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Fire engine manufacturer eyes Wausau for business expansion project

Seagrave fire truck
Seagrave fire truck(Seagrave Facebook Page)
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 11:47 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - A Clintonville-based manufacturer of firetrucks is hoping to expand its operation in Wausau. Next month, the Wausau Plan Commission could approve a conditional use permit for Seagrave Fire Apparatus to open a facility at 410 South Bellis Street. The location is northeast of Bull Fall Brewery.

Seagrave manufactures custom fire apparatus. Project manager Todd Woodward said they plan to make the cabs of the fire engines in Wausau. Once the cab is complete, it will be brought back to Clintonville for further assembly.

“We build the cab, we build the body. We buy the engine and the transmission. But pretty much everything else is manufactured, painted, and assembled here in Clintonville,” Woodward said.

Woodward explained that Wausau is the ideal location given it’s proximately to Clintonville-- about an hour drive.

“Our backlog for our orders is at an all-time record high, we have at least a two-year backlog in orders. And we just need to expand the operations to get to bring more employees in to meet customers’ needs.”

He said by expanding in a location with a larger population they hope to address the backlog. The company is looking to add 50 employees in Wausau.

“We’re looking for electrical and mechanical assembly. So there’ll be a lot of wiring the dash, gauges. And then adding the seats and adding the roof. Electrical and mechanical assembly skills are what we’re primarily looking for,” he said.

There are 350 employees in Clintonville, but Woodward said with demand, they could actually use about 100 more employees in Clintonville.

If approved, the company hopes to be in the Bellis Street location by December.

“So we would hope to start hiring probably January, maybe a little sooner. There’s not much work we have to do to the building. Just get our equipment up there. So we would definitely hope to be starting training and production in January,” he said.

Seagrave manufacturers fire apparatus for departments all over the county, including departments in Wisconsin. West Allis, Howard, and Janesville all use their vehicles. One of their bigger projects was equipping the New York Fire Department after 9/11.

Woodward said from start to finish, some fire trucks take about five months to complete.

“A pumper... We would typically say 180 days. [But] with our backlog, we’re well over that right now. And to build a ladder truck, it’s like 300 days. And that’s from when the order is placed to delivery. There’s a lot of engineering is a lot of back and forth with the customers to get the truck just how they want them as they’re all custom.”

Woodward said there are many options when it comes to customization.

“Some departments want their ladder on the left side. Some want it on the right side. Some want four seats. Some want six seats. Some want two lights on top, some want six lights. They’re just completely custom to the departments.

Seagrave’s proposal states there will be no painting or storage of fluids at the Wausau site. The assembly at Wausau will not involve any sound, vibration or odor that will be noticeable outside the building.

The city has already received one letter from a neighboring resident in support of the business.

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