Peosta manufacturer celebrates 25 years as chamber tours local manufacturers

PEOSTA, Iowa — About 30 local professionals spent Tuesday afternoon touring the production facility of a Peosta manufacturer that marked a milestone anniversary last month.

“We came here 25 years ago,” Larry Huinker, production plant manager of ProPulse, a Schieffer Company, told the group. “We started as part of the (German-based) Schieffer Co., which is celebrating 100 years this year.”

The visit to ProPulse was part of a series of tours hosted by Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce for Manufacturing Appreciation Week. A total of 12 tours are planned on Tuesday and Thursday, May 4.

ProPulse manufactures high-pressure hoses for multiple companies, including Deere & Co. ProPulse Director of Engineering Dave Sabatos said the company began with just a handful of employees leasing space in Peosta.

Since then, ProPulse has grown to about 150 employees and has three facilities in the community: its headquarters on Kapp Court, a 20,000-square-foot warehouse and its Kapp Drive production facility, to which the business added 21,000 square feet in 2021. Sabatos said ProPulse hopes to continue expanding its footprint in the community in the next few years.

ProPulse offers both thermoplastic hoses, which are manufactured in Peosta, and rubber hoses, which the company buys.

“We’re somewhat of a distributor, but we have the capabilities of a manufacturer,” Sabatos said.

Sabatos added that ProPulse is projected to ship 45 million feet of hose this year, up from 42 million feet of hose last year.

“With delivery, we are right on the edge of 100% (on time),” he added. “That was really difficult to do, especially during the COVID years. But we had a lot of inventory, so we were able to ship everything out and we added a lot of new customers that way.”

Justin Hager, industrial automation engineering manager for ProPulse, told Tuesday’s tour group about advances in technology the company has been working on. He said employees now can submit maintenance requests and system quality audits from their phones following the implementation of a paperless system.

The addition of 3D printing at the facility also cut down on machine costs last year with the ability to print needed pieces, he added.

“We’re using it in the plant and the facility for production things we actually use,” Hager said.

Hager also said equipment has been ordered to implement an automation cell that will be live by June 2024. Within the next year, he said, ProPulse also plans to streamline its assembly line from north to south in the production facility.

“There’s a lot of automation, a lot of assembly,” Sabatos added. “We’re always looking for ways to do things easier, faster, better.”

Carter Hanson, a sales associate with Medical Associates, was among those who toured ProPulse’s facility Tuesday.

“I think it’s really important to understand what people in the community are doing as far as economic development,” he said. “It’s been interesting to see all the moving parts and technology they have used to improve.”

Justine Paradiso, Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce vice president of programs and events, said the tours give attendees a chance to walk through facilities they might not have a reason to step foot in otherwise.

“We’re looking at what local manufacturers have in not just what they do but their investment in the community, from the products they create to job creation,” she said. “With all the workforce difficulties people have been having, we can help spread the word. These manufacturers offer so many benefits and amenities to make their facilities safe and promote a good workplace culture. We can help advocate for them.”