Forty years ago, La Crosse manufacturer DuraTech Industries started making T-shirts and bumper stickers in a Galesville garage. On Wednesday, the company broke ground on a nearly 50,000-square-foot expansion.

The expansion of the company’s manufacturing facility, located along Commerce Street on the city’s far North Side, will connect its two buildings, add office, manufacturing and meeting space, and is expected to create at least 50 new jobs during the next couple of years. The goal is to employ 500 people once the facility is at capacity.

Planning started more than a year ago on the $7.5 million project that will help meet increasing customer demand, DuraTech President Peter Johnson said.

DuraTech, which has operations in North Carolina and China, has more than 200 employees. The company provides custom label printing services for customers worldwide, creating products such as the push-start button on the Ford Mustang and decals for products such as clothes washers and dryers.

“Why is DuraTech growing?” Johnson asked the crowd of employees at the ceremony. “I am looking at the answer right here. You all are the reason we are so successful.”

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. awarded DuraTech up to $215,000 in state income tax credits during the next four years to help fund the expansion. The actual amount of tax credits received will depend upon the number of jobs created and the amount of capital invested.

WEDC also approved an allocation of up to $6.6 million in industrial revenue bonds to the city of La Crosse to provide financial support for the project. The city also is providing a $275,000 tax incremental financing grant to provide funding for the construction of the new facility and redevelopment of the existing buildings.

“We know companies have choices when they decided to expand,” WEDC Regional Economic Development Director Jennifer Kuderer said. “We’re glad they chose La Crosse.”

Wieser Brothers of La Crescent, Minn., will be the general contractor on the project, which Johnson said will be completed in the next 18 months. The last expansion for the company was 20 years ago when DuraTech added 20,000 square feet to its facility.

The new addition will feature sustainable technology such as LED lighting and allow the company to expand its product lines. Company owner Justin Pretasky said the company has been growing by more than 10 percent each year during the past several years and looks forward to continued growth.

“I am very excited for the team,” Pretasky said. “They put a lot of hard work into making this a reality.”

“Why is DuraTech growing? I am looking at the answer right here. You all are the reason we are so successful.” Peter Johnson, company president
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Nathan Hansen has been the Education Reporter for the Tribune since 2014. Prior to that, he covered education, agriculture and business topics for the Winona Daily News. He is always on the lookout for news tips and can be contacted at 608-791-8234.

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