Manufacturing Today - March/April 2014 - (Page 90)

Milwaukee Electronics / Employees: 400 / Michael Stoehr, owner and president: "Everybody wants things faster today than yesterday and they want it even faster tomorrow." milwaukee electronics serves clients in an average of 17 to 20 industries at any given time. Always Evolving milwaukee electronics is a national manufacturer with an international presence. by jamie morgan Over the years, Milwaukee Electronics has strived to be all things, but not necessarily to all people. It's true that the company provides electronics manufacturing services for approximately 20 industries - such as appliances, foodservice equipment and dental equipment - but it looks for a very special client within those markets. "We like the industrial companies that don't need 2 million parts a year," says owner and President Michael Stoehr. "Instead, we look for companies that need 500 to 5,000 a year for their production. We wouldn't make refrigerator controls for a company like General Electric. But if there is refrigerator manufacturer who builds a specific refrigerator with a unique 90 MARCH/APRIL 2014 technology or application, that is right up our alley. We can design something specific to their needs and leapfrog over the competition." In general, the company focuses on the placement of parts on electronic circuit boards that allow a wide array of Web-based and electronic-based products to function. But when taking a broader look, it's apparent that Milwaukee Electronics has added to its list of services in order to serve clients more efficiently. Going National Milwaukee Electronics was founded in 1954 as a contract manufacturer for one company in the mining industry. Stoehr bought the Milwaukeebased company in 1985 with plans to Midwest grow Milwaukee Electronics beyond its Midwest home base. As the company celebrates its 60-year anniversary, Milwaukee Electronics is a living testament that innovation and continuous evolvement that responds to customer demand leads to a prosperous operation. "The 1980s were actually the sprouting years for a lot of Internetand Web-based handheld electronic tools," Stoehr says. "It's close to the time when Microsoft and Amazon were created and it was a time of real evolution and changing technology to electronic-based rather than mechanical. I was an electrical engineer by degree and saw this company that was small, underutilized, regional, with a talented engineering staff. I thought there was a lot of upward opportunity for this small company." Since purchasing Milwaukee Electronics in 1985, the 60-year-old company has averaged 16 percent annual growth by zeroing in on market needs and adapting to those needs. Stoehr's first step was to expand its customer base. It initially looked to the government and won 42 defense contracts within the first three years after the purchase. Over the years, it moved out of government and into the commercial arena serving an average of 17 to 20 industries at any given time. In 1999, Milwaukee Electronics acquired an Oregon-based company specializing in the same services and gained customers west of the Mississippi. By the early 2000s, however, it was impossible to ignore the influx of U.S. manufacturers moving operations into Asia. "If manufacturing was moving into Asia, we figured there would still be people in the United States who would at times need sourcing to go through faster than they could get in China," Stoehr says. "So we set up an Internet-based company called Screaming Circuits."

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - March/April 2014

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Manufacturing Today - March/April 2014