Wisconsin Manufacturing News

Milwaukee to purchase part of former Tower site; Patrick Cudahy plant will rise from the ashes; Generation Growth buys stake in Peshtigo manufacturer; General Rubber Company moves to New Berlin

Milwaukee to purchase part of former Tower site

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced last week that City of Milwaukee officials have an agreement to purchase 84 acres of the 140-acre former Tower Automotive site from Milwaukee Industrial Trade Center LLC for $3.5 million.

The purchase agreement is pending the approval of the city’s Redevelopment Authority and the Common Council.

"Pending their accepting it, we’ve offered to sell it to them for that," said Brian Bjodstrup, general manager of Milwaukee Industrial Trade Center.

Previously, city officials and Milwaukee Industrial Trade Center were involved in a legal dispute related to the property. The sale is part of an agreement that ends that dispute, Bjodstrup said.

"This would clear that up," he said.

The property, located in the central city’s 30th Street Industrial Corridor, is bounded roughly by West Capitol Drive, the Soo Line railroad tracks, West Townsend Street and North 27th Street.

City officials want to clean up the property and prepare it for eventual redevelopment. They hope to attract 700 to 1,000 jobs to the site.

City officials say this project will be similar in size and scope to the Menomonee Valley redevelopment project. Several businesses have moved to property in the west end of the valley that was redeveloped by the city.

The city’s offer to purchase the former Tower Automotive site will be considered at the Tuesday, July 14, meeting of the Redevelopment Authority.

Department of City Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux said the redevelopment project would require extensive environmental assessment and remediation work, as well as public improvements before it could be ready to attract new businesses. The Redevelopment Authority will also consider at its July 14 meeting a proposed $15 million tax incremental financing (TIF) district to help address remediation, demolition, public improvements and other work to prepare the site for modern industrial use. Marcoux said the remediation work could take at least two years.

"The city is taking on a significant challenge with the acquisition of this site," Barrett said. "In the long-run, cleaning up this site will put us in a better position to attract and grow a variety of businesses at one of the largest former industrial properties in Milwaukee. The longer we wait to take this on, the more expensive the clean-up will be.”

The Tower site has the potential to be a major job producer for the City of Milwaukee, said Alderman Ashanti Hamilton.

"Moving forward with the purchase of this land puts us in position to redevelop it to its highest and best use," he said.

"This is the right time for the city to make this investment for its people," said Alderman Willie Wade, who also represents part of the area that includes the former Tower Automotive site. "Industrial land in a populated area is at a premium, especially when it is located near its workforce and on major transportation routes, as evident by the six new companies located in the Menomonee Valley."

Patrick Cudahy plant will rise from the ashes

Smithfield Foods Inc., the Virginia-based parent company of Patrick Cudahy Inc., has said the company intends to restore the Cudahy plant that experienced a large fire early last week. About 300 of Patrick Cudahy’s employees returned to work late in the week – however, most of its 1,400 production workers have been temporarily laid off.

"All of us at Smithfield Foods and our family of companies are extremely grateful to the people of Cudahy for their support and to all the public safety personnel throughout southeastern Wisconsin who responded to the fire at our Patrick Cudahy plant. Thanks to their hard work, no one was injured in the fire,” said Dennis Treacy, vice president of environmental and corporate affairs at Smithfield Foods.

"Following the damage assessment we will meet with the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, which has generously offered its help. We also have been in contact with our insurance carrier and will be in a position to pursue their assistance once the extent of the damage is known. We appreciate what this plant means to the community and the generations of workers who have made Patrick Cudahy what it is today and look forward to the day when the plant can resume major production operations."

A Patrick Cudahy official said about half of the plant could re-open as early as mid-week. While the facility’s boiled ham and part of its microwave bacon departments were destroyed by the fire, its sliced bacon department, smokehouses, dry sausage department and refinery escaped unharmed.

Generation Growth buys stake in Peshtigo manufacturer

Generation Growth Capital, a Milwaukee-based private equity firm, has become a minority investor in Quality Assembly & Logistics LLC, a Peshtigo manufacturer of electromagnetic components.

Quality Assembly & Logistics was formed with the purchase of the assembly and logistics division of DeCrane Aerospace Inc. DeCrane’s existing operations will continue in Peshtigo.

Guy Meyerhofer, former vice president of finance and administration with DeCrane, has become the majority owner and president of Quality Assembly & Logistics.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to partner with an experienced manager and a solid team of people to drive growth at Quality Assembly & Logistics,” said John Reinke, director of Generation Growth Capital. “The transaction came together very quickly due to the support of Decrane Aerospace and their desire to see Quality Assembly & Logistics positioned for future success. We look forward to having them as a customer going forward.”

Quality Assembly & Logistics has about 30 employees.

Meyerhofer will soon hire a vice president and director of sales and marketing, Reinke said. As sales continue, the firm will hire additional workers.

“They have a good solid base of customers and are staffed to support their existing business,” Reinke said. “As they bring on new customers, they will need to ramp up (staffing). The aim was to have the business capitalized right, and we put money into support their growth going forward.”

Quality Assembly & Logistics is Generation Growth Capital’s third portfolio investment. Its other investments are in Menomonee Falls-based Choice Construction Companies Inc., and in Green Bay-based Martell Construction Inc.


General Rubber Company moves to New Berlin

After more than 50 years in the same location near downtown Milwaukee, General Rubber Company, a distributor of hoses and accessories for hydraulic, air, water, welding, refrigeration and other equipment, has moved its offices to an expanded facility in New Berlin at 16988 W. Victor Road.

The new location features 8,000 square feet and allows General Rubber Company to increase its inventory of hose, accessories, and supplies to provide even better service to new and existing customers.

"The move to this new facility creates new opportunities for our business," said Jack Kacsur, president of General Rubber Company. "The New Berlin office is ideally located to allow us to expand our coverage area and assist industrial customers throughout Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Racine counties and the rest of southeastern Wisconsin."

General Rubber Company also operates an Eaton/Weatherhead Hose Assembly Center in Appleton at 2310 W. College Ave.


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