RIPON, Wis. — Commercial laundry equipment manufacturer Alliance Laundry Systems reports it has closed on its purchase of the former Manitowoc (Wisconsin) Crane Company plant. The building covering more than 330,000 square feet will be used to help grow production at the Ripon facility.
Like many companies, Alliance says it has battled to fill openings amid a tight labor market and a particularly competitive Fox Valley area. In addition, the move will create up to 250 positions, helping boost the Manitowoc economy and re-open the now-shuttered plant.
The move is not intended to reduce positions in Ripon, Alliance says, as staff will be redeployed elsewhere in that facility.
Cost of the project, which also includes upgrades to the Ripon facility, is approximately $30 million.
“Today marks an exciting new chapter in our company’s 111-year history,” says Mike Schoeb, CEO of Alliance Laundry Systems. “By shifting some functions to the new facility, we will be able to grow high-value production locally and increase the output of this factory with additional job creation in both communities.”
Plans call for work to begin in Manitowoc—some 80 miles northeast of Ripon—in early September; roughly 80,000 square feet will be occupied immediately this year for subassembly production, and plastics work is likely to be added next year.
“Despite expansions through the years, our Ripon plant is capped out and struggles to remain fully staffed up,” explains Brad Nye, vice president of manufacturing for Alliance. “This means excessive overtime and a poor work-life balance for employees.
“As we anticipate significant increased demand for the high-quality Ripon products, we had to find a way to drive efficiency, increase production and maintain our commitment to our team members along with the Ripon community.”
The plant acquisition was made against the backdrop of achieving future goals, according to Nye.
“This plan is a critical component that enables us to unlock the potential of the Ripon plant — growing jobs and production toward our vision of creating a world-class manufacturing facility that fully leverages technology by 2025.”
Alliance will begin hiring for the Manitowoc facility immediately, and all jobs will be United Steel Workers positions with pay and benefits aligned with the Ripon location.
“We are excited to welcome Alliance Laundry Systems to our area after months of negotiations to facilitate the successful purchase of the former Manitowoc Crane building,” says Peter Wills, executive director of Progress Lakeshore, which helped Alliance with negotiations. “The purchase of this property by a large industrial manufacturer is significant in moving the community forward after the loss of a major employer in 2016.”
Alliance Laundry Systems manufactures equipment under the Huebsch, IPSO, Primus, Speed Queen and UniMac brands.