When Maytag Corporation made its departure 11 years ago, a group of employees who worked in the research and development lab didn’t find jobs elsewhere — they established a new engineering company in 2008 called Springboard Engineering.
When Springboard Engineering was purchased by UL (Underwriters Laboratories) in 2011, the same group of engineers remained. Engineering Manager of UL Curt Tremel was one of those employees to witness the transitions.
This month, UL celebrated its 10th anniversary at its location on First Avenue East in Newton. Tremel worked at Maytag as a mechanical engineer for 13 years.
“This basically came from our heritage,” Tremel said. “The majority of the people here have worked at Maytag in the past, and at Maytag we were designing products and developing them to be robust and last.”
Tremel said UL is similar to Maytag in that aspect, but UL consults with many customers, and they don’t work with just appliances. UL’s customers are kept confidential and aren’t just located in the state of Iowa — they are located across the country and even globally.
“We work with the wind energy industry, agriculture industry and medical industry,” Tremel said.
Tremel said UL conducts energy and performance testing on all major appliances, cooking products, commercial refrigerators and ice machines. UL also conducts testing on new products that haven’t even hit the market yet.
The other big piece is reliability testing on many of the same products. Tremel said products will be placed into a chamber and will run continuously on end. The products, such as a washing machine or dish washer could run anywhere from 6 weeks to 12 weeks at a time.
“We are also testing motors, grills and commercial food equipment,” Tremel said. “We are creating standards and running tests to provide customers with safe products.”
When UL acquired Springboard it was bursting at the seams, according to Tremel. The company now employs 55 people.
“The building on the south side of First Avenue was vacant and we were able to use that building to move our prototyping, testing, molding and manufacturing across the street,” Tremel said. “That freed up space to add additional test chambers and capabilities.”
An interesting and important aspect of UL is the diverse customers.
“We have some customers in Iowa, many customers throughout the United States and many more customers globally,” Tremel said. “Just this week, we had a customer from China come in that was here doing some tests on products.”
Tremel said what he enjoys the most about his journey is the beginning of Springboard Engineering and the ability to retain talented people from Maytag.
“Many people took other jobs and scattered,but with this, we were able to keep some good people together and utilize the strengths,” Tremel said.
Now new generations are starting jobs in the engineering field and have filled positions at UL. Tremel said it’s been rewarding to see young people become established.
“’It is hard to believe its been 10 years ago that we started up here,” Tremel said. “It’s been nice to see us grow and add a second building ... adding more test capabilities and growing the staff has been very exciting ... seeing us prosper and continue on.”
Contact Kayla Singletary at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or firstname.lastname@example.org