— Most businesses thrive on brand recognition, but Kleen Test
Products, the recipient of this year’s Ozaukee County Business of
the Year in the large business category, turns that idea completely
As a discreet
developer, manufacturer and packager of products for its clients,
Kleen Test is so successful for just the opposite reason.
“Chances are the
products we manufacture are in your home,” said Kleen Test President
Bill Ahlborn. “You just don’t know it. We’re partners with companies
of all sizes and many of the world’s notable brands.”
successful business model for the 73-year-old, Port Washington-based
company, which is being honored as one of the Ozaukee County
businesses of the year.
What started out
as a modest filter manufacturing business for the agricultural
industry has since grown into a six-location operation that now has
600 full-time employees and a contingent workforce that can increase
to 1,000 employees at peak times.
Kleen Test is a
pioneer in the development of wet wipes and dryer sheets and is one
of the world’s largest diecut pad manufacturers.
Washington plants produce wet/dry wipes, fill a variety of bottles,
jars and tubes and produce dryer sheets. Its Mequon plant produces
disinfectant and bleach products for the consumer market and milk
filters. The company’s research and development team is also located
in Port Washington. Additional facilities are located in Milwaukee
has been a good fit for Kleen Test Products because of its
geographic location and the county’s commitment in supporting
Wisconsin manufacturing,” said Ahlborn. “Everything we manufacture
also requires water, and Lake Michigan has been a valuable resource
for our production needs in Port Washington. In return, we’re able
to return clean, recycled water back.”
said that Kleen Test has been able to draw on a strong local
workforce throughout the years.
location supports our future growth and also allows us to draw in
talent from many surrounding areas,” he said.
Kleen Test was
nominated by Todd Luft, vice president and brand manager of
Associated Bank in Port Washington. The bank has an ongoing,
collaborative relationship with the manufacturer.
with Associated Bank for nearly five years to promote their ‘Bank
and Work’ program for our employees,” said Ahlborn. “We recently
started inviting Todd and his team to attend our new-hire
orientations so that we can offer this program to new employees.”
As a longtime
employer in the county, Ahlborn said that the company continually
looks for ways to support its employees as well as meet the needs of
completed a Five Year Strategic and Scenario-Based Plan for our
organization,” he said. “This has engaged our leadership team to
look 10 to 20 years in advance and try and put our business there,
before our customers even know what they’ll need. Technology is
changing faster than ever before, and we want to put those solutions
into action to be the best contract manufacturer in the world.”
Development recently announced its 2017 Businesses of the Year. The
annual award, which started in
businesses that have seen significant business and job growth and
are strong community partners.
Small business – Fiddleheads
Mid-size business – Exacto Spring
Large business – Kleen Test
The businesses will be recognized Sept.
26 at OED’s Business of the Year/Economic Forecast Breakfast at the
Ozaukee Pavilion on the county fairgrounds in Cedarburg.