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Fargo-based Burian & Associates envisions future growth

Company president Steve Burian says plans are to slowly grow his business beyond North Dakota, and with three decades of business experience under his belt, he is confident that will happen.

Steve Burian
Steve Burian
Image: Courtesy
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Starting a business early in the pandemic might not seem like an ideal thing to do. But for Steve Burian and his team, it has worked out quite well. Now with a few locations, he hopes to grow the company across the region.

Burian, president of the civil engineering consulting company Burian & Associates based in Fargo, said he was fortunate to have landed good projects early on in his business.

“It was a really bad time to try to be a new consulting firm, because all of the clients were preoccupied with their own pandemic worries,” he said. “It was not a time where they were going to take a risk on a new firm or a new relationship, and so they really doubled-down on their existing relationships. But we were fortunate to get some early work in January and February that was really good work.”

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A peek at the office of Burian & Associates in Fargo, North Dakota.
Image: Courtesy of Burian & Associates

The company has since been able to secure contracts with a number of other projects across the state, including the Memorial Village and Wilkerson Commons Service Center projects at University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, and EPIC Companies’ The Beacon project, also in Grand Forks, among others.

Burian said another factor in his success so far are the people he’s added to his team. He said he had to curtail some of his hiring plans during the height of the pandemic.

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“We were able to weather that storm too,” he said. “We’re on the good side of that now.”

Burian and his Fargo team moved into a larger office last summer, located at 4340 18th Ave. S., which provided them with 2,400 extra square feet of space. Because it was a complete remodel, they were able to design the space to fit an engineering firm.

“None of this is sexy, but we have really nice light all the way around and we put offices around the periphery,” Burian said. “And then we made sure we had glass shining through so the whole office is just super bright and welcoming from that standpoint.”

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Image: Courtesy of Burian & Associates

There also are self-serving kiosks, a large lunch room, joint conference rooms, and an outside patio.

Other Burian team members share space with another firm, Toman Engineering Co., a civil engineering and land surveying firm in Mandan, North Dakota, where the two teams share amenities and partner on some of the work coming out of that office.

In Grand Forks, team members use The 701, a coworking space in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He foresees a time when a Burian office will open in Grand Forks, but for now the coworking space works well.

Eventually, Burian would like to grow his business into the surrounding states, and with three decades of business experience under his belt, he is confident that will happen.

“Having been in the business for 30 years, that's probably one of the benefits I brought to it, versus being a youngster – I have a little more stability to the network and a recognition that things have to be good for all (to be successful) and to look for some of those more creative approaches when you can,” he said.

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Team members from Burian & Associates celebrate at a year-end party in 2021.
Image: Courtesy of Burian & Associates

That experience also has given him perspective for what might be in store for his industry in the region.

“Engineering, for the most part, is fortunate that it never gets too cold,” he said. It is a hot industry “because a lot of the municipalities and water districts and public transportation and all those entities that have to keep their infrastructure packed over time. We're a little hedged from that standpoint, because infrastructure always provides a need for engineering services.

"We also have the benefit that when things are hot, the private sector is going like gangbusters. Private sector puts more demand on the public sector and so the public sector grows. I've always felt that engineering is pretty good during the colder times and awfully good during the hot times, and I think North Dakota is definitely in a hot time right now.

“From a fundamental standpoint, there's a lot of optimism in North Dakota. Energy prices are kind of at that unprecedented high point again. They were headed that way anyway, and then this last deal with Ukraine really pushed them even higher. … I just think the leadership of the state of North Dakota is doing an awfully good job right now of creating an environment for opportunities. We've seen a lot of ag processing, a lot of business growth, a lot of new companies.”

He said the state may be restrained a little by the pandemic and workforce challenges, but if not for those two things the sky would be the limit.

“In addition to our basic industries doing well,” he said, “a lot of these new industries are doing well also, and so it's a good time for North Dakota.”

Andrew Weeks is an award-winning journalist who has reported for a number of newspapers and magazines. He currently is the editor of Prairie Business, the premier business magazine of the northern plains. The magazine covers various industries and business topics in the Dakotas and western Minnesota.
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