Vote to decide the “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin”


The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) has been holding a “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin” contest annually since 2016. The contest is designed to showcase Wisconsin manufacturers and the manufacturing industry and all the “cool things” they are producing in the state. It is also an opportunity to bring attention to all the jobs and career opportunities available in the manufacturing industry, which contributes more than $68 billion to the state’s economy. One in six people in Wisconsin are employed in the manufacturing industry.
Voting is now open for the 2023 contest, and two Merrill manufacturers have products in the running.

Thorogood’s American Heritage 6” tobacco safety toe work boot manufactured by Thorogood/Weinbrenner Shoe Company are in the running to be named “2023 Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin.”

Thorogood safety toe work boots
Weinbrenner Shoe Company/Thorogood entered their American Heritage 6” tobacco safety toe work boot into the competition. “Combining safety, comfort, and great looks, the Thorogood® American Heritage 6” tobacco safety toe work boot will keep you going all day long,” the description of their product reads. “Made with stylish, tobacco oil-tanned leather, these moc toe boots allow your feet to breathe, and the MAXWear Wedge™ outsole keeps you from slipping on wet or muddy surfaces. The American Heritage series is one of the most popular–and it’s not hard to see why. You’ll look and feel great both on and off the clock while the slip-resistant outsole and steel toe protection give you the security you need.”

The MTW RTS power rake manufactured by Merrill Tool and Water Jet in Merrill is 1 of 115 “Made in Wisconsin” products vying for the title of “2023 Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin.”

MTW RTS power rakes manufactured by Merrill Tool and Water Jet
“MTW attachments 3-in-1 rotory tool system is a power box rake that pairs with skid steers and tractors,” the description of their product reads. “The idea of the conventional power box rake is to level, surface recondition, grade, and rake in settings such as lawns, fields, golf courses, and driveways. When manufacturing of the MTW rake began in 2016, it was found to be a tough sell since the landscaping season is limited by the snow and ice of the winter months. In 2020, MTW went to work to find a way to quickly change out the rotor to give added value to the unit through interchangeability, and give the attachment more ‘year around’ applications by offering a tiller rotor and a broom rotor. More rotors, such as flail and rock rake, are being designed for potential future release.”

Many central and northcentral Wisconsin entries
In total, 115 products made in Wisconsin are featured in this year’s contest, made throughout the state. Central and northcentral Wisconsin manufacturers are well represented, including product entries such as Wenzel Farms beef sticks made in Marshfield, Castile bright silver foil dual metal labels made at Wausau Coated Products in Wausau, stainless pressure vessels made for chemical mixing and processing produced by Samuel Pressure Vessel Group in Tomahawk, tin can end–peel and stick valved ends made by Roastar in Wausau, vacuum trucks produced by Imperial Industries in Rothschild, the Simply Yours furniture collection made by Marshfield Furniture in Marshfield, a revolutionary-designed Rigid Mountain Bike pending patent manufactured by KAPPStructures in Rhinelander, applewood smoked bacon made by Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats in Wittenberg, Minocqua Popcorn and Puffs made by Minocqua Popcorn and Puffs in Minocqua, and AirPro Fans produced by AirPro Fan & Blower in Rhinelander.
In 2022, more than 150,000 votes were cast for roughly 150 products that had been nominated to determine the “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin” and more than 1.1 million votes were cast over the last eight years of the contest.
Past winners included a wide variety of products: the Milwaukee Eight Engine manufactured by Harley-Davidson, Milwaukee [2016]; the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle produced by Oshkosh Corporation in Oshkosh [2017]; Sea Salt Caramel Pecan Kringle made by Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe in De Pere [2018]; Big Boy All-Weather Rifles made by Henry Repeating Arms in Rice Lake [2019]; Mobile Autonomous Robotic Carts (MARC) manufactured by Mul Technologies in Mequon [2020]; the 140 Ton Navy Crane manufactured by Broadwind Heavy Fabrications, Manitowoc [2021]; and the Electric Fire Truck made by Pierce Manufacturing, based in Appleton [2022].

How it works
“After products are nominated, they compete in a popular vote that sets the field for Manufacturing Madness,” the contest guidelines read. This round of voting will determine the top 16 products that will move forward to the next level of the competition.
The top 16 products selected by popular vote then compete in what WMC has dubbed “Manufacturing Madness,” a bracket-style tournament ultimately culminating with one winner. That winner, which officially becomes “The 2023 Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin” will then be announced at WMC’s Business Day in Madison event on Oct. 19.
October is Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin, so the timing is designed to coincide with that.
“We’re excited to see which of these 100+ products will be named the Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin,” said WMC’s Vice President of Communications & Marketing Nick Novak. “Not only do these companies make products that are used all over the world–and even in outer space–they provide rewarding careers and support their local communities.”

Now go vote
Manufacturers, employees, and consumers are all eligible to vote and can vote once per day, per device, until Sept. 26, 2023, at 5 p.m.
To vote, go to:

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