Manufacturing remains a locally owned company after being acquired by two partners with extensive histories in the manufacturing industry.
After 32 years, original owners Art and Dawn Hahn have sold Weld-Fab to Kelly Wendorff
and Kale Wenzel.
Wendorff serves as president and Wenzel is vice president. The transaction closed on Dec. 31, 2020. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Weld-Fab manufactures high quality metal fabrications, weldments and machined parts in a range of sizes.
Wenzel has prior manufacturing experience, working in the industry since his teenage years, including time spent as a steel buyer at Capital Stampings in Milwaukee and as director of supply chain and logistics at Steel Craft Corporation in Hartford. Wendorff also worked in different factories as a teenager and worked at Steel Craft Corp. for over 20 years.
Wendorff said the duo’s experience at Steel Craft prepared them for this acquisition and showed them what kind of owners they want to be. Steel Craft had been a privately owned company until 2018, when ownership sold to a private equity firm.
“We learned a lot of new tools in our toolbelt so to speak. Also, I would say the experience reinforced our beliefs and philosophies on how to treat people and how to work with vendors and customers and really catapulted us into looking for an opportunity where we could have our own place,” Wendorff said.
The duo’s search for opportunity aligned with Art and Dawn Hahn’s desire to move on to the next chapter of their lives. Both Art and Dawn will continue to offer guidance to Wendorff and Wenzel in the coming 3-6 months.
“I knew Art and got to know him a lot better over this past summer because my daughter started racing go carts at Slinger Speedway… Art is a huge supporter of that program and we build carts for the club here,” said Wenzel. “I got to know him on more of a personal level in that capacity. It’s just kind of small-town relationships that we knew of each other.”
Wendorff said the ability to grow Weld-Fab is tremendous, adding the duo is hoping to double the size of the business in five years or sooner. Expanding into a bigger facility and increasing Weld-Fab’s capabilities are also long-term goals of both Wendorff and Wenzel. An addition was built at Weld-Fab's current facility in 2020.
They currently employ about 60 workers.
“The building blocks are here for this company to grow very rapidly,” Wendorff said.
To keep Weld-Fab locally owned, Economic Development of Washington County was a part of the lending stack that Wendorff and Wenzel used to buy the company. Both partners stressed the importance of making sure local companies stay local.
“We want to continue to reach out to local groups and just have that local pride,” Wenzel said. “I wear my Weld-Fab hat every day.”
He said another goal for the company is to continue to work with local schools to educate students on the career options open to them in manufacturing.