A History of Highway 55 Rental
Before Highway 55 Rental was Highway 55 Rental
When Harold "Pete" Pederson bought the building at 225 Highway 55 in 1970, it was to be used for his construction company. However, not long after, his construction company moved to the family horse farm in Medina. A few years later, the construction company was barely hanging on and so Harold called his eldest son Reg and said, "I bought some dump trucks and now we’re gonna sell topsoil." Having previously helped his father with his struggling construction business, volunteering his time to keep it alive, Reg stepped back up to the new challenge of building Chippewa Topsoil. After some time in the topsoil business, they saw an ad for a company looking to franchise rental stores. After the family heard the pitch from the franchise representative, they figured they could do just as well themselves without the franchise fees. Having already dabbled a bit in rental prior to using their equipment from the construction and topsoil companies, they decided to make a full go of the rental business. Jeff, the youngest son of the family was now out of school and Pete, Reg and Jeff founded Highway 55 Rental in 1979. The family went to their first rental convention in Dallas, Texas to buy some new lawn and garden equipment to supplement their other used inventory as well as some homemade trailers they were building.
Slow to Grow
The early days were not easy in the rental business and hard lessons had to be learned. One example was in the early 80s, when a manufacturer’s representative stopped by the business to sell the family on some air compressors. Hoping to get some insight from the rep, one of the brothers asked, "When is it supposed to get busy?" The rep responded. "Right now. It’s June. It’s busy right now." Unfortunately, it wasn’t busy at Highway 55 Rental. The store was empty and they hadn’t seen but a few customers all year. It was clear that they had to do something as they couldn’t continue to work long hours for little pay while spending money they didn’t have on equipment that no one was renting. So Jeff and Reg began walking neighborhoods and putting flyers in mailboxes to let the community know about the business. They also joined the local Chamber of Commerce and bought a big sign to put in front of the store. The sign alone ate up nearly their entire budget. Yet it was decisions like these in addition to 80+ hour work weeks, a bit of luck and a growing community around them, that helped the company hit its stride by the late 80s. In the end, the two brothers would be the main drivers of the company’s growth with Pete as the self-described "Director" of the business.
Owners and Company Founders Reg Pederson and Jeff Pederson
As the owners and co-founders of Highway 55 Rental, brothers Reg and Jeff have dedicated over 43 years to their family owned and operated business. In time, their leadership, persistence and an incredibly hard working staff would eventually turn their small rental shop into a company serving thousands of customers per year in a community that has grown along with them.
Reg’s commitment to achieving a balance between the business’ bottom line while keeping equipment up-to-date and new to maximize customer satisfaction has been critical to ensuring steady and manageable growth throughout the company’s history. A quick thinker by nature, Reg has demonstrated great proficiency to get to the root of problems, propose practical solutions and direct and delegate to solve problems in the most effective and expedient manner possible. His philosophy in business has always been to focus on providing the best service possible at a fair price to customers while holding his team to a high standard of work ethic and reliability those customers have come to expect when doing business with Highway 55 Rental. In turn, the loyalty of the company’s full time staff, the majority of which have been with Highway 55 Rental for over 18 years, is a testament to this and his ability to help maintain an independently owned business for over 4 decades of varying economic conditions and dynamic industry changes.
In Reg’s free time he enjoys playing golf at Medina Golf & Country Club with his friends, where he once served as Club President, in addition to serving as President of the Northwest Chamber of Commerce where he received a community service award. He has also served on the Board of the Minnesota Rental Association and Chairman of the Medina Relations Committee among other leadership roles throughout his time as a businessman and respected member of the community. Reg has two sons, Jon and Chris who are also dedicated to the family business and places great value on spending time with them, his wife, daughter-in-law and as "Papa" to his two new grandchildren.
Jeff’s hands-on work ethic and drive to seek out new ideas for growth have been a critical part of the company’s historical success. Jeff sets the bar high when it comes to overseeing the maintenance of the large fleet of tools, machines and moving vehicles. Despite being in the business for over 43 years, he still can be seen taking on the various hard manual labor tasks associated with the business. Whether it be hooking up a customer’s trailer, negotiating large equipment purchases or expertly educating a customer on how to run a heavy piece of machinery, Jeff can and is willing to do whatever is necessary to serve the business. There are few in the rental industry who know landscaping, tool and contracting equipment as well as Jeff, and even fewer who are able to explain it to the wide range of customer that come through Highway 55 Rental’s doors. Above all, he understands the importance and value of relationships and makes a conscious effort to ask customers how their project or job went whenever he can.
Jeff enjoys outdoor sports such as cycling and rollerblading and shows great dedication to keeping himself fit, as has been illustrated when staff half his age try to keep up with him on certain projects. He also owns Medina Mini Storage and manages various rental properties in the area. Jeff is currently serving his 3rd term on the Medina City Council in addition to having served on the Medina Planning Commission and as both President and Vice President for the Minnesota Rental Association. As someone who cares greatly about his hometown, it is not uncommon to see him attending and supporting events in the local community he has lived in and loved for over 53 years.