Large earth-moving equipment is needed to build western North Dakota cities and roads, and to extract the oil responsible for the growth of cities like Dickinson, Williston and Watford City.
RDO Equipment Co. has the ability to supply the John Deere and Vermeer machinery needed to build the Bakken.
The company has had a presence in Dickinson for nearly three years, but quickly outgrew its east Dickinson location near Interstate 94. It has found a lot on the city’s north side along Highway 22. The RDO Truck Center has moved in to the east side of the building.
“I would say it’s almost a better location for us,” said Patrick Frohlich, Dickinson store manager. “There’s probably a little bit easier access and the fact that the truck route’s going to be here. We didn’t really know that at the time, it wasn’t decided yet. But that’s definitely a plus for us.”
The planned Dickinson bypass is set to connect I-94 and Highway 22 through 116th Avenue Southwest west of Dickinson and 33rd Street Southwest, which is now a gravel road that travels past RDO’s new location, which opened in April.
“RDO’s been servicing customers out here out of the Bismarck location for probably 20 years,” Frohlich said. “But when the oil came, it was bigger, the demand was here. But even if the oil were to dry up tomorrow, we’re still going to be here. We take care of a lot of counties and municipalities and local contractors.”
The Dickinson RDO location does not sell ag equipment and only has one green John Deere machine, a tractor that bears the same numbers as a heavy-duty ag model, but has modifications to make it suitable for industrial purposes, Frohlich said.
The majority of RDO’s customer base is sales, but about 10 percent of its business is rentals said Justin Schulz, sales manager.
Most of its customers are companies, which have the insurance policies required to operate heavy machinery, Frohlich said.
“Every once in a while we’ll get someone, ‘Hey, I was wondering if I could rent one of those for the afternoon?’” Frohlich said. “‘Well, do you have a large insurance policy?’”
In addition to renting and selling new and used equipment, RDO performans maintenance and repairs on all the machines that come through its doors for the life of the equipment, Frohlich said.
In order to keep the rental equipment in top shape, RDO has four traveling preventative maintenance trucks that do oil changes and other small tasks, Frohlich said.
But its parts department has a bit of a quirk that the company was not planning for, Frohlich said.
“We have an all-ladies parts department,” Frohlich said. “It just kind of turned out that way. We were obviously looking for people and a lot of the guys that are interested in that kind of work are out in the Oil Patch already. We found some people that were interested in customer service.”
Like many area businesses, RDO is competing with oil field companies for workers. But it has a bit of an edge as it recruits from trade schools across the country, Frohlich said.
“We have so many locations so when we go to a school we can ask, ‘What part of the country do you want to work in?’” Frohlich said.