Busch Precision Inc., a longtime Milwaukee machining and maintenance firm, ceased operations earlier this month after it was acquired by a private equity firm, leaving more than 30 employees without jobs.
Mike Mallwitz, the company’s now former president, told attendees at an Independent Business Association of Wisconsin breakfast last week that the company had been bought and then unexpectedly closed.
Mallwitz declined to comment when asked for additional details following the event. He also declined to comment when reached by phone earlier this month.
State corporate records show the company’s registered agent was changed Jan. 3 from Barbara Grove to Richard Erikson.
A Milwaukee merger and acquisition source said the company was bought by BlueWater Equity Partners, a Michigan-based private equity firm that invests in small cap companies.
BlueWater’s website lists Erikson as a director. He did not respond to an email and phone message left earlier this month. A BlueWater employee reached by phone said Erikson was not available Wednesday and he would pass along a message regarding the Busch Precision acquisition.
A document celebrating Busch Precision’s 110-year history on the company’s website lists a total of 37 employees, with some having joined the company in the 1970s and ’80s. One-third of the employees were with the company at least a decade.
Since the closing, Mallwitz has worked with the Waukesha County Business Alliance to find work for former Busch Precision employees.
Suzanne Kelley, WCBA president and chief executive officer, said Mallwitz has been a part of the organization’s Manufacturing Executive Council for a number of years. After the company closed, she said he reached out to let the Alliance know there would be potential employees available.
“Right now, his No. 1 concern is not himself, but finding jobs for the people who worked for him. I think that commitment is going to mean good things for those employees down the road,” Kelley said.
She added that a significant number of employees have either been offered or are close to receiving job offers from area companies, noting a lot of manufacturers are looking for qualified workers.
“We’re hopeful that the vast majority of them will find work locally,” she said.
The J.C. Busch Co. was founded in 1907 as a machine shop in the Walker’s Point area, working with many of the city’s early industrialists, including Ole Evinrude in particular, according to the company’s 110-year anniversary book. From 1952 through the mid-1970s, the company operated from the building on South Barclay now occupied by 88Nine Radio Milwaukee.
The company moved to North 60th Street and Douglas Avenue on the city’s northwest side in 1975 and moved again in 1989 to the Bradley Woods business park. After moving to the 140,000-square-foot facility, the company rebranded as Busch Precision in 1992.
Mallwitz, who was with the company for 38 years, was named president in 2010. Kelley said he’s been engaged on workforce issues at the state, county and local levels for a number of years and was able to leverage those relationships to help find former employees work.