Tag Archives: Caterpillar

Going Big With Little Free Libraries

Little Free Library

So, you might remember in June that we put a call out to local residents interested in giving Caterpillar’s former Little Free Library a good home. We had a great response. Eleven people said they wanted one of these in front of their homes!

So we began wondering, “How can we say ‘yes’ to everyone who asked?’”

Well, we’re proud to announce that everyone who asked for one, will get one. That is due to a generous donation of time and expertise from local woodworker Larry Oleson.

I just met Larry a few weeks ago, and if you’ve driven down 15th Avenue near City Hall over the years, you may know some of his work. His carved wood (and some metal) pieces adorn the front of his house 2413 15th Ave., and he has even more terrific works in his garage, from tables and chairs to wooden animals.

He’s also no stranger to Little Free Libraries. He’s constructed more than a dozen over the years.

So when I asked him about taking this on, Larry was more than happy to help.

So was Ace Hardware, which is donating paint and stain for the project, and the South Milwaukee Library, which is donating some of the wood (from old library shelves) that Larry will use and provide some books for the libraries, as needed.

The plan: Larry now has the list of people who expressed interest in the libraries and will begin construction soon. The goal is to have everyone their free library by the time the snow flies, starting with the one from Cat.

I am really excited about this community partnership, and I want to thank Caterpillar, Ace, the library and especially Larry for his contributions.

This is why I love South Milwaukee!

Be sure to check out Larry’s work for yourself at his home. Give him a call first at 414-764-6786. Tell him I said hi, and please thank him personally for stepping up to help with this project.

5 Comments

Filed under Caterpillar, Library, Local Business, South Milwaukee

This Little Free Library Needs A Good Home

Little Free Library

Caterpillar wants to donate the Little Free Library you see here to a loving resident and neighborhood that needs it.

Are you interested, or know a South Milwaukeean who might be? Contact me via email at brooks@smwi.org.

And thanks to Cat for stepping up to donate this library. It used to be at their 11th and Milwaukee entrance, but they realized it would be better served in a neighborhood.

Could that neighborhood be yours?

Learn more about the Little Free Library movement here. I love the concept, and the fact that you already see so many of them around town.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caterpillar, South Milwaukee

Much Smaller, But More Efficient: Big Changes Coming To Cat In South Milwaukee

Cat is significantly reducing its manufacturing footprint in South Milwaukee — but investing significantly in what remains.

In that regard, this afternoon’s announcement about the retooling and redesign of the South Milwaukee plant — including the consolidation of nearly 260,000 square feet of it, or about half of its current manufacturing space — is not all bad news.

And it certainly could have been much worse.

From the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago …

In South Milwaukee, where the company makes electric rope shovels, hydraulic mining shovels and draglines, Caterpillar plans to redesign and retool the facility, removing the need for more than 260,000 square feet of production space in its manufacturing footprint.

“We continue to evaluate our operations for efficiency, to lower cost and to improve competitiveness. This decision allows us to more competitively position the products produced on these campuses, and it provides employees in these facilities clarity around our long-term plans for maintaining production,” said Ed Rapp, Caterpillar group president with responsibility for resource industries.

I am told the buildings Cat will vacate (by not renewing leases) are primarily located in the inner portion of the campus, with those along Rawson Avenue getting the increased (likely multi-million dollar) investment. The technical center and offices are not affected.

The announcement Monday will not affect current employment, which is obviously much less than it used to be. South Milwaukee has more than 700 employees.

I spoke with a local Caterpillar official this afternoon about the decision, and he positioned it as a significant investment in the facility to make it more competitive.

“The ultimate goal in this is to make South Milwaukee a world-class provider,” he said. “As you get more globally competitive, that is good for the employees, our customers, and the city.”

I agree. While it would be great to see the local plant humming along at full capacity in its current footprint, that seemed more and more unlikely with each passing day. Instead, we are getting a smaller, more efficient plant better positioned for the long term, in a changing mining industry that might be headed for an upswing.

Indeed, there are plenty worse alternatives.

Check out coverage from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,

1 Comment

Filed under Caterpillar, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Mixed Caterpillar Earnings And Other Headlines

Some good news/bad news in Caterpillar’s earnings, a Cudahy gun club update, St. Francis lakefront apartments proposed and more.

Check out these South Shore headlines …

Also, NOW has published a new police blotter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caterpillar, South Milwaukee

Profit Up, Sales Down For Cat

Caterpillar is out with its second-quarter earnings report, and results were mixed — but still concerning around the company’s mining prospects.

Check out coverage from the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Bloomberg.

From Bloomberg …

Mining companies have cut billions of dollars of capital spending amid surplus commodities production and a drop in prices for coal, iron ore and other metals. Caterpillar, which completed a string of mining-related acquisitions when the market was stronger, said today the industry remains “weak” and order levels are still low.

“We are seeing our customers defer maintenance,” Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman said on a conference call discussing a decline in mining equipment sales. “The bottom is just behind us. Our numbers are minuscule in terms of ticking up, but they are ticking up.”

Caterpillar’s sales of mining machinery through dealers dropped 38 percent in the second quarter, with declines in every region except North America.

The “mining slump is the No. 1 headwind for Caterpillar,” Matt Arnold, a St. Louis-based analyst with Edward Jones, said by phone. “It won’t last forever, but the question is, how well can the company harness improvement in its other segments in the meantime?”

Leave a comment

Filed under Caterpillar, South Milwaukee

Strong Earnings For Caterpillar

Some good news in Caterpillar’s first-quarter earnings report, which came out Thursday … but mining continues to struggle.

From the Reuters story

Caterpillar said it expected its sales to the global construction industry to increase 10 percent from 2013, up from a previously anticipated rise of about 5 percent.

But it cautioned that 2014 would be “another very tough year” for mining, another key market, and that its outlook reflected an anticipated drop of about 80 percent in sales of large mining trucks from the company’s peak year in 2012.

Adam Fleck, an analyst at Morningstar, said he was pleasantly surprised by the company’s “very solid cost control in construction in particular,” where operating margins continued to grow and “were at their highest quarterly level in several quarters”, even though they were typically more compressed than in the mining equipment category.

Fleck said the weakness in mining “wasn’t terribly surprising” and added that because that once-critical business accounted for just 17 percent of sales and 12 percent of operating profit in the first quarter, any continued weakness in the sector was “more of a headline risk than a true economic one.”

The better-than-expected report was tinged with caution. Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman said the Peoria, Illinois-based company was watching several regions closely. Having visited China recently, he said the construction industry there was facing challenges.

Caterpillar was also concerned about the situation in Ukraine and Russia, he added.

The news followed stories this week of mixed dealer data and of reduced 2013 compensation for the CEO.

Of course, we’ll continue to watch the Caterpillar news closely, especially that from the mining front, given our (and Oak Creek’s) position as the center of Cat’s global mining operations.

With that in mind, I had a really positive meeting with several local Caterpillar officials on Friday, as part of my ongoing efforts to introduce myself to local elected official and business owners.

I look forward to keeping lines of communication open … and I have Caterpillar’s commitment to do the same. Having a strong partnership with our largest employer is a priority for me as mayor.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caterpillar, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Mixed Q4 Results For Caterpillar

Profits were up significantly for Caterpillar in the fourth quarter of 2013, and the company on Monday issued a positive earnings forecast for the new year … but there wasn’t a lot of positivity in the sector South Milwaukeeans watch closest.

Here is MarketWatch coverage. From it:

Oberhelman said the company sees some signs of improvement in the global economy, which should bode well for sales in its construction and power systems businesses. However, despite expectations that mining production will continue to rise, the company sees mining companies further reducing capital spending this year.

“As a result, we’re expecting sales in resource industries to decline modestly,” he said. “ We’ve already taken a number of restructuring actions to help improve our financial results and expect to take additional actions in 2014.”

Reduced spending by mining companies has taken a toll on sales of mining equipment, while Caterpillar’s sales of construction equipment have benefited from a recovery of home building in the U.S. The heavy-equipment maker has been closing plants that make mining equipment and laying off workers to reflect a sharp drop in demand in the sector.

Of course, I always worry about the “additional actions in 2014.” The Reuters story included this …

He characterized the moves as “tough decisions necessary to better position us down the road when economic conditions improve and our sales rebound.”

I guess we’ll have to wait and see what “tough decisions” are to come. Let’s pray the worst is over.

Also, check out coverage from the Chicago Tribune and Wall Street Journal.

Leave a comment

Filed under Caterpillar, Local Business, South Milwaukee