Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Charlotte Pipe buys famed Wisconsin foundry firm

Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, one of the state’s largest privately owned companies, made a big acquisition last month: Neenah Enterprises, which is most famous for making manhole covers. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Neenah operates three plants that make construction and industrial castings in Medley, Florida; Lincoln, Nebraska; and its headquarters of Neenah, Wisconsin, which is near Green Bay.

“This acquisition in an adjacent sector builds on our core competency in the manufacturing of grey iron castings,” Charlotte Pipe CEO Hooper Hardison said in a press release.

A Green Bay TV station reported this week that the Neenah plant is laying off 115 employees in September and October, according to a state filing. It represents less than 20% of the company’s workforce in Neenah, the company says.

William Alyward started the company in 1872 and it was owned by his descendants until 1997. Since then, it has reorganized twice under bankruptcy court protection.

“The Neenah Foundry has an amazing history in the city of Neenah,” Mayor Jane Lang told the station.

The Chicago Sun-Times wrote a fascinating story on Neenah in June, noting it has produced 148,000 manhole covers for the Second City over more than a century. Urban life doesn’t exist without manhole covers.

The Dowd family-owned Charlotte Pipe was formed in 1901 and operates seven plants that produce pipe and fittings made of plastic or cast iron.

It is replacing its downtown Charlotte foundry with a new plant in Stanly County that is expected to open in the third quarter of 2023. Plans call for a $325 million investment and 400 jobs at the 428-acre site. State and local officials have approved $50 million in incentives for the company, mostly involving property tax rebates over 20 years.

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