Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. in October will open the latest new building in its global research and development headquarters in Brookfield, and the company known as Milwaukee Tool is attempting to acquire more neighboring land for its next expansion.
The prospect of another development in Brookfield shows the power tool manufacturer expects to continue its rapid growth. Milwaukee Tool since 2011 has grown from about 329 southeast Wisconsin employees to 1,390, according to a recent report by Milwaukee 7. A current $32 million expansion at its Brookfield campus on West Lisbon Road will open in October, said Steve Richman, Milwaukee Tool group president.
Richman spoke Friday morning at a Milwaukee Business Journal Power Breakfast at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.
“We hope additional space right next to our facility opens up,” Richman said. “At the same time, we’re looking at other options to be able to continue to grow and expand. Hopefully they’ll be in Milwaukee and the greater Wisconsin area. That’s our objective, clearly.”
Lakeshore Burial Vault Co. of Butler owns and has company operations on almost 5.9 acres east of the new Milwaukee Tool R&D building. The city of Brookfield owns land to the north, the majority of which cannot be developed because it is a water retention pond.
Richman declined to discuss specifics of the expansion in terms of jobs and building space. In line with Milwaukee Tool’s current operations in Brookfield, the new space would be for research and development of the company’s products, he said. Beyond talks about its Brookfield campus, Milwaukee Tool is in talks to expand its manufacturing space as well, he said.
“We know we have to stop underestimating and we’ll have to go really big in the next development phase,” he said. “How big is really big? We know we’ll have to get the acreage that allows us to grow for the next 10 years.”
Milwaukee Tool 13 years ago occupied about 100,000 square feet of the 200,000-square-foot facility it had in Brookfield at that time. It now has 450,000 square feet of building space, plus almost 150,000 coming online in October, and 300,000 off campus for manufacturing. Milwaukee Tool division Empire Level has a production facility in Mukwonago.
Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto said Milwaukee Tool is the city’s largest employer. He said city officials are working with the company on “a number of ideas.”
“It’s really a dynamic corporation and we’re doing everything we can to accommodate them in the city of Brookfield,” Ponto said. “We are having ongoing discussions about possible sites for future expansion and, given the tremendous growth they’ve had, I know they need it.”
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and city of Brookfield have pledged up to $37.7 million in tax credits and other incentives to support Milwaukee Tool’s growth since 2011.