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Herb's rent-all sells to Burrows Tractor.

Burrows Tractor has purchased the Herb's Rent-All business and the .76-acre lot at 927 S. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee, in a sale effective Oct. 1.

Herbert Swanson said he sold the business and the property for a yet undisclosed amount. All Herb's Rent-All inventory will be sold at auction at 9 a.m. Oct. 11, by Heaverlo Auctions of Yakima.

Burrows Tractor, a 69-year-old Yakima-based company, will continue to rent its existing space at 912 S. Columbia St. for now, but will move most of its operations to the Herb's Rent-All storefront.

The company will also continue the propane sales serviced by Wenatchee Petroleum, and plans to branch out into lawn & garden rentals with the help of a couple of Swanson's former employees.

John Riel, part-owner and general manager of the Yakima Burrows Tractor store, said his company has been renting the lot directly behind Herb's Rent-All for the past four years. However, the location didn't give the company a lot of visibility, Riel said, and that was a problem.

"Everybody I ask knows exactly where Herb's Rent-All is, but they were surprised to find out we've been right behind them for the past four years," he said.

Riel said the company had been looking for two years for a new location but .was stymied by high prices and the need for location, location, location. He looked at the lot on North Wenatchee Avenue where Discount Tire is building, and the old Lloyd's Auto and Truck building that Norco took over, along with others in that area, but said the prices were too high.

As it is, he said, he paid more than he wanted to for the Herb's Rent-All lot, but did so because he didn't want to move to the south end past the bridge, where traffic drops off and so does visibility.

"It was more than I wanted to pay but there's just not a lot of land available. It's double what I'd pay in Yakima," Riel said.

Riel's other problem with the north end lots was ease of access. Burrows Tractor has a semi-truck delivery from Yakima every week, so he considered ingress and egress in his purchase decision as well.

Now with both lots, Burrows Tractor will double in size, Riel said, and it will give the company a chance to expand its operations here in Wenatchee.

The Yakima store does rent equipment, Riel said, and he expects that will be offered in Wenatchee now as well. He thinks tractor sales will pick up soon too, as will sales of mowers, tractor accessories, and utility vehicles. Burrows Tractor sells the Bush Hog, New Holland, Antonio Carraro, and and Hustler lines of equipment, along with Big Tex trailers.

"I think that for the agricultural economy we have a couple of real solid years ahead of us. The market's been depressed for quite a while, so there's a lot of tired iron out there that needs to be replaced."

Riel said the company approached Herb Swanson about the sale because Herb's Rent-All had a lot of competition in town--from Star Rentals and RSC Equipment Rental--and it didn't look like any of Swanson's children were going to take over the business.

"He's a good guy, and Herb can get a little bit of rest now that he is going to retire," Riel said.

Herb Swanson said he is retiring at the age of 79 at the end of October. He just got back from a four-day vacation to Portland, Ore., and now will go back to work preparing the store for the one-day auction sale on Oct. 11.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Swanson opened his first Herb's Rent-All in 1963 at the old Fire Station location on Miller and Springwater Street. He had a second store at Tilly Tractor's original building at 1449 N. Wenatchee Ave. next to the Washington State Patrol. Swanson moved the business to the South Wenatchee Avenue location in 1975 after buying the property from Robert Purcell, Dave Kellog and Newt Sloan.

He said he faced a lot of competition in town but in some ways it was good for his business. His location couldn't have been better, he said, and not all of his competition allowed people to reserve items, nor were they able to service them as quickly as he did. So even though he had competition, his store still fared well. The most popular rental items were the large utility hand trucks and lawn mowers, he said.

Swanson said he and his wife Bonnie have had opportunities to sell through the years but decided to do so at this point to make it uncomplicated for their two children. The Swansons have a son in Oregon and a daughter in California.

"For me, this clears things out," Herb Swanson said. "I'll miss the day-to-day stuff when the realization comes that I'm actually making the change, but at this point I have other things I'll be able to spend more time with."

In the last few years Swanson said he's been leaving early at 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and taking Saturdays and Sundays off. He said he couldn't have done that without having good employees that would take care of the shop for him.

"I've really enjoyed working with people," Swanson said, "but it was just at my age it was a good thing to make this decision."

The Swansons plan to stay in Wenatchee.
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Author:Davis, Yvette
Publication:Wenatchee Business Journal
Date:Oct 1, 2008
Words:901
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