HJ/EDJune 12, 2006

Pre-engineering building company open in Cokato

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Cleary Building Corp. of Cokato builds pre-engineered structures for commercial, residential, horses, and agricultural uses.

The branch office at 5439 Oliver Ave. opened in November, said manager Al Montgomery of Howard Lake.

“It’s a growing area,” Montgomery said Thursday. “We want to be here for the long haul.”

Residents of hobby farms and small landowners need Cleary buildings for “toy sheds,” or storing boats, pontoons, motorcycles, and snowmobiles, he said.

The need for agricultural buildings is strong too, and the hobby farms to the east often keep horses, so need horse barns and arenas, Montgomery said.

Mike Marketon of Waverly is the branch’s building sales specialist, and Lori Custer of Howard Lake is the administrative assistant. Patrick Ecklund of Dassel heads the building crew, but he is out on the road most of the time, Montgomery said.

That’s why Cokato’s branch of the 73-branch Cleary Building Corp. is in a temporary structure. It doesn’t need much office space because the emphasis is on building quality structures on the customers’ properties, he said.

Eventually, the staff probably will be in a more permanent building, he added.

So far, one Cleary building has been constructed north of Cokato, another south of Howard Lake, and two near Hutchinson. About four have been sold, but not built yet, in an area 10 miles around Cokato.

Montgomery has worked in the Cokato area for a long time. He worked in Ralph Lundeen’s furniture store during the ‘70s, managed the Big Bear store later, and sold cars for Greg Holt.

His wife, Viann, is church secretary at St. James Lutheran Church of Howard Lake. Her grandparents are the Piekerts, longtime Cokato residents, and her grandfather was a mail carrier for the area, he said.

Cleary Building Corp. was founded in Verona, Wis., a suburb of Madison, by two Cleary brothers. Originally this branch was based in Monticello, but when its lease ended, the office moved to Cokato, Montgomery said.

Cleary buildings have a lot of competition in the area because of the need for pre-engineered structures here. However, Cleary buildings have design features that make them strong. They also have warranties that are some of the best in the business. There’s a lifetime warranty on the paint on the steel, for example, and a 50-year warranty on the columns, he said.

Montgomery said there is a growing market for homes with metal roofing and he wants to tap into that trend.

Cleary Building Corp. is in 36 states and has three manufacturing sites, Verona; Grand Island, Neb.; and Hazelton, N.D.

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