Piping Pros, Shutdown Specialists

Last year, Midwest Ironworks completed the largest job in its history, and the scale of the achievement has inspired its founder to keep thinking big. Despite an industrial piping background, the company has developed superb shutdown services.
By Matt Thompson | July 14, 2020

FROM JULY 2020 ISSUE

Last year, Midwest Ironworks completed the largest job in its history, and the scale of the achievement has inspired the company’s founder to keep thinking big. The Horace, North Dakota-based crew installed all the process piping for Red River Biorefinery in Grand Forks, North Dakota, which began operations in early 2020, producing cellulosic ethanol from sugar beet tailings. “For about a year and a half, we had an average of about 40 to 45 guys there,” says Midwest Ironwroks President Ryan Haugo, adding that their work on the plant began in 2018.

Haugo’s company was launched more than a decade ago after he returned from an overseas job and took a position with Wanzek Construction while the company was building Tharaldson Ethanol in Casselton, North Dakota. Not long after, Haugo struck out on his own.

Today, Midwest Ironworks has a strong working relationship with Tharaldson and many other companies in the ethanol sector. In addition to industrial piping, Midwest Ironworks performs ethanol plant shutdown services, and has worked with other plants in North Dakota. Haugo says Midwest Ironworks is involved with all of Tharaldson’s seasonal shutdowns. For Haugo’s crew, that includes piping and millwright work and regenerative thermal oxidizer maintenance, which not all shutdown teams are qualified to do. 

Despite the company’s name and reputation for industrial piping, shutdown services have become an important segment of Midwest Ironworks’ business, Haugo says. “It’s a huge part of what we do, and I feel like we have one of the best crews out there for doing it,” he says.

While most of his company’s ethanol plant work has been limited to North Dakota, Haugo’s team has also done work outside of the state, thanks in part to relationships with companies like ICM Inc. “There are opportunities that come alongside ICM on some of their projects,” he says. “That’s a good relationship to have.”

And while finding and accepting jobs outside the region has unique challenges, Haugo says he’s ready and able to mobilize his personnel quickly. “We would definitely entertain doing shutdowns anywhere in the U.S.,” he says. “Our goal is to serve as many ethanol plants as we can.”