Generac to hire 100 statewide, revamp manufacturing facilities

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Waukesha-based Generac Power Systems Inc. announced last week that it will hire approximately 100 employees in Southeastern Wisconsin, the Fox Valley, Berlin and Oshkosh. In total, it has approximately 3,400 employees.

The company, a designer and manufacturer of generators and other small engine powered products, held a job fair last week at its Whitewater facility to recruit employees for the open positions in customer support, engineering and operations.

The company also held a job fair in Oshkosh in May in an effort to fill 100 positions companywide. Although Generac public relations manager Art Aiello said there could be some overlap between those positions and the newly announced ones, the majority of the positions announced last week are new.

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“They are simply part of our continued growth,” Aiello said. “Generac continues to see a great deal of demand for home standby generators, as well as the portable generators, and we want to make sure we are staffed accordingly to meet those demands.”

Generac, which has more than 70 percent of the home standby generator market share nationwide, has benefited from the rapidly growing residential generator market that has resulted from a rising number of power outages. Generator manufacturers attribute the outages to aging power grids and several severe storms that have knocked out power to large areas of the country.

In an October 2013 interview with BizTimes Milwaukee, Generac president and chief executive officer Aaron Jagdfeld said he anticipates Generac’s home standby business will grow at between 11 and 13 percent annually going forward.

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Generac announced the hiring plans at a media day last week, at which time it also revealed changes to its Whitewater plant that include a digital manufacturing line.

Aimed at attracting a younger workforce that wants tech-savvy careers, the factory’s digital components are intended to make it easier to increase production and to train new employees during high volume times.

The multi-million dollar digital manufacturing line, which is used by 28 to 32 people per shift, was implemented in part of Whitewater’s facility in April. While the Eagle and Jefferson facilities are also operating pilot manufacturing lanes, Generac plans a digital rollout across all of its plants over the next two to three years.

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“We’re using this time as an opportunity to make sure we get all the kinks worked out before we roll it out across all the facilities, but they are fully operational,” Aiello said. “The approach we are taking is very cutting-edge, and we feel we are at the forefront of this technology.”

Among the new features of Whitewater’s newly revamped factory are a centralized location called the “super market” where all the raw materials are located, digital screens at each station that actively update the workers on manufacturing processes, and a digital board that tracks hour-by-hour performances of such factors as safety, quality and productivity.

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