Building on the Dakota Rising Experience

Posted on July 6, 2017

Paula Jensen
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With a passion for construction and a deep love of their rural roots, Jay Yohner and Brad Hahn teamed up in 2015 to launch a post-frame manufacturing business in their hometown of Martin, South Dakota. Jay and Brad had already been working together through Jay’s construction company, Yohner Construction, and the partnership was a natural progression for a couple of guys with a big idea.

“I actually left Martin and moved to Oregon to enroll in a structural engineering and architectural design program,” says Jay. “I moved back to Martin and started my own construction business. I hired Brad and we really clicked. We both love construction. We both have big dreams. And we both believe we can make those dreams happen right here.”

As business partners, Brad and Jay established Pioneer Buildings, Inc. with a vision for creating high quality, pre-fabricated post frame buildings that require no on-site cuts, low overhead and very little waste. The buildings are pre-cut and pre-marked, and come with a step-by-step building plan that can be quickly built on-site by Pioneer Buildings, Inc. or can be shipped and built by other contractors.

“The idea is to build and grow an indoor manufacturing facility that will create more jobs for people in our area,” says Brad. “Martin doesn’t have any kind of manufacturing industry. If we grow like we hope to grow, we’ll bring new opportunities to our hometown and give it a boost.” That desire for progress is what led Brad and Jay to Dakota Rising. “We were looking through our electric cooperative newsletter and there was a story about Dakota Rising,” explains Brad. “It was exactly what we were looking for, so we called them and decided to go for it. We’re good at what we do, and we know where we want to go, we just need help with some of the business knowledge, resources and people skills.”

In 2016, Brad and Jay were accepted into the Dakota Rising Fellowship and are already making progress on their ambitious business plan.

“We bought a junky abandoned lot in Martin and our plan is to clean it up and start a manufacturing site in that location,” explains Brad.

Eventually, the men hope to grow that manufacturing facility into a multi-million dollar industry for Martin, where affordable, high quality pre-fabricated post frame buildings are shipped to contractors across the country.

They are both confident the Dakota Rising Fellowship will help guide them toward success.

“So far the Fellowship is pushing us out of our comfort zones, but we are seeing the value of different perspectives. All the Dakota Rising entrepreneurs come from backgrounds way different than ours, but we all have the same questions and share the same struggles. Jay and I are motivated and we want to learn. It feels like we’re in the right place,” says Brad.

Dakota Rising Fiscal Year 2016 Outcomes:

  • 3 Dakota Rising communities created volunteer teams dedicated to local business support
  • 296 business owners participated in local business training
  • 197 business owners attended networking events

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