Orbit Products in Carthage, Missouri. Photo by Rachel Harper.
Photo by Rachel Harper

Owners: Debbie Sanders and Susan Knost

Location: Carthage, Missouri

History: Orbit Products in Carthage, Mo., was founded by Gary Knost in 1958 with production starting in 1962. 

Prior to the 1950s, calf creep feeders were sold and shipped in pieces to be assembled. Gary saw a need to create a completed product ready to ship straight to the farm. Gary came from a long line of engineers and designers. His grandfather, Lloyd Knost, held several patents for machines that helped with the local mining industry. Gary passed away in 1995 and his sons, Don Knost and David Knost, took over the daily production and operations and his daughter Debbie Sanders assisted with the business marketing. 

“Our mother Melba Knost was our bookkeeper for many years as we expanded our product line,” Debbie said. “Don was equally talented like Dad with his architectural skills and helped design and develop metal projects for businesses around the area. David was also very gifted working with a lathe. Both of my brothers were amazingly skilled welders.

“Both of my brothers have recently passed away, but they did a really good job of continuing Dad’s legacy.”

 Don’s wife Susan Knost is now the general manager of operations and Mark Heman, a longtime employee, is the general manager of production. Debbie continues to help with marketing and overseas operations as the current president. 

Products and Services: Orbit Products manufacturers and sells creep feeders, head gates and grooming chutes, with an expanded line of goat and sheep creep feeders, plus many other items. 

“We have five styles of creepers: the original Lil, Twin, Maxi, Goat and Sheep,” Debbie said. “We make a universal feeder and round bay feeder, as well as a metal feed bunk.” 

All products are manufactured in Carthage, Mo., and are tested on the family farm. 

“We sell wholesale via our dealers and distributors with a listing of products on our website,” Debbie said. 

Orbit Products is also known for steel fabrication and other repairs. 

Future of the Business: In the next few years, they are looking at selling the business. “My hope is someone will want to continue to produce our product line and the quality my dad and brothers poured their lives into,” Debbie said. “I am very proud of the impact my family has had on the many people’s lives who have come and gone as employees and stayed lifelong friends.” 


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