Ag, construction heavy equipment dealer expands in Pasco

Blueline Equipment Inc., a Yakima-based ag and construction equipment dealer and manufacturer, is doubling down on its Pasco retail store.

Owner Gregg Marrs is building an 11,000-square-foot showroom and office near the Tri-Cities Airport amid growing demand for its tractors, excavators, diggers and other heavy equipment used on farms as well as construction sites.

Blueline’s new home will be built at 2080 N. Commercial Ave. and will replace its leased spot at Oregon Avenue and Broadway Street.

The new store will have a 10,000-square-foot showroom and 1,000-square-foot office and is near Parr Lumber and a Simplot frozen vegetable plant to the east of the Tri-Cities Airport.

Marrs paid $340,000 for the 2.1-acre site in June. He hopes to break ground this month. The move-in date is set for April, near the start of the 2022 growing season.

“We’re very excited about it. We have a good location with visibility from the freeway,” he said. The new store will employ about 14, doubling its workforce.

Blueline is a dealer for Kubota and other equipment lines and manufactures its own lines of tractors, berry-picking machinery and more. It serves a mix of agricultural and commercial customers through retail sites between Yakima and Walla Walla.

Ag represents most of its business, with a focus on specialty crops such as tree fruits, vines, hops and berries.

Marrs said demand from hop growers and wine grape growers has been strong, as has its growing base in the berry market. In the Mid-Columbia, that usually means blueberries.

“Ag tends to go in the opposite direction of the domestic economy,” he said. “I feel very confident with agriculture. It is the food business. People aren’t going to stop eating.”

The new Pasco location doubles as a retirement investment for Marrs, a standard practice for privately-owned companies. It is also one of several new buildings if not locations for Blueline. It has built others in Yakima, Sunnyside, Mattawa and George.

Marrs called Eastern Washington a good and undervalued market for investing in commercial real estate. And, tongue in cheek, he called himself an excellent tenant.

“I typically like to own the properties our businesses are in,” Marrs said. “I can’t think of a more secure tenant than myself. He is just a wonderful person. He never complains.”

Columbia River Steel and Construction, an engineering and construction firm in Grandview, is managing the project, as it has for the other new buildings. Dana J. Sveum is the project engineer on behalf of Columbia River.

Marrs said he is considering expanding beyond his current footprint in Eastern Washington.

As one of the leading farm and construction equipment importers, it has business up and down the West Coast. The Portland, Oregon, market could be a next stop.

“I think we could justify a location down in the Willamette Valley. We do a lot of business down there,” he said.

Marrs said business is good and is being bolstered by consolidation in the ag industry.

“We’re dealing with much larger organizations. They’re well financed. They have a long-term strategy. They buy significant amounts of equipment because they’re farming significant amounts of acreage,” he said.

Blueline launched in 1958 when Bob Groenig began designing self-loading orchard bin trailers at his machine shop in the heart of Washington’s apple industry. He would later design and build a pruning lift, called the Orchard Ape, an industry staple for years.

The business incorporated in 1985. Distribution deals soon followed and Marrs signed on as a minority investor in 1995. Two years later, he was the sole owner while the original founder continued developing new equipment lines.

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