Made in Eastern Iowa: Massive doors emerge from a small Tipton business

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TIPTON, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - Who would ever need a door that is 112 feet wide?

Stuefen Manufacturing, of Tipton, builds massive doors that fill the farm fields and regional airports of Eastern Iowa and beyond.

Julie Stuefen knows.

"We did one for Beck Seeds in Indiana," Julie said. "112 (feet) wide by 29 (feet) tall."

The PowerLift hydraulic doors that emerge from Stuefen Manufacturing, on the southeast edge of Tipton, require precision and some heavy lifting.

Think of the building. Think of the transport.

"We’ll put stands on it and haul it at an angle on the highway so that we’re hanging on the dish side," said Mike Stuefen, when pointing out the process of getting a door to the final destination. "We have our own pile of cars and it sounds like the circus coming to town."

Mike Stuefen said this door of opportunity opened to him after he hurt his back as a diesel mechanic but his fallback was on welding.

"We started building doors and added distributorships."

Stuefen now handles a major territory of Eastern Iowa, plus some stretches of neighboring states. He said he recently returned to Tipton after dropping off a door at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

The doors aren't just for farm buildings or a college campus. The next time you're on a country side and come across a small, regional airport, take a look at the hangar.

"We've been mostly ag for the last six years but we're really trying to make a push for the aviation market," said Julie Stuefen.

Mike pointed out some of the more regional airport buildings.

"Iowa City airport, a 50x15 (foot) in Washington. (Iowa)," said Mike. "Bigger doors when you get to 26, 27 foot tall, 70x100 foot wide, they’re all corporate jets."

As Mike demonstrated one of the large doors out in the back of the Tipton facility - 26 feet wide and 14 feet high - he noted the ease of operation through hydraulics.

"We are not pushing doors open, nothing to wear out," said Mike. "An oil-impregnated steel bushing in there. Never had to grease it. Never have to adjust it. Pretty simple. Hydraulic over electric."