Homegrown Growth

Posted on Jun 1, 2011 :: Development
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Photo by Patrick Ferron

Patience paid off for Mike Baudhuin. The owner of WireTech Inc. knew the supplier of custom fabricated wire products to industries needed more room to grow, but lacked the space to do so.
But after nearly 15 years of work with the City of Sturgeon Bay as well as the Door County Economic Development Corp., WireTech has a new 66,500-square-foot plant and office in the Sturgeon Bay Industrial Park.

“The new facility helps us to better serve our customers. We have a better layout in the plant that has improved our production flow,” Baudhuin says. “It’s also a cleaner environment so we’ve been able to take on some value-added work that wasn’t possible in our former location.”

Before WireTech could move to its new site, a plan was needed to create new financial investment at its former site, which was in the heart of a residential neighborhood. The city of Sturgeon Bay stepped in and bought the site for $1 million and began planning for a new 17-lot housing development.

“The city purchased the site and put in the infrastructure for these new homes,” says Bill Chaudoir, executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corp. “Work started in May on new model homes for the site, which is designed to be workforce housing priced between $130,000 and $145,000 per home.

“It’s not your typical TIF. WHEDA is providing funds to help build the model homes and there are a lot of incentives out there for homeowners.”

While homes are being built at its former location, WireTech is settling in nicely to its new home. Baudhuin says the $3 million facility allows the company to quickly adjust to its customers’ ever-changing needs.

“Since we’re in an industrial park, the freight traffic goes a lot smoother,” he says.
Baudhuin says WireTech’s move wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment of its 120 employees.

“Our employees put us in a good position to help us grow. Even though the economy was shaky, we were able to strengthen our relationships with customers and actually grow business,” he says. “They also took up the challenge and helped us move (to the new building) at the busiest time of the year. We didn’t miss a beat and made all of our deliveries on time.”

Baudhuin also praised Chaudoir and city officials for making the project happen. “Bill was a real bulldog. He kept working on this project to make it happen,” he says.

Moving Ahead

There’s no question the recession was tough on Bay Shipbuilding, one of Door County’s largest employers. But things are definitely looking up for the company, which is owned by Fincantieri Marine Group. Fincantieri, which also owns Marinette Marine, is investing $20 million to upgrade Bay Shipbuilding’s yard in Sturgeon Bay, Chaudoir says. The company just landed a contract to build two new 303-foot platform supply vessels for New Orleans-based Tidewater Marine.

“These are the first two platform supply vessels to be built on the Great Lakes and it could be a wonderful sign of things to come for Bay Shipbuilding,” Chaudoir says.

Bay Shipbuilding, which employs about 575, plans to recall laid off employees and add more workers to help fulfill the new order.