Main occupant moves in to old Menards building

Gary Fairchild, president of Fairchild Equipment, sat in one of the forklift trucks at his company’s new Burnsville location in the former Menards building on West Highway 13. (Photo by John Gessner)

Green Bay firm bought
long-vacant property

The pieces are falling into place at the once-vacant Menards building on West Highway 13 in Burnsville.

Fairchild Equipment, the building’s owner and largest occupant, moved in last month, taking about 40,000 square feet of the nearly 100,000-square-foot building.

NAPA Auto and Truck Parts arrived in May, occupying 13,500 square feet after relocating from a nearby Burnsville location on the south side of West Highway 13.

The building’s first tenant was Durham Student Services, the bus contractor in School District 191, which was moved into its 13,000-square-foot space in time for the 2012-13 school year.

Fairchild Equipment President Gary Fairchild said he hopes to soon land a pontoon boat dealership for one of the two remaining vacant spaces.

The renewed activity at the former home-improvement store, built in 1988, is a welcome sight for city officials, who watched the property deteriorate after Menards redeveloped and moved into the old Cub Foods store next door at 2700 W. Highway 13. The city approved the new location in 2005.

“The city was pretty happy,” Fairchild said this week while visiting the new location from Green Bay, Wis., where his company is based. “We were happy working with the city. I think it’s good for the area.”

After buying the building for $3 million last October, Fairchild’s next challenge was dividing it into multiple tenant spaces.

“A significant amount of money and creative ideas came around,” he said.

Old flooring was removed throughout the building, along with a number of parking stalls to meet the city’s green-space requirements, Fairchild said.

Lots of bird droppings were cleaned out, too, he noted.

Fairchild Equipment now has a gleaming new sales and service center — a south metro location to complement its north metro site in Ham Lake, which opened 11 years ago.

The company sells and services Yale-brand forklift trucks and JCB construction and agricultural equipment, from dump trucks to the small, skid-steer loader — an ever-popular product, Fairchild said. The Fairchild Equipment catalog includes hundreds more products, from heavy-duty work benches to storage lockers.

“People don’t want to have a zillion vendors,” Fairchild said. “They really don’t. As long as you can be a one-stop efficient shop, that is what everyone is looking for, personally and workwise.”

Fairchild’s company ownership dates back to 1985, when he purchased Yale Materials Handling Green Bay. The company later picked up Yales sales and service territory in Minnesota. His company also has locations in Marinette and Stevens Point, Wis.

The company added the JCB line about three years ago to help drive profits beyond its established Yale forklift business.

The Burnsville location has 10 to 12 employees on site, but the real action is in the field, where most equipment servicing occurs.

“Lift trucks and construction equipment is all service, let’s face it,” Fairchild said.

And time is money when equipment is disabled, so his technicians are on the road at job sites and workplaces. A south metro location expands the company’s reach, Fairchild said.

“The opportunity in this part of the city was there for us to work to gain the business, and we could do it cost effectively by being here,” he said.