Wisconsin-based Waupaca Foundry expanding to Ironwood

LANSING, Mich. — Waupaca Foundry Inc., a manufacturer of cast and machined iron components for the transportation and industrial markets, plans to expand in Ironwood, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced.

The project is expected to generate total private investment of $4.3 million and create 61 jobs. Michigan was chosen over sites in Arkansas and Wisconsin.

Waupaca Foundry was established in 1955 and is headquartered in Waupaca, Wis. The company was purchased in 2014 by Hitachi Metals Group and has more than 4,500 employees at seven sites in the United States.

The company needs to expand to meet increasing demand for castings, including cleaning and finishing, in a location that has sufficient labor supply.

The company plans to acquire an existing 50,000-square-foot facility in Ironwood. With the expansion, Waupaca has been awarded a $1.2 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

“The economy is strong and Waupaca Foundry is growing due to increased customer demand for cast and machined iron castings. Opening a facility to handle cleaning and finishing of cast parts will allow us to meet customers’ expectations in quality and delivery of their parts,” said John Wiesbrock, Waupaca Foundry executive vice president.

Area residents and leaders continue to look for ways to strengthen the region’s economic base in wake of the Ojibway Correctional Facility closing earlier this month.

Before choosing a site, Waupaca did exploratory job fairs and identified a strong pool of motivated, trained workers in the Ironwood region.

“Like many employers across the nation, Waupaca Foundry is finding ways to overcome low unemployment and a shortage of skilled workers,” President, COO and CEO Mike Nikolai said.

Ironwood is considering a 12-year property tax abatement valued at $375,000 in support of the project.

“Waupaca’s expansion here rather than in other states underscores the strength of our business environment and talented workforce,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of MEDC, the state’s chief marketing and business attraction arm that administers programs and performs due diligence on behalf of the MSF.