Stellar Celebrates ‘Francis Zrostlik Day’ in Honor of Founder’s Legacy


Garner, Iowa — Stellar Industries, a 100% employee-owned and -operated manufacturer of high-quality mechanic trucks, cranes, tire service trucks, hooklifts, trailers and service truck and van accessories, is thrilled to announce the declaration of Aug. 14 as “Francis Zrostlik Day” by the City of Garner. This honor celebrates the remarkable contributions of Francis L. Zrostlik, the visionary founder of Stellar Industries, and underscores his enduring legacy of innovation, entrepreneurship and community commitment.

From humble beginnings, Zrostlik embarked on a journey that would revolutionize the truck equipment industry. Growing up on a farm south of Duncan, Iowa, he understood the value of rugged, reliable equipment in tough working conditions.

Demonstrating his keen mechanical aptitude and determination, Zrostlik began his career by retooling tire molds for the tire retreading industry in a Quonset building behind his home in Garner, Iowa, where his fledgling Iowa Mold Tooling Company was born in 1961. Garner is where he would base all his subsequent businesses out of his love for the community and its roots. 

As his ambitions grew, and once all the tire molds in the country were retooled, Zrostlik transitioned to designing and manufacturing cutting-edge products that filled critical gaps in the market. In 1963, his gas-powered golf cart with a fiberglass body won top honors at the Society of Plastics Industries National Show. This marked the inception of his unwavering commitment to innovation and quality.

Throughout the decades, Zrostlik continued to pioneer groundbreaking products and solutions for the truck equipment industry. His tireless work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit led to the substantial growth of Iowa Mold Tooling Company, where he expanded the company’s product line, entered new markets and orchestrated significant acquisitions. He eventually sold the company in 1985 and enjoyed a brief retirement.

Historic Photo of David Zrostlik at tradeshow booth

In 1990, Stellar Industries was born as a testament to Zrostlik’s determination to continuously evolve and innovate. With the support of dedicated partners Jim Vlaanderen and Gary Bomstad, Zrostlik’s legacy extended into a new era of growth and success. Today, Stellar stands as a beacon of excellence, boasting five locations across North Iowa, Nebraska and Pennsylvania, employing more than 800 team members and enjoying a global presence.

In a testament to the founder’s commitment to his employees and the community, Stellar became a 100% employee-owned and -operated company in 2023. This shift highlights the company’s enduring values and reinforces its dedication to delivering exceptional products, services and support to our network of distributors and customers alike.

David Zrostlik, son of Francis and current president of Stellar, expressed his enthusiasm: “The Zrostlik family is honored to have the City of Garner remember my dad, Francis, as the ultimate entrepreneur who founded two successful Garner-based companies during his lifetime. While my dad was the man with the ideas to start Iowa Mold Tooling and Stellar, it was the spirit of the community and our many coworkers that turned those dreams into successful businesses.”

Dave Zrostlik adds, “We are immensely proud to celebrate Francis Zrostlik Day. My dad’s legacy is deeply ingrained in Stellar’s DNA, and we are honored to continue his tradition of innovation, excellence and community engagement.”

Aug. 14 will serve as a day to honor the indomitable spirit of Francis Zrostlik and reflect upon his invaluable contributions to both the truck equipment industry and the city of Garner. The legacy of Stellar’s founder lives on through the dedication, innovation and commitment of its employees and the exceptional products and solutions they continue to provide to the world. For more information on Francis Zrostlik’s legacy at Stellar, check out our history here.