PEWAUKEE — Set amid the backdrop
of Foxconn’s arrival in Southeastern Wisconsin, a consortium of
economic development experts are calling on local manufacturers to
make investments to supply chain technology — and do so at lightning
The need to make the upgrades was underscored Wednesday during a
workshop at Waukesha County Technical College. About a hundred
representatives from a cross-section of manufacturers attended the
event, which the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
WEDC has announced plans of holding the workshops in different areas
of the state, spurred by a desire to help manufacturers prepare for
Foxconn’s opening. But speakers said the call to invest in
next-generation technology extends beyond Foxconn.
Attendees heard from several Foxconn representatives, including Bill
Mitchell, CEO of Aguila, which is a subsidiary within the
Taiwanese-based electronics manufacturer.
“We are building the airplane while we are flying it,” Mitchell said
of Foxconn’s development in Mount Pleasant. “We move at a speed
called ’Foxconn fast.’ Things are moving very, very fast.”
Mitchell emphasized Foxconn did not become a global giant in a
“We can’t do this by ourselves,” Mitchell said. “We have a strong
desire to localize everything that we can. But obviously, we’re a
business. We’re in business to make money. What’s important is we
have suppliers who can keep pace with what we want to do.”
Mitchell said there are no specifics on Foxconn’s planned
partnership with the local manufacturing community.
“We don’t have any hard dates,” he said. “But we have a commitment
to keep you as informed as we are.”
During a question-andanswer session, Mitchell was peppered with
queries, including one about Foxconn’s willingness to acquire
“The politically correct answer is we’re willing to do that if it
makes business sense,” Mitchell said.
In a broader context, attendees heard from representatives of
several other manufacturing groups about the need to innovate.
“Whether you work with Foxconn or not, the bar is going up,” said
Buckley Brinkman, executive director and CEO of the Wisconsin Center
for Manufacturing and Productivity. “You’re going to have to change
the way you do business — and you’re going to have to do it sooner,
rather than later.”
Brinkman and other attendees touched on the need to integrate
Internet of Things advancements, which pertains to smart, connected
devices. Robotics and automation also were overarching themes
discussed with local manufacturers.
Throughout the call for change, speakers emphasized the benefits of
making investments and tweaking current business practices in the
name of efficiency.
“Don’t be afraid,” Mitchell said. “I don’t like change. But the
world is continuing to change.”