Iowa hose manufacturer brings growth to Peosta
PEOSTA, Iowa (AP) — Twenty years ago, Schieffer Co. International opened in Peosta with just six employees in a 12,000-square-foot facility.
In the two decades since, the hose manufacturer has changed its name and expanded at a rapid clip. Now known as ProPulse, a Schieffer Co., it employs 85 and utilizes 95,000 square feet of space.
It has added 10 positions in the last year, and President Jeff Theis expects the total number to increase to 100 within the next 12 to 18 months.
“We have a vision and a plan that says we want to double every five years,” he said. “That means we have to grow 15-plus percent every year. When we commit ourselves to the execution of that plan, we have to prepare in advance for all the needs that we have. That includes investing in people, processes and facilities.”
ProPulse manufactures high-pressure hoses for a variety of applications, including pressure washers, agricultural machinery and construction equipment, the Telegraph Herald reported.
ProPulse recently expanded its physical footprint by purchasing a building one mile west of ProPulse’s headquarters. The company also has invested in new machinery and plans to conduct a “complete software and hardware revamp.”
Theis’ career in manufacturing began decades before ProPulse.
He worked at Dubuque Packing Co. before being laid off in 1980, and then spent the majority of the next decade working on the production floor at Mi-T-M. He launched a series of his own enterprises in the 1990s, culminating in the opening of the Schieffer Co. facility in Peosta in partnership with the Schieffer family, of Lippstadt, Germany.
Proving that some things come full circle, Schieffer Co. was launched — and still operates today — in the building where Theis worked at Mi-T-M.
The company’s continued success has grabbed the attention of local economic development leaders.
“What they have done since they planted their roots here two decades ago has continued to impress,” said Dan McDonald, vice president of existing business for Greater Dubuque Development Corp.
Theis said multiple factors have contributed to Propulse’s growth.
“The market is strong in general, globally, for our product,” he said. “The reality is we have also gained new customers with new products that have been widely accepted by the market.”
The market has responded particularly well to UberFlex. Theis said it was created by ProPulse after customers repeatedly expressed the need for a more flexible hose.
ProPulse patented the product in 2015. Today, it generates more than 25 percent of the company’s sales.
As ProPulse has grown, the company has expanded its footprint.
It started only leasing a portion of the building on Kapp Drive. Today, it owns the property and occupies the entirety of the structure. ProPulse also rents a 20,000-square-foot building across the street.
In January, the business bought the former DuctSox building. Its 28-foot ceilings vastly increase the inventory that can be housed there.
Assembly manager Kelly Ernzen is among the workers who have watched ProPulse’s recent expansion unfold. She started with the company about 11 years ago as an assembly-line worker.
“When I first started, there were maybe 20 of us,” she said. “The growth in the last 10 years has been unbelievable.”
Consistently adding to the workforce in a tight labor market has posed some challenges, according to Theis.
One thing that has helped ProPulse attract and retain workers is the company’s scheduling.
Many employees work four, 10-hour shifts weekly, allowing for a three-day weekend. Theis said ProPulse soon hopes to take this one step further, giving many workers the chance of working three, 12-hour shifts weekly and taking a four-day weekend.
“We believe that will substantially enhance our attractiveness as an employer,” he said.
Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com