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Milwaukee Tool expands into downtown Milwaukee

Milwaukee Tool announced the expansion of its corporate operations into downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The company’s current global headquarters in Brookfield, Wisconsin will remain the central location for the company’s corporate operations. This new expansion will provide increased space to accommodate the company’s rapid growth. Anticipated to open in October, this building will house 1,200 employees within the next three years, the company explained.

“Over the past 10 years, we’ve grown at an incredible rate, not just across the country and the world, but also at our global headquarters in Wisconsin, said Steve Richman, president, Milwaukee Tool. “By extending our corporate presence into downtown Milwaukee, we are poised for continued growth. As one of the largest employers in southeastern Wisconsin, we’re thrilled to expand our presence in the city, as we continue to attract, retain and recruit from a diverse pool of local talent.” 

Milwaukee will invest more than $30 million to purchase and renovate a vacant 333,000-square-foot building in downtown Milwaukee. This building will act as an extension of the company’s global headquarters in Brookfield. Milwaukee Tool’s initial plans include housing at least 1,210 employees at this location within the next three years; however, the company has the option to expand the office space by adding 150,000 square feet, for up to an additional 790 employees.

While U.S. manufacturing and distribution are an integral part of Milwaukee Tool’s global footprint, the disruptive innovation for the trades all starts at the global headquarters in southeastern Wisconsin, the tool manufacturer noted. 

Over the last decade, the company redeveloped 190,000 square feet of space in Brookfield to accommodate research and development, product development, prototyping, packaging design, marketing, sales, training facilities and administrative offices. 

In 2017, Milwaukee Tool completed construction and took occupancy of a new 200,000-square-foot, four-story office building on the same campus, and took occupancy of an additional 116,300-square-foot building in January 2020. With a recent announcement of a new campus in Menomonee Falls, a West Bend-based manufacturing plant, and this new expansion into downtown Milwaukee, the company is positioned to stay in the heart of Wisconsin long-term, it stated.

By the end of 2021, the company will have more than 3,100 employees located in Wisconsin.

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PMI annual report explores 5 ways the pandemic has transformed the industry

The 2021 Plumbing Manufacturers International annual report tells the story of a vital industry and explores how the pandemic year transformed five aspects of plumbing manufacturing: workplace safety, remote working, product innovation, supply chain, and diversity and inclusion.

Workplace safety

To keep workers safe, LIXIL implemented a policy to quarantine any employee exposed to potential COVID-19 infection from the workplace for 14 days, with full pay. Because of the shortage of COVID-19 testing, LIXIL chooses not to wait for a positive test, instead quarantining individuals who exhibit symptoms or are found via contact tracking to be near others who test positive. “It was tough because we had to send home (many) people, but the long-term thinking was that it kept the rest of our people safe and kept our plants operating,” stated Chris Marozzi, leader of employees’ health and safety for LIXIL Americas.

Remote work

Kohler Co. observed many positive consequences of shifting into remote work. “We saw an increase in the use of collaboration technology,” said Brian Kendall, Kohler’s director of operational excellence. “Interactions grew significantly as we got better at it. Our decision-making improved, with colleagues being able to make decisions in real time, driving productivity gains and results.”

Adam Guenther, Kohler’s associate director, operational excellence, said the company was surprised at “the intensity of work people were able to do from home. There was little to no loss in productivity because people were able to generate an increased number of work hours compared to where they were before,” to the point where the company encouraged employees to place boundaries on their work lives, he stated.

Product innovation

While causing challenges on production lines and causing a shift to remote work, the COVID-19 pandemic created opportunities for the plumbing manufacturing industry to address a newfound concern many people now have: the spread of infectious viruses.

This change in public awareness has caused a spike in the sales of touchless plumbing products, with many PMI member companies reporting increased sales of both faucets and toilets with touchless features. “Touch-free is everywhere. It’s in every conversation. That’s foremost in driving many of the innovation efforts at Bradley and throughout the industry,” stated Nate Kogler, senior director of product management at Bradley Corp.

Supply chain

Rapid and unexpected developments caused by the pandemic have forced companies to monitor their supply chains continuously. “I have to look at all the raw materials that we need to make a product,” stated Elton Perkins, director, global sourcing and distribution, Fluidmaster, and co-chair of PMI’s Commerce Committee. “How many sources do I have for ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) or polypropylene, for example? Do I have enough qualified sources in my spec, so that if one supplier shuts down, I can choose a second? Frankly, I’m having to go three to four deep on various raw materials and qualifying a backup, and backup to backups, of suppliers to critical raw materials. And it’s constant.”

Diversity and inclusion

As race and social justice issues took center stage after the murder of George Floyd, PMI member UL stepped up its diversity and inclusion efforts to support its colleagues. “What we experienced last year was this eye-opening, this awakening for corporate America,” said Katrina Jackson, UL’s global head of diversity and inclusion. While UL had already established a formal “D&I ecosystem” with executive and leadership councils, global ambassadors and internal business resource groups, Jackson said the company wanted to be more transparent and set out to advance equity and achieve measurable progress. UL’s D&I team worked with the corporate sustainability group to establish a matching program for racial justice to impact the Black community overall.


ASHRAE publishes updated health care ventilation standard

ASHRAE has released an updated edition of ANSI/ASHRAE/ASHE Standard 170, Ventilation of Health Care Facilities. The standard offers guidance, regulation and mandates to designers of health care facilities.

The 2021 edition delivers critical guidance for designers and operators of these front-line facilities and incorporates 17 addenda to the 2017 edition of the standard. Changes include:

  • Expanded requirements to allow airborne infectious isolation room exhaust discharge to general exhaust under certain conditions;

  • Revised scope with improved guidance on thermal comfort conditions provided;

  • Extensive modifications to address the outpatient and residential sections;

  • Extensive revisions to air filtration requirements;

  • Addition of new columns in the ventilation tables to prescribe filtration requirement and designate unoccupied turndown;

  • Expanded guidance on separation distance requirements for varied intake and exhaust arrangements, coordinating with related ASHRAE Standard 62.1 data; and

  • Improved guidance related to behavioral and mental health.

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Watts offers online legionella course

“Mitigating the Risk of Legionella” is the new 8-module online course from Watts for facility managers, engineers and infection control professionals.

In this 2 1/2-hour course, industry experts explain points of Legionella risk in a building’s premise plumbing system, best practices for testing and monitoring, current design trends and more. Hear from experts Janet Stout, MD, president, Special Pathogens Laboratory; Aaron Boch, P.E., senior plumbing engineer; and Christoph Lohr, vice president, strategic initiatives, IAPMO.

By completing all eight modules, engineers can receive 0.25 continuing education units (CEUs) through the American Society of Plumbing Engineers, and all participants who complete the modules will receive a certificate of completion for the course.

“Our goal is to help customers prevent illness, shutdowns and disruption by gaining a deeper understanding of Legionella in building plumbing systems,” said Scott Alford, health care accounts manager at Watts. “This course is a ‘go-to’ resource not to miss.”

The eight-module course is available for $50 per person. Go to to watch a preview or to register.

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Bradford White partners with Plumbers Without Borders

Bradford White announced its partnership with Plumbers Without Borders, a grassroots nonprofit organization working to increase global access to safe water and sanitation.

“Plumbers Without Borders is a unique organization that demonstrates the generosity and goodwill of the hard-working men and women in our industry,” said Carl Pinto Jr., senior director of marketing communications for Bradford White. “Our company has always been dedicated to social leadership and to strengthening the plumbing and water heater industry. Helping uplift the work of Plumbers Without Borders not only supports their noble work around the world, it’s an investment in showcasing the essential nature of the work we do every day.”

Plumbers Without Borders, founded in 2010, connects volunteer plumbers and other skilled tradespeople with projects around the world that are establishing safe plumbing and sanitary systems, and promoting related health and safety education. Plumbers Without Borders selects partners based on quality, service, craftsmanship and training.

“It’s an honor to partner with Bradford White Corporation,” said Domenico DiGregorio, president and co-founder of Plumbers Without Borders. “Our mutual respect for quality, craftsmanship, professional training and workforce development creates a great platform for advancing our collective work toward improving lives and health around the world by increasing access to safe water and sanitation.”

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Uponor names new president and CEO

Uponor’s board of directors appointed Michael Rauterkus as president and CEO of Uponor Group and chairman of the executive committee. He will join the company and assume the CEO responsibility on Aug. 21.

Rauterkus has long experience, wide knowledge and good networks from the industry, as his most recent operative role was the CEO of Grohe AG, a German sanitary technology manufacturer, Uponor noted. During his tenure as CEO in 2015-2019, he developed Grohe into a global leader of bathroom and kitchen solutions. Prior to this, he worked in various roles at Grohe since 2006. Earlier in his career he worked for companies such as Hasbro, Levi Strauss & Co. and Kraft Jacobs Suchard (now Mondelez).

“I am very pleased that Michael Rauterkus has accepted the assignment to lead Uponor into the next phase, and I look forward to working with him. Michael is a seasoned visionary leader with strong strategic competence. He understands the dynamics of our industry inside out,” said Annika Paasikivi, chair of the board of directors, Uponor.

Rauterkus said: “I am very excited to join Uponor, a leading iconic brand in the industry with a global presence. I love this industry, as water delivery and energy efficiency are essential for the everyday life of people. I look forward to learning the Uponor business, meeting the Uponor teams in the markets, visiting the production sites and discussing with our customers and shareholders Uponor’s future plans. It is a great opportunity to lead more than 100-year-old Uponor to its next development phase.”