The Rich History of Manufacturing and Machining in Milwaukee

We all know that Milwaukee Wisconsin has a long and storied history of manufacturing and machining. Many major industries settled in Milwaukee and built their foundries and companies into giants many years ago, and we still feel the impact today.

Milwaukee is currently home to 6 Fortune 1000 manufacturers, so there is a strong presence in the world of manufacturing.  In fact, Milwaukee ranks second of major metropolitan cities with the highest percentage of workforce in manufacturing.  The city definitely has a strong reputation in the world of precision manufacturing.

Years ago, Milwaukee factories had a big hand in the production of some major every day items, like beer (of course), saddles, motors for tractors, and much much more. Companies like Harley Davidson, Rockwell Automation, Allis-Chalmers, Briggs & Stratton, and Pabst are true giants and certainly helped put Milwaukee on the map.

Today, companies like Rockwell Automation and Harley Davidson continue to call Milwaukee home, and keep it front and center in the world of big business.

While many big businesses do call Milwaukee home, there are many medium to small sized businesses that do a lot behind the scenes.

Years ago, Milwaukee was a major hub for industries like Tool & Die, mold making, and machine shops.  Now, the number of Milwaukee machine shops has certainly dropped, but many still remain and Milwaukee is a pretty factor in those types of industry to this day.

Another great Milwaukee factory in action:

One of the reasons there has been a decline in machine shops, tool & dies shops, mold making companies is because many of the bigger companies that drive these types of business have chosen to take their business to other countries.  Countries like China and Mexico offer much cheaper labor, which has unfortunately resulted in many of these American businesses closing their doors.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s it was thought that having a skilled trade such as tool & die, mold making, or machining would have resulted a job security for the foreseeable future, it is now far from the truth.  Technology has changed, and greater focus is now being put on less manpower and more automation, which obviously puts a damper on the number of jobs available.

Ultimately, Milwaukee has a rich history in regards to the manufacturing industry and that is still the case and will not change any time soon.  Yes, jobs are being lost to automation, and jobs are still going to other countries with cheaper labor, but the demand for local/American-made products will always be there, and Milwaukee will be at the forefront of all major American cities.

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