Montana Ag Network: Big Equipment’s big return after devastating fire

Posted at 8:45 AM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-17 10:45:22-04

HAVRE – Big Equipment in Havre has been around for decades.

“Big Bud in our community, everyone knows Big Bud,” Big Equipment co-owner Tim Harmon said.

But Christmas Eve of 2017 will be a day they will never forget. Big Equipment caught fire. “I was just in shock. Such a sprawling facility to be reduced to nothing, just gone,” Tim said.

That fire took hours to put out and smoke could be seen smoldering for days.

Both Ron, Tim’s dad and fellow owner, and Tim were out of town when their business sparked. Tim was enjoying a weekend in Arizona and Ron was with family in Missoula.

“Tears came to my eyes and I just kind of sat there. I didn’t know what our future was at that point. I didn’t know what the plan was. My heart sunk, literally sunk,” Tim recalled.

But the Harmon attitude is strong. That night, on Christmas Eve, Ron drove to the site and met with their insurance agency. “Looking back doesn’t really do anybody much good,” Ron said.

There was no doubt in his mind that they would rebuild.

Days after the devastating fire, Ron called for a meeting. He stood in front of all his employees and made a promise. A promise to not just rebuild, but to come back bigger and better than ever.

“It was super empowering. I felt so proud to be his son,” Tim recalled listening to his dad in front of his employees. “I felt so proud that he cared so much for not just our customers, but our employees as well. One of my more proud moments watching my dad."

“One thing that constantly does happen is change. Some days it’s not seen as a positive change, other days it is. We like to think that we think positively,” Ron said.

The Harmons are ready for new beginnings.

“We’re going to have a brand new facility. It’s going to be landscaped nicely, and look good aesthetically from the road. I also think we will be employing more people moving forward,” Tim said.

“I think the end result is we’re going to be much stronger, better company going forward than we were in the past. We thought we were doing okay so I think well do okay and maybe a little better than okay going forward,” Ron said.

They plan to break ground soon. Ron and Tim said they hope to be up and running within a year. “You can’t replace everything you lost but what you can do is survive and be able to move forward, which we are certainly trying to do,” Ron said.

And although the physical stuff may be gone, the memories are there forever. “As a kid, I would taunt my friends. ‘You know my dad built the largest tractor in the world?” Tim laughed.