WPC Technologies outgrows name, facility

After almost 40 years in business, WPC Technologies Inc. is making some big changes.

WPC makes an anti-corrosive pigment used in coating the metal in everything from home appliances to airplanes. The company, founded in 1974, has 30 employees and makes about 60 products at its Milwaukee headquarters.

But as the neighborhood near its multi-building facility on Barclay Street becomes more residential, WPC is planning a move to a 76,000-square-foot building at 7350 S. Sixth St. in Oak Creek, said Bob Kruse, executive vice president.

“Going to a single-story building is a much more efficient process,” he said. “It’s going to be a long process—we have a lot of equipment here and it’s a very expensive thing to do.”

WPC is also moving into the wood industry, developing stain blockers to keep tannins in wood products, and growing into new markets, Kruse said. As a result, the company recently changed its name from Wayne Pigment Corp. to WPC Technologies.

“We’re expanding our product line. Our main business is pigment, but we wanted to do other things,” Kruse said.

Kruse has been busy modernizing WPC’s facilities and making production more efficient since he joined the company in 2009.

“It’s a fast growth pace right now. We actually have a wonderful niche business here, so we weathered the recession quite well,” Kruse said.

The company’s main product is a pigment called strontium chromate, which includes nitric acid, sodium bichromate and strontium carbonate. It also makes zinc-based pigments.

Chrome-based products like strontium chromate are subject to a number of environmental and safety regulations. WPC stores some products in an explosion-proof room.

“The pigment itself has to be as pure as possible so you have to wash it,” Kruse said. “Every (drop) of water that goes into this building gets treated before it leaves.”

WPC is developing chrome- and zinc-free pigments, which are safer for the environment, in its on-site laboratory.

“Nothing’s as effective as chrome at this point,” Kruse said. “A lot of work goes into making new products or improving existing ones.”

Some lab technicians work on making non-zinc pigments at a pH level that doesn’t jell when the pigment is mixed into paint. In another area, employees test sheets of metal coated with WPC products in a salt spray chamber to determine durability.

WPC has developed a technology to replace strontium chromate in the aerospace industry and is currently working to get it approved for market, Kruse said.

While WPC experienced 10 percent revenue growth from 2010 to 2011, the first-of-its-kind aerospace chromate replacement could drive more extreme growth.

“It would be significant. A lot larger than 10 percent growth,” Kruse said.

WPC Technologies Inc.
300 S. Barclay St., Milwaukee
Industry: coating chemicals
Employees: 30

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