Groundbreaking Ceremony

By Mark Sherry

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was in Kiel Monday afternoon to help Amerequip break ground on phase three of its ongoing expansion.

“This expansion is a great example of the type of growth Wisconsin companies are experiencing,” Walker said. “We are here to celebrate the continued investment Amerequip is making in the economic health of our state, the development of our workforce, and the solid reputation of quality Wisconsin-made products in the global market.”

Amerequip employees gathered under a large tent at the north end of the company’s parking lot on a sunny afternoon to listen to Walker and company officials recount the company’s recent growth and introduce the next major piece of that growth.

The company’s third big project in just the past four years will add 88,000 square feet which will allow Amerequip to expand its fabrication operation and integrate it with its other core competencies of weld, paint, and assembly. The previous two expansions in recent years added more than 100,000 square feet, including consolidating the company’s welding operations into a state-of-the-art facility at Plant 3, enhancing final assembly capacity, and adding a training center as well as expanding corporate headquarters.

Employment at the company has grown from 150 team members to 260. Since 2011, Amerequip has now invested more than $20 million in capital expenditures including facility expansions.

The current phase three expansion—expected to be done next May—will allow for continued growth, Amerequip CEO/President Mike Vander Zanden said. “We have been incredibly fortunate to work with partners like the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the State of Wisconsin, and the City of Kiel,” Vander Zanden said. “They have done a phenomenal job of supporting our efforts and exceeding our expectations with their assistance. Thanks to each carefully planned expansion and all of the support we’ve had from so many different people and organizations, our goal is to exceed $100 million in revenue with a workforce of 400 team members by 2020. We also have to thank our team members as well as our customers because, without them, we couldn’t continue our growth. Everything has to align for this to happen, and we are pleased to be moving forward with a culture of success.”

Walker added, “What Amerequip has done, and is doing, is an example for all American manufacturers. They are proof that investing in your own company, training and growing the workforce they need, and being a good corporate citizen in the local community is good for everyone involved. The State of Wisconsin is pleased to be able to help support their efforts.”

Vander Zanden said, “What makes this especially worthwhile is knowing it’s not just about a business expanding, it’s seeing the private-public sectors work together for the benefit of communities, the workforce, and our customers.”

In bringing Walker to the podium Monday, Vander Zanden said, “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, you have been a friend to our business.”

“For nearly 100 years, Amerequip has set the standard of excellence which earned them the Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year to recognize their outstanding corporate stewardship,” Walker said.

Looking out over the employees gathered under the tent, Walker added, “There’s a dignity that comes from work. I don’t think we promote that enough these days.” He pointed out that the state’s unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in 2010 but is now closer to 4 percent. He said more people are working in Wisconsin than ever before, and added that the statistic of having 70 percent of the state’s eligible workforce employed ranks the state in the top 10 in the U.S.

“I commission you all to be ambassadors” to promote the quality careers which can be found in manufacturing, Walker told Amerequip’s employees. Those jobs often feature high wages, good benefits, and career stability. “We are a manufacturing state,” he said. “We’ve done well with manufacturing in the past.”

Kiel Mayor Mike Steinhardt told the assembled group, “It’s a good day for business.” He said there are three key players in making that so, starting with Amerequip. “It’s very easy for us to work with a company like that,” he said. He also commended the citizens of Kiel and city officials for being very cooperative in helping Amerequip grow. Last but not least, he commended the State of Wisconsin and said the business climate has been positive since Walker became governor.

Charles Hoke, chairman of Amerequip’s Board of Directors, said, “Manufacturing is key to the growth of this state. This investment creates jobs. This is a great win-win for everyone concerned.... We’re a made in the U.S.A. company, and we’re proud of it.”

Amerequip provides design and engineering services along with production and manufacturing of custom equipment for international and national customers in a wide variety of industries. Amerequip continues to operate four facilities between Kiel and New Holstein.