A South Dakota entrepreneur is building a business empire in Platte, making a big impact on the small town

By | March 20, 2024

Mar. 19—PLTTE — In the heart of Platte’s Main Street stands a historic building that has been renovated and converted into the headquarters of a thriving business driven by a community-minded entrepreneur.

Hidden on the top floor of the old bank building is Tyler Samuelson’s new office. It’s a major upgrade from the garage that once served as an office when he opened his construction company Summit Contracting 15 years ago.

What started as a two-man team has now grown into a multi-million dollar business empire.

Somehow, Samuelson managed to build the construction company and create another four companies in a South Dakota town of just over 1,000 residents.

“You can start a business in a small town and turn it into a larger, viable, successful company. It can be done,” Samuelson said. “I did what a lot of general contractors in small towns do, which is roofing, siding, and building a pole shed here and there. It’s evolved into bringing more people into the business, which drives growth and provides insight.”

In 2023, Summit Contracting completed more than $59 million in construction projects. Due to the rapid growth that Summit Contracting has experienced since its founding in 2009, the company has been listed on the Inc. 5,000 list – a prestigious list of the fastest-growing private companies in the US.

Samuelson attributes much of Summit Contracting’s growth to its dedicated crews capable of constructing a wide variety of agricultural buildings ranging from grain bins, livestock pens and barns.

Summit Contracting is described by Samuelson as a “self-performed” construction company, meaning crews handle nearly every phase of the construction process. The construction crew is supported by concrete crews, electricians and excavation work.

“We can do all the work it takes to build whatever we build because we do it ourselves. We have all the equipment to put up a structure, starting at ground zero. You don’t see that here, and it ensures an efficient process,” he said, noting that the process has led to increased demand for jobs.

While there is nothing stopping Samuelson from relocating Summit Contracting and the list of other companies he owns to a larger city on a busy highway with more exposure, his pride and love for the city he grew up in keeps the companies in Platte.

“I have a real passion for the Platte communities and small towns in South Dakota. When it comes to small towns, I think it is so important to keep your industries alive and continue to provide opportunities,” Samuelson said.

Samuelson’s decision to keep the headquarters in Platte has been a boon to the Missouri riverbed city.

Less than a block from the old Main Street building that houses Bouwen’s offices, crews are gutting another old brick building that Samuelson purchased with the goal of redeveloping the property.

The work he facilitates on Platte’s Main Street is just one example of the tremendous impact Samuelson has had on the city.

Like many communities in the state, Platte faces a shortage of child care options. The scarcity of childcare prompted Samuelson to build a new daycare center on the edge of the city. He also helped establish a nonprofit organization that operates the new child care center.

As he drove by the daycare center to point out some of the amenities his team had installed, a proud smile appeared on Samuelson’s face.

“It can accommodate up to 60 children. We try to recognize what the needs of the community are and understand the valuable role we can play as a company in meeting those needs and keeping our community viable,” Samuelson said.

Samuelson’s approach to his business ventures was embraced by community leaders such as Colette Mesman, executive director of Platte’s Chamber of Commerce. As Mesman put it, “I wish every small town had a Tyler Samuelson.”

“It’s absolutely inspiring. People see what he’s doing, and they’re following his lead. As he started putting new faces to these Main Street businesses, others started doing the same,” she said. “He has a real vision.”

Summit Contracting’s success sparked Samuelson’s entrepreneurial spirit. It led to the founding of Bouwen, the parent company of all Samuelson’s business activities.

“The success of Summit opened up additional opportunities for me, giving me time to do something else. And now there are five companies all based in Platte,” he said.

In recent years, Samuelson opened four new companies under the Bouwen umbrella.

Among the latest new businesses Samuelson has opened are Synrgy, a custom sign company, and a trailer dealer called Towro. A storage unit company is also part of Bouwen’s portfolio.

It’s not easy overseeing five companies, but Samuelson has found a formula that has proven to be effective: taking good care of his employees.

“I know what it’s like not to be home much. I was rarely home when I started Summit, and I don’t want our employees to miss out on family time and important events like their kids’ basketball games. We love our employees very involved in everything we do,” he says.

Construction executives offer their services to each of the companies, which Samuelson says has proven to be very effective. For example, Bouwen’s marketing team is responsible for marketing each company under the Bouwen umbrella.

“Our goal is to create synergy between our businesses, and that has helped each of our businesses become viable,” Samuelson said.

While Samuelson’s team has played a critical role in the growth of his companies, his wife Katy has played a major role in the success of Samuelson’s business ventures.

“I couldn’t have done this without my wife. She has always been so supportive of my dreams and visions,” he said of his wife.

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