Made in Eastern Iowa: From farm fields to the car wash, Ideal processes the idea into product

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VINTON, Iowa (KCRG) The letters “OEM” get mentioned plenty when one walks the floor at the Ideal Industries facility in Vinton, where about 40 employees craft the metal products that weather the elements.

Ideal Industries, based in Vinton, develops and produces steel parts for agricultural and car washes.

“We make conveyor equipment, bucket elevators, primarily for grain handling,” said Pat Lyons, the president/CEO of Ideal Industries, which also have production facilities in Oelwein, Fayette and Quasqueton. “Also we make equipment for land improvement contractors, drainage contractors and about anything made out of metal that you could break at a car wash bay.”

The “OEM” comes from being an “original equipment manufacturer” at Ideal. For the products that work in the field, the process of engineering design to the precision of manufacturing leads to the end result.

“This is called a tile trailer,” said Jim Williams, the fabrications supervisor, as he stopped where two employees were assembling a large apparatus. “This piece of equipment will pick that piece of equipment up so (farmers) can tile the field. We make everything from start to finish here, fabricated to the welding. We build the whole thing from scratch right here in this plant.”

The tile traders came from about 40 years ago when Winthrop Trailers designed a trailer that could haul and drop tile in the middle of the field. Four years ago, Ideal Industries purchased the Winthrop line. Ideal says, because the Winthrop line was so solid in its manufacturing, many of the stringers are still in operation.

Yet Ideal also produces parts far beyond the farm field.

“We manufacture parts for the car wash industry,” said Williams. “It’s all stainless steel, very tedious welding and it’s all very fab at our place. Next time that you pull into the car wash, look up. You’ll see the parts, the coin boxes.”

Once the parts, whether for agriculture or the car washes, are created, the finishing of a 460-degree powder coating await.

“It turns into a liquid and then it turns out looking like a regular part,” said Williams.

Lyons said most of Ideal’s clients are here in Iowa, across the state as well as surrounding states.