Kenall bringing up to 600 jobs across the border

Kenall Manufacturing evaluated both northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin for a year before it announced it would move operations from Gurnee, Ill. to Kenosha last week.

The company did an internal evaluation of its available space and determined it needed a larger building, said Randy Hernandez, executive vice president of operations.

Kenall will build a new 354,000-square-foot facility configured for its vertically integrated manufacturing operations. It is three times the size of the company’s current building, and will be near Interstate 94 on the west side of Kenosha.

The company, founded in 1963, has 400 employees and plans to hire another 200 in the next four to five years, Hernandez said.

The goal was to retain as many of Kenall’s employees as possible, so the company evaluated locations within a 30-mile radius.

“We investigated a number of sites and we narrowed it down to ultimately six a few months ago,” Hernandez said. “Ultimately, we decided Wisconsin was our best option for our business.”

Kenall’s pay scale, high tech operations and good manufacturing base made it an attractive add for Wisconsin.

“We worked with the governors’ offices of both states to see what would be best,” he said. “Both states provided incentives and Wisconsin was very aggressive in terms of the incentives.”

Kenall manufactures lighting for high abuse environments. It serves the medical/hospital, security, food processing and education industries.

It has grown between 10 and 20 percent for the last three years, and expects to continue at that pace for the next five to 10 years, on average, Hernandez said.

“With regard to the specialty fixture types that we manufacture for lighting these challenging environments, we’ve seen an uptick in the need for those kind of fixtures,” he said.

Advances in LED technology have been driving some of the demand for Kenall’s lighting products.

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