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NORTH SIOUX CITY | Ted Waitt and his friend, Mike Hammond started a personal computer business on the Waitt family farm near Sioux City in 1985.
The upstart company, called Gateway 2000, adopted a folksy advertising campaign that featured cows, paying homage to the cattle business owned by Waitt's father. Gateway also began plastering a black-and-white, Holstein-like pattern on its logo, boxes and exterior of its buildings.
The cow spots became synonymous with Gateway -- as ubiquitous as Nike's swoosh or Amazon.com's smirk -- and brought global attention to the place where South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska meet.
The distinct black and white markings on the network of five large metal, machine shed-like buildings that once housed Gateway's offices and manufacturing and warehouse space in North Sioux City serve as a testament of the homegrown company's glory days. At its peak, Gateway sold more PCs than any other direct U.S. marketer, and employed more than 5,700 locally.
After years of decline, the company was sold in 2007 to Taiwan-based computer maker Acer Inc. Today, just a handful of Gateway workers remain, maintaining computer servers in Main, the first cow-spotted building constructed in North Sioux City.
Main and four other buildings -- which Gateway called Mexico, Pacific, Peru and Argentina -- contain more than 746,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space, roughly the equivalent of 20 football fields.
More than half the space is leased to other companies, which includes FIMCO, a North Sioux City-based manufacturer of agricultural equipment that has space in the Peru building, and Alorica, a Chino, Calif.-based contractor of customer service that operates a call center in the Argentina building.