Mercury Marine touts growth in Wisconsin

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Mercury Marine says it made the right choice when it decided not to leave Wisconsin in 2009.

CEO Mark Schwabero told Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha” program on WISN-TV in Milwaukee that the company’s growth since it consolidated operations in Wisconsin has been faster than expected.

The company considered moving to Oklahoma in 2009, but received concessions from its union and state and local government assistance in the form of tax incentives and loans tied to job growth. The company has increased its work force in Wisconsin from 1,400 employees to more than 3,000.

Schwabero said the job growth is attributable to the company consolidating its operations in Wisconsin, the nation’s economic recovery, growth in international markets and success with new products.

He said that although there has been a reduction in wages, the average wage is $16.50 an hour and will continue to grow. He said the company increased wages in the last year and that its collective bargaining agreement provides for future wage increases. He noted that many employees, not just union workers, accepted pay freezes and other reductions.

The government assistance the manufacturer received was not a case of the government picking “winners and losers,” he said, but a realization that the marine industry was changing and the company needed to restructure because of the downturn in the economy.

“I thing they saw the reality of the situation we were in and were willing to help,” Schwabero said.

Click here to watch the full program.

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