Wisconsin Manufacturing News

Harley looks for more cuts in Wisconsin operations, may look at other states; Milwaukee Forge CEO’s group to purchase company; Magnetek gets $6 million order for wind power inverters; Oshkosh Corp. swings to profit; Rockwell Automation triples second quarter profits; Strattec swings to profit

Harley looks for more cuts in Wisconsin operations, may look at other states

Harley Davidson Inc.is seeking additional cost savings at its facilities on Pilgrim Road in Menomonee Falls and in Tomahawk in northern Wisconsin.

The company held meetings with employees at its powertrain facilities in Milwaukee and Menomonee Falls and in Tomahawk late last week, telling workers that it needs to reduce labor costs and improve operational flexibility, said company spokesman Bob Klein.

"Earlier this year, we began a competitive gap analysis of the Pilgrim Road and Tomahawk facilities," Klein said. "We’ve identified gaps in the competitiveness of the operations that we need to address to go forward to create a cost-competitive and flexible structure across all of our operations."

Harley Davidson is consolidating its Capitol Drive powertrain manufacturing facility into its Pilgrim Road plant. The two facilities now have more than 1,300 employees. There will be workforce reductions because of the consolidation, Klein said.

Harley’s injection molding facility in Tomahawk employs about 375 workers.

The company has not yet determined if it will seek to eliminate jobs, ask its unionized workforce for wage concessions or both. Harley-Davidson wants to maintain its operations in Wisconsin, Klein said, but will likely begin talks with other states.

“Our preference is to find a way to close these gaps. We want to keep our operations in Wisconsin,” Klein said. “But we will explore other U.S. sites, should we be unable to achieve other workable solutions to keep those here.”

Harley Davidson expects to have a final determination on its cost savings strategy by this fall, Klein said.

“We’re just starting to have conversations with our employees on how this might pan out,” he said.

Milwaukee Forge CEO’s group to purchase company

DM Acquisitions LLC, a group led by Dave Mesick, the current president and CEO of Milwaukee Forge, was the winning bidder to purchase the company’s assets out of state receivership last week. The nearly 100-year-old company is located 1532 E. Oklahoma Ave., in the city’s Bay View neighborhood.

“Our plan is to continue to operate the business in Milwaukee and will offer jobs to all of the current 106 employees,” Mesick said. “We are cautiously optimistic that we have a plan that will allow us to grow the business and add up to 40 full-time jobs within the next two years. We are also grateful for the support of the two unions representing the Milwaukee Forge workers. We look forward to working with them and others as we implement a business plan that is focused on growth and success. Milwaukee Forge has a long and strong history of quality products and quality people. Having a strong and capable workforce with talented employees is a major benefit as we look to the future with optimism. This success is worth celebrating, but we will quickly turn our attention to the business at hand and focus our full attention on returning Milwaukee Forge to profitability.”

Magnetek gets $6 million order for wind power inverters

Menomonee Falls-based Magnetek Inc. has received a $6 million order for its E-Force wind power inverters.

The company’s modular utility-scale wind power inverters regulate and transform DC power generated by wind turbines into utility-grade AC power, which is distributed to the power transmission grid.

“This order for our E-Force wind power inverters is further indication of Magnetek’s commitment to and growth in the renewable energy market,” said Brad Taylor, vice president and general manager of Magnetek Energy Systems. “Our goal is to become a major provider of utility-scale power inverters for renewable energy applications.”

Oshkosh Corp. swings to profit

Oshkosh Corp., which has received several large military contracts in recent months, reported net income of $292.6 million, or $3.22 per share, for its fiscal second quarter, a significant turnaround from a net loss of $1.2 billion for the previous fiscal second quarter.

The company’s sales for the second quarter were $2.86 billion, up from $1.2 billion for the previous fiscal second quarter.

The company posed net income of $462.2 million for the first half of the fiscal year, compared to a net loss of $1.2 billion for the first half of the previous fiscal year.

“We delivered record results in the second quarter of fiscal 2010 as our defense segment performed exceptionally well driven by continued strong deliveries of M-ATVs for our warfighters in Afghanistan,” said Robert G. Bohn, Oshkosh Corp. chairman and CEO. "During the quarter, we also received notice that our contract award to supply the U.S. Army with its requirements for the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles was upheld. Despite delays caused by the protest of the award, we expect to start production for the program according to the original contract schedule later this calendar year. We continued to improve our balance sheet during the quarter by paying down $239 million of debt and extending out our debt maturities by completing the issuance of $500 million of senior notes that mature in 2017 and 2020. We used the net proceeds of $489.2 million from the senior notes to repay debt that was scheduled to mature in December 2013. We expect fiscal 2010 to be a record year for Oshkosh in terms of sales and earnings, driven by strength in our defense segment while most of our non-defense businesses continue to face soft markets. We continue to invest in lean initiatives to mitigate the effects of the soft markets and streamline operations for fiscal 2011 when we believe these markets will be stronger.”

Rockwell Automation triples second quarter profits

The economic recovery is providing a major boost to Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc., nearly tripling the company’s second quarter profits from the second quarter of fiscal 2009.

“The recovery is underway,” said Keith D. Nosbusch, chairman and chief executive officer for Rockwell. “While the shape of the recovery remains uncertain, we are well positioned to outperform the underlying market in this cycle. Our growth prospects are bright. I am excited by the new opportunities we see every day.”

The company reported fiscal second quarter net income from continuing operations of $111.9 million, or 77 cents per share, up from net income of $40.6 million, or 29 cents per share, in the previous second quarter.

The company said its second quarter revenue of $1.16 billion was up 10 percent compared to revenues of $1.06 billion in the previous second quarter.

“Our strong performance in the quarter reflects continued improvement in market conditions,” said Nosbusch. “We saw a return to year-over-year organic growth in the quarter, with continued momentum in our product revenues, meaningful growth in North America and mid-teens growth in emerging Asia. Increased volume, favorable mix and the impact of our previous cost reduction actions all contributed to significant year-over-year margin improvement in the quarter. And we continue to deliver strong free cash flow. Given the market uncertainties at the beginning of this fiscal year, I am very pleased with our year-to-date results.”

For the first half of the fiscal year, the company reported net income of $213.6 million, up from $159.0 million for the first half of the previous fiscal year.

“Given our second quarter performance and the ongoing global economic recovery, we are confident that we will return to solid organic growth for full fiscal year 2010,” Nosbusch said. “In the second half of the year we will increase our spending on customer-facing resources in our highest growth markets and innovation in our product, services and solutions offerings.”

Strattec swings to profit

Strattec Security Corp., a Milwaukee-based manufacturer, posted net income of $781,000 for its fiscal third quarter, a significant improvement from a net loss of $2.8 million for the previous fiscal third quarter.

The company’s net sales for the quarter were $52.9 million, up from $29.3 million for the previous fiscal third quarter.

For the year-to-date fiscal year the company reported a net income of $2.6 million, up from a net loss of $4.0 million for the first three quarters of the previous fiscal year. The company had net sales of $146.6 million for the fiscal year so far, compared to net sales of $97.9 million for the first three quarters of the previous fiscal year.

“The higher net sales and net income for the current quarter can be primarily attributed to increased customer production volumes from an improved and more stable U.S. economy,” the company said. “The significant decline last year was the direct result of the severe economic recession impacting both North America and other major markets in the rest of the world. The prior year quarter also included a $500,000 pre-tax provision for potential uncollectible trade accounts receivable relating to Chrysler LLC’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.”


Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display