Everbrite Closing its South Milwaukee Plant

Everbrite is closing its South Milwaukee plant after 57 years in the city.

Employees were told of the decision Tuesday, and the media began reporting it this morning. Check out coverage from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here.

Here is the statement from Everbrite President Brian Kuhnau …

Everbrite has been successful for more than 90 years because of our ability to evolve to meet changing market conditions and find new, creative ways to efficiently and effectively meet our clients’ needs.

Due to a steadily declining market demand for neon signs, Everbrite will be exiting our neon-manufacturing business. As a result, Everbrite will be ceasing operations at our Mt. Vernon, Illinois facility.

Additionally, we will be consolidating our outdoor manufacturing footprint and ceasing operations at our South Milwaukee facility. The consolidation will be coupled with strategic investments in all of Everbrite’s remaining five production facilities.

We will be working with the individual employees at our South Milwaukee and Mt. Vernon locations to assist them with future job opportunities.

We operate in an extremely competitive and cost-conscious market and we see great opportunities for continued growth. We believe now is the right time to make these difficult but necessary changes to position Everbrite for long-term success.

My thoughts and prayers are with the impacted workers. I know some of them personally, as I bet many of you do.

This is a company that has spanned generations here.

I was informed of the news on Tuesday afternoon. As I shared with in a note with elected officials and city department leaders …

The closure is expected to happen by May 5.

A number of reasons were stated for the closure, including shrinking demand for the signs and other products made in South Milwaukee. This led to overcapacity for Everbrite more broadly, offering consolidation opportunities. The plant also needed significant investment.

I expressed disappointment we were not made aware of this possibility sooner. We have worked hard to strengthen our relationship with Everbrite leaders, corporate and plant, in recent years, including several meetings and a plant tour — making it frustrating for me that we were not made aware of this. 

The property will be put for sale. 

The building was originally home to Milwaukee Equipment, where they made rototillers. Everbrite moved here in the 1963 from Milwaukee and was headquartered here until moving its HQ to Greenfield in the late 1980s. It kept the plant operating since then. 

I have asked for the city to be a part of the discussions of the future of the property.

This is a blow to our city, as we lose another heritage manufacturer — and it makes our ongoing efforts to reinvent and revitalize South Milwaukee so critical. I look forward to continuing to lead that work in the next three years, and hopefully beyond, with your support. 

1 Comment

Filed under South Milwaukee

One response to “Everbrite Closing its South Milwaukee Plant

  1. Ann Laabs

    This is prime lakefront property. Hope that makes it easier to find someone interested in developing it for residential or commercial use.

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