Peosta company celebrates 50-plus years of growth, customer-first attitude


Products: pressure washers, industrial generators, air compressors and other equipment

Address: 50 Mi-T-M Drive, Peosta, IA 52068 (manufacturing); 9872 Kapp Court, Peosta, IA 52068 (sales)

Number of employees: around 400

Contact: 800-367-6486

PEOSTA, Iowa — The team at Mi-T-M Corp. likes to think big, and that starts with its sprawling production facility and headquarters in Peosta.

The building boasts enough room for hundreds of employees to work each day on all steps of the production process — from design and fabrication to packaging and distribution.

Near some entrances, bikes are stationed for employees who need to get from one end of the building to the other quickly, though walking means they get to wave or chat with friends and coworkers along the way.

“This building is 1 million square feet,” said company President Sam Humphrey. “And that’s serious, not a joke. We actually have 1 million square feet.”

Over the past 50 years, Mi-T-M has grown tremendously, becoming a major force in Peosta’s business community and currently employing around 400 people.

The company is best known for its pressure washers, but it also designs and creates industrial generators, air compressors and other equipment. The company has a national and global presence with what Humphrey called “some of the largest customers in the world.”

“It’s probably the No. 1 company that has given the city part of its identity,” said Peosta Mayor Russ Pfab. “… (Founder) A.J. Spiegel is pretty much synonymous with Peosta itself, and as his company has grown, so (has the city).”

Spiegel incorporated the company in 1973 after wanting to make a small, mobile pressure washer to help blast paint chips off buildings — a useful skill in his role as a painting contractor at the time.

He designed and created his first pressure washer in 1970, a 1,000 PSI machine that now is displayed at the company’s headquarters. He decided to open the business in Peosta after determining there was a strong demand for such an item, which grew with time as the company diversified its offerings.

Spiegel decided largely to step away from the company in late 2021, at which point he sold Mi-T-M to its employees. The company is now 100% employee-owned, though Spiegel sits on the board of trustees.

“I wish them the best because it’s a long-term company and it’s going to go on and on,” Spiegel said. “That’s what makes a good company — when you have people who are interested in growing and trying new things. And they have just a real good group of people there.”

The move opened up more stock ownership plans for employees and increased workers’ sense of personal investment in the company’s success, said marketing manager Sarah DeMarte. By keeping ownership local, it also ensured that the jobs and production operations stayed in Peosta.

“It’s been nice. You know the job security alone (of keeping ownership local) is great,” said production and operation manager David Phelps. “The extra retirement they give you builds up, and you don’t have to contribute anything up front. The company gives it to you pretty much.”

Mi-T-M products are designed by the company’s staff, which includes a robust group of engineers. The company relies on suppliers for pumps and engines, but it builds most of the rest of its products on site. This includes fabricating the frames and powder-coating the products.

The business even prints its own decal stickers in-house, which then are placed on products to identify them as Mi-T-M creations.

Credit manager Vaughn Grimm said that level of vertical integration tends to surprise people, as well as the sheer range of products created at the Peosta site.

“If you ask people around here what we do, they’ll say pressure washers, but if you say ‘Okay, and what else?’ they’ll kind of go ‘Well, what else is there?’” Grimm said. “Then they usually say, ‘I had no idea you did all that.’”

Grimm said he believes the company’s customer-first attitude also helps set it apart, saying customers often remark on their surprise and contentment to reach “a real human being” when they call the company instead of an automated system.

He said that attitude has helped the company through several challenges in its 50 years, including soaring interest and inflation rates in the ’80s and more recent supply chain and staffing concerns that have hit the manufacturing industry since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Humphrey said that person-first attitude extends to employees as well, which helps with worker retention. Humphrey is retiring in June after 32 years in the company, but he said that was “not any sort of record” with some employees sporting 40-year tenures.

He added that Mi-T-M workers have shaped the company’s operations both figuratively and literally for years. When the company had a building expansion eight years ago, management proposed an idea for a layout it believed would improve time and efficiency. But when management brought it to a group of workers for feedback, the employees said it wouldn’t work. The workers pointed out how the proposed layout could hinder their ability to quality check or work to their full capacity. So the plans were adjusted, and now things are running smoothly in the new space.

“We want them to feel like they have a say in the company,” Humphrey said. “Some of the best ideas we’ve had have come directly from employees.”

Steel line inspector Katherine Oehlerking said the focus on employees has contributed to an overall positive experience working at Mi-T-M, adding that she has enjoyed the benefits and flexibility the job has offered.

“For me, it’s a treatment and the way you get recognized that sticks out. And then there’s the flexibility with (paid time off) or vacation,” she said. “I love it. It’s just one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had.”

Mi-T-M Products: pressure washers, industrial generators, air compressors and other equipment Address: 50 Mi-T-M Drive, Peosta, IA 52068 (manufacturing); 9872 Kapp Court, Peosta, IA 52068 (sales) Number of employees: around 400 Contact: 563-556-8866 or 855-556-8866