Mike Pedersen

Health care market sector leader for Mortenson Construction

It's no coincidence that Mike Pedersen, the new health care market sector leader for Golden Valley-based Mortenson Construction, chose health care construction as a career. The Decatur, Ill., native says he practically grew up in hospitals where his mother was a nurse and his father suffered from Type 1 diabetes.

"My mom had to work nights because she had six kids and my dad," he says. "For all of my teenage years, I would visit her in the hospital at night and do my homework. It was like a second home."

Pedersen also spent many hours with his father as he underwent dialysis and surgeries. "What was happening was I was getting a glimpse of what it was really like for a caregiver as well as a patient (in terms of space/design needs)," he says." It started to connect. I always liked to build. I liked the health care environment and I thought I could make a difference."

Most recently, Pedersen was the Midwest health care leader for Chicago-based Walsh Construction. He delivered more than $1 billion in health care construction during the past decade. He's now heading up the burgeoning health care construction division for Mortenson. It was named the fifth-largest health care builder in the United States in 2012 by Modern Healthcare magazine, with more than $1.1 billion in construction. Mortenson completed $116 million in health care construction in the Twin Cities during the past five years.

Q: What was your first job in health care construction?

A: I worked for a developer and was challenged to build a medical office building. I had built many buildings but not a medical office. … I just absolutely fell in love with it because I got a chance to meet with nurses, doctors and technicians to hear what their needs were and design to their needs. ... It finally connected my love of building and passion for improving the care model.

Q: You later joined Walsh Construction?

A: Yes. I was in charge of all of their private health care projects in the Midwest. I was like a kid in a candy store.

Q: What are some local projects you're working on at Mortenson?

A: We're building a Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Center at Allina West Health. … We're doing a bone marrow transplant facility for the University of Minnesota Medical Center Fairview on their campus … and we're helping Ridgeview Medical Center with an ambulatory surgery center.

Q: Are health care projects among the most complex in the construction industry?

A: They are. Construction is a pretty messy activity … but imagine you're working in a hospital and have to be working in a sterile bubble. The patient can't see, hear, smell or feel you. … We have to come in and work but can't shut down any operations. A lot of planning goes into creating that control during construction.

Liz Wolf is a freelance writer in Eagan. She can be reached at wolfliz99@aol.com.