(photo by Nancy Hohbach)
Rian Vos and Brent Thorn started their own business, JTV Manufacturing, back in 1999 in a large garage in the heart of Sutherland with around $700,000 in start-up costs. They had the blessing of the local Security State Bank, the local economic development corporation, the O'Brien County Economic Development Corporation and the Iowa Department of Economic Development and the support of people in the community.
The company fabricates parts made from steel, stainless steel, plastic or aluminum. They also have the capacity to bend, shape, and weld parts to produce whatever is needed.
Thorn, a Sutherland native, earned a degree in Industrial Technology and had worked as a design engineer for Lennox in Marshalltown before accepting a new position in Spencer. Vos, coming out of the Marines, worked for the same company in Spencer where Thorn was. The two paired up thinking they could do better on their own. Within a year, these young entrepreneurs were able to erect a shop 60 x 120 plus a 30 x 50 office space providing four offices and a conference room.
Since then they have added another three 60 x 120 sections providing them with immense capacity to expand their business including more office space. They have added a larger laser cutting table (6 x 12) which brings the number of cutting tables to three. All the equipment is run by computers.
All of this has been a result of over $4 million in investments, which gives a small community like Sutherland a great deal to boast about.
JTV makes parts for all kinds of industrial business which includes food service, vehicles, appliances, medical equipment and construction parts. They are too numerous to mention. These fabricated parts are shipped around the world.
They have added to their transportation fleet; updated software programs installed to assist with inventory, pricing, billing and so forth. Rick Sohn of Primghar, another acquaintance of Vos and Thorn, was asked to join the sales staff. Thorn and Vos are stretched thin and they rely on key people to know what they are doing to keep the plant running smoothly.
As the business has grown, so has all the systems within the business. The business must be thoroughly organized so orders are priced correctly (steel prices have fluctuated greatly in recent months), orders must be done correctly and in a timely manner plus shipped with complete order intact. It's quite a job to keep track of inventory, the orders and shipping them out on a time. Packing and shipping takes time. Details of all paperwork (when the order was placed and other details of the order) have be kept in order. High standards are required and every employees knows you treat others as you would like to be treated. Repeat business is one of the major keys of their success.
What is very clear when visiting individually with several of their employees, all are very dedicated to the business and to those who employ them. They take great pride in their work and it isn't uncommon for them to clock out and go right back to work if the situation calls for it. That is practically unheard of in most manufacturing plants. They operate three shifts seven days a week.
Dennis Orthmann, their first employee, is grateful they hired him and is proud he stayed with a great bunch of guys. He is their production manager now but finds he likes being out on the floor even though Orthmann jokes he has an office now.
Erin Campbell has been with them 30 months and is in charge of the milling machine. He commented on the cost of their repairs as they make sure every part created is unified and up to standard.
Painting of parts is done in a nearby community. The company believes in wasting not and being efficient.
What has happened at JTV has been nothing short of amazing and is another example of how hard work and planning has pays off. The owners and employees never lose sight of the respect they have for each other, which always plays a major role in the success of any business.