30 years ago today, Rich Knight, Terry Leonard, and Gary Roop came together to form their own diecast company. They argued over what to call the company, but ultimately went with First Gear as everyone knows when driving a stick shift, you always start out in first. The company’s roots began in Downtown Dubuque at 801 Jackson St. developing their signature promotional 1/34 scale for custom imprinting. First Gear’s first model ever produced was a 1951 Ford Dry Goods Van.
First Gear’s level of detail and quality set them apart from their competitors and the idea of getting your own custom diecast replica took off. The company quickly expanded their offerings with more models and in 1993 they moved west to setup shop in Peosta.
Fall of 1993 - Joel Wood (Graphics), Terry Leonard (Legal), Deb Schuster (Accounting), Fred Waelchi (Sales), Mike Drapeau (Warehouse), and Rich Knight (Owner)
Knight Family breaks ground at new Peosta headquarters, 1995
Business took off in the mid 90’s and by 1995, First Gear broke ground on their very own facility in Peosta at 8668 Kapp Dr where they are located today. The new facility allowed them to ship product globally, warehouse product, and expand their staff.
2001 First Gear Staff Photo
In 2018 First Gear acquired its leading competitor, Die-Cast Promotions, driving home the fact that First Gear is one of the leading diecast companies in the U.S. producing premium diecast replicas. Today we are proud to continue serving the diecast community and our clients worldwide with a product and a business that will last for generations to come.