City of Watertown completes first month of Business Retention and Expansion Program

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In photo: Jim Schuett, Plant Manager Symbol Mattress, Watertown Mayor Emily McFarland, Symbol Mattress employee, Watertown Development Coordinator Alex Allon.

Representatives from Symbol Mattress and ITW Shakeproof Industrial opened their doors to Watertown's Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) program this October. The businesses met with Mayor Emily McFarland's team to discuss their needs, find opportunities for collaboration, and tour their facilities.

The program's first visit was to Symbol Mattress, where plant manager Jim Schuett led Mayor McFarland, Development Coordinator Alex Allon, and Chamber of Commerce Director Bonnie Hertel through a bustling production floor. "As industry leaders, Jim and Symbol are always looking at new ways to support their team," Hertel said. "Having the City and the Chamber understand their commitment to their workers goes a long way toward developing opportunities for partnership."

That commitment includes starting wages over $16 per hour with perfect attendance bonuses reaching $19 per hour. Employees also have the option to acquire two mattress sets annually at cost. The company supplies high quality mattresses for big-name online retailers, through its bed-in-a-box technology. Workers at Symbol interface with this cutting-edge technology and operate industrial sewing machines and air-powered assembly tools. As the group saw on the tour, this all takes place in a safe, team-friendly environment.

At ITW Shakeproof Industrial, plant manager Curt Vogel and his team also embraced the opportunity to give a facility tour. "We were excited to give the City a boots-on-the-ground perspective of what we're all about," said Vogel. "Seeing our plant in action helps people understand the engaging careers we offer." The plant stayed open during the pandemic, helping supply the essential medical technologies giant Stryker, among other big-name companies. With their recent entry into the "Coolest thing made in Wisconsin" competition, ITW Shakeproof continued a legacy of technical innovation. In the 1940's, the company patented the world's first self-tapping screw.

Through training programs, industry leading benefits and meaningful, engaging work, ITW Shakeproof Industrial has prided itself in creating an environments where its workers develop decades long careers. "If we get you in the door, we're confident you're going to stay with the team," said Vogel. "We invest in our people and their families."

"In doing our BRE visits, we've come to realize that our businesses aren't just looking for employees to fill a vacancy, they are looking for valuable additions to their teams. And they invest in those teams with competitive pay, bonuses, education and other benefits," Mayor McFarland said. "Watertown's business community is emerging with choice employers because they don't just say they'll treat you like family, they actually do it. For anyone who is in the market for a new position, our business community is where you want to be."

The month of November will see the BRE program visit Kusel Equipment Co., manufacturer of stainless steel products and cheesemaking equipment, and Kone Cranes, a lift equipment manufacturer and servicer with international reach. For more information on the BRE program, the local business environment and featured monthly business videos, please visit the Business page on the City's website.

To request a business visit from the BRE program, please contact Development Coordinator, Alex Allon, at

Symbol Mattress and ITW Shakeproof Industrial are looking for ideal candidates to join their teams. For information on openings with Symbol in Watertown, please visit For information on openings with ITW Shakeproof Industrial, please visit