Business

Berry Cos. buys Bobcat dealer in Dallas area

Wichita construction equipment dealer Berry Cos. is expanding with the acquisition of the Bobcat dealer in the Dallas area.

Berry Cos. announced Thursday that is has closed on the purchase of Conley Lott Nichols of Texas, which has locations in Irving, Fort Worth and Longview, Texas.

It makes Berry Cos. one of the largest dealers of the small construction loaders and tractors in a five-state region, with dealerships in the Denver, Kansas City, Houston, Tulsa and now Dallas/Fort Worth markets. It owns White Star Machinery in Wichita.

The company's sales are down significantly this year because of the recession, said company president Walter Berry.

Sales will be about $150 million this year, he said. That's down from more than $200 million in the 12 months ending in October 2008.

The company has cut staff by about 25 percent as the recession has cut demand.

But the recession has also provided the company a significant buying opportunity, he said.

"They were tired of the decline," Berry said of the Dallas dealer. "They were owned by an equity group that didn't have the same long-term perspective that we do."

Berry Cos. isn't searching for acquisitions aggressively, he said, but it is open to more, as long as they fit. The target companies would have to be in the central region of the country because they would share Midwestern values, he said.

Berry Cos. also owns Berry Tractor & Equipment with four locations in Kansas and southwest Missouri; Berry Material Handling with three locations; and Superior Broom, which manufactures self-propelled brooms for the asphalt paving market.

Berry doesn't see getting out of the equipment sales, rental and service industry into something with faster growth.

"We consider this our niche," he said. "We don't have any underlying need to grow for growth's sake. We want to do it intelligently. We don't want to get too big for our britches."

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