ENGINEERING THE FUTURE — From left, standing behind a C130 cargo plane ramp designed and manufactured in ITB, are Jim DeStaffany, Shelley Suek, Corey Rilley, Rob Cook, Mitch Hauer and Richard Hogan. I-O Photo by Deanna Wakkinen
By Deanna Wakkinen, I-O Reporter
From a town rich on values and community comes our ‘Spotlight on Business’ which highlights a business, gives emphasis on their contributions to our community and remembers their history.
Started back in the 1970s, ITB or Intercontinental Truck Body has been a name that we all know but it may be a place you know little about. It was originally a mechanical shop for missile defense before being taken over in the 70’s as a truck body manufacturer.
Bought in 1999 from Kenny VanDyke and the Vanee family from Canada, Ron Ueland, Bert and Mike Robbins came with backgrounds in engineering and agriculture and the hopes to diversify and grow. These native Montanans knew the importance of keeping business local and in Montana.
Known for their parcel delivery vans and grain bodies, ITB was able to put their foot in the door and obtain small military contracts.
Having come full circle, they now manufacture ramps for the Air Force, tugs for the Defense Department, manufacturing equipment for the logging industry and other military grade components.
With new military contracts that have opened up ITB to the global market, including places such as Chile, Poland and Turkey, the need arose to continue hiring. The number of employees on hand varies and at a recent high point was at 85.
Having employment opportunities for highly qualified, educated and specially trained individuals sets ITB apart and broadens the base of employment available in such a rural area.
Sales manager Mitch Hauer explained that “everyone gets excited for a new McDonalds but those are minimum wage jobs.” He continued by saying, “ITB is a main source of income for families.” He acknowledged that having a business in a small town that is able to grow and sustain is remarkable and is a pretty big opportunity for a small town.
Hauer grew up in Conrad but after receiving upper level education, had to relocate out of state. ITB gave him the opportunity to move back to the area and he commented, “It’s where I wanted to raise my kids.”
During his time off from the legislature, Rob Cook, vice president, business development, can also be found working at ITB. Cook has been with ITB since 2000 and was also brought back to the area he grew up in with opportunities through his engineering degree.
Engineer and Operations Manager Corey Rilley has been working at ITB for six years and says he was hoping to stay in Montana after receiving his degree, this job gave him an opportunity he hadn’t expected.
Recent hire Jim DeStaffany, also an engineer who was born and raised in Conrad, said, “It’s nice to get back to your roots and help my dad on the farm.”
Richard Hogan, another engineer for ITB, noted that “it is a big investment for a company to hire engineers.” After living in Los Angelos, Calif. for six years he’s happy to live and do the things you want without having the commute. He continued by adding that expenses are less and there is more opportunity to buy a house.
One of the first hires at ITB after it was sold in 1999 was Shelly Suek, office manager.
Ueland reflects on the past 12 years, “It’s the people that make it work ... with the network of talented people and business alliances, ITB will continue to diversify to participate in the evolving industries that we target; transportation, agriculture, forestry, and defense.”