Skip To Menu | Skip To Content

American Orthodontics Expands and the County's New Technology Center

Posted by SCEDC on 7 February 2012 | 0 Comments

Share this on:  


American Orthodontics Corporation (AO) has purchased the former Thomas Industries property located at 3524 Washington Avenue in Sheboygan. 

Company founder and Chairman of the Board, Dan Merkel, is very pleased with the purchase.  "AO's dedicated people have been manufacturing high quality orthodontic products for the past 44 years.  We have been committed to growing our world-wide operations in Sheboygan."

Randy Benz, Vice Chairman and CEO says the acquisition of larger facilities is critical to facilitate the growth of AO.  "We have grown beyond the capacities of our current facilities.  We are extremely proud and want to thank all of our associates who have contributed to our success.  We look forward to welcoming them all to our new home."

AO plans to remodel the facility over the next few months to accommodate their business.  A move to the new location is expected later this year.  

According to City of Sheboygan Development Manager Chad Pelishek, "We will work cooperatively with American Orthodontics as they transition into their new facilities, and will also help identify prospective tenants or prospective start-up companies seeking space in AO's existing space along Cambridge Avenue and 18th Street.  The growth of one of our major corporate citizens should result in new opportunity for other local businesses."

Gary Dulmes, Chairman of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation, remarked, "American Orthodontics was willing to proactively work with the City and SCEDC to discuss their local growth opportunities, and identify local resources to help make their move happen.  We congratulate AO leadership on this positive business move."   

American Orthodontics Website 



The SCEDC continues to make progress towards achieving our job and investment goals.  Take a look at our accomplishments and current work in our 4th Quarter 2011 Report.  Click here to view the report



The eagerly anticipated $1.25 million LTC-Plymouth Science & Technology Center at Plymouth High School celebrated its grand opening Feb. 1 with officials from the Plymouth School District, Lakeshore Technical College, the City of Plymouth and area businesses.

The Center is a unique collaboration involving LTC, the school district, the City of Plymouth and the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce.  

The facility will go a long way toward reaching the district's goal of preparing every graduate to enter higher education or a career of his or her choice, Dr. Reinke said.  

But he said his vision for the Center does not end with providing the maintenance technology workers that area manufacturers need today. "We want our graduates designing the new machine that packages brats at Johnsonville or creating the new product that keeps Sargento at the leading edge," he said.    

"We are excited about the articulation agreements with Plymouth High School to offer dual-credit degree programs for high school students," Dr. Lanser of LTC said. "This engagement will allow students to leverage their high school education into a post-secondary degree and establishes a firm learning foundation and exposure to career opportunities in our region.  The center meets key workforce needs and will go a long way toward closing the skills gap, which is what motivated LTC to get involved."

Those visiting the center then were treated to tours of the facility and to student demonstrations:

  • CAD Lab: Computer-aided design software and a three-dimensional printer
  • CNC Lab: State-of-the-art Haas CNC mills and a Haas lathe
  • Engineering Lab: Control panel and immersive CNC simulators for Haas high-tech mills
  • Graphics Lab: Laser engraver
  • Manufacturing Lab: High-speed packaging machine manufactured by Viking-Masek donated by Sargento Foods
  • Welding Lab: Professional metal fabrication training facility

During the open house, school-age children were able to explore science and engineering through a number of hands-on activities in the Aspiring Engineers room.  

Also open that evening were the school's agriscience, automotive and construction labs.  

Take a picture tour of the facility and open house event at:



Companies that have lost, due to overseas competition, either:

  • 5% or more of their sales, or 
  • 5% or more of their workforce

may be eligible for a Federal Government Grant through the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. TAA offers 50/50 cost sharing of projects aimed at improving a manufacturer's competitive position. Specifically, these matching funds are applied toward the cost of consultants, engineers, designers or industry experts for improvement projects in areas such as manufacturing, engineering, marketing, information technology and quality. TAA pays for half of the cost of these services, up to $150,000 in projects with a maximum TAA share of $75,000.  

For more information on TAA click here.    



Sheboygan County offers another way for businesses to DO MORE by offering low-interest loans to eligible area businesses. The County's Business Loan Program has over $800,000 available for local companies to borrow in 2012. Permitted uses of the loan proceeds are: gap financing; working capital; acquisition and installation of equipment; acquisition of real estate; and funds to help start a business.

The program works by doubling existing working capital, matching vendor credit and down payments, or by taking second position to a traditional bank loan of a greater or equal amount, allowing a business owner to leverage additional resources. This business loan program is expected to take slightly more risk than traditional financing.  

According to the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation's Executive Director Patrick Drinan, "The Sheboygan County Business Loan Program allows for some creative financing options. The program partners with an area bank or lender to provide gap financing for their clients. The SCEDC wants to make sure local businesses and financial institutions understand and take full advantage of the program and available resources. The SCEDC will help review a business' situation to gauge their eligibility for the program and will directly assist companies through the application process."

Interested businesses may find more information, terms and conditions, and application materials online at