Dennis and Andy Kim

Dennis and Andy Kim | President and Vice President | EVS, Inc. 

NORWOOD YOUNG AMERICA, Minn -- Dennis and Andy Kim have built a family business success story. From the humblest of beginnings, to a massive growth trajectory – the father and son duo have capitalized on Minnesota’s growing clean energy economy. Their story is about a civil engineering firm finding and hitting their stride in the solar market. 

The beginning of EVS, Inc. 

EVS, Inc. started out as EnviroScience in 1979, when Dennis Kim joined a friend to start the Eden Prairie-based company shortly after graduating with his masters in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota. The company worked primarily in the transportation sector, helping to design roadways and large construction projects. But about 10 years ago, Dennis realized if he wanted the company to grow further, they needed to gain expertise in a new market. 

“And then one day my dad came to me and said, “I want us to do wind energy” and I thought, “I don’t even know what that is,” remembers Andy. 

“I realized that renewable energy is going to be our future. So I made a decision, we are going to move into renewable energy,” Dennis remembers. 

How solar changed everything

While wind energy got their foot in the door of the clean energy marketplace, it’s been solar that has truly changed the company. EVS, Inc. performs the civil engineering for solar gardens and utility-scale solar sites that could be as large as 500 megawatts or around 2,000 acres of land. From surveying the land for high and low points and deciding where to include roadways and the height of critical electrical equipment, their work is increasingly important as solar sites get bigger across the country. This new path for the company has led to a tripling of their workforce. 

“Prior to our work in the solar market about five years ago, our company was always hovering around 20-25 staff. And then once we got into solar, we started this growth stage where we were adding almost a person a month for the last two to three years now. It's actually just a crazy whirlwind as we try and keep up with what’s happening in the solar energy movement,” Andy explains. 

EVS, Inc.’s growth trajectory parallels with the industry as a whole. According to the 2019 Clean Jobs Midwest Report, the renewables sector grew nearly 12 percent last year, representing the highest growth rate in the Midwest. Solar makes up the majority of clean energy jobs in Minnesota, employing some 4,917 people or about 60 percent of renewable energy jobs. 

Solar energy: the old and the new

The father and son team represent two different viewpoints on why solar energy is so popular. 

“The beauty of solar is that it’s the most cost-efficient way to generate new power today. It doesn’t matter if it’s commercial, if it’s a data center, solar is just the cheapest way to put new power online. It’s not even the environmental benefits. It’s cost effectiveness, it’s longevity, it’s reliability,” says Andy. 

But Dennis is passionate about solar because he believes it’s about, “doing something good for the people.” He tells us his travels have taken him to many parts of the world that suffer from extreme air pollution, places where you can’t see the blue sky. 

“By building more solar energy projects, wind energy, renewable energy products, you don’t have to emit as much bad air into the atmosphere. Which is a critical problem. So I really feel passionate about what we do, helping people,” Dennis tells us. 

A bright future

Together, that passion combined with the economics of solar and the skills and expertise of their new 40-person solar team, EVS has become a highly sought-after civil engineering firm designing projects across the country, including high-profile contracts like U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. 

The leadership of the company is going to be changing soon as well. Dennis says he’s handing the reigns of running the company to his son Andy in the fall of 2019. He’ll still stay on, building relationships and connecting people – something he says he does best. 

Their shared enthusiasm will continue driving the company forward – as they hang on for the wild ride that clean energy has brought them and continues to take them on.