Knapp Manufacturing Inc. is building a 14,000-square-foot addition, the largest in the company's 73-year history.
The two-story addition to its headquarters in Racine, Wis., will house new technology and business process centers, as well as the automation department and mold storage. Company officials expect the building to be completed by early January.
The technology center will include design and automation services. The business process center is aimed at improving collaboration among the company's shared business services, said John Korako, director of operations.
“Our new addition represents a commitment to our clients that Knapp will continue to adapt its business through constant process improvement, systemizing the way we drive value into our intellectual property designs, precision molded products, contract manufacturing services and business systems that have enabled us to realize a six-year growth pattern,” Korako said.
Knapp is an injection molder running 32 presses ranging from 10-165 tons of clamping force. The company also builds molds and does finished goods assembly.
The company molds parts for its Air Logic division, which has a line of pneumatic and vacuum control equipment. Air Logic's components include small precision parts such as regulators and manifold systems, pressure and vacuum switches, plastic fittings and quick disconnects.
“We're a vertically integrated molding house,” said Keri Carlson, Knapp's human resource manager, “We start with the design of the part. We basically solve problems that customers need solved. We have the ability do such small parts, many of our parts are less than a half-inch big.”
Carlson said the company does everything from part design to tooling and molding to automation and assembly. “Nothing gets sent out of house,” she said.
Knapp's diversified molding customers include components for pneumatic equipment, fluid dispensing, medical components and aircraft instrumentation.
Knapp Manufacturing has 68 full-time employees, after adding 31 in the last four years.
The company began in 1945 as Fred Knapp Engraving Co. Inc. in Fred Knapp's basement. Knapp, an industrial engraver, was joined by his three sons, Bob, Ray and Rich. The company specialized in steel marking stamps, engraved signs and dials.
The company built a new factory in 1955, at the current site, and added model and mold work to the engraving business. Knapp added injection molding in 1961, specializing in intricate and detailed parts.
In 1975, Knapp bought the Fluidic division of Johnson Controls Inc.
In the 1990s, the three current owners — Jay Haertle, David Horvath and John Boticki — bought the business from the Knapp family. The company was renamed Knapp Manufacturing in 2013. All three men are Knapp veterans: Haertle has worked there for 47 years, Horvath for 38 years and Boticki for 54 years.