Company officials say they want Kuttner to be part of new look, feel in Port’s business district
Kuttner LLC may not be a household name in Port Washington, but the firm is about to make its presence known.
The company will be moving from its current headquarters at 1329 W. Grand Ave. to the third floor of the Boerner Mercantile Building in downtown.
It will be the largest tenant in the newly renovated building, joining more than a dozen offices on the second floor and two retail tenants — including Sweetheart Cakes — on the first floor.
“We really appreciate being in Port Washington,” Kuttner president Robert Fechner said. “It’s important for little towns to get some life back. We see how Franklin Street is reviving with new shops. We wanted to be part of that.
“The Boerner building is a key building downtown. I’ve probably passed this building hundreds if not thousands of times. (Owner Dan Ewig) really did a great job bringing it back to the old beauty.”
The move, which is expected to occur in November or December, will give the company a headquarters that reflects its industrial mission, with huge wood beams at the ceiling, original wood floors and brick walls.
It will also provide the firm with the space needed to expand.
“There is potential for growth and expansion in the new building. There are more options for us,” said Adel Rahman, vice president of operations. “Here, we cannot grow beyond what we have now.
“We looked at other places. It would have been easy for us to find a place far away from here. But we are part of Port Washington.”
The firm’s 18 employees will help bring new life to downtown, Fechner said, bringing traffic to the shops, offices and restaurants there.
Their clients, too, will be exposed to all Port has to offer, adding to the vibrancy of downtown, Rahman said.
“We have a lot of visitors who come from all over,” he said. “Now, we’re going to showcase our business to these guys in downtown.”
The men acknowledged that their company is a largely unknown entity, even though it’s been in Port for more than a decade.
“Nobody in Port knows our name or what we are doing,” Fechner said.
Kuttner grew out of a joint venture between Modern Equipment Co. in Port Washington and Küttner Germany.
Two men at the companies — one of them was Rod Schueller of Modern Equipment, who today is retired but continues to work on projects for Kuttner when needed — learned about cupola technology in the foundry industry. They became experts and established a relationship by supporting each other in the business, Fechner said.
The two companies formed a joint venture in 1999 to develop the technology further, but Modern later decided to concentrate on its traditional business instead.
Kuttner LLC was formed in 2003. Today, the firm continues to work in the foundry industry but has expanded into air pollution control and heat recovery systems for the power-generation industry.
“The Midwest is central to our industry,” Rahman said. “There are a lot of foundries in the Midwest, so this is a great location for us.”
While the Port office serves some overseas clients, its main focus is North America — the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Businesses turn to Kuttner to engineer solutions to problems they encounter, Fechner said.
“We find the solution for them,” he said. The company then contracts to buy or make the needed equipment, oversees its installation and supervises the commissioning of the equipment.
Although Kuttner is an American firm, it is primarily owned by two German companies — Küttner Group and Lühr Filters — giving the local group plenty of resources to tap into, Fechner said.
“We’re an American company that has engineering solutions for the American market, supported by experience in Europe,” Rahman said.
The firm expanded into air pollution systems as the EPA standards tightened in the late 1990s and early 2000s and companies realized there were savings to be had in implementing these programs, Fechner said.
“That was our growth opportunity,” said Jim Ruka, vice president of engineering and foundry sales. “We’ve been adding engineers ever since. We see that growth continuing.”
Kuttner typically works on five to 10 projects at a time, most of them in the Midwest and Southern parts of the U.S.
Image Information: THE ENTIRE THIRD floor of the Boerner Merchantile Building in downtown Port Washington will be occupied by Kuttner LLC, a Port firm that engineers solutions for foundries and similar companies. The firm, which will be the largest tenant in the building, plans to move from its current location on Grand Avenue by the end of the year. Press file photo