Longtime Dubuque manufacturer eyes $5 million expansion, new hires

A Dubuque manufacturer with a rich local history plans to invest over $5 million in a new facility and hire at least 10 new workers.

Giese Manufacturing aims to construct a 30,000 square-foot facility on a vacant piece of land in Dubuque Industrial Center West, across Innovation Drive from a facility currently utilized by the company.

President Charlie Giese said this new structure would house a powder-coating paint line that currently resides in the Giese Manufacturing building at 7025 Chavenelle Road. When the new facility is completed, Giese Manufacturing will repurpose the space currently used for powder-coating operations and continue to utilize the old facility, he explained.

“The goal is to break ground in a month,” Giese said. “It might be five to six months (until it is completed), but as soon as we get a roof on, we will start installing the paint line. It is going to be state of the art with the newest technology.”

The construction of the new facility would allow Giese Manufacturing to add at least 10 employees, with five or six being added to the ranks upon completion of the structure and more workers added to the mix within the next year or two afterward. Giese Manufacturing currently employs about 60 during its busiest times of the year.

The roots of the Giese family’s Dubuque operations extend back nearly a century. The business was founded by Charlie’s grandfather, Edwin Giese, in 1923.

Today more than 100 employees work under the umbrella of multiple Giese-owned entities in Dubuque, which includes the manufacturing operation as well as businesses specifically dedicated to roofing, sheet metal and lighting.

Dan McDonald, vice president of existing business for Greater Dubuque Development Corp., applauded Giese’s plans for growth.

“They are a poster child for the multi-generational, family-owned businesses that make Dubuque strong,” he said. “These businesses are the secret weapon to the success of our economy.”

He said that the company’s influence is particularly striking when considered in the context of Dubuque Industrial Center West.

“They are the first private business to build in the industrial center and, since that time, this represents the fifth major investment for the company in Dubuque Industrial Center West,” McDonald said.

Items related to Giese Manufacturing’s upcoming project were included in the Dubuque City Council meeting agenda for Monday, March 15, which was distributed to members on Friday.

Council members will vote on whether to set an April 19 public hearing for an amendment to the urban renewal plan for the Dubuque Industrial Center Economic Development District. In short, such an amendment would make the project eligible for tax-increment financing benefits. Through such an arrangement, taxes based on the incremental increases to the property taxes at the facility would be rebated to the company.

Actions on Monday’s agenda represent the first of multiple steps needed to finalize an agreement between the city and the company.

Dubuque Economic Development Director Jill Connors expressed excitement about the prospect of Giese Manufacturing’s continued growth.

“Anytime a local business can expand, that is good for Dubuque,” Connors said.

In addition to providing powder-coating services for its own customers, Giese’s new line will allow the company to accept work from other entities that are outsourcing these services.

Giese expressed optimism about the general trajectory of the economy and, specifically, the volume of orders that Giese Manufacturing would see in the months and years ahead.

“During the past year, a number of major projects have been put on hold,” he said. “It’s not like a restaurant, where the customers you lose on a given night are gone forever. The work is still there — it’s just backed up. When more people get vaccinated and things get back to normal, I don’t think there will be any problem getting work.”