Western Report: Jay Leno salutes A. Y. McDonald in Dubuque

A.Y. McDonald Manufacturing Co. of Dubuque had a birthday this year, not just any birthday, but a milestone birthday.

This year, A.Y. McDonald Co. turned 150 years old. Think about it—a century and a half. And all that time it has been run by just one family—the McDonald family, from its founder, Scottish immigrant Andrew Young McDonald to its current top man, fifth-generation McDonald, Michael B. McDonald.

The company is an American standard in manufacturing water works service line brass: plumbing valves and fittings; pumps and water systems; and high-pressure gas valves and meter bars.

To mark this special year in its rich history, A.Y. McDonald Co. celebrated with their employees a year-long party, which included special company functions throughout the year, an extra event-filled company picnic and even a large donation to completely renovate a Dubuque riverfront park that was renamed in honor of the company founder.

But the centerpiece of the celebration was the company dinner event that was held at the Dubuque Grand River Center Sept. 16. The event was planned over the last three years and included committees working on every individual component. And when they were all put together, it was a magical night honoring a great American company.

Even with all of the events and all of the great give-a-ways and prizes for employees during the year and at the dinner, the company wanted to make the night extra special, and they did.

The headline entertainment was none other than Jay Leno, and he rocked the place. Leno was non-stop for just about an hour and a half as he criss-crossed the stage easily going from topic to topic—all without cue-cards. He finished to a standing ovation and then was coaxed back out on stage to handle the prize raffling duties which he put his own spin on and adlibbed through the entire drawing.

Before he left, though, Leno got serious and told the audience about his own scholarship program which he directs for the machine shop industry. He explained that he is concerned about the lack of American companies providing the goods and services our country needs. Leno does what he can to support American companies that work to keep jobs here in the U.S. That was one of the main reasons he was eager to do the A.Y. McDonald show.

John Huschik is a free-lance writer from Galena and covers the Jo Daviess County political scene.

From the Sept. 27-Oct.3, 2006, issue

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