Roland Machinery to move to Racine County

    Roland Machinery Co. will head south to Racine County once construction is complete on its new 35,000 square-foot headquarters this year.
    The $3 million facility will be the headquarters for Roland’s new Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula division and will face Interstate 94, located in Yorkville at 2916 N. Sylvania Ave.
    The building will provide more office space, a demonstration area and a larger service and distribution center than the company’s current facility at 11715 W. Silver Spring Rd., Milwaukee.
    The new plant will replicate the layout of Roland’s Bridgeton, Mo., facility.
    Project manager Jeff Grahl of Ott Development said the new Roland plant should be open for business in June or July. Construction began in December.
    Roland Machinery, an equipment and machine distributor based in Springfield, Ill., expanded in the Wisconsin market in June 2003 when it purchased Bark River Culvert & Equipment, Green Bay. Roland simultaneously acquired Bark River’s six Midwest facilities and became one of the largest Komatsu distributors in the nation. With Roland’s growth and dominance in eastern Missouri, northwestern Indiana and Illinois, company president Ray Roland said moving into Wisconsin and Escanaba, Mich., seemed to be a logical extension.
    According to Gary Roberts, general manager of the new Wisconsin and U.P. division, the company also considers the buyout a return to Wisconsin.
    Roland had owned a majority of Aring Equipment Co., with locations in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay and Eau Claire, according to Roberts.
    "Roland decided to sell its portion in 1998, and so we lost our presence in Wisconsin," said Roberts. "When we had the chance to acquire Bark River, we took it."
    Roland now occupies Bark River facilities under the Roland name in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Eau Claire, Schofield and DeForest. A sixth facility is in Escanaba, Mich.
    Roland wants to take advantage of the promise of the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor and develop business within what Roberts calls "the golden triangle" of Wisconsin — the Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay corners of the state, including the Fox River Valley.
    "Given the geographic proximity of the two major cities of Chicago and Milwaukee — and the fact that many contractors migrate across state lines to work — this makes a lot of sense," Roland said. "We’ll now be able to provide those traveling customers with much better support, both in terms of product and service."
    Roland Properties purchased 72 acres from the Enterprising Group in December. Jim Young of James T. Barry Co, who represented Roland, and Tony Bareta of NAI/MLG Commercial, Brookfield, who represented Enterprising Group, brokered the sale.
    Roberts said Roland will develop 15 acres and has put the remaining acreage up for sale in 7-acre, 10-acre and 40-acre parcels.
    Roberts is taking the 17 employees at the Silver Spring location to the new headquarters. He plans to hire 10 more after the facility opens and double his staff within five years.
    Roberts is originally from southern Kentucky and has been working with Roland in Springfield for five years. He hopes to improve the service within the company as it develops within Wisconsin, bringing convenience to customers in areas far removed from Roland facility locations. One idea Roberts will carry out is to place a series of drop boxes for customer convenience. Roberts said this is not a new idea, but it is an important option for customers.
    "The drop boxes will be in locations either complementary of customers or rented from places, like a parts warehouse or an auto parts store. Something where it would be secure," said Roberts. "We will store parts in the drop box, and customers would have a key. For instance if a customer needs a part by next week, we would deliver it to the drop box right away and they could pick it up at their convenience."
    Once the facility in Yorkville is up and running, Roberts said, Roland will begin making plans for new facilities in Green Bay, Schofield and Escanaba.
    "We have St. Louis, Chicago, and now we have Milwaukee. You can’t get better than those three cities, and we are looking forward to increasing our sales and market share in the metro Milwaukee area."

    Feb. 6, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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    Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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