Art Gardner
Art Gardner

A Twin Cities business newspaper named Art Gardner, director of project management, THOR Construction, to its 2017 “40 under 40” list of outstanding young business professionals in the Twin Cities.

“It’s a privilege to be included among such a distinguished list of young Twin Cities professionals,” says Gardner. “I have to give a lot of credit to THOR for providing me with the opportunities to grow in my career and achieve professional success.”

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal presented Gardner with his “40 Under 40” award earlier this month. “Art’s in good company with the 40-under-40 selection,” says Ravi Norman, chief executive officer of Minneapolis-based THOR Cos., the corporate parent of THOR Construction. “He earned his place on this list. He works extremely hard and always goes the extra mile to deliver value to our clients, which makes him one of our key employees.”

Gardner kicked off his career with THOR in major-league fashion, as the company assigned him to work on the construction of Target Field, the $400 million baseball stadium built for the Minnesota Twins. From there, Gardner worked on projects including a new $35 million headquarters facility for the Minneapolis Public Schools; the $1 billion Green and Blue Line light rail transit connector between the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul where THOR placed all the structural concrete; and then on to a three-year stint in the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium, the $1.1 billion home of the Minnesota Vikings football team completed in July 2016.

Gardner served as concrete quality control manager for both THOR and its co-construction management partner, Mortenson Construction, on the stadium build-out, working to ensure quality standards were met for the placement of 100,000 cubic yards of concrete. He also took on responsibilities for overseeing the installation of the entire food service operation at the stadium – a vast undertaking involving more than 40 individual concession stands, eight standalone bars, a full-service restaurant and several high-volume kitchens.

Currently, Gardner handles project management responsibilities for THOR’s share of work on the $120 million renovation of Target Center, Minneapolis home to the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 12-year construction industry veteran credits his parents, Art, Sr. and Darlene, and in particular his dad, for getting him interested in a career in the construction industry. “My Dad got me started in the construction business while I was still in high school,” Gardner says. Even as a teenager, “I knew I wanted to be in construction.”

Working for the entrepreneurially-oriented THOR Cos. enables him to develop his career path on a fast track, he says. “THOR really honors the entrepreneurial spirit, encouraging employees to take on every greater challenge so that they – and the company – can grow,” he says.

He’s particularly excited about the recent company re-positioning, which saw the emergence of THOR Companies as a turnkey real estate management company with four key affiliates/subsidiaries: THOR Development, THOR Design Plus, THOR Construction and THOR Consulting.

“Those moves were made to deliver greater value to our clients, across the board,” says Gardner. In construction, for example, we can now team up with THOR Design Plus to produce computerized 3-D models that simulate the projected work flow of an entire project, melding in different disciplines such as mechanical and structural engineering and design into one seamless working model. Using the model, THOR can identify problems on a project before they happen – as might be the case where a structural design decision might unwittingly cause a problem for the placement of building mechanical systems. “We can solve problems before they happen on the job – before they turn into costly change-orders,” he says.

The construction industry might once have lagged other industries in terms of technological advances but that’s changing rapidly now. “My job is really becoming more technologically driven all the time,” he says. People in construction management positions such as his will be consistently challenged to keep abreast of technological change – and to understand how to harness it to best effect for clients. School is always in, in other words. “We practice a program of continuous improvement at THOR, and I’m a big supporter of it,” he says. “You have to keep growing all the time to be successful today.”