LAIC sold site north of SD-34
The skyrocketing cost of lumber is changing the way people are assessing options when they consider home ownership or the need for farm outbuildings. More people are choosing to move older homes and barns rather than to build -- which is a boon for Ryan Arpan at Midwest House Movers.
Over the summer, for the first time, Arpan has had two crews heading out in different directions in the morning.
"We always move multiple houses per week, but that doubled this summer," Arpan said.
That is one of the reasons he purchased land and will be constructing a new shop at the first of the year. The 12,000-square-foot shop will sit on eight acres and will offer amenities Midwest House Movers does not enjoy at its present location -- such as a 10-ton bridge crane for loading trucks.
Midwest House Movers has been renting space from B&G Transportation in the Lake Area Improvement Corporation's industrial park. After the new shop is constructed, the business will relocate to its new site north of SD-34 between the cement plant and Highway 34 Customs, Inc. -- a site previously earmarked for a jail and public safety building.
LAIC announced the sale last week.
"This is a great opportunity for the LAIC to work with an existing Madison business and help them grow," said Eric Fosheim, executive director. "Anytime we can help a local business grow, we're happy to be a part of that."
Arpan is a second-generation mover, having learned the business from his father, who started Arpan House Moving in the Pierre area around 1975. He relocated the business to Madison 12 years ago and renamed it in 2015.
In recent years, Arpan has seen the number of moving companies in the state decline. He purchased one; another, Telkamp House Moving of Brookings, went out of business earlier this year.
"I bought a lot of stuff presale and at the sale," Arpan said.
He attributes the decline not to less business but to a lack of interest. Both he and the owners of a sister company, Milbank House Movers, Inc., are second-generation movers.
"It's not something you can go to school for," he explained. The work is also not easy.
"It can be dangerous," he noted.
When Brian Kern expanded Lake Area Townhomes with a new building that included 21 new units, Midwest House Movers transported the structure which had been constructed at Custom Touch Homes to the site in four sections. Each was 44 feet wide, 88 feet long and weighed 150 tons.
Balancing the challenge of the work and the headache of the logistics, such as permits and power lines, is the satisfaction that comes with helping families realize their dreams.
"When you set their house down, you see their faces and that's really rewarding," Arpan said.
While smiling faces may not greet him when he moves an apartment complex, each time he takes the Madison bypass, he feels the satisfaction of knowing he played a part in putting the new townhomes in place. He knows what it took to move 150 tons down the highway -- not once, but four times -- and is proud of the job his crews did.
Arpan indicated that about 40% of his work involves moving homes constructed by Custom Touch Homes, but about 60% involves moving other structures, including older homes and barns.
"Last Thursday, we did a three-story barn by Colton," he said. "We did a lot of barns this year. With lumber prices, it's actually cheaper to move a barn than build a barn."
In building, he is planning for expansion. He admits he experienced some sleepless nights as the pieces came together for his new shop. Not only did he have to get the necessary variances to build, but he also had to work with the state Department of Transportation, which finally determined he did not need a separate approach.
"There's plenty of driveway room for both of us," he said, referring to the neighboring business, Highway 34 Customs.
In doubling the square footage he currently has, Arpan is pleased that he will be able to keep supplies like steel beams indoors and will be able to load the trucks with the bridge crane. Since each job is different, being able to work under climate-controlled conditions will be more efficient.
Arpan also feels his new shop, which will feature the company colors of silver, red and black, will be an asset to the community.
"It will look real nice sitting out here along the highway," Arpan said.
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