Farm Horizons, December 2013

Henning Excavating digs its way to 60+ years of success

By Starrla Cray

In the 1950s, Dennis Henning and his brother, David, dug right into their dad’s excavation business in New Germany.

Now, they’re the company’s co-owners, along with Dennis’ sons Jeremy and Ryan.

“It’s mainly just the four of us,” Dennis said, adding that they also have two part-time truck drivers.

The next generation of Hennings is eager to help, too.

“My grandsons, Coby and Bentley, know more about what’s out there than I do,” Dennis laughed.

One day, Dennis’s wife, Gen, had been babysitting Coby, when the 3-year-old boy noticed something out of place.

“He saw that the truck and trailer weren’t parked in the right spot,” Dennis said. “He made my wife call me to let me know.”

In addition to Dennis and Gen, the Henning family includes:

• David, his wife, Becky, and their daughter, DeNae;

• Ryan, his wife, Stacy, and their children, Bentley and Emily; and

• Jeremy, his wife, Heather, and their children, Brooke and Coby.

“If the girls get into it, some of the guys tell us we’ll have to buy pink Bobcats,” Dennis joked.

When Dennis and David were growing up, one of their first jobs was loading the trucks. Dennis became a partner at age 16, and David joined him shortly after.

Dennis’s sons, Jeremy and Ryan, also grew up in the business.

“They liked running the skid loader,” Dennis recalled.

Henning Excavating currently has about 50 pieces of equipment – skid loaders, excavators, dozers, wheel loaders, backhoes, dump trucks, and more.

Their latest purchase was a Cat CT660 vocational truck in November 2012.

Most of their machines come from the local dealership, Ziegler CAT. Henning Excavating was recently featured in Ziegler CAT’s magazine, GroundBreaker. The article, titled “Blending Tradition and Bold Ideas,” highlights Henning Excavating’s reputation for integrity and quality, as well as its ability to take on a wide variety of jobs.

“We have small equipment for small jobs, and large equipment for the big jobs,” Dennis had stated. “It’s important to have the right machine for each job.”

Much of Henning Excavating’s work comes from repeat customers. In 2012, they worked on Casey’s General Stores in Winsted and Dassel, and now, they are doing a Casey’s store in Willmar.

Winstock Country Music Festival is another repeat customer, where they’ve had the opportunity to do site work for the past 17 years.

“We’re very happy to be able to help out there,” Dennis said.

Another recent project was site preparation and footing for a 90-foot-by-600-square foot addition for Millerbernd Manufacturing in Winsted. Some of this year’s projects include work at St. John’s Lutheran School in Norwood Young America, Zion Lutheran School in Mayer, and Michael Foods in Gaylord.

“We do anything that comes along,” Dennis said, adding that it could be site work for a commercial building, a demolition project for a farm, or water and sewer line repair for an area city.

“It seems like if one part of the business slows down, the other picks up,” Dennis said.

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