Brace yourself

Posted on Sep 1, 2017 :: Made in the New North
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

If you’re a parent whose jaw has dropped
at the price of your child’s orthodontia, you’re in good company.

When Dan Merkel saw the bill for his daughter’s braces in 1968, he was so astonished at the cost that he launched his own company, American Orthodontics, with the mission of providing better value to customers. Starting small with machines bought from a struggling Chicago company, today it boasts top-three positioning in global sales.

Approaching its 50th year in business, the Sheboygan company manufactures just about everything connected with braces, from brackets to wires to rubber bands. It employs nearly 700 people globally, including 400 in its hometown facility, where it makes about 98 percent of its products. 


“There’s a lot of pride in our manufacturing process here in Sheboygan,” says Matt Klitzke, marketing communications manager at American Orthodontics.

Klitzke says the company, which moved into a new 300,000-square-foot facility in 2012, continually develops new products, anticipates customer needs and stays on top of trends.

“Within the past 10 to 15 years, we’ve really taken ahold of that and become a global leader.”