Sukup Manufacturing to celebrate 60 years in Sheffield

Sheffield-based Sukup Manufacturing has a lot to celebrate over its 60th anniversary this year.

Emily Schmitt, Sukup’s managing director and legal counsel, said the company had one of its best years in 2022 and is looking for even greater success in 2023.

Sukup - Progress

Sukup Manufacturing in Sheffield celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

MARY PIEPER Special to the Globe Gazette

“We are coming out of the pandemic a stronger company,” he said.

Sukup has expanded its reach in northern Iowa over the past several years by opening new facilities and expanding others.

The company recently opened a Clear Lake site that now has more than two dozen employees. The team there concentrates on producing mixed flow dryers.

In May 2022, Sukup staged a ribbon cutting for an expansion at its Manly facility. This site started as a railway facility to bring raw materials to Sukup, but now also has a manufacturing plant on the north side.

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By adding more machines, Sukup was able to double its employment at the Manly site to 15, according to Samantha Petersburg, the company’s director of human resources.

The company opened two new facilities in Hampton in 2021 and office space at its Ames location has tripled in size.

But the Sheffield plant, which employs 500 of the company’s 600 employees, and the Sheffield community remain at the center of what Sukup does.

Earlier this year, Sukup announced a partnership with Charlie Brown Preschool & Child Care, West Fork Schools and United Bank and Trust Sheffield/Hampton to build a childcare center in Sheffield.

Sheffield has just one other childcare center, which is currently full. Schmitt said community leaders met last year to decide how to meet the need for local child care. The group decides to apply for a Future Ready Iowa Child Care Infrastructure grant, which provides funding for businesses starting child care centers on or near their site.

The Sheffield Childcare Project received $1.2 million in grant funding and is now raising matching funds.

Sukup manufacturing exterior

Sukup manufacturing.

file photo

The child care center, which is expected to open in the fall of 2024, will accommodate 150 children.

“We already have a waiting list,” Schmitt said.

Sukup sees the daycare as a way to support its employees, according to Petersburg. She said the company has workers who commute to Sheffield from a nine-county area, so it’s important for them to have childcare available in that community.

Employees at the Sukup plant who enroll their children in the new daycare will be able to visit them during lunchtime, according to Schmitt.

“Those little benefits are crucial, and that’s one of the amazing parts of working for a family-owned and operated business that puts family at the heart of everything they do,” he said.

Over the past year, Sukup has been focusing on internal promotions for management positions.

James Perez, who has been working at the Sheffield plant for almost a decade, was promoted to plant manager in 2022 to replace retiring manager John Swanson, who held that role for 44 years.

Matt Koch, Sukup’s director of IT, was recently selected as the company’s chief marketing officer.

Schmitt said the COVID-19 pandemic “gave us an opportunity to see how we were doing things,” particularly from an HR perspective.

Sukup had to quickly adapt and provide remote work options that didn’t exist before, as well as more flexible hours for those whose jobs required them to work on-site, he said.

Petersburg said remote work is still an option for employees in some departments. Hybrid schedules are also available for those who want to work in the office on some days and from home on others.

The company recently announced that it offers paid maternity leave. Each employee now also received two floating vacations.

“We are a Christian company, but we know that some employees have other important holidays, so that was something we wanted to show our workforce that we are there to support as well,” Schmitt said.

Many people, including Sukup employees, re-examined their priorities after the pandemic, according to Petersburg.

“We want to be that company that can provide significant benefits to keep employees here and show that we go above and beyond,” he said.

To celebrate Sukup’s 60th anniversary, the company is running a matching fund campaign to build an additional 30 Safe T Homes, which it began manufacturing in 2010 as a housing solution for the developing world. Sukup is planning a charity golf tournament this summer that will feature celebrities to help raise money for Safe T Homes.

In addition, special anniversary events are being prepared for Sukup employees.

“We are proud to be in Northern Iowa,” Petersburg said. “We continue to invest in this area and are proud to be a manufacturer in Iowa.”

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