Get to Know: New safety coordinator Pedro Sosa

Meet Pedro Sosa, the new safety coordinator for Gage Brothers Concrete. Sosa brings a wealth of experience to Sioux Falls and will oversee the well-being of the company’s more than 250 employees.

P_SosaSosa recently moved to the Midwest from Georgia and spent more than a dozen years in the manufacturing textile industry.

Sosa previously served as a safety specialist for Mohawk Industries, an American flooring manufacturer based in Calhoun, Georgia. He also spent five years with Beaulieu America, the third largest flooring manufacturer and the largest carpet-only maker in the world.  a carpet and flooring manufacturing company headquartered in Dalton, Georgia. Sosa worked as both a production supervisor and internal safety coordinator at Beaulieu’s headquarters in Dalton, Georgia.

Sosa is looking forward to taking on a new set of challenges (and a new set of opportunities) in his new role with Gage Brothers.

“I enjoy my role as a safety coordinator and understand how much workplace safety can impact our lives personally as well as our overall production goals as a company,” Sosa said.

Five Questions for Pedro Sosa

Q. Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?

A. Costa Rica

Q. What was your favorite subject in school?

A. History

Q. What are your hobbies?

A. Spending time with my children ages 2 and 6.

Q. What is your favorite movie?

A. Rocky

Q. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?

A. Deer

Welcome, Pedro, to Gage Brothers!


Gage Brothers Announces Retirement of Tom and Fred Gage from its Board of Directors

Gage Brothers Concrete, Inc. today announced that Tom and Fred Gage have retired from the company’s Board of Directors. The formal announcement came at the conclusion of today’s annual board meeting, held at the Country Club of Sioux Falls.

Fred Gage has served as board chairman since 2009, while Tom Gage was at the helm from 2006-09.

Longtime Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley was tapped as the new board chairman.

Today’s announcement created history, for this is the first time since the founding of Gage Brothers that no member of the Gage family will be involved in the top decision-making process of the company. William Gage, grandfather to Tom and Fred Gage, started the family business in 1915 when he began pouring concrete sidewalks in Sioux Falls.

Fred Gage_1
Fred (pictured) and Tom Gage both received Cenzo leather bags as a thank you gift for their years of service and dedication to Gage Brothers Concrete.

Fred Gage joined Gage Brothers as a salesperson in 1974 and went on to hold nearly every position within his grandfather’s company, including roles in safety, quality control, production, patching and serving as president of the block plant. Gage Brothers sold its block plant to Sioux Falls-based Concrete Materials in 2005.

“Relationships with employees and customers have always been at the center of Gage Brothers’ family values,” said Fred Gage. “That’s how I approached each day at Gage Brothers from my first day of work in 1974.”

He added, “I know that great tradition will continue to be a part of the company’s culture going forward as an employee-owned firm.”

“I would like to thank Fred for his many years of dedicated service to Gage Brothers and its shareholders,” said Tom Kelley. “His knowledge of the company, its culture and its unique role in the precast concrete marketplace has been invaluable to me and the executive team as we transformed this company. All of us will miss having him on the Board, but we know he remains a passionate and loyal supporter of the company.”

Tom Gage began working at Gage Brothers in 1971 and has been a shareholder since 1978. He managed several Gage Brothers real estate properties throughout the 1980’s and also served as vice president of the masonry division before being named CEO in 2001.

Tom Gage_1
Tom Gage discusses the Gage Brothers ESOP

“Today marks the first time in 70 years that a Gage family member has not been a member of the board,” said Tom Gage. “It’s the final step in moving Gage Brothers from a family business to a professional management corporation using family business values.”

“Tom has been an invaluable member of the Board, and I want to thank him for his many contributions to Gage Brothers over the years,” said Kelley. “He brought incredible energy and wisdom to the board’s discussions, and his insights were vital during a critical time in the company’s history. We wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

Gage Brothers created an employee stock ownership plan in 2008. Tom and Fred Gage also sold their ownership interest to the trust, which has created an opportunity for the company’s employees to become owners.

“It was a great gift from the Gage’s to all of our employees to be given the company, as opposed to selling the company on the open market,” said Kelley. “It enabled us to maintain both our brain trust and our culture, which will be a valuable component to our future success.”

He added, “I’d like to publically thank the Gage family for the opportunities they have presented both to me and all the new owners of the Gage Brothers company.”

With the retirement of Tom and Fred Gage, Gage Brothers’ Board of Directors currently consists of five members: Tom Kelley (chairman), David Honner (secretary/treasurer), Chuck Smith, Joe Bunkers and Loren Koepsell.

Established in 1915 by William Gage, Gage Brothers employs 250 employees in northwest Sioux Falls. The Midwest’s premier precast concrete company registered $60 million in sales last year.

Gage Brothers Celebrates #WIC

2016WW_roundWomen In Construction Week is part of the broader Women’s History Month celebration in March. The week, started by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) is an opportunity to highlight the growing role of women in the construction industry.

“NAWIC’s core purpose is ‘enhancing the success of women in the construction industry’ and what better way to continue this purpose, but to dedicate our WIC Week, not only to our members, but to all women working in and for the construction industry and to recognize the contributions women make to the success of projects in all facets of the industry,” said NAWIC President Riki F. Lovejoy, CBT, CIT.

Women represent 47% of the total U.S. workforce and are playing an increasingly significant role in the world of construction. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and OSHA, only 9.3% of total construction employees are women.

Given this fact, it’s inspiring to come across women who are thriving in such a traditionally male-dominated industry.

In honor of WIC Week, we sat down with four talented women who help to make Gage Brothers a stronger and more competitive company. Read on to explore their experiences in construction and to find out their advice for others looking to take a similar path.

Ann Hill
Job Title: Project Estimator

Ann HillQ: How long have you been in the industry?

A: Almost 18 years

Q: Why did you choose a non-traditional career field?

A: I was hired as a Summer Survey and Inspection Technician for the Nebraska Department of Roads after I completed my senior year of high school.  I loved it!! I had never even considered construction being part of my future.  Who knew?

Q: What is the most satisfying part of your job?

A: Seeing paper turned into reality.  I really enjoy the whole building process.

Q: What advice do you have for women who want to work in the construction industry?

A: Be who you are. Your strengths will lead to your success.

Edith Smith
E-SmithJob Title: Senior Engineer

Q: How long have you been in the industry?

A: 17 years (OMG – I didn’t think has been that long!)

When asked why she chose a non-traditional field, Edith said that she wanted to make a difference in the world.

“From life safety to functional design to using resources wisely, I believed through engineering I would make a difference in peoples’ lives without them realizing it.”

Q: What is the most satisfying part of your job?

A: Finding innovative solutions through collaborative problem solving by learning from and teaching others. It’s the people, not the projects.

Q: What advice do you have for women who want to work in the construction industry?

A: Be true to yourself, don’t compromise your integrity or underestimate your value. Show gratitude and maintain healthy boundaries. You will be constantly evolving as a professional and as a woman, embrace this growth throughout the different stages of your career AND life.

TINATina Counts
Job Title: Drafting Technician  

Q: How long have you been in the industry?

A: I have 19 years in the construction industry; 13 years on the architectural side and six additional years on the structural side of things.

Q: Why did you choose a non-traditional career field?

A: I grew up in a family where girls could do anything that boys could do, if not more. My dad wanted boys but what he got was three girls before my brother came along, but we all worked on the ranch. There were definitely no stragglers allowed. My dad is also a Jack of all trades and he made building and designing things a lifestyle for my siblings and I. Figuring out how to make things work is kind of a necessity when you live in the middle of the Sandhills of Nebraska.

I attended a two room country school until eighth grade. We took a career aptitude test before starting high school and the end result was that every student was given a top-10 list of jobs they would be good at. Architectural – Construction was the most interesting field on the list for me and my favorite classes were art, math and science.

Q: What is the most satisfying part of your job?

A: Starting a new job and then seeing it standing and finished.

Q: What advice do you have for women who want to work in the construction industry?

A: Have a good work ethic and perseverance. Always stand your ground.

Rachel Swain
Rachel SwainJob Title: Engineer in Training

Q: How long have you been in the industry?

A: About 19 years.

Q: Why did you choose a non-traditional career field? When I was younger I really liked puzzles and learning how and why things work, and in turn enjoyed building things, making something work, and fixing things.  As I got older, I became very interested in the engineering that goes into knowing what will and will not work.

Q: What is the most satisfying part of your job?

A: Being able to take an idea and design something that solves a problem, or becomes part of a building, and knowing that what I have designed will work as intended.

Q: What advice do you have for women who want to work in the construction industry?

A: Just be yourself, have confidence in your skills and knowledge and don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know the answer. Always be willing to do your best to try and figure it out, and never stop learning and growing.

Feeling inspired yet? 🙂 

STI poised to see major growth; help bridge the skills gap

NewConstruction840x230A new facility at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls will provide much needed additional space and allow the school to expand access to its award-winning vocational programs.

The expansion couldn’t come at a better time. After the country hemorrhaged jobs in the 2000s, U.S. manufacturing is on the rebound.

According to government labor statistics, the manufacturing sector has created more than 730,000 jobs since the end of 2010. Add in the looming retirement of the Baby Boomers, and industry experts say they’ll need to fill as many as 3.5 million jobs over the next ten years.

A shortage of skilled workers, however, could cut this budding renaissance short.

A recent (2015) study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute found that American manufacturers can’t find enough qualified workers. The scarcity of potential workers, coupled with the public perception of manufacturing, makes recruiting (and retaining) the right candidates challenging for companies like Gage Brothers Concrete.

There is a dire need for skilled manufacturing workers in the coming years and technical colleges are essential to the manufacturing economy.

Enter Southeast Technical University, South Dakota’s leading technical institute and a 2015 WIX Filters/O’Reilly Auto Part Tomorrow’s Tech “Top 4” school in the nation.

Founded in 1968, STI adds nearly 1,000 graduates to the workforce each year.

STI is also spreading the message that careers in modern manufacturing are nothing like the ones you read about while studying the industrial revolution in history class. Today’s manufacturing careers are rewarding, take place in safe work environments, pay well, and require strong math, science and analytical skills.

STI’s auto-technician, diesel technician and auto body programs are at or beyond maximum capacity. All three are certified as Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) programs by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).

As the economy grows and the demand for goods increases, there will be a higher demand for manufacturing technology-capable employees to help facilitate the transportation of those goods to businesses and consumers.

To meet this growing need, STI is adding a new building to campus. The $20.7 million construction project will greatly increase the space for auto, diesel and collision technology students, while improving the teaching environment, school officials say.

Capacity for STI’s automotive & diesel technology programs will double.

The new space would have academic wings dedicated to diesel and auto-tech classes. STI’s collision repair and refinish programs will receive updated facilities and take over the space vacated by the automotive program in the Ed Wood building.

“The new building will allow us to provide access of high quality automotive training to more people,” said Jason Merritt, an Automotive Technology Instructor for STI.

Merritt expects the new, 91,000-square-foot building to provide STI with the capacity to meet the growing demand of industrial companies.

He added, “This will help us provide more technicians to this high demand field which has had a technician shortage for some time now.”

According to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, the worker levels in the Transportation Equipment Manufacturing subsector are projected to increase by 365 workers (13.3 percent) in South Dakota by the year 2022.

South Dakota has a very large and diverse need for transportation equipment, which includes agriculture and commercial engines and implements. Farming is the state’s number one industry.

What’s significant is that STI’s tech talent tends to stay in the Mount Rushmore State. Graduate survey results from the 2013-2014 graduating class show that 84% of all graduates are working in South Dakota and 64% are working in Sioux Falls.

The new auto-tech building at STI is slated for a site across Career Avenue from the Ed Wood Center, which currently houses the programs.

“These expansions also provide the opportunity to: update equipment and technology in all three programs, increase the number of students that Southeast Tech can accept in all three programs, and increase graduate numbers which provides additional prospective employees to regional employers,” said Lon Hird, STI’s Director of Academic Support.

Additional building plans include a food area and an auditorium.

AUTO_LAB_3D430x260Gage Brothers was awarded the contract to furnish the precast concrete façade for the new facility. The company will produce more than 36,000 square-feet of corefloor, architectural panels, insulated wall panels, and beams and columns for the building.

“Gage Brothers could not be more steadfast in our support of technical colleges like STI, which are essential to the success of our company,” said company president Tom Kelley. “I have been very pleased with the STI graduates we have hired over the years; they possess the necessary skills and knowledge and are ready to work.”

An engineer by trade and at the helm of Gage Brothers since 2001, Kelley also serves on Southeast Tech’s Foundation Board. He has been involved in many conversations about the misconceptions related to vocational training and plugging the skills gap.

It’s the same discussion that prompted GOP presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio of Florida to say that the country needs more welders and fewer philosophers during the fourth Republican debate.

Kelley stressed the importance of the new facility and STI’s state-of-the-art, work-and-learn models. An increase the number of workers with these in demand skills is needed for industrial companies like Gage Brothers to continue growing.

“Major investments like this help to erase the stigma that is sometimes still associated with a technical education,” he added.

“I’m excited to see the final product next year.”

Construction is expected to finish in summer 2016, and the three automotive programs would be able to serve more students by 2017. Click here to view the construction progress photo gallery.

Gage Brothers extends 59-year relationship with Howard Wood Field; wins contract for new fieldhouse

School officials recently approved a $4.7 million contract for renovations at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

Gage Brothers Concrete has been awarded the precast contract for the new fieldhouse.

Construction is slated to begin this summer.

“We are proud to have won this contract and thrilled to continue our relationship with Howard Wood Field,” said Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley. “The facility is an integral part of the city’s fabric.”

He added, “Hundreds of former and current Gage Brothers employees have competed at Howard Wood or watched a football game from the stands, and I think that emotional investment goes a long way at our plant.”

Nearly a century in age, Howard Wood Field looms as one of the region’s best-known track and field venues. The birth of track and field at Howard Wood dates back to 1923. Marking its 90th running last year, the Howard Wood Dakota Relays regularly attracts more than 3,000 student athletes from the middle school, high school and college ranks.

For many years, all of the local high schools and both colleges (Augustana University and the University of Sioux Falls) played football there. Lincoln, Washington and Roosevelt high schools still claim Howard Wood as their home turf.

Named for a longtime coach at Washington, Howard Wood Field also served as the finish line for the 2015 Sioux Falls Marathon and Half Marathon.

There’s a lot of tradition, a lot of history, and a lot of memories at Howard Wood—and Gage Brothers has been part of the venue’s foundation for more than a half-century. The stadium (current seating capacity: 10,000) has undergone significant improvements over the years, and Gage Brothers has been involved nearly every step of the way.

As it happens, Howard Wood Field was the company’s first significant foray into sports facility construction.

Built in 1957, the original Howard Wood stadium was designed by TSP founder Harold Spitznagel. There still exists footage of Albert and William Gage, Jr., sons of company founder William Gage, pouring concrete for the tread and risers.

In the decades that followed, Gage Brothers began to churn out precast for dozens of high school gymnasiums, pro arenas and college athletic facilities throughout the Midwest.

Howard Wood Field is owned and operated by the school district, which has continued to update the classic facility.

Gage Brothers also manufactured corefloor planks for Howard Wood’s 1980s remodel.

Howard Wood_2In 2012, Howard Wood underwent a major overhaul that included a new running track, grandstand seating and an upgraded press box. Gage Brothers poured more than 94,000 square-feet of double tees, beams and tread & risers for the $7 million renovation.

But expectations of what sports venues should be have increased lockstep with the needs of both athletes and spectators.

Sports facilities are built not only to be a place where athletes come to test their limits but to also contribute to the vitality of the broader community.

Howard Wood is no different and about to undergo more changes thanks to the approval of school officials.

The renovation will modernize the locker rooms and restrooms and also expand the athletic training areas. But the biggest part of the renovation project involves the fieldhouse, which has not changed since Albert and William Gage, Jr. provided materials for the original structure in 1957.

Fifty-nine years later and with a bolstered résumé that includes Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium and the Edward Jones Dome, Gage Brothers will fabricate almost 10,000 square-feet of wall panels and more than 100 precast pieces for the new fieldhouse.

“The fieldhouse renovations will do a great deal to enhance the historic site,” added Kelley. “And the fact that Gage Brothers has won four contracts for Howard Wood over the past sixty years is a testament to our corporate endurance and ability to innovate our products to meet changing market demands.”

Founded in 1915, Gage Brothers has manufactured concrete products for several athletic venues in recent years, including South Dakota State’s Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, Kirkeby-Over Stadium, Dakota Wesleyan University/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex and the University of South Dakota Sports Performance Enhancement Facility.

Sioux Falls-based Beck & Hofer Construction submitted the lowest of seven bids and was named the project’s general contractor. Beck & Hofer will contribute its vast building experience from previous athletic facilities, including GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club at Bakker Crossing, Thunder Road and the Tomar Park tennis courts.

This will be the 30th building project that Gage Brothers has worked on with Beck & Hofer since 1988. Previous collaborations include the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire, Elmen Park and Big Sioux Power Sports.

“Gage Brothers has developed a great relationship with Beck & Hofer over the past 20-plus years,” said Kelley. “We think of our relationship as more of a partnership.”

The renovations will not be complete in time for 91st edition of the Howard Wood Dakota Relays, but should be ready by the 92nd running in 2017.

Howard Wood_3



Get to Know: New safety manager Jason Aasand

Meet Jason Aasand, the new safety manager for Gage Brothers Concrete. Aasand brings a wealth of experience to Sioux Falls and will oversee the well-being of the company’s more than 250 employees.  

J_AasandQ. How did you get into this line of work?

A. I started off my safety career in the labor law sector for the state of North Dakota, but most of my experience comes from working almost 14 years in the oil gas sector. I broke out as a Roughneck and worked my way up to a Safety Consultant for Continental Resources.

Q. Did you study construction management?

A. No, I attended North Dakota State University for Human Development and Counseling.

Q. How does one specialize in construction safety?

A. I think you must have a passion for safety and the well-being of others to specialize in safety.

Q. What attracted you to the safety manager position with Gage Brothers?

A. I was attracted to Gage Brothers by the contact I have on LinkedIn; I saw the job opening and did a lot of research to see if Gage Brothers and my personal philosophy of safety would be a good fit. I was impressed with all the great feedback I received after talking to people around the Midwest that knew of or had worked with Gage Brothers, so I decided to go for it and try to become a team member of the Gage Brothers family.

Q. What are some of the challenges of a career in safety? 

A. One of the challenges I have faced is convincing people to invest in their own safety. I accomplish this by interacting with the people involved in the program on a day-to-day basis, which gives them ownership of their safety program. Without the people we are not a company. 

Another challenge is not to take away human element of safety, (we sometimes look at the bottom line before safety). Everyone I spoke to told me Gage Brothers is a company that cares and puts employees first. We cannot forget that people have loved ones at home and we must create a strong safety culture to ensure that they get home to them at the end of the day. I accomplish this by letting the people know I am here for them and also thank them for their commitment to both their safety and the well-being of their families.

Q. What do you like to do in your spare time? What are some of your hobbies?

72a1b33f-2782-4935-bff4-aca1b8412f9eIn my spare time I enjoy golfing, visiting Maple Lake (I tried to paddle board this summer, with much failure!) and North Dakota State Bison football. I’m also an avid hockey fan.

Q. Where did you grow up?

A. I grew up in Grafton, North Dakota. Grafton is a small town in the northeast corner of the state.

Q. What are you looking forward to the most at your new job?

A. I am looking forward to all the challenges, and thankful to be part of Gage Brothers.

Transforming lives, one pledge at a time

united-way-logoGage Brothers Concrete and its employees have made a significant donation pledge to the Sioux Empire United Way. The company’s pledge for the coming year is $34,967, which surpasses last year’s total by more than nine percent.

Employee participation also increased from 60 percent last year to 63 percent this year.

The simple fact is that one pledge to United Way makes a deep impact one life at a time and the LIVE UNITED message makes clear that all of us have a stake in each other’s success and a role to play in advancing the common good throughout our communities. The dollars raised will help a variety of programs, including “Ready to Start,” which is designed to help kids get ready for kindergarten.

The 2016 contribution will benefit more than 40 United Way agencies where Gage Brothers employees live and work. These agencies include Active Generations, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sioux Empire, DakotAbilities, Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls and Girl Scouts-Dakota Horizons.

“One of the privileges of being a member of the Gage Brothers team is the opportunity to support United Way and other community betterment organizations,” said Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley. “We do that through our contributions as well as employee volunteerism, and it makes me especially proud to work with a group of employees that are so generous and supportive of helping others in the community.”

The money was raised through payroll deductions and the Heart Club, a group of individuals who contribute to Sioux Empire United Way at a level of $500 or more annually.

Gage Brothers employees have pledged $274,221 in total contributions since 2009 to help local people through the Sioux Empire United Way.

“Thank you to Gage Brothers and their employees for supporting our community and the 41 local agencies funded by your generous gifts to Sioux Empire United Way,” said Kacey McCarthy, Campaign Director of Sioux Empire United Way.

Gage Brothers has long been a leading contributor to the United Way campaign and is traditionally one of the area’s top companies in terms of the percentage of employees who give to United Way.

“For the past several years, our employees have given generously of their time and money to the Sioux Empire United Way,” added Kelley. “The Gage Brothers family has created a remarkable culture of service and giving, and I am extremely proud to be a part of it.”

Gage Brothers United Way chair Amanda Painter expressed appreciation to employees for their incredible efforts. The company has about 250 people on its payroll in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“It demonstrates the high value we place on citizenship and community partnership,” said Painter. “And United Way’s accountability model ensures that our contribution will be maximized and make a lasting difference in the lives of others.”

This year’s Sioux Empire United Way goal is $10.3 million dollars. The final results of the campaign are expected to be announced in early 2016 after all pledges are counted.

The kickoff to the Sioux Empire United Way’s 2016 campaign took place last August. The event featured iconic rock band Heart, who packed more than 8,000 fans into the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center for the “Start with Heart” concert.

Many Gage Brothers employees have a history of giving back to Sioux Falls through philanthropic and volunteer efforts. In September, a dozen employees volunteered at the Sioux Falls Marathon. Gage employees have also plunged into cold water to raise money for the Special Olympics, collected shoes and winter coats for community drives and participate in the American Heart Association Heart Walk every year.

Individuals may pledge a donation to the Sioux Empire United Way by clicking here.