Water treatment equipment manufacturer Marlo doubling in size

Made in Milwaukee

Roy Gerschwiler works on a filtration system.

Marlo Inc., a water treatment equipment manufacturer in Racine, is undergoing a $3.5 million to $4 million expansion that will double its manufacturing plant to 65,000 square feet and its office space to 10,000 square feet.

Started by Waukesha-based Andrew Bukacek Construction in September, the project is expected to be completed in June or July of 2016.

Roy Gerschwiler works on a filtration system.
Roy Gerschwiler works on a filtration system.

It marks Marlo’s third expansion since opening its current facility in 1977. The previous expansions, in the late ’80s and in 2001, each added approximately 10,000 square feet.

“We’ve been out of space for a couple years now, and we’ve just been managing it,” said president and chief operating officer Steven LaMere.

The expansion investment includes both construction and new equipment, and LaMere noted that it is entirely self-funded.

He did not disclose Marlo’s annual revenue, but he said sales are up 12 percent compared to this time last year.

“In terms of the growth, water is kind of hot right now and has been for a while; it’s a basic need,” LaMere said. “We grow the business; we don’t lose many customers; we add a few more customers every year; and we expand our geographical reach and our market reach.”

Marlo was co-founded in Racine in 1973 by Fred and Mike Glines, a father and son. Fred named it Marlo in recognition of his sister, Marcellane, and his wife, Lois.

The company began by serving the residential market, and over the years, it got into the light commercial, institutional and industrial markets.

The latter two, which include entities such as hospitals, universities, prisons and manufacturing companies, today make up 75 to 80 percent of the company’s business.

Randy Miller assembles a custom electrical control panel.
Randy Miller assembles a custom electrical control panel.

“We’re secondary water treatment,” LaMere said of Marlo’s work. “And we do it over a whole scope. We’re taking water that’s already safe to drink from a city or a well, but we’re making it better.”

Marlo’s custom-built products center on water safety, reverse osmosis and filtration, and the manufacturing process consists of designing the equipment, purchasing the components and building it. Lastly, the equipment is wired, programmed and tested.

“We’re very much a quiet company, and we have a very loyal customer base,” LaMere said of the dealers and distributors Marlo serves. “We help them grow their businesses, and help them sell more water treatment equipment, and the word gets out.”

Most of Marlo’s customers are in the U.S., but LaMere said it does do some international business as well.

Marlo employs 75 people, and LaMere said the company has found creative ways to retain them despite competition from other nearby companies like Amazon and Uline.

For instance, employees work nine-hour days so they can have Friday afternoons off, and all employees participate in a profit sharing plan. They receive two weeks’ pay every quarter if the company hits its goals, and LaMere said that has happened 10 out of the past 12 quarters.

Last year, employees were paid every quarter, equating to eight weeks’ additional pay, or a 15 percent bonus.

Marlo Inc.
2227 South Street, Racine
Industry: Water treatment
Employees: 75

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