Lawrence Equipment Takes on Case Line, New Branches

Thu June 12, 2003 - Southeast Edition
Jason Hainsworth

In December 2002 Lawrence Equipment acquired new dealerships as well as added the Case line of construction equipment. This purchase extends the company’s territory to 37 counties in central and western Virginia.

The acquisition came as a result of company President, Chip Lawrence’s interest in diversifying the company, particularly in directions other than transportation services. “The wave of the future is diversity,” said Lawrence, whose own roots lie in the transportation industry. He said he feels this diversity will give the company an edge over its competitors and the taking on the Case line of products continues to expand upon that diversity.

“The Case line is a great product,” Lawrence said. “The skid steer and backhoe truly are in a class of their own.” Lawrence feels the addition will blend in well “under the existing umbrella” of the company. “Because of the diversification, under one umbrella, we are able to provide less costly parts and labor than our competition. Our goal is to be the best value to the customer in the field.”

Although the acquisition of dealerships included existing locations, Lawrence Equipment has undertaken the task of reconstructing them to fit the company’s needs. This reconstruction includes new facilities in Roanoke and Waynesboro.

The new Waynesboro facility, which is part of an existing 12-acre (4.8 ha) location, is a 12,000-sq.-ft., full parts and field service branch. It is currently under construction, but is due to open in mid-June of this year. It is located at 390 South Oak Lane.

The new Roanoke facility, located at 262 Vista Drive, is already up and running. This 13,000-sq.-ft. branch rests inside an 88,000-sq.-ft. location and also is a full parts and service facility.

With its roots deep in transportation, the company is transporting the same values that contributed to its previous success, into the power equipment division. “We will continue to aim at being the low cost provider when it comes to parts, service and equipment,” said Lawrence.

Those roots begin in 1932, with Chip Lawrence’s grandfather, Weldon T. Lawrence. He started a company, which at that time dealt only with produce hauling, moving and storage. Over the years, through his family’s experience in the industry, Chip acquired a sense of the business, which he used when he and his father founded the United Van company.

In the fifties, United expanded to include moving and storage. In 1973, the family’s moving and storage company’s revenue was $600,000. By 1985, it was $17 million. In 1992, the Western Star company was purchased, expanding the Lawrence Equipment company into the truck parts and service industry. Eight years later, the Rusco Window company became part of the Lawrence Equipment family, furthering its diversity.

More than 70 years after his grandfather’s produce hauling company was started, Chip is president of the company, whose expansion into the transportation industry now covers 48 states, and will produce a revenue of approximately $36 million this year.

The company, which employs some 565 employees, has added a dozen since the Case acquisition and intends to expand its number of employees as necessary.

If diversity is indeed the wave of the future, then Lawrence Equipment company is way ahead of its time.

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