News Column

Toro opens new $25 million addition in Bloomington, celebrates 100th year

July 11, 2014

By Dee DePass, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)



July 11--Toro Co. officially opened the $25 million addition to its Bloomington headquarters Thursday to much fanfare as 2,000 politicians, developers, retirees and employees gathered to celebrate the expansion and the company's 100th year in business.

The three-story wing adds 75,000 square feet to Toro's existing 400,000 square feet of space. It is the latest of several expansions over the years but was highly praised because Toro chose to grow in Bloomington instead of succumbing to offers to build in other states.

To sweeten the deal, the state's Minnesota Investment Fund gave Toro a $750,000 loan that will be forgiven provided Toro keeps 900 workers in Minnesota and adds at least 50 new corporate jobs to its headquarters.

Gov. Mark Dayton praised the company Thursday during a celebration that included food, speeches and tours of the sparkling glass and stone addition that was constructed by Ryan Cos. Employees will move into the structure over the next few months.

"It is my honor to proclaim it Toro Day in the state of Minnesota," Dayton said as he presented a plaque to CEO Mike Hoffman. "It's a great company and we are so proud. ... Thank you for making the decision to recommit to Bloomington and to the state of Minnesota."

Ryan Development Vice President Casey Hankinson said getting the addition completed on time was complicated because Ryan just broke ground on the structure in September and promised to have it finished in time for Toro's 100-year anniversary this month.

"It was a tough winter and a very wet spring. But [the structure] was absolutely finished on schedule," Hankinson told the Star Tribune.

Toro started in 1914 as a tiny company that built tractor engines for the Bull Tractor Co. During World War I it built steam steering engines for merchant ships to support the war effort. It entered the turf management business in 1919, after several workers decided to bolt five reel mowers onto the front of a tractor so they could mow the fairways at the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.

That very type of mower, restored and displayed Thursday in the junction where the new and old buildings now meet, was the first product to carry the Toro name, spokesman Branden Happel said.

Over the years, Toro set up its headquarters in Minneapolis and built an R&D center in Bloomington. That 22-acre site became the official headquarters in 1962.

The building and the company's turf management business have been growing ever since. In December, Toro reached a milestone, breaking through the $2 billion revenue barrier.

Toro's iconic red and white lawn mowers may be ubiquitous in home garages, big-box centers and in professional golf courses across the country, but the company has also gained a footing in snow removal, water irrigation and construction equipment. Several of the products were on display Thursday as hundreds of visitors milled about.

In September, Mike Hoffman, Toro's president and CEO, hopped onto one of Toro's newly introduced large backhoes and broke ground for the new headquarters expansion.

Toro's new line of backhoes, utility trenchers, and ground compactors were used to prepare the building site. "We used as much of their equipment as we could," Ryan's Hankinson said.

The addition gives Toro more office space and frees up existing square footage for more product testing and new-product development, Hoffman told the crowd Thursday. The headquarters includes office, R&D and manufacturing space.

The addition sits just off Lyndale Avenue between W. 82nd Street and American Boulevard W. The entrance to the headquarters has been relocated so it now faces Lyndale Avenue instead of 82nd Street.

Dee DePass -- 612-673-7725

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(c)2014 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com

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Source: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)


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