Master Lock to move HQ to former Caterpillar complex in Oak Creek

Decides against moving downtown

The former Caterpillar facility in Oak Creek.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:02 pm

Master Lock Co. plans to move its corporate headquarters to the former Caterpillar mining division headquarters in Oak Creek, according to sources.

After considering several sites in downtown Milwaukee, Master Lock Co. will stay in Oak Creek but plans to move its corporate headquarters to the former Caterpillar mining division headquarters on Howell Avenue, according to sources.

Master Lock considered at least three sites in downtown Milwaukee, including Schlitz Park, the former Laacke & Joys site and the former Milwaukee headquarters of Extendicare Health Services at 111 W. Michigan St., but economics played into Master Lock’s decision to stay in Oak Creek, according to a source.

“The math is too good to pass up with this deal,” said a source who did not want to be identified.

The company is no longer touring any other locations and a lease in Oak Creek could be signed by the end of the month, sources say.

A Master Lock spokesperson said a new headquarters has not officially been secured, so she could not comment.

The former Caterpillar building, 6744 S. Howell Ave., is already designed as a corporate headquarters and includes free parking. The two-building, 120,833-square-foot complex was originally the corporate headquarters for Midwest Airlines. Bucyrus International Inc. purchased the complex for $9 million in June 2010.

Master Lock lease in Oak Creek expires March 1, 2017
Master Lock’s lease at its current Oak Creek location expires March 1, 2017.

Caterpillar acquired Bucyrus in November 2010, and established the headquarters of its global mining division at the Oak Creek campus.

But in October of 2015, Caterpillar announced it would close the Oak Creek facility and move between 200 and 250 jobs to its South Milwaukee complex.

Colliers International Wisconsin is selling the Caterpillar building and a third party buyer will purchase the building and lease it to Master Lock, sources say. The property is listed for $14.5 million.

Representatives from Colliers could not be reached for comment.

Master Lock’s lease at its current corporate headquarters location, 137 W. Forest Hill Ave., Oak Creek, expires on March 1, 2017, according to sources.

On Monday, the Oak Creek Common Council went into closed session to consider a proposed development agreement and tax incremental financing district for the property, but did not release details.

Master Lock moved its corporate headquarters from 2600 N. 32nd St. in Milwaukee to Oak Creek in 2003, moving about 180 jobs out of the city. The company kept its production facility at 2600 N. 32nd St.

In April, Milwaukee’s Department of City Development sent the company a letter inviting them to move their corporate headquarters back into the city.

“For Master Lock and the city, it’s a mutual self-interest,” Jeff Fleming, DCD spokesman said at the time. “Master Lock clearly wants to operate more efficiently and be able to attract employees and obviously the city wants to enhance its status as the center of the region’s business economy.”

Master Lock is a subsidiary of Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc. The company acquired Sentry Safe, in 2014.

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