A cause for celebration
Broan-NuTone to host open house, tours Saturday

By ALEX BELD - Daily News

August 9, 2017

Automated value stream manager Duane Bock looks through a safety guard while talking about the construction of the new distribution area Monday morning at Broan-NuTone in Hartford. The company is celebrating 85 years and 50 in Hartford this year.
John Ehlke/Daily News

HARTFORD — As Broan-NuTone celebrates its 85th year in business, the company with a focus on indoor air quality continues to expand and change.

The global company has been in Hartford for about 50 years and employs more than 2,500 people in seven countries. It makes ventilation fans, kitchen range hoods and central vacuum systems, among several other products.

In Hartford alone, there are about 850 employees and the company hopes to add more than 80 positions. Recent changes at the Hartford facility include the removal of several walls and upgrades to the plant.

“We’re transforming the plant, kind of modernizing it,” automated value stream manager Duane Bock said. He said the space is also much more open since some walls were taken down.

As the company has grown, it’s added to its facilities about 20 times, but typically left walls up, only until recently. Part of those updates include another addition to expand their shipping and storage area by 150,000 square feet.

Construction continues Monday morning on the new distribution area, which will be roughly 150,000 square feet, at Broan-NuTone in Hartford.
John Ehlke/Daily News

This will bring their operations throughout the area under one roof. The company is also closing one of two facilities in Canada and bringing those operations back to Hartford, according to President and CEO Frank Carroll.

He said they will bring some projects to both Hartford and Mexico. Carroll added the change is “giving us more capacity to distribute to Canada and the U.S.”

And though Bock said Broan-NuTone is modernizing, it has been on that path long before its 85th year in business.

“We’ve had robots in here since 1983,” Bock said.

Painting robots, one of the earlier additions, may not be the newest the world has to offer for technology. However, Broan-NuTone added a laser last year to cut production runs, and last month it brought in a TruBend Cell to bend metal into parts for products.

“This used to be done by an operator,” Bock said about the parts the TruBend Cell makes.

The increase in modern equipment is certainly something the company is likely proud of and the same likely goes for their workforce, which Bock said is flexible enough to move from one assembly line to another.

The whole system works quickly enough for Broan-NuTone to produce just two to three days out, accurately providing what is in demand.

The one area they’re struggling with is finding the people for the jobs they have available.

“There’s not enough skilled labor in the area,” senior global director of channel marketing Michelle Gross said. She added the company is working with nearby colleges to find people with the skills they need. In addition, the company hosts job fairs.

“We continue to grow,” Carroll said. He added the company expects to grow 4.5 percent this year and between 3 and 5 percent in 2018.

Part of the growth includes the launch of a new range hood this year and a series of new products through 2018.

Broan-NuTone to open for public

In honor of the company’s 85th anniversary and to celebrate its warehouse expansion, Broan-NuTone will open its doors to the public and host plant tours for the community.

When: 8 a.m.-noon, Saturday

Where: Broan-NuTone headquarters, 926 W. State St., Hartford

Note: Tours will start every quarter hour and allow customers and local Wisconsin residents to see what goes on inside the plant.