Iowa Beef Systems of Huxley recently received the Top Growth Company award from Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) during the college’s first Small Business Awards banquet. The business was started three-and-one-half years ago by Mark Ehrsman of Huxley and Bill Rubis of Ankeny, and it has seen significant growth since then.

Iowa Beef Systems was chosen for the Top Growth award based on the amount of sales and the number of employees they have hired. Friends of the men who own the business nominated them for the award. Rubis said there were five different awards given out and Iowa Beef Systems qualified for three of the awards.

"We knew we had been nominated…but they didn’t tell us for which one," Rubis said.

Since the business began, they have built more than 100 structures to help improve farmers’ cattle operations. Structures have been built all over Iowa and in every state that borders Iowa. Such structures have been built in the Story County area at farms belonging to Bill Couser, Nick Olson, Kendall Upchurch’s family and James Wright.

Rubis said the business got started after Ehrsman approached him about starting a business to build cattle confinement structures and other agricultural buildings for cattle farmers. Prior to that, both men had their own concrete businesses. While Iowa Beef Systems specializes in mono-slope cattle confinement structures, they also build such structures as commodity sheds, workshops or grain bins.

All the mono-slope confinement buildings constructed by Iowa Beef Systems face south. Rubis explained this is because during the winter when the sun is at its lowest, light will always reach the back of the building. In the summer, the building will always be shaded thanks to the angled roof. Benefits of the structures are they allow confined cattle to remain comfortable and they help increase the cattle’s rate of gain due to the cattle’s high comfort levels. Both the north and south sides of the buildings remain open, while the east and west sides are enclosed. This allows air to constantly be flowing through the structure. Rubis said curtains can be pulled down on the north side of the structures when rain and snow is blowing from the north.

At Couser’s farm north of Nevada, two mono-slope structures have been built. Iowa Beef Systems is also responsible for the bud box used for working cattle and the commodity shed used for storing the cattle’s feed. The bud box allows cattle to be moved down a narrow alleyway and eventually into a chute where they are given vaccinations. The lack of corners and the flow of the alley prevents individuals working the cattle from having to raise their voices in order to make the cattle move to where they are needed.

"It’s very quiet and helps keep them calm," Rubis said of the cattle being worked.

The commodity shed prevents stored grain, such as gluten and grain distiller from running off and entering nearby waterways.

The business will do anything from upgrading existing facilities to building completely new structures. Rubis said they have their own employees build the structures, though they do hire subcontractors for some of the projects since Iowa has such a short construction season. He and Ehrsman work with customers to help them find government funding options to finance structures they are having built on their farm.

Rubis said "dealing with the cattlemen and making a difference in their operations" is what he enjoys most about his job. He hopes the services Iowa Beef Systems offers will encourage farmers to raise more cattle in Iowa.

"Food production needs to double by 2015…and we want to be an integral part of making that happen," Rubis said.