Exponential growth at Idle Free Systems, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of auxiliary power units for trucks and school buses, has meant the company needs to double its manufacturing space. Idle Free will use the additional space to significantly increase the number of systems it produces and ships daily.
Robert Hopton, CEO of Idle Free Systems, says that the company has been experiencing dramatic growth.
“Year-over-year sales from 2010 to 2011 were up 100%, and with the on-going expansion of our national dealer network, we are expecting to double revenue again in 2012,” he says. “This expansion will help us implement lean manufacturing practices which will not only support our current manufacturing levels, but facilitates the ability to quickly and easily increase production to meet our significant sales growth.”
Idle Free Systems is part of Wisconsin’s thriving green manufacturing sector. The APUs (auxiliary power units) they manufacture contribute to significant emissions reduction from truck fleets that install the system.
An APU is a system which can be installed on Class 8 trucks to help drivers eliminate discretionary idling. Traditionally, when a driver parks for the night to sleep, they keep the truck running in order to have heat or air conditioning in the sleeper cab. This practice has led to a tremendous amount of unnecessary emissions. Installation of an Idle Free APU allows drivers to turn off the truck and rely on this auxiliary system for heat, air conditioning or electricity to power their TV or computer in the sleeper cab. This not only cuts down on CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, but saves fuel and ultimately reduces dependence on foreign oil.
Idle Free considered many different communities to support its expansion, but in the end decided to keep its manufacturing in Watertown. Ron Krueger, the mayor of Watertown, says it is the city’s goal to attract and retain fast-growing companies like Idle Free Systems.
“We are pleased that Idle Free has chosen to keep its manufacturing here in Watertown,” he says. “It is companies like this that will help fuel job growth and keep the city a vibrant place to live and work.”
According to Hopton, it is because of the support Idle Free is receiving from the City of Watertown and more specifically, the Watertown Economic Development Corp., that they have chosen to keep manufacturing in Watertown.
“WEDC has recognized that Idle Free is a dynamic, fast-paced company that has brought numerous jobs to the area,” he says. “And with the growth we are experiencing, we will have the need to add many more highly skilled positions to our Watertown workforce.”
The Watertown Economic Development Corporation is a non-profit organization whose main goal is to help drive the economic vitality of the community, which includes job growth by helping to support area business and manufacturing. The organization is currently headed by executive director, Kim Erdmann.
“Watching Idle Free Systems grow and expand its manufacturing facilities and double the number of highly skilled jobs it has brought to the area is exciting and satisfying to watch,” he says. “By helping Idle Free Systems reach its growth goals, we are fulfilling our own goals.”