Tama County Pitch & Builds

Contact the Tama County Economic Development office at 641-484-3108 or info@tamacountyiowa.org if you’ve got a business idea you’re ready to share. 


Philip Kennedy, ACREBroadband

At the 2017 Q1 Pitch & Build in January 2017, we heard about a home and mobile broadband business which will provide access across rural Iowa, and a housing initiative in Toledo.  

  • Philip Kennedy, chief executive officer of ACREBroadband, spoke about the need for home and mobile broadband access across rural Iowa and their company’s ability to meet those needs.  Joseph Gerke, chief operating officer, and Stacey Stewart, chief marketing officer, were also present to answer questions.  The major broadband carriers primarily serve major cities and highways across the state.  ACREBroadband will provide high speed broadband data focused on agriculture, the rural countryside, and small rural towns.  They will utilize telephone poles in right of ways which will serve businesses, houses, barns, and mobile units in agricultural fields.  Poles will not be more than three miles apart.  They are partnering with Windstream for fiber optics, IBM for cloud infrastructure, Stanley Consultants to place the poles, Nokia for radio equipment, and a confidential carrier for spectrum and roaming.  They will have large and small investors in a grass roots ownership model in a nine-county region across the state.  Tama County is part of Region #1; construction is anticipated to start in the spring of 2017. 
  • Jim Hobart of Hobart Historic Restoration was slated to speak at this Pitch & Build, but was delayed at an earlier meeting, so Heath Kellogg gave a brief summary of their intentions.  They have worked with over a dozen communities in Iowa to rehabilitate historic properties and build new housing.  They are currently renovating an old church they purchased in Toledo and have become interested in the former Juvenile Home property.  With the permission of the State (the current owner), they toured the entire facility with their architects and are creating a detailed plan for re-use, which would be primarily retirement housing with a healthcare component and nursing home in the school building.  They would keep some green space for a community park.   This re-use plan is independent of the plan being prepared by Matrix, the company hired by the State. 


2016 Q2 P&B Winners

l-r: Heath Kellogg, Ken Midyett, Robyn Midyett, Haley Shope, Susan Crain, Ryan Crain, Kyle Hopkins

At the 2016 Q2 Pitch & Build competition on April 26, 2016, we heard about a  bed & breakfast in Dysart, a therapeutic horseback riding business in rural Toledo, and an energy evaluation and chilled beam business in Dysart.

  • Robyn and Ken Midyett spoke about their plans to open a bed and breakfast in Dysart.  They are purchasing an older house, and with Ken’s help and contacts in the plumbing an electrical fields, will renovate it.  There will be four bedrooms upstairs and 10’ high ceilings on the main floor.  It will be furnished with pieces Ken makes himself from old wood.  She is a nurse and plans on using her contacts in the nursing field to promote an employee satisfaction program with a night at their bed & breakfast as an incentive.  They plan on being open by July.
  • Susan and Ryan Crain spoke about their new business just outside of Toledo, Barb Wire Ranch, which offers therapeutic horseback riding.  The majority of their customers are traditional riders, but they are certified to offer equine therapy for handicapped people.  The weather is their biggest obstacle so they are building an indoor riding arena so they can stay open all year long.  They travel with their animals and attend festivals in the area to market their services to children and adults; they also have a website and Facebook page.
  • Kyle Hopkins of Dysart spoke about his business, Aquadar Technologies, which manufactures an energy efficient HVAC system using active chill beams.  The components are machined overseas and will be assembled in Dysart.  It is able to use smaller duct work and reduces energy consumption.   It would be ideal for schools, office buildings, and other commercial and industrial buildings.   He is also doing consulting work, energy audits for larger factories, companies, and malls, and home energy audits.

And the winner of the 2016 Q2 Pitch & Build is . . . Barb Wire Ranch.

2016 Q1 P&B Winners

l-r: Heath Kellogg, Pete Youngblut, Mandy Boldt, Chris Anderson. Photo by John Speer

At the 2016 Q1 Pitch & Build competition, we heard about a precision ag product service in Dysart, a folk school in rural Toledo, and a restaurant and catering business in Gladbrook.

  • Pete Youngblut owns Youngblut Ag in Dysart, Iowa.  He has a degree in business management and worked for five years as a support specialist for a business that sold precision ag products.  When he moved back to Dysart, he had the idea of going into business for himself.  He worked closely with his accountant to create a solid business plan and found there was an overwhelming need in the farming community for precision ag services which are not tied to just one dealer.  He opened a storefront on Dysart’s Main Street in July of 2015 and will be hiring his first full time employee in March of April.  His biggest challenge has been getting the word out on his business and relies mainly on word of mouth and using complementary businesses to tie in with their product.  He is currently working with Hawkeye Community College to develop a program focusing on precision ag products.
  • Chris Anderson is a naturalist and park ranger at Otter Creek Lake & Park, Toledo.  He is organizing the Iowa Valley Folk School, which offers “vacation learning” experiences at the park.  The classes focus on skills used in everyday life years ago, such as basket making, dutch oven cooking, arrow making, beekeeping, weaving, pottery, etc.  He is able to teach numerous classes and has contacts with instructors for many more topics.  He hopes to be able to offer one to two classes a month.  Iowa Valley RC&D will help promote the classes and Iowa Valley Continuing Education will handle the administrative duties.  Pilgrim Heights will offer lodging options at reduced rates to participants.  The first three classes have been set: blacksmithing on June 11, wild edibles on July 16, and soap making on August 20.
  • Mandy Boldt owns Spanky’s Restaurant in Catering in Gladbrook.  She has a business degree and started baking for farmers markets years ago.  She began operating the restaurant at the sale barn in Tama in 2009 and her catering business grew from there.  When Gladbrook’s restaurant closed down, she was encouraged to move her business there.  In renovating the restaurant, she discovered the building previously housed a meat locker and theater and is preserving some of its history in her restaurant.  North Tama and Gladbrook-Reinbeck high school students are building stools and tables for the bar area and some students will paint murals on the walls.  She specializes in smoked meats and will continue her catering business as well.  She hopes to open the restaurant in February.

And the winner of the 2016 Q1 Pitch & Build is . . . Pete Youngblut of Youngblut Ag.  The next Pitch & Build will be on Tuesday, April 26, 2016.

At the Q3 2014 Pitch & Build competition held on September 9, 2014, we heard about unique specialty shops in Dysart and Gladbrook, and food and drink opportunities in Tama and Toledo.

2014 Q3 P&B Barb Smith

Barb Smith

  • Barb Smith of Smith’s General Store renovated the former Lucy’s Tole building in Gladbrook with an old fashioned general store look and opened for business on June 6.  She sells arts, crafts, kids novelty items, and consigned antiques, with a large portion of her sales going to custom orders and personalization.  Her unique barn quilts are also a popular item.  She would like to capitalize on the foot traffic generated by Matchstick Marvels, which is just down the street.  She is looking to raise funds to reach more goals for the store, one of which is to become licensed for perishable food.
2014 Q3 P&B Mary Huffman

Mary Huffman

  • Mary Huffman opened KE Black Mercantile in Dysart on April 1, after her daughter bought the vacant insurance building.  It has been renovated with energy efficient goals in mind, and decorated with a lot of old furnishings.  They offer basic kitchen supplies and gadgets as well as a line of food, with lots of Made in the USA and Made in Iowa products.  There is also a coffee bar with seating inside and outdoors. Along with a gift registry and bridal registry is the popular “people don’t know what to buy me” registry.  They hope to offer lunches soon and applied for a license to sell wine by the glass.

Audrey Smith

  • Audrey Smith would like to open an authentic barbecue place in the Tama-Toledo area, but her cleaning business is taking up most of her time, so her dream is still in the planning stages.  She would like to start with “cash and carry” ribs & chicken and then move on to a full service restaurant with turkey, pork, chicken and made from scratch side dishes.  She has extensive experience in food service and has already developed her own sauce and seasoning mixes.  She would also be open to doing an apprenticeship to share her knowledge with others who are passionate about barbecue.

Brian Gumm

  • Brian Gumm started Ross Street Roasting Company in Toledo as a hobby in his garage and is currently at the initial stages of development with a small group of local customers including two businesses. He buys only fair trade or direct trade coffee.  He would like to supply local grocers and specialty shops as well as offering private label roasting and local charity roasts.  His next steps are to obtain commercial roasting equipment and do facility improvements, with a long term goal of having an online storefront.


And the winner of the Q3 2014 Pitch & Build is . . . Brian Gumm of Ross Street Roasting Company.

The Tama County Q2 2014 Pitch & Build on April 29, 2014, had presentations on reproduction firearms, a bed & breakfast, an outdoor classroom, an antique business, and a local eatery.

  • Josh Casto of Casto Armory, Traer, turned his hobby into a thriving business.  He manufactures reproductions of antique rifles and bullets as well as doing repairs and maintenance on antique firearms.   His primary market is reenactors for old-time shows.  Internet sales account for most of his business.  At present, he is the only employee, but hopes to hire an    apprentice within the year.  He is a member of the National Muzzle Rifle Association and the Iowa Black Powder Federation.  You can find him at his storefront at 539—2nd Street in Traer, or at http://www.thecastoarmory.com.
  • Jodi Philipp opened Periwinkle Place Manor Bed & Breakfast in Chelsea in January 2014, in the old Hrabak Funeral Home, the name of the business being inspired by a periwinkle-colored antique casket she found in its shipping crate.  She currently has six rooms available for overnight stays, and will eventually have 10 rooms.  A coach house on the back of the property is utilized for weddings and parties.  Sleigh Runners Village will showcase a bakery, candy store, boutiques, artisan shops and offers ice skating, sledding, and sleigh rides along with Santa & Mrs. Claus during the holidays.  The B&B is located at 704 Main Street in Chelsea and on the web athttp://www.periwinkleplacemanor.com.
  • Ann Graham described the plans Pilgrim Heights Camp & Retreat Center is making for its new Nature Explore Classroom.  There will be groomed pathways between all areas, but folks don’t have to stay on the paths.  A day camp program now offers 9 weeks of camp in the summer months, with a capacity of 50 campers each week.  The staff to camper ratio is 10 to 1 or 8 to 1, depending on the age of the campers.  There are 20 buildings on 120 acres of grounds, ranging from rustic to handicap accessible, and a full commercial kitchen.  It has been accredited by the American Camp Association and is no longer a religious organization.  Pilgrim Heights is located at 3005 E Avenue, Montour, or at http://www.pilgrimheights.org.
  • Lisa Bandfield’s business started on her front porch, and when she found a storefront in Dysart, she cleaned out her house and opened Front Porch Antiques and Primitives in November 2013.  Having one full time and one part time employee, she is able to go out and do the picking and has recently been asked to purchase four different households of stuff.  She networks with other business owners to utilize their knowledge on items she doesn’t know much about.  Most of her marketing is on Facebook and eBay, and she also attends numerous flea markets.  Find Lisa on Facebook at Front Porch Antiques & Primitives or at 335 Main Street, Dysart.
  • Deb Wacha of The Magnolia, 103 W. High Street, Toledo, catered the meal.   She offers home-style cooking in a cozy restaurant across from the courthouse, along with specialty bakery items.  An outdoor patio can be utilized in warm weather.  Check out the special of the day on Facebook at Magnolia Menu.

And the winner is . . . a tie for first place between Periwinkle Place Manor Bed & Breakfast and Casto Armory.

The Tama County Q1 2014 Pitch & Build occurred on January 21, 2014 with presentations on Tama County’s 2nd annual STEM Festival in Traer, the expansion of the Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center’s Tama-Toledo Clinic in Toledo, and the opportunity to purchase Petty Livestock Equipment Manufacturing in Gladbrook.

  • Lisa Chizek of North Tama School District spoke about Tama County’s 2nd annual STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Festival occurring on Sunday, March 30, 2014 from 1-3 pm at the North Tama High School.   Last year’s festival drew around 35-40 participants and over 300 students and their families.  New this year will be a Pitch & Win competition for any participating Iowa student.  More information is available at http://www.jacobsoninstitute.org/pitchandwin.
  • John Hughes, CEO of Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center, spoke about MMSC’s expansion in Tama-Toledo.  They will be building a new $3.0M clinic on Highway 63 just off of the Highway 30 interchange.  Plans include having the rehabilitation wing more accessible, improving diagnostic ability, and better customer service.  They hope to start building early this summer.
  • Mark Chaffee spoke about the opportunity to purchase the existing business of Petty Livestock Equipment Manufacturing in Gladbrook.  The family-owned business has been producing quality livestock equipment for the farm, show barns, and arenas since 1966.  Most work is custom work, done to the specs of a county or state fair, a regional horse barn, a farm raising sheep, a veterinary school, etc.  The Petty family seeks to retire from the business and are looking for the right person(s) to take control of this creative and vibrant business.

The Tama County Q3 2013 Pitch & Build occurred on August 27, 2013 with presentations on a health food restaurant in Toledo, a curbside recycling business in Tama-Toledo, a new specialty shop in Gladbrook, and a baseball training complex in Tama County.  Updates were made on the Oakridge Motocross Park in rural Garwin and RMA Supply Company which originated in Dysart.

  • Corey Brown needed to make a change in his eating habits in order to improve his health.  After seeing positive results, he opened FUELED, a health food restaurant in downtown Toledo to help people make better food choices.  He started with a juicer and sold healthy juices, and had an opportunity to open a restaurant with the kitchen appliances in place.  He has a $0 marketing budget and has $0 debt, using Facebook to post his menu daily.  He buys 75% of his produce locally and will buy organic from anyone.
  • Deb Osborn saw an article in the local paper stating a specialty shop in Gladbrook was closing down, and her husband encouraged her to buy it.  She has a business background and is an accountant and professional photographer, but also loves scrapbooking and crafting.  She will be opening Serendipity by Deb in Gladbrook in September, which will offer a photo studio, scrapbooking, crafting, and a coffee shop.   She uses Facebook and a website and is working with Matchstick Marvels to attract tour bus groups.
  • Eric Haughey saw surrounding towns doing curbside recycling and thought he should offer it in Tama and Toledo.   He started a Facebook page asking if local  residents would support his business, Razz Recycling, and got a lot of interest.   He has a large residential customer base and is working on growing his commercial and industrial customer base.  He sells the cardboard he collects to Tama Paperboard, which is a 100% recyclable mill.  He is also talking with another local businessman about recycling tires.
  • David Chubb has been around baseball for 35-40 years and is looking at creating a sports complex to train throughout the year and also host tournaments in Tama County.  He started with 7 players and now has teams of 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12-year olds, with players from Marshalltown and Belle Plaine.  He currently takes his teams to tournaments statewide.  He has connections throughout the region and knows he can bring in kids from the surrounding area if he has a facility to use year round.

And the winner of the Q3 2013 Pitch & Build is . . . Eric Haughey with Razz Recycling.

Tama County Economic Development’s Q2 2013 Pitch & Build was held on Tuesday, May 28, in Toledo.  The field of presenters was diminished due to heavy rains that caused major flooding on area roadways and in basements throughout the county.

  • Terry Johnson, the CEO of Genesis Development, stated there is a tremendous need to serve people with disabilities in Tama County.  They are currently serving 26 persons at a 40-bed facility at Pheasant Ridge in rural Tama County which will soon be downsized to 15 beds.  The goal is to move more people to houses in the Tama-Toledo area and integrate them into the community.  They will also be utilizing office space for day programs for adults.  The group homes will be staffed 24 hours a day.  Genesis Development currently employs 25 people and plans to hire 15 to 20 new employees.

The Tama County Economic Development Q1 2013 Pitch & Build took place on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at the Reinig Center in Toledo, Iowa.

  • Deb Oliver is a part of the Heartland ActionCOACH team and serves part-time as a business coach for businesses throughout eastern Iowa.   She has earned a master in Organizational Behavior and a PhD.  Her diverse employment background serves her well in working with companies and organizations to evaluate their marketing and sales efficiency.  The ActionCOACH system starts with sharing five areas of marketing and sales that all businesses should be concerned with.
  • Phil Sankot and Pat O’Rourke of Solid Waste Energy, Inc. did an investment pitch for creating a working model of their gasification system right here in Tama County for prospects to tour.  This model would allow them to showcase their system running 24/7 to major industries interested in using alternate forms of energy.  A “green” byproduct of the system is the ability to safely and cleanly dispose of various biomass materials, including tires, wood chips, and corn.
  • Kathy Myers shared the steps she took to open her antiquing business, Kathy’s Barn, in downtown Tama.  Her passion has always been to buy and sell antiques and repurpose “junk”.  She started by clearing out a dairy barn on her property and keeping her inventory in there for folks to pick through.  She expanded to a storefront in Tama and created a Facebook page, which has  been very successful and has drawn in folks from across the country.
  • Jon Kriegel spoke about Oakridge Motocross which plans on constructing a two track motocross facility just north of Highway 30 near Garwin.  The tracks will provide a safe, fun, family-oriented environment in Tama County.  Motocross is a sport that is growing rapidly on a professional and amateur level, and this facility will accommodate a wide variety of rider skills from beginner to professional.  Their goal for the first year is to hold 5-7 races bringing at least 200 riders to each event.

And the winner is . . . Jon Kriegel of Oakridge Motocross.

Tama County Economic Development presented its Q4 2012 Pitch & Build event at the Reinig Center in Toledo, Iowa on Tuesday, November 13, 2012, with four entities vying for the top award.  Competitors came from Lincoln, Dysart, Garwin, and Tama County.

  • Carol Groen is starting up a nursery business in rural Lincoln.  She had trouble locating compost for her business.  After much research on the subject, she has discovered that small quantities of bagged compost is not available.  She proposes to acquire compost in bulk, then bag it at her nursery (using the same technique used to fill large amounts of sandbags) and sell it in easy to use quantities.  She has already been in contact with large retail outlets regarding selling her product.
  • A group of investors are looking into establishing a Stars Prep Academy in Tama County to provide intensive athletic training to youth throughout central and eastern Iowa.  A facility would be available for coaches to lease for training in their particular sport, which could be baseball, volleyball, wrestling, basketball, football, dance, etc.  Each sport would have a designated area of its own.  Each training business would operate on its own, not dependent on any other training in the building.
  • Travis and Amy Fisher own a meat locker in Dysart and are working toward receiving an Organic Certification, which would make theirs the only organic meat processing facility in the state of Iowa.  They currently offer custom processing services, frozen retail beef & pork cuts, and options for sliced cheese.  Their customer base has grown by a third in the past two years.   They are planning on building a new facility to comply with state standards for organic processing.
  • Garwin Community Revitalization is actively seeking new industry for their town.  Merle Parks, Carl Zoffka, and Ron Smith worked with Tama County Economic Development to identify a profitable business which is for sale in the state and are looking at bringing it to Garwin.  The business makes gourmet fudge sauce and has outlets in numerous Iowa locations including Fareway and HyVee.  The investors are researching the business and its marketability and are in talks with the current owner.
  • Also present at the Pitch and Build but not in the competition were representatives from Iowa Premium Beef.  A group of private investors purchased the plant in October 2010.  They selected and hired an executive team which consists of Steve Armstrong, president and general manager, Dean Hanish, chief financial officer and controller, Jeffrey Johnson, vice president of operations, and Jeff Muchow, vice president of sales and marketing.  The building is being renovated, including a new roof which was installed in January 2012.  They have enlisted the services of a design engineer but are not discussing a project start date at this point.

The winners of Tama County’s Q4 Pitch & Build 2012 are Travis & Amy Fisher of Dysart.

Tama County’s Q3 2012 Pitch & Build contest occurred August 28, 2012, with five concepts for home-grown business ideas or products being presented.

  • Sam Thiessen and Phillip Sankot of Ag Bio Power in Tama presented information about their gasification system.  Waste items such as rubber, plastics, oil filters, and paint filters can be safely gasified using Ag Bio Power’s patented process.  Corn is also an excellent biomass; though wood pellets, wood chips, and paper products could also be used.  The University of Iowa is installing an Ag Bio Power unit at the Oakdale Campus in Iowa City, Iowa.
  • Galen Musgrave, Toledo, would like to expand his back yard hobby into a profitable business.  His company, Sweet Iron, manufactures and retails metal novelties and useful products made from metal.  This includes wine and beverage holders, wine bottle trees, and memorial flower stands.  More projects are in the research and development stage.
  • Blake Waldrop of Dysart, explained that his company, RMA Supply Company, LLC, manufactures firearm lubricant and has success selling three product lines of oil.  He also has major success in selling ballistic armor plates.  His goal is to expand the product lines and offer customers more varieties of armor and equipment.
  • Todd and Mary Apfel currently own Venture Lanes in Tama and would like to develop an 18-hole miniature golf course, batting cages, sand volleyball courts, and horseshoe pits, to provide family friendly spring and summer entertainment to the Tama-Toledo community.
  • Sandy McAntire of Chelsea owns Shoestring Jungle, a retail and online marketing service to assist local small business, enterpreneurs, and artisans grow and create jobs.  It is a complete marketing package that includes retail space, an online ecommerce engine, a social media suite, inventory management, storage, and shipping services.

The winner of Tama County’s first Pitch and Build contest is Sandy McAntire of Shoestring Jungle.


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