State’s first lady, Kleefisch celebrate women-owned businesses in Hartford
Mantz Automation recently recognized by international trade publication

By Nicholas Dettmann

Nov. 1, 2018

President of Mantz Automation Denise Mantz, center, gives a tour to Tonette Walker, far right, Janel Brandtjen, state representative for District No. 22, right, and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, left, during a stop at Mantz Automation in Hartford as part of the Women-Owned Businesses tour Wednesday morning.
John Ehlke/Daily News

HARTFORD — Wisconsin first lady Tonette Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch visited Mantz Automation Inc. on Wednesday, one of four stops on the day to visit and celebrate companies owned by women in the state.

The other stops were at Duwe Metal Products in Menomonee Falls, Shell Plastics LLC in Plymouth and SEEK Careers/Staffing Inc. in Appleton.

Other dignitaries included state Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Janel Brandtjen, as well as Rep. Mark Born, who represents District 39, which covers a portion of the city of Hartford.

“It was a wonderful honor,” said Denise Mantz, president of Mantz Automation, which was started by her and her husband, Bob, in 1989.

“When they said they wanted to highlight women-owned businesses, I thought it was a wonderful way to highlight what we do here,” Denise said.

Mantz Automation, according to its website, is a certified Minority & Women Business Enterprise company and has made an impact on involving women in the male-dominated profession.

Mantz told a gathering of about 100 people that two of the company’s employees — one a woman — were named to MoldMaking Technology’s 30 Under 30 list.

MoldMaking Technology is an online trade publication aimed for mold, tool and die shop managers and machining, plastics and manufacturing professionals.

“Women should be able to do whatever they want and what they’re good at it,” Mantz said. “I think that women don’t realize ... manufacturing isn’t lifting and hauling big things. It’s doing mathematics and being organized and computer programming. These are things women can excel at.”

Mantz Automation produces plastic injection molds for aerospace, automotive, construction equipment, electronics and packaging manufacturers all over the world.

“I didn’t know that I wouldn’t have a refrigerator if it weren’t for you all (at Mantz), so thank you,” Kleefisch told the crowd.

The notion that manufacturing is a man’s job has dwindled significantly. Mantz has been president of the company for more than 15 years. The company counts five women among its 99 employees at its Hartford headquarters and Fond du Lac plant.

“There was such a time when nobody was promoting manufacturing,” Mantz said. “Everybody thought it was you were stuck in a dirty, little dinky place. To see that the state has turned that around and is promoting it is amazing.”

Kleefisch noted that during a speech in front of Mantz employees. She was encouraged to see so many “now hiring” signs in front of companies around Mantz, which is on the northwest side of Hartford.

She saluted those in the manufacturing field on what was the last day of Manufacturing Month.

Walker also echoed similar sentiments.

“Scott and I love Wisconsin,” Tonette said. “We wake up each day dedicated to try to make Wisconsin a better place to live and work. We’ve come a long way, but there’s a lot more that has to be done.”

Mantz said the company has hired six women all-time and one woman who moved on was promoted within that company.

“They all do excellent,” she said. “Women do very well in manufacturing.”