Winco Stamping borrows from past and present

Made in Milwaukee

Winco uses a standardized mount to quickly change tools.

Winco Stamping Inc.

W156 N9277 Tipp St., Menomonee Falls
Industry: Contract metal stamping
Employes: 48 Winco, 72 from staffing agencies

Winco Stamping Inc. will mark 70 years in business next year and, like many companies with a decades-long history, it is constantly seeking a balance between the principles and techniques that have kept it in business and modern practices that can take things to another level.

Winco uses a standardized mount to quickly change tools.
Credit: Arthur Thomas

The Menomonee Falls-based contract manufacturer specializes in short- to medium-run work and has long made customer diversification a key part of doing business. That means making sure no single customer accounts for more than 10 percent of sales.

“If they’re creeping up then you’ve got to go out and find more work,” said Scott Wendelburg, Winco president and chief executive officer.

Winco has two facilities. Its headquarters is a 38,000-square-foot facility along Pilgrim Road and it operates a 36,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Ohio. Having a satellite facility allows Winco to better serve the eastern part of the country. The company has been looking to shift work destined for customers east of Indiana to the Ohio operation to open up capacity in Wisconsin.

“We’re bursting at the seams here,” Wendelburg said, noting the company added a second shift for the first time in August. “I’m not worried about filling up this facility.”

Beyond keeping a broad customer base, Winco also tries to stay focused on picking up the work it can do well. Wendelburg said that means doing short to medium runs on parts of which companies need 1,000 to 100,000 per year.

“That’s really our sweet spot,” he said, although for some parts, Winco will make 250 in a year and for others, it will run 300,000.

Winco doesn’t do progressive stamping, where a single tool would make repeated strikes to form a part, so each piece has to go to several different stations to be completed. That means the price for each piece is a little higher, but the company is able to keep tooling costs down, averaging $470 last year.

“You can go to a hundred different stampers and get a quality part at a relatively decent price with on-time delivery. That’s just a given these days,” Wendelburg said.

Dealing with intense competition means finding ways to stand out. Keeping tooling costs down is one way for Winco to do that. Wendelburg said the company buys tooling materials in bulk and has developed a standardized mount for every tool and press in the shop to make it easy to change tools.

“We used to have all these presses because it would take a half hour, 45 minutes to set the press. Now we can change it in under a minute,” he said. “All these presses are just waiting for an operator. The operator is never waiting for a press.”

Having the flexibility to put any tool on any press is part of another differentiator: being easy to do business with. Wendelburg said the goal is for customers to be able to submit their order, receive an acknowledgment and not have to worry about getting the right parts on time.

Being easy to work with requires a customer-focused culture developed over years, but that can be challenging to do with a mix of full-time Winco employees and those brought on from staffing firms. It’s also a challenge with some employees having worked for the company for almost 40 years and others just starting their career.

One way to manage those differences is to bring everyone together with fun activities. Winco’s website and social media pages are filled with photos of ugly sweater parties, Halloween costume contests, company cookouts and volunteer activities. Wendelburg said putting those on display is a way of showing the company culture to potential future employees.

“It’s a balancing of being that loose, fun company, creating that atmosphere, but still knowing that there’s a job to be done,” he said.

Getting the job done has been a point of emphasis for Winco in 2017 as the company transitions under Wendelburg’s ownership. The company was family-owned since its founding, but Wendelburg took over in March following the death of second-generation owner David Windsor.

Wendelburg said he relies on his management team to keep the day-to-day operations going while he looks at the long-term picture. Weekly management meetings have become a place of open, honest communication to make tough decisions.

Next year will likely be filled with tough decisions, too. Winco’s shipping department handles roughly 1 million pieces per month from a small space in the Menomonee Falls facility. The company worked with customer Caterpillar Inc. to streamline the operation, but Wendelburg said finding warehouse space will be on the agenda for 2018.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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