Driving across Iowa on I-80, you can't miss Kinze Manufacturing near the Williamsburg exit. The showstopping displays catch the eyes of all passersby. First, there is the 60' planter extending into the air that pivots from a field planting position to transport position with a four-wheel-drive tractor grounding it. Then are the nine grain carts, ranging from a 1⁄16 scale toy to a 1,050-bu. wagon, stacked on top of each other.
However, Kinze Manufacturing and its lineup of planters and grain auger wagons stretch further than the interstate frontage. Founder Jon Kinzenbaw has grown this specialty manufacturer from a one-man welding shop into one of the largest privately held ag machinery companies in the U.S.
|A signature maker of grain auger wagons and planters, Jon Kinzenbaw, who grew Kinze Manufacturing with his inventions, is pictured in the 1970s with his wife, Marcia, and an early model of his single-axle grain auger wagon.
In 1965, at 21 years old, Kinzenbaw opened his welding and repair shop with a $3,665 bank loan and his ingenuity to ignite the business.
"I was interested in welding and repair, and I was fascinated by hardware: bolts, wire, tools, nails," Kinzenbaw says. "Then it dawned on me that mechanical things interested me. In my dad's farm shop, I had been doing some fixing for neighbors, and it turned into a welding business."
The first product that Kinzenbaw sold was a 13-knife, 30' anhydrous ammonia application toolbar with hydraulic wings that folded and could pull up to 2,000-lb. tanks.
That welding business grew into Kinze Manufacturing, which is located in Williamsburg, Iowa. The company uses 870,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space and produces planters ranging from 4-row to 36-row configurations and grain auger wagons with capacities up to 1,050 bu.
"I've always thought of the farmer first," Kinzenbaw says. "That's where my work with grain auger wagons started—from a farmer's frustration in getting corn away from the combine. He came to me and said, ‘I want big tires, and I want it to unload fast.' So I built it the way I thought it should be."
Recently, Kinzenbaw bought back the first grain auger wagon that he sold. Every wagon his company has built since that first model is a direct descendant of that wagon.
At farmers' request. The company is most widely known for its planter line, which began in 1975 with Kinzenbaw's invention of the rear-fold planter.
"The planter was a suggestion," he explains. "Farmers asked, ‘Why can't we fold a planter instead of loading it on a trailer?' So I built it and demo'ed it, and then the next year we built 20."
- February 2009