BOOM TIMES VOICES: Business in Williston is 'phenomenal'
Carter Maynard has worked as McDonald's restaurant manager in Williston for about five years. -- -- -- "I tell you, rush hour around here can start at 6 o'clock in the morning and go until 9, 10, 11 o'clock at night. I mean, it's phenomenal. Busi...
Carter Maynard has worked as McDonald's restaurant manager in Williston for about five years.
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"I tell you, rush hour around here can start at 6 o'clock in the morning and go until 9, 10, 11 o'clock at night. I mean, it's phenomenal. Business has been really good.
"(Hiring's) a challenge, not only at my restaurant, but around town. I've been very lucky with the people here that I have. I'm not saying we have enough. I don't think you'll ever have enough. We could use anywhere from, say, another five to, say, maybe 10 people. We've been luckier than some others. Yeah, we've had to move the needle with wages just to be competitive with everybody else in town. I know everybody else is in the same boat we are."
Bill Jorgensen, a former elementary physical education teacher, owns Roughrider Liquors, Williston.
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"I know the town itself, we're really hurting. We could definitely use some more employees. But this is a double-edged sword because, first of all, you have to have affordable housing if you're going to have a service-based economy. You can't have $700- and $600-a-month apartments . . . on $8 to $9 an hour. That's awful difficult to be able to have a life and to be able to maintain this.
"And right now the oil industry has usurped a tremendous amount of jobs out of the private sector because, obviously, at $22 to $24 an hour, we can't compete with that level of jobs. And that's understandable."
Milt Theige is a longtime Williston resident and manager of United Building Center/Pro Build.
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"There's people who are building houses. Most of them start out as a spec house and they're sold before they're coming out of the ground, so it's been a good market.
"On the whole, the people who live here are upgrading and remodeling and building new. Around town, you can just tell it's pretty vibrant. There's a lot of money changing hands. I think it's a good thing for the city. The city's growing."
Darla Ratzak has been principal of Williston's Hagan Elementary School for two years.
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"We're getting students from everywhere. To me, the biggest thing is our numbers. We are growing. Our class sizes are a lot bigger, therefore our needs are higher. We have space issues. We've had to extend our lunch period, which takes away from our gym time. . . . My concern is, if we continue to grow, we're going to have to bring in some portables."
Ron Hannig, a Minnesota native, is production superintendent for PrimeWest Petroleum's Williston office.
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"To tell you the truth, we've had some bigger businesses come into town, but Williston hasn't changed all that much. The population was fairly similar in '77-'78 to what it is now. We were in a boom then, and we were full up, and now we're full up.
"We've got a Wal-Mart, and we had a Kmart here one time. But it's still a town based mainly on smaller, independent businesses. We don't have a mall. We don't have a lot of chain stores."
Williston area native Jerry Brose, office manager at Williston's Job Service North Dakota office, left Job Service for three years during the last oil boom to work in the oil industry.
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"They're coming from everywhere. I've had a lot of calls from eastern North Dakota, especially from people who may be operating a small business on their own, who are farmers getting out of agriculture, but who do not want to leave that area. They want to maintain that as a home area and come to this area to work.
"I think we're seeing a real shortage in any of the trades. Your carpenters, your bricklayers, your plumbers and electricians. It goes on and on. If we call an electrician, we have to wait for them to fit us in.
"I think from the '70s and '80s, the biggest share of hiring (for oil field work) was done in the local pub. The driller could do the hiring. You could drink beer with him the night before and go out on the rig the next day.
"That's not the case anymore. They all go through a company application process. They'll schedule you for a drug test, for a physical. They'll do a background check. And you're going to have to have some safety training, you know, before you're allowed on that rig."
Williston resident Vivian Kalmik works with adults with development disabilities.
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"The more times that people can come into our community, the better. I think we have a lot to offer here. I think it's great that they're coming in. And that just makes us stretch a little bit more, and work a little bit harder and try to come up with some more creative ideas. I think the people who come here will benefit just from our hometown hospitality and our beliefs."
Boom Times Voices interviews by Herald staff writer Mike Brue.
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