Hiway Truck Equipment expands

New construction has doubled its shop space

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Hiway Truck Equipment co-owners Brian and Kathy Forsythe look over the interior of the new addition to their shop. They are located at 2246 First Ave. S. in Fort Dodge.

Big things are underway at Hiway Truck Equipment, 2246 First Ave. S.

“We’re basically doubling our shop space,” said Brian Forsythe who has co-owned the enterprise with his wife Kathy Forsythe since 1998. “The existing shop floor was 50 feet by 75 feet. The new addition will be 65 by 85.”

Hiway Truck Equipment provides assorted augmentations to trucks.

“What the company does is we sell equipment that goes on trucks,” Brian Forsythe said. “We also repair trailers. We work on anything from for example a pickup truck where we would put equipment on to make it better usable for the end user all the way up to dump trucks and semi trucks. We do a lot of municipal work.”

Adding snowplows to a variety of vehicles is a major part of the company’s business.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen With the new building behind him, Hiway Truck Equipment fabricator Terry McPherson works on a trailer.

“We do a lot of pickup plows for local snow removal,” Forsythe said. “We’ll install between 80 and 100 pickup plows a year.”

In the last few years, Hiway Truck Equipment has also ramped up its parts sales for trucks and agricultural equipment. Forsythe said the sale of parts has grown fast in the last two years.

“That’s one of our biggest expanding areas right now,” he said, noting that if a part isn’t in stock at the store it can be obtained quickly. “We have delivery from the warehouse every day.”

Multifaceted clientele

Outfitting government-owned vehicles to customize them for their particular work assignments is a major part of the work Hiway Truck Equipment performs.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Hiway Truck Equipment co-owner Brian Forsythe looks over the new fuse box that is being installed in their new shop addition.

“Probably 60 percent of our business,” Forsythe said.

He said the governments agencies served are mostly cities and counties and range far beyond Fort Dodge and Webster County to encompass much of north central and northwest Iowa.

“The city and county trucks when they come in they’ll be bare,” Kathy Forsythe said. “Just a bare truck.”

Her husband said transforming these trucks to make them able to address the particular use a government agency has in mind is a long and labor-intensive process.

“For example, a typical county truck from start to finish takes approximately between 250 to 300 man hours to outfit it with everything that they need to put it to work,” Brian Forsythe said.

That’s true as well for many of the other vehicles enhanced by team at Hiway Truck Equipment.

“The factory will give you just the basics,” Brian Forsythe said. “Anything beyond that as far as equipment to make the truck function for you in the workplace, we add that.”

In addition to the large government and commercial jobs that Hiway Truck Equipment handles, according to the Forsythes small jobs are also welcome.

“We also do hitches and running boards and toppers on personal vehicles,” Brian Forsythe said.

His wife seconded that point.

“If you owned a pickup truck you could come in and get it outfitted,” she said.

“The vast majority of the vehicles that we outfit are new, but we also refurbish some older units for certain customers,” Brian Forsythe said.

The type of projects handled at Hiway Truck Equipment are highly specialized. Because what it does is not widely available in this part of the state the business draws customers from a wide geographic area.

“Our customers come from as far as 150 or 200 miles,” Brian Forsythe said.

The big expansion

The construction of a 5,525-square-foot, l-shaped addition to 7,500-square-foot pre-existing structure will be finished this month, according to Brian Forsythe. He said he is pleased to have been able to use local businesses for this major construction project.

He said Jensen Builders Ltd. is the general contractor, Baker Electric is doing the electrical, Overhead Door Co. installed the doors and Bianchi Heating & Cooling Inc. handled the heating.

“Everything was local,” Forsythe said.

The new structure has much higher ceilings and doors that are wider and taller than those in the original building. Forsythe said the goal is to make it possible to handle large vehicles more easily and process more trucks of all sizes simultaneously.

“Our intention is that all the big trucks will go into the new shop. The new addition is going to be all for the big municipal trucks,” Forsythe said. “Now we can have two big trucks and two to three small trucks. With the new building we’ll be able to have four to five big trucks and four to five smaller vehicles.”

He said the expansion will make it possible to move more vehicles through the shop faster.

“Our lead times were getting extensive,” Forsythe said. “We just couldn’t get the vehicles through the shop quick enough. We didn’t have enough room. The business has slowly been increasing. Probably more so over the last three or four years.”

He said being as responsive as possible to customer needs has always been a priority at Hiway Truck Equipment and keeping faith with that commitment was a factor in the decision to expand.

“I think one of the biggest things is customer service,” Forsythe said. “It’s very personalized. We provide service after the sale. We try to make it easy and convenient for customers before, during and after the sale.”

Kathy Forsythe underlined that point.

“We know 60 percent of our customers by name and they know us,” she said. “Our goal is to keep the customers we have happy.”

Brian Forsythe said the customer interactions have been an aspect of the business that he has enjoyed and found fulfilling.

“The building of relationships, that’s what’s made it successful for us,” he said.

With the physical expansion, Hiway Truck Equipment is also poised to increase its workforce.

“Right now we have six full-time mechanics and office and sales would be four others. We’re 10 total right now,” Brian Forsythe said. “We’re looking to add two to four positions mostly in the mechanical area.”

He had high praise for the existing team members.

“Most of the employees have been with us for a long, long time. Some since the very beginning,” Forsythe said.

Beyond the new facility and the prospect of more employees, Hiway Truck Equipment also plans some refurbishing of the original structure.

“We’ll remodel the existing building after we get the shop going,” Brian Forsythe said.

Community involvement

In addition to running one of the town’s must successful businesses, both Forsythes have taken the time to help their community succeed.

“I was on the school board for 11 years from 2 006 to 2017,” Brian Forsythe said. “Kathy was very involved with the booster club and things like that. We’re active in Holy Trinity Parish. We were on the board for the fundraising for the new church expansion.”

He said becoming a school board member proved to be a very positive experience.

“I thought maybe it would be good opportunity to help out,” he said. “It was very rewarding.”