A manufacturing technology startup in Algona was one of the first companies in Iowa to receive an Innovation Fund loan from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Kinetic Technologies LLC was started in 2021 by owners Mark and Betsy Barglof, of Algona. Mark Barglof had previously co-founded Smart Ag, a tech startup that specialized in driverless tractor technology. After selling Smart Ag to Raven Industries in 2019, the Barglofs were looking for their next challenge, eventually landing on a custom manufacturing business focused on engineering that they named Kinetic Technologies.
“When we started this company, we worked with companies from startups to more established companies to help with the engineering process,” Mark Barglof said.
Kinetic then got connected with Universal Robots, a company that uses robots for welding, and created the RT1, a rotary table to help with robotic welding.
“So that’s where the IEDA fund comes in,” Mark Barglof said. “On the one side, the custom manufacturing business and consulting business is a kind of services thing, but once we built this table, we turned it into a product and we manufacture it here.”
The $175,000 loan from the IEDA will help Kinetic with marketing the RD1 robotic welding table.
The loan is a five-year loan at a 3 percent interest rate, Mark Barglof said. For the first six months, the interest is deferred. The company also had to invest matching funds for the loan.
“It’s a really good program,” Mark Barglof said. “It gives a good cash injection for a startup where we don’t lose equity in the company, we just get a really good rate and good terms on the loan.”
Kinetic Technology has 10 full-time employees, Mark Barglof said.
Mark Barglof is originally from eastern Iowa, but his wife, Betsy, is an Algona native, he said. The family farms near Algona and it made sense to start this technology company there, Mark Barglof said.
“We wanted to build in our own community,” he said. “We live here and we’re going to live here the rest of our lives, so we wanted to invest in this area.”
Despite Algona and Kossuth County being more rural areas, the tech startup is thriving, Mark Barglof said.
“What’s very interesting and unique in this area is we have a high density of machinists, welders, craftsmen, mechanical engineering-based people, and agricultural entrepreneurs,” he said. “Which if you fly over, you wouldn’t really notice that.”
The innovation awards are funded through the U.S. Department of Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative. Iowa’s SSBCI program, announced in October 2022, is a $96 million investment in growing Iowa’s small businesses, including startups, manufacturers and businesses owned by veterans and individuals from diverse backgrounds, according to the IEDA.