been recognized as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association for helping its employees eat better and move more.

ucm_483457This is the fourth straight year that Gage Brothers has been recognized by the AHA as a fit-friendly worksite. The company attained gold-level status from 2013-2015.

“We are thrilled to be recognized by the American Heart Association as a Platinum Level Fit-Friendly Worksite,” said Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley. “Advancing the health, safety and well-being of our workforce is an absolute priority; it’s a commitment that encompasses the environments in which our employees work and the communities in which they live.”

He added, “”We’re offering smart eating options, physical activities, tools, tips, and incentives, and it’s rewarding to see our employees making better, more confident decisions about their health and wellness.”

Through the Fit Friendly Worksite program, AHA recognizes employers who go above and beyond when it comes to their employees’ health. It rewards organizations for their progressive leadership and concern for their staff.

Platinum-level employers:

  • Offer employees physical activity options in the workplace.
  • Increase healthy eating options at the worksite.
  • Promote a wellness culture in the workplace.
  • Implement at least nine criteria outlined by the American Heart Association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture.
  • Demonstrate measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness.

Gage Brothers supports a wellness culture in a variety of ways and employee surveys show health initiatives are making a difference. Gage Brothers’ healthy initiatives, which led to the Fit-Friendly award include:

  • Gage Brothers employees who are insured through the company’s health insurance provider receive a free membership to GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness. Team members are also encouraged to combine community involvement with physical activities by participating in golf and bowling tournaments, fun runs and walks benefitting various charities.
  • Employees have easy access to information on exercise and nutrition, as well as tips on how to change and keep habits. Gage Brothers offers a variety of incentives, such as corporate wellness challenges, along with free flu shots and biometric screenings, to help team members stay on track and reach their goals.
  • Office employees participated in a discussion that highlighted the dangers of prolonged sitting and were encouraged to install a StretchClock break reminder on their computers.
  • A corporate tobacco cessation program: five employees have completed the four-week course and remained smoke-free since the program’s establishment in late 2013. There are currently 13 employees enrolled in the program.
  • Gage Brothers partnered with a local medical facility to offered free, on-site skin cancer screenings to employees.

Employee-stretching_2-765x1024Thanks to these initiatives and others, more Gage Brothers employees are reporting increased physical activity, less stress, and improved health.  In addition, Gage Brothers employees are, today, more knowledgeable about their own health data than ever and many who participate in company team-based challenges continue the activity for an eight-week period.

Recognition is a critical component of the Fit-Friendly Worksites program. Employers that join this program qualify for official recognition by the American Heart Association. Qualifying worksites also have the right to use the program’s annual recognition seal for internal communications and with external, recruitment-related communications.

“We are very proud to be one of only a handful of companies in Sioux Falls to be recognized as a Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association, now for the fourth consecutive year,” said Cassie Nicolai, Gage Brothers Human Resources and Safety Manager. “In the past few years, we have really tried to focus the program’s efforts on bringing education and services, such as health screenings, on-site to where the employees are working. Of course these efforts have a positive effect on the company’s bottom line but more importantly it shows our team members we are invested in them as a person.”

Gage Brothers is one of 11 organizations in the State of South Dakota to be recognized as a Fit-Friendly Worksite. Here is the complete list:

Augustana College
Gage Brothers Concrete Products, Inc.
Raven Industries, Inc.
Vast Broadband
Regional Health (formerly Rapid City Regional Health)
City of Sioux Falls
Synchrony Financial

The American Heart Association Fit-Friendly Worksite program is a catalyst for positive change in America’s workforce; through helping worksites make their employees’ health and well-being a priority.

American employers are losing an estimated $225.8 billion a year because of healthcare expenses and health-related losses in productivity, and those numbers are rising. Many American adults spend most of their waking hours at sedentary jobs. Their lack of regular physical activity raises their risk for a host of medical problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Employers face $12.7 billion in annual medical expenses due to obesity alone. The American Heart Association is working to change corporate cultures by motivating employees to start walking, which has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.

For more information about the Fit-Friendly Worksites program and how it’s helping to improve the health of Americans by focusing on the workplace, call 800-437-9710 or visit


Employment Opportunities

Gage Brothers is currently seeking qualified applicants to fill positions at various levels of the precast concrete engineering process.  For a current list of openings available at Gage Brothers, visit our careers page here.

About Gage Brothers 

Gage Brothers Concrete Products Incorporated ( was established in 1915 by members of the Gage family and now employs more than 250 employees in northwest Sioux Falls. Employee-owned since 2008, Gage Brothers has a proud tradition of being a leading manufacturer of innovative architectural and structural precast concrete products. Products manufactured at the Sioux Falls plant can be found throughout the upper Midwest, including projects throughout Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.  The Midwest’s premier precast concrete company registered $61 million in sales last year.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest, largest voluntary organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Founded by six cardiologists in 1924, the organization now includes more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters working tirelessly to eliminate these diseases. It funds innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to save and improve lives. The AHA’s nationwide organization includes 144 local offices and nearly 2,700 employees.