Today we remember Ed Owen who passed away thirty-four years ago at the age of seventy-three (1990). Ed was the 2nd generation of Owen’s to lead Paxton & Vierling Steel and its affiliates. In addition to his management of Owen Industries, he was active in the community through his support of multiple civic and charitable organizations.  His efforts lead to developments and improvements at a variety of local treasures: He served either as President or Chairman of the Zoo Foundation for 11 years at the Henry Doorly Zoo where he was responsible for the Gorilla and Orangutan structures, the Sea Lion Pavilion, the Flamingo Pool and Swan Valley.  He was instrumental in arranging the funding for the cat complex, the zoo hospital, the giraffe facilities and with Bob Brown developed the Omaha Zoo Railroad.

He was also active with the Omaha Community Playhouse and helped with a variety of initiatives undertaken in the 1980s.

Ed also commemorated at several state parks and recreational facilities as director of the Nebraska Game and Park Foundation. Platte River State Park has the Overlook Tower, Owen Landing marina and concession area and an Owen Crossings bridge as well as cabins, tennis courts and other amenities bearing his name (a personal favorite is the outhouse that bears his nickname the “Gumpasir”).

Other projects of his are included at Schramm Park State Recreation Area, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Fort Robinson State Park, and Ashfall State Historical Park, where he and Mike Yanney were able to secure the land and save the spot for future generations.

Owen was “a gentleman whose heart was always in the right place,” said Dr. Lee Simons, former director of the zoo.

Conservation Notes by Dr. Lee Simmons – 1990

He made our lives interesting.

On February 22, 1990, the community and the state lost a great resource and one of its most interesting citizens.

Edward E. Owen was the Chairman emeritus and past president of the Omaha Zoological Society Board on which he had served for 25 years.

His tenure spanned the transformation of a 1920s and W.P.A. menagerie to the world class zoo of today. He was proud of what the zoo had become.

While I am not totally sure how Ed would have responded to being call a “great resource” or an “interesting citizen, “I suspect that he would have first checked his walled and then grinned.

That Ed Owen was a great resource to the community (benefactor could be substituted but seems a bit too formal and stuffy for Ed who was not) cannot be denied for his generosity was legendary and his pockets deep. The evidence is visible not only at the zoo, but at the Playhouse, in many Nebraska Games and Parks facilities across the state, the Boys Club, Aksarben and may other places.

For many who knew Ed, I suspect the word “resource” is much to tame. For Ed was not tame, nor was the manner in which he supported those institutions he believed in.

My first clear recollection of Ed was in the late 1960s when he teamed up with Bob Brown of the Union Pacific Railroad to provide (another too tame word) the zoo with a railroad complete with a 5/8 scale live steam locomotive. The U.P. built the track, and Ed bought the locomotive and donated the trestle over Owen Gulch. Between them, they persuaded a number of others to contribute materials and in-kind services. I am not sure anyone knew how much it was going to cost before we started and probably only Ed knew how much it cost when it was finished. It was simply something that would be good for the zoo, good for the community to have there and needed to be done.

Over the years there were many such things that “needed to be done.” Often the zoo’s greatest resource was the fact that if sources for half the funds were identified, Ed would say “start digging, we should be able to do the rest on guts.” Everyone understood whose.

Projects that were started on “half in the bank and half guts” included the cat complex and the giraffe complex. Other projects Ed funded or contributed to include the Owen Sea Lion Pavilion, Swan Valley, the zoo hospital and nursery and renovation of the gorilla and orangutan houses.

Ed had been descripted as gruff, inpatient, cantankerous and a perfectionist. He was all those and more. He could make your life so interesting you could hardly stand it.

Yet, while we are mainly concerned about animal facilities and animal husbandry, Ed practiced Disney World philosophies and techniques for zoo visitors involving clean restrooms and flower beds. I guess he knew we would take care of the animals, but someone had to look out for the mom and kids.

Finally, while we sometimes (make that often times) disagreed about the details and mechanics for solving a problem, there never was a doubt about Ed’s commitment to the long-term goal of benefiting his community.

The Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha and the state of Nebraska are better places to live because of Edward F. Owen. He was a gentleman. We will miss him, and he sure could make life interesting.

That he was. His enthusiasm and willingness to help support and hard work, is hard to replace. He made his mark on the community, his company, and his family and will forever be missed.

This year, Owen had it’s first bags tournament! We had 17 teams for first shift, and 6 teams for 2nd shift.

Winners for 1st shift:

Chris Schroeder and Ronnie Main in 1st place

Kaden Conrad and Stephen Fox in 2nd place.

2nd shift winners:

1st place: Eh Soe and Ehkue Htoo

2nd place: Than Win and Vichai Thomo

Fierce competition and tons of fun! Congratulations to our winners!


(Carter Lake, Iowa, September 1, 2023) – Owen Metals Group announced today the opening of their new Paxton & Vierling Finishing (PVF) facility in Carter Lake, Iowa. The company’s latest, most advanced line combines ten years of powder coating experience at their Northern Plains Finishing (NPF) division in Casselton, North Dakota, with the latest innovations in coating technologies. “Our new PVF line significantly increases finishing capacity while reducing costs for our customers in the lower Midwest,” said Tyler Owen, CEO/President of Owen Holdings Co.

The new system integrates part-specific instructions driven by barcoded hooks that travel with the parts. These hooks trigger automation, including four robots that perform custom paint applications. PVF line robots spray super-cooled powder with a technology that significantly increases the powder transfer rate. The PVF line integrates several borrowed and upgraded facets of the NPF system that have proven successful, including the 5-stage wash pretreatment system and a 10-gun auto paint booth.

The new PVF system features one of the lengthiest parts hanging areas of any paint line. The extended hanging space, coupled with the rise and fall of the conveyor line, allows parts to hang much closer than on a traditional monorail line. Owen Metals Group President Keith Siebels said, “We are also pleased that the unique design of our new PVF line requires fewer team members to operate, and those working the line can be in a more comfortable position throughout the production process.”


Owen Metals Group is a privately held company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Founded in 1885 as Paxton & Vierling Iron Works, the company is a well-established leader in the steel industry. Owen Metals Group produces the highest quality parts and steel castings, which are laser cut, formed, machined, and painted to spec for the most advanced manufacturers in the country. The company supplies complex structural fabrication systems to the most exacting standards through its subsidiary, Owen Industries.


Congratulations to our Spring/Summer 2023 Cornhole Champions at Omaha Steel! Our final two teams played for the championship title today. The team of Travis Toline and Joe Mader won the final game against Chase White and Paula Mimick with a final score of 21-10. Well done everyone! We look forward to a fun and competitive Fall tournament in September – so keep practicing!

Owen loves to support kids, this year we were sponsors for the PACE program that helps more than 1100 kids get free and reduced access to soccer teams for the summer. 

Celebrating 40 Years of Exceptional Engineering Excellence!

For four decades, Mark Holland has been an invaluable asset to our company, consistently displaying an unwavering commitment to innovation, expertise, and steadfast dedication. Throughout his illustrious career, Mark has played a pivotal role in shaping the very foundation of our organization, guiding us through technological advancements and pushing the boundaries of engineering excellence.

Mark’s passion for the craft, relentless pursuit of perfection, and unyielding work ethic have inspired and positively influenced countless colleagues, resulting in a stronger and more prosperous organization as a whole. This can be proven by his 2:00 am emails.

Mark has been instrumental in leading some of our most groundbreaking projects, turning complex challenges into triumphs. His depth of knowledge, unparalleled expertise, and visionary thinking have not only elevated our company’s reputation but also significantly contributed to advancements in the field of engineering itself.  This ultimately culminated in Mark receiving the AISC lifetime achievement award earlier this year, one of AISC’s highest honors.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Mark has selflessly shared his knowledge and experience, shaping the careers of numerous individuals within our organization (including both the current president and general manager).  His willingness to guide and nurture talent exemplifies their commitment to fostering a culture of growth, learning, and collaboration. 

Please join us in congratulating Mark on this momentous occasion and expressing our deepest appreciation for their 40 years of service

On behalf of the entire organization, we extend our warmest congratulations and our sincere thanks to Mark Holland. We look forward to many more years of collaboration and continued success as we embark on new frontiers together.