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Monday, May 2, 2016

BV grad heading manufacturing division at successful central Iowa company

Monday, May 14, 2012

Manufacturing growth at Almaco, an agricultural research equipment manufacturer in Nevada, has been growing in leaps and bounds.

Since Storm Lake native and Buena Vista grad Mark Smith began working at the company in 2005, the number of employees has increased from 75 to 260. Nearly half of the company's workforce is dedicated to manufacturing.

"What has contributed most to the company is the strength in the seed industry and ag industry, said Smith, director of manufacturing. "We offer innovative, quality products and technology solutions."

Story County's oldest family-owned business began as a blacksmith shop in the 1880s and transitioned into seed research in the late 1960s, serving seed companies such as Monsanto and researchers like Iowa State to develop hybrid varieties.

Almaco's plot combines, planters and grain drills, stationary threshers and shellers, automated seed processing lines, seed packagers and electronic data capture systems is used worldwide by clients in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, France, India, Italy and the U.K.

Now, 260E projects have been beneficial in bringing additional workers on board. "Every little bit helps when you are growing," he said, noting that the federal project uses a worker's Social Security taxes to pay for specialized training, such as engineering, fabricators, machinists and welders.

"We've worked with Des Moines Area Community College on a lot of things to train welders, so we can hire them out of the program," he explained. "We also have a good relationship with Iowa Central Community College's mechanics program in Fort Dodge."

Although Smith has transitioned to life in central Iowa, he remains connected to northwest Iowa through spending his free time farming with his brother, Matt, near Cherokee.