Premier Center project leads construction manager home to new beginning

This piece is presented by Journey Group.

Andrea Miller had grown used to living in one city only as long as it took to build a building there.

Sioux Falls was different.

First, Sioux Falls was home. It’s where Miller was born and where she lived until moving in third grade to Custer.

Andrea Miller

It’s also where she returned decades later, with her children, as a construction manager for the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

That was in 2012. By the time the building was done two years later, her kids didn’t want to leave.

“My kids loved Sioux Falls and wanted to stay here, so that’s what we’re going to do,” Miller said. “They loved the people. And their interaction with the school system was significant enough for me that I was willing to do anything to keep them in the school system.”

The path that ultimately led her to Journey Group, where she has been a project manager since last year, is an impressive one. After graduating with a mechanical engineering degree from SDSU, she took a commission in the Army, moved to Germany, then Kansas and got two masters degrees – one in information technology and one in business administration.

A special projects manager role in the Army introduced her to Mortenson Construction, the general contractor on a major Army building project she oversaw. She joined the company as a project engineer.

“Being in engineering and IT, I needed to learn to build buildings, so I earned my project manager designation through Mortenson,” she said.

Two years on the road overseeing major projects led her to Sioux Falls. She estimates she worked 60 to 80 hours weekly during the Premier Center project.

“It was a very good experience, though. I think the project was very significant for the community,” Miller said. “It’s making Sioux Falls a place a lot of people my age want to be. The project was significant for Sioux Falls, and it being in Sioux Falls was significant to me.”

In her early 30s, though, she had become exhausted. She briefly left construction for a marketing position and tried to decide what to do next.

“And I decided I really enjoy building buildings but only with people who align with my values.”

Journey had recently rebranded from Sioux Falls Construction, and the new mission statement resonated with Miller.

“They want to positively impact lives by building community,” she explained. “We do build buildings. But we also invest a lot of our personal time, effort, talents and treasure in the communities we live in. We respect that of the people who work for us and are respectful of one another.”

While Miller was impressed with Journey, the feeling was mutual. She was brought on board to help support and standardize the company’s pre-construction functions, “which play a significant part in delivering our projects,” said Darin Hage, vice president of the Sioux Falls Construction and Journey Construction Professionals divisions.

“We were impressed with Andrea’s background in several areas, including her experience serving in the military and her field experience on several unique and large-scale construction projects,” he said. “Andrea is a very positive and driven person who brings a lot of energy to everything she does.”

The Performing Arts Center at SDSU

Miller already has worked on major buildings including SDSU’s Performing Arts Center, the new Madison Cyber Labs project at Dakota State University and a dormitory at Northern State University.

“It’s wonderful to work for Journey,” Miller said. “They give the customer what they’re asking for – not what we think they should have – and we know how to work hard but also understand work-life balance.”

It’s quickly become apparent that Miller “is a strong team player who looks to help out Journey in any way that she can, which often involves going outside of her daily roles and responsibilities,” Hage said.

“She’s a very dedicated and committed employee who looks to make a difference wherever she’s involved. She’s also very active in the community and passionate about improving our community and the lives of others.”

Renderings of a new residence hall at NSU

Miller already has seen plenty of examples of Journey living its mission. The company recently allowed her to use its headquarters to host Girls Breaker Day, a first-time event that drew 60 girls plus their parents for a day of deconstructing electronics, playing with Legos and learning about circuits and electronics.

Girls Breaker Day, hosted by Journey.

For Miller – the only girl in her college engineering classes, the only female in her year group of ROTC and part of only 10 percent of women in information technology – life could get “very lonely,” she said.

“Now, there’s a whole conglomerate of people trying to change that in our world, and I’m very excited to do part of it, and I’m excited to be part of Journey because they let me do those things.”

She’s also excited to help Journey develop apprenticeship programs and further expand the ways it touches lives young and old throughout the communities where it does business.

“I love that I get to build buildings, but I also get to build the world I want to see for my children. That’s what’s so exciting about Journey.”

A ribbon-cutting hosted by Journey for the Project Management Institute.

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Premier Center project leads construction manager home to new beginning

Andrea Miller had grown used to living in one city only as long as it took to build a building there. Sioux Falls was different.

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