What’s the magic mix that makes Wausau, Wisconsin an ideal place to headquarter a business that has its sights set on being a global force for good?
According to Ryan Gallagher, president of Wausau-based Rocket Industrial, a creative and passionate workforce, a growing manufacturing industry, and an ideal community for associates and their families is a good start. He continues, “We find all of these things, and then some in Wausau. It’s a fun town with a genuinely good spirit.”
Formerly known as Packaging Tape Inc., the Rocket Industrial Story began over 60 years ago, when the company was founded as a sister company to Marathon Cheese. Today, under Gallagher’s leadership, the company has transformed its business model and adopted a purpose-driven culture in order to help manufacturers package with less. “Our solutions allow businesses to use less. Less labor, less material, less waste, less time and less cost,” shared Gallagher.
In addition to its headquarters in Wausau, the company also has branches in Appleton, Wis., Belvedere, Ill., and Minneapolis, plus 12 distribution centers nationally. And while some may question whether a city like Wausau is an ideal place for a nationally recognized company like Rocket Industrial, Gallagher shares, they have never considered headquartering the business anywhere else. “The cool part is doing it from Wausau. We’re competing against companies from Chicago, Minneapolis and Atlanta every day, and winning.”
Mid-size cities, like Wausau, can be economic powerhouses. Add in a centralized location in the heart of the Midwest, and Wausau provides advantages that other parts of the country do not.
“Wausau is a great place for a business like ours due to the many growing manufacturing companies in the region with a need for packaging equipment, supply optimization, automation, supply chain and procurement technology. Our region is also home to many cheese, meat and other food companies, and food packaging is a Rocket specialty,” shared Gallagher. “But it doesn’t stop there."
Wausau’s small-town feel, big city amenities, and low cost of living also add to its appeal when it comes to recruiting and retaining an excellent workforce. “The Wausau area provides a perfect environment for our associates’ families seeking camaraderie in peaceful, fun, virtually crime-free neighborhoods, short commutes, and immediate access to the outdoors. Where can you find better fishing, hunting, boating, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, biking and hiking than right here at Wausau’s doorstep?” commented Gallagher. “Wausau has a unique personality and charm. It’s a happy and positive place to live.”
With UWSP-Wausau, Northcentral Technical College, and the Medical College of Wisconsin-Central Wisconsin’s campuses all within the city limits, Wausau is positioned to provide a good mix of talent to employers. And while the area continues to focus on initiatives that attract and retain young professionals, Rocket Industrial additionally leverages graduates from Wisconsin’s polytechnic university, UW-Stout, as a strength.
“Our proximity to UW-Stout, with a robust packaging degree program, gives Rocket access to a tremendous talent stream, ready to make an immediate contribution,” continued Gallagher. “On top of that, the work ethic, loyalty and roots of Wausau’s people are especially advantageous as employers nationally face a worsening labor situation. In order for Rocket Industrial to fulfill our mission to be a force for good in this world, we need great people. We find them, and much more, in Wausau.”
Gallagher himself is no stranger to the Wausau area. He is the grandson of Ray Golbach, who—with his wife Marie—founded Marathon Cheese Corporation. Gallagher grew up in the Wausau community, left to pursue his education and begin his career, but quickly found himself drawn back to Wausau. “Having lived in Nashville, New York and Tampa, I’ve gained an appreciation for Wausau’s character, its art, food, Riverwalk, downtown, its people, and mix of businesses.” Today, Gallagher has set out to solidify Rocket Industrial as a leading purpose-driven business. The company recently launched Project100K to help save the lives of children dying from starvation, and has also begun The Million Pound Promise with the goal of taking a million pounds of over-packaging out of the waste stream annually. In recent years, the company has seen record growth, and was recognized in 2016 and 2017 as a “Great Place to Work” by Fortune Magazine & The Great Place to Work Institute.
And they do this all from Wausau.
“Some people may overlook Wausau just because of its size or location,” said Gallagher. “But those are the very things that provide Wausau with its strengths. Our company, and the success we have experienced throughout the last six decades, is a testament to this area and the people who live and work here.”