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Bosch celebrates by opening its doors

Bosch brought its 100th birthday party to New Richmond on Friday.

Bosch, a German-owned company, purchased the local packaging manufacturer Doboy Industries in 2004, making it a part of the $50 billion business.

Worldwide, Bosch has been celebrating its centennial at various gatherings.

The New Richmond event included information about the local 140-year history of Doboy. A large semi-truck display recounting the history of Bosch

Public tours of the manufacturing facility were conducted throughout Friday morning.

To those taking the tour, Jim Reppe, a local historian, provided some background about the company that got its start as a flour mill in the 1860s.

In the late 1930s, Doboy (spelled Doughboy until the 1960s) developed a line of packaging machines that sealed plastic bags filled with cereal.

"It all started with something simple," he said.

Doboy eventually expanded into a variety of products, but packaging always remained a staple for the company.

Among the off-shoots of the business were airport navigational equipment, pistonless engines, air compressors, swimming pools, plastic toys, and turkey and chicken production.

The remainder of the tour provided a chance for employees to show off the equipment they engineer and manufacture. Among the more impressive items is a robotic arm that speedily picks up food items and packages them for re-sale.

The day's events included birthday cake and a short program. Company officials and area dignitaries were on hand for a special recognition ceremony at 1:30 p.m.

New Richmond Mayor David Schnitzler congratulated the Bosch Doboy employees and the company for its important contributions to the community over the years.

Schnitzler admitted that, despite being mayor for 10 years, he'd never been inside the Bosch Doboy plant before. He said he was impressed with what he saw.

"I'm proud to have you as part of our community," he said. "Keep up the good work."

Representatives from the regional offices of U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold and U.S. Representative Ron Kind were also on hand for the festivities.

Bill Heilhecker, president of the packaging division of Bosch, said the New Richmond division accounts for about $42 million in sales annually. Sales are projected to top $50 million by the end of 2006.

Locally, Bosch Doboy employs 257 people, he said. About 68 percent of the packaging business the company does involve food-related products.

Interestingly, all of the U.S. military's MREs (meals ready to eat) are packaged by machines designed and manufactured locally.