In Memory of Byron L. Godbersen

Byron Godbersen, founder and CEO of Midwest Industries, Inc. and Byron Originals, Inc. passed away on Sunday May 11, 2003 at his home in Ida Grove. Mr. Godbersen, who was 78, died as the result of the cumulative effects of numerous health problems that he had been battling for many years.

Byron Godbersen was born on January 19, 1925 on a farm outside of Mapleton, IA. He served in World War II as a paratrooper in the Pacific theatre of operations. Returning home after overseas service, he married his sweetheart of several years, LaJune Erickson from Soldier, IA, and returned to life on the family farm. After experiencing the difficult work of unloading big yields of corn, he developed the Bolster Hoist, a hydraulic hoist for farm wagons. This hoist, which was the first to harness hydraulic systems in tractors to raise loaded farm wagons, was an invention that would benefit most every grain farmer in the Midwest in the 1950’s and 60’s. In March 1954, Midwest Industries, Inc. was incorporated, and in October 1954, a U.S. patent was issued for the Godbersen POWR-LINK, which set the course for selling Bolster Hoists by the truckloads.

In 1959, Mr. Godbersen’s enthusiasm for boating led to his development of the ShoreStation Boat Hoist, a revolutionary hoist that earned a U.S. patent was issued for it’s innovative method of lift.

In 1970, under Mr. Godbersen’s direction, Midwest entered the boat trailer market with ShoreLand’r Boat Trailers, which firmly established Midwest Industries as a major player in the Marine Industry.

Mr. Godbersen was awarded Iowa’s Small Businessman of the Year award in 1973, and he also won the National Small Businessman of the Year award that same year. His many community contributions and growing businesses became recognized nationwide, earning him the Albert Galletin Award in 1974.

In 1976, Mr. Godbersen’s love of flying was taken a step further with the creation of Byron Originals, a division of Midwest Industries devoted to the design, production and marketing of large scale, remote controlled model airplanes. To help promote his new line of RC airplanes, Mr. Godbersen began to hold demonstrations and annual shows for RC modelers. As interest grew, so did the show, and in the mid-1980’s, Byron’s Aviation Expo was born. The Expo, a five day extravaganza dubbed ?The World’s Most Unique Aviation Event?, drew over 50,000 model airplane enthusiasts to Ida Grove annually through 1991.

Mr. Godbersen’s first love was the creation of new products. He has well over 50 patents, more than any other person in the state of Iowa. In 1996 he was inducted into the Iowa Inventors’ Hall of Fame and named Inventor of the Year in Iowa.

In 1999, the National Marine Manufacturers Association awarded Mr. Godbersen the prestigious Alan J. Freeman Award for his life-long contributions to the marine industry.

According to Midwest President Andy Brosius, ?Byron has always been very active in new product development even during the last few years of failing health. He had an uncanny ability to conceive unique, innovative and very detailed product designs in his head. It was not unusual for us to build prototypes from one of his drawings on a napkin or from a chalk sketch on the floor in the R&D shop. He was a true entrepreneur, who will leave a huge void in both our business and personal lives. He will be greatly missed. However, to his credit, he had the foresight to do the planning and put the things in place necessary for the family to carry on the business without him.?

In addition to son Bruce, Mr. Godbersen has several other family members involved in the businesses, including sons-in-law Andy Brosius and Don Rusch, respectively President and Marketing Manager of Midwest Industries. Jon Devitt, Engineering Manager, is a third generation family member involved in the business.

Mr. Godbersen is survived by his beloved wife, LaJune, his five children and their spouses – son Bruce Godbersen and his wife Beverly, daughter Beverly Corr, daughter Susan Rusch and husband Don, daughter Linda Harriman, daughter Debra Brosius and husband Andy, all of Ida Grove, 11 grand children, 7 great grandchildren, and a sister, Bernice Pruehs also of Ida Grove.