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Made in Eastern Iowa: VanGuard Inc. and Level 10 Apparel

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From floor to ceiling, VanGuard Incorporated in Dubuque is helping to show off what other people sell.

"This is some of our line of the new Flexsteel product that is going to Flexsteel stores all over the world," says VanGuard's President Brian Gilligan, showing our crews display models designed to showcase fabric and other samples. Van Guard makes cabinet and counter systems for doctor's offices, banks, colleges, and other finished spaces.

The company also sells countertops to 140 commercial vendors in Iowa and Illinois--who then sell it to you to go in your kitchens, bathrooms, and more.

Van Guard has been in the business of outfitting other businesses for more than 50 years. Within the past couple of years, the company moved out to the Western Industrial Park to expand its facility. Flexsteel Furniture, Trek Bicycles, Crescent Electric Supply Company, Verena Street Coffee, and Vendors Unlimited are just some of their clients.

"There're four bolts on the end and you keep bolting them together," says Gilligan, describing the process of affixing cabinet parts together. "It shows all the components, and the features associated with it," he says.

All of the designs begin with computer engineered plans. As soon as the specs are hammered out, all cutting, gluing, and assembly happens in house.

Then the finished products are placed on palates and shipped out. VanGuard is also heating things up in the industrial world by using all the scraps to heat their building. A machine grinds the wood into dust, which is then put into an incinerator that burns it. It saves thousands every Winter heating season, and the machine investment will have paid for itself in just a few years.

Many stores trying to sell their own product lines, use VanGuard products to put theirs front and center.

From floor to ceiling, to head to toe, Level 10 apparel is hitting a home run in Hiawatha.

The company focuses on custom logos, screen prints, and for customers all over the country.

"We run two auto presses and two manual presses," says Tony Paoli, Director of Operations.

They're in the business of designing and manufacturing clothing for customers all over the country. "We do all the UPC hanging, and put all of our garments on hangers, so that when they get to our customer they're ready to go."

You'll see Level 10's products in Hy-Vee's and Walgreens here in Iowa (Think ISU/Iowa Apparel). Eighty-percent of the business, however, comes from out of state. "It's the state flag of Colorado," he describes as we walked past the screen printing machine, making a product to ship out.

Level 10 does a lot of business with local schools. They also sell t-shirts, sweatshirts, and more, to retail stores nearly everywhere in the country.
Digging through the rack of finished orders, we found shirts going to Texas, Colorado, and California.

They've even gone global. "We've shipped to Afghanistan for the troops," Paoli says.

Level 10 can take any idea you'd want to see on a shirt for your business, school, or company.

Graphic Designers tell TV9 they can do just about anything. "This person wants full steam ahead so I have to put a choo choo train on there," says Graphic Designer Cody Schmitz.

They're taking apparel from concept to reality, right here in Eastern Iowa.

If you know of a business making products here in Eastern Iowa, we want to know about it. Post on our Facebook Page, or email

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