Cardinal and gold pride was on full display when Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen toured a Stellar Industries plant in Mason City this past August. The company, which manufactures hydraulic truck-mounted equipment, accessories, and specialty trailers, invited employees who were ISU graduates and current interns to join the tour, giving President Wintersteen a chance to see how past and present Cyclones are putting their educations to good use and making an impact on innovation in rural Iowa. “It’s a company on the move and very engaged with ISU,” said Ron Cox, CIRAS director who helped facilitate the tour as part of the President’s community visit to Mason City.
The Mason City plant is a recent expansion of the Garner-based company. Founded in 1990, Stellar Industries has gained national prominence for a range of products—hooklift hoists, articulating cranes, work truck accessories, and combine header trailers among them. During the hour-long tour, the group was able to see a new laser machine in operation. “Whenever you go into a new facility, there’s always something innovative to see,” Cox said. “Iowa is so diverse in what’s happening and what’s made across the state.”
Cox calls Stellar Industries “the poster child” for an engaged and growing company. “They have doubled and doubled because they’re such a well-run company,” he said. “It’s a company that cares about their employees.” The ISU alumni and interns joining the tour represented engineering, industrial technology, and business majors. Cox noted that one intern working on software programming mentioned how much she had been enjoying the experience and slower pace of a smaller community compared to her hometown of Chicago.
Cox also lauded Stellar Industries, which has worked with CIRAS and other ISU entities since its inception, for the enthusiastic welcome it gave President Wintersteen. “They were proud to have her here, and she was proud to be there,” he said. “It was a positive all around.”