Natural light

Products designed and built by Mequon’s Super Sky Products are integral pieces of some of the best known buildings in metro Milwaukee, but few people recognize the company’s name.

Super Sky makes skylights for commercial buildings and specializes in custom, highly engineered systems. The company designed, built and installed much of the glass and metal work that are integral to the Mitchell Park Domes. Super Sky’s skylights also are highly visible components in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Calatrava addition, Bradley Tech High School, the entry of the Bradley Center, Potawatomi Bingo Casino, the Capitol building in Madison and multiple buildings owned by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.

“Our specialties are the most complex designed skylight systems,” said Rod Kivioja, director of sales at Super Sky. “They’re all custom tubular or I-beam rafter systems and can be made in a virtually endless (array) of geometric shapes.”

While Super Sky has been involved in some highly visible projects in metro Milwaukee, most of its work is outside of the area. The company has built and installed systems throughout the United States and Canada and has done some work in Puerto Rico and beyond.

“At the Mall of America (in Minnesota), we did a $4.5 million skylight project,” Kivioja said. “We do a lot of work in Las Vegas. Circus Circus was our largest project – it was a $16.5 million job. We built a 360,000-square-foot glass dome over an amusement park there.”

Super Sky’s manufacturing representatives, its outside sales force, regularly work with architects who are developing new commercial properties. The company helps architects design and price their skylight systems and provides the service to architects for free, Kivioja said.

“We’re one of the few companies that do that,” he said. “We have our own CAD and project management people that help architects in the design and budget phase before the project comes to bid.”

Super Sky employs 75 in its 130,000-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility in Mequon, where it designs and fabricates the metal framework that supports the skylight system. After the framework is built, it is shipped to a metal finishing shop before it is sent to the job site. Super Sky outsources all of its glass, which also is sent to the job site, Kivioja said.

“We do all of the design, engineering, fabrication and installation,” he said. “We calculate the glass sizes from the shop drawings and order it during the fabrication stage.”

Thirty-three of the company’s 75 employees work on its shop floor, Kivioja said. The company also has eight installation supervisors who routinely travel to its job sites around the country. The supervisors hire local union sheet metal workers and glazers to do the installation work on each job site.

“Being union has helped us win some large contracts because some contractors require union installation,” Kivioja said. “We’re one of the only union shops out there today.”

Since 2003, Super Sky’s revenues have grown about 60 percent. The company finished 2008 with $30 million to $35 million in revenues, which was about the same as 2007.

While many companies related to residential and commercial construction are forecasting lower sales and activity levels, Super Sky believes its level of activity will continue and may grow, Kivioja said.

“There have been some decreases in estimating but we are still going to build a lot of museum and education projects,” he said. “Even though construction (as a whole) is down, there is a big need for and a focus on green building and the desire for natural light is part of that. There are many high performance glass products available now and architects have a lot of options.”

Super Sky is working on several projects that will integrate photovoltaics into skylight systems, Kivioja said. The company recently collaborated with Underwriters Laboratories Inc., a product safety certification organization, to develop a new certification category for building integration photovoltaic mounting systems.

“We’re kind of ahead of the game having this UL classified system,” he said. “It was costly and difficult to get, but we’re waiting for it to explode.” n

Super Sky Products

Address: 10301 N. Enterprise Drive, Mequon

Industry: Skylight design, construction and installation for commercial properties

Employees: 75

Revenue growth: About 60 percent since 2003

Web site:

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