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Gary Carlson Equipment Shores Up Business in Minn.

Wed December 09, 2009 - Midwest Edition
Dorinda Anderson

The focus of Gary Carlson Equipment of St. Paul, Minn., is simple: provide and install the newest products to meet the needs in shoring equipment for trench safety, and follow that up with exceptional service.

As a small fledgling company, Gary Carlson Equipment believes the key to success is to meet its customers’ needs and to look for better techniques to ensure productivity.

“We’re not just trying to push more stuff out the door,” Gary Carlson said, “because people don’t buy trench boxes unless they need trench boxes. We try to make sure we have the right product for each contractor. If we send something to the job site it will work and they will be happy with it.”

Opening the doors for business in 2003, Carlson is able to provide numerous years of experience, since he previously worked with Carlson Equipment, a business his family owned for almost 50 years, before selling it in 1998. A few years later, after talking with various contractors about their equipment needs, Carlson decided to venture out on his own, with the help of co-worker Joe Miller.

“He was willing to roll up his sleeves and drive the truck when necessary, build trench boxes and work in the field. As the only employees, we did it all,” Carlson said. Now with nine employees, Gary Carlson Equipment is still running a team that pitches in and makes the process work.

Providing trench boxes gave Gary Carlson Equipment its start, but things quickly evolved as contractors called for additional parts. Moving into a new, larger building one and a half years ago made it possible for Gary Carlson Equipment to stock a whole range of contractors’ supplies and equipment from air compressors to large water pumps and other light equipment.

“We tripled our space by moving around the corner in January 2008. It was great to be able to move at that point,” Carlson said.

Providing service also is a huge part of the business.

“We work carefully with contractors on job sites to shore up questionable areas. One significant product is the PRO TEC slide rail.

“Even though we’ve done more than 190 of those jobs, contractors haven’t so we do onsite consulting and assist with installation, either for crews or contractors who are doing this application for the first time,” Carlson said. “I think that a key to our success is to get the system in and out quickly for the contractors. That is something our people have really excelled at.”

By focusing on this area of specialty equipment, Gary Carlson Equipment is able to service customers in five-plus states.

“We have a much larger inventory of shoring equipment and pumping pieces that are taking us to additional areas outside the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area,” Carlson said. “We’ve done jobs in far northwest North Dakota and Joliette, Ill., and Davenport, Iowa.”

Carlson added, “For any business, the challenges are endless and I think the key to our company’s success has been some great customers, many who we’ve known for years; and, to that wonderful upper Midwest ’can-do’ attitude that our contractors excel at. If we can help contractors stay ahead of schedule and under budget it is a win-win situation.”

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