US Builders Review                                                    

Hammerquist Casalegno LLC

Montana’s general contractor
Written by: 
Ivy Carter
Produced by: 
James Logan

Kirk Hammerquist and John Casalegno established Hammerquist Casalegno LLC in 1989. The partners had both been working in the construction industry for nearly 20 years before deciding to combine their skills and experience and form the new construction business. Mark Casalegno, John’s son and one of Hammerquist Casalegno’s first employees, is also an owner in the company and part of the management team.

Initially offering general contracting services for smaller commercial projects, Hammerquist Casalegno earned a reputation for delivering quality projects with integrity, on time and within budget. This growing reputation combined with an increasing portfolio of repeat clients has made general contracting and construction management (GCCM) Hammerquist Casalegno’s project delivery method of choice.

In 2006, Michael Jackola was brought on board to complete the company’s transition to GCCM. With 25 years of design and construction experience, Jackola adds to the company’s pre-construction and construction service capabilities and offerings.

John, Kirk, Mark and Michael bring a wealth of experience to each client and every project challenge. Hammerquist Casalegno has successfully collaborated and construction managed over 50 projects of varying complexity, size and scope during the past decade throughout Northwest Montana.

“Providing a combination of preconstruction and construction services has become our niche,” Jackola says.

With a team of approximately 25 employees, Hammerquist Casalegno operates within a 150-mile radius of the home office in Kalispell, Montana. Jackola considers the business to be more community-oriented than larger competitors and he takes pride in both his crew’s ability and the ownership taken when working alongside clients to build and expand businesses.

Hammerquist Casalegno LLC

Standing out from the crowd

Jackola’s primary concern is not just who the company’s competition is in the region. He remains focused on what it is that makes Hammerquist Casalegno distinguishable from competitors. He understands that at the end of the day true differentiation is only attainable through his team’s performance and their ability to deliver on expectations made every day, for each client on every project.

“Our biggest competitors in the area focus on higher workload volume and capacity operating on the more traditional fixed price approach to project delivery,” he explains. “Their size and approach encourages us to stay on top of our own game maintaining focus on those unique and enabling qualities, which truly differentiate us from our competition.”

Regardless of what the competition is doing, clients can count on the Hammerquist Casalegno team for comprehensive preconstruction and construction services. “We demonstrate genuine ownership of each client’s unique needs taking care to truly listen, learn and identify the right deliverables prior to approaching contracts and setting expectations,” Jackola states. “The approach and ability of our team to respond to unique and individual project needs through our service offerings is fundamental to how we build strong relationships with our clients. Each client receives unrivaled levels of service through attention to detail that ensures commitments made will be fulfilled.”

Jackola considers Hammerquist Casalegno to be a small to medium-sized business with a combination of sophisticated operational abilities, financial health and bonding capacity that is unusual for construction businesses of its size. This allows the company to compete with and win larger sector projects against much bigger competitors in the region.

“We are not looking to be the biggest contractor with the highest volume,” Jackola elaborates. “We provide services on community-oriented projects and local business expansion projects that are high-visibility in the area we serve. We are a passionate group of professionals dedicated to providing unmatched levels of service finding our work very enjoyable and rewarding. We are thankful for the success we have had in this role and as a GCCM in our regional market.”

A growing portfolio

With Glacier National Park right in the company’s backyard, tourism also plays a strong role in regional growth. Hammerquist Casalegno’s client base includes institutions, such as fire halls and schools, commercial retailers, apparel stores and recreational vehicle dealerships, medical facilities and developers for commercial housing projects. The team’s portfolio includes a range of high-visibility and unusual projects, as well.

When folks fly into town, Glacier Park International Airport is a typical destination point for air travel. The airport is continuously growing, so Jackola and his crew have performed several projects on the premises. Recently, the company relocated the rental car fuel farm, car wash and detailing facility at the airport.

“That was a very enjoyable and successful project for us,” Jackola recalls. “It was unique in that we were supporting a private ownership group building a project on land owned by the port authority.” In 2012, Hammerquist Casalegno expanded the airport’s TSA and security areas and also performed renovation work in the main lobby.

In a completely different market, Hammerquist Casalegno also completed a project for the Immanuel Lutheran Corporation in 2012. “On the organization’s campus there is a large skilled nursing center, rehabilitation retreat, along with assisted and independent living facilities for seniors,” he details.

The company has also completed several projects for food service and retail clients. A standout project is the MacKenzie River Pizza Grill and Pub restaurant located in front of a new Cabela’s Outpost in north Kalispell. The franchise is owned by Glacier Restaurant Group and this store reflects the new branding theme for all future franchise locations. Glacier Restaurant Group selected Hammerquist Casalegno to establish means and methods for a new look and feel utilizing unique finishes alongside a companywide menu expansion.

“Examples of other interesting projects we are working on are associated with Glacier National Park,” Jackola adds. National company Xanterra Corporation recently won the bid to provide concessions for Glacier National Park. Xanterra Corporation has operations at other national park locations, such as Crater Lake, Yellowstone and Yosemite.

“We have already completed two projects with Xanterra Corporation, including their new local office building and a separate warehouse and laundry facility in Columbia Falls, Montana,” Jackola details. “We are currently working on the pre-construction phase of a new transportation, engineering and maintenance facility that will house the famous red jammer tour buses used for touring Going to the Sun highway in Glacier National Park.”

A speedy recovery

Like many other contractors, Hammerquist Casalegno saw a dip in business when the region experienced impacts from the recent recession. “Fortunately, a combination of ongoing and strategically acquired projects in 2008 and 2009 carried the company through the recession period,” Jackola says. “We are cautiously optimistic about the future. Lending companies appear to be opening up more and consumer confidence is returning. As clients in the industries we serve find ways to recover and grow their businesses we are seeing more opportunity for work.”

With this improvement, the business has seen major growth over the last few years. “The loss of skilled tradesmen in our region to the nearby Bakken oilfields adds to our challenge of managing our growth in multiple ways,” Jackola explains. “We remain focused on fulfilling commitments to our clientele. However, we also recognize the challenges facing our ability to manage risk during post-recession growth in our region. In addition to a changing general contractor landscape, we have also seen changes in the capabilities of sub-contractors and suppliers in our region who are experiencing the same vacuum for skilled manpower that we are.”

Looking forward, Hammerquist Casalegno continues along a path of measured incremental growth; a growth strategy that will preserve the company’s ability to respond to the unique and individual needs of each client through service offerings and approach. This GCCM method of project delivery continues to serve the company well, expanding its client, subcontractor and supplier bases alike. Moving into 2015, Hammerquist Casalegno LLC celebrates 25 years of outstanding service in northwest Montana.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
American Electric
Northwest Cabinet Works
Western Building Center