Zelazoski Wood Products is Mainstay in Antigo
Antigo’s Zelazoski Wood Products began in 1924 as The Thos. Zelazoski Mfg. Co. and has grown to become a major supplier of everything from brush handles and ukulele necks to baseball bats and ice-fishing rigs.
The original plant was a converted blacksmith shop in the area of Third Avenue and Superior Street in Antigo. Tom and his four employees produced home and farm-related items. In 1928 it began to making wooden blocks for the brush and broom industry. The small company outgrew that shop and moved to new quarters at 103 Edison Street around 1940.
The company incorporated in 1952 by Tom’s sons, Clarence and Bernard, who continued to run the business until their sons, Jim, Ben, Mike, Charlie, Tom and Joe took over in 1986. Tom, grandson of the founder, passed away in 1993 while the remaining five continue to run the business. A new plant was built in 1997 at 835 Ninth Ave.
“Zelazoski Wood Products is considered a Job Shop as we produce custom wooden components, manufactured according to the customers’ specifications,” Ben Zelazoski said. “Many of the parts continue to ship to the brush and broom industry but baseball bats, fishing lure bodies, home craft items, musical instrument parts and some plastic parts are machined at our facility. Much of the high volume, low quality work has gone overseas so we have concentrated on the lower volume, added-value products. In addition to applying various finishes to the part, we are also able to imprint by branding, hot stamping, pad printing and laser engraving.”
Zelazoski explained that the wood industry is constantly changing, not only in the products manufactured but the methods used to produce them. That presents challenges for any woodworker. The shorter runs and minimal tolerances require that employees are knowledgeable in various wood species and the equipment necessary to perform the tasks. Not only do the machinists need to know how to make a product from a chunk of wood but so do the finishers, tool makers, buyers, sellers, estimators and office personnel.
“Working with wood is challenging, sometimes exasperating, but always rewarding,” Zelazoski said. “Wood is a truly renewable resource. If it is managed correctly we will always have forests to provide lumber for homes and products for our daily use as well as beauty and recreation. We need people with an interest in wood that are knowledgeable in how to process a piece of wood into an item of beauty and that are always looking for ways to improve the manufacturing process.”
Manufacturing Spotlight is a limited-term series that looks at some of the industries located in the Antigo area with an eye on letting potential employees understand the opportunities that exist in the region and the skills required. It is being done in cooperation with the Langlade County Economic Development Corporation and Northcentral Technical College. Comments and suggestions are always invited and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Antigo Daily Journal