Swedes Buildings
Swedes Buildings

Swede's Buildings has been in business since 1974 in Sanborn Minnesota. Swede is a one of a kind genuine hard worker, who takes pride in his work and always has a story to tell about one of his buildings. His passion is his faith, his family, his horses, his buildings and making new friends in the business.

Check out the stories below from over the years at Swede's Buildings!
1989 - Redwood Gazette
2008 - Wabasso Standard

The marketing executive works in overalls
Redwood Gazette, 1989
Marcia Hailing, Staff Writer

Sanborn - There probably aren't' many manufacturing company marketing executives who go to work clad in bib overalls. 

Swede's Buildings

But then, there are not a lot of companies like Bruce "Swede" Benson's business, Swede's Surplus. 
While the surplus title may keep customers wondering what the business is all about, the name is an appropriate way to lump together the many facets the business has undertaken.
"We used to sell appliances, furniture, carpeting...Now between the buildings and picnic tables, we keep busy, " Swede says.

Though the combination may sound a bit odd, Swede explains the one business he's been developing for years, while the other evolved rather accidentally.  "I had a great big pile of (tables) outside the door and a guy asked if he could rent a few...A while later, another guy asked about renting some," he says.

In the years since, picnic table sales or rental, mostly the latter, has been a booming business during outdoor events season.  Some dates are booked a year in advance for Swede to deliver tables to communities in a wide radius, for use at wedding and anniversary receptions and dances, business gatherings, town celebrations; anything that brings a lot of people together.

"You know that picnic tables thing just ballooned," Swede says.  this year he will need to add a number of tables to the inventory of 100, to have enough for the season, which takes off around Memorial Day. Swede admits the picnic table rentals require a lot of work, much of his evening and weekend time in busy seasons, aren't a big money maker.  But hauling them through towns in vehicles splashed with painted advertisements, and mingling with people at the various events is good public relations and something he enjoys.

Likewise, his personality delivering each factory-direct portable building he sells. Throughout a conversation, he pulls from a pile on his desk and a dusty photo album of photographs of buildings. 

Swede Benson
Bruce "Swede" Benson, 1989

With each he has a little tidbit of information about the purchaser and the building's use. 
"That's the fun part of it, the people you meet,' Swede says.

The buildings are anything from small playhouses, which double as storage sheds, to patio houses for backyards and at the lake; structures to house hobby workshops or raise animals. 
"You never know why someone wants a building," he says admitting he is never surprised by the ideas people have for their buildings.  A 18x36 portable hog farrowing barn is the largest Swede's has built and delivered.
Swede hauled one building all the way to Frederic, Wis., and delivered five gazebos, which are used as classroom, to a bible camp at Park Rapids.  During 1986-87, the business built bunkers to store surplus grain. 
"We built anything where there's a need," Swede says. 

He laughs as he thinks back on failed career plans, made in high school, to study sales and marketing.  Finances kept him from following that path.  Then, after being drafted and working with the Army's military police, he shifted his direction to law enforcement.  When those plans didn't pan out, he began working at Schult Mobile Home Factory, Redwood Falls, until the building business, a sideline, first in his backyard, then in the back room of the store where he sold appliances, furniture, building supplies and other items, flourished.

What was once Swede's Salvage could very well go from Swede's Surplus to Manufacturing.  The cycle has taken Swede back to his original niche, as he is in charge of sales and marketing.
"I've always done this and done that, but always came back to portable buildings," he says.  "You know, you've got to enjoy what you're doing; no two days are the same."

Though he enjoys what he is doing, Swede relishes what he terms "my time" away from work at the horse barn. 
Mixed in with business photos of buildings are those of horses, carts to drive the animals and people gathered around horse-drawn vehicles before Christmas caroling on a winter afternoon.

His idea of a family getaway is taking his wife Pat, and children Jason, 14, and Heidi, 13, to a big horse sale or on a trail ride.  Usually, one of the family members accompany Swede on deliveries of buildings and picnic tables.
To sort of tie the hobby and business calendars, with the pictures of a different horse each month, made each year.  At the bottom, the Swede's Surplus name keeps the business in people's mind 365 days a year, he says.
He wishes now he'd have kept better track of the number of buildings the business, in all its forms and at all locations, has manufactured since its beginnings in the early 1970's.

The son of a Swedish emigrant, to explain the nickname he's had since childhood, now has a business that builds and markets as many as 150 portable buildings in a year. 

"You never know what tomorrow's going to be...It's crazy, you never know."


Raymond Rivera
Staff Writer
Wabasso Standard

Swede’s Factory Direct Portable Buildings of Sanborn has plenty of portable, economical and dependable structures ideal for lawn mowers, gardening tools, snow blowers, snowmobiles or any item that you wish to make room for.
Over the years, Swede has built a reputation for portable buildings that satisfies his customers’ needs because these buildings are built to last, built to impress for a lifetime.
Bruce (Swede) Benson, the owner and founder of Swedes Factory Direct Buildings, got his start in the building business back in 1974-1981, working for Schult Homes of Redwood Falls.
His time clock number happened to be number one.
“The Farm crises hit the area pretty bad and times were tough and we were really struggling,” Swede said.

Swede Benson
Bruce "Swede" Benson, 2008
In 1982, for the Sanborn Centennial, his picnic table business took off when he was asked for some of his tables for this big event.
From that time until today, word has traveled far that if you need a picnic table for a special event, contact Swedes.
Around 1984, using his skills, he built some grain bunkers.
As he continued building his projects year after year, they got bigger and bigger.
The largest he builds today is a 15X24 garage building.
He has gone from 40 picnic tables in 1982 to almost 400 tables today and he rents them out all over the area and beyond.
His tables were designed, and then bettered, from a Popular Mechanic magazine idea. They are made not to tip even if you sit only on one end of the bench.
Swede not only builds everything he sells, but he also delivers and sets up. Everything he makes by hand can all be lifted with a forklift designed with a base that is treated wood and can easily be moved from one of Swede’s trailers to any location, permanently.
Through the years, he has used every kind of material, from old telephone poles to make a beautiful creation to select cedar that he buys to make his 8X8 sheds.
One of his smaller structures is called the little darling. It is a cute, large storage shed with a loft and window. He also has a gigantic 12x26 Bunk House that looks like a giant dollhouse. It has such fine detail and is amazing to see with two lofts and ladders that go up to them with fine windows.
Guys are usually impressed with it, even though it was a lady that helped design it.
A lot of his buildings were made for a specific person, mostly ladies, but as passers by would see them, they would want one too and soon Swede was filling his lot with those as well.
Because of his policy of “No Surprises in the Cost” and “No Mess after the Sale” and since delivery is included, his customers come from near and far.
Many local area businesses rely on Swede whenever they need a structure.
Prairie Gardener is one of the many with a building made by Swede years back.
Building things with his hands brings him much joy, but giving him even more joy is his faith – and Swede loves to talk about it to anybody stopping by his lot in Sanborn.
When Swede is not off building something or involved in his church in Sanborn, he loves to be with his grand kids. He says they have changed his life for the better.
If you would like any further information about Swedes contact Swede by phone at 507-648-3760 or stop by his lot in Sanborn.
He also has a website at www.swedesbuildings.com.
He would love to hear from you!

Swedes Buildings - 300 North Main Street Sanborn, MN 56083 - 507-648-3760 - swedesbuildings@hotmail.com
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