Clark Construction

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Clark Construction and the people that run it are major characters in the Spearfish Lake universe that has been created by Wes. Clark Construction was founded by Brent Clark after World War II, with help from Garth Matson, a local banker. It developed into one of the bigger builders in the Spearfish Lake area and the only supplier of concrete for 50 miles (80 km) around. While not as big an operation as Clark Plywood, it was completely Brent's and more profitable. Brent's wife, Ursula Mandenberg, was an award winning architect. Commons, a large log building, was one of her designs and the first really big Clark Construction project in the late 1950s.

In 1997, Randy Clark, the grandson of Brent, joined the business and the grooming to take it over was started. His first job was on the concrete crew with Rod Turpin. Randy rearranged his classes and majored in construction management at NMU.SQ23 Ryan Clark (Randy's father) was known to help out part-time with the "business side" of Clark Construction: financial issues, personnel and unions, and on more than one occasion sent the Clark Plywood labor attorneys to help with Clark Construction union negotiations.

One of the most experienced construction superintendents was Mike Baker. His heart problems in 1998 meant Rod Turpin was the obvious replacement, but he wouldn't accept the promotion. Randy finally uncovered his illiteracy and involved his mother to help teach him to read.DW58

Clark Construction is the builder of choice for the Three Pines Indian Reservation. They seem to have something going in every construction season. Randy put together a crew that did Three Pines work almost exclusively, and several workers on that crew are from the reservation.HC29

Unlike areas in the southern part of the country where construction happens year-around, the overall Clark Construction employment is very seasonal: low in the winter and high in the "construction season". Spring thaw is the start of "mud season" as the top layer of soil thaws while the underlayer of frozen ground keeps the mud on the surface. You can have a nice spring day where nothing can be done due to the mud. Once mud season is over (the ground is fully thawed and dried out) you get as much done as you can. The first few snow flurries in the very late fall are the signal to get as much as you can closed in so that you can finish the interiors while the snow is on the ground. This highly seasonal employment situation is part of the background for the book Winter Layoff.

Randy took advantage of the off-season slow period to use the construction company to help rebuild his new home in Hannegan's Cove. An earlier project for the company was the rebuild of Jennifer Evachevski's home on Point Drive.

Among other projects Clark Construction built several school buildings, the new Spearfish Lake Appliance and Furniture store, a home on an island for David and Stacy Newton, and a home in Pass Christian, Mississippi for Jim Wooten's Uncle and Aunt ( John and Rita Fleming). Randy also had Don Bailey look over several houses before friends started home purchase negotiations.


  • Brent Clark (-2004)
  • Randy Clark (1997-)
  • Don Bailey headed the primary house construction crew, and they were good at itDW65
  • Mike Baker, a construction superintendent
  • Keith Boyer, a heavy equipment operator who would need some training to operate the John Deere road grader effectively.BHF17
  • Rachel Clark (Randy's older sister) She started in 2004 as an office assistant, and then became a combination bookkeeper and assistant to Regina LawrenceWL7
  • Russ Compton, a carpenterWL2
  • Bob Coopshaw, a heavy equipment operatorHC3, the regular operator of the John Deere road grader.BHF4
  • Jerry Evernham, named as excavating supervisor in both Hannegan's Cove HC3 and Birdwatcher Hill FireBHF10, though probably should have been...
  • Ray Evernham, named as excavating supervisor HC23 and other references suggest this the correct name.HC15 WL1 WL2 WL7 WL17
  • Hal Ferris, a heavy equipment operator who was prbably no better than Randy Clark at operating the John Deere road grader.BHF12
  • Carlos Gutierrez, Randy’s assistantHC3 He's also a journeyman carpenter.HC28 He was using the name Carl by August 2010.BHF10
  • Ken Halpern, a draftsmanHC3
  • Mike Householder, superintendent of the steel building crewWL20
  • Regina Lawrence, the secretary / bookkeeperHC3 (from before 1997)
  • Eloise, the office manager before ReginaHC11 (retired some time after 1997)
  • Mike Shanahan, a site superintendent who knows concrete and footers pretty well.WL14
  • Rod Turpin
  • Jim Wooten, an expert backhoe operatorHC23 (and the lead character in the book Winter Layoff)


As it was a private company, the value of Clark Construction depended on who was doing the estimating and when. In 2004, the capital value for tax purposes was four million dollars, although their mostly depreciated but well-maintained equipment had about $10 million in replacement value.

Randy believed that a shrewd competitor might offer $10M or more, indicating that the company would be a bargain at that value. On the other hand, $50M would be too much.HC8

For inheritance tax purposes, 96% of the company was valued at $2.7 million in early 2004.HC13