OSKALOOSA (AP) — A southern Iowa company that grew from lighting high school and Little League baseball fields to major ballparks, NASCAR speedways, space shuttle launches and movie sets, plans to expand, adding as many as 700 workers over the next decade.
Musco Lighting, a privately held company based in Oskaloosa, will ask for no public money, using its own capital to fund the estimated $15 million expansion, said President Joe Crookham.
“Now that we’re successful in business, we don’t need help and it seems foolish to me to tax the general public to help us,” he said.
Oskaloosa Mayor David Dixon said he is impressed that Crookham seeks nothing from the city but support from the zoning department at a time when most companies ask for tax breaks or grants.
“He’s not coming in and asking us for any dollars on this thing, so we’re just so incredibly fortunate to have that,” Dixon said. “I think we’re all tremendously excited about it.”
Crookham said his company will donate about $1 million to various organizations in Oskaloosa this year and it wouldn’t make sense to turn around and ask for money to expand.
The city’s tax dollars will be better spent on things like recreation, schools and streets that make it a better place for his employees to live, he said.
“It’s part philosophical, philanthropic, in part it’s just plain good business to say we’ll spend our money to do this stuff and you guys spend the community’s money on making it a better community,” he said.
Musco currently employs more than 1,000 people. About 350 are based in Oskaloosa, 350 in Muscatine and 350 work in other U.S. and international offices.
Crookham said he expects employment in Oskaloosa to nearly triple over the next decade, an addition of as many as 700 workers. Staff also will be added in other locations, he said.
Other field offices are in California, Ohio, North Carolina, New Jersey, Florida, Texas and Illinois. The company also has a factory in Shanghai, China, and international offices in Greece, Canada, South Korea, Cyprus, Australia and England.
The company, which does not disclose annual sales figures, was founded in 1976 when Crookham and business partner Myron Gordon started a hand tool business and bought a defunct lighting company in Muscatine.
Now an international distributor of lighting products, Musco has won an Academy Award for motion picture set lighting and an Emmy for lighting NCAA football games for television.
Crookham said sports lighting remains the largest business segment and much of the growth is driven by new innovations in the lighting that cuts electricity demand and makes the lighting systems last an average of 25 years.
The company also is beginning to provide security lighting for railroad switchyards and other kinds of large-scale transportation facilities, he said.
International sales are expected to grow, especially in China, where Musco is investing heavily, he said.
Short-term expansion plans include building a 60,000-square-foot addition to the company’s Oskaloosa headquarters.
Over the decade, plans could include a skywalk that would connect new production, office and engineering facilities with the existing headquarters and new landscaped parking lots with basketball courts.
Musco owns about 20 acres of land west and south of the town square, which features a picturesque park complete with a gazebo that hosts community summer band concerts encircled by neatly kept building facades and a historic courthouse built in 1886.
Plans are to add 50 to 75 workers in Oskaloosa and Muscatine in the next year, Crookham said.
Crookham said he wants to work with the city to serve the growing work force and consider the amenities in downtown Oskaloosa that may be needed serve hundreds of workers.
Oskaloosa is a town of about 11,000 people located 54 miles southeast of Des Moines.
On the Net: Musco Corp.: http://www.musco.com