Barnes Blog

City of Hiawatha and Barnes Manufacturing Team up!

By | Manufacturing Services


 In 2016, Hiawatha held a city wide survey for its residents, asking what improvements they would like to see in the city. A local dog park was the number one request. To accommodate the dog park, the city of Hiawatha contacted Barnes MFG to help with a special project, supplying a pedestrian walking bridge to connect areas of the park split by a ravine. Not only was this a fun project for Barnes, but also provided a great example of local government listening to its community as well as keeping its money in the local economy. 

A project like this allows us at Barnes MFG to flex our manufacturing muscles. Incorporating multiple facets of our business into a single project allows us to keep costs down and due dates in sight. “This is an ideal project for us,”  says engineer Scott Owen, “a project that hits multiple departments makes sure we are affordable and efficient. Its a real win-win for the customer,” he continued.

Using a local manufacturer along with local products was a major sticking point for this project all along. Hiawatha Parks and Rec Director Kelly Willadsen and City Engineer John Bender made staying local a point of importance. Barnes Mfg partnered with Langhoff Log and Lumber of Marion, Iowa to source the native oak which was used for the decking and railing of the bridge. The bridge structure was constructed of COR-TEN steel, which will develop a surface rust/patina to add to the rustic appeal of the bridge. The COR-TEN for this project was purchased from Liebovich in Cedar Rapids. 

 “Working within the community we live, on projects that will be used by the public is something that we are passionate about.” Company President Bob Barnes said, “It’s great to go to places like Lowe Park and see our work (Klopfenstein Amphitheater), I look forward to taking Monte to the park and crossing that bridge.” 

The Hiawatha dog park will be opening by year end 2019. The 2-acre park will be located south of Boyson road right by the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. 

With Barnes MFG’s ability to engineer and custom design projects like this, customers get exactly what they are looking every time. Consistency and quality of the products delivered are what keeps customers coming back.

Do you have a public project you would like help with?  if so, reach out to us via our contact form, phone, email, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook to discuss working with us on your project

The Manufacturing Community

By | Manufacturing Services

How to use the manufacturing community to offset labor shortage.

With the relatively reduced price of machine tools and fabrication techniques, many businesses brought their manufacturing work in-plant. It was easier to keep control of your inventory if it was right there in the plant. However, we are now suffering from a shortage of trained technical labor. So how do you deal with looming deadlines and not enough workers to make your products?

Knowing what you do best, and who is best at the other things.

Barnes manufacturing recruits and trains employees to provide high-quality machining, fabrication, and painting. However, we can’t do it all. That is why we have made sure to embrace the manufacturing community here in the Midwest. Through our network, we are able to quickly outsource the work that does not fit into our shop and maintain excellent employees that are highly skilled and kept busy in the areas that we specialize in. That way, we can better serve customers by managing the product from the beginning and are able to deliver a finished product. This means that the project managers and buyers that we work for do not have to spend their precious time searching for the right vendors and managing the shipping back and forth.  

Manufacturing community.

Iowa is a hub of manufacturing. It is the second largest industry in our state. With so many other shops in our area, some would assume that the competition is fierce. While there is some competition, mostly there is comradery. We all have things we excel at, while others have their things. At Barnes, we maintain communication with many other shops and are able to share work with them when needed to meet a delivery. They do the same for us. This network enables Barnes Manufacturing to meet the ever-changing production needs of our customers.

Barnes manufacturing

If you want to join our community of vendors and manufacturers, contact us. We can give you a quote on your project and help you manage your labor needs. To reach out to us use our contact form, give us a call, email, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook to discuss working with us on your project.

Manufacturing for Food Industry

Manufacturability and Production

By | Manufacturing Services

There is never enough time or money. In the manufacturing world, it seems like we are always trying to find more of both. However, often steps are missed early on in the design process that could help save time and money in the future.

Barnes Manufacturing has worked with many businesses to streamline their designs to increase manufacturability. It could be as simple as choosing a more readily available material. We have also helped companies plan for future repair by designing projects with wear parts that are easier to fix in the field.

Scott Owen sitting at desk with project design open on computer monitor

Scott Owen designing a project for a customer.

Coating is an area that is often a burden for designers and engineers. Trying to decide what will last longer over time, or what coating is the most cost effective can be a time-consuming task. Whether you want powder coating, metalizing, two-part epoxy, or straight out wet coat paint, we can talk you through the options.

Twin wire plasma arc equipment

Metalizing parts for a customer to ensure they last longer and withstand the elements.

Working with manufacturer early in the design process can save production time, material costs, installation time, and longevity of the part. We are very familiar with the vendors and manufacturers in the area and can help design your project with efficiency and manufacturability in mind.

This is especially true in prototype design when little improvements can make a huge difference in the production success of a new venture. For more information on how we can help you with your prototype, check out our prototype page.

If you are engineering a manufacturing project, use the form on this page, give us a call, email, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook to discuss working with us on your project.

Bob in Barnes delivery truck

Weekend Plans

By | Manufacturing Services

Like many people, our weekends are busy, especially in the summer. Between reunions, birthdays, vacations, and friends visiting, we also have to tackle the yard work and grass that never slows down in Iowa. Weekends are for friends and family, of course with a family business, sometimes the weekends are for work as well. Our customers and vendors become our friends, and like all of our friends, sometimes they call needing help in a hurry.

One weekend this summer was no exception, a company we have enjoyed working with called. They were working on installing a large piece of equipment and a large gearbox was machined too tight to fit on the driveshaft. Of course, they had a team of international investors and installers on site and could not wait until Monday to get it fixed, the expenses were piling up by the hour!

Part of the manufacturing community.

We had not done the original machining, but they knew we were in the area and could help. As part of the manufacturing community, we know these things happen all of the time. We try to be prepared and plan for problems, but we never truly know what will come up. Therefore we are empathetic to our fellow manufacturers when emergencies arise. A few calls were made between our team and other manufacturers in the area and we were able to get the part machined correctly with 36 hours.

Working together to get it done

Tom and Bob took turns working on the part and driving it across town, in between birthday parties and planned outings. It made for a busy weekend, but everyone worked together to get done what needed to get done. We are proud of our Iowa manufacturing community and our role in it.

If you want to learn more about how Barnes manufacturing can partner with you to get your work done or more about the amazing manufacturing community in Iowa. To reach out to us use the form on this page, give us a call, email, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook to discuss working with us on your project.


Family Business

By | Barnes Manufacturing Team

What does it mean to be a family business? The obvious response is a business started and run by members of a family- parents and children, sometimes siblings, nieces and nephews. But the reality is that in many small businesses employees become family. In a small business you have to work together through the tough times and then celebrate the good times together. This week we are celebrating the 29 years that Dave Hinton has worked at Barnes Manufacturing and his upcoming retirement. 

Dave Hinton

Dave in full paint suit leaning against machinery

There is always an old salt that has worked there since you have been in diapers- the person that has the knowledge and experience to educate the next generation (often named Dave). I still remember my first day at Barnes Manufacturing in 2004, I was a young woman, going to work for my boyfriend’s family in their manufacturing business. I started in the paint and assembly shop- masking parts, packing bearings, and helping wherever I could. It was in that shop I met Dave Hinton- responsible for paint, body filler, training newbies, and anything else that may come up.


Since 1988

Old picture of young Dave Hinton sanding mixer

Dave started with Barnes Manufacturing in 1988, assembling bakery equipment for a large contract. Dave is a unicorn of an employee- smart, funny, and dependable. From fish-eye epoxy coatings to powder coating, he learned, adapted, and improved the processes.  Most importantly, he did it while also winning as many 100.7 call in challenges as possible (and rocking an incredible mustache).  

I consider myself blessed to have been put in Dave’s shop, not only was he a great co-worker, mentor, and friend, he also had known my future husband since he was just a bratty little kid and had great stories to tell.

Dave Powder Coating







Congratulations Dave!

This November, after nearly 3 decades of service to Barnes, Dave Hinton is retiring. He will finally get to take some time off and relax. No more dip tanks and powder coat ovens. Though I imagine there will still be plenty of Bond-o dust as he finally gets to rebuild his treasured Chevy Berettas. We will miss seeing Dave every day, but I know we will still keep in touch. He is a part of our family and I am personally so grateful the time I have spent working with him. So from all of us at Barnes Manufacturing- Congratulations Dave!

A Trip to the Landfill

By | Uncategorized

A Trip to the Landfill



Barnes manufacturing was recently contacted by The Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency’s landfill to help with a project. The Resource Recovery Center wanted to come up with a way to place banners along each recycling station to insure proper placement of each recyclable item. At Barnes manufacturing we appreciate and understand the importance of proper recycling habits, which made us very eager to help solve the landfill’s problem.

The team came up with a simple yet effective bracket system that would allow the beautiful new banners to hang from the vertical beams in the facility.  Having obviously marked areas of separation is very important in the recycling center, so having these clear and concise signs will insure proper recycling.

Once the brackets and banners were ready for installation, it was time for the trip to the landfill. So Tom and his grandson Harrison loaded up the truck and headed out. After taking a tour of the facility and learning about the importance of recycling, it was time to get to work.  Tom and Harry went to each station one by one and installed each banner by hand. As a small family owned business we are fortunate for special opportunities to work with people who are important to us making this project that much more special.

We would like to thank The Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency for allowing us to help with your projects from time to time and the important work you do on a daily basis. 


Beyond the shop: The Retirement of Dr. Aldrich’s Coal Stove

By | Uncategorized

                                     2 - DAY OF RETIREMENT         5 - LAST FIRE

“Beyond the Shop” is a periodical look inside the life of a Barnes Manufacturing team member.

The great grandfather of Tom Barnes, Dr. Stewart Aldrich was born June 9th, 1852, Graduated from the Berea College of Medicine in Berea, Ohio, in 1873, in the study Allopathic medicine. Dr. Aldrich was a “Horse and Buggy” Doctor in the Waukee area before moving to Des Moines in 1895.

Dr. Aldrich built a small, stand-alone office near his home. The Coal Stove was purchased from the Spiegel Catalog Company in Chicago, arriving in Des Moines by train.

After his passing the property stayed in the family, however the office was moved to the back of the property where it was used as a wood shop. Tom’s first memory of the stove is from around the age of 5 “This is where I first remember seeing the Stove, Grandfather was burning wood scraps to heat his workshop”.

In 1961 the Stove made its way to the Barnes Family Farm and was put into service in the old farm house that was down by the barn. “As a you boy of 11, I spent many hours in that house now turned into a workshop, keeping warm by building fires with any combustible materials that I could find.” Tom recalled.

The Old House was torn down, sometime in the early 70’s, and the Stove was moved into storage in the Corn Crib. In 1994 Tom brought the stove back to life when he placed it in his newly built shop at his home in Marion. The stove has played was more of piece of nostalgia and atmosphere, as the shop had permanent hot water heat.

For the last 23 years, on every chilly weekend there has been a fire in the stove. Though the stove is still serviceable, (barely), it is no longer safe to be used for its intended purpose. The attached Photos are of the very last fire to be held inside Dr. Aldrich’s Stove.

From Concept to Delivery

By | Uncategorized


Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center in Toddville, Iowa provides conservation education programming with over 250 acres of natural area and a wonderful indoor exhibit. They focus on  past and present ways we can conserve our natural areas in Linn County. One of those ways is to research how Native Americans in our area lived among and used the available natural resources. A popular form of shelter for the Native Americans in our area was the wickiup, a wooden and bark structure that shielded humans from the elements.  Directors at the center thought it would be educational (and also fun) to offer visitors the opportunity to stay the night in a wickiup. The only problem was how to create a wickiup that did not require constant service and upkeep. Barnes Manufacturing was referred to the nature center by a local government official as the place to go to turn dreams in to reality. Together we researched which materials would best fit their budget and still provide an authentic experience for visitors. From quite literally an idea in someone’s head, we were able to create a conceptual model that guided our fabrication department in the manufacturing of the actual wickiup that will be installed at the learning area for public use.  We pride ourselves on providing our customers with a product that matches their concepts as closely as possible, what ideas can we turn into realities for you?

big-wiki-2   big-wiki-1     done-wiki

Spiral Staircases

By | Uncategorized

At Barnes Manufacturing we love nothing more than helping customers reach the next level through their design and manufacturing needs. However sometimes customers quite literally need help reaching the next level of their business. In the past customers have come to us asking for a space friendly staircase or ladder to get them to the top of lofts, mezzanines, or simply the next floor of their buildings. Over the years we at Barnes MFG have designed and manufactured many staircases to fit just about any need, but nothing can beat the classic look and the efficient use of space of a spiral staircase.  So the next time your business is looking to get to the next level, think Barnes Manufacturing Services.

The pictures shown are a portion of a spiral staircase that extended vertically over 110 feet. This 72” Spiral Stair was complete with rest stop areas and floor exits every 18 feet.  48” Spiral Stairs are also available if space is at a premium.


Manufacturing Dreams

By | Uncategorized

Gifyyy tripod photo booth entrepreneur startup manufacturing design engineering machining wood CNCGifyyy tripod photo booth entrepreneur startup manufacturing design engineering machining wood CNC metalGifyyy tripod photo booth entrepreneur startup manufacturing design engineering machining wood CNC camera stand






At Barnes Manufacturing we love turning dreams and ideas into finished products. Throughout the years we’ve helped many entrepreneurs bring their “napkin sketches” to life; we have design, engineering and manufacturing resources that are not always readily available to those striving to turn ideas in to reality.  We take great pleasure in helping plant the seeds of these startups and watching them grow into successful companies.

Last fall, a Chicago based photography company was trying to produce an idea they had been working on for months, a tripod photo booth that was sturdy, easy to carry and looked like a timeless piece of furniture.  After a few unsuccessful attempts of trying to find their product already on the market they decided it was time to design and produce one of their own, that’s where we came into play. They already had many great design ideas in place and only needed a few professional suggestions as well as help manufacturing their product.

Working closely with the customers, our design team finalized a solution that fit both the needs and wants of our customer. Producibility, as well as strong design elements were intertwined to come up with an end result that everyone could be proud of. This tripod photo booth allows consumers to use modern technology mixed with a classic mid-century elegance to capture some of life’s most important moments.

At Barnes Manufacturing we love the unique challenges brought on by entrepreneurs and startup companies. Not only are we passionate about the industry of manufacturing, we are passionate about helping companies create positive economic impacts on our communities and country.

If you or your company have ideas that you just can’t seem to get off the ground, feel free to contact any of us at Barnes Manufacturing, where we help from design to delivery.