Maynard Steel Casting Co.

Maynard Steel Casting Co.

2856 S. 27th St., Milwaukee

Industry: Steel castings for the mining, military contracting, transportation, energy extraction, wind power generation and other markets.

Employees: 200

There are still companies in Milwaukee that are making the type of components that once made the city known as the “Machine Tool Shop of the World.” Maynard Steel Casting Co., based on the city’s south side, is one of those companies.

Maynard Steel is one of a few large-scale steel foundries left in the city. The company routinely produces large components for OEMs that make oversized equipment like mining shovels and drag lines, cranes, military contractors, offshore oil drilling machinery, wind power generation equipment and more.

Maynard Steel casts components for customers using patterns, which are used to develop molds using sand. The company stores more than 10,000 different patterns in a 60,000-square-foot warehouse across the street from its facility on South 27th Street in Milwaukee.

All of the patterns are owned by Maynard Steel’s customers, said Michael Wabiszewski, president and chief executive officer. The company often helps its customers design and arrange for the fabrication of the patterns.

Some of the components that Maynard Steel casts are large. It makes lips for mining shovels and gears that can be 10 to 12 feet in diameter. Last December, the company made the largest component it has ever made – a 70 ton component for a machine that processes coiled steel.

“The smallest (component we make) is around 35 pounds,” Wabiszewski said. “We’re not geared up to make things much smaller than that. Most of the large volume small casting industry has gone abroad.”

Maynard Steel uses huge amounts of energy. Its electric and natural gas bills are more than $1 million annually. The company’s steel furnaces are powered by electricity, and because electricity rates are lowest after 10 p.m., the company does all of its melting and pouring during third shift. Its first shift employees make and assemble molds or remove completed parts from molds, perform heat treating and finish components, Wabiszewski said.

Maynard Steel has been owned by the Wabiszewski family since 1913, when it was purchased by Sylvester Wabiszewski, Michael Wabiszewski’s great grandfather. Today, the company’s plant occupies about 13 acres, with about 460,000 square feet of manufacturing space under roof.

Maynard Steel has about 200 employees now. In late 2008, the company laid off about 100 workers because of the recession. The company has seen a slight rebound in orders, but not enough to re-hire any workers, Wabiszewski said.

“All indications are good, just at a much lower level than we’d like them to be,” he said. “This (company) is a huge animal in terms of overhead, insurance, property taxes and other costs. And those don’t go down when you’re only working four days a week.”

Throughout the recession, the company kept salaried employees and key hourly workers at 40 hours per week, to make sure it was prepared for an economic rebound. Part of that preparation was to repair some equipment and install new, more efficient systems, Wabiszewski said.

The company’s new equipment includes a new spectrometer to assist in quality control of melted steel and several new sand mixing machines, which will increase the amount of re-used sand Maynard Steel uses.

“We’re very well poised to go into next year with our rebuilt and new equipment,” Wabiszewski said. “We have not scrimped on maintenance.”

In light of its multi-million dollar costs to power and heat its facility, Maynard Steel has also placed one of its top executives in charge of energy efficiency measures.

“This is about saving money,” Wabiszewski said. “We’re already one of the biggest recyclers in Wisconsin. We bring in more than 12,000 tons of scrap metal every year and turn it into finished product.”

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