Down the Road: Orange City Manufactures Opportunity

We usually associate Orange City with windmills and tulips, but jumbo jets? Believe it or not, there's a big connection between the revolutionary Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Orange City. That connection is Quatro Composites, which produces carbon fiber materials used in the medical and aerospace industries."The wings, all of the fuselage structure, the horizontals, stabilizers, all of the external primary structure is made from carbon fiber materials, not from metallics," said Quatro Composites President Steve Roesner. Roesner says carbon fiber materials are lighter, safer, and stronger than metal - factors that can save airlines millions on fuel costs."A lot of our parts go on the interior of this aircraft... and on the inside. Some of it is primarily structure," said Roesner.It looks like something you'd see in the Silicon Valley, but here in Orange City production of this high tech composite also takes high tech skills.Even a speck of dirt in the production process can weaken the composites, and meticulous records are kept to ensure quality and the accountability.Quatro Composites is nearing the end of a project that's seen production double, the size of the plant expand, and the workforce go from about 120 to nearly 200, but it wasn't always that way. "So in 2005 this company had no aerospace business. In 2004 where we're sitting today was an alfalfa field. We didn't exist," Roesner said. Roesner says it was a combination of planning, being in the right place at the right time, and divine intervention to led the company to change its focus from medical equipment to aerospace, which now amounts to 70 percent of its business. He also credits the employees for the company's success. "When people are excited and passionate... they excel," said Roesner. Passionate, dedicated people have been making Orange City businesses thrive, ever since the establishment of Diamond Vogel Paints back in 1926. There's Civco Medical Solutions, E-Z Liner, Staples Promotional Products, and Van Beek Natural Sciences just to name a few.There's still plenty of room, and incentives, for growth in the community. The Industrie Centrum industrial park includes numerous light, heavy and commercial lots that are ready to go with water, sewer and roads, and the city has lured numerous businesses to occupy spec buildings it's constructed.Just up the road, an area has been created for new housing, and later this summer, 14 new units of affordable housing that's income-based will open as well. "And so there's a lot of housing options, whether it's affordable up to larger homes and those are the things that are very important," said Les Douma with the Orange City Development Corporation. They're important because Orange City's unemployment is less than four percent. So, new opportunities need a pool of new workers. The average age of Orange City's population is 29 years, compared to Iowa's average of 36 years. That reflects the community's emphasis and success in promoting education, and keeping young adults from seeking success elsewhere. "When you can get out of school, whether it be high school, technical school or college and know that opportunity is available to you locally and we want you to be here... that's very powerful in a community," said Community Development Director Mark Gaul. Young, hard working adults tend to have young families. "We have a wonderful daycare in operation at the present time, but we're going to expand and we're going to expand significantly," said Bouma. Two of the newest additions to Orange City will be a new, $6 million Hampton Inn that should be open by Mid-August, and groundbreaking for a new Casey's that's twice the size of the current one should take place within weeks. They're just two more additions to a community that's already developed a reputation for its old fashioned values and progressive results. "Oh very much so. You really can't go anywhere in the state of Iowa especially. But in the region and people aren't aware of Sioux County and Orange City. And again we get the questions, 'How do you do it?'" said Gaul. "How do you do it" could also apply to how they keep those beautiful tulips turning up every year in Orange City? As the natives know, a lot of that depends on the weather, and some years have been a little less colorful than others because of the cold or wet weather.The latest reports we have say a good number of the tulip beds are in full bloom and the rest are on their way, hopefully making a full appearance in time for the next three days of the festival.Here's a look at some of the events taking place Thursday on the first, full day of the tulip festival:Starting at 9 A.M., there will be a shuttle service that'll pick up people at the Unity Christian School parking lot. You can buy a shuttle pass for $3 dollars and it will take you to and from the heart of the festival.At noon the carnival rides open.The first of the colorful Volksparades through the downtown takes place at 2:15 P.M.The puppet show for the kids beings at 4:45 P.M.Larry Wentz will be part of the second Volksparade that takes place at 6 P.M. tomorrow night.As we go "Down the Road" to Orange City tomorrow, we'll explore some of the great food you can experience at the tulip festival, including a meat store there that has to be a brat lover's delight, making everything from "Philly brats" that includes green pepper, onions, and swiss cheese, and a Dutch apple Gouda brat.We'll also take you inside the new, nearly $5.5 million Knight Center at Unity Christian High School, where the traditional "Night Show" has moved to this year. This year's show is the ever popular, "The Music Man."