Wet wipe company plans expansion in Saukville

Pandemic-driven demand for cleaning supplies prompts Rebel Converting plans to nearly double size of Dekora Woods facility
By 
CONNOR CARYNSKI
Ozaukee Press Staff

Rebel Converting has unveiled plans to expand its Saukville location, bringing additional jobs and industry to the village.

The wet wipe manufacturer recently announced it has sold its Saukville locations at 700 N. Progress Dr. and will be consolidating operations to its location at 655 N. Dekora Woods Blvd. — a building it acquired in spring 2021. Along with the consolidation, Rebel also plans to nearly double its Dekora Woods footprint with an expansion.

Plans include a 78,500-square-foot addition to the north side of the 98,600-square-foot plant that would include office and employee common areas and slightly more than 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

The expansion is partially the result of a high demand for wet wipes and other cleaning supplies throughout the pandemic, a need that has driven business for Rebel and other wet-wipe producers in the county.

Rebel Converting President Mike Kryshak said he considered expanding the company’s Milwaukee building, where it is headquartered, but Saukville is the better pick.

Kryshak said expanding Rebel’s Milwaukee building would be possible since it sits on about nine acres, but that its building in Saukville, which sits on about 15 acres, would allow for more long-term growth.

Kryshak said Saukville has also been supportive of Rebel’s growing in the village. When he first considered purchasing the 655 N. Dekora Woods Blvd. building, the village quickly scheduled special meeting to discuss the proposition. In Milwaukee, Kryshak said, obtaining the necessary permits could take months.

“If this was happening in Milwaukee, I’d still probably be doing it,” he said.

With plenty of room to grow into, Kryshak said, long-term growth is likely and  one day it may make sense to move the Milwaukee location to Saukville.

“The Village of Saukville has always been supportive of Rebel, and we feel fortunate to have enough acreage to support future expansion here” Rebel Chief Operations Officer Scott Meiller said.

The relationship between Rebel and the Saukville community is a reciprocal one. Since its creation, Rebel has had a hand in numerous events and fundraisers that benefit Saukville and Ozaukee County.

“We do a lot of supporting of the community,” Kryshak said.

Each year, Rebel sponsors the annual Shop with a Cop event, which gives children going through difficult times an outing with local law enforcement. It has supported backpack giveaways, the annual Ozaukee Guzzlers Poker Run and other charitable efforts. The company also plans to donate about 3,000 coats to Afghan refugees housed in Fort McCoy and has scheduled a bike drive this April.

The expansion is expected to be completed within 18 months,  Kryshak said, because of delays caused by supply chain issues.

“Unfortunately, lead times for raw building materials and building costs are much higher than we were originally anticipating,” he said.

While waiting for building materials to become available, Rebel acquired a new production line for the space. Kryshak said the line will be automated but still require about 15 employees to work each shift. Rebel currently employs about 70 workers.

Rebel opened in 2010 at 700 N. Progress Dr. in Saukville’s business park. The company built two additions to the building in 2014 and 2018.

In 2020, the company acquired another 97,000-square-foot manufacturing and office space in Milwaukee at 11223 W. Heather Ave., where Rebel’s corporate headquarters are located, for about $4.77 million.

Then in spring 2021, Rebel acquired the building at 655 N. Dekora Woods Blvd. for about $5.75 million. The space formerly housed Calibre Inc., a paint finisher manufacturer that closed its Saukville and Grafton locations last year.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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