For more than 135 years, Ibberson has been a leader in innovative engineering and construction solutions. In that time, the company has taken an incredible journey from its humble beginnings building grain silos to becoming an international leader in design-build and EPC projects. By studying that journey, we can better understand the unique spirit and commitment to excellence that drives results for Ibberson clients.
The T.E. Ibberson Company was founded by Thomas E. Ibberson in 1881. Ibberson started building grain elevators at the age of 18, following new railroads as they expanded west and building wood-cribbed elevators along the way. The company’s first offices were located in the Minneapolis Corn Exchange building, and although the headquarters would move several times over the years, the company never abandoned its Minneapolis roots.
The company grew to prominence building grain elevators, mills and other facilities to support the area’s booming grain milling industry. Ibberson expanded to include feed processing in the 1940s and would remain a leader in the grain and milling space all the way through the present day.
Following the grain embargo of 1980, company leaders knew they had to diversify their industries to access new revenue streams. They decided to take the bold step of branching into international markets, completing a project in Mexico in 1982 before making the leap across the ocean to Egypt in 1985.
At the time, no other U.S. firms were doing business overseas. Senior Vice President Glenn Higgins led the international group at that time and said they quickly adapted to the overseas markets and developed winning strategies that allowed the business to thrive. As a testament to their innovation and success, Higgins said the company never lost money on a single international project.
Along with adding an international portfolio, the company also expanded into the food and beverage space, renovating an Oreo plant for Nabisco in 1986. The company would focus heavily on the food and beverage market over the next 30-plus years, becoming a leader in the space and completing projects for some of the world’s biggest brands.
At the start of the new millennium, Ibberson launched a joint venture with The Industrial Company (TIC) before TIC eventually bought Ibberson. In 2008, Kiewit purchased TIC to make Ibberson a wholly-owned subsidiary of their two parent companies.
The world has changed a lot since Ibberson began in 1881. But the company’s commitment to delivering excellent workmanship and outstanding service has never wavered. Since the beginning, Ibberson has prided itself on being an innovator willing to take on new challenges and pioneer new solutions for its clients.
That persistence of spirit is perhaps best reflected in the longevity of its employees. In 138 years, the company has only had seven different presidents, and many on the leadership team have been with the company for decades.
Higgins, who started at Ibberson in 1973, said he’s stayed so long because of the people he works with and the enthusiasm with which the company pursues its mission.
“I enjoy the culture, it’s a very entrepreneurial type of culture. We’re not afraid to go out and do new things,” Higgins said. “But it’s also a very personal company with a real family atmosphere.”
Ibberson started as a family company and has grown into an international leader. If the past is any indication, Ibberson is poised to continue its success for many years to come.