March Madness

Forget February, it’s finally March! Which means one incredible thing: March Madness is here!  I wasn’t sure what to write about this week in the Stellar Blog.  Then, I heard on the news that more people will complete a bracket with their NCAA basketball picks, than voted in the last election.  So, I thought I would complete my bracket and focus my blogging efforts towards March Madness. 

I started off very excited as fans in the state of Iowa were represented by our three state universities: UNI, Iowa, and ISU.  Yesterday, ISU blew my bracket with a loss.  I was anxious about the UNI Panthers going into their game today.  However, they ended up with a big win!  I didn’t get a chance to watch either game since I am diligently at my desk working!  I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV but I am just competitive enough to keep an eye on the scores and cheer for the teams that will help me advance in my brackets.

You say you’re not a basketball fan?  Well, there is also a big NCAA Wrestling Tournament going on in St. Louis as well — this one is for collegiate grapplers. What? You’re not a sports fan at all and my whole blog has sounded more like Charlie Brown’s teacher?  Wah wah wah ….Well, I’m sure you can find something to do during March Madness.  If you watched any of the Bachelor series this season, you may have gotten the impression there isn’t much to do in Iowa, but I disagree.  It seems there is always something going on in a community where you know so many people.

If you are someone that doesn’t have any March Madness in your life and you want to experience some of ours, we invite you to join us.  We have been very busy at Stellar and are on a hiring streak.  So wander over to our employment page  and check out what’s available.  Garner is a great place to re-locate and we’d love to have you join our community.  And of course our customers don’t have to fear, we recognize this can be an unproductive time of year because of all the “Madness”, but rest assured we are working as hard as ever and continuing to ship a lot of product every day!  So, I’ll end with one last cheer  “Go Team Stellar!”

Being Thankful from A to Z

Thanksgiving Day in the United States is a holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. It is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables. Thanksgiving is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have. 

In Garner, Iowa, the weather has made it a little difficult to feel grateful.  It has been cold and it is dark outside before I leave work every night.  However, there is much for which I am thankful.  Last year at Thanksgiving, my brother asked us to draw letters of the alphabet and state what we were thankful for that began with the letter drawn.  I have so many things to be thankful for at Stellar, I thought I would do the same here:

A-    American Eagle

B-    Benefits provided to us

C-    Climate controlled facility, Customers

D-    Diverse product lines

E-     Employee Owners in all departments who contribute to Team Stellar

F-     Family owned company, flexibility at work

G-    Great Co-workers, Garner

H-    Holidays Paid, Hydraulic Equipment

I-      Innovative products

J-     Jobs.  We provide many good jobs and are looking for more good employees

K-    Kiefer Manufacturing

L-     LubeMate

M-   Manufacturing in the USA

N-    Never a dull moment, Newsletter

O-    Our People and Our Products

P-     Parties, Potlucks, and Picnics we have every summer for Stellar Families

Q-    Quarterly Meetings where we get fed and have a state of Stellar address

R-    Relationships in the community and with customers

S-     Stellar Truck & Trailer

T-     Technology

U-    United workforce and my Undersized commute to work

V-    Veterans here, there, and everywhere

W-  Website full of information, wingdings

X-    X-Tra-Lift

Y-    You.  I’m thankful you took the time to read til the end of my blog!

Z-     Zrostlik family and all they have done for Stellar and Garner!

There is so much to be thankful for everyday, if we just stop and take a moment to look around.  What are you most thankful for this year? Feel free to comment below and let us know- we’d love to share in your thankfulness.  Wishing you God’s Blessings!

Pirate Talk and Home Base Iowa

Ahoy!  I know today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but I couldn’t come up with enough clever booty to keep me audience from hittin’ the Grog too soon!  So I shall hang up me hornpipe, hook, an’ patch and breech ye another topic, before ye make me walk the plank!  Arrrrr!

Lets switch from Pirates to Veterans.  Have you heard about the Home Base Iowa Act?  It was passed by the Iowa Legislature in a broad bi-partisan manner and signed by Governor Branstad on Memorial Day, May 26, 2014.  The act positions Iowa as the leader in respect, support and employment for veterans.  The state of Iowa wants to say thanks to our veterans who have served our country and welcome them home, even if they have never been here in Iowa before.  The Home Base Iowa Act, a comprehensive package of incentives provides:

·         Military pension exempt from income tax

·         Veterans hiring preference

·         Streamlined occupational licensure for vets, spouses, and dependents

·         Iowa Veteran Housing Programs

·         Iowa Financial Assistance Benefits

·         Iowa Education benefits

·         Free specialty veteran license plates

·         Vietnam conflict bonus

·         Veteran lifetime hunting/fishing license

It’s an honor to assist veterans in any way.  Iowa employers know veterans bring a valued skill set and we have many jobs available.  That is why some individual communities are also working on additional  incentives.  We at Stellar hope to help veterans and transitioning service members get a great job, maybe even a new start…in Iowa.

Learn more at

Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor visit Stellar Industries, Inc.

The Gov. and Lt. Gov have made the promise to visit all 99 counties every year they are in office.  They are well beyond visiting 2/3 of the counties this year.

As the Governor entered our reception area, he saw a photo of Francis Zrostlik.  He instantly remembered going to China with Francis and Barb Zrostlik in 1984 and shared some of his fond memories of the trip.

It was an honor to have the Governor and Lt. Governor visit with our people and tour our facility to check out our products.  They even joined us for lunch! Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds thanked us for offering our own weld training program.  They recognize the shortage of skilled labor and were pleased to see our on-the-job-training program.

They announced unemployment has dropped more than 30% in Iowa since they have been in office.  They are determined to add even more jobs in the state of Iowa.

2014 Employee Ownership Conference

On April 7-10th, Dave Backus, CFO,  and I had the opportunity of attending the 2014 Employee Ownership Conference.  It was sold out with over 1,200 attendees.  This conference is sponsored by The National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO).  With hundreds of top employee ownership experts and almost 90 breakout sessions, we were allowed the opportunity to get questions answered, learn new ideas, explore a variety of critical issues and discuss emerging trends in employee ownership.   From practical case studies and management tips to technical, financial, and legal topics, to communicating and nurturing a culture of employee owners.  It was a beneficial trip and we are anxious to share the information we learned with our employee owners at Stellar.