By: Paula Quam, DL-Online
The ribbon was cut as members of the lakes community celebrated RDO Equipment’s official grand opening for its new location in Hawley Friday.
The John Deere implement dealer, which has been a fixture in Hawley in one capacity or another for over 50 years, plowed its way toward a strong future when it invested in building a facility twice its former size.
The business is now located at 110 Michael Street Street in Hawley, right along Highway 10. This is one block west of its prior, more tucked away location at 920 O’Donnell Street.
“We needed to upgrade our facility,” said Store Manager Steve Martin. “We had outgrown our old facility and needed more space; it became necessary to service our customers.”
And space is what they got.
The facility itself is 45,000 square feet with 32-feet-high vaulted ceilings.
“Now we can get our overhead cranes in our shop, which we couldn’t do before,” said Martin. “So now we can lift motors out of combines and things right there.”
The shop has 21 doors, all drive thru bays, so that trucks can just pull in and out of the shops. Each technician has their own bay to work out of.
“Our lawn and garden service is expanded now too, so we’ve got lawn tractors, garden tractors, mowers … so we were able to put those on a big display on Highway 10 — it’s been a huge success for sales and traffic,” said Martin, who says ever since RDO Equipment made the move over in August, the sheer visibility has had an incredible impact on sales.
“We had a few things lined up along the highway before, but our building wasn’t too noticeable,” said Martin. “Now we’re one of the largest — if not the largest — business along the highway.”
The display area for machinery like tractors, combines and tillage equipment is much larger now.
“This display had an immediate effect — we gained traffic from Highway 10 that we had never seen before; they didn’t’ know we existed,” said Martin, who says the warehouse and its capabilities for holding more parts is also much larger now.
“We also run from this store; we operate a parts route that runs daily drop offs going to every community within 25 miles to the south and north of Highway 10 towards Wadena,” said Martin. “So it’s nice to be able to carry a lot more parts and products.”
RDO has owned the dealership since 2003 when they acquired it from Clay-Becker Implement, which had been there since 1979.
But Martin says equipment has gotten much bigger over the years, including the equipment used to service the machines.
“And then we’ve invested a lot in service vehicles that we use to go out to farms, so we needed more space for those,” said Martin.
All this expansion has translated into a few more jobs for the dealership, as they added another salesman, four more technicians and another parts employee. That takes the Hawley location up to 39 employees.
Company leaders are not ruling out further expansion in the future either, in fact, they’re betting on it.
In addition to the larger facility, they also purchased the 40 acres of land it sits on.
“And we’re only utilizing half of it, so there’s plenty of room to grow,” said Martin, who encourages people to come out and take a look at the new building.
“We’re giving tours here all the time,” said Martin. “It’s an impressive facility.”