Newell Construction and Machinery Company was founded in 1900 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa by Charles Newell. The company began by selling power transmission components, mill supplies (including screw conveyors) and designing, constructing, and installing wooden elevators and electric powered truck and wagon dumps. During the 1940s, the company’s name was changed to Newell Machinery Co., Inc. As time went on, wooden bucket elevators began to be replaced by steel bucket elevators and carpenters began to be replaced by millwrights.
In the 1960s, Newell Machinery Co., Inc. was purchased by Walt Heaton and Bob South (who founded Apache Hose and Belting). Within a few years, Heaton and South agreed to part company and Walt Heaton was the sole owner of Newell Machinery Co., Inc. During the 1960s and 1970s, Newell kept up with its three major areas of interest, supplying parts, fabricating equipment and providing millwright work.
Going forward, Newell became an even larger distributor of power transmission and mill and elevator supplies. As one of just two bearing houses in Cedar Rapids with customers such as Wilson Foods, Martin Marietta, Quaker Oats, Vigortone and Cargill.
Additionally, Newell’s metal fabrication services significantly grew with the development of the New-La-Gator Enmasse and Bulk-Flow drag conveyors. Cargill and Nestle were among early customers during this era who benefitted from Newell’s drag conveyors, steel bucket elevators, belt conveyors, and screw conveyors. Other fabrication products included Pellet Fines Conveyors, Hyde Wringers and Fiberglass Bucket Elevators. For a short time, Newell even had a separate division called Industrial Pollution Control Systems that designed and fabricated large skimmer tanks and drum filters for water pollution control facilities across the country.
On the millwright side of the business, Newell began sending millwright contractors farther from Cedar Rapids for projects. As a result, job trucks became the norm as a mobile shop and Newell came up with the idea of using the now famous blue school buses.
In 1986, the Grissel family purchased Newell Machinery Co., Inc. from Walt Heaton, and the company began to take the shape that we know today. Newell’s focus was widened to larger grain processors as well as an increased labor force, all the while continuing to serve the small and medium-sized businesses that were an integral part of the Newell’s history.
Metal fabrication grew again, and in 1998 Newell built its current 50,000 sq. ft. fabrication facility. Since then, Newell has provided its shop and field crews with the latest equipment, strong leadership, and the 1990 formation of Millwright Local Union 2158. Today, Newell Machinery continues to be one of the Midwest’s premier millwright contractors and fabrication facilities.