When an invitation came through to go on a tour and meet with staff of Milwaukee Tool in Brookfield, Wisconsin, I was intrigued by the opportunity and gladly accepted. Being able to see firsthand how the tool industry is growing is insightful, and Milwaukee Tool is one of the many companies contributing to this growth.
One of the first facts that I learned while touring the headquarters was that Milwaukee Tool got started with a request from Henry Ford. In brief, the story goes that Ford asked tool manufacturer A.H. Petersen for a smaller, lighter power drill for his Ford Motor Co. assembly line. Petersen took on the challenge and created the Hole-Shooter. This lightweight, one-handed drill was the tool that paved the way to start Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. in 1924.
Milwaukee Tool has expanded employment at its headquarters from just over 300 jobs in 2011 to almost 1,500 this year. With a new addition to the headquarters two years ago and a new large building currently being constructed across the street, it’s apparent the company keeps outgrowing its space.
As the tour continued, we walked past the Rapid Prototype room and Training Center. The Rapid Prototype room allows the Milwaukee team to create and produce a prototype within a short time frame. This allows them to speed up the process from having an idea to physically holding a testable product in hand tremendously. The Training Center is just what it sounds like. It’s a place where team members can go to get hands-on experience, whether someone has worked for the company for years and would like to learn how to do a specific project, or if they are new and will be representing the company at tool stores where they will be demonstrating their products.
Until recently, Milwaukee Tool primarily focused on tools and equipment for professionals within the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) trades. They have since been expanding their products for the automotive industry.
As for the future of the company, Milwaukee Tool Brand Manager Heather McGee says Milwaukee Tool’s plan includes navigating away from corded, pneumatic, and gas products. She said cordless products will be their main focus.
After going on the tour, it's evident this company will not be slowing down any time soon, as will the tool industry. There will always be a need for tools and equipment for any job.