Small Towns. Big Business.

March 23, 2023

As young professionals living and working in North Central Iowa, Emily Schmitt and Tony Brownlee are using their unique talents to bring their best to their communities and businesses.

Emily is chief administrative officer for Sukup Manufacturing Co, a family-owned and operated manufacturer of agricultural equipment and buildings. Though she lives in Clear Lake with her husband Andy, part of her heart is in Sheffield, where Sukup is located. She believes this small-town business can provide opportunities at home and around the globe. “One of my goals for Sukup is to create meaningful employment for every employee at a world-class manufacturing facility, providing innovative solutions to farmers across the world,” said Emily.

Tony is president of Kingland Systems, a software company that develops enterprise data management software for the world's most integral companies. Tony and his wife Amy chose to move to Clear Lake for his job with Kingland. Both came from small towns and wanted to raise their kids in a similar environment. “I've always had a passion for small towns,” said Tony. “I love the quality of life, particularly in the Midwest, in Iowa. And to be able to work for a company with a global strategy in the small town of Clear Lake, I'm the luckiest guy in the world.”


Tony has a clear vision for Clear Lake and is doing his part to make sure it doesn’t go the way of other small towns that are struggling instead of thriving. By serving on the school board, he’s hoping to grow the community by improving the school district. “I want to see Clear Lake be really, truly one of the top districts, top communities in Northern Iowa,” said Tony. “It’s not just about the school. It's about attracting businesses. It's about having housing for people to live in. It's about having clean streets that are professional. It's about having a wellness center where families can come when it's really cold in February and they can actually have fun with their kids.”


Similarly, Sukup has played a major role in revitalizing Sheffield and improving the quality of life in surrounding areas. “People have invested,” said Emily. “There’s been lots of growth…more apartments being built, restaurants opening up, stores going in. There was an antique store and wellness center we helped out with. We resurrected the golf course and we’ve maintained it. So, there's been a lot of change, but we're really starting to see the fruit of our works.”


Sukup has multiple locations throughout the Midwest with plans to expand — a prospect that excites Emily. She understands that small-town dynamics combined with big-business capabilities can help both find success. “I think Iowa has gotten to be a great spot for progressive business opportunities,” she said. “I think there'll be lots of leveraging what we already have in place and bringing lots of international players here to the state of Iowa.”


Tony agrees that opportunities abound in small communities — especially when you bring your best. “I want to do the best I can every single day,” said Tony. “Kingland serves some of the largest companies in the world, which is great because they really trust us and depend on us. And we'd like to work with a few more of them here as we continue to grow forward.”


Like Tony and Emily, we believe in working hard on behalf of our clients, our team members and our community, as reflected in our own values: Be people centered. Bring your best. Enable great things. Think big. At Bank Iowa, we strive to live out our values every day to support our vision and fulfill our purpose.


NOTE: Comments have been edited for length and clarity.


About Bank Iowa


With more than $1.9 billion in assets, Bank Iowa ranks as one of the leading independent ag banks and the second-largest family owned bank in the state. Farmers, families and businesses access Bank Iowa’s products and services through 26 locations in 23 communities, as well as online and on mobile devices. To learn more, visit Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender