Tag Archives: City of DeWitt

OPPORTUNITY – Iowa Small Business Owners

What I’m about to tell you will all sound “too good to be true” and you’ll keep waiting for the “catch” when you learn that this Small Business Program will cost you $0. It is my belief that the intention is to simply help small businesses grow.

We are fortunate to live in a town that fosters great connections to the people and businesses in it. We are able to share our successes and work together to find ways to help small businesses grow in DeWitt. The DeWitt Chamber & Development Company is one of the organizations that supports and encourages those business and personal connections. That’s why I reached out to them to help me share this opportunity with our small business, with the hope that a few of our small businesses become even better, which would impact the overall vibrancy of our DeWitt economy.

I am Mary Sandry, co-owner of Sandry Fire Supply in DeWitt. Last year I participated in a program called 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB), a collaborative training program sponsored by Goldman Sachs.  The goal is to put existing small businesses through a business education program which fosters business growth.  I am excited to share that this program is now going to be available to up to 60 small businesses in Iowa through a “state-wide” collaboration between Iowa Community Colleges.  It will cost nothing for these businesses to participate.

I learned about 10KSB when I was looking for someone/something to help Bob and I evaluate our business and assist us with planning for its future. My experience was without a doubt, the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and our business.

Although I will admit that I was completely skeptical and particularly cautious, it turned out to be a great decision.  The program consists of a combination of online and in-person sessions, along with training in such things as financial statements, hiring practices, marketing, negotiations, etc., I ended up gaining so much more. The networking opportunities and the shared experience with like-minded business owners were invaluable.

The opportunity to work side by side with business owners who experience the same challenges with business operation and growth was incredible.  I have established what I hope to be life-long relationships with contacts who truly want to help me grow my business.

We have used the guidance from the program to develop a new marketing plan for Sandry Fire which gives us the reach we needed to establish new connections and ultimately grow.  We have enhanced numerous in-house processes and software programs that allow for continued growth and improved customer support. Best of all, 10KSB has given me the confidence and courage to take the steps to grow and develop ourselves into the company that supports our core values.

Since completing the program in November 2017, our business has experienced an almost 50% growth.  Although we cannot attribute all of that to this program, I do believe that it has made a difference in the future of Sandry Fire Supply.  We have the knowledge and resources to continue to grow.

Participation in this program will be a significant commitment of your time.  Time to learn and grow – while continuing to operate your business.  But the opportunity to make your business better is truly one you shouldn’t pass up.

Please consider applying for this opportunity.  If you have any questions or would like to hear more about 10KSB, feel free to contact me (mary@sandryfire.com) or check out the 10KSB Iowa website (www.10KSBapply.com/iowa) to learn more about their mission and what other businesses have gained through this opportunity.

Good Luck – and “Let’s Make Small Big” in Iowa!

 

Mary Sandry

Sandry Fire Supply LLC

Serving Those Who Serve Our Communities

I Love My Library

Books have always been an important part of my life. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit The Old Library. Just stepping inside immediately transported me back to the hours I spent in the children’s section as a young girl. I can still remember the shelf where I could find the latest installment of The Boxcar Children. However, what surprised me most was how small it felt. The shelves are long gone, but it is truly amazing how the staff was able to provide such a wealth of information and services in such a small environment. In the late 1980’s, citizens recognized the need to improve the library and designed it to better meet the needs of the community. Just like in 1989, the time has come again to improve the library in order to fulfill library patrons’ needs.

The libraries of the 21st century are not just about books. Although I will be the first to admit that books are still important in a library. It is also about providing residents with WiFi, computers, meeting spaces, diverse programs, makerspaces, and so much more. The staff at the Frances Banta Waggoner Community Library has done a tremendous job over the years with providing many of these opportunities to its patrons. However, so many people are taking advantage of what the library has to offer that more space is needed. So again, we have come to a crossroads. It is time to improve and expand our current facility.

Expanding the current library will allow for more access to technology. Last year alone, the library’s computers had over 12,000 login sessions. In today’s digital world many of us forget that not everyone has WiFi readily available. Libraries work to lessen the digital divide to make sure that all citizens have the ability to use technology and have access to information. Library patrons will continue to be able to use the library’s WiFi and also have access to more than just the current six computers.

An expanded facility will also allow for more flexible and adaptable seating. People can connect with others who have similar interests. The meeting spaces in our current facility were reserved nearly 800 times last year alone. There have been instances when the current space would not hold enough people, so businesses had to look elsewhere for meetings or training sessions. A library’s goal is to provide a community gathering space for all. More space is needed to ensure this goal is being met.

I have lived in DeWitt nearly all my life. My family and I use the library on a regular basis. I love my library, and I am proud to live in a community which recognizes the need to expand and improve the facility to better meet the needs of the people it serves. Libraries transform lives and create lifelong learners. My life was transformed at that small library on the corner of 6th Avenue and 9th Street. Now, I am beyond overjoyed to realize that once again I have the possibility of using and enjoying an expanded facility which will provide even more benefits for this town and its residents.

-Jen Kizer, Enthusiastic Library Expansion Supporter and Patron

Crossroads Triathlon Step One: Sign Up!!

The DeWitt, Iowa Crossroads Triathlon has been part of my annual “to do list” for more than a decade.  The event is beginner friendly with lots of community spirit and always a challenge no matter how many triathlons you have completed.

For me the idea of having a physical challenge bucket list is a must.  I have learned since I was 10 years old that saying yes by signing up is a good way to motivate the mind and body.  I have been picking out annual endurance sporting challenges for about as long as I can remember.  Triathlons first captured my attention when I was in high school.  What has been important to me is that the events I pick be achievable but also challenging.  How far can I go and what might I get to experience? How fast can I complete the event relative to my current fitness?

My first triathlon was the Quad City Triathlon in the late 1980s.  I had read about and saw pictures of pro triathletes that were very inspiring.  I was working as a lifeguard at Scott County Park Pool and enjoyed running and biking.  Swimming competitively was far different than the fitness and skill necessary to lifeguard.  My weakness would definitely be the open water swim.  What helped me say yes to the challenge and sign up for the event was a new life guarding friend.  He was a competitive swimmer and strong biker.  His worry was the run which I convinced him was no big deal.  My friend and I both finished despite struggling so much on our weaknesses during the event.  We were filled with a sense of accomplishment and a sense of euphoria that can’t be purchased.  We both were hooked and continued to pursue rewarding experiences through endurance sports.

30 years later there are many more triathlons to pick from in Eastern Iowa.  Jeff and Amy Castro started the Crossroads Triathlon and it is now continued by the DeWitt community with the support of DeWitt Parks and Rec and First Central State Bank.  The triathlon has a less crowded time trial start with self seeding and a challenging yet accessible course.  My goals each year have changed.  I was able to be part of a team with my wife and oldest son in 2017 which was a lot of fun.  I also get excited to encourage new participants to complete their first triathlon; whether as leg for a team or individual.  2018 will also offer a youth triathlon which has my 3 kids excited to see if they can complete the swim, bike, run challenge.

The first step to experiencing the sense of accomplishment and triathlete euphoria is to sign up.  Regardless of your current fitness level, registering will motivate you to physically prepare and feel great doing so.  Check out this great event and I am sure you too can make endurance sports part of your yearly experiences!

Ron Zimmer, DeWitt Resident and Triathlete 

Paul Skeffington Memorial Race: More Than Just A Road Race

The first running of the Paul Skeffington Memorial Race took place on June 11th, 1988. It was started by the family of Paul Skeffington, a popular local businessman, who passed away in January of 1988. At that time, I was the Director of the DeWitt Chamber of Commerce Chamber so when the family asked for ideas for a memorial we proposed a race/run/walk with proceeds to go towards community projects.  Paul had been an avid walker and huge supporter of the community, so this seemed like a natural fit.  So how did we “run a race”?  Well, with the help of a group of runners, along with the Skeffington family, other volunteers, and business sponsors we put on a race that had 330 participants…but who would have thought that 31 years later the race would still be running!!!  Over the years, this race, under the direction of a hardworking group of volunteers, has grown in popularity.  The postrace party has evolved into a community, family friendly event.  In fact, this will be the first time our postrace party will be listed on the Tunes in Town schedule and promoted as the only Saturday night concert with music by Wild Oatz, food by the DeWitt Nite Lions, and a beer garden sponsored by Hall of Fame Pizza & Wings & Scott Drug. You can find additional information on our web site http://skeffrace.com/

And true to its original mission, the Paul Skeffington Memorial Race continues to support improvement projects for our community. The race annually provides two $500 scholarships to Central DeWitt High School seniors. The race has also made significant contributions to DeWitt Parks and Recreation projects that include a $30,000 donation towards the new bridge at Westbrook Park and $25,000 for the Paul Skeffington Memorial Trail expansion that will be part of this year’s race course.  I was actively involved with the race for the first 10 years.  At that point in time, I felt it was time for new leadership and stepped back.  Three years ago, I was approached to serve as the race director – Thinking back to the legacy of Paul, his commitment and support of the community and to fitness, I found myself saying yes…And I also found that some things haven’t changed.  The race is still organized by an excellent group of volunteers.  The Fun Run is still FREE and we’ve gone back to having a bike give away for the youngsters who take part.  And the cost of the race has stayed the same since the first one which is due to the phenomenal sponsorship support we get from area businesses!  And post party keeps evolving into a community gathering of runners, walkers, spectators, with family friendly events, food, and FREE entertainment!

I moved to DeWitt in 1977 as a newlywed and I’ve never looked back.  DeWitt has Delivered my hometown…it’s where my 3 kids were all born and raised. It’s where I had the opportunity to  help DeWitt grow while serving as the first full time Executive Director of the DeWitt Chamber and Development Corporation.  I’ve served on numerous local, state, and national boards that helped keep DeWitt in the spotlight. I’ve traveled the world but always look forward to coming back to DeWitt, my home.

Ilene Deckert – Paul Skeffington Memorial Race Director 

 

 

 

Found My Way Back to the Farm

In 2002, I graduated from Central DeWitt.  I earned an engineering degree from Iowa State and utilized that degree working at a manufacturer in Central Iowa for 6 years.  After 10 years of being away, I moved back to my hometown of DeWitt with my fiancé, Erin. Our decision to move back was rooted in the value of family and opportunity.

Family…there is no better support than family and friends!  When asked where we wanted to raise a family, the answer was fairly simple, “DeWitt“!  It took some time to get here, but it was easy to say that if we were blessed with being parents,  that DeWitt was where we wanted to raise our children.  For us, DeWitt is within a matter of minutes of parents, grandparents, siblings, and cousins.  Having two children, the proximity to this loving network of family and friends, not to mention last-minute babysitters, is great!

DeWitt is a community that has all of the core pillars we believe in: excellent schools, active churches, great local businesses, these are areas we believe to be important.  Some may have changed face in the last decade, but the solid foundation of people and places still remain.  This is home and this community always feel like family.

Opportunity… I grew up on a family farm a few miles east of DeWitt.  Learning the value of hard Mae and Callie SkySharework was easy to grasp when following in the footsteps of my grandfather, father, and older brother.  I learned a much greater appreciation for this lifestyle after moving away and experiencing another shake of life.  The opportunity for me to be able to come back and be a part of the farm operation is something I do not take for granted.  I am blessed to be able to jump on this fast moving train of row-crop agriculture.  Who am I to pass up on such an opportunity?  It has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life.  Three years of conversation and planning took place before coming back to the family farm.  My wife and I farm our own corn and soybean crops within the Niemann family farming operation.  We also own and manage SkyShare, LLC which is an aerial application business that provides custom application of crop care products via aircraft. My family and I have enjoyed the challenge of it all and I am glad to once again call DeWitt home.

Matthew Niemann, DeWitt Family Farmer & owner of SkyShare, LLC

 

FFA – Growing Leaders, Building Communities!

Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man.” A famous quote by George Washington. Often times the importance of agriculture is overlooked or misinterpreted by many who are under informed. To help bridge this gap is the next generation of agriculturists who happen to be sitting in the chairs of high school agriculture education classrooms, like those at Central DeWitt High School.

Only 33% of Iowa’s FFA members live on farms. That means the other 67% live in towns or cities. What an astonishing fact compared to the mere 50 years ago when that statistic in 1967 looked much different! With over 14,700 FFA members in the state representing 232 local chapters, the future of agriculture is in GREAT hands! Stereotypically, some people think FFA is about cows, sows and plows. As those things are extremely important and vital, it is now turning more towards beakers, speakers and job seekers. Statistics show that we are educating kids for careers in laboratories, CEO’s, alternative fuels and even careers that aren’t developed yet! Our FFA chapter currently has 89 active members from grades 8-12 including our out of school members. FFA members are eager to learn and have stepped up to the plate to help promote and advocate for agriculture and FFA; all things they are very passionate about.

The DeWitt Central FFA chapter is celebrating National FFA Week February 18th-25th. The week long tradition started in 1947 when the National Board of Directors designated the week of George Washington’s birthday as National FFA week in recognition of his legacy as an agriculturist and farmer. It also serves as an opportunity for members, alumni and sponsors to promote agriculture education and FFA.   In honor of FFA week, there will be a banner hanging across 11th street, FFA flags flying on 6th Ave. and a billboard on Highway 30 west of Clinton. There will also be many activities going on throughout the week at school for students to participate in.

FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Find more information about DeWitt Central FFA and FFA week on our website at www.dewittcentralffa.com!

Amy Grantz – FFA Advisor & Skylar Bloom – FFA President

Much to Gain When We Lose

With the turn of the calendar, the majority of us have high hopes and goals for the new year. The top of that list is usually a goal to lose weight, get fit, eat healthier, etc.  Unfortunately these goals are usually short lived.  Fortunately, the DeWitt Fitness Center is offering a solution to the usual fading resolution.  Get Fit DeWitt, part of the Live Healthy Iowa initiative, is a team (consisting of two to ten people) motivated competition of weight loss and activity minutes. Get Fit DeWitt will run from January 23rd – March 31st, 2017.

Get Fit DeWitt can be a great motivator, not only does a team atmosphere encourage accountability, but a little healthy competition can go a long way. Each year for this annual event, I captain a team where many different personalities coming together to reach common goals: to gain health, lose weight and support each other.  I would be lying if I said the competition did not fuel me, I am sort of a competition junkie (for this I blame my dad, Dennis). In all seriousness, this type of atmosphere can really be of benefit when there is a goal to get healthy.

Get Fit DeWitt offers it all, an obtainable timetable, supportive team atmosphere, individual accolades and incentives.  We all have much to gain when we lose!  When we lose weight or get more active the natural result is to gain health.  Blood panel numbers get better, our bodies get leaner and stronger, we have more energy and our moods can even be more positive, it truly is a win-win for everyone.

Taking the first step can be scary; I encourage you to take it any way!  Find a buddy and jump on board.  What do you have to “lose”, not as much as you will gain.  I challenge you all to be part of the 2017 Get Fit DeWitt initiative, let’s make this the biggest and best one yet.  Find out more about the program and register here!

Amy Besst, Certified Personal Trainer

With So Many Choices, Why Look Local First?

No one business can be all things to all people.  And the number of options available to shoppers is greater than ever.  Online vendors, big box stores and franchise businesses offer many advantages. Small Businesses have distinct attributes and advantages as well, and hopefully, give you reasons to Look Local First.

Small Businesses represent community, an interdependence among its residents, neighbors and city leaders.  They offer personalized service and unique finds, but more importantly – a slower pace, and an experience to be enjoyed with family and friends.  They know, enjoy and appreciate their customers, and they cannot exist without local support.

THE CROSSROADS Inspired Living & Garden Cafe opened its doors on June 20, 2011 after a nine month renovation of the former Martha’s Café.  The name recognizes in part, the historical crossroads of two transnational highways 30 & 61 at DeWitt’s downtown intersection of 6th Avenue & 10th Street. DeWitt’s many quality of life amenities along with its nice downtown and music along 6th Avenue, its proximity to the Quad City area and surrounding communities, made it seem like a good location to open a new business.

This was truly a family endeavor and partnership.  As such, it was not only an investment in DeWitt, but a time of making memories and rejuvenation following a period of ill health.  Indeed, it was the beginning of a new and adventuresome journey that still continues to this day.  Having celebrated our 5th Anniversary this past June, we can say that “It is good to be here.” For truly, the best part of this journey so far has been sharing ‘Inspiration’ and ‘Experiences’ with so many people along the way.

That’s what Small Businesses are about:  Personal Connections and integrating what we do into everyday life.  Just one of many reasons to Look Local FirstDo enjoy all that DeWitt has to offer.  Experience Your Hometown….  And Meet Us at THE CROSSROADS.  Be Inspired!

Linda Snyder – Owner of THE CROSSROADS Inspired Living & Garden Cafe 

Get Inspired & Give Locally

 

There are so many ways to give back in the DeWitt community, especially during the holidays! What will inspire you to give or volunteer this season?

Toys For Tots – Three years ago I was asked to help with the Clinton County Toys For Tots Campaign. The Marines needed our help! So, I asked my brothers at the DeWitt Fire Department if they would be willing to assist with this great program for our local kids. Since that time, we have given out almost 1000 toys and served over 90 families in Dewitt alone. This year will be no different, over 45 children will receive 6-7 toys from our 2016 drive. We can’t do this without your help. Help support this program and drop an unwrapped, unopened toy for a child ages 6 months to 12 years at any of the drop off location listed below. The drive will go until December 14th.  Box Locations: IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union & 1ST Gateway Credit Union, First Central State BankDewitt United Methodist Church, Grace Lutheran Church, Dewitt Fire Department, Scott Drug, St. Joseph School, MJ’s East, Ekstrand Elementary, Central DeWitt Intermediate School, DeWitt City Hall, Theisen’s, and Frances Banta Waggoner Library   .

Garey Chrones – Toys For Tots volunteer

The Giving Tree Program  This program is initiated by DeWitt’s Referral Center to help local children receive a gift for Christmas.  The Referral Center prepares ornaments and DeWitt Junior Women picks the ornament tags up and delivers them to be displayed on trees at DeWitt Bank & Trust and First Central State Bank.  There are several tags that have ages of the children, gender, and needed/wanted items on the tags.  You don’t have to purchase each item listed and you can spend as much or as little as you wish. This program is an excellent way to give back to the local community.  I feel this is also a educational opportunity, by involving your children in the giving, it is a great reminder to all what the true meaning of Christmas really is.  Last week, I took my two children to Theisen’s to purchase the Giving Tree gifts and they had a great time picking out gifts for another child.  Next time you are in DeWitt Bank & Trust or First Central State Bank, take a look at the Giving Tree and get  inspired to grab a tag for a local child in need!

Amber Ernst – DeWitt Junior Women

DeWitt Referral Center The Referral Center assists those in need in the Central DeWitt School District. The needs are many and varied including food, housing assistance, clothing, gas for traveling to a job, Christmas toys and more.  The Referral Center is a non-profit organization that is governed by a Board of Directors.

At this time the 2016 Referral Center Holiday Food Box & Gift Drive is underway. Last year 173 children receive gifts, and 145 Families received Holiday Food Boxes. Volunteers are still needed to assist with the drive setup at the DeWitt Community Center on Dec. 12th & 13th between 8am – 5pm and on Dec. 14th from 8am – Noon to distribute items.  Please call the Referral Center at 563-659-9612 if you would like to volunteer and help ensure that this year’s drive will be the best yet!

The Referral Center also operates a resale shop year round that is open to the public,  where individuals may donate or purchase items. Donations of clothing, furnishings, food and cash donations are always appreciated. All donations are tax deductible. 

Michelle Ehlinger – Referral Center Director & Jan Nelson – Referral Center Board Member

From Cover to Cover – We are a non-profit agency co-founded by two graduates of Central DeWitt, Christina Kitchen and Gina Ryan Schlicksup. We began our mission 3 years ago by starting a “Snuggle Up and Read” campaign, to advocate literacy through the donation of homemade fleece tie blankets with a brand new book to at-risk children in the community. To date, there has been over 1,000 blanket sets and 5,000 books donated.

The From Cover to Cover Clinton County chapter was launched in October 2016 and is in the infancy stage. Our first project is one hefty undertaking, but as the chapter chair I know it can be done when living in a community as supportive as DeWitt! The project, “Book Angel Program” is in full-swing. You will see Christmas trees lined with bookmarks at Thiel Motors, Flowers on the Side, First Central State Bank, Snap Fitness and St. Joseph Church. To participate in the program simply visit one of the locations mentioned and choose a bookmark from the tree. The bookmark indicates the reading level and gender of a book you can purchase to be given to local children (ages range from pre-K to 8th Grade). Books, with the bookmark inside, are brought back to the location the bookmark was picked up at and dropped in the donation bins marked “From Cover to Cover”. The goal of the program is to provide every child at Ekstrand Elementary and St. Joe’s Catholic School (that is over 700 students), a brand new book at Christmas time. Monetary donations are also greatly appreciated and donations can be made at First Central State Bank to: From Cover to Cover Clinton County.

Our mission may be to promote literacy, but we have quickly learned that the journey is about so much more. It is about showing kindness and compassion. It is about providing a comforting gift and encouraging the next generation to be the best they can be. There is much work to be done here but with the help of our wonderful community, we can continue to make a difference one book and blanket at a time!

Christina Kitchen, From Cover to Cover co-founder

Shop with a Cop – The DeWitt Police Department is committed to the philosophy of community policing. Our goal is to implement programs that prevent crime and increase the public’s trust in the quality and professionalism of our service, while building lasting relationships in our community. Through a partnership with a group of caring citizens, the DeWitt Police Foundation, a non-profit organization was established to promote crime prevention, public safety, and education to the community. This foundation works to promote the quality of life in DeWitt by providing a charitable organization that can fund public safety initiatives that tax dollars may not always be able to fund.

One example of how the DeWitt Police Department works to accomplish this goal is the “Shop with a Cop” program.  Created five years ago, the program’s initial intent was to address the image officers sometime leave children with after they are forced to take action during certain situations.  For example, an arrest of a parent/guardian in a domestic violence case.  Due to this, the purpose became not only to repair the image of the officer, but to be proactive and build a stronger rapport with the youth in our community before negative situations occurred.

The DeWitt Police Department believes that in order to break the cycle that leads youths to criminal behavior; it requires an active effort from all by being positive role models for our youth.  The “Shop with a Cop” program has helped accomplish this by building trust and friendship while teaching respect and instilling values.  During the event, participating children are paired with a police officer who will give the children a ride in a police car ride to Theisen’s where they will purchase gifts for themselves and their family. After shopping the children are transported by police car to the community center where they are met by Citizen Police Academy (CPA) alumni.  The CPA alumni help the child/officer wrap gifts and many times there is a visit from Santa who bring stockings full of goodies for them. The children have pizza and watch a Christmas movie to finish the day. The smiling faces and positive energy the children display when their parent/guardian picks them up greatly benefits all of the participants and volunteers.

This type of program would not be possible without the kindness and willingness of volunteers and the business community that devote time, energy and economic resources to make this event a successful. For more information about how to become involved in the DeWitt Police Foundation or the Citizen Police Academy please contact the DeWitt Police Department at (563)-659-3145.

Chief David Porter – DeWitt Police Department

Made in DeWitt

October is National Manufacturing Month and in this month dedicated to manufacturing I encourage people to learn more about manufacturing in DeWitt. I began my career in this field twenty-two years ago. My journey started with an opportunity to work part-time at a company named JRB located in DeWitt’s Industrial Park.  JRB was a manufacturer of construction attachments for John Deere and other Original Equipment Manufacturer’s.  At the time I had no idea where the Crossroads Business Park (DeWitt’s Industrial Park) was, what companies were located in it, nor the goods they produced.  What I did recognize was an opportunity to work outside of the typical part-time high school job.  Like many other high school students, I hadn’t made up my mind what I wanted to do for a career. I did know that I wasn’t looking forward to four years of college and viewed this job as a way to see what else was out there.  

So, I found myself in a completely new environment, where people were welding, operating lathes, burn tables, boring machines and painting.  We were literally taking raw steel and processing it into loader buckets, forks, booms, and couplers.  I grew to love the various processes, people and new opportunities that presented themselves.  I got a deep sense of satisfaction when I saw a bucket on a Deere wheel loader that our team in DeWitt had proudly made, as a matter of fact, the bucket on the City of DeWitt’s 544 was made at the DeWitt facility.  

Just like any industry, construction equipment has its ups and downs.  I saw plant expansion and contraction, selling and acquiring businesses, new product lines and phasing out legacy products.  Through it all, I was able to turn hard work and dedication into opportunities for growth.  I worked my way through different departments and increased roles of responsibility culminating in a leadership role as a plant supervisor.  Unfortunately, in 2009, due to the biggest recession since the great depression, JRB was shuttered and production was moved to sister sites in other states.  I was fortunate to stay on with the company that owned JRB and traveled between Davenport and Dubuque to manage a small division called CustomWorks.

Then three years later in 2012 I saw an article in The Observer that a Canadian company called Black Cat Blades was purchasing the old JRB building in the Industrial Park.  I stopped by the plant one day that October which led to a four month interview process where I was given the opportunity to get to know Black Cat and the culture that is very important to our business model.  A large part of what attracted Black Cat to DeWitt was not just the fact that the Industrial Park was less than 20 minutes north of Deere Davenport Works or 50 minutes south of Deere Dubuque Works, it was the people from the area they were meeting which started with the DCDC and DCDC members.  

The thought has always been that the community of DeWitt was a good fit for Black Cat’s culture and guiding principles, and that continued through the use of local contractors like Jansen ElectricHolst Construction and Dorhman during start up.  We believe in building relationships in the community we operate in and over the last four years I feel we have been successful in becoming part of the community.  We now employee 16 team members and in 2014 we started manufacturing wear blades in addition to our warehousing activities. DeWitt is very fortunate to have a successful Industrial Park and the jobs and opportunities that exist within it.  

So the next time you have a few minutes take a drive through the Crossroads Business Park and you will see all kinds of different manufacturing companies making anything from air fresheners, glass, testing products, wear components, pumps and valves, and ground engaging tools.  These companies come from all around the United States and other countries like Canada, Italy, and Sweden and truly demonstrate that DeWitt is part of a global economy.  

Josh Daniel, Black Cat Blades – DeWitt Plant Manager

See more about how DeWitt Delivers manufacturing and more!