Meet the five fastest growing companies in Kenosha County.
ASYST Technologies LLC
Industry: Injection molding and automation
Address: 5811 99th Ave., Kenosha
Kenosha-based ASYST Technologies LLC makes headlights, taillights and fog lamps for the automotive industry.
Employees must be meticulous in production, since product recalls are a real threat to the company’s automaker customers.
“If you don’t have quality parts, you’re out of the game pretty fast, especially in automotive,” said Gerold Hackenbracht, president.
The company has two manufacturing plants totaling 86,000 square feet on its campus. One makes injection molded plastic components and assemblies of plastic parts, the other performs automation work.
ASYST was formed in 1996 through a joint venture between an EJOT Holding and ATF Inc. It moved from Illinois to Kenosha in 1998.
In the past two years, Hackenbracht has hired an additional 15 employees as a result of new customers and new technologies.
He has also invested $1.5 million in new equipment this year, including vertical presses for injection molding, which allow the business to make different parts than it can with its horizontal presses.
ASYST has had 25 percent revenue growth in molding and assembly and 50 percent automation growth over the last year. The automation growth is driven by higher automotive demand as production picks up in the sector.
Recently, the company has seen its plastic parts replacing metal parts in the trend toward lighter, more fuel efficient parts in vehicles.
“Every little gram, every ounce counts,” Hackenbracht said.
He plans to continue to grow the company with a new crop of engineers, and develop new automotive parts for other areas of the vehicle.
The award is a recognition of what ASYST is doing for the community, he said.
“It’s good for my people, for the team,” Hackenbracht said. “It’s a great team achievement for us.”
Catalyst Exhibits Inc.
Industry: Custom exhibits
Address: 7809 100th St., Pleasant Prairie
Catalyst Exhibits Inc., a custom exhibit design and manufacturing company, was founded in 1998 in Illinois. But a combination of freeway proximity, incentives and tax differences convinced president and CEO Tim Roberts to move the company to Pleasant Prairie in 2011.
“The benefit of moving here was the business environment was better (and) the community here works really well,” Roberts said. “The move allowed us to completely reinvent ourselves.”
Catalyst is located in a 145,000-square-foot facility that’s about 5,000 square feet larger than its previous building. But the new workflow layout allows the space to be used about 40 percent more efficiently, he said.
The company also has salespeople in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston, and manufacturing facilities in Amsterdam and Munich. U.S. products are manufactured in Pleasant Prairie, while European products are made at the overseas plants.
The exhibit manufacturing industry has changed over time, from wood-based products to fabric, large format printing and metal products. The new facility has allowed the company to grow into the trend.
Catalyst has clients worldwide, particularly in the medical and heavy machinery industries.
The company has hired at least 15 employees in the past year, Roberts said. Revenue is up about 25 percent.
“We’ve had tremendous growth,” he said. “It really isn’t any one thing. We’re old fashioned. We’re just going out and pounding the pavement.”
The company has invested in talented designers to drive new ideas and create unique designs. Design is Catalyst’s product, Roberts said.
Catalyst’s keys to success are a focus on quality, growth, efficiency and innovation, he said.
“We try to strive for those four things every day, and you have to have all four of them,” Roberts said.
Clean & Green Solutions LLC
Industry: Professional cleaning
Address: 5008 Green Bay Road, Kenosha
Jennifer Rowntree Moskopf grew up helping her mother clean dentist offices, and she knew there was a demand for good professional cleaning.
She worked at a Wall Street bank for five years, and eventually made her way back to Kenosha to open Clean & Green Solutions LLC in 2011.
Rowntree Moskopf applied the skills she had learned in the financial industry to cleaning, emphasizing customer service and reliability.
The entrepreneur also wanted to make sure employees and clients weren’t exposed to harsh chemicals, so the company uses eco-friendly green products.
Clean & Green serves both businesses and homeowners. From medical office cleaning to post-construction cleaning, Rowntree Moskopf is confident the company could clean any space.
The employees are a major asset to the business, and one of the keys to its success.
“We really do have a best in class team of people that are really committed to providing best in class cleaning,” she said. “I think what I’ve learned two years in is once you find good people, they help you attract other good people.”
Clean & Green has a 700-square-foot office with two full-time office professionals to answer calls and schedule cleanings. The other 14 employees travel in teams to job sites, using company branded cars. A team can clean up to six homes per day.
In the past year, the business has more than doubled the number of employees, Rowntree Moskopf said. Revenue is up 250 percent year over year.
While Clean & Green targets the Kenosha market, it can also complete jobs throughout southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
“With having company vehicles and strong operational excellence, we are able to go further,” Rowntree Moskopf said.
Dooley & Associates LLC
Address: 600 52nd St., Suite 140, Kenosha
Kenosha-based marketing firm Dooley & Associates considers the color orange a part of its identity.
“It really embraces who we are as a company,” said founder and principal Jennifer Dooley. “It’s known as a young, energetic, fun color.”
Its website is decorated with orange fruits, and the homepage asks visitors “Orange you glad you found us?”
Its services include marketing and public relations, social media, graphic design, logos and websites.
Dooley founded the company in 2008 at her home. The company opened a Twin Lakes location in 2009 and its first Kenosha location in 2011.
On Oct. 1, the company’s 10 employees moved into one location at 600 52nd St. in downtown Kenosha. The space is about 1,200 square feet.
“It was a better environment for the team to all be under one roof, so we could better serve our clients,” Dooley said.
Dooley & Associates has a broad spectrum of clients across many industries, which allows the team to be creative.
“One of the keys to success is that we have I think the most talented people in my industry,” Dooley said. “The foundation of our success is our talent and I’m really driven to find people that are going places in their career.”
The company has a “work hard, play hard” attitude, with employees often participating in community events.
In 2012, Dooley brought its outsourced digital marketing services in-house and expanded its team to accommodate more work on websites, search engine optimization, social media and online strategies.
“We’re always open to new opportunities and I think that openness and being willing to grow quickly is something we’ve never shied away from,” she said.
Iris USA Inc.
Industry: Storage and organization products
Address: 11111 80th Ave., Pleasant Prairie
Employees: 307; 207 in Pleasant Prairie
Pleasant Prairie-based Iris USA Inc. specializes in manufacturing storage and organization products – for both people and pets.
Iris makes carts, drawers, file boxes, craft storage, pet food storage, pet containment and litter boxes using injection molding.
Founded in 1994, Iris opened its Kenosha County location, which is now the headquarters, in 1997. The company also has a manufacturing facility in Mesquite, Texas.
And President Chet Keizer plans to expand the Pleasant Prairie facility or open a third location on the East Coast within the next two years.
“We have been very fortunate, even during the downturn, that in the first couple of years, we were able to hold our own and in the last couple of years were able to accelerate our growth,” Keizer said. “Driving the sales has been new products that we’ve introduced over the last several years and stronger relationships that have developed with some of the major retailers.”
Iris USA’s customers include Staples Inc., PetSmart Co., Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Sometimes, orders from these retailers’ websites are shipped directly from Iris.
Warehouse space accounts for more than half of the company’s 610,000-square-foot headquarters.
In 2011, Iris invested in a multi-million dollar machine to manufacture pet pads, and it plans to install a second one in the near future, Keizer said.
“We actually took the (pet pad) manufacturing from China and brought it to Wisconsin. We were really proud of having the ability to do that,” he said.
The company will add 17 injection molding machines in Pleasant Prairie next year. From 2012 to 2013, Iris has added 19 employees.
Iris has recently been growing its e-commerce business to sell direct to consumers, and has started distributing LED lighting, Keizer said. In addition, it has expanded its licensing program to make branded products for companies like Disney.