After 40 years in business the largest black owned construction companies is shutting down

May 19 '19 | By Ray

After four decades of operation, the largest black-owned construction company in the United States, THOR Construction companies, a Minneapolis-based contracting and management firm is shutting down, according to its founder & chairman, Richard Copeland.

After experiencing explosive growth over the last 2 years, THOR construction company will be ending operations. THOR in 2017 had revenues of $368 million, up 162% from $140 million in 2016. According to THOR, just under $197 million came from the acquisition of JIT Energy Services, a minority-owned energy management and utility cost reduction services firm, for an undisclosed amount.

This year, THOR Companies reportedly begin to revamp its business model in an attempt to overcome some financial challenges. In this effort, THOR hired Manchester Cos. as its chief reorganization officer, as it worked to salvage its financial affair. Manchester, which is also based in Minneapolis, is known for turning around and restructuring companies.

However, in January of 2019, Sunrise Banks sued THOR and its founder and chairman Richard Copeland, pursuing restitution exceeding $3 million. The bank requested that a receiver be appointed to take control of THOR, according to a lawsuit filed in Hennepin District County Court in Minnesota.

The St. Paul, Minnesota, Sunrise bank claimed that THOR “is generally not paying its debts as they become due, including payroll obligations to its employees and its debts to Lender. As a result of this lawsuit, multiple creditors will likely attempt to engage in a ‘free-for-all liquidation’ of THOR construction Co.

Although, according to Copeland, “THOR has never missed a payroll in 40 years to date. We have several companies rallying around this effort; however, the bank has done everything in its power to put us in receivership.”

In law, receivership is a situation in which an institution or enterprise is held by a receiver—a person "placed in the custodial responsibility for the property of others, including tangible and intangible assets and rights"—especially in cases where a company cannot meet financial obligations or enters bankruptcy.

In an interview with the Star Tribune in Minneapolis a few months ago, Copleland said: “We’ve struggled in a tough industry with some of the best contractors in the world as our competition. We cobbled along for 40 years and never had anything like this happen. We hope to attract new money and are poised with good customers to do well.”

“We have had a credit line with Sunrise Bank for 11 years. The LOC [line of credit] was to expire on 12-31-18. The LOC was as high as $5.8 million, but over the last two years, we had reduced the line by $2.8 million down to $3 million. We also believe that almost half of the $3 million line remaining, that $1.3 million of it were not legitimate,” Copeland said in an interview with Black Enterprise magazine.

Yet, as if things couldn’t get worst, in February of this year THOR’s CEO, Ravi Norman (pictured above), stepped down from the company. Norman told the Minnesota publication ‘Finance & Commerce’ that he is no longer an employee at THOR. Norman worked at THOR for several years, serving in CEO and CFO roles at the business.

The closure of THOR construction Co. comes after THOR celebrated the opening of a new headquarters, a $36 million office/retail building in north Minneapolis in September of 2018.

THOR Cos. Co was a model contractor admired not only by other black-owned companies, but by most major contractors for its performance, and will be greatly missed in the construction industry.

A brief History of THOR construction Co.

Established in 1980, THOR had previously been involved in some of the Twin Cities biggest construction projects, such as the U.S. Bank Stadium and the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, among others. THOR though most of its business came from work it did out of state.

In early 2017, THOR was selected as a key partner in the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal, after the Minneapolis City Council and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board approved, the plans to build hundreds of units of housing; thousands of square feet for manufacturing, offices, shopping and restaurants; a public park; and most notably, a performance venue in the form of a 8,000-10,000 seat outdoor amphitheater.

Over the last 40 years THOR managed to keep its head above water, while other contractors quickly sank. THOR also was one of the most diverse construction companies in the industry with an active grassroots recruitment effort that helped them tap into the black community to hire workers.

Through hard work and dedication THOR Construction evolved into one of the largest black-owned construction companies in the nation. Along with their office in Minneapolis, the contractor increased its national footprint as a full-service self-performing concrete contractor by opening an office in Las Vegas.

Key THOR self-preforming projects in Las Vegas included T-Mobile Arena ($375 million), and Mandalay Bay ($66 million).

THOR’s portfolio of self-performing concrete projects also includes work across a wide spectrum, with a major emphasis on sports facilities and arenas, along with, hospitality and gaming, mass transit, commercial buildings, factories, highways, and heavy infrastructure.

The contractor is a part of the Associated General Contractors, National Association of Minority Contractors, and the U.S. Green Building Council.


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