Jon Kinzenbaw will soon celebrate his 47th year as Founder/ President of Kinze Manufacturing, Inc., located along I-80, near Williamsburg, Iowa. In 1965, Jon founded the company on core values of integrity, excellence, customer focus, and mutual respect which continue to drive all business activities today. Born in 1944 near Victor, Iowa to hard-working parents whose lives had been greatly touched by the Depression and World War II, Jon learned very quickly that honest, hard work was necessary to earn a living. Into this environment, Jon’s passion for agriculture and mechanical prowess merged to create innovative designs, even at an early age.
There was no money to buy toys so he made his own. He graduated from Hartwick-Ladora-Victor High School in 1962, held four jobs and was in the Army Reserve. At age 21, with $5 in his checking account and a $3,655 loan from the bank, he purchased a few tools, bought a 1400 square foot building and opened a welding and repair shop in Ladora, Iowa. Within months, he was customfabricating one-of-a-kind products: a 4-wheel wagon, a custom fabricated end-loader, custom built floaters and repowered tractors. The first Kinze mass-produced product was the anhydrous toolbar followed by a unique patented adjustable-width moldboard plow. The industry’s first auger wagon was built in 1971 for a local farmer.
Jon’s biggest and most notable innovations were those that revolutionized the planting industry: agriculture’s first-ever horizontally folding toolbar, fold over flat row markers, double frame planters, push row units for split rows and the Twin-Line pivot planter which folds by lifting and rotating. Kinze continues to design, build, and improve on cutting edge technologies in the agricultural industry. More recently, Kinze developed hydraulic weight transfer systems for bulk fill planters, improved vacuum meters, launched corner mounted dual auger grain carts and released the first proven autonomous planting and harvesting systems. All told, Jon is a named inventor on 19 issued patents, and over the years, Kinze has acquired 49 U.S. patents. Today, the Kinze campus encompasses 100 acres with over one million square feet under roof, employs 750 people, and is a global market leader of row crop planters and grain carts. Jon remains President and CEO, enjoys farming and continues building one of America’s largest personally owned classic farm tractor collections.
Because of Jon’s significant contributions to the agriculture industry, he has received such notable awards as the Farm Industry News Ovation Award, Friends of Agriculture Award, the Governor’s New Product Award, and was a 2011 Iowa Inventor’s Hall of Fame Inductee. Jon and his wife, Marcia, are strong supporters of the Iowa County 4-H program. Each year, they sponsor all the 4-H communication event awards and support the 4-H livestock sale and have created their own Kinze award for small engine, tractor, and welding projects at the Iowa County Fair. Jon has been given the “Friend of Iowa County Extension” Award and the 2008 Iowa County 4-H Honorary Member Award. Three years ago, Jon and Marcia were honored as 2009 Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame Inductees. Jon also provides scholarships for which college bound high school seniors may apply from several Iowa County Schools and has formed the Jon and Marcia Kinzenbaw Endowed Scholarship in Agriculture at Iowa State University.
If you were to ask Jon to identify his greatest rewards, it would be his strong faith, a wonderful marriage with his life-long partner, Marcia, and two outstanding children, Susanne and Jonathan.