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When farmer and hog producer Vance Lundell was told it couldn’t be done, he found a way.

The question — How can I get hog manure out of barns in a more efficient way?

“When talking to a professor while attending Iowa State University, he said it had been tried but the hog manure would attack the steel auger,” said Lundell, owner and president of Lundell Plastics, located outside of Odebolt, Iowa near the family farm where he came up with his idea.

“Then, one evening in 1981, when checking on the progress of a hog building remodeling project, I thought again about using an auger to move the manure out of the building,” he said. “Remembering what my professor had said, I thought, ‘Why not make the auger out of plastic?’”

That’s when Lundell started the researching and testing that would lead to the first-ever poly auger.

“During the late 1980s and early 90s, there was a switch from handling seed beans in bags to bulk,” he said. “This led to the development of our poly-cupped flighting for gentle handling of seed beans. We worked with the seed science department at Iowa State University to compare the poly auger flight to steel flighting when handling the bulk seed beans.”

They also tested different diameters and even different blends of poly and rubber.

“The results of the testing led to the development of our first poly-cupped auger,” he said.

Lundell now offers the cupped design in seven sizes ranging from five-to 19-inch diameter.

Working with the seed handling equipment led to the manufacture of telescoping seed tubes and variable rate talc/graphite feeder and wireless remote controls.

Another milestone for the company was the development of the process to form UHMW (ultra-high molecular weight) poly to fit onto steel augers for increased wear life.

Since then, Lundell said, the corrosion resistance and light weight has proven useful in a host of other applications, including seed handling and industrial production. Today, the company’s services that include custom CNC (computer numerical control) machining of plastics, custom injection molding, custom thermoforming, plastic welding and fabrication.

In the last several years, Lundell has introduced additional combine corn head products, added new sizes for existing products and expanded its facilities with the completion of a 16,000-square-foot research and development addition and thermoforming machines.

Clients range in size from major equipment manufacturers and short-line manufacturers to individual projects such as the plastic base for the world’s largest popcorn ball in Sac City, Iowa.

He noted the Lundell Plastics team does all of this with 15 committed employees.

“The people that work here are the backbone of the company and we have been extremely fortunate to put together the team that we have,” he said. “We feel an important part of our work is to produce a quality product at a fair price, backed up with customer service. We are constantly working on developing new products to make production agriculture easier, more profitable, or both. Bringing products to market and having customers tell us how the products save them money or make their work easier is one of the rewarding parts of our business, along with the friendships that develop over the years with customers, suppliers, and all the other people we work with.

“My vision for the future of the company is to keep growing by innovating new products and expanding our custom machining and forming. It is exciting when we get a request to quote parts from a new customer or expanded business from an existing customer. The challenge is always to be competitive.”

Kerry Hoffschneider is a freelance writer for the Midwest Messenger, based in eastern Nebraska. Reach her at