Veteran builder joins CANCO team as project engineer

Veteran builder joins CANCO team as project engineer
Doug Mertens
Project Engineer

1 year, 3 months ago

Doug Mertens, a Fort Madison native and resident of the Poweshiek County town of Hartwick, is bringing more than four decades of commercial and institutional construction experience to Carl A. Nelson & Company (CANCO).

Mertens, who started in the industry as a 14-year-old working with his father building houses, has joined the CANCO team as a project engineer working remotely from his home about 20 minutes from Grinnell. His first day with the firm was Dec. 5, 2022.

With a late-career job change, Mertens said he preferred to take on the role and responsibilities of project engineer, and get to be in the field more often, working alongside CANCO’s field supervisors, as well as estimating jobs and reviewing submittals.

After getting his feet wet in construction as a teen-ager in the late 1970s, the 1982 Fort Madison High School graduate enrolled at Iowa State University, but left school to spend three more years working for his father, Robert Mertens, at R&R Construction/Mertens Construction. He later attended Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, and graduated in 1988 with an associate of applied science degree in civil engineering and construction technology.

Mertens began his career as a planning and zoning assistant for the City of Grinnell, although he soon moved into commercial construction as an estimator, project manager and field supervisor. Over the course of 30 years, he worked for three firms — one of them three times, including until recently — and ran his own company, Mertens Construction, out of Hudson, Iowa, for about a dozen years.

Away from work, Mertens and his wife, Connie, have been married for almost 30 years, with whom he enjoys fishing and boating. He enjoys hunting, and is active in church. For about 10 years, he and Connie, who is an ordained minister, operated White Truck Ministries from their home, providing aid to the needy in the Appalachians region of southeastern Kentucky.

He and Connie have three children between them, Andrea, Chad and Levi, and six grandchildren plus one on the way.