Foxconn deal could change Waukesha County companies 'overnight'
Manufacturers, supply chain managers explore partnering with tech giant

By Hannah Weikel - Freeman Staff

August 2, 2017

PEWAUKEE - As word of an upcoming 20 million-square foot Foxconn liquid crystal display factory sinks in for Wisconsinites, manufacturers and supply chain managers in Waukesha County are hoping to land lucrative partnerships with the Taiwan-based technology company in the future.

Foxconn representatives wasted no time showcasing some of their most high-tech products to the public and hinting at major partnerships between Wisconsin franchises like the Milwaukee Bucks and industry leaders like GE Health and Rockwell Automation. But an equally big impact could be made on smaller businesses.

Estimates show that Foxconn will make $4.26 billion in supplier purchases annually, and about one-third will be from Wisconsin companies, according to a statement from Tim Casey, director of economic development for Waukesha County Center for Growth.

Foxconn has requested information on their supply-chain needs within 100 miles of the proposed site, including Waukesha County.

"Many of our manufacturers can supply the components Foxconn would need. Industries such as plastics, thin-film technology, flexible printing, adhesives and electronic components are abundant here and those companies are ready to embrace any opportunities that partnership with Foxconn could bring," Casey said in the statement.

Not only could a Foxconn plant eventually create 13,000 jobs - partnerships with local suppliers could literally transform those companies.

Prime Coatings, a Pewaukee-based chemical coating company, had a two-hour informational meeting with Foxconn representatives on Tuesday after visiting the product display at Waukesha County Technical College in the hopes of someday supplying painted display parts for the plant, which could be online as soon as 2020.

Prime Coatings already supplies water-based paint for display parts to a Foxconn manufacturing plant in Mexico. President and Chief Executive Officer Terry Welch is working to carry over that partnership to the proposed factory in southeastern Wisconsin.

Welch said it's too early to know what kind of painting will be done at the new plant, and that the representatives were secretive about what they'd need. He said during the tour of Prime Coatings they were interested in a specific kind of ultraviolet light-cured coating made at the factory.

"We were trying to just offer them our customer service and technical assistance," Welch said. "And we promised free shipping on all their paint."

Welch said the economic opportunity Foxconn is bringing to southeastern Wisconsin and Waukesha County is "unbelievable."

"It could change our company overnight, that's what's so exciting about them coming here," he said. "They have the potential for changing a company our size overnight."

Email: hweikel@conleynet.com