Wisconsin Manufacturing News

With news from Wausau Equipment Company, Johnson Controls, Plexus Corp., Joy Global, and Snap-On

Wausau Equipment Company to expand in Wisconsin
New Berlin-based Wausau Equipment Company Inc. plans to build a satellite facility for research and development, testing, final assembly and product installations in the Town of Fond du Lac.

The firm plans to build a 22,050-square-foot facility.

"Wausau Equipment Company Inc. will continue to be based in New Berlin. We currently employ about 100 people in New Berlin. We are projecting 34 employees within three years at the new Fond du Lac facility," Rod Winter, president and chief executive officer of the company, told SBT.

Wausau Equipment, formerly Schmidt Engineering & Equipment, manufactures heavy-duty snow removal and ice control equipment for municipalities and airports. The company’s products include heavy-duty snowplows, rotary brooms, loader and truck-mounted snowblowers and spray deicing systems.

Wausau Equipment will be the first company to occupy space in the Fond du Lac Aeronautical Industrial Park, a new industrial park being developed on the north side of the Fond du Lac County Airport.

The company purchased more than six acres in the new industrial park directly adjacent to the airport and has an option to purchase another six acres for future expansion.

The Wisconsin Department of Commerce is providing $221,000 in Enterprise Development Zone tax credits for the expansion.

Wausau Equipment is owned by Wausau-Everest LP, a holding company that also owns Everest Equipment in Quebec, Canada. Wausau-Everest, through its two operating companies, markets its heavy-duty snow removal equipment under the brands Wausau, Everest, Snogo, American Sno-Plows, Frink America and Tyler Ice.

Wausau-Everest is a portfolio company of ELB Capital Management LLC, a Philadelphia-based private equity firm.

Slowdown will prompt Johnson Controls to close plants, cut jobs
Johnson Controls Inc., the largest publicly held company in Wisconsin, announced last week that it will close plants and eliminate jobs as it reacts to economic slowdowns in the automotive and construction sectors.

The Glendale-based company said it plans to initiate restructuring activities which will result in an estimated pre-tax charge of $450 million to $500 million in its 2008 fourth quarter.

The company said the restructuring charge relates to cost reduction initiatives in its automotive experience, building efficiency and power solutions businesses and includes workforce reductions and plant consolidations. The company expects to substantially complete the initiatives by early 2010.

Keith Wandell, president and chief operating officer of Johnson Controls, said the company will not disclose where the plant closings and job eliminations will take place until after the employees have been notified.

A company spokeswoman said Johnson Controls has about 2,500 employees in Wisconsin, but she said she could not comment about the impact the restructuring will have in the state.

The company said automotive-related restructuring is in response to the fundamentals of the European and North American automotive markets. The actions target reductions in the company’s cost base by decreasing excess manufacturing capacity due to lower industry production and the continued movement of vehicle production to low-cost countries, especially in Europe.

Johnson Controls said it expects the restructuring plan will improve its long-term growth prospects in its highly competitive global markets.

"The (vehicle) production volumes in North America are down … And even though we do see continued vehicle build growth around the world, there will be a redistribution of that production, and we’re just merely realigning our resources to best take advantage of that and really to improve our cost position in the industry downturn, if you will, in North America," Wandell said.

The company is projecting a 20-percent reduction in its outlook for 2009 automotive production than was projected a year ago.

Plexus to expand in China
Neenah-based Plexus Corp. will begin manufacturing in Hangzhou, China, in late 2009, and has entered into an agreement to lease approximately 106,000 square feet in the Binjiang Hi-Tech Park located in Hangzhou.

The new facility will enable Plexus to better serve global customers with regional decision centers in the greater Shanghai area and will boost Plexus’ ability to deliver a lowest-total-cost value proposition. The new location will be the third for Plexus in Asia, adding to the current footprint in Xiamen, China, and Penang, Malaysia.

Y.J. Lim, regional president of Plexus Asia Pacific, said, "Our facilities in Asia are integral components of Plexus’ global manufacturing and supply chain solution sets. Having proximity to customers and the supply chain in the greater Shanghai area will allow us to support our future growth prospects in this region. It will also provide us with greater opportunity to tap into the broad availability of technical talent from the strong education system in the Hangzhou area, setting the stage for future growth in our engineering services offering."

Dean Foate, president and chief executive officer of Plexus, said, "We are pleased to announce this further expansion in China, an outcome to our strategic planning process to proactively align our footprint to meet the future needs of customers. This investment is aligned with our value proposition to deliver intelligent, profitable growth as we continue our vision to be the best EMS company in the world at serving customers with products in the mid-to-low-volume, higher-mix segment of the market."

Joy Global reports strong quarter
Joy Global Inc. reported fiscal third quarter net income of $113 million, or $1.03 per share, compared, up from $73 million, or 66 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The Milwaukee-based mining equipment manufacturer’s latest quarter benefited from the realization of foreign tax credits of $24 million, or 22 cents per share.

The company’s net sales for the quarter were $904 million, up 45 percent from the sales in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, a China Mining Machinery, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Joy Global, will acquire all outstanding shares of Wuxi Shengda, a Chinese manufacturer of longwall shearing machines, for $22.0 million, excluding closing costs.

Wuxi Shengda primarily serves the markets for provincial mining companies and employs approximately 450 at its facility in Wuxi, China. Completion of the transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and other closing conditions and is expected to occur during the fourth calendar quarter.

Mike Sutherlin, president and chief executive officer of Joy Global, "The acquisition of Wuxi Shengda provides us with a foothold in the China market for domestic equipment and will allow us to better serve that country’s local and regional mining industry."

"We see opportunities to grow revenues and margins at Wuxi Shengda by enhancing its existing product offering through newer shearer technology, improving operational efficiencies and establishing our service/aftermarket capabilities," said Ted Doheny, president of Joy Mining Machinery, Joy Global’s underground mining business.

Snap-on launches new cordless wrench
Kenosha-based Snap-on Tools Inc. unveiled a new compact, lightweight 3/8-inch cordless impact wrench.

With 230 foot-pounds of bolt break away torque, the CT4410 allows technicians to rev it up and get jobs done quicker and easier, the company said. The patented super heavy duty impact mechanism and the heat-treated alloy gears deliver strength and durability and reduce the chance of breakage.

Featuring an oversized trigger for precise control, a cushion-grip handle for less strain, a cushion-mounted motor for reduced vibration and a one-handed forward/reverse switch to easily change directions, the new wrench allows technicians to work longer with less fatigue.

The CT4410 comes with a 14.4-volt battery system that includes dual rail slide-on batteries with self-aligning terminal block for longer battery life.


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