Klement's Sausage Co. will add 5,000 square feet and reconfigure 50,000 more square feet under an expansion expected to be completed by mid-2019.
The $7.5 million expansion is set to get underway later this month at its flagship facility, 2650 S. Chase Ave., in the Bay View neighborhood. With Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Mayor Tom Barrett in attendance at a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday, CEO Tom Danneker talked about his whirlwind 2018, which has seen Klement's boost its community partnerships with Summerfest, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Wisconsin State Fair after losing the sponsorship of the Milwaukee Brewers in January.
"The response from the community has been overwhelming," Danneker said. "Our customers gave us the confidence and ability to move forward with this expansion today."
The 5,000-square-foot addition to the facility will serve as supplementary formulation space, whereby the sausage can be brought in, collected and moved into the body of the facility to prepare for distribution.
"The (additional) square footage is primarily for that first step with the fresh meat," Danneker said.
Danneker expressed greater excitement for the reconfiguration of the existing 50,000 square feet at the facility, which he said will go toward the "modernization of the plant as a whole."
"We're upgrading the equipment, we're changing the flow of the plant so that we, in essence, can double our output," he said. "The actual square footage we're adding is relatively small, but with all the investment we're making in the plant, we're having a significant increase in our capacity."
Work on the expansion will start "in the middle of October," Danneker said, adding that the company hopes to complete the addition in "about two months" before winter sets in. The overhauling of the plant's interior is expected to take about three additional months.
"Once we get all through that, the full expansion will be up and running hopefully by early June," he said.
Danneker said he expects to get financial support from the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. and the Milwaukee 7, but added that the financing has not yet been finalized. Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce president Tim Sheehy showed his organization's support by emceeing the groundbreaking.
Barrett said the expansion contributed to the "momentum" the south side of Milwaukee is experiencing, evidenced by recent project announcements from Michels Corp. and Komatsu Mining Corp.
"What we are seeing is a renaissance, not just downtown, in the heart of the city, but here on Milwaukee's south side as well," Barrett said. "Cities are constantly reinventing themselves, just as Klement's has reinvented itself."