Building in their blood: Cousins start successful Innovative companies in AlexandriaTheir mothers were twin sisters. During their childhood, cousins Randy Roers, 35, and Scott Kluver, 37, remember hanging out together, riding dirt bikes, skate boarding and building jumps – typical kid stuff. Roers and Kluver were local kids who grew up working hard, leveraged their personal assets, and made it large, but lived lean.
By: Wendy Wilson, Alexandria Echo Press
Their mothers were twin sisters.
During their childhood, cousins Randy Roers, 35, and Scott Kluver, 37, remember hanging out together, riding dirt bikes, skate boarding and building jumps – typical kid stuff.
Roers and Kluver were local kids who grew up working hard, leveraged their personal assets, and made it large, but lived lean.
Roers grew up in Brandon and Kluver was raised in Alexandria.
After graduating from Moorhead State University with degrees in construction management and working apart for a time, the two men cultivated a quartet of Alexandria businesses – Innovative Builders, Innovative Developers, Innovative Enterprises and Innovative Erectors – starting when they were just in their 20s. Mark LeBrun partners with them in Innovative Erectors.
They also own the restaurant Bennigan’s in Alexandria with partner, Royce Martin.
The cousins started Innovative Developers around 2002, buying repossessed homes to renovate and resell.
“Just to get seed money to do bigger things,” Roers said.
The move paid off as they expanded into the other businesses in 2005.
“At the end of their first year, they exceeded their five-year business plan,” Director Todd Emmons said. “Everything is falling and here is one [company] rising.”
They estimate the companies’ yearly revenue is about $20 million.
The pair did so well that in 2010 they received an award for Small Business Success Story from Twin Cities Business magazine.
Construction has been a part of their lives for a long time. Their grandfather, Lee Hens, developed the Midway Mall.
“[Hens] had injuries in World War II and was told he probably would not live past 40 – so, he wanted to get a lifetime in within the next 20 years,” Kluver said. “He was pretty driven to do that.”
Roers agreed. He remembered Hens going to work every day, even when he was 80.
“He always did everything 100 miles per hour,” he said. “He bought [the Midway Mall] property back when it was a dirt road running from 3M out here. The interstate was not in,” he said.
Hens went on to build the Algon Ballroom in Alexandria in 1965.
“It was a pretty big deal,” Kluver said. “Everybody had weddings and big dances when ballrooms were popular.”
The space where the ballroom used to be is now a movie theater.
Kluver remembered summers during his high school and college years working for his grandfather. Roers did the same.
“We were doing renovations at the theater, putting Cinema Six and Seven in there,” Kluver said. “We were doing things like taking out the old Unicells in there and doing demo.”
Roers remembered the labor-intensive jobs.
“I don’t think either of us thought that is what we would do,” he said. “But it’s almost like just being around it, it’s just in your blood.”
Hens’ children now manage the Midway Mall off of Highway 29 in Alexandria.
“Our lives are probably in a lot of ways mirroring a little bit what he did, with the construction and development,” Roers said. “He actually had the corner bar where the bookstore [Cherry Street Books] is right now. And now we have a Bennigan’s.
Part of the cousins’ success during today’s difficult economic times involves maintaining good relationships with their customers.
“When we started Innovative, one of the first goals was that every customer was going to be a reference,” Kluver said. “We have accomplished it. It has gone a lot further than we even expected in the fact that it has created a repeat customer base.”
Roers explained that instead of living lavish lifestyles, they chose to reinvest in the company.
“Our attitude has always been that everything we get, we just put right back into the company,” he said. “If we made any money, we put it right back in the company. We reinvested it and bought equipment.”
Some of the larger projects they have tackled in Alexandria include Walgreen’s, Lakewood Terrace and currently Knute Nelson’s new Grand Arbor.
The Innovative companies employ about 100 people with approximately 35 of them working in construction jobs like concrete work, steel erection and carpentry.
ALEXANDRIA AREA IS HOME
“We like it here,” Kluver said. “We enjoy the lifestyle around here and the lakes.”
The cousins plan to stay headquartered in Alexandria.
“It is a great community,” Kluver said. “It’s strong. It’s tight-knit. People like to keep things local.”
Kluver’s parents continue to reside in Alexandria and Roers’ still live in Brandon.
The men feel fortunate for their success at a young age.
“Now, we’re just waiting for the gray hair,” Roers said.