Giant light bulbs that decorate the streets of Lincoln, Nebraska, artistic cranes spread throughout Kearney, the wolf mascot that stands high above each Bosselman convenience store and to-scale replicas of fire hydrants found in mainstream movies are just some of the projects that come out of Icon Poly located just west of Gibbon, on U.S. Hwy 30.
Kyle Vohland and his family have built a unique business that has grown since 1998, and is now nationally recognized. They use a polyurethane resin molding process that can result in a single, customized model or a mass-quantity job that results in multiple pieces. Kyle has perfected this process over the years by adapting the machinery used for pouring polyurethane resin molds. This was something that started as a hobby for Vohland while transitioning from the sale of his IT company in the mid-90s. Having a background in government resourcing and understanding the impact of the Internet, Icon Poly positioned itself as a leader in the industry. The custom jobs they have come from requests all over the country, including pieces needed for movies, television shows and amusement parks.
This family-owned business is one that takes the family part pretty seriously. Currently, Kyle’s father Lee Vohland, uncle Ron Cline and brother Korry Vohland are all involved part-time. In fact, it was Vohland’s brother, a volunteer fire-fighter, who inspired the business. He asked Kyle to create a lightweight replica of a fire hydrant he could use to decorate his home. This turned into a partnership between the main manufacturers of hydrants with Icon Poly for training, media and sales use. Once the Hollywood studios discovered Icon Poly, requests for other “props” like mailboxes, light poles and statues became a regular demand in the business.
Kyle’s partner and wife, Daniele, handles the administrative side. She has a background and education in early childhood development and has home-schooled their three children. Kylee (18), Remington (17) and Drake (11) have been involved in Icon Poly their entire lives. Each of them has a different interest in the business, Kylee is drawn to the new technology and video marketing, Remington has become a self-taught graphic designer and printer, and Drake may be one of the youngest electricians in central Nebraska with his skill set in animatronics and wiring.
Vohland has been sure to move forward in his business legally by taking the proper steps to ensure his intellectual property is protected as well as getting the right permissions and copyrights when dealing with licensed objects. He has followed the necessary protocols set by the USPTO and Library of Congress. This has proven to be beneficial as he now has authorization from many different original manufacturers to represent their products through the Icon Poly mold process.
Icon Poly is the one-stop, full-service deal. They compete with the top reproduction companies in the U.S. Only about five others have similar capabilities. Icon Poly is one of the most efficient with the ability to produce about 15 large sculptures per day. They can use their 3-D scanning and printing equipment to render a full-size replication of pretty much any object. They then can create a sculpture and/or mold, produce, paint and mobilize the object. They even deliver and install most all pieces they produce. They have a fleet of trailers and they personally deliver their work to the end user. The entire family has been helping with this and it has afforded them some great family vacations and learning experiences as they have seen all corners of the United States.
The Vohland family has discovered a passion for amusement parks and bringing that entertainment factor to their customers. They are becoming the area specialists when it comes to animatronics. They introduced KneeKnocker Woods, an animatronic Halloween experience. The family is involved in coordinating the Gibbon Festival on the Bricks each year. They would love to eventually have an amusement attraction in central Nebraska that utilizes their skills in prop building, area promotion and entertaining the masses.
As they move into the next generation of their business, they will continue to produce the polyurethane resin and fiberglass sculptures on-demand as well as their wholesale products that now include over 400 different animals, objects and iconic figures. They are in the process of growing the amusement and experience side of the business with franchising the KneeKnocker Woods business concept.
They are always following the entertainment factor of their business and encouraging their children to discover different paths that tend to transition into enhancing the business and learning about their own passions.