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Clausen and Sons touches into fourth generation

 

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

Dave Clausen and his daughter Autumn Lineweaver, who co-own Clausen and Sons General Contractors. with Pat Newton, stand Tuesday under the sign of their business.

Clausen and Sons General Contractors company, a third-generation family business, is continuing its 59-year tradition of building in northern Montana and supporting Montana families.

"It's been fun watching our organization grow over the years," co-owner Dave Clausen said.

Clausen and Sons started in Malta in 1960 as Clausen Wholesale, when Clausen's father, Pete Clausen, started the company. At the time, Pete Clausen owned a Ford dealership and a gas distribution company but wanted to get into construction, mostly doing farm work and erecting metal buildings. When Clausen started the business he became a licensed Behlen Building Systems dealer, which they have continued for 59 years.

Dave Clausen said he was 12 years old when he first started working for his father, working during the summers between school years, helping build grain bins and buildings.

He said his family would regularly vacation in Zortman during the summer and in 1972 decided to move their business there. His father also sold the Ford dealership and the gas distributing company when the business was moved.

In 1975, Pete Clausen changed the name of the company to Clausen and Sons. The town had a mining boom in 1979 and Clausen and Sons quickly got on and begun building plants, shops and offices for the growing industry. Clausen added that the company still did a large number of work for farm businesses as well, such as in Chouteau, Hill, Blaine and Phillips counties. In 1993, the business moved to Havre, to a small shop behind the Tilleman Ford Dealership. Clausen and Sons was still doing half commercial and half farm construction at that time.

"Farm business has been our mainstay," Clausen said.

Clausen and Sons also did a lot of business during the gas boom in Montana, traveling as far as Wyoming and Idaho to construct buildings for gas companies, he said.

The construction company has built a good relationship with different companies, such as Nemont Telephone Company, he said. Clausen and Sons has been that company's exclusive builder for constructing buildings in Glasgow, Williston, Plentywood, Scobey and Billings. Clausen said they have also done a lot scattered all across northern Montana for Triangle Communications and NorthWestern Energy.

He said that some of the buildings they have worked on that people may recognize around town include Northern Hospital, Tilleman Motor Co., Independence Bank and the Havre Border Patrol Station.

"We've done a lot of buildings around town," he said.

Autumn Lineweaver, Clausen's daughter and project manager for the company, said that the U.S. Border Patrol station was a great success for Clausen and Sons.

Dave Clausen said that after 9/11 54 Border Patrol stations were scheduled to be built. Clausen and Sons won the bid for two of those contracts, in Malta and Havre. He added that out of the 54 buildings Clausen and Sons was the only company that was able to complete the projects by the planned time.

Lineweaver said that the company also has done a number of other building projects for Border Patrol.

"We do a little bit of all kinds of stuff over the years," Clausen said. "You have to be, to be our size business in this area. You just can't specialize in one exact thing."

Clausen and Sons does a wide range of work themselves, such as concrete work, traditional structural work, metal roofs and metal buildings.

Clausen's brothers, Robert and Brent, were also involved with the family business, with Robert Clausen overseeing the company until the late 1970s when he left to pursue another career path. Dave Clausen said that shortly after Robert left, his brother Brent followed. After his brothers left, his father decided to retire in 1993, he said.

At the time that his father retired, Dave Clausen already owned half of the company and he and his partner, Pat Newton, bought his father's remaining shares.

When Dave Clausen was younger, his father was not heavily involved in the actual construction but was handling more of the business side. Dave Clausen headed his first crew when he was 17, he said, and the people under him were older, but he had experience and knew how to work with blueprints and building plans.

He didn't get heavily involved until the 1980s, after he attended a little bit of college at Montana State University in Bozeman, later he would transfer to MSU-Northern but did not leave with a degree. He added that he was needed at the family business.

He has good memories working with his father, working on different jobs together after he came back from college, driving and talking as they headed to the job sites together.

His father had taught him a number of things in the time they spent together he said.

"You're going to have problems, you deal with them and meet them face first, head on and keep going deal with them get them done," he said.

Lineweaver said that she remembers working with her father from a young age, starting to go with him to job sites when she was 5 or 6 years old. She added it is something that she enjoys doing with her sons.

"It's kind of funny because I can remember doing the same thing with my father," she said.

She said that she was working with her father with her sister, Charlotte, for a number of years from junior high school through high school and her college years. Her sister did not get involved with the business later on.

"I've always enjoyed working with my father. That's one of the neatest things about him is he's always about even keeled and has a good head about him," she said.

After graduating from Carroll College and attending some law school she decided in 2008 to return to work with her father with her husband, Curt.

Working with her father is something she enjoys.

"I hate it when he's not here," she said.

Clausen added that he hates it when she isn't there, as well.

Lineweaver said that she is excited for the future and to see if her children want to get involved with the business as she has.

Clausen said that he enjoys working with his family and has loyal employees.

"It's a business you can see - what your progress is most days. End of the day you see a structure there," he said. "... You leave a mark when you're done. Hopefully it's a positive impact, with what you have built for an owner or a company. It's a sense of satisfaction."

 

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