BY KAY SNYDER
Beginning in 1988, the Iowa Area Development Group and its electric cooperative, municipal utility and independent telecommunication company partners have annually honored growing companies with an Iowa Venture Award. The award spotlights entrepreneurs and organizations for their leadership, capital investment and the job opportunities they create.
The following businesses were honored on Dec. 7 at a luncheon held as a part of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives’ annual meeting. View all 293 Iowa Venture Award recipients in the Hall of Fame at www.IADG.com/HallOfFame.
Nominated by Southern Iowa Electric Cooperative
Established in 2014 by brothers Tyler and Sam McClure, M3 Fabrication reflects the entrepreneurial heritage passed down by their father Phil, completing the trio that inspired the name “M3 Fabrication.” Situated in the Bloomfield Industrial Park, their recent expansion tells a tale of growth and vision.
May 2022 marked a milestone as M3 acquired a similar fabricator, expanding its footprint with a 50,000-square-foot building on 15 acres, allowing for future development. Now spanning two campuses half a mile apart, M3 boasts upgraded processes, including two new fiber laser cutting machines and an integrated sheet storage system enhancing productivity.
As a family-owned and community-driven enterprise, M3 prides itself on high-quality craftsmanship. Specializing in stainless steel, aluminum and mild steel fabrication, M3 ensures durable products, from individual pieces to large-scale orders. Customers value personalized service, competitive pricing and on-time delivery – hallmarks of M3’s commitment to excellence.
Southern Iowa Electric Cooperative provides power to the Bloomfield Industrial Park and supported M3’s growth with a passthrough loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDL&G) program.
Ihle Fabrications LLC
Nominated by Midland Power Cooperative
Ihle Fabrications was started by brothers Mike and Brian Ihle on a family farm in central Iowa in 2002. They began fabricating liners to solve issues they faced with their combines. With a growing demand for their products, Ihle Fabrications relocated to an existing 45,000-square-foot facility with additional ground between Slater and Polk City in July 2021.
An 82,000-square-foot expansion project began in August. The expansion will accommodate an increase in demand for the existing line of parts and an expanding line of wearable steel parts for agricultural machinery. Ihle Fabrication’s products are sold in 38 states and internationally in Canada, Mexico and Australia.
As of June 2022, Ihle Fabrications became a Certified CNH Reman Supplier for one part. This relationship significantly expanded in mid-2023 to include an additional 140 parts. The company is committed to working alongside farmers and end-users to help solve problems of the future.
In addition to providing power to Ihle Fabrications, Midland Power Cooperative and Central Iowa Power Cooperative assisted with a pass-through loan from the USDA REDL&G program to augment the purchase of equipment to support its expanding operation.
Nominated by North West Rural Electric Cooperative
Established just outside Rock Valley, Post Equipment has evolved into a thriving farm equipment supply company since moving its operations from a family farm in 2008. The company has consistently expanded its offerings to align with continuous growth.
With a vast inventory of new and used feed mixers, manure spreaders, bale processors and diverse farm equipment, Post Equipment is a hub for replacement parts and specialized livestock equipment. Their comprehensive solutions also include custom augers, skid loader attachments, and equipment repair and rebuilding.
Beyond equipment, the company extends its reach with Post Metal Recycling, offering industrial and on-site scrap metal recycling services. Its Ironwood 53 company specializes in designing and producing agricultural and industrial parts, recently manufacturing the “Herd-Boss Feeders” line of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) cattle feeding equipment for further diversification.
In the last 18 months, a significant 54,000-square-foot expansion underscores their commitment to growth, accompanied by a boost in employment with 15 new hires. Owned by Mike and Ruth Post, the company’s success is propelled by an 80-member team, cementing its position as an industry leader in farm equipment and innovation.
North West Rural Electric Cooperative provides power and support for the ever-growing Post Equipment and family of companies.
Nominated by Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative
Ann Kathryn Hoffmeister launched HiPer Ceramics in 2018. The business is a strategic addition to the Hoffmeister family’s array of businesses, including HiPer Ceramics GmbH, HiPer Medical AG and Zellwerk GmbH, owned by her husband Dr. Hans Hoffmeister. Operating since 2019 in a state-of-the-art, 16,800-square-foot facility in Spirit Lake, the company specializes in crafting high-performance ceramic material for advanced industrial components and endoprosthetic hip implants.
With Iowa’s conducive business environment and electric power reliability, HiPer Ceramics employs high automation in material manufacturing. Recently integrating a cutting-edge shuttle kiln, the company produces the high-quality, reliable product necessary to support its precision medical and industrial applications. Teaming up with German HiPer-Group partners, their focus is on cost-effective products that deliver exceptional clinical performance and safety.
Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative has been an instrumental partner for HiPer Ceramics, as reliable and affordable power is imperative in the high-performance ceramic manufacturing process.
Nominated by Franklin Rural Electric Cooperative
Centro Incorporated continued its strategic expansion by acquiring a 30,000-square-foot building in the Hampton Air Industrial Park. The facility now houses two rotational molding machines and employs 40 new associates. This expansion aims to bolster production capacity across the Midwest, catering to surging demand and accommodating future business growth. Hampton is the eleventh location in an ever-growing footprint that encompasses locations across the U.S., Northern Ireland and Brazil.
Headquartered in North Liberty, Centro specializes in custom rotational molding for various industries. This recent expansion marks a milestone in the company’s growth strategy, serving leading OEMs in the agriculture, construction, and lawn and garden sectors. With a workforce of nearly 1,200 associates and multiple domestic and international facilities, Centro’s growth trajectory demonstrates its market leadership and commitment to meet evolving customer needs.
Franklin Rural Electric Cooperative provides power to the Hampton Air Industrial Park and was instrumental in constructing the speculative building, now home to Centro Incorporated.
Kay Snyder is the director of marketing and communications for the Iowa Area Development Group.