Milsco introduces new seating lines

Milsco Manufacturing Co.
9009 N. 51st St., Brown Deer
Industry: Seating solutions
Employees: 900

Brown Deer-based Milsco Manufacturing Co., a designer and manufacturer of seating solutions, recently unveiled two new product lines intended to deliver improved style, comfort and performance over previous generations.

Milsco keeps a fleet of motorcycles and riding tractors at its Brown Deer location in order to test and validate the products it designs.

The new lines are the Phoenix, a next-generation static seat for the residential turf care market; and the VersaStyle seat series, which includes VersaCompact, for the compact construction, material handling and commercial turf care markets, Versa Z, for zero-turn radius mowers, VersaMax, for mid-range construction equipment, and VersaPremium, for heavier agricultural and construction equipment.

Milsco designs and manufactures seats for a variety of markets, including motorcycles and powersports.

The seats in the VersaStyle line are the first to offer Milsco’s new, innovative and proprietary mechanical and air suspension systems.

“Product innovation is a cornerstone in Milsco’s strategic priorities, and the new Phoenix and VersaStyle lines exemplify that commitment,” said Fred Rheinlander, vice president of sales and business development. “These seats were born following extensive research that included benchmarking products available in the global marketplace, studying market trends and industry requirements, and asking our customers to list all the qualities they wish for in a seat.”

After previewing prototypes earlier this year at the CeMAT expo in Germany and the Green Industry & Equipment Expo in Kentucky, the Phoenix and VersaStyle seats will begin appearing on customer products in the fourth quarter of 2014 and in 2015.

In addition to serving the turf care, construction, agricultural equipment and industrial equipment markets, Milsco’s seating solutions are utilized in motorcycle and powersports applications.

Milsco, short for the company’s original name, Milwaukee Saddlery Co., celebrated its 90th anniversary this year. It began as a harness company, and throughout its history also designed and manufactured such products as pistol holders during World War II and belts in the 1950s.

Today, Milsco produces more than 3 million seats annually in more than 200 unique product variations exclusively for its OEM customers.

The seat tops are typically made with three primary components: a leather, vinyl or cloth cover; a foam center; and a metal or plastic pan or substrate. More complicated seats also include suspension systems and armrests.

The process of making the seats starts with creating a rendering, followed by designing and developing prototypes and building the production tools and equipment. From concept to production, the process takes about 18 to 24 months, Rheinlander said.

Milsco uses several methods to manufacture seats. One example involves molding a substrate and foam insert and wrapping the part with a cut and sewn cover made of vinyl or leather.

Besides seats, the company also makes other related parts such as saddlebags, backrests and pillions (the pad or cushion used by an extra rider) for the motorcycle segment.

With locations in Redgranite, Wis., Michigan, Georgia, Mexico, the United Kingdom and India, Milsco supports customers who are not only national but worldwide.

Milsco has been a longtime seating supplier to many of its customers, including Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc., which has had a relationship with Milsco since 1934, according to Milsco president, Srivas Prasad.

Milsco is one of four business segments that make up Jason Industries Inc. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Jason runs a global family of manufacturing leaders within the seating, finishing, components and automotive acoustics markets.

Earlier this year, Jason Industries, which employs more than 4,000 people in 15 countries, became a publicly traded company listed on NASDAQ as JASN and JASNW.

Prasad said Jason Industries’ 2014 annual revenue is $700 million. He did not disclose Milsco’s 2014 annual revenue, but in 2013 it was $165 million.

Milsco employs 900 people globally, about 80 of whom work in its 175,000-square-foot facility at 9009 N. 51st St. in Brown Deer. The company also has internship programs with the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.

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