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Nercon to expand Oconto plant

Oshkosh production being moved here; 15 new jobs to be added

5:59 PM, Feb. 11, 2014  |  Comments
Jared Bins attaches a siderail to the frame of a conveyor system being constructed at Neroco Inc. in Oconto.
Jared Bins attaches a siderail to the frame of a conveyor system being constructed at Neroco Inc. in Oconto.
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Nercon Engineering & Manufacturing, Inc. is consolidating its manufacturing capabilities at its plant in Oconto, the company announced last week.

The maker of industrial conveyor systems also said it's upgrading and planning to expand its Neroco facility in Oconto and add 15 jobs.

That would be in addition to those employees who transfer from Nercon's plant in Oshkosh, which ceased production a few weeks ago.

Nercon's vice president, Steve Anklam, said the consolidation will make the company more efficient. All of the fabrication was being done in Oconto, with assembly done at both facilities.

"To continue the same manufacturing operations in plants that are just 80 miles from one another is not efficient for our company or our customers," said Steve Anklam, Vice President of Nercon.

Nercon has already made significant investments to improve the Oconto facility, Anklam said, with more than $5 million in equipment and upgrades including a new laser, powder paint system, deburring, CNC rolling, and CNC axis router machines have been added.

The company is already working on plans for a 30,000 square foot expansion of the Superior Avenue facility, which opened in 1982.

"These improvements and additions will make Nercon one of the largest and most modern conveyor companies in the United States," the company said in its announcement.

None of competitors have the amount of equipment in their machine shop as Nercon does, Anklam said.

The decision to combine the two operations into an expanded, upgraded and state-of-the-art facility in Oconto is driven by "lean manufacturing" practices, the company said.

"Lean Manufacturing is all about optimizing our processes and eliminating waste," Anklam said. "This move and expansion in Oconto will help us eliminate waste, improve manufacturing and assembly processes, improve delivery, and pass savings and benefits on to our customers. This is just the beginning of many positive changes for Nercon."

Joe Roesler, Nercon's vice president of finance, said the company zero long term debt, and noted that all of the capital additions have been paid from operating cash flow.

The company is looking to grow even more, he added.

"We will also seek to leverage our strong balance sheet by looking for acquisitions that complement our conveyor business and our manufacturing capabilities," Roesler said.

Nercon makes conveyor systems for a wide range of industries, including many food companies such as Kellogg's, Mars, Unilever, and Keebler, as home products produced by S.C. Johnson and P&G, among others.

Nercon also said it's moving its corporate office in Oshkosh, in the same building as the production facility, to a more modern, state-of-the-art facility that will improve office efficiencies. The move will give the company better access to a larger pool of professional employees from the Fox Valley area.

Though no site has yet been chosen, Anklam said Nercon is looking in the Neenah and Appleton areas for this relocation. He said the hope to have a decision on a site in a few months.

"It's an exciting time at Nercon with many changes in the works," said Roesler. "We will seek to retain the best employees who think out of the box and challenge our thinking which will allow us to provide the highest value to our customers."

Nercon currently has 50 employees in Oconto, and 50 employees at the Oshkosh office. Anklam anticipates some of the Oshkosh plant employees will take jobs in Oconto.

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