Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Stuff we make: Rail cars and manhole covers

Stuff we make: Rail cars and manhole covers

  • Updated
  • 0

More than just laws are made in Lincoln.

Nebraska's capital city and the surrounding area are home to dozens of manufacturing companies, food wholesalers and other firms that create products used and consumed across the globe.

Some Lincoln products are well-known, such as Kawasaki's subway cars, Celerion's medical research, heating equipment from Nebraska Boiler's (now Cleaver-Brooks), Cook's Hams' meat products and Lester Electrical's batteries.

But Lincoln and area firms also turn out a surprising variety of other products. Here are some examples:

Missile launch tubes: General Dynamics of Lincoln has made more than a million missile launch tubes, according to its website. The local plant also produces external fuel tanks for aircraft, rocket motor cases, missile airframe components and pressure vessels, according to the company's website.

Animal vaccines: Pfizer says its Lincoln plant is the company's global manufacturing center for animal health products, including vaccines.

Basketball hoops: In addition to hoops and backboards, Bison of Lincoln makes all sorts of sports equipment, from stands for volleyball nets to courtside folding chairs. 

Diaper pails: Lenco plastic molding company in Waverly makes a commercial-grade diaper pail with spaces inside to hold deodorizing disks. The company also makes CD and DVD cases, as well as other plastic molds such as bottle caps.

Coffee: At least half a dozen Lincoln coffee roasters sell their beans in bulk to other local businesses, and a few have accounts across the country. Jason Anderson, who co-owns Cultiva Coffee, said he doesn't know if the quantity of brewers sets Lincoln apart from other cities, but the quality here does. "Lincoln's pretty lucky," he said.

Water flow monitors: Teledyne Isco makes a host of water treatment and monitoring products, including gear for use in the field or in a laboratory setting.

Golf cart battery chargers: Luke Prussa of Lester Electrical says the company manufactures all the battery chargers used by golf cart maker Club Car. Lester also makes batteries for other non-passenger vehicles, such as forklifts and wheelchairs. Prussa says the company is looking at passenger vehicles as electric passenger cars become more popular.

Dog food: Lincoln's M.I. Industries makes Nature's Variety pet food, as well as other brands.

Pallets: Arbor Industries' website says the company is the largest pallet manufacturer and re-manufacturer in the Lincoln area.

Beer: Blue Blood Brewing Co., on West South Street, is the newest brewery on the Lincoln scene, which also features the better-known Empyrean Ales and a handful of other micro breweries.

Theraflu: Before Novartis suspended work at its Lincoln-area plant in December the facility produced not only over-the-counter drugs, including Excedrin, NoDoz, Bufferin, Gas-X, Theraflu, Triaminic, Voltaren, Benefiber, Maalox and Lamisil, but also contracted with another company to make prescription meds, including Opana and Percocet.

The Theraflu box: Among the containers advertised on Midlands Packaging's website are the boxes for many Novartis products, including Theraflu, Triaminic and Excedrin. Midlands makes many forms of packages, including cartons and plastics, such as clamshell packaging.

The walking sprinkler: TMCO of Lincoln says one of its trademark products is "The Original National Walking Sprinkler" -- which is "the most durable traveling sprinkler on the market," according to TMCO's Tony Marquez.

Braille textbooks: Prison inmates employed with Cornhusker State Industries make a wide range of products, including textbooks for the blind, furniture, cleaning chemicals and clothing. They also have made about 20,000 seats for Memorial Stadium, and are hoping to market stadium seats to other schools, said deputy director John McGovern.

Bike stations: Frequenters of the downtown area will be familiar with the works of both BRP and Rivers Metal Products. Both make outdoor furnishings such as bike racks, park benches and trash/recycling bins.

Cruise ship mufflers: GT Exhaust at 4121 N.W. 37th St. makes a range of industrial-grade exhaust system parts for engines, including silencers with catalytic equipment to reduce emissions.

Video scoreboards: Pinnacle Bank Arena organizers announced in January that SignCo of Lincoln will help Panasonic build a high-definition scoreboard for the arena. Through other partnerships, SignCo has built scorer's tables for 10 NBA facilities and more than 20 NCAA facilities.

Manhole covers: If you happen to glance down as you're crossing the street in your neighborhood or town, it's likely you'll step across a Deeter Foundry manhole cover," Deeter says on its website. "There are literally millions of our flagship products in towns all across the country." The Lincoln foundry manufactures a range of other cast-iron products, as well.

Semi exhaust stacks: Lincoln Industries has been in the area for 60 years, but the company launched its first branded product three years ago, making exhaust stacks for truck manufacturers across the country, says communications manager Steve Bauer.

Power strips: These aren't the ones in your living room. The power strips from Geist Manufacturing not only allow for massive power usage, they also can be used to monitor the usage for each outlet -- an important feature for companies such as Pfizer, Wal-Mart Stores, Microsoft and JP Morgan, which the company lists among its clients.

Boilers for extracting oil from oil sands: In the past several years, Cleaver-Brooks (formerly Nebraska Boiler) has been custom manufacturing boilers for companies such as Shell to heat and refine oil from oil sands in Canada. "They're huge pieces of equipment," said sales proposal manager Jason Jacobi. He said pilot projects alone cost $3 million to $5 million, with full installations valued at $50 million or $60 million.

Reach Zach Pluhacek at 402-473-7234 or


Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News