Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Douglas Dynamics Expanding, Buying Car Dealership

Company will add up to 50 jobs to manufacturing facility on N. 76th St.

By - Oct 1st, 2019 04:10 pm
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Douglas Dynamics expansion plan. Image from Douglas Dynamics.

Douglas Dynamics expansion plan. Image from Douglas Dynamics.

Douglas Dynamics, a manufacturer and upfitter of work truck equipment, is planning to expand its Milwaukee manufacturing facility and headquarters. It has acquired a car dealership bordering its N. 73rd St. campus and is planning to redevelop the site as an expanded manufacturing plant with space for up to 50 more employees.

The publicly-traded company is the leading manufacturer of snowplows and ice removal equipment. It traces its history back to the formation of Western Welding and Manufacturing in 1950 and Fisher Engineering in 1948.

Douglas Dynamics paid $2.2 million in April for the 8.9-acre property at 7676 N. 76th St. that was most recently occupied by a Russ Darrow Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram car dealership.

The company was before the City Plan Commission on Monday afternoon to secure approval to rezone the site from “Commercial Service” to “Industrial Light.”

“We are very proud of our heritage here in Milwaukee, on the northwest side in particular for more than 50 years,” said Jim Smith, the company’s engineering manager.

The company will repurpose the buildings on the site for its use. Approximately 42,000 square feet of space would be used for manufacturing and assembly, with the remaining 10,000 square feet used for offices.

It currently has approximately 300 employees at its headquarters at 7777 N. 73rd St. and 1,600 employees nationwide. Douglas will hire between 20 to 50 people at the new facility said Smith.

“The majority of our hires will be directly from the city,” said Smith. Employees operate laser cutting machines, perform press brake metal fabrication, handle packaging and operate a painting system.

A new entrance to the parcel from W. Calumet Rd. will be constructed, with an entrance on N. 76th St. removed in favor of an exit-only ramp.

“I wholeheartedly support this project,” said area Alderwoman Chantia Lewis.

Commissioner Darryl Johnson said the use made sense, but said it was unfortunate it wasn’t for one of the vacant car dealerships nearby. But Lewis said good news was on the horizon.

“What poeple may not know is that vacant car lot you mentioned is under contract to be sold and they’re just waiting to redevelop that as well,” said Lewis about the unidentified buyer.

She said will see a lot of change shortly. “So we will have the entire 76th Street by next year under complete construction, from the Johnson’s Park site over to Douglas Dynamics,” said Lewis.

The commission unanimously endorsed the zoning change. The proposal is subject to Common Council approval.

Darrow has relocated the dealership to the Metro Auto Mall near Interstate 41 and W. Good Hope Rd.

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Related Legislation: File 190781

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