Source: Highway Equipment Company

Highway Equipment Company (HECO), located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is celebrating its 70th anniversary of business in 2009. Established in 1939, HECO is a manufacturer of Hi-Way deicing spreaders and road maintenance equipment, New Leader agricultural spreaders and Flow Boy processed road building material transportation equipment.

Founded by Roy Gaddis, HECO's first spreader consisted of a receiving hopper and a hand-cranked spinner. In the 1940's, the first New Leader product was developed, which today would be called the snowmobile. The company changed hands for the first time in 1958 when Gaddis sold it to Cliff Jordan and changed hands once again in 1978 when it was sold to Bill Rissi and Cal Basile. Rissi became sole owner in 1989, his son Matt Rissi and daughter Rachelle "Rocki" Shepard assumed operational control of the company in 1991 when Bill Rissi died and purchased a majority interest from their siblings in 1997.

Always utilizing the latest technology available and keeping in mind "if you're not growing, you're dying," HECO constructed a 9,300-square-foot fabrication center in 1994 and a 12,600-square-foot research and development center in 1999. These two new additions to HECO facilities could not contain its growth and construction began on a new facility in 2001. The new facility is located on a 50 acre campus and was originally 130,000-square-feet, containing shop and office space. With the addition of the Flow Boy line in 2005, even more room was needed and the addition of the "West Wing," completed in 2006, added 18,700-square-feet to the facility.

"Many people have contributed to the growth and life of our company," Shepard said. "It takes everyone working together to make a great product. We have outstanding employees who continue to amaze me with their dedication, the best network of dealers who continue to support us, wonderful vendors who allow us to build a quality product and the most loyal customers anyone could ask for."

HECO now employs 150+ employees in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area and continues to add to that number. The 70th anniversary will be marked by the launch of a newly revamped web site as well as the addition of new products and continued presence within the community and the industry.