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Menards GM: Dickinson store nearly ready, more than 100 people moved to community for work

Mark Kerr, the general manager of the Menards store in Dickinson, chats Friday afternoon inside the store that is set to open at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday in west Dickinson. 1 / 2
Troy Gabbard, who took a promotion and moved from southern Indiana to Dickinson to be the cabinets and appliances manager, sweeps floors while Cory Buckowing, the second assistant manager in cabinets and appliance from Grand Rapids, Mich., scrapes the floor in preparation for a display at the Menards store in Dickinson on Friday afternoon.2 / 2

Dickinson’s first new big-box store in nearly a decade will open Tuesday.

Menards will be the first of many stores and businesses to open west of Exit 59 in West Ridge, Roers’ development, ushering a new era of business into the city.

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“It’s one of the biggest Menards stores in our chain,” general manager Mark Kerr said. “There’s a lot of unique features to our store. Because we’re expecting a high volume, there are a lot of things that have been modified in the store to accommodate that.”

Shelves were stocked and displays were set Friday when The Dickinson Press got a sneak-peak tour of one of the nation’s largest Menards stores. Team members were putting the finishing touches on the store — placing marketing signs, completing demo products and cleaning in the more than 200,000 square feet of retail space.

Kerr is a 25-year Menards veteran who started with the company in his hometown of Grand Forks. He has worked in Minnesota, Illinois and, most recently, South Dakota, before being brought in to open up the Dickinson store — the fifth store opening he has led.

“Weather was the only issue we had,” Kerr said. “Some trucks had issues getting here from the east.”

The store features an expanded grocery section — complete with milk and frozen pizza — backroom space for special orders, which is something most Menards stores do not have incorporated into their designs, and has the biggest warehouse of any store in the company.

More than 100 employees have moved to Dickinson from other stores throughout the country and the rest — Kerr was tight-lipped about just how many people are working at the Dickinson Menards — have been hired in the community.

“I’m excited. It’s exciting to be a part of this. We got it up pretty quick,” said Danielle Degennaro, who transferred from the Minot store.

Even though it’s the first store in a new development in Dickinson, the company was excited to get into the Dickinson market.

“This is not unique for us,” Kerr said of being the first to open in the west side of town. “This is more of a no-brainer than a risk.”

Kerr has been working since late September to get the store staffed and ready.

Worried at first that no one would want to come out to North Dakota, Kerr is excited about the team assembled to run the Dickinson store.

“I think there’s a certain amount of adventure — I mean, they’re adventurous people,” Kerr said. “I think there’s a lot of people that wanted to experience it. A lot of people are excited to come here in the hopes that this would be a high-volume store and it would be good for their careers.”

Two of those adventurers can be found in the plumbing department.

Patricia Woodford, the department’s first assistant manager, from Winona, Minn., and Cody Smith, a full-time plumbing associate from Jackson, Mich., both said they have worked for Menards for a while.

“It’s a good area to locate to, there’s a lot of potential,” Woodford said, adding she’s excited to work for Kerr.

Said Smith: “You learn a lot more during the store set-ups than you would just learning from a store that’s already been open.”

But they’re excited for the learning to be done.

“We’re just ready to open and start helping people,” Woodford said.

Starting as a full-time employee at 21, Kerr worked his way up to become a store manager in about six years, a tradition for Menards.

“Even some of these people that are walking in the door here, in a few years, some of the people we hired off the street in Dickinson, they could be in store management for Menards, whether you have a degree or not,” Kerr said. “I don’t think there are many companies like that. We almost exclusively promote from within.”

Many people coming to Dickinson took promotions over their positions in other stores.

Troy Gabbard, who moved from Indianapolis, and Cory Buckowing of Grand Rapids, Mich., are the manager and second in command of the cabinets and appliances department, respectively. They each took promotions to move here.

“This is one of the biggest Menards I’ve ever been in,” Buckowing said. “It’s crazy setting it up from the ground up. It’s been amazing and I’m really excited for it.”

After leaving Grand Forks, Kerr worked in Menards stores in International Falls, Minn., Chicago, and Aberdeen, S.D., and spent the past 10 years at the store in Rapid City, S.D. He and his wife, Sande, decided to move to Dickinson as their next adventure.

“I was just ready for a new challenge,” Kerr said.

His three daughters, Brittney, 23, and twins Paige and Taylor, 21, are at three different colleges in the Rapid City area.

“Most of the time, kids go to college and they leave home,” Kerr said. “They’re going to college and we left.”

After exploring the Black Hills for a decade, Kerr — a photographer and backpacker in his spare time — is excited to be close to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Badlands.

“It will be nice to have new places go,” Kerr said.

Over the weekend, the team will finish all of the small details and will be ready to open Tuesday, Kerr said.

“We’re used to hearing the registers ring, and that’s what makes us — so this part, we’re ready to be done with,” Kerr said. “I know I’m ready to be done with it.”

A grand opening celebration for Menards is planned at a later date.

Press Managing Editor Dustin Monke and Assistant Editor April Baumgarten contributed to this story.


Address: 4411 West Ridge Drive, Dickinson, ND 58601

Phone: 701-483-8830


Hours: Monday through Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday noon to 8 p.m.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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