Waukesha-based energy company Generac said Tuesday that it plans to significantly expand its presence in Wisconsin by adding 700 new jobs and investing $53 million in its operations.
Generac’s business building power generator equipment for homes and businesses has been booming after strong storms knocked out power for millions and raised concerns about the dependability of the electric power grid. And with more employees working from home, the need for power and electricity has become even more of a necessity, the company says.
“Generac is experiencing phenomenal demand and growth as the combination of an aging (electricity) grid and extreme weather are resulting in more frequent and longer-lasting power outages,” said Aaron Jagdfeld, president and CEO of Generac.
“We are proud to continue to expand our presence in Wisconsin as we work to meet the incredible market demand.”
The company had already received $10 million in tax credits based on an agreement in 2017 and the expansion announced Tuesday makes Generac eligible for an additional $9 million in state tax credits if the company meets hiring and capital investment goals, according to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
Generac plans to purchase a new building and add 700 manufacturing and office workers.
In addition to Waukesha, Generac has facilities in Eagle, Whitewater, Jefferson, Oshkosh, Berlin and Janesville. It also has operations in South Carolina, Vermont and Maine as well as international operations in Europe, Latin America, Australia and China.
“This new facility and our new agreement with the state will allow us to continue to grow Generac to best serve our customers, partners and our people,” Jagdfeld said.
Tom Pettit, COO of Generac, said of the 700 new jobs, 300 will be in sales, marketing and customer service at their new facility in Pewaukee.
“That is going to free up space in our corporate headquarters to move some people here and to add more in research and development and corporate staff,” Pettit said. “That research and development will continue to ideate and develop more new products to continue that amazing growth and investment in our community.”
Pettit said the company plans to add “several hundred jobs” this year and “spending north of $10 million in capital equipment.”
The remaining number of jobs will likely be spread out at different Generac facilities in Whitewater, Jefferson, Eagle, Oshkosh, and Berlin.
“Well be building a larger test cell to handle larger and larger generators as we get more demand for distributed energy response,” Pettit said adding that the company will likely expand its campus.
Work from home a factor
Aside from the energy infrastructure and extreme weather events, Pettit mentioned the trend of more people working from home as contributing to demand.
“If you can’t charge your phone, you don’t have the ability to have contact,” Pettit said. “This is an essential appliance, not just a suggested appliance.”
WEDC is providing the $19 million in enterprise zone tax credits if the company meets certain hiring and capital investment goals by 2024.
Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary and CEO, said Generac’s commitment to manufacturing sustainable energy products “makes it a true powerhouse.”
“Generac is a company that has rededicated itself to finding its home in Wisconsin, to growing in Wisconsin and at the state level we are incredibly proud to have Generac’s back as they grow and increase the number of jobs I the state,” Hughes said.
“The state’s ability to support businesses as they expand, as they choose to stay in Wisconsin is an incredible statement about the strength of our manufacturing, the strength of our business community and the strength of the partnerships we seek between the public and private (sector).”
Generac provides solutions for power and energy for homes and industrial facilities along with backup and prime power systems, solar battery storage solutions, virtual power plant platforms, and engine- and battery-powered tools and equipment.
“Generac is a great example of a Wisconsin brand known across the globe, and their decision to further expand in our state is a reminder that Wisconsin continues to be a leader in advanced manufacturing and forward-looking businesses,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement.
The Milwaukee 7 regional economic development organization assisted in the company’s expansion efforts.
“Generac is a vital, legacy company that continues to help fuel our region’s economy,” Gale Klappa, co-chair of the M7 and executive chairman of WEC Energy Group, said in a statement.
“The company’s growth has been extraordinary, and we’re proud to support its expansion plans.”