Gov. Walker Lauds Amerequip at Groundbreaking

by Eric Mathes of the TriCounty News

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took part Tuesday in a groundbreaking ceremony at Amerequip Corp. to celebrate phase two of the expansion of the company's Kiel plant.

The $7.7 million project is expected to create about 100 jobs, including 58 jobs in phase one, and 45 jobs in phase two.  Construction of the phase one expansion is expected to be complete in September and phase two is expected to be operational by October.

"Amerequip is an outstanding example of quality American manufacturing," Governor Walker said.  "Amerequip believes in investing in its own operations, training and growing its employee base, and in being a good corporate citizen in the local community.  The State of Wisconsin is pleased to be able to support this effort to help ensure everyone who wants a good job, can get a good job."

Amerequip, which designs and manufactures equipment for the lawn, landscape, farm, and construction industries, is expanding its Kiel operation by more than 100,000 square feet.  Tuesday's groundbreaking marked the start of the second phase of the project.  The first phase to consolidate Amerequip's welding operations into a state-of-the-art facility began earlier this month.  Construction of both phases is expected to be completed this fall.

Reed Hall, Secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), accompanied Governor Walker.  WEDC agreed to provide the company with $216,000 in tax credits for the first phase of the project and is now working with the company to provide additional incentives for the second phase.  The City of Kiel also has created a tax incentive district to help support the project.

The expansion further enhances Amerequip's final assembly capacity allowing the firm to meet the strategic needs of its customers and providing greater flexibility as the company grows into new markets.  Company officials are projecting sales will grow by more than 75 percent over the next two years.

"We are experiencing tremendous growth with our current clients and want to ensure we have he capacity and the trained workforce available to continue to meet that demand," explained Mike Vander Zanden, president and CEO of Amerequip.

Governor Walker, who was recently listed in Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World, also noted that unemployment dipped by 6 percent in Wisconsin last month for the first time in 5 years.

Walker said that Amerequip's expansion no only impacts employees, bu also has an influence on other companies as well looking for reinforcement that employment outlook is moving in a positive direction.

Kiel Mayor Mike Steinhardt closed the presentation by thanking the governor for his support and by praising Amerequip's direction for continuing excellence in manufacturing.

He said, "The real reason businesses expand is because of quality products.  That is key."

Founded in 1920 as the Arps Corp., Amerequip operates four manufacturing facilities within seven miles of each other - one is located in Kiel and the other three in New Holstein.