Saukville operation to grow by 120,000 square feet under proposal seen as positive sign for county economy
Charter Steel, which has the second-largest manufacturing workforce in Ozaukee County, is about to grow even larger.
The Village of Saukville’s Industrial Review Committee gave the green light last week to a $15 million, multi-phase expansion plan at Charter.
Ultimately, the projects will add more than 120,000 square feet of building space and could result in the hiring of as many as 20 additional employees.
Company officials said the expansion work at its plant on Cold Springs Road will be done in phases, with the earliest construction starting this fall.
While the expanding tax base is obviously good for the Village of Saukville, Kathleen Cady Schilling, executive director of Ozaukee Economic Development, said the news should be
welcomed by all taxpayers in the county.
“I definitely see this as yet another sign of new economic growth in the county,” Cady Schilling said.
“More and more companies are coming forward with expansion programs, and we are seeing fewer commercial vacancies in the county.”
The first phase of the expansion will involve construction of a 69,000-square-foot coil storage area and shipping office and a 12,775-square-foot loading dock area.
Officials are hopeful that work will be completed next spring.
The final phase will be the construction of a 30,000-square-foot coil storage building and an 8,100-square-foot area for shipping “green,” or unprocessed, steel rods.
Charter spokesman Randall Wodrich told the committee the significant addition of coil storage space is needed because more industrial customers are demanding high-quality steel.
That demand was spelled out in a detailed project summary prepared by Charter.
“Customers are driving the need for more coil storage with less coil-to-coil contact than in the past,” the report said.
Stacking steel stock causes scratches that are not wanted by high-end customers.
“This results in more inside and outside square footage requirements to store the same quantity of product. In addition, more specialized product is being produced that is driving the
amount of inside coil storage required,” the summary said.
A company analysis completed last year shows the need to store an additional 7,074 tons of steel outside and 3,616 tons inside to meet 2014 sales projections.
Because of the increasing demand for steel coil, Charter has been storing steel stock off site.
The expansion projects will give the company greater control over the product and minimize the risk of damaging the steel by excessive handling, company officials said.
The large building projects mean the company will be draining an interior wetlands and redesigning the stormwater drainage plan. A series of new storm sewers will be added to the
property, including a 48-inch line near the proposed outside coil storage yard capable of handling the demand of a 100-year storm.
“We have already met with the DNR several times on this plan,” Wodrich told the committee.
The combined building and paving projects are expected to add nearly 400,000 square feet of impervious surface area to the property.
The reworking of an internal road system will also make it easier for queuing trucks waiting to pick up and deliver steel.
“Charter has realized a significant increase in truck traffic with 800 outbound coil trucks per week moving through (our) facility. This increased traffic has created congestion and
hazardous conditions, where there is significant risk of injury to staff who are operating forklifts in the outside coil storage yards or to pedestrians/truckers who are working on securing coil
to their trailers,” the project summary said.
A bank of evergreen trees will be added to screen the existing access road and relocated truck access driveway.
The company currently has 650 employees.
Committee members readily approved both expansion proposals, and joked that the projects don’t leave much room on the property for additional building.
Wodrich said Charter also owns undeveloped land to the north and west of the plant.
“We may be back,” he said.
Charter Steel specializes in the production of carbon and alloy steel bar, rod and wire used in a variety of industries.
The Saukville plant was built in 1978 and has undergone several expansions. It has a 100-ton electric arc furnace capable of producing 550,000 tons of processed steel a year.
The village approved a series of other plant-expansion projects at the site in 2011, including a 10,000-square-foot addition to the maintenance building attached to its melt shop.
CHARTER STEEL plans to expand its operation off Cold Springs Road in Saukville. Photo by Sam Arendt