RDO Equipment Co. to launch new store format in Kennewick

Homeowners, hobby farmers and do-it-yourselfers will be able to shop for lawn mowers, compact tractors and utility vehicles at a new store in Kennewick this spring.

The new RDO Equipment Co. concept store will open by April 1 on the south side of Kennewick Ranch  Home off Columbia Center Boulevard.

RDO’s new retail store format will be the second of its kind in the chain. The first one opened in Bismarck, North Dakota, last fall.

The Kennewick store will feature a large demo area where customers can test machines and learn how to properly pair attachments, with lawn and land equipment experts ready to assist.

“We’re very excited about this,” said Jarrod Bailey, manager for the RDO Equipment Co., store in Pasco. “It’s something that the company has planned to do before I even started here (10 years ago). Our Pasco store is located out here in east Pasco. And it’s tough sometimes for people to get to. But it’s going be huge, having the new one being in the center of the Tri-Cities. Being centralized will help a lot of customers, being close to the Columbia Center area.”

Bailey said RDO does a lot of field service for lawn mowers, with one field service truck already serving the Pasco store. With the new Kennewick store opening, it’ll add a second truck.

“The Kennewick store will have a front showroom and a shop in the back,” said Bailey, who is excited RDO and Ranch & Home could partner at this location.

“We have a similar customer base as those at Ranch & Home,” Bailey said.

Lindsay Paulson, RDO public relations specialist, said the Kennewick store will be 5,800 square feet.

“We’re still waiting on an estimate of cost,” Paulson said.

With a tentative opening of April 1, it should take six to eight weeks of construction to complete the project. The new store will produce 10 to 15 new jobs, Paulson said.

Bailey said the new store managers will come from the Pasco store.

“RDO is big at promoting from within,” Bailey said.

The Pasco store at 1707 E. James St. is staying put, Bailey said. It’ll continue to support large agriculture and construction equipment and other select consumer products.

“This (Kennewick store) is just in addition to our Pasco store,” he said.

The Pasco store, which has been open since at least the early 1990s, has 61 employees. Overall, there are 75 people working in the region for the company.

“Pasco is a hub for the Northwest,” said Bailey, who said there are RDO stores in Wasco, Hermiston, Pendleton, Sunnyside and Othello.

“The majority of our business out of Pasco is for large agricultural customers, like traditional farmers,” Bailey said. “Being a John Deere dealer, we have the benefits of very good quality equipment.”

And while RDO Equipment sells John Deere machines, “parts and service is a big thing,” Bailey said. “Keeping the up time for customers going is one of the critical things we do. We want their down time to be as little as possible. Keeping them up and running is important to us.”

Bailey estimates that one-eighth of RDO’s business in the Tri-Cities deals with lawn and garden.

“And a quarter of that is commercial lawn mowing services,” he said.

Much of that should move to Kennewick, as should the corporate utility trailers.

“Those are used by people who have five to 10 acres, and by people who have places as small as two acres will use them,” Bailey said. “It could be people building fences, or using them as little loaders.”

RDO Equipment Co. just celebrated its 50th year in business.

It was started by a 26-year-old farmer named Ron Offutt in Moorhead, Minnesota, in 1968. Offutt was farming alongside his father at the time, using rented John Deere equipment from a local dealership in nearby Casselton, North Dakota.

Later that year, Offutt bought the store and then grew it, with 75 stores now in nine states, and partnerships on three other continents.

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