Dakota Fence is one of the area’s most prominent installers of residential and commercial fence. The company evolved from a back garage operation to open offices in Bismarck, Minot and Williston, North Dakota and added a location in the Twin Cities in February 2022. Today, Dakota Fence remains headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota and is one of the largest fence companies in the United States.
DFC Company is the parent holding company for Dakota Fence Company (residential and commercial fence), 3D Specialties, Inc. (temporary traffic control, permanent sign installation and highway guardrail), Dakota Playground, Inc. (installation of commercial playgrounds for cities, schools and parks), Sign Solutions USA (manufacturer and national distributor of traffic signs and related traffic products) and Park & Play USA (national distributor of parks and recreation equipment).
Starting in 1972, Dakota Fence began with one employee. As they celebrate their 50-year anniversary in 2022, DFC Company has expanded its reach and grown to have over 500 employees. Joe Currier, President and CEO of DFC Company, offered insight into the company’s history, challenges the company has faced and what’s in store for DFC Company’s future.
How has being located in North Dakota impacted you?
Dakota Fence was started by Dave, Dan and Dick Currier in their family garage in 1972. There wasn’t really a dedicated Fargo company for fence installation in 1972. The Currier family saw the need for that, which inspired them to launch Dakota Fence. The goal of the Currier family was to create a professional fence construction company throughout North Dakota, providing great finished fences with excellent service at a fair price. The company has never compromised from those original standards.
What did your company’s journey look like over the years of growth?
In 1977, Dakota Fence was asked to set up temporary traffic control for a road contractor in Fargo. Always looking to expand the business, the Curriers bought the necessary materials and rented them to the road contractor – that first rental started what later became 3D Specialties, Inc. (“3D Specialties”), rightly named after Dave, Dan (Dave’s brother) and Dick (Richard, Dave’s father). 3D Specialties now operates in all Dakota Fence North Dakota offices, providing traffic control, permanent sign and guardrail installation to keep the traveling public safe.
Also in 1977, Dick Currier saw a need for a company to install playground equipment at schools and parks. Dakota Fence partnered with Landscape Structures, Inc. (“LSI”) from Delano, Minnesota. As one of LSI’s first dealers, Dakota Fence took on the territories of North Dakota, South Dakota, Northwest Minnesota, Montana and Wyoming. Dick Currier pioneered the growth of that business with endless travel, both by car and the airplane he shared with Dave. Today, Dakota Fence’s original playground business is its own company, Dakota Playground, Inc., and continues to be part of the DFC Company family of companies.
The “Blue Family”
Dakota Fence’s first company vehicle happened to be blue. The color stuck and now the company’s entire fleet of work trucks remains blue to this day.
In 2015, Joe Currier, John Currier and Amy Mickelson, the sons and daughter of Dave Currier, joined the family business as its next generation of leaders and owners of the business. With the tremendous platform built by those that came before them, and always having that entrepreneurial spirit like their father, the holding company DFC Company was created in 2017 to house the then-current operating entities (Dakota Fence, 3D Specialties and Dakota Playground) and to allow for future expansion.
In 2021, Joe, John and Amy created Sign Solutions USA to house its growing traffic sign manufacturing business, which much like Dakota Fence, started from a small footprint, to now operate from a 100,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in West Fargo, North Dakota. Today, Sign Solutions USA is one of the largest flat sheet traffic sign manufacturers in the United States, having sold signs nationwide and in Canada.
Seeing the success of Sign Solutions USA, in 2021 the park and recreation portion of Dakota Playground (site amenities, flag poles, sports equipment, bleachers, etc.) was spun off into its own company, Park & Play USA, to sell those products throughout the United States. In February of 2022, Town & Country Fence in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota joined forces with Dakota Fence for Dakota Fence’s first Minnesota location.
We are very proud of what an idea in a garage in Fargo, North Dakota has become. Our record of continued growth and expansion of services offered is the product of our Blue Family employees. It is the people, our Blue Family, that make-up DFC Company and its operating companies. Without our Blue Family employees, who are the best in the industry in their respective areas of the business, we would not be where we are today. With our Blue Family employees, we have been able to provide top-quality materials and services to thousands and thousands of satisfied customers. The growth and reputation of DFC Company and its operating companies are the direct results of individual efforts and the close cooperation of all Blue Family employees. Future success depends upon the continuation of these efforts and strict adherence to the highest standards and ideals in quality production and workmanship with customer satisfaction commanding top priority.
What is your company’s strategy for retaining and attracting employees?
A company is only as good as its people, so doing things a company needs to do to attract and retain employees is very important to DFC Company and its operating companies. Whether it’s our annual July company-wide BBQ, our annual shutdown party in December to celebrate another successful construction season or recognizing birthdays and work anniversary milestones, all of those things play a part in fostering a culture that brings people together as a family. In recognition of those blue trucks, DFC Company refers to its employees as its Blue Family. As a family business that cares for its employees, its employees are an extension of the Currier family, which is why we refer to our employees as the Blue Family.
How did your company face the COVID-19 pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic challenged our business and employees like none of us had previously experienced. There wasn’t a playbook for what to do so a lot of it was developed in real-time. We created a COVID-19 task force to make decisions on and seek input from our Blue Family employees. Joe Currier sent company-wide emails on a nearly daily basis to keep the Blue Family apprised of what was going on with COVID-19, how the company was reacting to it and what it was doing to ensure the health and safety of our Blue Family employees while continuing to operate the business. It was a team effort – we often say it takes everyone in the Blue Family for our company to be successful – and because of a tremendous team effort, we were able to get through it.
What opportunities came forth from this pandemic?
COVID-19 was an incredibly challenging time for everyone. A few opportunities that came with it were an opportunity to connect more frequently, albeit virtually, with the Blue Family employees. Whether this was through constant email communication or video updates, because you couldn’t always be together in person, you had to overcommunicate. The pandemic also challenged the company and its Blue Family employees to find ways to still run and operate the business through challenging times. For example, we developed a process to provide a homeowner seeking a residential fence for a touchless fence estimate, often through FaceTime on an iPhone. This allowed us to complete the estimate, and keep the business moving, while still serving our customers from inside their own homes.
What is something that most people may not know about Dakota Fence Company?
Dakota Fence is much more than just a fence company. We are a traffic control, permanent sign installation and highway guardrail company through 3D Specialties, Inc. We are a playground company through Dakota Playground, Inc., serving five states. We are a national manufacturer and distributor of traffic signs and traffic-related products through Sign Solutions USA having sold nationwide and in Canada. We are a national distributor of park and recreation equipment through Sign Solutions USA. We have a Twin Cities location—Town & Country Fence— located in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
What advice can you give to small and medium-sized companies looking to grow?
Dakota Fence was built on an incredible work ethic and great people. Your people are your greatest asset. Invest in them, provide them with training and treat them like family. If you do that, the sky’s the limit.
Are you looking to expand? If so, how?
Yes. Dakota Fence acquired Town & Country Fence in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota in February of 2022 to enter the Twin Cities market. Sign Solutions USA will also open its new 100,000-square-foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in West Fargo, North Dakota this October. Upon its opening, it will be one of the largest sign manufacturers in the United States.
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