A shipment of used Caterpillar earthmovers was recently sent from Concordia, Mo., to Oklahoma City.
What makes this business deal unique? The equipment came to Concordia from Saudi Arabia. Once it arrived in Concordia, it was rebuilt before being sold to a contractor in Oklahoma.
Evans Equipment has been selling used and rebuilt heavy equipment since 1965, and making international deals since 1980. Tom Evans, the company’s founder, has been buying and selling equipment for more than 50 years, now joined by his sons and a grandson.
Those four Evans men work in the sales department on a campus in Concordia. Behind the office building sits a concrete work site, where used equipment — like the three machines from Saudi Arabia — is brought in and brought up to snuff.
The company buys Caterpillar equipment from contractors that have just completed jobs, or when it finds machines nearing the end of their life cycles.
In the latter scenario, the company will rebuild the machines, spending between 1,000 and 2,000 man hours getting each machine in shape, and then list them for about half the cost of a new machine. Shipping and delivery is paid for by the buyers.
Mark Gieselman was rebuilding a bulldozer July 6. Before lunch, he was installing hoses on a rebuilt Caterpillar D11T, a 100-ton machine. The dozer had already been repainted and repaired, and Gieselman was fitting some of the more than 100 new hoses on the machine.
Like most everyone else at Evans Equipment, Gieselman, 53, has a long history with the company. He has worked there for 32 years.
Tom Evans’ time in sales began after a 22-month tour of duty on a Naval ship that began in the waning moments of World War II and four years at William Jewell College that didn’t result in a degree.
After leaving school, Evans spent the better part of a decade selling used cars in Chillicothe, before getting a gig selling Caterpillar equipment.
“I knocked on doors and said, ‘I wanna sell you a new tractor,’ ” Evans said. “(The potential customer would) say, ‘Get your fanny out of here.’ So I’d go to the next door.”
While working at the Caterpillar dealership, Evans married Rolly Rook Sprouse, whom he’d known growing up in Dawn, Mo. The couple had three children, two sons and a daughter.
The new husband and father decided to become a business owner as well.
For fear of losing his job if plans for a competing dealership were found out, Evans said he planned his new business in secret. He along with three co-founders set out with $200,000 in working capital: about $50,000 Evans had saved from his work selling machines and stock market investments plus another $150,000 on loan from Wood and Huston Bank in Marshall.
The four men submitted paperwork to the Missouri Secretary of State registering the company Aug. 2, 1965, and Bush-Evans Machinery opened for business in Concordia the next day.
Evans bought out his partner, Bob Bush, midway through the second decade of operations and soon after the newly renamed Evans Equipment started operating internationally.
Evans Equipment struck its first international deal in 1980, said Bryce Evans, 59, vice president of the company and Tom Evans’ son. A German contracting company had just completed a large highway project in Iraq and was looking to liquidate its equipment. The Evans team bought the equipment it could, but was forced to leave some behind not purchased due to instability in the region.
After the Iraq deal was struck, Evans Equipment continued to move into the international market, and about half of the company’s business is now conducted internationally, Bryce Evans said.
The company now employs about 30 people, six of them in sales. Tom Evans said he would like to hire six more welders and mechanics but has difficulty finding good people. When he does hire, his employees tend to stick around a long time.
Evans’ two sons have worked for him since they graduated from college. They’re now vice presidents. Bryce Evans’ middle son works in the family business as well. He’s 23.
And the lender that gave Tom Evans his first loan? That’s John Huston, whose bank still works closely with Evans Equipment. Huston chalked up Evans’ success to honesty: “Everything he says is exactly like it is,” Huston said. “You can have complete confidence in what he tells you.”
It’s not uncommon for Evans Equipment to sell machines sight-unseen, Tom Evans said.
The earthmover Geiselman was rebuilding will be sent to a contractor in Idaho after an estimated 1,700 hours of work refurbishing the machine are completed. The machine will feature a factory-new engine and sell for $1.15 million, less than half the price of a new D11T.
Bryce Evans said his father still regularly puts in 10-hour days. “I don’t know how in the hell he does it,” Bryce Evans said.
Shane Sanderson: 816-234-4440, @shanersanderson