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Simpson Electric Stands the Test of Time in Lac du FlambeauSubmitted: 04/17/2013
Story By Kailey Burton


Photos By Kailey Burton

LAC DU FLAMBEAU - What do auto mechanics, railroad operators, and NASA have in common? They all use an instrument built right here in Northern Wisconsin.

Simpson Electric embodies the heart of the Northwoods, quality, detailed labor, and pride in craftsmanship.

Those principles have served them well since 1934. In 1927 Ray Simpson built a key piece of equipment that allowed Charles Lindbergh to fly solo across the Atlantic. Today they build thousands of electric meters for a variety of clients.

"We sell to every branch of the military, we have NASA, the government orders, so it can go from the everyday user, all the way up into space. Our meters have been on Apollo 13," said Bill Conn, CEO of Simpson Electric.

Almost everything sold by Simpson Electric is made -starting with the tiniest pieces- right here, BY HAND.

From metal parts stamped and assembled on site to hair-fine wires spooled by hand. Each employee carefully checks the product at each stage. That dedication is what they're known for.

"We watch for the quality, we watch for the goodness in the meter before it goes out, and that's what keeps me here, the dedication to the company and the employees… And, it works," said Agnes Jack, Simpson Electric employee.

"I've had men come in and say, 'I dropped my meter 30 feet... What do you think?' And it usually works," said Conn, "So we're very proud of that meter, and we still build and sell about 60 of them every day. That's quality work."

Simpson Electric in Lac du Flambeau welcomes the public to come in for a tour.


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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 07/28/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We look into the history of the Eagle River man who was shot and killed by officers outside of Merrill Tuesday morning after he was pulled over in Antigo, shot at a police officer and lead police into a chase that took them to Lincoln County.

We'll introduce you to the founder of the Raptor Education Group in Antigo which helps nurse injured birds back to life and returns them to the wild.

And today was "Miracle Treat Day" at Dairy Queen as the restaurant raises money for the Children's Miracle Network.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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ANTIGO - When you can't catch fish, it's easy to blame the lure. If you need something different, people in Antigo make a lure that you might want to try. The Mepps assembly plant is located right off Highway 45.

Mepps fishing lures were originally made in Paris, France, starting in 1938. Back in the 1970's, a local Antigo sporting goods store owner, Todd Sheldon, decided to buy that facility and moved it to Nice, France. His son, Mike is now the president of the company.

"The guys that own the Mepps company in France were getting old enough to where they wanted to retire so we bought the Mepps company in France in 1972," said Sheldon.

One detail that makes the lure number one in the world is that they use actual animal tail fur.

"The tails are washed, dyed and tied back there," said plant worker Kim Wiegert. "And they're dehydrated. They will store a long time, so they can last 3 to 5 years."

There are many benefits to using real hair as opposed to artificial hair.

"The hair is hollow and goes through a lot of wear and tear," said Wiegert. "Other hairs would disintegrate, and fall apart. With these, it'll last longer, the fish can bite on them and it'll take a long time before they'll actually chew them apart."

Along with the hairs, there is a secret way to put the lures together that makes Mepps the best.

"We have a certain wind that we have and we can tell when we put them together, how it should be. All of our spinners are field tested before they actually go out," said Wiegert.

Even though the company distributes their product around the world, the Sheldon's still enjoy being based in Antigo.

"It's home. I grew up here and my parents grew up here and of course my kids did. And it's such a different pace of life here than the rest of the world," said Sheldon.

Everyone putting the little pieces together are women. Kim is just one who works in the plant that has been there for nearly 40 years. She also gives tours of the facility to the public.

"I like to react with the people when they come in, especially ones that have fishing stories to tell you. It's interesting here and you get to meet other people," said Wiegert.

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STEVENS POINT - The trip for a couple flying from Wisconsin to Arizona will take longer after their private plane skidded onto a runway in Stevens Point Thursday morning.

Neither person was hurt.  The couple was flying back to Arizona after attending the EAA event in Oshkosh.

After an electrical problem, the landing gear in their airplane didn't deploy.  They did what's called a belly-landing on a runway at the Stevens Point Municipal Airport just before 8:30 this morning.

The Stevens Point Fire Department responded to the scene.

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MADISON - The head of Wisconsin's State Patrol is ready to retire.

Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent Stephen Fitzgerald will step down Aug. 5 after five years leading the agency. Gov. Scott Walker's office announced his retirement Thursday.

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OSHKOSH - Yes, Hollywood actor Harrison Ford uses a checklist when he flies.

The "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" star was accompanied by an inquisitive teenager when he flew his DeHavilland Beaver on Thursday at the AirVenture Oshkosh 2016 air show.

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NORTHEASTERN WI - Police in northeastern Wisconsin need help finding a missing 47-year-old woman.

Nancy Renkas was last seen on July 18th in Iron Mountain. She told a relative that she planned to drive to Menominee, Michigan to look at a camping trailer.

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MADISON - A newly released investigatory report shows former U.S. Attorney James Santelle misused a government credit card to pay for his dry cleaning, a rental car and an airline ticket.

The new details were revealed Thursday in a report by the U.S. Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General. It was released to The Associated Press in response to an open records request.

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