Mike Bauer says that he has always had an independent streak. Even while working a steady job that he loved, he dreamed of doing something on his own. As president and founder of Bauer Design Build, a commercial general contractor company, he’s been pursuing that dream for the past 12 years. The company, which moved from Delano to Plymouth last year, is certainly successful commercially. Bauer says that the best part of his work is collaborating with others and being a part of the community.
Before he started Bauer Design Build, Bauer was at Ryan Companies for 16 years, where he worked his way up to associate vice president. “It’s a fantastic company,” he says. “But, I hit the glass ceiling there, and I just wanted more responsibility.” He had the opportunity to expand Ryan Companies by opening offices throughout the country, but his wife’s love of Minnesota kept him from leaving. “She said that I could go, but I was going to go alone,” he laughs. He decided to stay, but wanted to branch out on his own professionally.
Bauer was pleasantly surprised when he told his boss, Pat Ryan, what he wanted to do. “He asked me how much work I had lined up. I said none, because I didn’t,” he says. “I wanted to be respectful and not bring in work while I was still working for them. I felt like it wasn’t fair to them, and it’s not the way my parents raised me.” Ryan wanted Bauer to be sure of his success and didn’t want him to leave until he had his own work lined up. “It was awfully gracious,” Bauer says.
Since its founding in 2005, Bauer Design Build has expanded tremendously. “It’s something that started out slowly, and we’ve steadily grown. Since 2013, we’ve basically doubled [profits] every year,” Bauer says. He attributes that success to the strength and hard work of his team.
Bauer’s clients agree as well. Jo Reinhardt, CEO and president of Industrial Louvers Inc., has worked with the firm since 2006 on a variety of projects. “He is not just concerned about his bottom line, but wants to make sure that the customer is happy and satisfied with the results as well," she says.
That dedication to clients was recognized earlier this year by TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, which named Mike Bauer as its 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year. Bauer says that it was a rewarding and humbling honor. “I don’t think that I do anything special, but I guess I do, or people think I do,” he says, adding that service to others is among his core values, which he strives to embody in both his personal and professional lives.
Between running his own company and serving on non-profit boards, Bauer stays busy, but says he loves what he does. He is looking forward to the continued growth of his company and says relationships with his colleagues and clients will always be the most important to him. “We’ve got a great group of people here —they’re always trying to help others out and help out the community,” he says. “We have grown enormously in the last few years, but the success is in helping others out and not always expecting something in return.”