Although 2021 marked The Wittern Group’s 90th year in the automated dispensing industry, the company officially celebrated the anniversary this month at its headquarters in Clive, Iowa. The celebration had been delayed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Less than 1% of companies make it to 90 years and the fabric behind those that do are the people," Mike Meinecke, chief financial officer, said in the announcement. "At The Wittern Group, we celebrate our diverse workforce."
In 1931, F.A. Wittern Sr. started The Wittern Group out of his garage on the east side of Des Moines with an original investment of $12.50. One of his first machines was a penny peanut dispenser. Following the success of his peanut vendors, the company began manufacturing matchbox dispensers and other small vending and novelty devices.
Today, The Wittern Group is one of the largest global manufacturers of automated dispensing equipment and smart lockers. The company is in its third generation of family leadership and fourth generation of ownership. Throughout the years, The Wittern Group has diversified and transformed its product and service offerings to adapt to advancements in technology, changes in consumer preferences and evolving markets.
“As a company, we will build on the creativity this company has demonstrated for the last 90 years,” Ted O’Brien, vice president of traditional sales, added in the announcement. “We will continue to develop technologies that change the way our equipment operates and the way our consumers interact with it. There is so much to be excited about as we head into the next 90 years.”
The Wittern Group is often involved in the community and an active member of the industries it serves. Through The Wittern Family Foundation, The Wittern Group supports various nonprofit organizations, including the National Automatic Merchandising Association, the Mayo Clinic, Junior Achievement of Central Iowa, and United Way.
As one of Iowa’s premier and oldest privately held companies, The Wittern Group prides itself in its employees and culture.
“As a family-owned business, we believe our employees are a part of our extended Wittern family and value their diverse backgrounds, talents and perspectives,” Heidi Chico, CEO and granddaughter of F.A. Wittern, Sr., said in the announcement.