American manufacturing is all about using our ingenuity and innovation to make useful, tangible products. For us at Sukup Manufacturing Co., a family-owned company headquartered in small-town Iowa, those products are primarily for grain storage and grain handling in the agriculture industry.
However, one of our products is useful in a different way. The Sukup Safe T Home® is a modified grain bin that we have transformed into a hurricane-proof structure. The homes can be built in just six hours and are also used as clinics and schools. You can find more than 350 of them around the world in places like Haiti, Peru and Africa. One hundred percent of the 200 homes in Haiti at the time of 2016’s Category 4 Hurricane Matthew survived with minimal damage.
On Saturday, September 8, we had a unique opportunity to share the Safe T Home® story at the annual football match-up between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones. The “Cy-Hawk” game, as it’s called, is the most high-profile event of the year in Iowa. Bragging rights are on the line, and the rivalry runs deep for most Iowans.
The vision to build a Safe T Home® at the Cy-Hawk game had been in the works for more than three years. Nothing like this had been done before at a Cy-Hawk game, but we wanted to share how modern manufacturing is changing the world with one of the biggest audiences Iowa has to offer.
What made “#GameDayBuild,” as we dubbed it, even more special was the construction crew. In the spirit of the Cy-Hawk rivalry, we invited 14 former Cyclone and Hawkeye student athletes to be part of Team Safe T Home®. Our team captains, Tim Dwight (former Hawkeye running back) and Sage Rosenfels (former Cyclone quarterback), were household names around the state, and each spent more than a decade in the NFL. They and the crew truly embodied the theme that the project is bigger than a college sports rivalry.
The day of the build was chaos, in the best possible way. Dallas Clark giving an interview to a local news station. Naz Long and Georges Niang posing for photos with fans. Tim Dwight affixing solar panels to the roof. Jeff Woody and Ben Bruns up on scaffolding using the Hilti impact drills. Jadda Buckley laughing and spinning bolts with Jeff Horner. Jack Whitver greeting the governor and agriculture secretary, who stopped by to check out the build (and install a few bolts themselves).
#GameDayBuild was a flurry of fun and fellowship. The atmosphere, the cameras and the comradery among the athletes made it a wonderful experience. But the best part was coming together as Iowans to build an innovative product that is manufactured in Iowa and saving lives around the world. #GameDayBuild was an opportunity to showcase how American manufacturing is making a positive difference, and Sukup Manufacturing is so grateful to be part of that story.
Emily Schmitt serves as general counsel at Sukup Manufacturing Co. and is a third-generation family member active in the company. A graduate of both Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, Emily actively promotes the Sukup Safe T Home®. Visit www.SafeTHome.com to learn more.