Peosta manufacturer begins $2 million expansion

PEOSTA, Iowa — A Peosta manufacturer is investing about $2 million in an expansion that will allow the company to grow both its footprint and its workforce.

ProPulse recently broke ground on a 20,000-square-foot addition to its facility on Kapp Drive. President Jeff Theis said the project should be completed in the first quarter of 2021.

The additional space will allow ProPulse to hire 10 to 20 more employees in the next 18 months.

ProPulse specializes in the manufacturing of high-pressure hoses that are used in pressure washers, agricultural machinery and a variety of other products. While 2020 ushered in massive economic changes, some of them worked to the company’s advantage.

“One of the phenomena in 2020 we didn’t expect was growth in the consumer products sector of our business,” Theis said. “(The CARES Act) put disposable income in a lot of consumers’ pockets, and they had a tendency to spend that on a lot of consumer goods. We were able to participate in that in 2020.”

The additional square footage will provide space for new equipment and machinery, engineering and development workspaces and larger common areas for employees.

The history of ProPulse dates back to the 1990s, when it initially opened under the umbrella of German-based Schieffer Co. The operation in Peosta began with just six employees working out of a 12,000-square-foot facility.

Today, the company occupies three facilities in Peosta and employs 115 people.

Dan McDonald, vice president of existing business for Greater Dubuque Development Corp., indicated that the latest expansion at ProPulse seems like a natural extension of the success the company has shown throughout its tenure.

“They have been dogged and steady with their growth over the years,” he said. “It hasn’t been a rocket ride to the moon. Instead, it has been very consistent and deliberate in terms of how they execute on their business model and plan to expand.”

The latest expansion is particularly impressive to McDonald, given the backdrop against which it is taking place. He noted that COVID-19 has disrupted businesses across the globe and figuring out a path forward has proven difficult for many companies.

“Businesses today are playing a game of three-dimensional chess around the world, trying to meet and exceed customer demand and balance the health, safety and wellness of their employees,” he said. “The fact that they have the confidence to invest and expand during a year like this is very impressive.”

Theis acknowledged that landing new workers won’t be an easy task.

Despite a rise in unemployment, he emphasized that the labor market remains tight and, in the eye of many employers, it is “even tighter than it was before COVID-19.” Even so, he is confident the company’s track record of attracting talent will hold true in the year ahead.

“We seem to be able to attract the type of employees that we need,” he said.

Theis said the company’s ability to successfully weather the economic storm of 2020 bodes well for the years ahead.

“The fact that we got through 2020 with a strong increase (in demand for products), that means we are going into the next couple years with a great deal of optimism,” he said. “As we emerge from the fog of COVID, we think there will be some pent-up customer demand, and we feel good about 2021 and 2022.”