STAND along Highway 14 near Mankato, Minnesota, and it will not be long before someone pulling a grain trailer drives by.
Get close to Highway 169, a federal highway that can take that grain north towards Minneapolis, and you have a prime location for a grain trailer dealership.
That thought occurred to Timpte, a trailer manufacturer based in David City, Nebraska. The company recently opened a branch in North Mankato, seamlessly replacing an existing facility that was located closer to the Twin Cities.
“We are right in the middle of the food chain,” explains Pat Lotspeich, regional branch operations manager. “Corn, beans, fertilizer, and ethanol are all creating growth for us.”
The North Mankato shop is one of a series of factory branches that Timpte has opened recently. Others include one in Aurora, Nebraska, and another in Princeton, Illinois.
The Aurora facility, just now opened, has four bays and 6,000 square feet under roof. At 11,000 square feet, the North Mankato branch is almost twice that size. The Princeton branch is slightly smaller. The four-bay facility has 9,500 square feet under roof. All offer new and used trailer sales, parts, and service.
The North Mankato branch, Timpte's largest among the batch of new construction, measures 110' × 100'and has six bays. Timpte's line of grain trailers is the operations' key line, but the branch performs full service and repair for other types and brands of trailers.
The 10,000-sq-ft facility handles six trailers easily while providing space for parts, a workbench, and storage of welding equipment and shop tools. The north wall of the building can be removed for additional expansion.
“Our corporate office provided the shell and gave us flexibility in finishing it out,” Lotspeich says. “Our old location in Savage had one bay that everything went into. We have plenty of storage space here in North Mankato. Pallet racking, storage cabinets. Space for our ladders. We now have a place for everything. And by knowing where everything is supposed to go, our shop has become a lot more efficient.
Lighting was another factor high on the wish list. The building contains six skylights in the shop and two more in the warehouse.
Finding a location
The five-acre site provides the customer with convenience and offers Timpte high visibility. It is near the intersection of two federal highways: Highway 14 runs east and west, while Highway 169 offers shippers a link to Minneapolis-St Paul to the north.
“Paul Lunde, branch manager and salesman, and Perry Rittenbach, vice-president of retail sales and branch operations, scouted the area for quite awhile,” Lotspeich says. “It has highway frontage and is in an area where other companies are beginning to build. It's a great place for a company like ours. You can see grain trailers going up and down Highway 14 all the time.”
Timpte joins several truck industry companies that have facilities in the same North Mankato industrial park. Others include the local Caterpillar dealer, Minnesota Truck & Tractor, and Allstate Peterbilt of Mankato.
Making the move
Prior to the move to North Mankato, Timpte had operated a branch Savage, Minnesota, near Minneapolis-St Paul.
The plan was to move from Savage to North Mankato, but not nearly as quickly as Timpte set up shop. That's because the company's facility in Savage sold much faster than expected.
“We had to vacate Savage quickly, and we had to have this building ready faster than we thought,” Lotspeich says. “We temporarily had offices in the mezzanine of our building, but we were able to get moved in without missing a beat. The move went so quickly that we had to make sure we answered the phone ‘Timpte Mankato.’”
The move, however, proved to be a good one. To make sure the transition went smoothly, Timpte sent personal letters to each of its customers to make sure everyone knew about the move. Keeping the same toll-free telephone number helped.
But being in the middle of the food chain has been important. Lotspeich credits the highly visible location and steady flow of grain trailers rolling past.
Lotspeich says business began to grow right away. Farmers should have it so good.