RACINE, WI — Since 1941, Fischer USA has been a part of the Racine County economic community. After years of continued success, they saw a need for expansion. With support from the City of Racine and Racine County Economic Development Corporation (RCEDC), the expansion for Fischer USA remained within the County and, with the new addition, brought total space up to about 48,000 square feet.
“Overall, we’re really happy that we’re still in Racine,” Brath said. “That was the main objective with this whole thing.”
President and COO, Fischer, USA
The company has never budged from its original site — although it has expanded several times, said Ryan Brath, president and chief operating officer of the Switzerland-based company. The Racine operation is the company’s only U.S. location.
Fischer manufactures and rebuilds high-speed spindles. A spindle is “the engine of a machine tool,” Brath explained. “Any bit that is cutting metal needs something behind it turning it. And the spindle is what’s behind it, turning … anything that’s removing metal.”
Fischer’s customers include specialty industries, automotive, mold and die, and aerospace. “Sixty percent of what we do in the U.S. is aerospace,” Brath said. “So, we’re very focused on Boeing out of this plant.” High-speed spindles need a full rebuild every 5,000 to 10,000 hours of use, Brath said, and that work comprises about 60 percent of Fischer USA’s revenues.
New addition in use
Fischer USA was able to expand when it was allowed to buy about 1 acre of city-owned Pierce Woods Park — despite some opposition from citizens. Actual construction of the approximately $3.5 million addition started in August 2017, and manufacturing started there early last December, Brath said. “We had about as many things, in a small project, as you could imagine happen did happen,” he said.
Those included weather delays and delays because of materials not arriving on time and a bit of contaminated soil which delayed the project another three weeks. But now the addition is essentially finished and in use, although a large part of it is still wide open for more machinery. One big advantage is provides, besides more space, is that the company was able to build in two large overhead cranes that move on tracks.
Brath said Fischer — which is currently hiring — is planning to increase manufacturing; those operations are primarily to support the service side of the business. He expects to add a third shift at the beginning of next year. For the City of Racine, perhaps the greatest benefit from Fischer USA’s addition is keeping the company in Racine. Without it, Brath said, Fischer would have been looking for a new home somewhere near Interstate 94.