Amerequip Featured in Milwaukee Journal


Seasonal businesses flourish, but others still lag

By Rick Barrett of the Journal Sentinel

Manufacturing in southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois improved in June for the first time in three months, according to a monthly survey of manufacturers released Friday.

The survey's index measuring industrial health was 51.6, up from 40.7 in round number, noted Marquette University's Center for Supply Chain Management and the local chapter of the Institute of Supply Chain Management, the organizations that compile the monthly data.

An index score above 50 indicates growth, while below 50 indicates decline.  June was the first time the area's seasonally adjusted index climbed above 50 since March.

Seasonal business has improved, but other business still lags, the report noted, adding that there's a lack of confidence in orders more than eight weeks out.

"Overall economic conditions remains sluggish, which has negatively impacted our sales," one company said in the survey.

For many businesses, it's been "a long, hard grind," said Douglas Fisher, associate business professor at Marquette and director of the Center for Supply Chain Management.

The June report's measure of employment was 49.4, up from 44.3 the month before but still in the negative range.

The measure of new orders was 49.5, up from 33.1 in May.  The production measure in June was 50, up from 35.7 the month before.  The measure of exports was 47.2, compared with the 47 the month before.

A late spring across much of the United States hurt some Wisconsin manufacturers that make outdoor products such as lawn and garden tractors.  But the seasonal business has rebounded, said Mike Vander Zanden, president and chief executive officer of Amerequip Corp., a manufacturer of commercial mowing equipment and machines used in the construction industry.

Amerequip, located in Kiel, has seen a 50% increase in sales over the last two years.

"Orders have picked up and are almost at the levels from a year ago," Vander Zanden said, adding that some of the increase has come from sales to the construction equipment divisions of Caterpillar Inc. and John Deere Inc.

Amerequip has 160 employees, up about 20 from a year ago.  The company plans to hire between 50 and 75 more people over the next three years as it develops new products for companies such as Caterpillar, John Deere and Case New Holland.

"We have a lot of things in the pipeline," Vander Zanden said.

 The company has placed hiring on hold until it gets approval for Wisconsin job-creation tax credits, according to the CEO.  Meanwhile, it is offering youth apprenticeships and is working with Moraine Park Technical College and University of Wisconsin-Platteville to give students work experience.