Home ยป Milwaukee Tool adding 1,000 jobs, largely focused on technologies – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Milwaukee Tool adding 1,000 jobs, largely focused on technologies – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

by Arifa Rana

Milwaukee Tool said Thursday it will add 1,000 jobs over the next three years in southeast Wisconsin as the company continues to invest in power-tool technologies used in the skilled trades.
The 98-year-old manufacturer, one of the state’s fastest-growing employers, said many of the new positions will be in technical roles in Menomonee Falls, Brookfield, Milwaukee, Mukwonago, Sun Prairie and West Bend. 
The hiring, which is in addition to previous job announcements, has started and will run through 2025. It’s part of a $206 million investment by the company and is supported by up to $22.5 million in Enterprise Zone tax credits, according to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
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“Milwaukee Tool’s investment in Wisconsin is creating opportunities not only for the company’s workers but for all the suppliers, construction companies and others who partner with them,” WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes said at a news conference.
The Brookfield-based company has around 10,000 employees in the United States including more than 3,600 in Wisconsin. 
Early in 2021, it announced plans to bring around 2,000 jobs to its new office in downtown Milwaukee. In January 2020 it opened a 116,300-square-foot building at the headquarters on West Lisbon Road in Brookfield.
“We’ve been growing consistently, in the double digits, for over a decade. Along with this growth, we’ve been investing heavily in job creation in all of the places where we operate,” Milwaukee Tool said. 
The company recently opened a technology office in Chicago, which will have 250 employees in engineering and product design. 
“This city has a fast-growing tech scene that draws diverse technical talent from around the country,” Steve Richman, Milwaukee Tool Group president, said about Chicago. 
The technology center is an extension of the company’s work that’s gone on for decades in the Milwaukee area and shows no signs of slowing.
“It’s been massively important for us to continue to have our home here,” said Shane Moll, president of the power tools division.
Milwaukee Tool, which is owned by Hong Kong-based Techtronic Industries, has received more than 1,500 U.S. patents in the last 15 years. 
The company has expanded its product lineup to include items such as hedge trimmers, leaf blowers and a cordless concrete rotary hammer used in drilling and chiseling. 
Its focus has been on cordless tools, powered by lithium-ion batteries, that are easier to use than conventional equipment tethered to power cords or air hoses.
“We’re delivering cordless products that are more powerful than what you can get from plugging a tool into a wall outlet,” Moll said.
Milwaukee Tool says its batteries, motors and electronics have evolved together to deliver higher levels of performance. One of the technologies allows a power tool to connect with the digital cloud. If the tool is taken outside a defined area, known as a geofence, it can be shut down to prevent unauthorized use.
The company says it’s keenly aware of labor shortages in the skilled trades and of contractors’ efforts to become more efficient with the available workforce. 
“We’re seeing the trades embrace new technology faster than ever before,” Moll said.
“We have an ‘innovate or die’ mentality.”
Many of the 1,000 new positions at Milwaukee Tool will be in engineering and related career fields. 
“The company’s extraordinary growth trajectory is creating opportunities for our graduates of our colleges and universities, as well as luring talented people to southeastern Wisconsin from across the world,” said Gale Klappa, co-chairman of M7, a Milwaukee regional economic development group. 
One of those young engineers is Grace Whitmore, a Milwaukee School of Engineering graduate who has been with Milwaukee Tool since 2018. Now, she leads a team of five electrical engineers focused on new products used in carpentry.
“I was really surprised to have this opportunity so soon in my career, but I love it,” Whitmore said. “It’s been really cool to be a part of the growth here.”
The company has a rapid-prototyping center where engineers can quickly create a functional working model from a product drawing.
“Let’s print it up and try it out,” Whitmore said. “That’s super empowering, especially for engineers early in their career because it enables so much innovation. You can see the bones of something coming together.”
She had a connection to Milwaukee Tool from her studies at MSOE and snapped up the opportunity to work for the company. 
“It was everything that I was looking for in terms of responsibility and moving quickly on things with no red tape,” Whitmore said.
Milwaukee Tool has a presence on college campuses including Milwaukee School of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Companies are getting creative in their hiring, and are paying higher salaries, to lure talent.  “We have a compelling story to tell students and young engineers already in their career,” Moll said. “I think we have a really cool story.”
Milwaukee Tool has spent nearly $400 million expanding its U.S. operations in the last five years and more than $250 million on new technologies in the last year. 
It now has 15 manufacturing plants including 10 in the United States and plants in Mexico, Germany, the United Kingdom, China and Vietnam.
Previously known as Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp., the company traces its history back to the 1920s when Henry Ford was looking for a compact hand drill. 
In 1923, it suffered a fire that forced the closure of its manufacturing plant. The following year, the remaining assets were sold at auction, and company co-founder Albert Siebert restarted the business. 
In 1951, Milwaukee Tool introduced the Sawzall, the first portable powered hacksaw with a reciprocating blade. That product has since gone through many iterations, including a cordless model powered by an 18-volt lithium ion battery.
While electric vehicles have captured headlines, the company has been advancing electric motors and rechargeable batteries for decades. It’s also used 3D printing, for prototyping, for more than 20 years.
The company’s current lineup of power tools bears little resemblance to earlier models. They’re lighter, more powerful, and mostly battery powered. 
“It’s not the tool from the 1970s, and it’s not the tool from even 2015,” Moll said.
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