Toolrite offers customers diversification

Made in Milwaukee

A Toolrite employee builds a test stand that will be used to test compressors for airplane cabins.

Toolrite Manufacturing Co. Inc.
16400 W. Lincoln Ave., New Berlin
Industry: Tooling
Employees: 74
www.toolrite.com

Toolrite’s Wells division manufactures machines that produce springs for the furniture and automotive seating industries. This machine produces a finished spring every second and is capable of making 950 loops per minute.
Toolrite’s Wells division manufactures machines that produce springs for the furniture and automotive seating industries. This machine produces a finished spring every second and is capable of making 950 loops per minute.

Founded by two German immigrant brothers, Toolrite Manufacturing Co. Inc. started as a traditional tool and die shop in 1967.

It has diversified over the years, however, and now includes two divisions, altogether serving both international customers and such high profile local companies as Johnson Controls Inc., Harley-Davidson Motor Co. and Caterpillar Inc.

Toolrite is the parent company focusing on tool and die, special machinery and production machining. Some examples of its work, according to president and chief executive officer J.D. Schreib, include making the tooling that is used to produce lead panels in car batteries and building the fixturing that is used to machine motorcycle engines.

Toolrite, which operates on one shift, serves manufacturers, as does one of its divisions, Carbide Specialists.

Formed after acquiring the Milwaukee area’s Jordan Tool & Engineering Co. 22 years ago, Carbide Specialists designs and manufactures special carbide cutting tools, grinds, coats and resharpens.

Toolrite’s other division, the Wells Co., produces new machines and replacement parts for spring manufacturers in the furniture and automotive seating industries. The division came about after the acquisition of Kenosha-based Frank L. Wells Co. seven years ago.

“It’s nice here because the work is so diversified,” Schreib said. “We have so many interesting customers and so many different types of work that we do that it stays very interesting, especially having the capacity to design and build for our customers.”

A Toolrite employee builds a test stand that will be used to test compressors for airplane cabins.
A Toolrite employee builds a test stand that will be used to test compressors for airplane cabins.

Based in New Berlin, Toolrite is now a second generation company owned by J.D. Schreib and his wife, Connie, who purchased it from J.D.’s father in 2012.

Toolrite’s first location was in a small commercial area on the second floor of a building at 3014 W. Cawker Place in Milwaukee. It moved to 2465 S. 170th St. in New Berlin in 1973 before settling into its present location at 16400 W. Lincoln Ave. in 1987.

The current facility was originally 30,000 square feet, but in the past 28 years it has been expanded to its current size of 57,000 square feet.

The company has annual revenue of $10 million to $12 million, an amount Schreib said has remained steady for the past six years.

Also remaining consistent, he said, is its number of employees, which include tool and die makers, carbide grinders, machinists, production workers and tool designers. Toolrite has 74 employees, and Schreib said the company sees very little turnover.

That is partly due, he asserts, to the company’s enjoyable work environment.

The facility boasts basketball and racquetball courts, a workout room, showers and locker rooms, a pool table and a video arcade machine for employees to use on breaks or before and after work. Employees can also rent DVDs and books from the company’s personal collections and get their hair cut by a beautician who makes monthly visits.

Schreib said it is important to offer employees these recreational activities to keep them healthy and happy.

“The key to our success is quality and service, and our people provide that,” he said. “They control the quality of our products, and we’re blessed to have such stable, talented people.”

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