Experts

Equipped For Growth

How MacQueen Equipment has grown its business for over 50 years — and kept its local St. Paul roots

When you wake up in the morning, you probably don’t think about where your water was disposed of after you brushed your teeth, the aftermath of your trash after you set it out for pickup, or who takes care of the roads you drove on during your commute to work. The reality is, it takes equipment like waste management vehicles and street sweepers to ensure you’re able to do each one of those things. But have you ever thought about where they come from?

The MacQueen Equipment Group touches households each day, making an impact on the community’s infrastructure and quality of life. The regional equipment dealer sells and services municipal and contractor heavy equipment — think snow plows, garbage trucks and even equipment to clean the airport runways.

“Every day our equipment affects peoples’ lives,” says Curt Steffen, president of the MacQueen Equipment Group.

Jack MacQueen started the equipment company in 1961 with a handful of employees. Today, the company has grown to about 100 employees.

Steffen says he likes to think outside the box, which may be one contributor to the company’s steady growth over the years. For example, in 2012, the company wanted to start an equipment rental business. While some banks might not be too keen on supporting an untested endeavor that requires a large amount of cash up front, Anchor Bank was willing to listen.

Anchor Bank determined the best equipment finance strategy for the St. Paul company and dispersed the funds. The company started the business with four trucks. Today, there are approximately 30 in operation.

“We set up a credit facility for MacQueen Equipment to buy the pieces of equipment and rent them out — and that business line took off,” Market President of Commercial Banking Eric Britt explains.

But with growth comes other challenges. A couple of years ago MacQueen Equipment found itself too big for its current location in the Midway District in St. Paul where it had been operating for 50 years.

“We had outgrown our ability to service our equipment,” Steffen says. With a small group of buildings spread out over two acres, the company had little room to grow. “We had a very robust sales team, but only so much room to service equipment and get it out the door,” he adds.

Wanting to stay in the St. Paul area, Steffen pursued a property on the east side of the city.

“The St. Paul Port Authority wanted a tenant that would contribute to the city and bring jobs to the community,” Steffen explains. “When we moved into the new space, we added additional employees right away.”

To help with financing, the equipment company called again on its long-time banking partner, Anchor Bank. Britt worked with the St. Paul Port Authority to help finance the new headquarters building.

MacQueen Equipment opened its new location in October 2016, which now houses its corporate sales, parts and service facilities. Around that same time, MacQueen also launched MacQueen Emergency Group as the new authorized dealer for Pierce Manufacturing fire apparatus in four states in the upper Midwest. The new space provides more room to work on trucks, showcases a larger show floor and affords more storage room outside.

“Everyone likes to see a fire truck. It’s a big part of our business now,” Steffen says.

MacQueen Equipment

Headquarters: St. Paul, Minnesota

Inception: 1961

Leadership: Curt Steffen, President

Employees: 100

Description: Regional equipment dealer network — with locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska — that sells and services municipal and contractor heavy equipment.

Anchor Bank, a division of Old National Bank

Headquarters: St. Paul, Minnesota

Leadership: Eric Britt, Market President

Description:  One of Minnesota’s largest community banks with more than $2 billion in assets. The bank offers a range of financial services for both individual and business clients.