Governor Scott Walker attended Northern Wire’s 40th anniversary celebration Monday. Northern Wire serves the nation’s industrial markets with custom wire products for agricultural machinery, construction, and recreational vehicles.
To reach the 40-year milestone, Northern Wire has weathered storms both figurative and literal.
“I was here in 2011 assessing damages when the manufacturing facility was struck by a tornado,” Governor Walker said. “Northern Wire demonstrated resilience and has continued to provide their wire products to both Wisconsin and the nation, as well as rebuild and expand despite this setback. Northern Wire is an excellent example of Wisconsin’s manufacturing strength, and we are here to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of the company and its employees.”
Northern Wire was back up and running within a week after taking a direct hit from the F3 twister in April 2011.
“The tornado hit on a Sunday and by that Friday we were 100 percent back up and running,” said plant manager John Brost.
Started in 1973 in Gleason, Northern Wire began operations as a manufacturer of wear-rods for snowmobile skis. Located in the Merrill Industrial Park since 1980, Northern Wire has grown into one of the leading privately held wire forming companies in the United States, serving industrial markets ranging from agricultural machinery, lawn and garden, and landscaping equipment to construction and recreational vehicles. An ISO 9001:2008 certified manufacturer, Northern Wire also offers machining, cold heading, and welding capabilities, in addition to operating its own plating facility.
Northern Wire was acquired in June 2012 by Elgin Fastener Group. Elgin CEO Jeff Leiter said they were impressed with the people and the philosophy of Northern Wire.
“We looked at a lot of companies,” Leiter said. “It’s not about the equipment, it’s about the fabric and the people of the company. You can see the people take pride in their jobs.”
Since taking over, Elgin has invested about $1 million in new equipment at Northern Wire. The Merrill facility, combined with the other plants in the Elgin group, creates a one-stop fastener shopping opportunity for manufacturers.
Elgin and Northern Wire have strong relationships with big customers like John Deere, MTD, Briggs & Stratton and Husqvarna.
“Northern Wire is a great company,” Leiter said. “The previous ownership got it to a certain level and that’s when we stepped in. Our goal is to be the number one fastener company in North America.”
Northern Wire employs more than 130 people during the summer and fall, ramping up to more than 180 for the busier winter months.
Leiter added that Wisconsin is a good state in which to do business. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recently released its July coincident economic indexes for states, showing Wisconsin has had the third best economic growth in the nation. This is best ranking Wisconsin has ever received and Wisconsin is improving at the strongest rate it has since January 1995.