Made in Eastern Iowa: A Coggon company with products on all continents

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COGGON, Iowa (KCRG) Max Betenbender never tires of the color of Betenbender products, all over the company's facility in Coggon.

Betenbender Manufacturing, of Coggon, produces machines that cut sheet metal. Their work is seen all over the globe.

It's a shade of green that is hard to define. A touch of emerald. A little more than a touch of seafoam.

"A lot of the machines were developed during the second World War," said Betenbender, now 71 but far from ever planning to retire. In 1972, Max and his father, Glen, developed the company's first press brake.

"We’re one of five companies basically doing the heavy machinery in North America," said Betenbender. "The other companies, when we started in the 1970s, there were 20 companies. Now there are only five companies. We just give the customer what we want. We’re furnishing parts of machines that are 30 or 40 years old."

This can require a service call, from time to time, all over the globe.

"Pearl Harbor. Egypt. Israel. Nigeria. Kuwait," Betenbender said in reeling off some of the destiantions where the machines are.

Here is how the process works in Coggon.

"We bring it in on sheets of steel that we bring in, up to 8 foot by 20 foot long and six inches thick," said Betenbender. "That’s the heaviest that we use. We go between 40,000 and 60,000 pounds of steel for our own use. We’ve got two computerized flame cutters and we will cut our parts. We will weld our parts, sand blast and then to machining and then to sub-assembly and to final assembly."

Betenbender stressed that he has a team that cares, with a fair amount of longevity. This comes as the company, five years ago, purchased Hydraulic Machines to add a line of C frame presses.

He says there are more than 3,900 machines all over the world that boast the Betenbender name.

"Basically, we can ship anything from a 1-man weld shop to Boeing aircraft and everything in between," said Betenbender. "Most of the aircraft fleet in the U.S. Navy has one of our machines."