Klement Sausage Co. plans to grow its local workforce by 10 to 12 percent this year, adding as many as 50 hourly positions at its Lincoln Avenue facility.
Ray Booth, Klement president and chief executive officer, said the facility is poised to have a 60 percent increase in the amount of product it produces. The company is in the second year of a three-year effort to expand its offerings nationally.
Klement has approximately 400 employees in Wisconsin.
Booth said the company has expanded into five new states, including Texas, Colorado and southern California, over the last twelve months.
“What we’re finding is great acceptance,” he said, adding the company’s efforts are “a little bit ahead of where we thought we’d be.”
The Milwaukee-based company was purchased by Palo Alto, California-based Altamont Capital Partners in 2014 after 58 years of family ownership. Klement then began operating as part of Tall Tree Foods Holding Company, a portfolio of protein-based companies.
Booth said that portfolio continues to grow and because of the large role Klement plays in it, there is potential for it to pick up additional work for its Wisconsin facilities.
“We see the potential as unlimited,” he said.
[gallery type="slideshow" size="full" ids="430088,430089,430090,430091,430092,430093"]
Klement moved its corporate headquarters
from its Lincoln Avenue facility in Bay View to the Pabst Professional Center building at 1036 W. Juneau Ave. in March. The company held an open house for the media on Friday, the same day its sign was installed on top of the building.
Jeff Fleming, Milwaukee Department of City Development spokesman, was on hand to present a proclamation from the mayor. He said he was pleased the company chose “to put a stake in the ground,” with the move, acknowledging there were concerns about the company’s future in Milwaukee given the sale to a private equity firm from California.
Booth said the company is committed to Milwaukee and the move was necessary as the Lincoln Avenue facility lacked space and made collaboration difficult.
“There’s so much going on in this neighborhood and so much going on in downtown Milwaukee,” he said.
About 40 employees are working at the new corporate headquarters.
Booth also said that as the company grows, it will likely become necessary to replace the Lincoln Avenue facility entirely. The facility’s original building dates to before the company’s founding in the 1950s and the facility doesn’t have an optimal floor plan having undergone numerous additions.
“We certainly are going to explore building a new facility,” Booth said, suggesting it would likely be put near the company’s Chase Avenue facility, which is located on 15 acres. “We don't need that added capacity at this point in time, but certainly as we look to the future that would be the next step that we would look at is expanding here and staying here, because this is our home."
In the interim, Booth said the company is focused on building its brand nationally. In particular, the company is looking to grow in the snack stick, summer sausage and cooked and smoked sausage segments.
He said the fresh sausage segment still represents an opportunity for growth, but the company isn’t seeking to expand it as there are already national players.