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Ambulances, campers, dump trucks and tankers


Our family outings have turned to exploring Iowa’s parks and recreation spots during these past few months. Settled in the passenger seat on our last road trip, I was poised to pass the time with my iPad and phone. Instead, I decided to put the devices down and enjoy the destination and the journey as well.

As I started paying attention to all the vehicles on and off-road, it got me thinking, and I did have to Google a couple of quick facts. Iowa has approximately 115,000 miles of roads, ranking No. 14 in the nation for Total Public Road Length. I noticed some unique vehicles in the sea of cars – including SUVs, pickup trucks and tractor trailers – and many are manufactured in Iowa. When you think of Iowa-manufactured vehicles, two companies likely come to mind – John Deere and Winnebago. However, there are many others that you can be on the lookout for as you venture out in 2021, including these featured in this article. As a bonus, the manufacturers are often served by Iowa’s electric cooperatives.

Countryside Tank Company – Osceola | Served by Clarke Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Have you ever wondered what’s inside the huge tanker trucks that crisscross the country and how the contents are kept safe? Countryside Tank Company has an answer. The company has more than 40 years of experience in steel fabrication. It produces tank transport trailers that can haul up to 17,500 gallons of a wide variety of substances, safely and in full accordance with the latest specifications and requirements. In 2018, Countryside Tank leveraged its pressure vessel building experience and started manufacturing bobtail bottles, which go on truck chassis. These versatile vehicles are primarily used in residential propane delivery where a transport trailer isn’t practical. If you have a propane tank, check out your next delivery to see if it is transported in a Countryside Tank Bobtail. For more information, visit

Life Line Emergency Vehicles – Sumner | Served by Butler County Rural Electric Cooperative

Ambulances may be something you don’t think about until one whizzes past you on the highway, or you or a family member are in one. A leader in manufacturing emergency vehicles is employee-owned Life Line Emergency Vehicles, located in Sumner. For over 30 years, it has been committed to making the safest, most efficient vehicle possible. Life Line offers several models to accommodate everything from hospital-to-hospital transport, compact body designs to navigate metropolitan areas, EMS and fire departments, and critical care vehicles. Life Line prides itself on innovation, offering proprietary aluminum extrusions that add strength and improve stability. It was the first to offer Labyrinth-style door construction, a double aluminum insulated floor and a two-piece aluminum crash rail. Life Line is also known for its state-of-the-art Elite electrical system. Customers say it is all the hidden details that set Life Line ambulances apart from others. For more information, visit

Camp365 – Albia | Served by Chariton Valley Electric Cooperative

There is a newcomer on the road that will catch your eye. It is CAMP365, the world’s first fold-out cabin. This new company, with its manufacturing facility in Albia, was named to the 2020 Top RV Debut of the Year by RVBusiness magazine. Camp365 is 12 feet wide and 8 feet deep, with more than 7 feet of headroom. It is insulated and has heating and cooling to make it usable in any weather. The camper folds down, easily fits in a standard garage and can be pulled by a Toyota Prius or any vehicle rated for towing 1,500 pounds. Setting up the camper takes less than 10 minutes, requires no tools and boasts that the “lift-assist” feature makes it very easy. Referencing that, if you can push a vacuum cleaner, you can level out your Camp365 cabin. Keep an eye out for these new and innovative campers as they continue to hit the road in 2021 and beyond. For more information, visit

SmithCo – Le Mars | Served by North West REC

The next time you pass a construction site, see if side dumping trailers are being used. SmithCo builds a variety of side dump trailers to haul all types of cargo. As its name indicates, side dump trailers tilt to the side, along the trailer’s full length to dump the contents instead of lifting the whole trailer and dumping out the back. The benefits of a side dump trailer are superior stability, easier unloading and faster cycle times. Unloading can even take place as the vehicle is moving. Agriculture, construction, demolition, mining and waste industries often use side dump trailers. SmithCo has been in operation for over 25 years and has stayed true to manufacturing only side dump trailers, which it custom designs and manufactures to meet state and federal laws. For more information, visit

Advanced manufacturing is Iowa’s largest industry, accounting for more than 17% of our state’s total Gross Domestic Product. Nearly 6,000 manufacturers produce everything from food products and medical devices to aerospace products and construction machinery. Industry-leading companies are producing phenomenal products right here in Iowa.

To put a more personal face on these economic impact numbers, there was an average of 223,000 manufacturing employees in Iowa in 2018, many of whom live in rural communities across Iowa. Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives play a vital role in supporting these employees, businesses and the communities in which they live and work.

As you travel the state throughout the year, be on the lookout for these vehicles, and become curious about others you see. You never know; they just might be made in Iowa!

Kay Snyder is the director of marketing and communications for the Iowa Area Development Group.

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