Helping save lives with the tiniest of wires

Making small parts for products that are used in the medical field is big business for Port’s Custom Wire Technologies

STANDING ON THE floor of Custom Wire Technologies in Port Washington were brothers Mike (top photo, left) and Jim Boldig, who are the firm’s director of operations and director of sales and engineering, respectively. The company, started by their father Bob, creates products that are used in medical devices from a 15,000-square-foot facility on Mineral Springs Drive (left photo), but the firm expanding into a neighboring building this year. Mike Boldig (right photo) stood behind a tray of lightweight coils made of nitinol, an alloy of nickel and titanium. Photos by Sam Arendt


Ozaukee Press staff

If you take a look around your doctor’s office, you will likely see equipment made with parts created at Custom Wire Technologies in Port Washington.

The company manufactures parts for firms that are used in everything from stents that open clogged arteries and devices that pull clots out of the brains of stroke victims to treatment delivery systems used to treat patients suffering from all types of maladies.

“I’m just amazed by the things we make here in Port Washington that people don’t know about,” Port Mayor Ted Neitzke said after a recent visit to the company. “What they do there is amazing.”

Custom Wire Technologies creates coils and grinds wires to meet a wide variety of needs in the medical industry, including catheters and guide wires that deliver treatments.

The company is industrial, and some of its products appear industrial, but 99% of everything it makes is used in the medical field, Jim Boldig, the company’s director of sales and engineering, said.

With about 150 customers, the company’s products touch virtually every aspect of medicine, from orthopedics to cardiology.

Some of the wires are coiled so tightly and are so small that they look like a solid piece, and they’re so light that it’s difficult to even sense them when holding them in your hand.

They grind wires so they will bend in one direction, sometimes with points or flex points that are difficult to see with the naked eye.

“Our industry keeps pushing us to get smaller and smaller,” Mike Boldig, Jim’s brother and the company’s director of operations, noted. “It becomes less invasive then.”

Some of the wires used by the company are smaller than a human hair, which is .003 inches in diameter. Most are made of stainless steel or nitinol, an alloy of nickel and titanium developed by the Navy that’s strong, lightweight and has unique properties, including superelasticity and “shape memory,” the ability to return to its original shape when heated.

You won’t walk into a doctor’s office or surgical suite and see Custom Wire Technologies’ name on the equipment there. The company is a contract manufacturer that makes items used by others.

The company is often approached by doctors and others in the medical profession who have an idea for a piece of equipment, Jim said.

“They have the concept in their head, and that starts the process for us,” he said. “We figure out how to make a reality.”

“We’re working on tomorrow’s technology today,” Mike added. “We’re manufacturing devices that are not on the market today that make today’s devices better.”

The market is large and growing, Jim added.

“There are a lot of entrepreneurs in this country,” he said. “It’s fun to actually try to solve the problems.”

The impetus for those new technologies, Jim said, is often to lower costs for medical providers, facilitate less invasive and traumatic procedures and decrease recovery time for patients.

“These products save lives,” he said. “The quality of care, the quality of life people have is better. They are in products that could be saving someone’s life tomorrow, today, now. 

“When you hear from the customer it worked, that’s the reward.”

And that, Jim said, is something that motivates the roughly 60 workers who work three shifts at the company.

They sometimes tell the stories of people who have been helped by the products they help make to bring that fact to life, the brothers said.

Jim noted that their coils are used in a treatment for people who suffer an ischemic stroke, in which a clot blocks an artery.

“In a stroke, the only thing that matters is time,” he said. “With this, they can get in the body and remove the clot in 11 minutes.”

He recounted the story of a 92-year-old woman who was on the phone with her son when he recognized the symptoms of a stroke and called for help. She was taken to the hospital and doctors, using a device made with the company’s products, were able to get to remove the clot quickly.

Not only does the device remove the clot, it also removes virtually all of the pieces that break off and circulate through the body, causing issues for the patient, Mike said.

Custom Wire Technologies was started in 2002 by Bob Boldig — the father of Mike and Jim and the company’s president — who worked in spring manufacturing and saw a need for this sort of work in the medical field.

“He had the entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to be his own boss,” Jim said. “He took a gamble and started the company while the family was growing.”

Jim started working at the firm as a project engineer in 2010, and Mike joined the company about six years ago.

The company got its start making catheter reinforcement coils, which not only increase the strength of the catheters but also provide flexibility and increase durability and reduce kinking.

“Since then we’ve just grown,” Jim said. “I don’t think he (Bob) knew what it would turn into.”

In 2013, the company got into the grinding business. Employees use a specialty grinder built just for this type of work. There are only about 250 of these machines in the world, Jim said, and their firm owns eight of them.

Custom Wire Technologies, which has sales of about $10 million annually in recent years, has grown significantly through the years.

Its sales base has tripled in three years, and it has tripled the number of people it employees over the past six years.

They could grow faster, Jim said, but they don’t have the employees.

“There are opportunities we can’t go after because we don’t have the people,” he said.

While many businesses shut down during the pandemic, Custom Wire Technologies didn’t. Their products are used in the trach tubes used for ventilators, so their were deemed a critical supplier for the medical industry, Mike said.

“We tried to maintain work here as normally as possible,” he said.

In 2021, the company bought the building next door to its plant at 1123 Mineral Spring Dr.  Eventually, they plan to construct a building between the two structures  to create employee spaces.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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