Made in Eastern Iowa: Monticello company helping with the hurricane rebuild

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MONTICELLO, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- For one company, a snow shovel has never just been a snow shovel.

Yeoman & Company is well-known for its sturdy snow shovels but is also answering the call for 1,000-pound capacity wheelbarrows for use in Texas after Hurricane Harvey.

Same for the wheelbarrows moving out of Jones County and helping to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

“We’ve had wheelbarrow in our line for twenty years and developed a relationship with a company in Houston,” said Tom Yeoman, company president at Yeoman & Company. “They wanted a private label wheelbarrow and we developed that for them. They’re buying them 800 at a time and we ship them direct to them.”

The instant demand for hundreds of wheelbarrows came from Hurricane Harvey, a storm of indescribable destruction, in Houston and along the Texas coast. The wheelbarrows are not inexpensive but they also boast a 1,000-pound capacity. This means fewer trips back and forth to moving earth or moving supplies.

“It cuts 30 percent out of your labor,” said Yeoman. “It retails for $250 but we have buys who say they pay for it in one day with lower labor.

Yeoman & Company is well known for its snow shovels, sold all throughout Eastern Iowa and the region.

“We don’t build the $5 snow shovel,” said Yeoman. “I see them in the locations where you pay $5 for a shovel and you’re back in an hour buying another one. We don’t manufacture that. We stand behind it. If it had been snowing, we’d be really busy this time of year and shipping them in 2 or 3 days.”

Only the recent snowfall was one of the few storms in the region. The business of selling snow shovels has been rather slow for the last three winters.

“If we had this 60 days ago, it would have made a huge impact,” said Yeoman. “ Doesn’t impact us as much as the retail – the Theisens, the ACE hardware. Hopefully, they’ll get rid of some inventory and they can buy more of us.”

About a dozen employees fill the manufacturing floor at Yeoman & Company, on the north edge of Monticello. As a massive wheelbarrow can cut down on labor, so can what Yeoman calls “progressive tooling." He noted an example for the wear strip of an aluminum shovel and how that saves on costs.

“We had 730 man hours in a year’s supply of one part,” said Yeoman. “When we went (to) progressive tool, take a guess of how many hours.”

“Fifty?"

“Twenty-four. In three shifts, we can make a year’s supply of this one product. We’ve basically taken all of the labor out of the end product.”