On the 99- Turlock’s Big Bulldozer

That big bulldozer building in Stanislaus County along California’s Highway 99 marks a fortieth anniversary in 2016.  

 The office for United Equipment in Turlock.  Photo: Steve Newvine)

Highway 99 offers a lot of interesting things to see, but the sight of that big bulldozer in Turlock is one place that few people can forget. It is a two-story office building for United Equipment Company in Turlock.  It’s been a functioning office for the company since opening in 1976.

The idea for building a structure that would serve the growing company and attract lots of attention came from company founder Harold Logsdon back in the mid-1970s.  At the time, Highway 99 was going through an expansion to accommodate an ever increasing traffic flow.  

The building was designed to replicate a Cat D5 bulldozer.  The building was constructed with steel, aluminum, plywood and redwood.  It is twenty-one feet high, twenty-eight feet wide, and sixty-six feet long.  It provides two stories of office space. 

“Dad wanted something that would stand out,” Harold’s daughter Brenda told me in 2008 when I interviewed her for my book 9 From 99, Experiences in California’s Central Valley.  A lot of companies were moving to locations close to the expanded highway.  United Equipment joined in with the influx and created an office that would also serve as a three-dimensional billboard.

“Dad asked an architect to come up with a design for a bulldozer to sit on top of a building,” Brenda Schmidt said.  The architect gave the idea some thought and suggested that the building itself could look like that familiar piece of earth-moving equipment.  

“My father approved the plans, and the building project was launched,” Brenda said.

That was in 1976 and people have been viewing the bulldozer building ever since.  United Equipment still operates from that office, even though the company has expanded considerably in the past forty years.  Mitch and Dustin Logsdon remain in place as company President and Sales Manager respectively.  

“The building has been excellent for our company,” Mitch told me recently.  “It gives the company a little notoriety and that’s good for business.”

Painted bulldozer yellow, the building combines functionality for a business office with authenticity and attention to detail.  The dozer blade is a room housing the facility’s water sprinkler system.  The dozer appears to be pushing dirt, and on careful inspection, one can tell that even the dirt and rock appear to have been placed with care and attention to detail.

Inside, the offices help the staff carry out the day-to-day business operations for United Equipment.  The entryway includes a small display of news articles that have appeared in newspapers all over the world about this amazing building in Turlock, California.

In 2008, Brenda Schmidt shared a story about a phone call the company got from an equipment manufacturer in Saudi Arabia.  She recalled the foreign firm had read about the big bulldozer, and wanted to know shipping dimensions for what was thought to be the real thing.   The Saudi Arabian company thought the two-story bulldozer was an actual working piece of equipment.

“They were kind of disappointed when we told them it wasn’t real,” Brenda said. 

The building has a worldwide reputation.  Mitch Logsdon has traveled extensively for his work as President of the company.  “I’ve seen pictures of the building on the desks of equipment executives in Tokyo,” he said.

The building still attracts a lot of curious folks from all over the state.  Mitch says people have walked in to ask whether the building is a real office, or to see for themselves that is it not a real piece of construction equipment. 

“We’ve heard stories of kids who were sleeping in their parents’ cars, awakened by Mom or Dad to see that giant bulldozer out their window,” Mitch said.  “We still hear stories of parents pulling that prank on their kids.”   

The City of Turlock in Stanislaus County has a lot to offer the rest of the world.  Medic Alert, the company that is known for those ID bracelets that point out a medical condition to emergency personnel, is headquartered in Turlock.  The City also is home to California State University at Stanislaus or Stan State as many people refer to the four year college.

Chances are hundreds of thousands of people passing through this stretch of Highway 99 in southern Stanislaus County have no idea of what other things Turlock has to offer.  But one thing is for certain: they will likely never forget that big bulldozer.