Our Curiosity

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Our City, Our Story

E13: Our Curiosity

When Forest City Gear first aspired to be world-class gear manufacturers, they couldn’t have imagined that someday they would surpass that boundary. Perhaps universe-class best describes them now? With one rover mission under their belts, and now with over 75 of their gears currently on Mars in the highly anticipated Curiosity rover, those original aspirations have been surpassed.

Founded by husband and wife Stetler and Evelyn Young in 1955, Forest City Gear is a family-owned company in Roscoe, Illinois. Their son Fred Young is now CEO, but he grew up watching his parents work hard and re-invest their profits in the company — this is how they are so successful. By the late ‘60s, the company was purchasing at least one new gear machine a year. By re-investing 25-40% of company profit back into itself, Forest City Gear has developed a reputation of being one of the best gear companies in this universe.

In addition to equipment, the Young family invests in its employees, creating a devoted workforce. “We believe we have one of the best equipped gear shops in the world. This includes both equipment and employees, a legacy of Forest City Gear for over 50 years,” according to Fred Young. When Fred speaks to prospective employees, he does not offer them a job. He offers them a career.

What might be more remarkable than creating crucial equipment destined for Mars? For a second time? Well, creating a thriving motivated company culture with a team of career employees—the kind who lie in bed at night thinking, “what can I do in the morning when I get there?” The kind who take on responsibility, impose their own high standards and like Amy Sovina, have the “mindset something I touched is now on the surface of Mars.”

By creating an atmosphere of excellence and pride, Forest City Gear has created a legacy for its individuals, its employees and its future.

We should all be proud of their accomplishments as they are a small shop who's reputation the world over is one of excellence. Our region benefits by association, and by the generosity of their spirit.

  • Directed & Produced By
    Pablo Korona
  • Music
    Daniel James McMahon
  • Interviewer + Location Audio
    Zach Staas
  • Curiosity Rover Animation
    Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.
  • Author
    Juanita Hickerson
  • Special Thanks
    Greg Farnham
    Mindy Young
    Forest City Gear
    Arnold Dyer
    Jeff Hallberg

     
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We tell the stories that if you live in Rockford, it makes you glad that you do. The stories that if you’re from Rockford, they make you proud to be. The stories that if you’ve never been to Rockford, they make you want to come here.

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These stories are a response to the national attention Rockford, Illinois received in 2011: from Forbes, #9 Most Dangerous in US; from the Wall Street Journal, #10th Most Dangerous in US; New York Times, Portraits From a Job-Starved City; and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show portrayed Rockford as a wasteland littered with chain fast food restaurants.

Our City, Our Story

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