Klement’s investing $7.5 million upgrades to Chase Avenue plant

Company evaluating potential closure of its Lincoln Avenue facility

Gov. Scott Walker, Mayor Tom Barrett and Klement officials participate in a groundbreaking.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:22 pm

Klement’s Sausage Co. will spend $7.5 million expanding and modernizing its Chase Avenue plant as part of project announced at a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday.

Gov. Scott Walker, Mayor Tom Barrett and Klement officials participate in the groundbreaking ceremony at the company’s Chase Avenue plant.

The project is part of a three-year evaluation of the company’s facilities that also included the possibility of constructing a new factory or a much larger expansion on the south end of the current facility.

“The good news is all the options we looked at were local,” said Tom Danneker, Klement’s chief executive officer. “From really day one we said, ‘We’re committed to Milwaukee.”

Ultimately, Klement’s will add 5,000 square feet on the north end of the plant at 2650 S. Chase Ave. and renovate 50,000 square feet inside to improve production operations and potentially double capacity.

Klement’s is also contemplating closing its nearby plant at 207 E. Lincoln Ave., but will continue operating it in 2019, Danneker told BizTimes.

“It’s certainly part of what we’re evaluating,” he said.

“I think there is a longer-term vision that (the Chase Avenue) plant can be the future, but just for clarity, employment is going to grow,” Danneker added. “Even if we do end up moving out of (the Lincoln Avenue) plant, all of those employees, we need them, desperately, frankly employment is our biggest challenge.”

The Klement plant on Lincoln Avenue in Milwaukee.

Klement’s has been operating at the Lincoln Avenue facility since 1956 and other sausage operations used the original building for decades before. The result is a building that is not conducive to modern manufacturing processes.

“It’s one of those things where if you can consolidate into one facility and increase your output in the end, we’re going to be a better company,” Danneker said.

The additional space at the Chase Avenue plant will be used for meat formulation, but the larger vision is to improve the flow of production and improved equipment.

“We’d rather invest in equipment and modernization of the plant versus just square footage,” Danneker said.

The project will allow Klement’s to keep up with growth and while Danneker anticipates employment increasing, including a potential second shift, he declined to provide specific figures.

“In all likelihood job growth will be part of it, but it’s hard for me to say ‘yes, it’s going to be this number,’” he said.

Danneker also the company is anticipating financial support from state or local officials, but also declined to share specifics. Gov. Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett both joined the company for the groundbreaking.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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