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Milwaukee Tool recently hosted a celebration for the opening of its newest manufacturing plant, located in West Bend, marking the first time the company has done manufacturing work in the state since the mid-2000s (other than its Empire Level and Imperial Blades divisions). Milwaukee Tool will hire 150 workers in West Bend to produce hand tools for the electrical, power utility, plumbing and mechanical trades.
Milwaukee Tool’s 95,000-square-foot facility in West Bend, the first building within the city’s 216-acre West Bend Manufacturing Center, is located at 3855 S. River Road. The company has invested $55 million to build the facility and fill it with technology and equipment.
Milwaukee Tool first ventured into the hand tool market in 2009 by doing some initial research on products, eventually launching its own hand tool line in 2010. There are over 1,000 Milwaukee Tool employees across the globe dedicated to designing and creating new hand tool products.
“What keyed us into getting into hand tools was getting out with the men and the women in the trades in our mechanical, electric, plumbing and power utility trades partners and realizing that they had to modify the hand tools they had. They were welding extra parts onto them,” said Tim Albrecht, president of hand tools, storage and PPE for Milwaukee Tool.
The first products that will be manufactured at the West Bend facility are cutting pliers and screwdrivers, but Albrecht said there are several other products in the works.
Milwaukee Tool is on track to continue its rapid growth. Its parent company said recently that Milwaukee Tool’s sales were up more than 25% in the first half of the year and will exceed $8 billion this year. The company has first right of refusal to purchase an additional 20 acres for future expansion in West Bend, which would accommodate another 225,000 square feet of building space.
“Two of those walls (on the West Bend plant) are ready to get blown out and we built this building with the intention of blowing walls out because we will double the size of this in a short period of time. That also means we’re going to have to double the headcount to make that happen,” Albrecht said.
Earlier this year, Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. announced they would help Milwaukee Tool’s expansion in Wisconsin with an additional $22.5 million in Enterprise Zone tax credits, raising the state’s total support for the company to $70.5 million. The company also announced plans to bring another 1,000 jobs to the state.
The actual amount of tax credits the company receives will depend on meeting capital expenditure and job creation goals.
Milwaukee Tool now employs more than 3,700 people throughout the state.
“Milwaukee Tool is an iconic global brand that, by its name alone, makes our state synonymous with quality manufacturing,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary and CEO. “As Milwaukee Tool has grown its investments in Wisconsin, WEDC has been pleased to invest in Milwaukee Tool.”