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Ames family, all 18 set out for Washington vacationApril 5, 1989 Countryside News -

The Ames family is going on vacation. They are packing up and heading for Washington DC.
Ames ConstructionThe Ames Company logo as art in the lobby of Ames Construction 2020.
Ames Construction is proud to celebrate 50 years 2011 (Complete magazine)The Fall 2011 Ames News provides an overview of the company and it's 50 years of business. It has five regional offices headquartered in Burnsville.
Ames Construction (PHOTO VERSION)Cover of its Fall 2011 News Magazine celebrating 50 years, shows the first piece of equipment purchased by company founder Dick Ames. It was restored in the early 1990s and is proudly displayed at the entrance of the company's headquarters in Burnsville.
Ames ConstructionRichard Ames bust in lobby of Ames Construction 2020.
Ames plans partial exit from Burnsville 2020March 13, 2020 - Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News:

Ames Construction, the homegrown Burnsville firm that became a national giant in the civil construction industry plans to leave its longtime headquarters on County Road 5...
Ames Construction 35 W project - October updateOctober 9, 2019 - from their Facebook page:

We are excited to announce six lanes of traffic (three in each direction) will be traveling across the new northbound I-35W MN River Bridge on Monday, October 14th. Ames Construction will then proceed with demolishing the existing bridge and constructing the new southbound lanes. Once completed, this project will include reconstructing the bridge over the river and nearby 106th street, replacing pavement from Cliff Road and 106th Street, reconstruction of south ramps, building an auxiliary/truck lane and improved signing, lighting, and drainage. These improvements will raise I-35W out of the floodplain while allowing better pedestrian access across the river.
Dedication of the Ames Sculpture (4 pages) August 1, 2001Unveiling and dedication of the Ames Sculpture in recognition of the Construction Industry - (Burnsville Parkway and Pleasant Avenue.)
Burnsville honors Ames Construction 2012Burnsville Eagan Sun/Thisweek News December 20, 2012 reports:

Giant company still headquartered in Burnsville

Working on projects from gravel roads in Burnsville to the Denver International Airport, Ames Construction has vaulted to national prominence over the last half century.

Today Ames has offices in five states. But the family-owned civil and industrial general contracting firm has maintained its Burnsville headquarters from the beginning.

In honor of the company’s 50th anniversary, Mayor Elizabeth Kautz declared Dec. 17 through 24 Ames Construction Week in Burnsville.

Company founder and President Richard Ames and his brothers Raymond (“Butch”) and Ron, also company executives, attended the Dec. 18 City Council meeting, at which Kautz read a proclamation honoring the company.

The silver-haired founder recalled when Burnsville’s Nicollet Avenue was a gravel road with a single farm on it and a filling station at Highway 13.

“I think Ames built Nicollet Avenue three times,” Richard said.

The former laborer for the Volden Highway Construction Co. launched his own business, then called Richard J. Ames Excavating, in 1962. He purchased and renovated a Caterpillar D8 tractor.

Brother Raymond signed on in 1963, and the company changed its name to Ames Construction Inc. The headquarters is still south of County Road 42 at 2000 Ames Drive.

The company has been an “expert and reliable” builder of infrastructure in Burnsville and plowed snow in the city for many years, the proclamation said.

Ames still works close to home. It recently won the bid to rebuild the Highway 13/County Road 5 interchange in Burnsville. The much-anticipated project will begin in the spring and take two seasons to complete.

Ames projects also include the Crosstown/Interstate 35W interchange and the Central Corridor Light Rail Project, both in the Twin Cities.

But the company’s vast portfolio has included projects such as the Denver airport, the Intermountain Power Plant in Utah and the High Savery Dam in Wyoming, the proclamation noted. The company has annual sales of about $800 million.

The company and the Ames family have been generous benefactors in Burnsville and Lakeville.

They donated the sculpture that sits at the corner of Burnsville Parkway and Pleasant Avenue and “made very significant contributions to the construction of the Burnsville Performing Arts Center,” the proclamation said.

Their “generosity has been extended to numerous other civic groups for many years, including Rotary and other service organizations,” it said.

Ames has published a book about its 50-year history.
Richard AmesRichard "Dick" Ames of Ames Construction, working.
Richard AmesRichard "Dick" Ames in his Burnsville office.
Legendary contractor, philanthropist Dick Ames dies at 89Richard Ames, founder of Ames Construction died January 30, 2019 and is profiled by John Gessher of Sun/Thisweek and the Dakota County Tribune.

Ames founded Ames Construction in Burnsville

Richard “Dick” Ames, whose work as a contractor is spread across the nation and legacy as a philanthropist is abundant in local communities, died Jan. 30 of pneumonia. He was 89.

Ames was the local legend who stayed put, keeping the headquarters of his company, Ames Construction, in Burnsville even as it opened offices in other states and became one of the nation’s premier civil and industrial general contractors.

He built and rebuilt Burnsville’s Nicollet Avenue in the 1960s when it was a gravel road. Decades later he did the grading for the Denver International Airport, one of the megaprojects that vaulted Ames Construction to the top of its industry.

He and his family company donated millions. His name is on the Ames Arena in Lakeville, the Ames Sculpture in Burnsville and the Ames Center, Burnsville’s performing arts center. He received the first Director’s Award for his donations to the University of Minnesota Athletics Department.

“I’ve lived a fairytale life,” Ames said a few days before his death, according to his obituary. But you couldn’t tell, say many who knew him, describing Ames as a blue jeans-wearing common man who grew up with the land and still planted crops later in life at his farm in Green Isle, Minn.

“When he was in his communities, his Lakeville, his Burnsville communities, he was just an everyday guy,” said Bob Erickson, a former city administrator and current School Board member in Lakeville. “He would always reach out to people. You didn’t have to go to him and say, ‘I’m so and so.’ He would always come to your table. He would always come to you.”

Ames’ memory for names and faces was “unreal,” said his brother and business partner, Raymond “Butch” Ames. He was at home in a board room and on a tractor, planting corn, Butch said. The company came to Burnsville in about 1967, buying the site of an old block building that had been the town hall.

The building stills stands, though the company has expanded the site at 2000 Ames Drive, west of County Road 5 and south of County Road 42.

“He said we would never leave while he was alive,” Butch said. “He’s dead now, and I have to say we won’t leave here in our generation. This is the home base.”

Burnsville resident Mike O’Connor, a township clerk in the 1960s, remembers Ames being hired to plow snow and complete water and sewer connections. His reputation was honest, his work “unparalleled,” O’Connor said.

“Dick has been such a wonderful supporter of Burnsville and so many people and causes that we don’t even know about,” he said. “He was a giant of a man, and a beautiful man. We’ll never see one like him again.”

Grew up farming

Ames was born and raised in Farmington, the oldest of Chester and Ruby Ames’ eight children, according to his obituary. Chester worked on rented farmland in the Farmington-Lakeville area, Butch said. Ames attended school in Farmington until ninth grade and then attended Lakeville High School.

A three-sport athlete for the Panthers — football, basketball and track — the 1947 graduate wanted to become a coach and enrolled at Mankato State Teachers College.

But he left college to farm with his grandfather in Taopi, Minn., and by 22 was married with two sons. His father “encouraged him to find stable work outside the family farm,” the obituary says.

He was hired by Farmington’s Verdie Volden, the owner of Volden Construction Co, a highway contractor who also did conservation work on local farms.

“He worked with him about nine years,” Butch said. “He started as a laborer, just doing anything he could. He was a pretty good (equipment) operator, not a bad mechanic, learned how to weld. He became his right-hand person. And then Verdie decided to quit, and Dick just decided that’s what he was going to do.”

He bought a Caterpillar D8 bulldozer — which today occupies a ceremonial spot outside the Ames headquarters — and launched the company in 1962. Butch said he joined within six months.

In Burnsville, the company’s early projects included grading roads for Pemtom, the company building homes in River Hills, and grading Cliff Road between Highway 13 and Cedar Avenue.

“It was all dirt at that time, pipe and dirt,” Butch said. Today, the multipurpose contractor has made its mark in the commercial, energy, transportation, mining, rail and water and wastewater sectors. Grading the land for Burnsville Center was a milestone project for the company, Butch said.

“We’re one of the biggest general contractors in the United States,” he said. “And we were just fortunate to be able to do that. It’s being in the right place at the right time.

“We’re people people. That’s the whole thing, just getting along with people, and you wouldn’t ask your people to do something you wouldn’t pitch in and do yourself.”

O’Connor said Ames had a sixth sense for sizing up a job.

“The guy was absolutely fearless, even if he borderline couldn’t afford it,” said O’Connor, who has remained friends with Ames, a fellow snowbird in the Phoenix area, where Ames had a horse ranch along with his horse ranch in Jordan. “This goes way back. He had a unique ability to analyze and was a quick study in any potential job, no matter how much it cost. ... He had a quick way of getting a handle on, ‘Is it doable or not? Do we want to bid or don’t we want to bid?’ And a good trait in some of the successful contractors is knowing when not to bid.”


Ames donated $250,000 and $150,000 in in-kind services for the Lakeville Ames Arena, which opened in 1994. Without the gifts, it wouldn’t have been built at the time, said Erickson, the Lakeville city administrator from 1989 to 2004.

“He was so humble,” Erickson said. “It wasn’t about him wanting his name on something. We did that our of sheer gratitude. Dick never pressed for that.”

Dick and Butch made a contribution in 2005 that established the Lakeville North High School Panther Hall of Fame. Both are “Sponsor” inductees. And Dick donated the electronic scoreboard at Lakeville South High School.

Ames was a former partner in the Chart House restaurant in Lakeville and joined others in reviving the OK Corral restaurant in Jordan and renaming it the Jordan Supper Club.

In Burnsville, Ames commissioned and donated the bronze Ames Sculpture, a project of the Burnsville Community Foundation, at Burnsville Parkway and Pleasant Avenue. The $250,000 artwork and surrounding mini-park features a workingman guiding a large dirt tiller behind a pair of Ames’ beloved Percheron horses.

Mayor Elizabeth Kautz recalled the 2001 unveiling, which included an Ames-funded celebration that featured a parade, with his horses, from Civic Center Park to the sculpture site.

Ames donated in-kind work for construction of the Ames Center and Nicollet Commons Park in the Heart of the City, Kautz said. He donated work for installation of the “Ascension” sculpture in the park.

“There is just so much that he and his family have done for Burnsville that we don’t have all of that documented,” the mayor said. “And there are a lot of things he also did anonymously that I know about that I will not talk about.”

In 2013, Ames signed a 10-year naming-rights deal with the city that is pumping $100,000 a year into Ames Center operations.

“He has made a difference in so many lives, certainly in mine,” Kautz said. “I’m so honored and grateful for just having the privilege of being his friend, because when you’re friends with Dick Ames, you’re a true friend.”
Ames ConstructionClose up of Ames Construction truck 2020.
Dick Ames receives award, just prior to his deathFrom the Ames Construction Facebook page: Before his passing in 2019, Ames Construction founder and chairman, Dick Ames, received the prestigious 2019 Golden Beaver Management Award. Dick’s lifelong devotion to the industry made an indelible impact that will continue to inspire others for generations to come. We will never forget the personal integrity, work ethic, and generosity that not only defined his character, but were instilled in us and continue to define the character of this company.
Dick Ames, founder of Ames Construction dies 2019January 30,. 2019 - Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

Dick Ames, founder of Ames Construction, backer of Burnsville and Gophers, dies at 89
After farming and learning road construction, Ames bought a bulldozer and built a $1 billion business.
By Kristen Leigh Painter Star Tribune

Richard “Dick” Ames, founder of Burnsville-based Ames Construction, died Wednesday at the age of 89.

Richard “Dick” Ames started a dirt-moving company with a single bulldozer and built it into a $1 billion business that shaped projects like Target Field, the St. Croix Crossing and Denver International Airport.

Ames, founder of Burnsville-based Ames Construction, died Wednesday at the age of 89 in Scottsdale, Ariz. A cause of death was not announced, though he was recently hospitalized with pneumonia.

Friends and associates remembered Ames as a kind, hardworking and generous businessman who never forgot his roots as a Minnesota farm boy, despite the national reach of his company.

“He was so generous to Burnsville, and to all the places where he had businesses, and a great friend to me personally,” Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz said. “I am going to miss him very deeply.”

He also farmed and bred draft horses. And he was a major donor to the University of Minnesota athletic department.

“One of my favorite sayings is a lot of guys are born on third base and think they hit a triple. Dick was as successful as you would want to be, but he wasn’t born on third base. He wasn’t born on first base. I’m not sure he was born in the dugout,” Glen Mason, a former Gophers football coach, said. “Everything he had was because of his hard work, his fortitude, his guts and determination.”

Ames was born May 4, 1929, in Hampton and grew up in Farmington, the oldest of nine siblings. He was an athlete — competing in high school football, basketball and track — before enrolling at Mankato State Teachers College to pursue his dream of becoming a coach. He left school after one year to move back home and help his grandfather on the family farm.
Ames ConstructionShortly after purchasing the former Burnsville Village-Township Hall for their company, owner Dick Ames.
Ames Construction Corporate headquarters moves in 2020The Ames Construction logo appears on the brick found at the gate entry when it was located on County Road 5. In 2020 they moved their offices to County Road 42.
Ames Construction at the original village hallAn addition has been placed on the Ames Building, County Road 5, which was originally the township hall.
Dick AmesAmes Construction remembers its founder Dick, following his death January 30, 2019.
City and Ames Construction agree in principle to naming rights for Performing Arts Center 2013CITY OF BURNSVILLE, AMES CONSTRUCTION AGREE IN PRINCIPLE TO NAMING RIGHTS DEAL FOR BURNSVILLE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

The City of Burnsville and Ames Construction, Inc. hope to soon announce a formal agreement involving the
naming rights of the Burnsville P erforming Arts Center. An agreement has been reached in principle , and the
process to formalize the agreement will be discussed at the Burnsville City Council Work Session on Tuesday, Aug.
13 at Burnsville City Hall (100 Civic Center Parkway) beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The principle agreement calls for Ames’ name to grace the event center – which includes a 1,014-seat theatre,
black box theatre, meeting spaces and art gallery. The Burnsville City Council must take formal action on official
terms before the a greement is final. Specific terms will be discussed and solidified later this fall.

Ames Construction has been a family -owned Burnsville business for more than 50 years. The company prides itself
with delivering quality construction services to customers nationwide.
Ames Construction photo 5The garage and smaller entry area first served as the Burnsville Town Hall, until a newer building was constructed on Highway 13. The building has been expanded to serve the needs of Ames Construction.
Ames ConstructionThe oldest portion of this building (white cement) was the garage and Township and Village Hall for Burnsville, located on County Road 5.
River Hills developmentAmes Construction begins work on what will be North River HIlls, circa 1963.
Burnsville Townhall now Ames ConstructionPhoto shows the early Townhall as it looks in 2017 as Ames Construction on County Road 5.
Ames ConstructionSculpture dated 2012 in the hallway of Ames Construction, near the history display.
Ames ConstructionSign at the "new" Ames Construction headquaters, County Road 42 - October 2022.
Ames ConstructionA glass sculpture in the lobby of Ames Construction 2022.
Dick Ames, 1947Lakeville High School graduation 1947 photo of Dick Ames.
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