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Driving the Boom: Truck center expansion signals, fuels growth

Posted at 11:05 AM, Aug 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-20 12:05:57-04

RACINE — A family owned company in Racine County is not only benefiting from the business boom on the I-94 corridor. It’s also helping to drive it.

Kriete Truck Centers just cut the ribbon on a 6-million dollar expansion. The company sells and services trucks of all kinds, from the 18-wheelers hauling goods up and down the freeway, to the construction equipment used to expand it.

“Don't get too frustrated when you're going down the highway and you're stuck behind big rigs,” said David Kriete, “because they're boosting the economy.”

David’s grandfather, Henry Kriete, founded the business in Milwaukee in 1951. Kriete Group now has truck centers across Wisconsin, including the facility in Racine County, just south of Highway K.

“We built a 25,000 square foot brand new service facility with a monster, 5,000 square foot, industrial size paint booth," Kriete shared.

Technicians were already at work in the news space, even before the official ribbon cutting. Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce calls the local economy, "stronger than ever."

That from Business Development Director Carmella Venturini, who sees business booming from Milwaukee to the State line. “You know it really kind of just takes one business or one developer to come to the area and see the potential,” she explained.

"With having Milwaukee to the North and Chicago to the south, they see Racine as kind of an untapped market, and potential for growth," she said.

Undoubtedly, officials see Foxconn as a major catalyst for development but most feel Racine County was primed for a boom anyway.

"Kenosha's already seen that growth, and now it's Racine's turn," said Venturini. "We're seeing a push from some Milwaukee companies coming into Racine, and they're looking at us as a great opportunity to open their business."

Venturini said the boom will reach everyone, as the area adds more amenities. Infrastructure improvements, new parks, new restaurants and entertainment venues are all part of it, she said.

That, and, "Everybody's working. Everybody's getting pay raises. Employees are in high demand. So if you're good at what you do, you're going to get a raise, which means you can buy a car, you can buy a house."

Kriete, meanwhile is working to add 50 new service technicians to fill the new space, though finding qualified people is toughest part of the expansion.

"This year we've added 60, 6-0 new technicians throughout the whole Kriete Group, so we've got some resources and some ways to get them, but that remains our biggest challenge."