Plant News

Posted on Sep 15, 2016 :: Plant News
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

A brighter future: FVTC Foundation kicks off its Promise Program to make higher ed affordable

Eric Gonzalez-Kaczmarek appreciates a helping hand.

The one he received, in the form of a scholarship to attend Fox Valley Technical College, has enabled him to be a full-time student with a part-time job. In his mind, that is an important distinction.

“Because of the scholarship, I didn’t need to worry about my job,” says Gonzalez-Kaczmarek, a student in FVTC’s welding technology program. “I work fewer hours and have more time for school, for tests and for papers. I can take my classes faster and graduate earlier.”

By graduating faster, he may be able to fill one of the thousands of open technical jobs in Northeast Wisconsin that keep the region’s economic engine from firing on all cylinders.

In early August, FVTC kicked off Fox Valley Tech Promise, an initiative by the FVTC foundation to raise and use $1 million to provide scholarships to eligible students beginning this fall and to remove the cost barriers that keep talented students from pursuing higher education.

The initial $1 million campaign is expected to provide free tuition and books for up to 3,000 students over the next six years.

The initiative is set up to help address a major shortage throughout the region for skilled talent in a variety of workforce sectors. Area employers continue to struggle to find the right skill sets that align with their workplace objectives.

“I hear from companies every day that they can’t find enough skilled employees,” says Susan May, president of FVTC. “Yet poverty continues to grow in our region. Two-thirds of the families in poverty will not consider higher education because of the cost. That’s hundreds of talented individuals not getting training. We need to change that.”

To qualify for the new program, students entering their senior year of high school this fall are eligible for the scholarships in the 2017-18 academic year if they meet the following criteria:

• eligible for free and reduced hot lunch

• complete the FAFSA process

• live in the FVTC district

• maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in high school and 2.5 while attending FVTC

• carry a minimum of 12 credits per semester

• provide eight hours of volunteer service

This is the first initiative of its kind for any college or university in the region.

“This will help us address the skills gap while also making a difference in the lives of these students,” says Jackie Hintz, president of the FVTC Foundation board of directors.

While the program won’t help him directly, Gonzalez-Kaczmarek wanted to make sure everyone knew the impact a helping hand could get to help struggling families move up the economic ladder.

“I want to help like I was helped,” he says. “This program is going to help others and brighten the future of these students.”

LED Lighting Results in Many Benefits for Badger Tag & Label    

Badger Tag & Label replaced all the fluorescent bulbs with LED bulbs in its 30,000-square-foot facility in an effort to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and cut energy costs.

“The annual savings in electricity alone will be over $10,000. Add the $1,500 in maintenance savings and that’s impressive for one facility,” says Kevin Kalkofen, vice president. “We had hoped to complete the replacement sooner, but LED technology has really come down in cost and there are more options now so we benefited by waiting a bit.”

Aside from the cost savings, Badger Tag & Label considered several other factors in its decision, including: fluorescent bulbs are warranted for three years while LED bulbs come with a five-year warranty and are expected to last 80,000 hours; LED bulbs emit light in a 110-degree field vs. the 360 degrees of fluorescent so 70 percent hits the intended target; LED bulbs have no mercury and don’t require special handling for disposal; and instead of using heat to generate light LED uses energy to produce light so Badger will save on air conditioning costs as well.

Plymouth Foam expands into new materials and markets

Plymouth Foam Inc. has expanded its product line to include engineered particle foams and is expanding its production facilities in anticipation of growth in these new markets. 

The new products initially offered will include expanded polypropylene (EPP), expanded polyethylene and expanded thermoplastic urethane. Plymouth Foam provides engineered foam for the packaging industry and original equipment manufacturers.

“We have equally high expectations that the EPF platform will further differentiate and distinguish Plymouth Foam as a leader in particle foam solutions for packaging and OEM markets,” says David Bolland, president and CEO. “We have been collaborating with many close partners to introduce EPP into several non­automotive markets where they can leverage the material’s superior qualities.” 

EPP has mostly been utilized in the automotive industry and Plymouth Foam is looking to expand into new markets and applications where the physical properties and characteristics can be leveraged to improve client operations and products.

Port tonnage up for July, but still trailing 2015

The Port of Green Bay saw tonnage numbers increase in July 2016 over July 2015, but overall tonnage for the year remains down compared to last year.

“In July of this year, we had a 10 percent increase in total port tonnage over July 2015,” says Dean Haen, Brown County Port and Resource Recovery director. “That was largely due to an increase in domestic inbound limestone, salt and petroleum products.”

The port handled nearly 250,000 metric tons of cargo in July, well above the pace of 227,000 from July 2015. For the year, just under 800,000 tons of cargo have passed through the port, a decline of about 15 percent from the July 2015 year-to-date total of 940,000 tons.

“That’s largely due to reduced demand for coal, resulting from low-cost natural gas,” Haen says. “We’re only halfway through the shipping season, and shipments vary month-to-month, so we’re hopeful there will be a rebound in the coming months.”

Sixty-six ships have come through the port so far this year, which is nine less than the same time last year. Higher water levels have allowed ships to carry larger loads.

Amerequip launches third expansion in four years

Kiel-based Amerequip broke ground and began construction on its third major expansion in four years as the company continues its rapid growth. 

The latest project is an 88,000-square-foot addition to its Kiel fabrication plant that will enable the company to expand its fabrication operation and integrate it with its other core competencies of weld, paint and assembly.

Amerequip designs and manufactures custom equipment for the lawn, landscape, agricultural and construction markets. The firm’s products, produced in four Wisconsin locations by 260-plus employees, are sold worldwide.

“What makes this especially worthwhile is knowing it’s not just about a business expanding; it’s seeing the private-public sectors work together for the benefit of communities, the workforce and our customers,” says Mike VanderZanden, Amerequip CEO and president. “Our goal is to exceed $100 million in revenue with a workforce of 400 team members by 2020. We also have to thank our team members as well as our customers because, without them, we couldn’t continue our growth.”

The two previous expansions at Amerequip during the past four years totaled more than 100,000 square feet. Those expansions consolidated the firm’s welding operations into a state-of-the-art facility at Plant 3, enhanced Amerequip’s final assembly capacity and added a training center as well as an expansion of the company’s corporate headquarters.

Since 2011, Amerequip has invested more than $20 million in capital expenditures, including facility expansions. The phase three expansion is expected to be completed by May 2017.

Manitowoc Co. ships production to Pennsylvania facility

The Manitowoc Company, Inc. will relocate its crawler crane manufacturing operations from Manitowoc to Shady Grove, Pa.

Company officials say the move will optimize its manufacturing footprint, reduce costs and expand margins. This initiative will increase operational efficiency and allow the company to reallocate resources to invest in profitable growth.

The transition will begin in the third quarter with completion anticipated by the middle of 2017 and is expected to generate annualized pre-tax cost savings of $25 million to $30 million.

“We recognize that this will have a personal impact on people who have been dedicated to Manitowoc,” says Barry Pennypacker, president and chief executive officer. “We thank them for their contributions to the achievements of our business, and are committed to treating them fairly and with respect throughout this process.”

The company says its corporate headquarters will remain in Manitowoc, as will the engineering and related support functions for the crawler business.

WPI Awarded ISO 9001: 2008 Re-certification

Three divisions of Wisconsin Plastics, Inc. received ISO 9001:2008 recertification for the company’s quality management systems.

Modern Plastics, Modern Design and Development and Valley Plating & Fabricating were all recertified for quality management by Intertek, one of the leading quality assurance companies in the world.

“This recertification validates all of our efforts to continue to improve the quality, delivery and dependability of our products and services,” says Jim Christensen, president of WPI. “Our company is committed to providing exceptional products and customer service, and this also acknowledges the work of our staff for their dedication to quality.”

ISO 9001:2008 standards are recognized globally and are used by manufacturing and service organizations to create a standardized quality management system that is constantly monitored to ensure it conforms to the principles of continual quality improvement and customer satisfaction.

Once a business is ISO certified, it must go through a recertification process every three years. WPI received its initial quality management certification in 2007.

Oshkosh Corporation Honored with the Defense Security Service’s Cogswell Award

Oshkosh Corporation received the 2016 James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award from the Defense Security Service for work at its Oshkosh facility.

The award recognizes industrial security excellence and is one of the most esteemed awards given by the Defense Security Service, a federal security agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. Of the more than 13,000 cleared facilities, less than 1 percent, or only 42 facilities, received this award.

“We’re proud to be recognized among the elite companies selected to receive this prestigious award,” says Wilson R. Jones, Oshkosh Corporation president and chief executive officer. “This award highlights our commitment to serving our role in the national security mission of the Defense Security Service. Through disciplined security procedures and training, our employees demonstrate an exceptional commitment to managing security procedures and information as required by the Department of Defense.”

Facilities may be nominated for the award by their assigned industrial security representative only if they have a minimum of two consecutive superior industrial security review ratings and also show a commitment to excellence and innovation in overall security program management, implementation and oversight.

Events News


Manufacturing First set Oct 19-20

The sixth annual Manufacturing First Expo & Conference, a showcase of industry advances and successes, takes center stage Oct. 19 and 20 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay.

The event opens with multiple education opportunities and the NEWMA Excellence in Manufacturing/K-12 Partnerships Awards Dinner on Oct. 19. The main event kicks off on the morning of the 20th with keynote speaker Mark King, president of Adidas North America. King, a Green Bay native, will speak about the Evolution of Leadership in his presentation, drawing on lessons learned from his career at both Adidas and 20 years spent building TaylorMade, one of the world’s leading golf suppliers.

Additional educational sessions, including several hands-on, interactive sessions, will follow throughout the day.

More than 150 exhibitors will be showcasing the latest technologies and products serving the manufacturing industries, and more than 1,100 are expected to attend the two-day event.

One out of four Northeast Wisconsin residents is employed by a manufacturer. For information on the event and admission, visit

Launch Wisconsin seeks to boost regional entrepreneurs

The second annual Launch Wisconsin event takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Lambeau Field Atrium.

After a successful first event in 2015, organizers expect as many as 1,500 to 2,000 to attend this year at some point during the event. Registration starts at 10 a.m. on the fourth floor of the atrium and the program kicks off at 11 a.m. with exhibits, speakers, panel discussions and entrepreneur pitches.

The day caps with networking and live music from 5 to 7 p.m.

Entrepreneurs, corporations, venture capitalists and — to keep it current — Millennials who are entrepreneurs and professionals, including artists, musicians and film producers, have been specifically targeted for attendance, says John Ernst, the event president and executive director.

About 100 speakers will present on four stages, representing 12 topical categories: Venture Capital, Enterprise, Gamification, Music and Art, Social, Food & Farm, Health Care, the Internet of Things, Sport, FinTech (financial technology), Reverse Pitch and Startup Pitch.

New North Summit returns to Green Bay

The 13th annual New North Summit will be held Dec. 6 at the KI Convention Center in downtown Green Bay.

Themed “Talent Triathlon — Compete to win in the race for talent,” the 2016 summit is geared towards business executives, education leaders, nonprofit heads, manufacturers, IT professionals, elected officials, community members and other stakeholders from around the region and state.

Registration now is open for the full-day event, which brings back last year’s popular “ED Talks” format exploring economic development success stories from around the region. Of course, networking opportunities also play a key role at the summit.

Networking begins at 8 a.m., followed by the start of the 2016 summit program at 9 a.m. During the 2015 summit, 62 percent of attendees reported they met four or more new contacts, and 87 percent said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with the event’s networking opportunities.

Online registration is open at