Industry trends and observations from the Upper Midwest

By |  December 14, 2020
Micah Tysver


As an equipment dealer, 2020 has proven to be a challenging year for several reasons.

It was no secret heading into this year that the election alone would bring challenges, but adding COVID-19 on top of that added significantly more layers to the challenge.

Sure, the virtual meeting aspect allowed us to keep in communication with our many loyal customers, but the impact of lessened face-to-face contact proves challenging. We are a hands-on group with a very experienced, eager and knowledgeable team – often personally analyzing and assessing problem areas and offering performance solutions, which is more difficult to do remotely.

With travel restrictions and social distancing measures in 2020, it has afforded us the time to incorporate more effective and efficient internal communication practices, take advantage of virtual product training offerings to fine-tune and enhance our product knowledge, and successfully complete an advanced sales training course as an entire sales team, virtually.

Having the time and utilizing it to instill these practices, as well as complete this course, brought out a much-needed energy boost. We got back to focusing on the fundamentals: more productive communication, listening to customer needs and strategizing as a team – for the best interest of the customer.

Chasing desirable deposits

Photo: P&Q Staff

Says General Equipment & Supplies’ Micah Tysver: “Portable plants have become a necessity to chase more desirable deposits.” Photo: P&Q Staff

Within our aggregate division, a significant focus is on portable aggregate plants. It is getting more difficult to find and acquire aggregate deposits close to large markets, with deep, lasting reserves and resources. The “gravy” mining sites are quickly disappearing, creating a need for portability to chase shallow and spotty coarse aggregate deposits within our sand and gravel territories.

Much of this is due to the historic Lake Agassiz, which left sandy beaches and a clay lake bottom in much of our territory throughout Minnesota and North Dakota, up into Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada, after the last glacial period. That initially created significant aggregate production challenges, and it is evident that the coarse aggregate pockets are getting harder to find.

Portable plants have become a necessity to chase more desirable deposits – and portable plants have improved drastically throughout the years. Every producer wants fewer loads to move and quicker setup and turnaround time to get back to producing an economical product as soon as possible.

Our customers have always been our best advocates for plant design improvements. The significant focus is typically bigger, faster, stronger and less complicated to operate.

Elevating productivity

With 2020’s economic challenges and the unknowns, producers have turned to investing in equipment for the sole intent of increasing production results. There has been a decrease in the mindset of purchasing a new piece of equipment to replace a tiring unit, with no real production benefit. If we can mutually prove increased production rates, additional products or higher quality, turning to more economical products is where we’ve seen the spend focus throughout this trying year.

Final thoughts

We are approaching year-end with cautious optimism. I personally feel we needed to get through the election – no matter which way it went. The unknown tends to tighten the belt on spend, but there are still attractive interest rates, finance terms and tax incentives, such as Section 179, that will move some equipment before the year is over.

Micah Tysver is sales manager at General Equipment & Supplies, based in Fargo, North Dakota. Tysver oversees 11 salesmen who are based throughout the company’s nine Midwest branches. His primary focus is General’s aggregate division.

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