BY KAY SNYDER
Since 1988, the Iowa Area Development Group and its electric cooperative, municipal utility and independent telecommunication company partners annually recognize growing companies with an Iowa Venture Award. The award recognizes entrepreneurs and organizations for their leadership, capital investment and employment opportunities they are creating.
The following companies were honored at a luncheon during the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives’ annual meeting on Dec. 1. View all 287 honorees in the Iowa Venture Award Hall of Fame at www.IADG.com/HallOfFame.
CNI Ag Independent Retailers
Nominated by Midland Power Cooperative
The newest occupant of the Southview Industrial Park in Iowa Falls is CNI Ag Independent Retailers (CNI), which purchased the 24,000-square-foot speculative building for their new facility. CNI is a national distributor of crop protection products, including seed, seed treatments and micronutrients, serving its 400 independent retailers across 1,200 locations in 44 states. The Iowa Falls distribution center is the first in Iowa and will allow for continued growth in the Midwest. This location will also house a bulk packaging facility, office and meeting space.
The speculative building was built as a partnership between Iowa Falls Area Development Corporation, Midland Power, Corn Belt Power and the City of Iowa Falls. It was built to market the city to prospective businesses like CNI.
Nominated by Nishnabotna Valley Rural Electric Cooperative
Kirchhoff Welding and Fabrication LLC (KWF) was started by Kyle Kirchhoff as a part-time business making small products for local businesses in his garage in Griswold. Since then, KWF has experienced steady growth and now employs 14 people. It has a five-building footprint housing a CNC plasma cutter, vertical band saw, press brake and state-of-the-art paint booth. KWF manufactures various equipment, including augers and conveyors, a spray boom for a helicopter, and a cement mixer truck body. With products sold nationally and internationally, their customer base has grown to include Purina and Tyson Foods pet food programs. Nishnabotna Valley REC continues to actively support KWF’s growth.
Nominated by Southwest Iowa REC
Hen Haven’s layer facilities began operation in the 1990s, supplying shell eggs to the breaker industry. Seeing the future need for cage-free eggs, the owners remodeled nine layer barns and added new processing machinery to sell eggs to the cage-free breaker market.
Freebird Holdco LLC purchased the site in 2021 and renamed the company Hen Haven. At the end of November 2021, the site suffered a fire, causing a catastrophic loss of one layer house, the processing plant and the biosecurity facilities. Just as the company started to rebuild in February 2022, highly pathogenic avian influenza hit, and the site was depopulated. During that time, the determined Hen Haven team worked tirelessly to shorten the cleanup period, repopulate the barns and resume operation. The recent challenges demonstrate the Hen Haven team’s dedication to delivering top products and services to their customers and partners.
Godbersen Metal Works
Nominated by Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative
Godbersen Metal Works (GMetal) was founded in 2019 by Kent and Jill Godbersen. It is built on a family heritage of quality manufacturing, which began in 1965. The company is a metal fabricator specializing in assembly, bending, laser cutting, machining, powder coat painting, warehousing and welding. They work with multiple metals, including aluminum, stainless steel and steel.
GMetal acquired a vacant manufacturing facility in Spencer and immediately made facility improvements and energy efficiency upgrades. They have built a customer base that supports 23 jobs and has the capacity to double as they source additional workers.
Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative and Corn Belt Power supported GMetal with several technical and financial programs, including a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Economic Development Loan.
Nominated by Prairie Energy Cooperative
Marker 126 is a new travel center that recently opened at mile marker 126 on Highway 20 near Fort Dodge. Owners Kevin and Sheila Stumpf had a vision for a travel destination that provides a high-end experience for all types of travelers. Marker 126 is a family operation, including their daughter and son.
Marker 126 opened in September with an impressive slate of ever-expanding amenities. In addition to gas, diesel and offerings of a convenience store, Marker 126 houses Table 126, offering nutritious meals made from locally sourced fresh ingredients, the Brew 126 coffee shop and a creamery serving ice cream.
Sheila designed the building, and it includes indoor and outdoor seating, a fireplace area, and a loft for meetings or groups. Coming soon are electric vehicle charging stations, a dog park and a play area for kids. A trucker campground, including a shower house, is also being planned.
Prairie Energy has worked with the Stumpfs throughout the planning and building phase. Prairie Energy, Midland Power and Corn Belt Power supported this facility through their Revolving Loan Funds.
Nominated by Access Energy Cooperative
Sun & Fun Motorsports (SFM) Fairfield opened their new showroom and parts center in the Fairfield Business & Industrial Park in August. SFM Fairfield offers ATVs, side-by-sides and motorcycles from a growing stable of brands, including Can-Am, CFMOTO, SSR and Benelli. They also offer parts and services for these brands and more.
SFM was formed in 2013 by Scott Goedken and is headquartered in Iowa City. After adding two additional dealerships in Iowa City, SFM searched for a location to better serve southeast Iowa and the surrounding border states. Fairfield was selected because of the available speculative building, location and local support.
Access Energy Cooperative and Northeast Power supported the development of the industrial park, the construction of the speculative building and the location of SFM to the park.
Shell Rock Soy Processing named “Outstanding Business of the Year”
Nominated by Butler County Rural Electric Cooperative
Mid-Iowa Growth purchased nearly 100 acres in the Butler Logistic Park near Shell Rock to be the site of a startup soybean processing facility. The Shell Rock Soy Processing (SRSP) complex is now ramping up to full operation. The facility expects to crush 38.5 million soybean bushels annually, producing 847,000 tons of soybean meal for livestock markets and more than 400 million pounds of soybean oil. SRSP expects to purchase 150 truckloads of soybeans per day. The company will employ 50 to 60 people when fully operational.
Many partners, including Butler County REC and Corn Belt Power Cooperative, supported the development of the Butler Logistics Park, SRSP and other businesses within the complex. Butler County REC also constructed a new substation to meet their needs.
Kay Snyder is the director of marketing and communications for the Iowa Area Development Group.