Farm-related manufacturing finds a home in county

By GAY GRIESBACH - For the Daily News

June 13, 2017

 Naylor’s Custom Metal Cutting in Barton created these tanks and float trays for Nelson and Pade, an aquaponics manufacturer which employs a combination of fish farming and soilless plant culture
Submitted photo

The agricultural industry in Washington County has brought green to more than area fields.

Implement manufacturers take their roots from growing towns and blacksmith shops. According to online information originally from the Kewaskum Public Library, the Remmel Manufacturing Co. was built in the village in 1919 by Nicholas Remmel. In addition to emery grinders and cement mixers, the company, which closed its doors in 1972, made corn huskers.

Hartford was home to the Kissel Kar Co., but according to information from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s digital collection, the Hartford Plow Co., which manufactured and distributed farm machinery and equipment, was also part of a group of industries owned by the Kissel family.

While these are examples of Washington County’s farm machinery manufacturing history, there are other companies, small and large, that carry on the business today.

In 1859, one West Bend forge grew into a foundry where Louis Lucas began a revolution with the development the Hexelbank — a hand-cranked cutting machine that replaced chopping livestock feed by hand. That type of innovation continued after John Gehl purchased the foundry- turned-manufacturing shop in 1902 and today, the Manitou-owned Gehl Co. continues to develop and produce equipment for agriculture and construction.

Founded in 1951, Weasler Engineering in Barton produces a range of drive trains for the agricultural market including grain handling and hay foraging.

Actuant acquired Weasler in 2011 and in 2014, Weasler was considered one of the top 20 employers in Washington County.

Not all manufacturers are as storied as Gehl or as big as Weasler.

About three years ago Naylor’s Custom Metal Cutting in Barton began to design and manufacture equipment for Nelson and Pade.

Naylor’s Operations Manager Mason Shier said they met with the aquaponics manufacturer about four years ago during an equipment trade and got to talking with the owners.

Aquaponics is the combination of fish farming and soilless plant culture, according to information on the Nelson and Pade website.

“They had tanks and float trays and had been screwing all this galvanized steel together. They asked if we could redesign them. When we said we could, they asked if we could make them,” Shier said.

In addition to drafting and design, the Barton business fabricates stainless steel, aluminum and brass; does copper welding, plasma work, sandblasting and powder coating and Shier said a few weeks ago the company finalized a prototype for a seedling bed for Nelson and Pade.