One of my closest friends and a lifelong Wisconsinite, was recently exiled from his homeland.
While enjoying a new latitude, he was constantly reminded of Wisconsin. Wherever he went he would find contributions from the people and exports from the Dairy State.
So, we sat down and put together a list of Wisconsin exports that have a national and global impact. This list is just a reminder that you can always be near Wisconsin wherever you go.
Established in 1872 during the Reconstruction Era, Neenah Foundry has been a leader in casting technology for over 140 years. In 1903, Neenah Foundry began manufacturing its ubiquitous manhole covers and storm grates. You can spot the firm’s work on many metropolitan streets and sidewalks and you’ll even find a Neenah Foundry manhole cover below the Eiffel Tower.
Next time you’re on a major city’s sidewalk, look down. It’s a good chance the manhole or grate you’re standing on was cast in Neenah.
Also founded during the Reconstruction Era, Kohler’s fixtures including sinks, tubs, and toilets can be found on all six of the inhabitable continents.
A little known fact and something I omitted from my list of 10 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Wisconsin is that Green Bay is the toilet paper capital of the world.
Green Bay’s honorable distinction is helped in part by Kimberly Clark, the parent company for brand like Kleenex, Cottonelle, and Huggies.
So, next time you’re half-a-world away using a Kohler product in a foreign land, you’ll have two Wisconsin companies to thank for their parts in modern convenience.
Since 1903, Harley Davidson has been known for its unique styling, distinctive rumble and its influence on pop culture. Although the U.S. is the biggest consumer of this Milwaukee original, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Canada are all seeing growth for the iconic brand.
Although Oscar Mayer was founded in Chicago near the turn of the 20th century; Madison has been home to Oscar Mayer since the 1950s. They have been a leader in sausage sales at home and abroad for years. You can spot their distinctive yellow band wrapped around their meat products in just about any grocery store in the country. And be on the lookout for one of six Weinermobiles on their national tour.
Miller Brewing Company
Frederick Miller purchased a small defunct beer producer, Plank-Road Brewery, in 1855. The facility was located in what is now Miller Valley. From humble beginnings, Miller’s motto was to create a beer that was “Quality, Uncompromising and Unchanging.”
Nearly 160 years later, Miller now merged with Coors to form MillerCoors is the second largest producer of beer in the world.
Headquartered in Madison, CUNA (Credit Union National Association) is the leader in providing financial services to credit unions and their members worldwide. CUNA’s offerings include lending, protection, financial, employee and member solutions through strategic partnerships, technological innovations and multiple service channels. CUNA employs over 2,000 in Madison and 5,500 worldwide. Chances are if you do business with a credit union, you’re indirectly doing business with CUNA.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Born in Richland Center in 1867, Frank Lloyd Wright is a Wisconsin original. In his lifetime he designed over 400 built structures including his home in Spring Green, Taliesin, the Monona Terrace, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Wright left his thumb print on modern American architecture by helping to popularize the “open concept” floor plan. This design practice minimizes the use of barriers and walls to better utilize space.
In 1991, the American Institute of Architects honored Frank Lloyd Wright with the title of greatest American architect of all time.
His work and influence can be seen stretching from Hollywood, CA to New York City and even Egypt and Tokyo, Japan.
After developing a successful chain of supermarkets in the Milwaukee area, Maxwell Kohl started his first department store in 1962. Kohl’s department stores were born.
Although the ownership has changed over the years, Kohl’s headquarters remain in Menomonee Falls. In 2013, Kohl’s surpassed it’s biggest competitor, to become the largest department store (by number of stores) in the United States. Nearly wherever you travel in the U.S., you can find a Kohl’s. They are located in 49 states.
This list is just a brief reminder that, wherever you may travel you’re always close to home. What’s your favorite Wisconsin export? Comment below.
Jeff Finup is a writer, motorcycle enthusiast and lover of all things Wisconsin. When he’s not roaming the countryside, you can find him cheering on his favorite Wisconsin sports teams or hanging out at his Northwood’s cabin. You can follow him on twitter: @ChallengeAway