Rytec purchases former Steel Craft building in Hartford
Jackson company to add production work at new site

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News Staff

Jan. 19, 2018

Snow is brushed off the top of the Rytec building by the wind Wednesday afternoon in Jackson.
John Ehlke/Daily News

HARTFORD — There is more positive economic news for the city. Rytec Corp., a leading manufacturer of high-speed doors for industrial and commercial use, has purchased the former Steel Craft building in Hartford and plans to begin additional production work there soon.

The company bought the 130,300-square-foot industrial facility at 1353 Wacker Drive within the last couple of weeks for an undisclosed amount. Most recently, the building was used for storage. Rytec plans to continue manufacturing at its Jackson location, but production work will take place at the Hartford site. The company’s corporate headquarters will remain in Jackson. The company said in a news release, the purchase signals a major product expansion and represents a significant new investment in the local community.

“We’re expanding with the purchase of the Hartford location to meet our growing customer demand,” said Michael Watkins, Rytec’s vice president of marketing. “The company also plans to invest additional resources into the facility and reorganize the manufacturing area to better utilize the acquired building. With this new property acquisition, Rytec will own more than 250,000 square feet of manufacturing and assembly space within southeast Wisconsin. Preliminary relocation activity is anticipated by mid-February, with expected completion and increased multi-shift production activity to begin by March 1.”

Watkins said the additional space and related added production will mean hiring more employees, but he could not say how many at this time.

Hartford Mayor Tim Michalak was pleased with the news. He said the city is always interested in people and companies moving to Hartford and taking advantage of the housing and businesses that are going up.

“We’re all set to be the place where people work, live, play and raise a family,” Michalak said. “That’s what we’re banking on for Hartford so we’re really happy.”

“I think it’s great that companies are even choosing Hartford without having the government step in to spend money,” Michalak added. “I think it shows the strength of what Hartford is regards to being a real value to business.”

City Planner Justin Drew said in an email to City Administrator Steve Volkert that a Rytec representative emailed him several times about the project before the property was purchased.

“He also met with me back in November to make sure they were following all of the proper steps,” Drew said. “It’s a pure expansion.”

Rytec Chairman Donald Grasso said the Rytec team understands the significance of this purchase and signals the company’s continued growth.

“We are very pleased with the pro-growth support we’ve received from the community and local business leaders, and we look forward to working with them and Wisconsin state officials to help facilitate additional growth opportunities,” said Chairman Donald P. Grasso. “Many factors were considered in acquiring property in Hartford — continuity of our loyal workforce, proximity to our headquarters in Jackson, additional infrastructure for continued growth and access to the area’s local universities and technical colleges for growth in human capital.”

According to the company’s website, in 1985, Paul Reilly Jr. founded Rytec in Addison, Illinois. The company manufactured and sold high-speed folding doors in the U.S. Widespread adoption of this product in cold storage environments helped establish the viability of the high-speed door concept in North America. In 1987, Rytec moved to a larger facility on Eagle Drive in Jackson. In 1990, Rytec developed the first high-speed rolling door that could withstand accidental impacts and reset without tools.