Stanek Tool sweats the details

Stanek Tool Corp.
2500 S. Calhoun Road, New Berlin
Industry: Custom mold solutions, workholding fixtures, precision machining
Employees: 40

New Berlin-based Stanek Tool Corp. is celebrating its 90th year in business this June.

The company prides itself on being a high end, sophisticated manufacturer that specializes in custom jobs.

Example of the type of workholding fixtures built at Stanek Tool.

“100 percent of what we do is custom,” said Mary Stanek Wehrheim, president and owner, who has been with the company for 30 years. “We don’t make 100 of anything every month and sell it. Every single order that we get is for a specific product that our customer wants to use.”

One example of Stanek Tool’s custom workholding fixture in the design process.

Stanek Tool is a third generation family-owned business. It has been at its New Berlin facility, at 2500 S. Calhoun Road, since 1971 and has been in operation since 1924.

Stanek Tool’s 36,000-square-foot facility in Germantown.

Today, there are three main components of Stanek Tool’s business. The first is workholding.

“A workholding fixture holds parts while they’re being machined,” Stanek Wehrheim said. “Then, our customer that contracts with us to design and build a workholding fixture will machine those parts.”

Whether it’s a car engine, motorcycle transmission or airplane wheel, all of those metal parts need to be held by a workholding fixture while they are machined. That’s where Stanek comes in – and building those fixtures involves a great deal of complexity.

Thomas O’Hara, senior tool designer, said he receives specifications from a customer on a specific part, and he designs a workholding fixture around that part.

These jobs almost never involve doing the same thing twice, O’Hara said.

Another big part of Stanek Tool’s business is “build to print” – making something directly from a customer’s blueprint. Much of Stanek Tool’s build to print work is for the U.S. Department of Energy.

“We do quite a bit of work with the company that has the contract with the United States government to build, maintain, and disarm all the nuclear armaments for the United States,” Stanek Wehrheim said.

This includes building things like bomb stands and transportation carts for bombs, she said.

In 2010, Stanek Tool was named the U.S. Department of Energy’s Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year.

The third aspect of the business, although a smaller percentage of its overall workload compared to workholding and build to print, is plastic molds. Stanek Tool designs, builds and repairs plastic molds.

For example, Stanek built the plastic spoon molds for McDonald’s McFlurrys.

All of this involves very detailed-oriented work and a sophisticated manufacturing workforce, and Stanek Tool has made apprenticeships a priority in training employees.

“Ninety-five percent of our employees in the shop have served an apprenticeship,” Stanek Wehrheim said.

Stanek Tool maintains a relationship with Waukesha County Technical College for its apprenticeship programs, and there are more than 20 apprenticeship certificates of completion decorating the company’s walls that boast more than 10,000 hours of training.

“Training for the trades is very important,” Stanek Wehrheim said.

In addition to its relationship with WCTC, she said, doing business in Waukesha County offers a “dependable, skilled workforce.”

The company also gets a lot of its raw materials from Wisconsin-area companies.

Stanek Tool has a total of 45 employees, a number that has remained steady in recent years.

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