Our Story

The Beginning

The concept of Interstates was born on the front porch of John A. Franken’s home in the early 1950s.

To supplement his income as an operator at the City of Sioux Center’s power plant, John began selling television sets to a community hungry for this newest technology craze.

Along with TV sales, “Johnny’s Electric” started to install antennas and power receptacles.

Eventually, the electrical business occupied more of John’s time, and he discontinued television sales to concentrate on installations.

The 1960's

Throughout the early 1960s, most of the company’s business was in commercial and institutional projects including schools, churches, and hospitals located primarily in northwest Iowa.

During this decade, the company began to do work with grain elevator and feed mill construction companies. With this expansion into the industrial world, Johnny’s Electric began to complete projects throughout the United States.

In 1967, Johnny’s Electric was renamed Interstates Electric and Engineering to reflect its expanding service offerings. The company moved out of John’s basement to its current office location in Sioux Center, IA.

Darrel Ramhorst, a veteran of the Air Force and NASA space program, joined the Interstates staff and spearheaded the engineering portion of the business.

Under Darrel’s leadership, Interstates was able to offer total “design-build” electrical packages, which still account for a majority of its business today.

The 1970's

The 1970s was a decade of exceptional growth for Interstates Electric and Engineering. The industrial sector continued to expand and a large percentage of the company’s work took place throughout the United States.

Although business was successful, the company’s leadership recognized the need to branch into other industrial fields for continued growth.

The 1980's

In the 1980s, several events took place that helped fuel the company’s development.

Interstates recognized that many of their customers wanted turnkey electrical systems (one point of contact for engineering, automation, and electrical construction).

The need for control system design was also growing, and the company responded by launching Interstates’ control systems division.

In the early 1980s, Interstates performed its first international work with projects in Egypt and China.

The 1990's

Interstates continued to leverage past experience in the feed and grain industries during the 1990s, and also diversified in other sectors.

The chemical, food processing, oilseed, ethanol, and biodiesel industries are some industries in which Interstates built its reputation.

In 1995, Jim Franken became chairman and CEO of Interstates Electric and Engineering, maintaining Interstates’ standing as the premier provider of quality services.

As the control systems division continued to grow and expand its services, Interstates Control Systems, Inc. launched as a separate company under the Interstates flag in 1996.

Then, in 1999, Interstates Engineering became a separate business unit as well.

The 2000's

Following Jim Franken’s passing in 2001, Larry Den Herder became chairman and CEO of Interstates, continuing the tradition of client-focused project delivery that Jim had established.

Several other changes took place within the company during the early 2000s. The Harbor Group was formed as a holding company for the Interstates Companies to accomplish two specific goals:(1) to provide guidance and accountability to the operating companies and (2) to explore new business opportunities and ventures.

Interstates began working on larger industrial projects. The company has since completed several large food processing plants, automotive facilities, and ethanol plants, providing various electrical services for these facilities.

In 2003, InterFab began as a small prefabrication shop off-site in Sioux Center, IA. Industry demand for their quality products and services quickly grew the business. InterFab moved their operation to Hull, IA in November 2005.

In order to comply with state regulations, in 2004 Interstates Electric and Engineering changed its name to Interstates Construction Services, Inc.

As competition continues to grow in the global market place, manufacturers are challenged to employ more lean and efficient systems. The Manufacturing Intelligence group was officially formed in 2006, allowing Interstates to further focus on clients' management information and information technology challenges. The group focuses on two areas - Manufacturing Execution Systems and Manufacturing Information Technology.

In this decade, Interstates incorporated a Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) practices to improve upon already safe work behaviors. Behavior-Based safety has become the cornerstone of Interstates' safety program.

Over the last ten years, Interstates has added regional offices to better support and service their growing client base. The company currently has offices in Omaha, NE; Fort Collins, CO; Cincinnati, OH; and Sioux Falls, SD; in addition to our corporate office in Sioux Center, IA.

The 2010's

Interstates, as a partner in a Joint Venture, was awarded a full Engineer, Procure, Construct (EPC) Contract to expand a waste to energy facility that takes in solid waste and produces heat and steam.

Interstates Companies began an intentional relationship with a group of companies where we work together to provide full turn-key solutions. Learn more about Integral.

In 2012, Interstates reached over $100,000,000 in total revenue by continuing to offer design-build services to our clients. Currently, Interstates’ big focus is on their growth and attracting new employees to keep up with our continued growth.

In 2013, Interstates acquired a new building in Sioux Center to house their controls engineering group and their UL Listed Panel Fabrication shop. InterFab also moved their location from Hull to this location as well to allow them to expand their operations.

In 2014, Interstates was honored at the ABC National Excellence in Construction Banquet for being the 2013 Contractor of the Year. This award was presented to Interstates for our involvement in the association, our overall project excellence, and the commitment to safety.

In September 2014, Scott Peterson became Interstates Companies' CEO with Larry Den Herder becoming Chairman of the Board.