International CEO sets goal to double sales in next few
By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff
July 3, 2015
HUSCO International President
and CEO Austin Ramirez in the automotive products
manufacturing area on Wednesday morning.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
WAUKESHA — Manufacturer HUSCO International may already
be going “gangbusters” with its automotive division
sales, but CEO Austin Ramirez has his eyes set on even
“We are spending the majority of our energy thinking
about growth,” he said Wednesday morning from the
company’s Waukesha headquarters.
HUSCO manufactures hydraulic control valves, integrated
systems, such as PPCs and joysticks, and cartridge
valves. The automotive division of HUSCO continues to
grow, while the off-highway division that includes
tractors and agricultural equipment has slowed.
Ramirez said the automotive division is going
“gangbusters. We are near record highs.”
Much of the automotive division growth for HUSCO is
related to its valves that allow vehicles to operate
with more fuel efficiency. Companies are increasingly
installing fuel-efficient technology in their cars
because that’s what the end-consumer wants, Ramirez
Of the off-highway sales, North American sales remain
the strongest. While the home construction market has
picked up, it hasn’t yet had much of a ripple effect for
“As an enterprise, we are operating at record sales and
profitability,” Ramirez said.
The company continues to gain and grow and has set an
ambitious goal for the future. In 2015, sales are
anticipated to be around $400 million for HUSCO, but
Ramirez wants to double or triple that amount in the
next five to seven years.
“North American automakers’ demand for our product
should increase,” he said. Going forward, HUSCO wants to
reach into European markets it hasn’t fully tapped.
HUSCO employs about 1,400 people at
three campuses, of which more than 300 are engineers,
Ramirez said. “The lifeblood of our company is
innovation,” he said.
Finding the right
HUSCO brings in technical college
students and works with them for about three to nine
months while they are studying so there is the
possibility of an already trained worker getting hired
at the end of the internship.
Defining the company culture is
important at HUSCO, Ramirez said, but it can feel
esoteric for some of the workers who tend to deal more
with numbers. The culture is one that allows the workers
to be creative and helps them to be successful, he said.
The company also distributes documents on what it means
to be a successful HUSCO employee. In addition, Ramirez
will hold meetings with new managers or employees with
high potential to discuss corporate culture and to help
them become company leaders. Ramirez said he holds about
two to three of these sessions with a group of five
people in his office each year.
At the end of the talks, the
managers are able to “be the champion of the culture we
want to be,” Ramirez said.
The company’s work has caught the
eye of area groups, such as the Waukesha County Business
Alliance, which named HUSCO the top Business of the Year
in southeastern Wisconsin. HUSCO International also
received a Grand Award in the Mega category of the
Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year Awards from Wisconsin
Manufacturers & Commerce.
HUSCO, like many Waukesha County
companies, still struggles with the skills gap and
finding qualified skilled trade workers to operate and
repair the machines. Ramirez said HUSCO collaborates
with area technical colleges to help bridge that gap,
but it remains a constant issue.
In his opinion, it’s the K12 system
that needs some fixing, especially low-income urban
schools, Ramirez said. In fact, he feels the issues at
urban schools puts the nation’s success at risk.
If these urban schools would extend
the school days and increase expectations while reducing
the level of politics at play, Ramirez feels that
strides could be made.
His father, Gus Ramirez, executive
chairman of HUSCO International, is part of a team
seeking to build a $40 million private school on
Milwaukee’s south side. Ramirez said lands need to be
rezoned for the property on Harrison Avenue.
“I’m so inspired by my parents, Mom
and Dad, and especially the work they are doing on this
school,” Ramirez said. “I hope I can leave a similar
While HUSCO has a strong commitment
to the betterment of the community and its employees,
Ramirez said the number one priority is running a great
Going forward, Ramirez thinks a
breaking down of the imaginary lines that separate
Milwaukee County and Waukesha County would be beneficial
to both counties. He referenced nonprofits leading the
way, including United Way of Greater Milwaukee and
Waukesha County, and the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee.