Generating change
Increase in demand means more for Sauk Technologies

By JENNIFER McBRIDE - Daily News

April 2, 2014

The new 20KW residential generator is on display in the lobby at Sauk Technologies on Tuesday afternoon in Saukville.
John Ehlke/ Daily News

SAUKVILLE - Changes at Sauk Technologies have been in the works for months and now they are coming to light. Additional jobs and new products are part of the adjustments.

The Saukville plant, a Kohler Co. facility, builds diesel fuel tanks and generator enclosures. Employees will continue building the fuel tanks but not the enclosures. On top of that, they are creating a line to build, assemble and test home automatic standby generators, said Anne Smith, associate public relations manager-Power Group. The company is beginning to work on the assembly line and expects it to be operational by June, she said.

“I think my team is looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge,” superintendent of manufacturing Rich Katte said. He has been with the Saukville plant since 2007. “It will be a great opportunity. It’s something new. It’s a new operation, new processes.”

Smith confirmed jobs will be created in Saukville, but would not say how many. However, when news of Kohler Co.’s expansion was released in August, the company reported it expected to hire 300 associates over the next three years between its facilities in Mosel and Saukville and its plant in Kohler, which supplies the engines used in Kohler’s small and mid-size generators.

Sauk Technologies Superintendent of Manufacturing Richard Katte stands next to a display model of the new 20KW Residential Generator in the lobby at Sauk Technologies on
Tuesday afternoon in Saukville. 

John Ehlke/ Daily News

The increase in demand for standby generators has been fueled by weather events like Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and ice storms in the Northeast this winter as well as consumer interest in having emergency power, Smith said. These are permanently installed standby-home generators that run on natural gas or propane and “fire up” automatically within 10 seconds if the power goes out, she said.

While the Saukville plant becomes the production facility for home automatic standby generators, the Mosel plant will focus on industrial and light commercial generators for a range of businesses including hospitals, data centers, water treatment plants, cellphone towers and small businesses like restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores, according to a news release.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued Sauk Technologies an air permit on Feb. 13 to construct the processing line (25 kw maximum engine capacity). The plant is allowed to emit 79 tons per year of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compound or any criteria pollutant. Under its previous permit, it could emit 25 tons per year, said Ted Cauwels, DNR air management program registration permit program coordinator and compliance engineer. However, the plant only emits an average of 5 tons per year, he said.

“They’re doing the due diligence to get the correct permit in case they go over the flow,” Cauwels said.

There has never been a complaint or enforcement action against the company, DNR Air Management engineer Ryan Bergh said. The plant would have to go full blast to get to 79 tons. They are not classified as a “major source” of pollutants, which is 100 tons per year or greater, he said.

Saukville Village President Barbara Dickmann said the upgrade at Sauk Technologies will be beneficial to the community.

“They are a very good corporate citizen and they are right in our business park and very visible in Saukville,” she said.

Companies often change processes and replace employees with robotics. “If they are planning to add jobs, that would be wonderful,” Dickmann said.