Milwaukee Tool to have 450 employees in Milwaukee by March 2022

Milwaukee Tool’s Brookfield campus.
Milwaukee Tool’s Brookfield campus.

Last updated on April 5th, 2021 at 12:53 pm

Milwaukee Tool would need to have 450 employees in the city of Milwaukee within a year under the terms of a deal with the city to support the company’s expansion to the former Assurant building at 501 W. Michigan St.

The company would acquire the building and invest $30 million to rehab the 350,000-square-foot building by the end of 2024. By that time, the company would need to have 950 employees and would need to reach 1,210 employees by the end of 2026.

In exchange, the company would receive a $12.1 million grant from the city of Milwaukee that would be made possible by a new tax incremental financing district. After the initial renovations, the company could add three floors and another 150,000 square feet of space to the building. The addition would make room for another 790 employees and trigger another $7.9 million grant from the city.

Despite the significant investment in improving the building, Milwaukee Tool appears to be moving quickly to establish an employment base in the city. The project plan calls for 450 employees at the facility by March 1, 2022 or the company could have to pay back a portion of the initial grant.

The plan does offer some wiggle room for the company in hitting its employment targets. The full-time equivalent positions must either work at the facility or live in the city of Milwaukee if they work exclusively from home. For FTEs that split their time, at least 60% must be at the facility or at a residence in the city.

Milwaukee Tool has been rapidly growing in recent years, a trend that only accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales were up 25.8% in 2020.

“We intend over the next five years and the next 10 years to seize control of the global tool market,” Joseph Galli, chief executive officer of Techtronic Industries, the Hong Kong-based parent company of Milwaukee Tool, said on the company’s earnings call last month.

Galli pledged Milwaukee Tool would continue to grow its sales at more than 20% this year and into the future.

“We are investing like crazy in our people. We’re hiring so many engineers that would blow your mind,” Galli said. “We think that we need to continue to feed this company’s growth machine with the right kind of talent and that starts with engineering, but it includes all sorts of areas in our leadership development program.

The announcement of a downtown Milwaukee presence for the company comes a little more than a year after Milwaukee Tool said it would invest $100 million in a massive multi-purpose campus in Menomonee Falls. The company also made two significant expansions of its Brookfield headquarters campus in recent years as well.

If it seemed the downtown Milwaukee plans signaled a shift away from the Menomonee Falls campus or a relocation of jobs from Brookfield, that idea was shot down on Thursday.

“Important to note MKE Tool jobs are from new growth, not a jobs shift from another location,” Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said on Twitter.

Menomonee Falls village manager Mark Fitzgerald said the company told the village about its downtown plans a few weeks ago.

“They assured us in that conversation that they were still moving forward with their corporate campus plans in Menomonee Falls,” Fitzgerald said in an email, adding that additional details would need to come from the company.

A Milwaukee Tool spokeswoman confirmed the company’s Menomonee Falls plans are still moving forward.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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