Executive Team Buys Milwaukee Forge, Looking to Future

June 2, 2010
Asset auction resolves receivership for closed-die shop
Milwaukee Forge LLC is the new name of the hammer and closed-die steel forging operation in Milwaukee, acquired at a bankruptcy auction late last month by an investor group led the company’s president and CEO. Several other managers and some private investors are included in the group, too. The previous ownership group, Milwaukee Forge Co., made clear that the drop in its business during the prolonged recession was the primary reason it sought creditor protection. In February, it filed a claim for creditor protection under Wisconsin’s Chapter 128 provision — a procedure that’s similar to Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, though its provisions for transferring company ownership are considered less time-consuming than the federal standard. As a result, Milwaukee Forge continued to operate throughout the receivership and auction process. Two other groups were involved in the final bidding, though the court-appointed receiver indicated it had confidential inquires from more than 35 potential bidders. Milwaukee Forge has reduced its employment total by about half in recent years, but there was no downsizing as a result of the receivership and the workforce has remained stable at 106. According to Mesick, retaining the plant’s skilled work force and preserving its reputation for quality made him optimistic about its future prospects. “Milwaukee Forge has a long and strong history of quality products and quality people,” stated president/CEO David Mesick. “There was a lot of interest in owning this company because of its reputation for quality and dependability, and we are proud to lead this company into the future. This success is worth celebrating, but we already have turned our attention to the real business at hand and have focused on delivering quality products and superior customer service as we return Milwaukee Forge to a position of greater strength and sustained growth.” The plant has been in operation for 97 years, and also produces rolled rings in various sizes and steel grades. Its customers include manufacturers of agricultural, construction, mining, and off-highway equipment. “Our customer base is starting to reflect some of the initial optimism that is present in the overall world economy and our industry niches in particular,” according to Mesick. “The plan we are implementing is aimed at growing the business and targeting the addition of up to 40 full-time jobs in the next two years.”