Last updated on October 20th, 2020 at 12:25 pm
Waukesha-based Generac Holdings Inc. is in the site selection process for another facility to produce its standby generators as it has seen demand increase with consumers spending more time at home.
“We’re running flat out right now,” Generac chairman and chief executive officer Aaron Jagdfeld said Thursday during the virtual BizTimes Next Generation Manufacturing Summit.
He explained that as more people are working remotely from home, the company has seen increased interest in its standby generators. That trend showed up in the company’s results in the first half of the year. Exiting the first quarter, the company expected sales to be down 5% to 10% with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the U.S. By the time Generac reported second quarter results, the company forecasted growth of 5% to 8%, a $300 million swing at the midpoint.
Jagdfeld said those trends have continued as the U.S. entered the Atlantic hurricane season and other weather and natural disasters have drawn attention to the need for backup power.
“Our backlogs are getting longer, lead times on the product are getting longer, which can be a frustrating experience,” Jagdfeld said.
He said despite higher unemployment the company’s top challenge remains manpower and Generac has had to get creative with the number and variety of shifts it offers, using part-time work and turning to temporary work as well. The company is also using a lot of overtime and its wage scales have gone up to attract workers.
Ultimately, the company plans to add production capacity with another facility that would come online next year, Jagdfeld said.
After the event’s recording, he told BizTimes the company is currently focused on adding capacity at its Jefferson, Wisconsin facility to augment the work done at its main residential generator facility in Whitewater.
“That is likely only a short-term solution to a longer-term capacity increase plan which would lead us to add another dedicated facility in the next 12-18 months,” Jagdfeld said.
The new plant could be in Wisconsin, but he noted the company already has six plants in the state and its customer base is seeing the fastest growth in the western and southeastern portions of the country. As a result, the plant would “likely” be outside Wisconsin.