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Tama County innovations take the spotlight

SURPRISES COME IN FIRST “PITCH AND BUILD”

September 6, 2012
By John Speer - Editor , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

By John Speer

Editor

Tama County Economic Development's version of "American Inventor" - "Pitch and Build" - was rolled out last Wednesday morning, Aug. 29, at the Reinig-Toledo Civic Center.

Article Photos

•Galen Musgrave, Toledo got started building large, iron lawn ornaments at his auto repair shop some 20 years ago. He displayed them along U.S. Highway 63 in front of Musgrave Motors, now MV Motors in Toledo.
As the repair business grew and family demands took more of his time, the iron working took a back seat.
However, not too long ago, he began making various other products and refined the finish of his iron creations by powder-coating and baking it on. He also down-sized the size of the works in the business he calls “Sweet Iron.”
He now has a line of products which can be inserted into the ground and hold a variety of items ranging from grave decorations to wine bottles.
And the items he now creates are “shippable.” This, Galen sees as vital because he wants to build Sweet Iron into an internet business.
Chronicle photos/John Speer

Some exciting news came out of the presentations - you'll have to read deeper to find out what's plan ned and who won.

Five concepts for home-grown business ideas or products were presented.

Heath Kellogg, executive director of Economic Development, said Pitch and Build offers "a great chance, an opportunity to grow the economy of Tama County."

An internet company selling bullet-proof protective gear along with a special formula gun oil, a combined miniature golf, batting cages, sand volley ball courts and horseshoe pits complex, unique iron work with both functional and decorative purposes, gasification energy equipment and what was called a collaborative marketplace were "pitched" to the judges.

If you don't recall the ABC TV program American Inventor, it might be because of it's relative short, two-season run.

Kellogg said the plan is to keep Pitch and Build going on a quarterly basis in Tama County - the next contest will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 5:30 p.m., again at the Reinig-Toledo Civic Center.

He said a total of 11 entries in the initial competition were found not yet ready. He expects these entrepreneurs to compete later.

The judges on Wednesday were Dwayne Luze, Tama County Economic Development Chair and Dysart Development Corporation leader, Lyle Neimeyer, a SCORE mentor (the program provides free business consultation) and Jerimi Kopsa, State Bank of Toledo vice president. (For "old-timers" Neimeyer might be remembered as a Toledo High School business teacher in the 1960s who later taught at Marshalltown Community College.)

Here's what was "Pitched":

Blake Waldrop, a Dysart police officer, says his internet business, RMA Supply "Where the Cops Shop", has outgrown his garage and home. He needs additional space and to hire help.

Waldrop, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, began his business by refining an old Marine Crops formula for gun oil and offering RMA Firearm Lubricant for sale.

Waldrop then lost a close friend who was killed in the Iraq War. This led to him becoming the distributor of protective vests, the RMA Ballistic Level II and Level III Armor Plates. The products are manufactured in the United States and have met with great acceptance, Waldrop said.

He said business is so good his front porch is now filled with shipping boxes.

Billing their product as capable of "converting your trash into cash" Sam Thiessen and Phillip Sankot explained Ag Bio Power's system. The two men are part of the team of partners involved in the Tama business.

Sam Thiessen credits his brother Joe, rural Toledo, with inventing their patented method of gasification. Joe is also among the AgBio partners. Waste products such as used tires, damaged corn or plastics can be burned in their gasifier to produce on-site heat and energy.

The resulting emission from the resulting smoke produced in the process is well under Environmental Protection Agency acceptable levels, Thiessen and Sankot said.

AgBio Power is working with the University of Iowa and others have shown interest.

Todd and Mary Apfel, owners of Venture Lanes in Tama, say the bowling business is good eight months of tOn Monday, Sept. 10, a very special fitness class will be up and running.

Todd says when they purchased Venture Lanes two years ago it came with a five-unit trailer park adjacent to the bowling alley which they didn't particularly want and don't want to continue to operate.

He said the Tama-Toledo area offers two summer time family activities the Aquatic Center and the theatre." As a result he maintains travel outside the area to spend money on recreational activities is frequent.

Todd said they propose developing an 18-hole miniature golf course, batting cages, sand volleyball courts and horseshoe pits in the trailer court space.

A miniature golf manufacturing company projected an 18-hole course at Venture Lanes could generate $150,000 in annual revenues. Another study by a miniature golf association saw $70,000 in revenues.

But, the Apfels own investigation revealed a projected $37,000 which he said "still isn't bad."

The Apfels said development of the entertainment venue would add jobs and keep more people at home for recreational opportunities.

Galen Musgrave, Toledo got started building large, iron lawn ornaments at his auto repair shop some 20 years ago. He displayed them along U.S. Highway 63 in front of Musgrave Motors, now MV Motors in Toledo.

As the repair business grew and family demands took more of his time, the iron working took a back seat.

However, not too long ago, he began making various other products and refined the finish of his iron creations by powder-coating and baking it on. He also down-sized the size of the works in the business he calls "Sweet Iron."

He now has a line of products which can be inserted into the ground and hold a variety of items ranging from grave decorations to wine bottles.

And the items he now creates are "shippable." This, Galen sees as vital because he wants to build Sweet Iron into an internet business.

Sandy McIntyre, rural Chelsea, is implementing the "Shoestring Jungle Collaborative Marketplace Concept." She signed a deal last Wednesday for a Toledo building to for the project.

There she plans to offer a total of 26 floor space sites within it.

Already eight or nine spots have been leased with products to be offered for sale to be Iowa-made, she said.

McIntyre said similar ventures can be found in Grinnell, Newton, Brooklyn, the Amana Colonies and Brooklyn, Iowa.

But the Shoestring Jungle will have features the other sites do not.

The new Toledo business will be tied into a variety of internet marketing strategies, product promotion and brand consultation and development.

And the he winner Is...

The Shoestring Jungle Marketplace concept by Sandy McIntyre won the "Gold Award" although the judges "struggled mightily" according to Kellogg.

He said each of the entries came out on top in some of the sub-categories it a difficult decision. The four runner-ups receive silver certificates.

All of the other entries received Silver Awards.

McIntyre's Shoestring Jungle advances to a seven-county regional competition in the "Dream Big Grow Here" grant contst where the winner is awarded $5,000.

That winner goes into state-wide competition and the victor in that competition wins $10,000.

 
 

 

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