America’s garbage disposal maker

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Nearly all of the residential and commercial garbage disposal units made and sold in the United States are built by InSinkErator in Racine.

From its 450,000-square-foot headquarters and main production facility, the company produces about 20,000 units per day.

“By a wide margin (household disposal units) are our largest business and what is manufactured in (the Racine) plant,” said David MacNair, vice president of marketing.

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InSinkErator builds eight different residential garbage disposer models, ranging from one to three stages and from one-third of a horsepower to one horsepower, each with varying levels of sound reduction.

“The (Evolution PRO) Excel (the company’s top-line residential model) is at least 60 percent quieter than the standard disposal unit,” MacNair said. “We have a number of technologies we use in it, such as the anti-vibration mount, which isolates the motor from the sink and dramatically reduces noise and vibration.”

InSinkErator produces its line of commercial disposal units in its facility in Sturtevant, which also serves as its distribution center. The commercial disposers are used in restaurants, schools, hotels and institutional settings, MacNair said.

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“Conceptually, it’s the same idea as a home disposal unit,” he said. “But they are much larger – up to 10 horsepower and designed for continuous duty. You can leave these on and they can run virtually forever.”

InSinkErator has three lines of products: residential disposers, commercial disposers and instant hot water dispensers, which are primarily sold to the residential market.

The company’s instant hot water dispensers are manufactured in an Emerson Electric Co. facility in Mexico. Emerson is the corporate parent of InSinkErator, and has owned the company since the late 1960s.

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The instant hot water dispensers consist of a secondary, miniature hot water heater installed under a kitchen sink, paired with a sink-top faucet. Options include a second handle for hot water, filtration units and chillers to dispense cold water in addition to hot water.

“The tank under the sink is the same (in each unit), but what is different is what you put on top of the sink,” MacNair said.

In addition to its eight different models of residential garbage disposals, InSinkErator produces a wide range of additional models – the company acts as a private label manufacturer for many brands sold in the U.S.

“We are the only manufacturer of disposals in North America and the largest in the world by a large margin,” MacNair said. “GE (General Electric) is the only major brand in the category that is not made by us.”

Between its two Racine-area facilities, InSinkErator has about 1,000 employees. The company laid off about 100 workers in the early part of the year due to slowing demand for its disposal units.

“Our last couple of years have been down significantly, in double digits,” MacNair said. “These have been tough times, and we are not used to that. But we think we’ve found the bottom and that the worst is behind us. We think next year will be up, but it will take several years to get back to where we were in 2006 and 2007. We are slowly taking some line rates back up, but everyone’s very gun-shy.”

InSinkErator plans to capitalize on the growing interest in “green” products to increase its global sales. While the company now sells its disposal units in 90 different countries, the majority of its sales are in the U.S.

“The rest of the world is an enormous opportunity,” MacNair said.

A garbage disposal unit makes better sense for food waste than throwing it into a landfill, he said, because wastewater treatment facilities can capture material and find ways to use it.

“MMSD (Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District) currently ‘harvests’ its wastewater for renewable content,” MacNair said. “They turn it into clean water, renewable energy in the form of methane gas and fertilizer.”

European countries, which used to discourage garbage disposal units in the past, have started to see them as a way to prevent food-related waste entering landfills, which could help InSinkErator increase sales there.

“Stockholm (Sweden) is now encouraging disposers,” MacNair said. “The bid idea is getting closer to the promise of reducing, reusing and recycling, using all of the resources we have.”


4700 21st St., Racine

Industry: Residential and commercial garbage disposal units, instant hot water dispensers

Employees: about 1,000

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