WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) – One of the oldest fire engine manufacturing companies in the country would like to bring some of their process to Wausau.
Seagrave Fire Equipment on Tuesday presented plans for a cabin assembly plant to the Wausau Planning Commission for a first public hearing on a possible rezoning of a property at 410 S Bellis Street. Seagrave’s vice president of operations Frank Szendrey said the currently vacant building provides them with almost everything they need as is.
“The building is in good repair and practically ready for use,” Szendrey said. “We’re really talking about uninstallation and preparation of the cabins in order to get parts out of Clintonville, and then to line the interior with electrical, mechanical and interior components; then take them back to Clintonville to assemble them.
By moving the cabin assembly process to Wausau, Szendrey says they would free up workers in Clintonville so they can focus on other aspects of the construction before securing the cabin and moving the trucks to their home. destination. He says it would help them overcome a waiting list for trucks and other equipment that is currently two years.
Plans do not call for a substantial renovation or construction of the facility, although Seagrave may eventually build an additional bank of meeting rooms and offices. Szendrey says the only immediate job would be to bring some entryways and bathrooms to ADA code before work can begin on the site.
No resident spoke at Tuesday’s hearing, but a neighborhood person submitted a letter of support for the plan that was included on the agenda. They praised the plans for the vacant building, saying it doesn’t look like they would be detrimental to the neighborhood. They also said they would like to see the building in use again because, as a vacant building, it served as a magnet for vandalism and became an eyesore to the neighborhood.
Besides having a building that’s almost ready to move in, Szendrey says they’re also drawn to Wausau because of the large pool of potential employees that comes with the market. “It’s a light assembly job, so [we would look for] anyone who has previous manufacturing experience or is comfortable with tools, enjoys doing things – or loves fire trucks. These are the kind of people we were looking for.
Others with Seagrave also noted that they have had a good working relationship with technical schools in the area and are confident that they would be able to produce graduates with the skills they seek.
Plans currently call for the site to employ 30 to 50 people at full capacity. Members of the commission praised the plans, the jobs and the economic growth that could come from them. Alder Tom Neal even added that employees have to frequent a nearby market during lunch hour for the “best meat luff sandwich in town.”
Another public hearing on the proposed rezoning will take place on November 16. The land is currently zoned medium industrial and would require a conditional use permit, which is expected to be approved by the commission and later by full city council. The committee is expected to vote at the November meeting. The company must also establish the terms of a lease with the landlord before it can begin to modernize the facility.
No timeline has been given on when they could start moving fire truck cabins between Clintonville and Wausau.