Sitting in his office inside OnTrack’s new headquarters at the west edge of Nevada, Matt Runge is enjoying the newly constructed building the company moved into this past March. “I just wanted to make a space where everybody could come to work and love to be at work,” he said. “We needed something to grow into, and we wanted something that would last.”
Longevity is something Runge has considered with more than just the structure his business occupies. “We’re trying to build something, just like with our name. I’m not building something with my name stamped all over it, because someone once told me, ‘Never get married to a business you start. Build it to think long-term.’” And that’s what he’s done with OnTrack – given the business a name that someone else could someday take over and continue.
OnTrack specializes in underground sewer and water main construction. The company builds new sanitary sewers and new water mains, working mostly for municipalities. Currently, Runge said, “we have about 40 projects” that are going on at some phase of their overall timeline.
“We’re down in Des Moines reconstructing Cowles Drive and the build out for the new airport terminal. We just picked up our first federal job down around Saylorville Lake, putting in new sewer and water utilities along with sewer treatment facilities for the campgrounds. We’re working in Ankeny tearing out a couple streets and placing all new infrastructure.”
OnTrack prefers to work within an hour’s radius of the Des Moines/Ames area, and they’ve done a lot of work in Nevada. They were a main contractor on the recent downtown construction project and are now working on several phases of the new wastewater treatment facility. Runge said he doesn’t like to lose out on Nevada work, so he bids very competitively on local projects.
OnTrack started in Runge’s home in 2017 with seven field employees. The company’s first official day of work was April 2, 2017, on a project in Nevada’s downtown area. “We’d teamed up with Con-Struct, who we have a good working relationship with,” he noted.
After a year, Runge moved the business to Nevada’s downtown area, setting up offices in the old Ryerson Implement building in the 1300 block of Sixth Street and utilizing another piece of property along Sixth Street next to the railroad tracks for staging. He still owns that lot but plans to move everything off of it eventually for future development.
The focus is now on the company’s new location in Nevada’s West Industrial Park, where an impressively designed building, just under 20,000 square feet, is the new home of OnTrack, which now employs close to 35 employees.
Runge, a double major at Iowa State University in construction engineering and architecture, said the look of the building, “an industrial feel with an exposed structure of straight lines and lots of glass,” has a lot of his input. And, he said, “we worked with RMH Architects in Ames, and they were great.”
As for property, the company has that too. “We’re sitting on a 10-acre parcel (of 24 acres that was purchased),” Runge said. “The lot just east of us is about 3 acres.” That lot holds pipe right now, but is also the place that Runge has eyed for an eventual maintenance shop. “Right now, we don’t do maintenance in-house … but we want to be ready for that at some point.” He also has room — if the company continues to grow — to expand the current building, which was constructed with that possibility in mind. Runge said he plans to sell some of the remaining parcels of land.
Nevada is not only a good central Iowa location for business, but Runge appreciates local resources like Nevada Economic Development Council. “I joined the NEDC after being invited by Woodruff to an event. I felt like the NEDC had good things going for it and some good members who were active in the community. I felt that if I was going to plant my company’s roots here, I needed to be active in the community.”
A few more interesting details:
- Matt recently is newly married, and he and his wife, together, have a blended family with six children, ranging in age from 10-17. The family resides on an acreage south of Ames where they can enjoy all things in the outdoors. “We’ve got five acres to play and ride four-wheelers,” Matt said.
- Matt’s father was a business owner in Keokuk, Iowa, where Matt and his five siblings were raised. His father, John, did some of the same things Matt is doing, and sold his business when Matt was in college. Matt said all of his siblings are successful people, and they live around Iowa and around the country.
- Before starting OnTrack, Matt was the chief operating officer for J & K Contracting. He worked for a few other companies while he was a student at ISU.
- Matt said what he enjoys most about running OnTrack is the work. “I just love this work. Lots of people have jobs, and they can’t wait to get away from the job… I just always have had a passion for the underground and utilities. There’s not many days I’m not excited to come to work.”
–Written by Marlys Barker, City of Nevada