Federal Tool breaks ground
Kleefisch on hand as company begins expansion

By DAVE RANK - Daily News

Sept. 26, 2014

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch talks with Federal Tool and Engineering employee Dennis Eernisse at the ground breaking ceremony for the expansion for Federal Tool and Engineering on Thursday afternoon in West Bend. The expansion will nearly triple the current building to 60,000 sq ft.
Photo by John Ehlke

WEST BEND - Employees of Federal Tool and Engineering LLC seem pleased with the company’s decision to move its operation from Cedarburg to West Bend.

Dick Herriges of West Bend has been a tool and die maker for Federal Tool since 1980. “It’s really nice to see the business is growing,” he said during Thursday afternoon’s groundbreaking ceremony for the 28,000-square-foot expansion of the manufacturer’s facility at 2150 Stonebridge Road.

More than 40 employees gathered to watch Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and company and city officials toss dirt to christen the start of the project.

“I am so excited for your success,” Kleefisch said during her brief remarks. Wisconsin has some of the “most educated, ethical workers in America and a lot of them are working here in West Bend.”

When completed, Federal Tool will transfer its Cedarburg operations entirely to what will be its 49,000-square-foot West Bend site, company President David Tomczek said.

“This expansion will more than double their existing footprint,” Business Solutions specialist Deb Reinbold with Economic Development Washington County said. “As they consolidate in West Bend, the expansion will result in the hiring of an additional 10 full-time employees within the next three years.”

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch addresses Federal Tool and Engineering employees at the ground breaking ceremony for the expansion for Federal Tool and Engineering on Thursday afternoon in West Bend.  
Photo by John Ehlke

“I’m looking forward to this. I think it’s a great opportunity for Federal Tool and the community as a whole,” Matt Russ said. He lives in West Bend and has been a member of the company’s maintenance department for the past 18 months.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier with moving into a brand new building. It’ll be two shifts, potentially 30 per shift. That’s maybe 60 jobs. Right now, we’re working with 45.”

“We have two people who started with us yesterday,” Federal Tool President David Tomczek said Thursday, “and a group that has been with us for 30 years. And a smattering of others in-between.”

He said the company is buying new equipment and will have an automated robotic line. “We’ve found that the more we automate the more we see we need more people,” Tomczek said.

The company’s workforce has grown 20 percent in the last few years, he said, and its business has grown 18 percent. “Much of the increase is (business) moving back from China. We see that as a continuing part of our growth.”

West Bend City Administrator T.J. Justice welcomed Federal Tool to the community.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch jokes with Federal Tool and Engineering employee Jeremias Schwabe at the ground breaking ceremony for the expansion for Federal Tool and Engineering on Thursday afternoon in West Bend. 
Photo by John Ehlke

“We wanted Federal Tool in West Bend, plain and simple,” Justice said. “We take economic development seriously.”

Low-interest loans totaling $400,000 from both the city and the county through EDWC were used to help draw Federal Tool & Engineering to West Bend.

Jeremias Schwab is a fabrication technician with Federal Tool, hired just four weeks ago, he said, “fresh out of school.” He attended welding classes at Moraine Park Technical College.

Schwab said he enjoys his new job. “I like it they’re training me. I came out of welding school and they’re teaching me a lot of things I want to know.”

Originally from Fond du Lac, Schwab moved to Kewaskum a year ago and now lives in the town of Polk so he’s happy his job will be in West Bend. “I like it. It’s five minutes away for me.”