Gov. Walker visits New Richmond manufacturer
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made a brown bag visit to Engineered Propulsion Systems Inc. in New Richmond on Monday, Oct. 28.
The governor heard a presentation from CEO Michael Fuchs, vice president Steven Wienzeirl, CFO Paul Mayer and aviation legend Dick Rutan before delivering his own remarks, touring the facility and participating in an aircraft engine test run.
Fuchs led off the event by introducing the company’s main product they tout as “the first modern diesel aero-engine,” with a presentation detailing how the idea was conceived in 2006. Since then, EPS officially formed and held discussions with future customers, generated a business plan, began raising funding and kicked off its engine project and began testing, according to Fuchs.
Wienzeirl spoke about EPS’s various markets and potential within those markets saying that EPS is poised to be a key player in the 320-420 horsepower range for aviation engines. He estimates that the potential market exceeds $1 billion.
Mayer presented the company’s financing and investment opportunities, exit strategy and profit forecast from 2013 to 2021, showing steady — not exponential — growth. He also showed a chart depicting the company’s various project milestones on a timeline.
“Right now, we are scheduled to be certified in 2016 and start general aviation sales in 2016,” Mayer said. “The big number on the end, production start first quarter of 2016, that’s when those 100-120 jobs are here, that’s when there’s a manufacturing facility out at the New Richmond airport, and that’s when Wisconsin becomes the center of aircraft engine manufacturing in this country.”
Rutan, the first pilot who flew around the world nonstop in 1986, echoed the enthusiasm for both the company and Walker when it was his turn at the mic before spelling out some of the current problems in the aviation industry and how EPS solves them.
“These guys understand that we need a new modern engine,” Rutan said of EPS. “The evolution and advancement of what they have brought to aviation is incredible. These guys have to survive. They really do. And when I came out here and found out that your state had enough courage to offer the additional funding for this thing, I said, ‘Wow!’”
After Walker cracked a Packers-Vikings joke he settled into his remarks about creating jobs and small businesses, like EPS.
“I have talked a lot in the past about adding 250,000 jobs by 2015, but one of the other things that gets underreported is back when I was running and made that goal I laid out that target goal. I also said we need to help the people in this state create 10,000 or more new businesses by 2015. And what you see from EPS is exactly why that’s so important.”
The governor referred to a slide in the EPS presentation that illustrated how the company plans to grow its number of employees once it begins manufacturing aircraft engines.
“That’s where the real job growth is,” Walker said. “Most companies are going to grow five, 10, 15 at a time.”
Walker said innovation, aviation and manufacturing are the key strengths in Wisconsin, and EPS is working on all three.
Walker also mentioned how the reforms enacted during his administration stand in sharp contrast to nearby Minnesota.
“We’ve got a pretty good competitive advantage here in the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said. “When I think of what happened on the other side of the St. Croix earlier this year when they raised taxes $2 billion, in particular on business-to-business warehouses. In contrast, in the last two-and-a-half years we reduced the tax burden by $1.5 billion, and we lowered property taxes yet again by $100 million just recently.”
After the remarks, Walker and the invited guests toured the EPS facility, got a closeup look at the company’s mill and lathe machines, and then gathered outside for a demonstration of an aircraft engine up and running.