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State-of-the-Art; SEMA Equipment grand opening draws crowds in Grand Meadow

A small rural town was bustling with excitement as a new business opened up shop.

SEMA Equipment held an open house celebration of its new centralized facility in Grand Meadow on Wednesday. More than 1,000 visitors came to enjoy the festivities. From tractor rides to guided tours of the almost 90,000 square-foot property to a barbecue party held in the back of the facility, SEMA Equipment was officially welcomed into the community after opening its doors on June 24.

Wozney

This $8.7 million project was the result of a decision to consolidate three former sites in Austin, LeRoy and Spring Valley, along with the business office in Rochester, and to build a central location that enhances customer experience and “provide a world-class working environment for employees,” said Tom Wozney, general manager. The stores in Plainview, St. Charles, Wanamingo, Northfield and Caledonia will remain open and stay in those communities.

“We needed to decide what was best for our customers and employees in the long term,” Wozney said. “We looked at efficiencies that could deliver a better customer experience and provide a world-class working environment for our employees.”

Back in 2017, customers were notified about the consolidation, and construction for the Grand Meadow building started in spring 2018, Wozney said. The project finished in early June, leaving employees to move into the new site in four weeks.

There are 50 full-time and part-time employees at SEMA in Grand Meadow, and all were from the three store sites that were merged, as well as the business office in Rochester.

The Grand Meadow site will serve as the company’s main parts warehouse, which improved the storage capabilities for SEMA, as well as large bays for displaying equipment and also for repairing and maintenance of machinery. SEMA also offers solutions for agricultural and construction businesses as well as for residential and commercial lawn mowing. Wozney noted that about 70 percent of SEMA’s clients were agricultural, 20 percent in residential and commercial lawn mowing and 10 percent in construction.

“We’re excited to serve our customers with better solutions and provide a world-class working environment,” he said. “Our success is based on great employees and that success equates to how good of a job they have done. We are extremely happy and excited to work in this new, modern employee-friendly work environment.”

People look through the showroom of SEMA Equipment during its grand opening Wednesday in Grand Meadow.

The new facility was a stark contrast to the previous sites in Austin, LeRoy and Spring Valley for those who long visited those sites in the past. Ron Olson and Don Chapek, both from the Austin area, were surprised by SEMA’s new facility and the upgrades in technology that came with it.

“This is state of the art,” Olson said while looking around the building.

“There’s more to pick from,” Chapek said. “There’s more equipment to work with.”

Visitors weren’t the only ones appreciating the new facility. For employees, the transition has been welcomed. Rick Granahan, finance controller for SEMA, thought the move to Grand Meadow made the most sense given the strong farming community and agronomy in town. He also believed that the new facility allows more efficiencies for both staff and customers.

Visitors to SEMA Equipment’s grand opening Wednesday, walk through the tractors on display in Grand Meadow.

“There is a strong agricultural community here,” Granahan said. “That has always been a draw. To remodel the three stores as opposed to building a new facility just didn’t make financial sense. This move brings us back to the store environment and more back into the reality of working directly with our customers.”

Since 2012, Kevin Schaefer has served as the general sales manager for SEMA. He lauded the move to Grand Meadow, noting that the working environment was more efficient for employees. He also praised the staff for working hard to move from four different sites and combining their teams under one roof within a short timeframe.

“We’re looking to grow opportunities to eventually expand the shop and fully utilize our facility while continuing to grow our business,” Schaefer said. “We’re excited about investing into the future of agriculture and we’re blessed to have incredible employees,” Schaefer said. “We plan to do this for a long long time and we are excited about our commitment to agriculture in this area.”

People walk through the garage of the new SEMA Equipment location Wednesday during a grand opening in Grand Meadow.

SEMA Equipment in Grand Meadow

Size: About 90,000 square-feet

Number of employees: 50 full-time and part-time

Store locations: Plainview, St. Charles, Northfield, Wanamingo and Caledonia

Consolidated store sites: Austin, LeRoy and Spring Valley

Operating hours: Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to noon; Sunday, closed

Address: 504 Fourth Avenue NE

Contact: 507-754-1100