Above: Two workers at the Greenheck Fan Corp. in Schofield, Wisconsin, the state's 5th largest manufacturing company based on number of employees (image courtesy of Greenheck Fan Corp.)
Wisconsin’s skilled workforce combined with a strong focus on innovation have drawn some major enterprises to the state over the years. Home to 9,200+ manufacturing plants employing more than 574,000 workers, the Badger State ranks as the 9th largest state in the U.S. for the size of its manufacturing workforce.
This article will explore the latest facts on Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector and will provide details on the top manufacturing companies in Wisconsin.
Looking for sales leads in Wisconsin? Access comprehensive profiles of Wisconsin industrial companies with MNI's Wisconsin Manufacturing Industry Database. Looking for other states, regions, or industries? Start your free demo of IndustrySelect and reach new prospects in the industrial world!
According to MNI, compiler of the industrial information that powers IndustrySelect, Wisconsin is currently home to 9,242 manufacturing companies employing 574,469 workers.
Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest city based on number of industrial jobs, with 42,842 workers, reports MNI.
Read more: Top Manufacturing Cities in the U.S.
Other top cities in Wisconsin include
• Green Bay (23,421 jobs)
• Madison (17,501 jobs)
• Appleton (14,899 jobs)
• Waukesha (14,294 jobs)
Milwaukee County is Wisconsin’s largest in terms of manufacturing jobs, home to 80,179 workers. This is followed by Waukesha County with 65,584 workers, Dane County (39,888 jobs), Brown County (35,045 jobs) and Sheboygan County (27,291 jobs).
The industrial machinery sector ranks as Wisconsin’s largest based on number of jobs, employing 18% of the state’s industrial workers. This is followed by food products, with 13% of the state’s workforce and fabricated metals, with 12%.
Rubber and miscellaneous rubber products account for 8% of Wisconsin’s manufacturing jobs and the electronic and other electric equipment sector also accounts for 8%.
MNI reports there are 36,440 executive contacts among Wisconsin’s industrial companies, including 5,431 presidents, 3,111 owners and partners; 3,638 vice-presidents and 3,975 sales, marketing and purchasing executives.
Other facts to know about Wisconsin manufacturers, based on IndustrySelect’s advanced criteria available to subscribers, include ownership, distribution and other trends. Let’s take a look:
• 2% of Wisconsin manufacturers are women-owned
• 8% are publicly owned companies
• 12% import raw materials
• 27% distribute their products internationally.
Next, we’ll take a look at the state’s top companies.
1. Kohler Co. (Kohler, WI)
Established in 1893 in the town of Kohler, Kohler Co. is a longstanding global leader in the manufacturing of kitchen and bath products, as well as engines and power systems, premier furniture, cabinetry and tile. 7,300 employees work at this 5.2 million square-foot facility, making it Wisconsin’s largest industrial site by number of employees.
2. Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. (Arcadia, WI)
Employing 3,500 workers in the town of Arcadia, this Ashley Furniture location serves as the company’s headquarters and ranks as the state’s second-largest industrial employer. Established in 1945, Ashley Furniture is among world’s largest furniture manufacturers, with 12 locations in the United States and factories in China and Vietnam employing 35,000 worldwide.
3. Mercury Marine (Fond du Lac, WI)
Ranking third in the state for manufacturing employment, Mercury Marine’s Fond Du Lac location serves as the company’s divisional headquarters and produces recreational & commercial marine propulsion systems, including outboard, sterndrive & inbound engines, propellers, parts and accessories. Founded in 1939, this location employs 3,100 in the town of Fond du Lac and occupies a facility encompassing 2.4 million square feet.
4. Rockwell Automation (Milwaukee, WI)
Rockwell Automation is a global leader in products and solutions for applications in the oil & gas, pipeline and petroleum processing industries, including the manufacture of programmable controllers, motor controls, variable speed drives, and visualization and business connectivity software. Established in 1903, the company’s Milwaukee location employs 3,000 and operates out of a 1 million square-foot facility.
5. Greenheck Fan Corp. (Schofield, WI)
This Greenheck Fan Corp location in the town of Schofield serves as the company’s headquarters and is one of two Greenheck operations in the U.S. Employing 2,500, this location produces ventilation products and fans, including centrifugal and vane axial fans, kitchen ventilation systems, dampers, louvers, laboratory exhausts, and more from a 1.8 million square-foot facility.
6. Briggs & Stratton Corp. (Wauwatosa, WI)
Employing 2,300 in the town of Wauwatosa, this Briggs and Stratton location operates as the company’s headquarters and produces small gasoline engines, portable generators, pressure washers, lawn & garden, and turf care products. This 3.5 million square-foot facility was established in 1908 and distributes its products around the world.
7. GE Healthcare Global Parts Co., Inc. (Waukesha, WI)
Reporting annual sales of $4 billion, this HE Healthcare site in Waukesha is a major Wisconsin industrial employer, home to 2,000 workers. Established in 1973, this Waukesha location operates as the company’s divisional headquarters and produces diagnostic imaging medical equipment.
8. Johnsonville, LLC (Sheboygan Falls, WI)
Established in 1945, Johnsonville, LLC has been making its famous “Johnsonville brats” at this Sheboygan Falls location for 77 years. Employing 2,000, Johnsonville is among Wisconsin’s largest employers and operates out a one million square-foot plant that also serves as the company’s headquarters. .
9. Oshkosh Truck Corp. (Oshkosh, WI)
Located in the town of Oshkosh, this location serves as Oshkosh Truck Corp.’s corporate headquarters and produces specialty access equipment and commercial, fire, emergency and military vehicles and vehicle bodies. Established in 1917, this location employs 2,000 Wisconsin workers.
10. Quad (Sussex, WI)
Operating out of a 1.2 million square foot plant in the town of Sussex, this Quad location serves as the company’s headquarters and provides commercial printing, including magazines, catalogs, retail inserts and direct mail. This location employs 2,000 people with annual sales of $2 billion.
Interested in other states? Browse all of our state news here.
For those looking to do business with manufacturers, IndustrySelect’s database of 460,000 U.S. manufacturers is a top resource for both developing and researching sales leads in the manufacturing sector. An IndustrySelect subscription can put you on a first-name basis with industrial companies in Wisconsin. Subscribers can select up to 40 data points on any manufacturing company in the U.S. to help identify or pre-qualify leads. Company profiles also include the contact information for hard-to-find executive decision-makers. Try a free demo today!
Editor's note: This article was first published in July 2022. It is updated annually to reflect new statistics in Wisconsin.