An Iowa firm has announced it plans to nearly double in size, and doesn’t want any state incentive money to do it. Joe Crookham is a co-founder of Musco Lighting, which builds and installs giant lighting systems at sports stadiums and other locations. They’ve been in business for over 35 years and Crookham says the first year “we made 795-dollars, so we know what ‘small’ is.”
Now he says the company’s got just about one thousand people and they wanted a plan that would accommodate the things they’re making happen. The ten-year plan includes just about doubling that workforce at Musco plants in Muscatine and Oskaloosa. He says they wanted to make sure they’ll have the space and facilities, but won’t need any economic-development money from the state.
“I don’t think that’s necessary,” Crookham says. “I find it kind of one of those interesting ironies that when you’re little and desperately need the help it’s hard to get it, and then when you get to the place where you’re successful everybody wants to give you help, and we really don’t need it.” Crookham quotes Harry Truman: “To borrow money at a bank, you gotta prove you don’t need it.”
Crookham says while business is good, the technology is changing constantly. One recent advancement that helped was the introduction early in 2005 of new sports-venue lighting systems that cut the energy in half and had a 25-year life expectancy. He says, “It’s a never-ending technological development process, and we’re constantly looking at all the things.” He says that includes LED’s the low-power high-intensity bulbs now appearing in flashlights and stop signals.
Crookham says in addition to ongoing demand for stadium lighting, they’re expanding into other areas like railroad switching yards. He also sees “huge” growth opportunities in overseas markets. Crookham says right now about one-third of the company’s one-thousand employees are in Oskaloosa, another third work in Muscatine, and the remaining workers are split between those at offices around the U.S. and around the world. He points out the company has more than 100 employees in Shanghai, China right now.
“China’s not a threat to Oskaloosa,” Crookham declares, “China is one of the opportunities.” He says a lot of growth in Iowa is going to be based on the continued development of markets around the globe. “We have to create good jobs over there,” Crookham says, adding “good jobs over there create more good jobs back here.”