A new home in Halstad
Red River Valley Co-op Power has replaced its 73-year-old building with a new modern facility in Halstad, Minn.
"Modern” and “enjoyable” are just some of the words Red River Valley Co-op Power employees used to describe their new headquarters located in Halstad, Minn. Three years ago, the Minnkota member cooperative began looking at constructing a new building to better suit the needs of its membership and its employees. After 14 months working offsite to complete the renovations – July 2023 was officially move-in time.
Red River Valley Co-op Power CEO Rich Whitcomb explained how the original 1949 headquarters had poor insulation, old windows and other aging characteristics that made a simple cosmetic renovation an inefficient solution.
“The building had run its course and it was no longer fitting the needs of the cooperative,” Whitcomb said. “Changes were needed to ensure our employees are safe, our infrastructure is secure and we’re protecting the investments made in vehicles and equipment.”
The Red River Valley Co-op board decided the better longterm solution was to invest in a $4.9 million project that involved tearing down the original headquarters and building a brandnew facility right on top of the existing lot. They also decided to keep a small portion of the building that was added in 1987 and renovate the interior to match the “modern vibe” of the new building.
Besides the polished concrete floors and the fresh paint job, another major addition to the new home of Red River employees is the attached, heated shop. The large storage space can now house service vehicles, bucket trucks and other field equipment. Of course, the co-op used off-peak electric floor heat and air-source heat pumps to provide comfort and energy efficiency.
“We have never had a place to keep our large bucket trucks in heated storage,” Whitcomb said. “On the coldest days of the year, crew members shouldn’t have to worry about equipment starting in harsh temperatures – increasing the reliability, safety and speed of work necessary to keep the lights on for the cooperative’s entire membership. The shop will also help preserve the longevity of equipment used every day by Red River’s crew.”
A few other modern touches are sprinkled throughout the new headquarters, including real-time outage maps for the crews and engineers to see what is happening in the field and an upgraded security system to better protect sensitive information and grant employees more peace of mind when they enter work.
“We are all ready to just settle in and make the space our own,” an eager Red River employee said.
The local difference
One of the most rewarding parts of this new building project, according to Whitcomb, was the local companies and people involved throughout the entire process. With supply chain challenges and inflation issues looming, the cooperative found support from Red River co-op members who were crucial in getting this construction project across the finish line.
Taracon Precast is a Red River member located in Hawley, Minn., which specializes in large concrete projects. They supplied the precast concrete panels used to construct the new building and garage. Visser Trenching is also a member out of Ada, Minn., and they were essential in the demolition and removal of the original building. Even some electricians who were contracted to work on the new headquarters are residential members of Red River Valley Co-op Power.
The co-op utilized the former Norman County West School in Hendrum, Minn., as a home base during the construction period. The timing was perfect as the school, which closed in 2021, is in the process of being repurposed as a business/community facility and is recruiting new tenants.
Now, thanks to the membership, the stewardship of its board and the dedication of its employees, Red River Valley Co-op Power’s building gives this small-town co-op a new, modern feel.
“At the end of the day, this is all about better serving our membership,” Whitcomb said. “This facility helps ensure we’ll be able to do that now and well into the future.”