Puppy baths to be made in city
Company plans to hire 60 full-timers

By ALEX ZANK - Daily News

July 21, 2015

 Gardner Pet Group plans to hire 60 full-time employees when it opens at 2845 Wingate St., shown here Monday.
Ken Merrill/Daily News

WEST BEND - A puppy bath business is moving operations to West Bend and plans to bring about 60 jobs with it.

Gardner Pet Group has signed a 10-year lease for a 160,000-square-foot building at 2845 Wingate St., according to a city memo.

The average salary for the jobs will be about $40,000, according to the memo.

City Council members approved an $8,000-lease subsidy over 12 months for the pet products manufacturing company during a Monday meeting at City Hall.

The company is moving its operations from China to West Bend, according to the memo. It is leasing the space from Phoenix Investors.

“It’s a great investment in the U.S., it’s a great investment in Wisconsin and of course a great investment in West Bend,” said Alderman Chris Jenkins before motioning to approve the business incentive.

Kurt Jensen, senior vice president of acquisitions with Phoenix Investors, told council members Gardner is moving four product lines to the area.

“Cost of materials is significantly less in the U.S.,” he said. “Labor costs in China are going up. Also, transportation (cost) is up and if there is a problem with the product, it’s very difficult to address that in a timely fashion.”

He said Gardner will produce puppy baths at the facility, and in about a year will add plastic injection molding operations.

City Administrator T.J. Justice said Gardner was considering facilities in West Bend and Watertown, which prompted him to look into incentives.

“Throughout my career, not too often have I had the opportunity to work with a company in another country looking to move to the U.S.,” Justice said. “Usually it’s the other way around, and we’re fighting to keep their operations here.”

Officials OK park agreement

Council members also approved a business contract between the city and LaRosa Landscaping Co. for the redevelopment of Old Settlers Park downtown.

Justice said, weather permitting, the city hopes work on the park will start after Thursday evening Music on Main events conclude (Aug. 27) and will finish before the music series starts next summer.

In June, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation donated $200,000 to the West Bend Community Foundation to renovate the downtown- area park.

Reach reporter Alex Zank at .