Biz Buzz: Company expanding with new greenhouse; salon gets makeover; party business back in Dubuque

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from across the tri-states. In this edition, we highlight developments in Dubuque and Dyersville, Iowa.

A Dyersville-based company will expand in the coming year by adding a new state-of-the-art greenhouse and the capabilities to manufacture similar structures.

FarmTek, a division of Engineering Services & Products Co., plans to break ground this spring on a $3 million, 37,000-square-foot greenhouse.

“These structures will typically range from 10 to 15 acres,” said Martina Bockenstedt, general manager of FarmTek. “We’re looking at one just under an acre as a demonstration facility where we’ll grow our own produce to sell locally.”

The structure will be a Venlo greenhouse, a type of greenhouse that has predominantly been manufactured in the Netherlands.

“We’ll be one of the first in the U.S. to have this type of greenhouse,” Bockenstedt said.

The greenhouse will be made of all glass, as opposed to the film or polycarbonate that are used in FarmTek’s current greenhouses, she said. The new structure also will have taller sidewalls to make for a better growing environment.

Strawberries, leafy greens and tomatoes will be grown in the new greenhouse and sold, Bockenstedt said. FarmTek previously has sold produce grown in other greenhouses to local restaurants and schools.

FarmTek employees will use the space for research and development projects, as well as a demonstration space.

This spring, FarmTek plans to remove some of the current demonstration buildings in order to make room for the new greenhouse. The project hopefully will be completed by the first quarter of next year, Bockenstedt said.

Additionally, FarmTek has ordered new equipment to manufacture similar greenhouses for customers. The equipment hopefully will be delivered by mid-summer.

Five to 10 additional employees will be hired to help manage the on-site greenhouse and manufacture ones for customers, she said.

Bockenstedt said the company sees a demand for this new style of greenhouse, especially as more and more people strive to eat locally.

“The locally grown food movement has been continuing to expand, and we see an opportunity here to really have a new product to offer to customers,” she said. “We’re seeing more demand in the U.S. than we ever had.”

FarmTek can be contacted at 563-875-2288 and at farmtek.com.

Dyersville salon upgrades historic space

A Dyersville salon recently reopened after giving its historic space a remodel.

Uptown Hair, 220 First Ave. E., was closed for more than four weeks during the remodel. Prior to the closure, owner Keri Knipper said, another four weeks of work was done to the business’s back room, though the salon remained open during that time.

“We’re excited to be back open and have our dream salon,” she said.

Knipper said that, when she began running the salon three years ago, nothing in the space had been updated since the 1970s. The back room, which includes the stylists’ break room, had not been changed since the 1950s.

“I ended up buying the building last March,” Knipper said. “That was kind of my goal: to own the building first, then the remodel.”

The major change was removing a wall that split the salon space in half, so that one stylist wasn’t always alone on the other side of the business.

Knipper noted that she also made sure to keep the historic touches to the building, including bringing in barber chairs from the 1970s and reusing a lot of the furniture in the new space.

“This building has been a barbershop since 1895, and we wanted to keep the integrity of that,” she said.

Uptown Hair is open at various hours every weekday, as well as on Saturdays by appointment. Appointments can be made by calling 563-451-8488.

Dubuque native brings party business back to hometown

A Dubuque native recently brought her business back to the city to provide something unique to area parties and events.

Traci Yeo moved back to Dubuque this year and brought her business, Royal T Princesses and Superheroes, with her. Customers can have a character, such as a Disney princess or superhero, come to an event and partake in live vocal performances, photos and crafts.

“It’s kind of like you book us and you provide the space, and we do the whole party for you, besides the food,” Yeo said. “… Parents are excited to have this kind of thing here in Dubuque. It’s something different for parties.”

Yeo started the business after touring with the National Theatre for Children for a few seasons. She is a Clarke University musical theatre graduate.

“I wanted to try to find something to do that would incorporate musical theater and my degree with a sustainable job because theater jobs come and they go,” she said. “I heard about princess companies before, and I realized Dubuque didn’t have one, and I kind of went from there.”

Royal T Princesses started in Dubuque in 2017, but Yeo said bookings were slow in the beginning. She then moved to North Carolina, taking the business with her.

Over the years, Yeo said, she added more characters to Royal T’s roster, including Disney princesses, “Toy Story” characters and superheroes.

She added that, if given enough notice, she can get costumes ready for any character a customer wants. Yeo makes many of the character costumes herself, as she previously worked in the costume shop while she was a student at Clarke.

Since moving back to Dubuque, Yeo said, she has had an overwhelmingly positive response and has consistently booked events.

“I was booking in North Carolina pretty regularly,” Yeo said. “It was successful over there. I was a little bit scared about not being able to make it here, but I was so excited to bring this company back to the city that I love.”

Royal T Princesses and Superheroes can be reached at 563-451-7168 or by email at royaltprincesses@gmail.com. The business also can be found online at facebook.com/RoyalTPrincesses and on Instagram @royaltprincessparties.

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