2023 Chapter Award Winners

The MN/ND ABC’s awards program was created to recognize members who are dedicated to improving their business, customer service and community through determination and hard work. Members have been nominated by their peers and winners were selected by the Business Development Committee using specific criteria for the following categories:

2023 ABC Hall Of Fame - Phil Kraemer, Lunseth Plumbing & Heating

Lunseth Plumbing and Heating of Grand Forks and Fargo, will celebrate 40 years as an ABC member in 2024. And throughout their 40 years of membership, one key person at Lunseth has been a leader within our chapter.

Phil Kraemer, Vice President of Operations for Lunseth, has done just about everything we can ask of an ABC member since the company joined in 1984. When he’s not wearing a Lunseth Plumbing and Heating cap around town, he can usually be spotted wearing a classic blue ABC hat.

He served as a trustee on ABC’s Construction Education Foundation board for eight years. He is a regular contributor to ABC’s political efforts and outreach with elected officials on merit shop legislation and issues. Not an ABC event goes by without Phil and other Lunseth employees attending. Phil also sits high atop the ABC Beam Club chapter leaderboard. The Beam Club recognizes individuals from ABC member companies who recruit new members to the association. Phil has recruited 38 new members to ABC over the years!

Arguably the single biggest and most important contribution Phil has made to our chapter is helping expand ABC Minnesota into North Dakota in 2009. Seven ABC members formed the North Dakota Advisory Council and Phil stepped up to act as chairman of the council.  Staff were hired to develop the membership base in North Dakota as ABC grew – all with Phil’s guidance and support.

Phil will also celebrate 42 years with Lunseth Plumbing and Heating in 2024. Phil has announced he will retire from Lunseth as well as the ABC North Dakota Advisory Council in the summer of 2024. We want to thank Phil for his years with Lunseth and the years he has spent supporting our ABC chapter, advocating for merit shop contractors and our industry.

2023 Woman In Construction of The Year - Laurie Plunkett, The Weitz Company

A leader in the construction field, Laurie Plunkett is passionate about merit shop design/build industrial construction. Throughout her 36 years in the industry, she administered components of construction projects across the USA and many parts of the world. Laurie is a dedicated advocate for women in the construction industry along with being a champion for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) within the industry. Laurie's the Marketing & Communication Manager for The Weitz Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota regional office.Whereas Laurie may have one official title within the organization, she truly is the glue that holds Weitz Industrial group together with all the support functions she provides: Office Management, Human Resources (HR), Accounting, Information Technology (IT), Safety, Legal Support, Marketing and Communications, and Project Administration due to aggressive 2023 hiring need, Weitz’ Human Resources (HR) department was overwhelmed with onboarding the abundant new field hires. Laurie undertook the onboarding of construction crews for several project sites. This required on-site coordination with the new hires, field superintendents and project teams to complete the onboarding process and documentation. Laurie feels totally comfortable in steel toed boots, hardhat/helmet, and PPE gear. 

Attention to details and an uncanny ability to get things done are Laurie’s strongest skills. She is a taskmaster, she is organized, using her daily, weekly, monthlytask lists, nothing gets away from her. She also keeps others on task, making sure activities get done on time and get done correctly. She personifies the best of the best skills, of a project team member.In her free time, Laurie and her husband enjoy going RV camping. They enjoy the type ofcamping in which they take many of the comforts of homewith them, some call this “glamping.”Campfires, hiking, kayaking, and canoeing are part of Laurie’s love for the outdoors.Laurie is an extraordinary co-worker, employee, and associate! We at Weitz are privileged and honored to call her friend.Congratulations, Laurie, on receiving this prestigious award


If you would like to nominate a member for the 2024 Chapter Awards, please contact Jeni Ankeny at the MN/ND ABC office at 952-941-8693. Nominations will be accepted up to October 15th with the presentation at the Annual Meeting November 2024.

Past Chapter Award Winners

2022 Construction Company of the Year - J-Berd Companies

In their 30+ years of business, J-Berd Companies has built long-standing relationships with its employees, industry partners, customers, general contractors, and the communities in which they work. The company is comprised of J-Berd Mechanical, Berd Electric, and Security Fire Sprinkler.

J-Berd Companies places a high value on safety and each of the three companies participates in ABC’s STEP program, including J-Berd Mechanical going back to 2004. Their in-house safety committee continually looks for ways to improve and spread a positive safety culture within its companies. If you see them out on one of the countless ABC members jobsites that they are on, their crews proudly wear safety shirts that say “Think Safety. Work Safely.” as a reminder to always keep safety top of mind.

J-Berd Companies has made a huge investment into the future of the trades over the last decade. They are actively involved in the local community garnering interest into construction trade careers with their very own J-Berd Trades Day. This is a hands-on learning experience for local students where J-Berd goes into the classroom for the day and provides an opportunity for students to experience the trades with some guidance from their craft pros.

2022 Associate of the Year - Jason Loven, John A. Knutson & Co., PLLP

Jason and his team have helped countless construction companies and ABC members succeed and grow, from better financial reporting, bonding and banking, to tax planning and savings. They are well known in the construction industry and are held in high regard from the surety industry for their integrity, ethics, and expertise in the industry.

They aren’t all business either. The company organizes an annual employee volunteer event at Feed My Starving Children, hosts food and toy drives, as well as supports numerous charities and non-profits across the state. Jason is also an active ABC member, joining the ABC Board of Directors mid-year as the treasurer when a vacancy occurred. Prior to that, he chaired the membership committee and can be seen at just about every ABC event we host.

2021 Construction Company of the Year - Greystone Construction Company

Greystone Construction has been building careers and communities since 1987. A proud ABC member for over 30 years, Greystone lives and promotes the Merit Shop philosophy. Greystone team members are active in the Minnesota Chapter of ABC including Greystone founder Kevin O’Brien who has served as a board member and past President of MNABC.

Greystone credits its success to its talented and dedicated team members, many of which have been with Greystone for 10, 20, and even 30+ years. With a focus on high-quality craftsmanship, safety, integrity, and relationships, Greystone has grown from a start-up focusing on the construction of airplane hangars and waste treatment facilities to a well-established and versatile general contractor serving commercial, industrial, and agribusiness clients in 31 states and counting.

Greystone is a MNOSHA Partner and has achieved a Platinum STEP level. Greystone’s strong safety culture is a result of effective planning, training, supervision, and unwavering commitment from every team member to achieve zero safety incidents on every jobsite, every day.

Consistently delivering quality has provided Greystone the opportunity to partner with some of the best companies in the markets they serve. A few of Greystone’s recent major projects include their new headquarters in the Canterbury Commons development in Shakopee, Minnesota; Hawk’s Point senior living in Cheyenne, Wyoming; Shakopee Flats, a 170-unit mixed-use apartment building and restaurant in Downtown Shakopee, Minnesota; and multiple greenfield agronomy service centers throughout the country.

Greystone is grateful to ABC for its courage and dedication to the Merit Shop and to its network of excellent subcontract partners, skilled architects and engineers, great clients, supportive family and friends, and last but not least their exceptional team.

2021 Woman In Construction of the Year - Karen Krenske, Cedar Lake Electric, Inc.

During her 27 years at Cedar Lake Electric, Karen has been a true asset to the company. She continually keeps the company’s best interest at the forefront of the daily operations in her role as Vice President.

Cedar Lake Electric was especially impressed during the COVID-19 pandemic when Karen oversaw setting up new company policies and dealing with the emotional rollercoaster for the employees through this difficult time. She was responsible for developing, implementing, and educating company personnel on health and safety guidelines. Karen was also instrumental in encouraging management to provide a safe space for employees, respect all employees’ opinions and feelings, and making sure that all employees were kept safe according to CDC recommendations. She encourages people to find out answers for themselves while supporting their decisions.

Karen has made significant steps in guiding the Cedar Lake Electric safety program and arranging company events around safety, as well as conduct quarterly safety meetings. Through these actions, Cedar Lake Electric has won several safety awards. She is always willing to take on projects and serves as a vital role in the management of our company. Karen’s skills are not limited to the office. She has always maintained a positive and friendly attitude towards all our clients. She is also able to work under pressure and has always managed to solve stressful situations.

Karen has been very involved in ABC for several years serving in different capacities. She has served on the ABC Board of Directors since 2016 and has been an active participant in ABC’s legislative and political efforts even before that. She regularly attends ABC’s Day at the Capitol in St. Paul and has attended several Legislative Conferences in Washington D.C. and other national meetings, plus contributes to ABC’s state and federal PACs. In addition, Karen is a regular attendee and participant in ABC’s HR Peer Group.

Karen is a strong supporter and promoter of merit shop philosophy and is often educating others on the benefits of merit shop construction. She truly embodies the merit shop philosophy and has been an integral part in the growth and stability of our company over the years. We are truly fortunate to have Karen as part of the Cedar Lake Electric team!

2020 Construction Company of the Year - The Weitz Company

The Weitz Company offers construction expertise in three core product lines — Commercial, Industrial and International — and has built projects in all 50 states. We are committed to superior quality, value and complete customer satisfaction by developing collaborative relationships with clients, designers, partners, subcontractors and suppliers. Our job is first, and foremost, about our customers. Keeping our customers at the forefront helps us determine what project success really looks like, long before the first piece of construction equipment arrives on the jobsite. This goes beyond cost, schedule and quality. It’s about relationships, innovation, efficiency, empowerment and learning. We work with our clients to uncover their expectations to reveal other pressures, challenges and concerns that face them in the process of building their project. Then, we respond by developing solutions and taking steps to address these needs, help achieve their goals and complete projects efficiently and safety.

Weitz is proud to be working with the Tyson Foods team members, as we constructed the first of the next generation of feed mills. Weitz has done considerable work for Tyson Foods Inc. in the past, and due to our excellent quality of work and attention to detail, we continue to be one of their contractors of choice. For the past five years, Weitz Minneapolis has spent a day volunteering for a local organization called Household & Outside Maintenance for the Elderly (HOME). Weitz provided yard service and miscellaneous chores for the elderly in nearby communities.

2020 Construction Woman of The Year - Diane Haugen, Certified Wood Products

CEO and majority owner of Certified Wood Products in Maple Lake, MN. Certified Wood Products is a national wholesale supplier of forest products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This means the growers and harvesters of FSC timber must protect animals and water quality, ban highly hazardous chemicals, minimize clear-cuts, protect rare old growth forests, protect the loss of natural forest cover, forbid illegal logging and protect the rights of people and local communities.

Diane Haugen’s focus on sustainability and stewardship of forests is exemplified by supplying FSC-certified wood. As you might imagine, it’s easier and cheaper to skip that certification. But every year, Certified must pass a demanding certification audit in order to continue supplying FSC-certified wood. Orders are used for building structures including commercial, institutional, educational, medical, recreational and governmental use. FSC-certified forest products help support organizations' initiatives for stewardship, environmental impact, social responsibility and climate change mitigation.

Diane Haugen understands the importance of quality and integrity. She and a partner started Certified 20 years ago with an eye on their values as well as on making a living. That meant seeking out responsible users and connecting them with responsible producers.

Annually, her company contributes 10% of all earnings to organizations that are making a positive impact. Certified supports Feed My Starving Children, Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, Joni and Friends, the Red Cross, the Animal Humane Society and the Salvation Army among other community organizations.

She appreciates the work ABC’s does to help members develop people, win work and advocate on our behalf for free enterprise in the construction industry. Haugen especially appreciates the patriotism exemplified by ABC. Her company takes advantage of ABC’s training programs, structured networking events and has sponsored many events and meetings.

2019 Construction Company of the Year - Knobelsdorff Enterprises

Since their start in 1988, Knobelsdorff has seen their people, their process and their clients grow more than they could have ever imagined. They give credit to their team of selfless and dedicated employees for their success. With a set of core values that are the standard for the work they do including being strong and progressive leaders to their team and the industries they serve, also staying down to earth with a desire and capacity to learn and grow always. Being an ABC member since 2009, they’ve stayed true to their merit shop roots in delivering the best service and building lasting relationships with their customers, vendors and subcontractors. Recently having completed their work on the ADM Mendota project which is the largest ground up built flour mill in the country, their versatility stems from their experience and high ethical standards, which apply to every project they are on, from large industrial sites to local residential customers. They’ve won multiple ABC STEP and EIC awards over the years, proving their processes and work ethic create the safest and highest quality projects. Outside of the work they do, KE is a leader in the community. From donating safety equipment to emergency teams, to offering scholarships to kids looking to get into the trades, and providing the best support to our Veterans, Knobelsdorff gives back. Safety has always been a priority for KE, following and implementing the ABC Safety Program, they have been the standard for safety in the industries they serve. A team of experts, a culture of winning, and family-based values. That is the #KEway.

2019 ABC Hall Of Fame - Jim & Georgia Hoffman, Protouch Painting

The ABC Hall of Fame Award is presented to a member who through many years and even generations has achieved significant accomplishments in the construction industry and the merit shop. It recognizes those outstanding individuals and companies who, through their exceptional work and achievements, have made a significant contribution to our Industry and a profound difference in the local communities where they work. The award this year went to Jim and Georgia Hoffman from Protouch Painting, Inc.

2018 Construction Company of the Year - Rice Companies

For over 65 years, Rice Companies has partnered with clients on thousands of projects and constructed millions of square feet. Over 80% of their business is with repeat clients, some of them for over 40 years and many of them with multiple generations working with a collaborative design and construction team. A few of these construction clients include: Coborn's Support Center; Functional Industries; and the Madelia Fire Reconstruction. The company has partnered with and promoted charities that align with their own values including: Boys & Girls Clubs; Coborn Cancer Center; and the March of Dimes. The company was founded with a merit shop philosophy, and that continues today. As an ABC member for over 35 years, they have won numerous awards including Pyramid & Eagle - Awards of Excellence & STEP awards. Their safety committee has utilized ABC's safety program for a number of years, resulting in an ever-increasing culture of safety on their jobsites. And they continually work to solicit merit-based vendors and subcontractors to work with their team.

2018 Construction Woman of the Year - Nancy Samson, Shingobee Builders, Inc.

The ABC 2018 Construction Woman of the Year is Nancy Samson, CEO of Shingobee Builders, Inc. This award recognizes the outstanding efforts of women in the construction industry. It encompasses accomplishments, leadership, and contributions to the community and promotion of the merit shop. Under her leadership as CFO for the past 14 years, and now as CEO, Nancy's company withstood the recession by growing the business in diverse markets and geographic areas, and has increased volume and revenue. Shingobee has been actively involved in STEP since 1995, and frequently submits to the Excellence in Construction awards program. Her firm was the first to achieve Level 3 Cooperative Compliance Partnership under MNOSHA's partnership program with ABC. Nancy Samson has been a member of the ABC Board of Directors for two years, and an active member of the Legislative Committee for several years, including taking annual trips to Washington, D.C. to advocate for merit shop legislation.