Made in Eastern Iowa: A shift from satellites to stairs

By  | 

SOLON, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- About 500 feet behind a typical Iowa farmhouse sits Newport Fab & Machine, the creation of the engineering education and market trends for Nate Frees.

Newport Fab & Machine, in rural Solon, started out with satellites for mobile communications. Now the shift is to meet the demand of accents and stairs for custom homes.

“It’s a lot of hard work, you think you’re just going to start your own business and you realize it takes a lot more time and effort,” said Frees. “But to see that you’ve created something from scratch and all of the customers you make happy, that’s the biggest thing.”

Now, most of the work comes in the residential and commercial metal projects. Railings, decorative items, staircases, range hoods. Frees said his company started out far different more than a decade ago.

“We actually partnered with a friend of ours who did installations of satellite dishes on motorhomes,” said Frees. “We came up with a mobile satellite unit that we would put on first responders. For forest fires, they would get our units for mobile communications. Oil and gas drilling and rigs to set up their mobile communications.”

Most of the demand follows the sustained craze of the home improvement shows. More ideas, more creativity and a robust economy are helping immensely.

“You’ll get emails weekly on somebody is looking online and has an idea and they want something custom,” said Frees. “It’s just grown tremendously over the past 14 years.

Learn more by visiting