Wisconsin Manufacturing News

With news about a Chinese trade mission coming to Milwaukee, Milwaukee Wire Products’ new name, an acquisition by Actuant, A.O. Smith’s new factory in India, and a Burlington firm that has begun manufacturing outdoor pizza ovens.

Milwaukee to host Chinese trade mission
The World Trade Center Wisconsin invites Milwaukee-area businesses to a networking reception with executives from 14 Chinese companies involved in the automotive industry later this week. The reception will be held Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Milwaukee 7 Resource Room at We Energies, 231 W. Michigan Ave. There is no fee to attend the reception, but advance registration is required.

The companies represented in the delegation are assessing opportunities for new business partnerships in the Midwest, said Christian Bartley, chief executive officer of World Trade Center Wisconsin. The executives are interested in meeting companies from many sectors, including service providers such as banks, law firms, accountants and logistics.

"The world recognizes the array of business opportunities that exist in the Milwaukee region and Wisconsin as a whole," Bartley said. For more information about the Chinese trade mission or to register for the networking session, call World Trade Center Wisconsin at (414) 274-3840. World Trade Center Wisconsin will host another inbound trade mission later this month, when a delegation from South Africa arrives in Milwaukee. For more information, visit www.wistrade.org.

Milwaukee Wire Products changes name, expands to China
Milwaukee Wire Products, a leading direct supplier of engineered components and assemblies to the automotive industry, has changed its name to Charter Automotive.

The company is a division of Charter Manufacturing Company Inc., a privately owned producer of carbon, alloy and stainless steel bar, rod, wire, shaped wire products, and engineered components, headquartered in Mequon.

"The new name signals our continuing international expansion and our ongoing commitment to automotive customers throughout the world," said John Mellowes, chairman and chief executive officer of Charter Manufacturing Company. "Although Charter Automotive is a new name, the company will continue its commitment to excellence in serving customers that has been a hallmark for the past 60 years."

The new name reflects the company’s focus in the automotive industry, which has been its core business since it began in 1948 as a manufacturer of parts for Chrysler Corp.  The company now has direct supply relationships with most global automakers.

n recent years, Charter Automotive has steadily expanded its global operations.  In February 2007, the company acquired Valve Train Components Limited, a manufacturer of highly engineered automotive powertrain components in Lichfield, England.  To better support automotive powertrain customers in North America, Europe and Asia, the company has now opened a manufacturing, warehouse and distribution facility in China to support the rapid expansion of that country’s automotive industry. The new facility, located in Wuhu, Anhui Province, marks Charter’s first formal expansion into China.

"We are pleased to be able to better serve our customers throughout Asia with the opening of this new facility in China," Mellowes said. "The China facility will allow us to support the rapidly expanding Chinese automotive industry and the growing needs of our global customer base."

Actuant to acquire New York company
Butler-based Actuant Corp. will acquire the stock of the Cortland Companies from an investor group lead by Cortec Group for approximately $230 million, which will be funded by Actuant’s cash and revolving credit facility.

Headquartered in Cortland, N.Y., Cortland is a global designer, manufacturer and distributor of custom-engineered electro-mechanical cables and umbilicals, high-performance synthetic ropes and value-added steel cable and assemblies. Cortland’s products are utilized in critical applications in end markets including offshore oil and gas, marine geophysical survey, commercial diving, marine transport, medical, security, defense and aerospace. With five facilities across three continents,

Cortland is expected to generate approximately $100 million in revenue this calendar year.

The purchase is subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions, and is expected to close within 30 days.

"Cortland represents a great addition to Actuant’s diversified business portfolio," said Robert Arzbaecher, Actuant’s chief executive officer. "Its niche leadership position, strong management team and global customer relationships are an ideal fit with our business model."

The majority of the Cortland businesses will operate within Actuant’s Industrial segment. Cortland’s Sanlo product line, an engineered cable applications business, will operate as part of Actuant’s Elliott Manufacturing business included in the Actuation Systems segment.

A.O. Smith to build new factory in India
A.O. Smith Corp. will locate the headquarters of its A.O. Smith India Water Heating Private Limited venture near Bangalore, where it plans to begin construction of a residential water heater manufacturing plant.

Design work on the 76,000-square-foot facility will begin in the fourth quarter. Construction is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2010. The plant will initially employ approximately 100 employees, according to Ajita Rajendra, president of A.O. Smith Water Products Company.

"We selected Bangalore for a number of strategic reasons," he said. "The city is centrally located in one of our key target markets in India with a growing consumer class interested in premium water heating solutions. The local infrastructure will be able to support our distribution needs."

The plant and the company’s India corporate offices will be located on 20 acres in the Harohalli Karnataka Industrial Area just outside of Bangalore. The manufacturing operation will be designed to assemble glass-lined residential water heaters in sizes ranging from six liters up to 100 liters.

Burlington firm partners to manufacture outdoor pizza ovens
Chicago Brick Oven (CBO) has teamed up with Burlington-based Harmony Outdoor Living Inc. to create a residential, wood-fired pizza oven for outdoor entertaining enthusiasts.

The new pizza oven arrives as two, ready-to-set-in-place, pre-designed modular components faced with tumbled Brussels dimensional stone. The CBO oven features a wood storage box that elevates the oven to an ideal cooking height. "Most installations of the new CBO/Harmony ovens take less than one hour; some take only about 30 minutes," said Carmen Parisi, president of Elmhurst, Ill.-based CBO.

"Wood-fired pizza ovens are one the hottest trends we’re seeing in outdoor living for 2009," said Joe Raboine, president of Harmony Outdoor Living. "To meet the design and lifestyle demands of homeowners, caterers and landscape professionals, Harmony and CBO are making available ovens in an endless array of colors, textures and styles. Together, we’re setting out to revolutionize the way outdoor pizza ovens are being designed and installed."

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