Coolest Thing Made in Iowa down to 4 finalists

Coolest thing Made in Iowa ABI

A pipe organ, sports lighting, emergency housing structures and a self-propelled baler – all made in Iowa – are still vying for the title of the Coolest Thing Made in Iowa. 

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) announced the final four Iowa companies in the 2024 contest on Monday, May 20. The first-time contest is sponsored by MidWestOne Bank.

The four product finalists, chosen in a bracket-style voting, and their respective companies are: 

  • Vermeer ZR5-1200 self-propelled baler, Vermeer Corporation, Pella. The world’s first self-propelled baler revolutionizes haymaking with its comfort, speed and maneuverability. Its baling automation reduces the number of steps needed to make a bale. It also allows operators to make adjustments in real-time. The machine can reach up to 12 mph in the field and 35 mph during transport.
  • Musco Sports Lighting, Musco Lighting in Oskaloosa. With nearly 50 years of innovation, Musco Lighting has made significant advancements in lighting including LED technology and light shows. Its lighting solutions are in 125+ countries. It includes community, school, and college venues; professional stadiums for MLB, NFL, and the Premier League and in NBA and NHL arenas; unique NASCAR tracks; iconic landmarks such as Mount Rushmore; the Olympic Games, as well as the largest international airports and shipping ports. 
  • Custom Built Pipe Organ, Dobson Pipe Organ Builders Ltd., Lake City. Founded in 1974, Dobson designs and builds custom pipe organs for churches, universities, performing arts venues and private residences both in the United States and abroad. Each instrument is handmade by 18 craftspeople, who travel to the client’s building to install it.
  • Safe T Home, Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield. Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which left 600,000 people homeless or injured, the company designed, engineered and manufactured the Safe T Home. It’s an 18-foot diameter all-metal structure similar to a grain bin but repurposed for emergency and disaster recovery efforts. They’re built to withstand termites, moisture, earthquakes, and hurricane-force winds. And they have a life expectancy of 75 years. Partnering with GoServ Global, the company has provided more than 500 units in Haiti, with each unit housing 40-60 Haitians during an emergency.  

Online voting for the Coolest Thing Made in Iowa continues until midnight Wednesday, May 29. The public is invited to vote daily here. The product with the most votes wins. Dozens of Iowa companies’ products were nominated for the first-time honor, which began in April. 

The competition aims to highlight the state’s vibrant manufacturing industry, which employs more than 330,000 Iowans and creates $38 billion in annual economic output.

The last round will determine the overall winner. It will be announced live at ABI’s Taking Care of Business Conference on Wednesday, June 5, in the Quad Cities. View the products and vote at

Get the free QCBJ email newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the people, companies and issues that impact business in the  Quad Cities area.