July 10, 2023 – Dick Koberg, co-founder of the family-owned DICA company died on June 27, 2023. He was 82.
Known affectionately as DK, Richard “Dick” Koberg and his wife Carolyn founded DICA and named it by using the first two letters of their first names.
A native Iowan, Koberg was born in Durant, Iowa, in 1941.
After an early career selling life insurance and working for and owning a local Chevrolet dealership, Koberg took an opportunity with a manufacturer of fiberglass mobile veterinary truck bodies.
The company was looking to expand into the electric utility industry, so Koberg was calling on fleet managers to talk about truck bodies.
During one of those visits, a utility fleet manager asked Koberg, “Can you build me a better outrigger pad?”
Seeking a solution, Koberg began testing various designs and material formulations.
The company delivered its first outrigger pads in 1988.
That began the DICA story.
“DK created an engineered solution to a problem that had long been overlooked in many industries — whether it was asking lineworkers to re-purpose cross arms or crane operators to set up on cable reel ends,” said Kerry Koberg, one of Dick and Carolyn’s three sons. “There was a growing awareness that outrigger pads should provide a foundation of support for outrigger-enabled equipment. Through his contribution to the industry, employers no longer have to skimp with homemade solutions.”
Like many entrepreneurs and inventors, Dick and Carolyn ran the new company from the family garage during DICA’s early years.
Later, the company moved from Carroll, Iowa, to neighboring towns, before settling into its present-day location near Des Moines.
Exhibiting at trade shows in the utility, tree care, concrete pumping, and crane industries meant spending a lot of time on the road.
In fact, the RoadWarrior RV jack pad, launched in more recent years, was named in honor of Dick. “He drove hundreds of thousands of miles for decades to share the benefits of DICA outrigger pads with users in various markets,” said another of Dick and Carolyn’s sons, Kevin Koberg.
“One of dad’s favorite events was the Upper Midwest Utility Fleet Council, and he was honored when DICA was invited to participate in the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference,” added Kerry Koberg.
Dick’s presence at ICUEE, now the Utility Expo, goes back to the show’s early days in Kansas City, and he also had a long history with the Tree Care Industry Association, World of Concrete, and ConExpo-Con/Agg.
“Dad and Mom built great friendships at each stop in every industry they participated in,” said Kerry Koberg.
“During those years working for his Uncle Leo at the Chevy dealership, dad learned the importance of relationships in business. He often said that ‘people ultimately do business with people they like,’” said the Kobergs’ third son, Kris. “He was authentic and always put the customer first. He knew that when the customer wins so does DICA.”
Paying attention to the details and building a quality product that people can trust is what has defined the company’s products.
DICA now holds more than a dozen patents — many of which have TuffGrip handles.
The handle design was one of those details that was important to Dick. “He always wanted something that was more comfortable than rope, yet strong, which is what led to the development of TuffGrip,” said Kris Koberg.
“Dad placed a high value on family and taught us the importance of building lasting relationships — not just with our family, but also with employees and customers,” said Kevin Koberg.
Today, the family business includes Dick and Carolyn’s three sons.
The Kobergs, from left: Kris, Dick, Carolyn, Kevin, Kerry
Kris has led the company as CEO since 2014.
Kerry joined the company in 2004 and worked closely with Dick to expand its reach into the crane industry. He is currently the strategic accounts manager, and is wife, Kelly, is inside sales manager.
Kevin joined the team in 2009. He served as marketing director for many years before recently being promoted to a strategic sales position.
Their mother and DICA co-founder, Carolyn serves on the board of directors, as does daughter Katie.
It mattered to Dick that DICA products are made in the U.S.A., but the company has also become a global brand.
Dick stuck pins into a map to track where DICA products were sent. Today, that map has pins on all seven continents.
“We’d like to thank our many wonderful customers, OEM partners, dealers, and vendors for their support and kindness as we navigate the loss of our dad,” said Kris Koberg.
To express condolences or make a memorial contribution, read the obituary here.
DICA will have a salute to DK the week of July 17. To share a tribute to Dick Koberg, please use the hashtag #DKisDICA.