Gov. Terry Branstad saluted Iowa manufacturers for their significant contributions to the state's economy in remarks Friday afternoon at the Chamber of Commerce's Manufacturers Appreciation luncheon.
"Manufacturers in Iowa pay an average of $17.59 per hour and contribute $2.4 billion in wages statewide," Branstad said. "Iowa manufacturers are the pillars of local and state economies."
In addition to presenting statistical information on the manufacturing sector's impact, the governor touted companies who recently announced they would be building multi-million dollar facilities in northwest and southeast Iowa.
T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY
Gov. Terry Branstad, center, is shown making a point in a conversation with from left, Parke Adamson, Vice-President of Operations, Lennox Residential, Alan Anselman, Lennox Plant Manager, and Mike McQuade of JBS. Before visiting with the three, Branstad had delivered the keynote address at the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Manufacturer’s Appreciation Luncheon in Lennox Auditorium.
Branstad made his remarks before a crowd of approximately 85 Marshalltown area business leaders, manufacturers and community college representatives at Lennox Auditorium.
A key component of his message, however, was for local and state elected officials to be ever vigilant in maintaining a pro-business environment.
The elimination of cumbersome regulations and availability of job training programs for business and industry were just two examples, he said.
Branstad said he has established a special panel of attorneys to review all state regulations relative to business and industry.
"The Department of Natural Resources, under the leadership of Chuck Gipp, was recently commended by one business for its prompt response in handling a construction permit request," he said.
Conversely, Branstad made several pointed comments about Chris Godfrey, commissioner of the Iowa Workers' Compensation board.
The IWC sets workman's compensation rates, which is a business expense for manufacturers and others.
Without identifying Godfrey by name, Branstad said he had asked Godfrey, who had served since 2006, to resign before his fixed term expired in April, 2015.
Godfrey declined, and the governor reduced his salary one-third. Godfrey countered with a lawsuit against Branstad and several other officials earlier this year.
Introducing Branstad was Mike McQuade of JBS.
McQuade added local flavor to the event, saying JBS was Marshall County's largest employer, with 2,400 workers and a $75 million dollar annual payroll.
Framed by a large red Lennox logo, Marshalltown Mayor Tommy Thompson and former Lennox general manager, thanked Branstad for his efforts to help Marshalltown's Lennox operations secure a multimillion dollar project in 1983.
"Governor Branstad joined our Marshalltown team in traveling to Dallas to make our case to Lennox officials," Thompson said. "We were competing against Columbus, Ohio and a green-field site in a southern state. His presence was critical, as the governor outlined the state's financial incentives. It made a huge impression on Lennox decision-makers, and they ultimately decided on Marshalltown."
Commenting on the luncheon's purpose was Lynn Olberding, vice president of the Chamber.
"The manufacturers appreciation program was introduced during our Total Resource Campaign earlier this year as a way for us to connect with our manufacturing sector and recognize the rich history of manufacturing Marshalltown has," Olberding said. "Currently, Marshalltown area manufacturers employ approximately 33 percent of the local workforce. We were fortunate to have the governor as keynote speaker."
The selection of Lennox for the luncheon site was fitting, as company founder, the late Dave Lennox, earned the moniker "father of Marshalltown industry."
Lennox, a Chicago-area native, was a businessman, inventor, machinist and mechanic. In 1898, while owner-operator of a successful machining company in Marshalltown, Lennox purchased the patent rights and furnace company from Ernest Bryant and Ezra Smith. Lennox would make modifications in the original design and sales would be successful.
In 1904, he sold the company to D.W. "Fritz" Norris and partners. Under the Norris family leadership, Lennox Manufacturing would become the largest manufacturer of furnaces and air conditioners in the world.
Lennox had major roles in the creation of the Marshalltown Company (formerly Marshalltown Trowel Co.) and Marshalltown Manufacturing.
Lennox provided assistance to Fisher Controls, Cooper Manufacturing, and C.A. Dunham Co. He enjoyed an active retirement working in a small machine shop behind his home at 408 W. Nevada St. He died Feb. 15, 1947 and is buried in Riverside Cemetery.