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.
RHINELANDER - The City of Rhinelander and Oneida County will consider borrowing $15 million to help develop a manufacturer in Rhinelander, according to an Oneida County Economic Development Corporation release Tuesday.
The money would help Rhinelander Coated Products start work inside the former Printpack building on Kemp Street.
BOULDER JUNCTION - Pilots find very little room for error when they make a landing. Wings, flaps, and landing gear all need to work properly. Then there's the runway itself, which needs to be flat and smooth.
So, when pilots found ruts and divots torn into the grass runway at Boulder Junction's airport, folks were more than upset, they were worried about safe landings. Airfield president Jeff Long thinks someone used a pickup truck to do the damage. It happened right before the airfield's busiest weekend of the year, the Musky Day fly-in.
"To see somebody disregard that, disrespect that, and then again the safety, where somebody could get hurt that we're inviting up here for summer fun, doesn't make you feel very good," Long said.
CRANDON - For some Northwoods families, it can be hard to find the money to pay for their kids' school supplies every year, but a back-to-school program in Forest County is giving children the supplies they need to succeed.
KNOWLTON - When you think of Wisconsin, you probably think of the Packers, dairy, and beer. One of the quintessential things that make this state great is its cheese, and you'll find no shortage of that in north central Wisconsin. The largest family-owned cheese factory is right in our own backyard, and it continues to push its limits in the industry
For Bill Mullins, the cheese business is all in the family.
"My other two brothers are in the business," said Bill, Co-Owner of Mullins Cheese. "My brother has four boys in the business full-time. My mom did accounting for us until she was 88."
EAGLE RIVER - Cities across the Northwoods drop tens of thousands of dollars every winter on crack sealing roads. The Eagle River Airport is no different. The airport spent about $25,000 in 2016 patching up its main runway.
Arguably, that runway is even older than most roads people drive on. The runway was last redone in 1971. On a busy day, the 5,000-foot runway hosts upwards of 80 takeoffs and landings. Airport manager Rob Hom showed Newswatch 12 a number of places where the pavement is buckling and cracked. That can lead to dangerous landings for small planes.
"Relative to a car or a truck [a prop-powered airplane is] pretty light relatively speaking, so having a smooth runway is imperative," Hom said.
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