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Iowa manufacturer displays 'big lawn ornaments'

Agriculture.com Staff 08/23/2006 @ 9:58am

You never know what you're going to see in Jon Kinzenbaw's "backyard" as you drive along Interstate 80, just west of Williamsburg, Iowa.

A few years ago, the farm equipment inventor decided to park a 35,000-pound 60-foot planter on the hillside next to the interstate. To create a little interest, he hitched it to a four-wheel-drive tractor that stands on its nose and appears to be driving -- both tractor and trailed planter -- directly into the ground.

He then painted the tractor half John Deere green and half Case IH red, the colors of his primary competitors in the row crop planter market. Then he lighted it for all interstate travelers to see. The planter, finished in Kinze's signature blue color, automatically pivots from a field planting position to in-line transport position about every 15 minutes, which results in the tractor/planter combo reaching up to 85 feet.

More recently, Kinzenbaw created another display with a stack of nine different sized wagons, beginning with the three models in the company's grain auger wagon product line -- all the way from its semi-load capacity Model 1050 down to a miniature 1/16 scale version that sits at the top of the stack. Overall height of the wagon stack is nearly 65 feet. For years, he's also been hanging a full-size 700-bushel wagon on the Kinze sign directly in front of Kinze Manufacturing Inc., which he founded in 1965 and still manages today. All of the displays are supported by massive support structures buried underground.

"I don’t suppose you'd describe these displays as your typical fare, but we're always looking for new ways to educate not only our farmer customers, but also the general public on the qualities and benefits of our products," Kinzenbaw says. "And one way to do it is to entertain them with something you don’t normally see as you're driving down the highway. We tend to do things a little different and a bit larger here. I suppose we could have just slapped a big, lighted Kinze logo out front, but that's kind of like hiding your light under a bushel basket."

So far, all of Kinzenbaw's "lawn ornaments" have survived Iowa's often unpredictable, and occasionally tornadic storms and straight-line winds, although none of them have ever taken a direct hit.

"I guess the question still remains, which one will win, the tornado or our displays," he says.

You never know what you're going to see in Jon Kinzenbaw's "backyard" as you drive along Interstate 80, just west of Williamsburg, Iowa.

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