The numbers are impressive for advanced manufacturing in the Madison Region, where 1,400 manufacturing establishments employ more than 68,000 workers and the average annual wage is more than $50,000.
“The Madison Region claims historic strength in manufacturing and production, paired with high-tech processes pioneered by our higher education and research institutions,” says Paul Jadin, president of Madison Region Economic Partnership. “Companies looking to open or expand advanced manufacturing facilities in the Madison Region will benefit from a multitude of industrial parks, moderate utility prices and strong technical and four-year education institutions.”
The region, which includes Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock and Sauk counties, offers standout quality of life attributes, a lower cost of living and a range of lifestyle choices from urban to rural. The University of Wisconsin-Madison helps draw talented millennials, and area companies also have access to available sites and spec buildings, moderate utility rates and a skilled workforce with a long legacy of craftsmanship. Those attributes have created an inviting environment for investment and expansion for manufacturers such as Vollrath Co., which makes food service industrial washing systems and plastic kitchen products like lid dispensers, bakery cases and condiment holders for restaurants, hotels, stadiums and convenience stores. The company employs 120 workers at its Dane County operations facility.
“Many of the same reasons why people are drawn to the region are the same reasons it is a good place to do business, including being within hours of Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis that provide quick access to customers, suppliers and distribution opportunities,” says Mike Kolinski, Vollrath director of operations-Dane County. “There is also the University of Wisconsin-Madison available to partner with in terms of educational opportunities and resources.”
Vollrath’s corporate portfolio includes recent acquisitions of food service manufacturing companies Acry Fab and Traex, and both of those operations have now been combined into one facility in Dane County.
“We continue to look for growth opportunities to better service our growing customer base and continue our commitment to advanced manufacturing in Dane County,” Kolinski says.
Jadin notes the region’s pro-business environment.
“Manufacturers locating or expanding in the region may be eligible for Wisconsin Economic Development Tax Credits,” Jadin says. “Resources such as Blackhawk Technical College, Madison College, Moraine Park Technical College and Southern Wisconsin Technical College offer degree programs and training that support advanced manufacturing.”
Manufacturing success in the Madison Region is easy to find. In Green County, Kuhn North America makes plows, balers, spreaders, planting equipment and other agricultural machinery sold around the world. In 2016, Saint-Gobain, the French industrial conglomerate, completed an $11.5 million expansion of its innovative materials plant that manufactures components for medical devices in Portage County. Also in 2016, Oklahoma-based HSI Sensing opened a development lab in Madison to focus on manufacturing technology and efficient processes to produce electronic switches and sensors for various industries.
“With HSI Sensing’s focus on innovation, R&D and precision manufacturing, they are a perfect fit for this region,” Jadin says.
The region’s diverse manufacturing sector includes small appliances, food products machinery, household refrigerators and freezers, metal manufacturing, plastics, tractors and trailers. Among the major manufacturing employers are Cardinal Glass, Cummins Emissions, Electronic Theatre Controls, GE Healthcare, John Deere, Spacesaver, Spectrum Brands, Sub-Zero Wolf, Teel Plastics and Trek Bicycles. Madison-Kipp Corp. (MKC) manufactures precision machined components for the transportation, industrial and lawn-and-garden industries. In 2016, the company completed a $3.5 million expansion at its Sun Prairie Business Park site in Dane County. The expansion allows MKC to house all its warehousing and manufacturing operations at one location and positions the company to innovate additional products for both domestic and foreign customers.
“We enjoy our relationship with the City of Sun Prairie and are pleased to grow our footprint here with 90,000 square feet of beautiful new manufacturing space,” says Tony Koblinski, MKC president.