Milwaukee millwork firm sees demand rebound

Lange Bros. Woodwork increases employees, work hours since late last year

Lange Bros. Woodwork Co. Inc., a Milwaukee-based manufacturer of architectural woodwork, has seen orders rebounding since the start of the year; its orders have increased 66 percent in the first five months of 2010 compared to the same period last year. Work hours have risen 95 percent in the same time frame, both because of the increased demand and because Lange Bros. is performing some functions in house that it used to outsource.

“The types of jobs we have now have more of the stuff that we’re producing,” said Randolph Lange, who owns the company with his sister Lori Poull.

“We’re bidding twice as many jobs this year as we did last year. There are a lot of little jobs out there that people need done quickly.”

Lange Bros. operates two facilities – a 28,000 square foot wood mill in Milwaukee and a 24,000 facility that specializes in countertops and other surfaces in Beecher in the far northeastern portion of the state.

Although Lange Bros. was forced to make layoffs last year, it has brought all of them back. The company has hired 11 employees since the beginning of the year, putting its employment higher than it was last year, when it made layoffs, Poull said.

“We started bringing people back at the end of 2009,” she said.

Over the last few months, Lange Bros. has been asked to bid on more projects, and a rising number of larger projects, Lange said.

“We’ve seen some government bids – VA Hospitals and housing projects,” he said.

While the company has a six month backlog on orders, it is not planning to hire additional employees now.

“That could change with a phone call, if someone came in and we were looking at a tight deadline,” Lange said.


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