Sourcing MidWest Manufacturers? Here's Why Iowa's A Good Place To Start ...

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In the 1980s, the Iowan economy was heavily reliant on agriculture. And then something happened: the bottom fell out.

The farm crisis of the mid-to-late 1980s left thousands of Iowans destitute, without work, and looking for answers. But it also left them with something else, an inimitable resolve to diversify and innovate.

Today, Iowa’s robust economy fully demonstrates those qualities. From finance to food production and information technology, Iowa's diverse economic ecosystem puts the state at the national forefront for many verticals, including energy, transportation, and agriculture.

But we’re here to talk about manufacturing.

And Iowa’s manufacturing sector is one of the strongest in the nation.

Kickstarted by the farming crisis, Iowa’s modern manufacturing industry is defined by innovative advanced manufacturing strategies, techniques, and machinery across a wide variety of subsectors, such as aerospace manufacturing, construction equipment manufacturing, medical device manufacturing, and automotive manufacturing.

Arguably, Iowa's manufacturing sector has taken the lead as the most influential industry in the Iowan economy, employing more than 260,000 workers at more than 5,000 companies state wide, many of which are small-to-medium sized enterprises looking for work from a variety of buyers of custom manufactured parts. 

TIP: Log in or Register with and we'll help you pinpoint expert Iowa suppliers perfect for your sourcing needs. We'll even set up a sourcing event for you, FREE of charge. 

And with a centralized global location, as well as one of America’s strongest transportation sectors, Iowa manufacturers are able to manufacture custom parts and products for buyers and sourcing professionals around the world, while delivering those parts and products on time over and over again.

“With more than $13.3 billion worth of manufactured and value-added goods shipped out of the country, manufacturing accounts for 88 percent of Iowa’s total exports. Since 2001, Iowa manufacturing exports have grown by 179 percent – nearly 73 percent more that the nation as a whole.” (Iowa Area Development Group)

Manufacturing Output Iowa

And it's not just international buyers that benefit from Iowa's strong transportation system and geographic location. Positioned within no more than 1,000 miles of almost all major American cities, Iowan manufacturers are strategically centralized to quickly meet sourcing needs from myriad sourcing professionals in many states across the U.S.


Remember that we said Iowans were innovative?

Well, their perseverance and savvy has led them to be national experts in the advanced manufacturing sector, ranking 11th out of 50 states for total GDP attributable to advanced manufacturing.

And the sector’s rapidly growing.

Across the United States, advanced manufacturing has grown at a pace of about 14% over the last decade. But Iowa’s advanced manufacturing industry has grown at nearly 22% over the same period, predominantly due to Iowa’s continued emphasis on manufacturing education. And it helps to have powerhouse research universities like Iowa State University and the University of Iowa calling the Hawkeye state home.

Larger than any other industry in Iowa, advanced manufacturing employs about 210,000 Iowan workers – or roughly 14% of the state’s total employed workforce. And it does this at about 4,000 small-to-medium sized manufacturing companies across the state, many looking for work from U.S. buyers of custom manufactured parts.

And what’s more, growth in Iowa’s advanced manufacturing subsectors, which include machinery manufacturing, fabricated metal products, energy equipment manufacturing, and computer and electronics manufacturing, is quickly outpacing the American average.

“[Coming in at] 6% higher than the national employment distribution for manufacturing, advanced manufacturing is Iowa’s largest industry contributing $25 billion annually to the state’s economy. This represents 16.7 percent of the [state’s] GDP.” Global Trade Information Service

But where Iowan advanced manufacturing strategies, techniques, and machinery are truly making a discernable difference for the Hawkeye state is in the machinery manufacturing and metal fabrication verticals.

Seeing unprecedented growth from innovation and technological advancement, these two verticals represent two of the most influential sectors in Iowa durable goods manufacturing today. And present sourcing professionals with huge opportunities to save BIG on their custom manufactured parts ... 


There’s no doubt about it. Iowans love manufacturing machinery.

And the numbers prove it.

“Iowa has nearly 11 times the number of jobs in machinery manufacturing than would be expected based on national averages,” shows research from the Iowa State College of Engineering.

And perhaps not surprisingly, Iowa’s biggest manufacturing export is machinery products, with the average export volume of machinery parts and products doubling in the 15 years from 2000 to 2015.

Additionally, machinery manufacturing across all verticals accounts for 16% of Iowa’s gross domestic product, whether for construction, metal working, agriculture, or power tools (Iowa’s 4 largest verticals for machinery manufacturing).

Machinery Manufacturing Employment Iowa

Boasting some of the highest employment concentrations not only in the state, but also the nation, suppliers of custom manufactured parts within the machinery manufacturing vertical are some of the most economically competitive (and technologically savvy) in the United States, especially in the 4 subsectors listed above (construction, metal working, agriculture and power tools).

But there are other key areas where these suppliers and contract manufacturers shine, too. These include engine and power transmission equipment, general purpose machinery, and service industry machinery.

So if you’re a buyer or sourcing professional looking to source custom manufactured parts in any of these machinery manufacturing disciplines, odds are you’ll find an economically competitive and cutting-edge custom parts supplier somewhere in Iowa.

Log in or Register to quickly discover expert manufacturers in Iowa today

“Iowa had 469 machinery manufacturing sector establishments in 2013. Agricultural implements manufacturing accounts for the largest number of establishments, followed by metalworking machinery. The smallest number of establishments is found in mining and oil and gas field machinery.” – Iowa State University

Takeaways: Source custom machinery parts in: construction, metal working, agriculture, power tools, engine and power transmission equipment, general purpose machinery, and service industry machinery. And if you're looking to source custom manufactured parts in the mining and/or oil and gas subsectors take note: These subsectors appear to currently be experiencing contraction in the Hawkeye state.

At the moment, other states like appear to be stronger candidates. 


Growing faster than the national average for the last several years, Iowa’s fabricated metals vertical is quickly becoming one of the savviest, most technologically advanced verticals in the state, in no small part to Iowa's focus on advanced manufacturing and research and development.

According to the Iowa Economic Development website, “Iowa has two juggernaut research universities in Iowa State University and the University of Iowa.  Each with hundreds of researchers studying all facets of bioscience, [fabricated] metals, energy, aeronautics and manufacturing to name a few. Both with the expressed purpose of transferring new discoveries to our economy.”  

Iowa Manufacturing Industries

Working in close concert with manufacturing subsectors like structural metals, machining, and turned products manufacturing, fabricated metals itself may only account for about 7% of Iowa’s annual GDP, but the impact of the industry is much farther reaching.

“Iowa’s fabricated metal industry is a major supplier to other Iowa manufacturers. In 2013, an estimated $543.8 million in fabricated metal sales were made to other Iowa manufacturers,” heavily driving other industries (such as aerospace manufacturing, automotive manufacturing, and electronics manufacturing) in the state.

And the value of Iowa fabricated metal manufacturers doesn’t stop there. YOU can take advantage of many of these quick-turn, cutting-edge metal fabrication suppliers too – even if your business isn’t located in Iowa.

Log in or Register on to discover more premium Iowa manufacturers

Takeaways: Structural metals manufacturers, machine shops, and turned products manufacturers make up more than 30% of Iowa's fabricated metals contract manufacturers. If you need parts or products manufactured in these disciplines, Iowa fabricated metals manufacturers might just be a fit for your sourcing needs. What's more, there's a variety of contract manufacturers and job shops to choose from. With 624 registered metal fabricators working in the Hawkeye state in 2014, competition is strong in the Iowa fabricated metals sector, giving sourcing professionals more choices and greater buying power. 


  • Bobcat
  • Caterpillar
  • Rockwell Collins
  • Winnebago
  • Alcoa
  • IVP Plastics
  • Accurate Gear & Machine
  • Kryton Engineered Metals
  • Mid America Designs
  • Kooima Company
  • Midwest Metal Products


With the Contract Manufacturing Marketplace, you can easily pinpoint expert Iowa manufacturers using our powerful Discover Tool (Here’s a link), which helps you effortlessly perform due diligence on any custom parts supplier before you begin your next sourcing event.

So, if you’re in need to find new custom parts suppliers using some of the most innovative manufacturing processes to manufacture your parts in these verticals:

  1. Machinery Manufacturing
  2. Machine Tools Manufacturing
  3. Fabricated Metal Products
  4. Transportation Equipment
  5. Computer & Electronics Equipment

Start with We’ve got over 100 registered Iowa manufacturers in our contract manufacturing database waiting to quote your parts.

This is Part 4 In A Series Examining America’s Top 10 Manufacturing States. Find the other parts here:

Part 1: From Agriculture to Automobiles: How Manufacturing is Retooling Alabama's Future

Part 2: Plane Power: How Electronics & Aerospace Helped California Manufacturers Take Off

Part 3: Making The Grade: How Indiana Manufacturers Are Leveraging Science & Medicine to Graduate Top of Class



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