Kinzenbaw Receives Honorary Iowa State University Doctor of Science Degree

Jon Kinzenbaw, an accomplished Iowa farmer, inventor, manufacturer and entrepreneur, is Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board for Kinze Manufacturing, Inc. in Williamsburg, Iowa.

Kinzenbaw was born in 1944 near Victor in east-central Iowa to a frugal, hard-working farm family. In 1965, with $5 in his pocket and a $3,655 bank loan, he bought a set of tools, made the down payment on a 1,400-square foot building in Ladora, Iowa, and opened Kinze Welding, which would become Kinze Manufacturing, Inc.

Over the next 52 years, he has brought innovative technologies and mechanization to production agriculture, all while continuing to work as a farmer himself. Kinzenbaw’s success as a “disruptive innovator” is evidenced by the growth of Kinze Manufacturing, with its 520-employee headquarters in Williamsburg, and a second manufacturing facility in Lithuania; by his 37 patents, including two that were issued in 2017; and by his passion for helping farmers be successful.

In 1975, for example, as corn and soybean planters became larger, they became too wide to pull on public roads. The common solution at the time was to unhook the planter from the tractor, load it lengthwise onto a trailer, pull the trailer to the next field, unload the planter from the trailer, reattach the planter to the tractor, and resume planting. Kinzenbaw saw the need for a better system and invented the rear-folding planter, which allowed farmers to move from one site to another and resume planting without ever leaving their tractors.

Kinzenbaw has received numerous awards over the years for his business, innovation, and outreach activities, including the George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award from Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; the 2009 No-Till Product of the Year Award; Iowa Engineering Society Governor’s New Product Award; and Iowa Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award. He is also a member of the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame, the Iowa Inventors Hall of Fame, and Association of Equipment Manufacturers Hall of Fame.

Kinzenbaw’s 52-year career exhibits extraordinary achievement by bringing a continuous stream of successful innovations to agricultural mechanization through Kinze Manufacturing. His achievements, work ethic, and adherence to core values are models to be emulated by all Iowa State students.

Faculty members from the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering nominated Jon Kinzenbaw for this honorary degree.

Iowa State University awards honorary degrees to celebrate and honor careers of extraordinary achievement in the community of knowledge, understanding, and creativity of which it is a part. The primary criteria for the selection of a candidate are a career of superlative intellectual and/or creative activity and of representing the ideals of Iowa State University. In conferring an honorary degree, Iowa State University associates itself with the highest achievements in scholarship, research, and creative activity consistent with its educational mission. It expresses the ideals of a great university by designating models of exceptional merit for emulation and respect.