04-18-2008: news-local

Bismarck Tribune
Aetna hosted an open house for its employees on Thursday to celebrate the completion of its year-long renovation project.

"It was completely renovated, completely gutted and redone," said Lyn Weigel, of Aetna, about the building.

Aetna started renovations to its building at 1800 E. Interstate Ave. in June.

Groups of employees were moved to different areas of the building as it was remodeled in parts.

"It was a major undertaking, though. We moved at least 50, 60, 70 people at a time, staged them in different areas and brought them back over once we were done," said Mike Fitzgerald, one of Aetna's site leaders.

Each move took about four weeks to complete.

"It was like a home remodeling project, while living in the home," joked Mayor John Warford.

Warford was at Thursday's open house for the official ribbon cutting and first tour, as was Kelvin Hullet from the Chamber of Commerce.

In spite of closing down whole sections of the building at a time, Aetna managed to keep operational throughout the entire project.

"I think that's probably the most remarkable thing about the whole process, that the employees kept working. We didn't skip a beat," site leader Brenda Nagel said.

The renovation included a new sprinkler system, security system and improved lighting, as well as carpeting and furniture.

Although numbers weren't available for the actual cost of the renovation, "we just say a lot," Weigel said.

Walking through the much-improved Aetna building, one is constantly reminded of Aetna's values, from the Aetna value wheel on the wall just past the entrance to the inspirational sayings painted on the ceiling beams above employees' cubicles.

"This is a wonderful part of our community, as we go through our largest economic growth spurt in the history of our city," Mayor Warford said during the ribbon cutting.

The event also included food, games and door prizes for Aetna employees.

"I love it. It's much better," employee Lisa Sailer said of the building.

(James Ziegler is a Bismarck State College student. He can be reached at 302-0822.)


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