William Cody operates an
1375 ton brake press at the Weldall manufacturing plant
WAUKESHA — With a new year beginning, small business
owners in Oconomowoc and Waukesha are reflecting on the
year, a changing political landscape and new consumer
trends. Weldall Manufacturing, Inc., a full-service
large-scale welding and large fabrication manufacturer
out of Waukesha, has seen a boost in business and
employment in 2017 and they expect to grow more in 2018,
according to plant manager and co-owner David Bahl.
on 60 people because of an increase in business,” said Bahl. “Next
year, we’re forecasting a 20 to 25 percent increase in sales.”
now has 215 employees, spent $1.75 million on equipment and facility
improvements, said Bahl. For the new year, the company will hit the
ground running with five new employees this week, a reflection of
this year’s growth, said Bahl. If the 20 to 25 percent increase in
sales holds true, he said, jobs would follow.
acquiring 60 workers was not an easy task for Weldall. Bahl said
finding skilled welders, machinists and fabricators has been a
hurdle for the company in recent years.
with a flick of a switch,” said Bahl. “We had to search them out and
in a lot of cases, train them.”
said keeping up with the rising cost of health care has proven
difficult for small businesses, making it tough to provide quality
health care policies for employees. Bahl said, however, President
Donald Trump and the Republican Congress’s new tax overhaul may help
remedy some of Weldall’s challenges when it comes to health care.
definitely a bottom-line changer,” said Bahl. “How much and where we
invest it, we won’t know until we see what those numbers are.”
While Bahl said
he is not sure how the company will spend new dollars, he said money
could be allocated to strengthening health insurance polices for
employees, employee compensation and reinvestment into the company.
Bahl said he’s confident that the local and national political
landscape will help Weldall thrive in 2018 between state
leadership’s pro-growth approach to job creation and the Waukesha
County Business Alliance’s efforts to help small businesses become
With the tax
overhaul in its infancy, the notion of “we know it’s good, just not
sure how good” appears to be a common theme among small business
owners. Ray Hoffman, senior director of the Oconomowoc marketing
firm Paragon Marketing Group, said the expectation is the tax law would
benefit his company though he’s not sure to what extent.
to hear from our accountant but from what we’re told it’s going to
help us dramatically,” said Hoffman.
Paragon Marketing Group expects to bring on more employees and even
expand in the new year. The company only has 10 employees; however,
Hoffman said Paragon Marketing Group opened a new location last month in
La Crosse, has plans to open a Madison office in March and three
more locations throughout Wisconsin by the end of 2018 or first
quarter of 2019. With three employees at each location, this would
more than double their staff.
to expand into the Wisconsin area, but we are very big community
advocates,” said Hoffman
owner of The Gallori in Oconomowoc, said her business has grown
every year since she first opened in 2009. She attributes growth to
community involvement, the movement to “shop local” and the
interpersonal relationships she creates with her customers — a
keystone of Boldig’s business model.
looking for a more personal experience,” she said. “More people are
coming to their neighborhood and their community for better customer
more than just the warm environment and customer service that is
bringing people to her store, said Boldig. She said she recently
read that consumers are losing interest in mall shopping and bigbox
stores because the products aren’t as unique.
“I think that’s
why people are shopping in their back yards,” said Boldig.
features a variety of hand-crafted arts, framing and gifts created
by over 100 artists. Boldig said one-of-a-kind products like the
ones found in her store are peeling people away from larger stores.
“When it comes
to something unique, they need that personal touch,” she said.
downtown Oconomowoc events have also been a big booster for her
business. She sat on the board of directors for the Chamber of
Commerce for six years and is a member of the Downtown Oconomowoc
Business Association. She said events like the German Christmas
Market and the Oconomowoc Festival of Arts bring people to the area
every single month.
the community and exposes them to what businesses are downtown,”
said Boldig. “When people see that you’re active and that you give
back to your community, that’s a bonus for your business.”