Holiday Gift Giving - Iowa Style

December 10, 2021 | Holiday Gift Giving - Iowa Style Gigi Wood,

The seasons have changed, the holidays are here and it’s almost time to close the books on this year. As many of us take time to pause and reflect on the many blessings of 2021, we think of the many people who have given us so much.

Gift-giving is common this time of year, as we spend more time with our families and celebrate the holiday season. Whether giving to family, friends or coworkers, some business owners say it’s important to shop for gifts made in Iowa. Iowa. There are more than 2,900 manufacturing companies, 85,000 farms and 243,932 small businesses in the state. Each of those is producing goods and services that positively affect the state’s economy and communities.

From sweet corn to tools and retail services to packaging solutions, there is no end to the abundance of products produced in Iowa. Supporting local businesses helps build the fabric of Iowa communities, according to one business leader.

“Simply stated, it impacts the culture of the state. Organizations have a large role in shaping healthy mindsets of the people who work there,” said Todd Sommerfeld, chairman and CEO of Kreg Tool. “When organizations provide people with a clear purpose, value and mission that they can connect to, those individuals can personally thrive. When people thrive in the companies they work for, cities thrive. And when cities thrive, the state thrives, and thriving states build a thriving nation. I use this lens when choosing who I do business with, and when those values are aligned, I always look to invest in the local culture first.”


Ankeny-based Kreg Tool makes pocket hole jig tools for the do-it-yourself woodworking industry. Sommerfeld’s father, Craig Sommerfeld, invented the Craig Jig in the 1980s. Today, the company sells its tools to professionals and hobbyists through retailers such as Lowe’s, Home Depot and Amazon. The business offers a wide assortment of power tool accessories that help woodworkers cut, join and attach hardware to the wood used in building all kinds of projects, such as tables, bookshelves, cabinets and more.

“Kreg is a unique brand for many reasons beyond the innovative tools we make, Todd Sommerfeld said. “Our purpose is to ‘activate people to experience the benefits of connecting head, heart and hands.’ Our vision is to ‘be the world’s most trusted brand for DIY home improvement by making wood projects approachable and fun.’ By staying focused on that purpose and vision, our brand stands apart by providing inspiration, education and support to the consumer before, during and after a tool purchase.”

Kreg Tools can make great gifts, too, especially for home renovation enthusiasts, and can give people a strong sense of accomplishment.

“Kreg’s products offer a type of gift that provides so much more than just satisfying a want or need,” Sommerfeld said. “Upon completion of a building project, our products allow people to experience a personal sense of pride and accomplishment. We often find that this leads to increased confidence to tackle other tasks or projects around the home that they may have been hesitant to attempt before. We love hearing these types of stories from our customers and are proud that we are able to play a role in positively impacting how someone feels about themselves.”

Time off during the holidays is ideal for starting new projects, he said.

“The holidays are an excellent time to use our products, as many people tend to take a few days off of work and have some extra time to devote to trying something new or expanding their hobby,” Sommerfeld said. “During this time, our products allow people to work on projects together as a family, or even provide. an opportunity for some ‘me’ time for those who may want to build something on their own in their garage or workshop.”

Starting early on New Year’s resolutions

Lance Farrell opened the first location of Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping in Des Moines in 2001. The fitness center started with 40 members; now there are more than 150,000, who work out at the company’s 70 locations in 11 states. Throughout the past 20 years, members have lost 5 million pounds of body fat and $2.8 million has been given out to members for top results, Farrell said.

“We transform lives using fitness and nutrition and a high level of accountability,” Farrell said. “Imagine smiling every time you put your jeans on. That’s what we do.”

A fitness club membership makes a great holiday gift, as people look to start their New Year’s resolutions, which often involve getting fit.

“The gift of health is one of the best gifts you can give,” Farrell said. “We help people raise their confidence, building strength physically, mentally and spiritually. Healthy people have stronger immune systems and fight off illness more effectively.”

And it’s important to support Iowa businesses, he said.

“Iowa companies provide employment, drive commerce and support the Iowa economy,” Farrell said.


Red Boot Distillery in Des Moines partners with business owners to outsource production and packaging of beverage products.

“As Iowa’s largest alcoholic beverages co-packing company, we bring beverage concepts to life, working with brands and business owners to put their beverage products on the shelves in stores all across the country,” said Erin Strawn, chief financial officer of Red Boot Distillery.

Red Boot Distillery is an Iowa company, from the people it employs to the ingredients it uses, Strawn said.

“Red Boot Distillery’s products are vertically integrated in Iowa,” Strawn said. “Our beverages, which are primarily corn-based, are made with corn grown in Iowa, distilled in Iowa and bottled or canned in Iowa. Our customers appreciate the ease of distribution that comes with manufacturing their products at the junction of Interstates 80 and 35. We can put their products on a truck and send them anywhere in the country. Our priority on sourcing packaging and raw materials in the Midwest keeps production costs low for our customers. And Red Boot isn’t facing the business backlogs that are challenging coastal co-packing companies who dealt with business shutdowns over the past 18 months.”

The company’s employees and vendor partners are what makes the business stand out, Strawn said.

“The greatest value of doing business with Iowa companies comes back to the people,” she said. “Red Boot has fostered strong partnerships with local suppliers like Grace Label, Project 7 Design, and Grain Processing of Muscatine, who share our commitment to delivering high-quality products and meeting timeline commitments. These partnerships with Iowa suppliers are absolutely critical to our ability to deliver high-quality products and best-in-class service to our customers.” Iowa workers help keep the company competitive, Strawn said.

“Why does Red Boot Distillery have great products? Because we have great people,” she said. “Every single person in our operation, from the production staff who work our canning and bottling lines all the way up to our owner, plays a critical role in building the company’s reputation for high-quality products, best in class customer service, technical expertise and the ability to meet delivery timelines.”

Red Boot Distillery produces several products that are available at local liquor stores and would make great stocking stuffers.

“Guidance Whiskey is a premium small-batch whiskey with a light, fun flavor that pairs well with a mild cigar,” Strawn said. “Daisy Cocktails – female-owned and Iowa-founded – is a bar-quality, ready-to-drink canned cocktail that you can enjoy at home. The Oxtails line of canned cocktails is an award-winning line of perfectly balanced canned cocktails that includes margaritas, rum punch, palomas and vodka lemonade. Iowa employers who select Red Boot products this holiday season have the opportunity to give a high-quality and delicious gift that their employees will enjoy, while also taking pride in supporting job and economic growth right here in Iowa.”

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