Maintenance expo brings new innovations

Each year, the Minnesota fall maintenance expo is hosted by the City of St. Cloud’s Public Works facility to bring new ideas and new equipment. The expo is a way for different engineering vendors to expose themselves to cities and citizens from all across the state of Minnesota.

“This expo gets bigger and bigger every year, there’s more participants, more vendors [and] more attendees,” City of Golden Valley street and vehicle maintenance supervisor Marshall Beugen said. “There’s people that come from Detroit Lakes that come down here, I mean people come from all over the state for this show.”

The expo started in 1995 and grew from being held at the Aldrich Arena in Maplewood to the Anoka County Fairgrounds all the way to St. Cloud for over 20 years.

“It seems like they like to have it here. It’s centered in the state, we get metro agencies coming up this way, we have northern agencies coming south to it,” expo chairman and City of St. Cloud street maintenance supervisor Tom Zabinski said. “It’s a good central location in Minnesota and it seems to fit what people are looking for.”

The inside display at the 2018 Fall Maintenance Expo.

The maintenance expo ran for two days and it’s a way that cities, counties, and people can all see and learn about the latest maintenance equipments and technology. Some of the equipment includes trucks, lawn mowers, snow plows, and much more equipment, along with other new technologies that make jobs easier.

“It’s a good opportunity to see the new equipment, the new technologies in the field and it’s a great networking opportunity as well,” Beugen said.

During the expo on Thursday, Oct. 4, there wasn’t one parking spot to be found at the St. Cloud Public Works facility. Now that this maintenance expo has become so popular over the years, the numbers this year were counted in the thousands.

“Today we’ll have approximately 1,300 to 1,400 people here, and yesterday we had probably just short of 1,600 people here,” Zabinski said.

One of the many vendors at the event this year is new to the expo, and they know that they are a good fit for this annual occurrence because of what they offer as a company along with the publicity they get there.

Some of the new equipment on display at last Thursday’s expo.

“It’s giving Hunter Engineering a focus in the market, they’re now knowing who Hunter Engineering is and we can provide this equipment for their shops,” Hunter Engineering Minneapolis Regional Manager Gregg Donatell said.

Of the many events that go on during this yearly expo include networking your city to vendors, seeing all of the new equipment, and there is even a truck roadeo that takes place in the back lot of St. Cloud’s municipal facility. The roadeo consists of public works employees backing up snow plows around cones, stopping safely at stop signs, driving the plow between automobiles that are parked, driving through a roundabout, driving in tight alleyways, and much more standard snow plow driving techniques.

“We’ll probably change the course up, we don’t like to leave it the same because then people study it so then they can figure out what they did wrong,” City of Ramsey Superintendent Grant Riemer said. “They spend all year trying to figure out what they did wrong and how to fix it and then they get here and it’s changed,” Grant Riemer said.

The roadeo provides a way for public works employees to show off their driving skills and it brings a lot of friendly banter between city employees as part of the competition. With the importance of the expo allowing all of the city and state workers to see everything new in maintenance, it most of all provides everyone the chance to come together and bring some camaraderie amongst employees in their field.

“I like coming just to kind of touch base with some of our common vendors that we use, see the new trainings that are available and just see some faces from across other municipalities,” Beugen said.

At the expo this year, there were over 100 vendors either inside or outside showing off their new equipment trying to sell their products to any of the different cities in attendance. The event is just another fun gathering for the guys and people can’t wait for next year already.

“We’ll obviously definitely be back next year for this event,” Donatell said.

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Tony Langfellow

Tony Langfellow was the Editor-In-Chief at the University Chronicle during the Spring of 2020.

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