Jerry Morgensen has helped guide the Greeley-based Hensel Phelps through more than 28 years of incredible growth to become one of the most respected and successful construction firms in the nation.

Morgensen helps keep Hensel Phelps rolling 2001 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Greeley

GREELEY — Jerry Morgensen doesn’t want to seem ungrateful, but he’s wondering how he came to win an award for being an outstanding entrepreneur.

“I mean, I didn’t start this company,” he said of Hensel Phelps, the construction company he heads. “I don’t really see how I’m an entrepreneur.”

According to Webster’s Dictionary, an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and manages a business undertaking, assuming the risk for the sake of the profit.”

A look at the profits at Hensel Phelps, the business undertaking Morgensen “organizes and manages” as its president, might begin to answer his question.

When Morgensen came to the general-contractor construction company in 1973, its volume was $87 million. In 1989, it was $400 million. In 1999, it was more that $2 billion. Put differently, since Jerry Morgensen has been running Hensel Phelps, the company has increased its volume by roughly 2,300 percent.

Impressive client list

A look at the list of clients Hensel Phelps has attracted and retained show just what a good job employees are doing of representing themselves and the company.

Major national clients include United Airlines, Lockheed Martin Corp., Denver International Airport, the Dallas/Fort Worth airport (the company is about to start building a new monorail system to move passengers from terminal to terminal), the University of Texas and Wal-Mart (distribution centers) and Sams Clubs.

Hensel Phelps is also the contractor on the remodeling of Pentagon wedges two through five (It was Wedge One that was hit during the Sept. 11 terrorist attack).

International clients include the Netherlands, which hired Hensel Phelps to build a prison on the Dutch-held island of Curacao. Future international growth will be pegged to existing clients who decide to go global. The company will not be making international cold calls.

As leader of Hensel Phelps, Morgensen promotes the “systematic construction approach.”

“That means we take on major construction projects in a systematic way with the client in mind,” he said. “Our overriding goal is always to make the clients dreams come true — which means being done on time and on budget.”

On-time, on-budget reputation

This commitment has earned the Hensel Phelps team the title, “the on-budget, on-time guys,” according to Sue Powers, who worked with Hensel Phelps during her decade at the Denver Renewal Authority.

“They were the contractor you hoped you would get on a project,” she said. “Certainly on the most-complicated projects.”

Now that Powers has her own company, Urban Adventures, she uses Hensel Phelps as the contractor for remodeling downtown lofts.

While at the Denver Renewal Authority, Powers worked with Morgensen on several projects, including construction of Elitch Gardens and The Pavilions.

“They went above and beyond any other contractor I worked with,” she said. “They would do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Finding good tradespeople to work their way up through the ranks at Hensel Phelps continues to be the company’s greatest challenge.

The way Morgensen sees it, the need for new recruits will only continue to grow.

“There hasn’t been a year since this company was founded in 1937 that it hasn’t grown,” he said. “And I certainly don’t expect that to change anytime soon.”