Every time someone turns on a light or fires up their office computer, there’s a good chance that a Cooper Power Systems electrical transformer or another of the company’s products was part of the process.
Since 2012, Cooper has been part of Eaton Corp., a power management company with $22 billion in sales in 2013.
Eaton, based in Dublin, Ireland, has 102,000 employees and sells products in more than 175 countries. This week, the company said it was expanding and upgrading its Cooper Power Systems plants in Waukesha that make electrical equipment including power transformers and voltage regulators.
The $54 million project will create up to 200 jobs over the next two years, according to Eaton, as the company expands its Badger Drive plant and upgrades its North St. and Lincoln Ave. plants.
“The reason we are investing in the expansion in our facilities is to help meet the growing demand we are seeing, not only from our utility customers, but also from the commercial and industrial customer base,” said Clayton Tychkowsky, president of the Cooper Power Systems division.
Eaton has a wide range of products including truck transmissions, aircraft fuel systems and electrical systems.
Last week, the company said its fourth-quarter revenue rose 28%, boosted by higher demand for electrical products and systems.
Electrical product sales jumped 57% to $1.8 billion in the recent quarter ended Dec. 31.
Demand picked up in multiple areas including data processing centers, commercial construction and the oil and gas industry.
“One thing all those fields have in common is they require products to help transmit power to a usable point in their electrical system,” Tychkowsky said.
Eaton also stands to benefit from an increase in residential construction because the utility companies that provide power to homes use Cooper products.
“We see long-term potential growth for the products we manufacture here, which is why we feel this is a good investment,” Tychkowsky said about the plant expansion and upgrades.
Last April, Eaton announced it was cutting nearly two-thirds of its 260 jobs in Pewaukee.
The reductions included 130 production and 33 salaried positions as the company said it was moving molded rubber manufacturing from Pewaukee to a plant in Querétaro, Mexico, this year.
The job cuts were unrelated to the Waukesha plants, and the Pewaukee employees will get first preference in the Waukesha hiring, according to Eaton.
As part of the hiring, the company has partnered with Waukesha County Technical College to provide job training.
“We are taking a proactive approach as opposed to sitting back and waiting for talent to be available for us,” Tychkowsky said.
The expansion on Badger Drive will include 55,000 square feet of new manufacturing space.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is providing up to $1.36 million in tax credits for the expansion and plant upgrades, which are tied to the new jobs.
“Retention of sound businesses like this is something we all need to pay attention to. There are other opportunities in the nation for a company like Eaton to move out of state,” said Reed Hall, WEDC secretary and chief executive officer.
Wisconsin also benefits from the electrical products, according to Hall.
“Safe, reliable electrical power is critical to growth. It’s like broadband. There are a couple of things businesses absolutely have to have to consider expanding in our state,” Hall said.