Power Test Inc.

Address: N60 W22700 Silver Spring Drive, Sussex
Industry: Manufacturing/Wholesale
Employees: 65

Alan Petelinsek, president and chief executive officer of Waukesha-based Power Test Inc., has instilled his vision for growth into the company that his father, John, founded in 1976.

“I want to be successful,” he said. “That’s the true answer. My father met his needs and didn’t have any vision of making the company go any further, but when I joined the company in 1981, I knew I wanted us to be more, to grow as large as possible.”

Power Test was named the #1 Business of the Year in Waukesha County Business Alliances’s Top 10 Businesses of the Year program for 2013.

Petelinsek became the company’s president at Power Test in 1999, and he purchased the company from his father in 2003.

In 2008, he moved the company to a 15-acre facility in Sussex, and under his leadership it has experienced sales revenue growth of 107 percent over the past three years.

Power Test Inc. is a market leader in the design, manufacturing and sale of dynamometers, heavy equipment testing systems, related data acquisition, control systems and custom engineered testing machines. The company serves several industries including manufacturing, mining, power generation, marine, trucking, construction and military markets around the world.

Nearly 45 percent of its business comes from outside the U.S., but the company calls southeastern Wisconsin home because of the resources and opportunities provided here.

“The support network here is essential to a manufacturing business,” Petelinsek said. “We have access to industrial steel, engineers, machinists, software designers, transportation, the airport hub and the political structure in place to support manufacturing. It’s where we want to be.”

In order to sustain the growth the company has experienced, Petelinsek has instilled a culture of efficiency and change, and has developed an employee training program to help Power Test, and the southeast Wisconsin region, obtain the qualified, skilled workforce it needs to be successful.

“My mentality says: grow or die, and number two: do what you must to make it better. That’s what we live by here,” Petelinsek said. “In 2008, we were at the crest of our revenue potential and we were at the point where we were hiring people just to meet the demand, not because they were the best. We’ve established the training division to address the skills gap in the region so we don’t have to make the same mistakes of the past.”

Power Test works with local school districts and the nonprofit Second Chance Partners for Education to help build the pipeline of skilled workers in the region. The company has invested in a full-time educator/trainer to recruit individuals for the program.

“Since we started the program in the fall of 2012 we’ve graduated 13 employees, three of which are working here at Power Test now. The other 10 are working full time at other firms in the region,” he said.

Graduates of the program leave with the foundational skills necessary to set up and operate manual machines, mills, saws and drill presses. Principal focus sessions on welding, material handling, shipping and receiving, inspection, blueprint reading and support skills that go along with machinists are also part of the program.

The program could serve as a model for the rest of the state, he said.

“If we can train individuals to have these foundational skills, then our company – as well as other companies – can build upon them rather than pigeonholing these skilled workers into one job or another,” he said.

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