Stellar Sales & Marketing Team Perform Servant Work During Sales Meeting









The Stellar Industries Sales & Marketing team spent time at the 5 Loaves 2 Fish’s ministry, The Table, on Wednesday, July 19th as part of their summer sales meeting.

The sales and marketing teams hold sales meetings as needed to review processes, participate in product training, develop sales and marketing strategies, and to spend time bonding with other co-workers. This year rather than spending an afternoon participating in a recreational type activity, the group offered their working hands to a local charity, 5 Loaves 2 Fish, The Table.

5 Loaves 2 Fish is a non-profit ministry that oversees several other ministries, including The Table. The Table is a program that offers a home cooked noon meal to Garner kids, up to the age 18, Monday through Friday, starting the Monday after school dismisses for the summer until the Friday before it resumes in August. They are in their third year of operating.

The Table typically serves anywhere from 50 to over 100 kids each day. It is a volunteer run, donation-based program. It relies on at least 10 volunteers to help cook, serve, and cleanup each day.

The day started out with the marketing staff working in the kitchen prepping and cooking the meal. The sales staff joined them at 11:30 to serve, eat, and play games with the kids. Over 115 meals were served, including the 23 Stellar helpers. Sliced ham, homemade macaroni & cheese, fresh green beans from the community garden, and fresh fruit salad were on the menu followed by ice cream treats provided by Stellar. After lunch the kids had the opportunity to play out in the back lot of the church with some of the Stellar staff. Bubbles, hula-hoops, chalk, giant Jenga, and a game of football were just some of the fun games taking place.

“This was a nice opportunity for our staff to take a break from the hustle and bustle of their daily work day and the sales meeting, to give back to the community, and to interact with the kids. Its great to be reminded of how much energy they have, and how their view on life can be so simple and carefree,” Says Sean Moran, Stellar Industries Sales & Marketing Manager. “It really lightened our hearts to have fun with the kids while helping out this worthy cause.”

Stellar also made a monetary donation to The Table, along with donating their recent Duesey Days Parade Float Theme prize of Garner Chamber Bucks.

“We are so very thankful for all the volunteers that come and help us at The Table,” says Stephanie Lloyd, President of 5 Loaves 2 Fish. “We were thrilled at having all the male role models here from Stellar today, as the kids really do connect with them, and some need a male role model in their life. And of course the monetary donation is always greatly appreciated. I thank them for everything from the bottom of my heart and I encourage more people in Garner to come volunteer their time and talents at The Table.”


Giving the Gift of Life

Our People – The Better half of our tag line.

If we were without Our People, we would be nothing. It is Our People that make Our Products, and this company, truly stellar.

One such instance of Our People being truly stellar is a recent event; a life saving event.

In the summer of 2014, Dave Backus, then the Stellar CFO, became ill. Many trips to the doctors in Mason City took place over then next few months, and countless tests performed only to rule out numerous things, but fail to diagnose what was going on. Dave continued to get progressively sicker while trying to determine the cause. It was finally through a kidney biopsy analyzed by the Mayo Clinic that determined Dave had Membranous Nephrophy. It’s a kidney disease that leads to End State Renal Failure, which means Dave was in need of a kidney transplant, or face being on dialysis for the rest of his life.

A preeminent physician doing research on this particular disease was luckily practicing at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Dave was referred to this physician that immediately began treatment by administering two doses of a clinical trial drug, versus subjecting Dave to any of the harsher cancer drugs that are often used to treat Membranous Nephrophy. However, the trial drug was not effective in Dave’s case, and this lead to the doctor recommending a kidney transplant. Dave underwent four days of screening for this next step. It involved many tests and consultations with various doctors at Mayo Clinic. Shortly after the approval was given for Dave to be placed on the list for a deceased kidney in May 2016. He was then informed it could be a wait time of up to 5 years based on his blood type. Dave’s daughter lives in Scottsdale, AZ, only 5 minutes from the Mayo Clinic Phoenix location, so Dave took a trip and went through the same process there in order to improve his chances of receiving a kidney.

In July 2016, while sitting along the streets of Garner watching the Duesey Days parade roll by with a bunch of fellow co-workers, a Living Donor float passed by. The topic of Dave’s health became the focal point of conversation. Dave informed the group that he was currently on the waiting list for a kidney, but it could take quite some time to find a match. This resonated with one of Dave’s co-workers, Travis Glidden.

On the walk home that day, he started discussing the Living Donor program with his wife, Theresa. “It felt like it was something I should look into,” said Travis. Several days later, Dave and Travis were talking and Dave shared that a friend of his daughter’s had volunteered to be a donor, so Travis backed off of the idea. Several months passed, and Travis stopped in to chat with Dave one day and asked how his kidney transplant was progressing. Dave informed Travis that the potential donor had a rare blood type and Mayo was unable to match her with anyone, therefore he was back to square one. Come to find out later, Dave’s wife had also “secretly” volunteered to donate, but was subsequently turned down.

“For a week or so after that last conversation, I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking about this,” Travis said. “And I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. Something was telling me to keep exploring being a living donor.” Travis spent a few evenings watching informational videos on being a living donor on the Mayo Clinic website, and talked about it with his wife and family, and got their support. “I told them, ‘I can’t explain this – other than I feel this is the right thing for me to do,’” he said. “I went back into the office the next day to visit Dave and to tell him I was ready to take the steps to be a kidney donor.”

Stunned. That was Dave’s reaction. “I still can’t find the words to adequately express how I feel about such a great gift,” said Dave. “Travis would often stop by my office and ask how my transplant process was going, but I had no idea he was considering donating one of his own kidneys to me,” Dave continued. “I thought I was out of options.”

“Dave has been one of a few people in my life that has truly been a coach to me when it comes to saving and investing for retirement,” said Travis. “He, along with Francis Zrostlik years ago, has hounded me to save in my 401k plan – even though I had four kids to raise and put through college.” Travis continued, “I’m 50 years old and now have a solid retirement plan, in part to Dave. I thought to myself that it would be a real blow to work, save, and invest for an entire career and at retirement age be faced with spending 3 days a week, for 5 hours at a time, doing kidney dialysis.” Travis concluded, “If I could give back and help Dave and his family enjoy a healthy retirement, that’s what I was going to do. I was going to leave this up to God and Mayo Clinic.”

The process to confirm Travis as a match began with a blood draw at the local doctor’s office that was sent to Mayo Clinic. Travis was confirmed as a paired match. The next step was a visit to Mayo Clinic for a very thorough two-day physical, a visit with a counselor, a dietitian, a transplant surgeon, a handful of other various doctors, and a series of blood and urine tests. Several weeks passed and a call was received that Travis was in good shape, good health, and approved to donate directly to Dave. A date was set. April 21st would be the transplant day.

Two days prior to transplant Day Dave went to Rochester to start his pre-surgery preparations including more tests, two rounds of dialysis, and drugs that essentially wiped out his immune system to keep his body from rejecting the “foreign object”. Travis arrived the day before, was put through more tests, and they both met with their respective surgeons to review the procedure in detail. Over 100,000 people are currently waiting for a kidney, and 10,000 kidney transplants take place every year. The Mayo System does about 9% of those transplants every year. Dave’s transplant was their doctor’s second surgery for the day. By 2:00 pm on April 21st, Travis’ surgery was complete, and Dave’s finished about 4:30 pm, with the new kidney working almost immediately. The procedure left Dave’s two existing kidneys in place, and positioned the new kidney in his lower abdomen.

Forty-eight hours later, Travis was released to go home. Dave was released from the hospital 3 days post-surgery, but needed to stay in Rochester for up to 1 additional month, going in for daily blood tests. The first week post-op went very well for Dave and he was told that if things continue to go this well, he’d be going home sooner than planned. One of his post-op attending physicians called Dave his “Super Star Transplant Recipient.” Dave was released to go home 2 weeks after his surgery, but only after much quizzing by the nurses regarding his anti-rejection drugs, and his new dietary restrictions.

The outcome for both has been very positive. For Travis, the first few days of recovery were pretty tough as his healthy body was now learning to function with one less kidney. Having not gone through any major medical procedure in his lifetime, his body felt pretty beat up. But once he battled through the first week, recovery sped up and soon he was back to the rec center walking up to 2 miles every day the 2nd week of recovery. Now Travis is almost back to his usual self. One thing he noted was the overwhelming amount of support he received from co-workers, customers, and friends. He received countless emails, texts and phone calls leading up to the surgery and during recovery. Travis said, “I can’t thank my friends enough for all the support I have received these past few months.”

For Dave, he felt almost immediately better, although he has to slowly regain his strength back that he lost during the time before the transplant and the surgical recovery. Dave will forever be on anti-rejection medications, and he is slowly weaning off some of the antibiotics he is currently taking.
“My kidney disease had progressed to the stage where I needed to be on dialysis to survive,” said Dave. “Without a transplant, I would have had to continue on dialysis several times a week until a kidney became available, which could be up to 5 years.” He continued, “The outcome for a live donor kidney is much better with a longer, healthy survival rate than a deceased kidney. So the outcome could not have been better for me.” Dave concluded, “Words can not describe how I feel about Travis donating a healthy kidney to me. It has given me a second chance on life – one where I can enjoy my retirement, grand kids, and the opportunity to enjoy a long and healthy life. Travis is definitely my hero.”

If you are interested in becoming an organ donor, please visit

If you are interested in becoming a living organ donor, you’ll want to check out this link as the process is different:

Be a Manufacturing Voter

November 8th is quickly approaching and it is important that everyone exercise his or her right to get out that day and cast your vote. As an employee owner of Stellar Industries, I personally find this election in particular of great importance. While the intent of this piece is not to sway your vote one way or another, it is to encourage you to educate yourself on the options that will be presented to you on the ballot that day. From my perspective, I wanted to share a few resources that are available to help in that education process. I will say they are slightly bias to the manufacturing world, but let me tell you why I think this is important to consider for everyone in this area.

Manufacturers in Iowa account for 18.3 percent of the total output in the state, and employ 13.7 percent of the workforce1. Manufacturing across the nation supports an estimated 17.6 million jobs 2. Output from manufacturing has been rising and was $31.15 billion in 20141. Exporting the good manufactured here is the strongest part of our Iowa economy, and has the potential to double if Congress would pass more pro-export legislation1. In addition, Iowa small businesses comprise 82 percent of Iowa’s exporters and account for 27 percent of total state exports1. That’s pretty big business for our state. Don’t you think having the right people representing us on a state and federal level is important to continue this success and to encourage growth for our area businesses?

So how do you learn more? There are lots of resources available, especially online. A few I want to encourage you to check out include the Iowa Prosperity Project at This website is a resource to Iowa voters where they can research and learn more on where current elected officials and the candidates stand on issues that are important to Iowa employees, industry sectors and consumers. The goal of this site is to provide nonpartisan, unbiased information where you can learn about the issues, take action thru the use of the tools they provide, and help to spread the word to other Iowans about making educated decisions in November.

Another great resource is The Association of Equipment Manufacturers sponsors this site. It is a national association that my company belongs to and participates in. This site will provide information on a national level, based on manufacturing in the equipment and agricultural markets. It strives to advocate for policies that will expand and preserve the economic growth of our nation. Within this site you can learn about various issues that affect the manufacturing world, how the candidates stand on these issues, and how you can support efforts to encourage elected officials to pass legislation that supports the industry.

The final resource I want to share with you today is from the National Association of Manufacturers. It’s another association my company is involved with and it has a great resource section regarding the election that is worth checking out. This site will lie out some of the key issues manufacturers across the US and specifically in Iowa are facing, such as corporate taxes, global trade

Don’t just be a voter on November 8th – Be a Manufacturing Voter!
2 National Association of Manufacturers

400 Reasons To Be Excited About A New Laser

In late May, Stellar Industries, Inc. – Kanawha welcomed a 6K Fiber Laser into the plant. Since then, employees have been watching the installation of the new laser with great interest and anticipation.

The installation of this new laser will be a big step forward in helping Stellar Industries get parts manufactured, assembled, and out the door to the end user in a quicker, more efficient, way.

“We currently buy over 400 parts from other suppliers,” Sara Lang, Purchasing Agent, said. “We are at the mercy of our supplier’s production schedules, and that can limit the availability of some parts and our overall flexibility. The new laser puts us back in the driver’s seat. This is a huge plus for Stellar. That’s what we’re most excited about.”

“To give you an idea how much efficiency we’ll gain, consider this: a CO2Kanawha Laser 009 laser will cut 16 gauge flat at the rate of 343 inches per minute,” Dan Beyer, Welding and Fabrication Supervisor, said. “This fiber laser will cut 1,378 inches per minute and can cut up to 1-1/8” thick steel. That’s significant.”

The new laser will be operational mid-June, with the automation portion coming on line in July. Everyone at Stellar is looking forward to reducing the number of parts we outsource and being able to produce our cranes, bodies and demountable products in a more efficient manner so we can get them out to the end user.

Like our Facebook page for more updates and to see more photos when the laser gets put into service!


We live in a competitive world. Examples of this are all around us, especially for those of us that follow sports. It doesn’t matter if we are Hawkeye or Cyclone fans, Twins or Cub fans; we all want our team to be the best. For our favorite sport teams to be successful, they need to have an advantage over their rivals. These advantages could be attributed to a number of things, but it usually comes down to people.

The business world is a competitive world as well and Stellar Industries competes with many other companies both domestically and internationally. I had the opportunity to see a number of our competitors’ products this past week as I attended the Waste Expo trade show in Las Vegas. On exhibit in our booth were a Stellar® Shuttle hooklift on a Ford F750, a Stellar® Container Handler mounted on a Ford F750 for Republic Waste, and a Stellar® cable hoist and automatic tarping system mounted image3on a Kenworth for Sprint Waste of Houston, TX. While the products in our display looked great, so did similar products in other booths across the show floor. Besides the Stellar Shuttle hooklift in our booth, there were another 8 competitive units on display. The same could be said of the cable hoist and of the automatic tarping system, plenty of other producers to choose from.

So, with so many products to choose from, what sets our products apart from our competitors’ products? I can proudly say that our designs are top notch. However, our competitors make similar claims about their own products. The fit and finish of our display units were great. But the rest of the trucks on display were “show” quality as well. While the obvious differentiator amongst competitive makes and models are the physical characteristics of the products, it is the team behind these products that make the real difference at the end of the day. I’m proud to say that we have a team that none of our competitors can match.

Teamwork is critical in all facets of producing our products. And it is not just the working together that defines a strong team. A truly great team will excel in communication between team members. For us to be a successful team here at Stellar, communication amongst ourselves is critical to our success. I’m not referring to idle chat but words of assistance to our fellow employee. How to lay down a better weld, secure a better routing for wiring on a chassis, or get better results on a complicated paint job are examples of the type of conversations that need to occur in a successful team environment. Even more important is to make sure information gets passed on to fellow team members involved in other aspects of the organization that need to hear input from other players on our team. It is important for our engineering staff to listen and respond to input from our sales staff regarding customer needs and how they use our product so we can improve product design to better suit the users’ needs. It is important for sales and engineering to listen to our fabricators and installers to make sure that what is on the sales order is a product that can actually be built. It is important for ALL of us to communicate with our co-workers if we ever see a potential quality issue with any product. It is important that communication move freely up and down our organization so that we can provide our customers the best products possible that will in turn provide them years of trouble-free service.

Stellar Industries President David Zrostilk. Factory visit to Stellar Industries, Inc. in Garner, Iowa. They are a manufacturer of mechanic trucks, tire service trucks, mechanic trucks, and truck-mounted hydraulic equipment such as cranes, hooklifts, cable hoists, and other accessories.
Stellar Industries President David Zrostilk. 

What sets a successful team apart from a mediocre team, is the people. We have a successful team here at Stellar, but to stay ahead of our competition we need to continually strive to improve and build upon those strengths that have made us a successful company. Open and constructive communication is a known quality of successful teams. The best way to improve as a team is to improve our communications. To stay ahead of our competition, we need to continue to hone our skills as a team.

-David Zrostlik, President