By Alex Karwowski
St. Anthony Park business owner Ben Quie started Ben Quie & Sons 35 years ago and has seen it all — from the 2008 recession to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nonetheless, Quie’s remodeling contractor business still remains today, with satisfied customers to boot.
Quie started Ben Quie & Sons after discovering he loved working with his hands. Through his time as a business owner, he adapted to the changing world around him to stay afloat.
When Quie graduated from high school, he didn’t know what he wanted to do for a career. He said he considered taking over his family’s farm and took general college courses, but ultimately landed a job with a summer contractor and discovered a passion for working with his hands.
“That was the first time I worked on other people’s houses,” Quie said. “I worked for them for four or five years and then started my own business.”
Quie said in the first 20 years of his business and before the 2008 recession, he wasn’t focused on growth. However, as the years rolled by and his body began wearing out, Ben Quie turned his focus into maintaining the business for the long haul.
Quie recruited his son Sam as his business partner. Sam climbed the ladder of carpenter, lead carpenter, production manager and now part owner in the company.
“I really respect what my dad built,” Sam said. “I want to continue that.”
Growth was not always simple for Quie. Establishing systems and processes for an efficient business were critical in keeping it afloat, especially since he was working in the business and didn’t have time to put those systems in place, Quie said.
“Having the right people to help grow the business has been really key,” he added.
With the challenges Quie faced often came a silver lining. When COVID-19 was at its worst, many business owners were uncertain of their future, Sam said there was an uptick in sales for remodelers.
Increased remodeling sales were likely the result of the amount of time people spent at home and noticing areas to improve their homes, Quie said. Consumers also had more disposable income because of reduced vacation spending, he said.
As Quie’s years in the remodeling business are nearing a close, he plans to hand off his company to son Sam. Sam said he wants to maintain the good relationships that Quie & Sons has built with consumers.
“I will run a business in a way where I can live next door to a client and we’re friends,” Sam said. n
(Editor’s note: Ben Quie is the son of former Minnesota Governor Al Quie, who died Aug. 10 at age 99.)
Alex Karwowski is a journalism major at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. When Alex isn’t busy writing or interviewing, you can find him playing tuba with the U of M Marching Band.