Made in the Tri-States: Local entrepreneur finds niche with Platteville business

Brett Belscamper (right) bends tubing at 4x Innovations in Platteville, Wis., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: NICKI KOHL

Through the years, an odd parallel has emerged between Adam Wiegmann and the products he creates — they thrive by going off the beaten path.

A little more than a decade ago, Wiegmann started working on off-road vehicles in his parents’ driveway. From the beginning, the work fascinated him.

“I have always been a tinkerer,” he said. “Going all the way back to high school, I have always been interested in building and fixing things.”

Through the years, the Platteville, Wis., native has built his one-man enterprise into a budding business with a robust footprint and growing workforce.

4x Innovations creates items that fortify vehicles for their off-roading adventures. Largely through word-of-mouth, the business has continued to grow at a rapid clip.

Today, the products are shipped throughout the U.S. But despite this extensive reach, Wiegmann continues to have an impact on the local economy.

DEVELOPING A NICHE

Wiegmann has built up a strong client base by meeting a specific need.

Kate Koziol, executive director of Platteville Business Incubator, said she has been impressed by Wiegmann’s ability to identify, and home in on, a specific market.

“I think Adam picked a very interesting niche need, that after-market body armor offering for Toyotas,” she said. “He picked a lane that is not overly crowded and has done great things with it.”

4x Innovations has called Platteville Business Incubator, located at 52 Means Drive, home for almost a full decade.

But while the term “incubator” might suggest a fledgling operation, Wiegmann’s business has made considerable strides in the past 10 years.

It has expanded its footprint on multiple occasions and now occupies a 1,500-square-foot space in the property. The operation is experiencing about 20 to 25 percent growth year over year.

“I think part of it is just that the economy is good right now. People have more discretionary income,” Wiegmann said. “Another reason is the off-road market is growing. People from the big cities want to get out. They want to go camping and exploring.”

The consistent growth has necessitated new hiring at 4x Innovations.

In the early years of the business, Wiegmann’s only help came in the form of some part-time workers. Today, he has three employees, including one he hired last year and another that was brought into the fold last month.

He said it is “quite possible” he will expand the workforce in the future.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH

Wiegmann creates a wide variety of parts for off-road trucks, with his products specifically geared toward Toyota vehicles.

Within his Platteville business, he makes front and rear bumpers, skid plates, roll cages and rock sliders. These products are aimed at improving the performance and safety of a vehicle when it is taken into an off-roading environment.

Wiegmann, who possesses an engineering degree, designs and constructs the parts that he sells. He takes pride in doing the vast majority of the work in-house, including the bending, fitting and welding.

The success of the business is intricately tied to the quality of its products, Wiegmann emphasized.

“It really is just about paying attention to the details, the design and the assembly, and making sure the parts fit right to start with,” he said. “It’s about making sure the welding is of high quality.”

The perfectionism demonstrated at 4x Innovations has captured the attention of local economic leaders.

“Adam is a consummate innovator in that he pushes the cutting edge when it comes to designing his product to his customer’s needs,” said Ela Kakde, executive director of Platteville Area Industrial Development Corp.

Kakde said Wiegmann’s innovation includes his use of new technology. She noted that “4X embraced using robotics pretty early on relative to other businesses in southwest Wisconsin.”

Wiegmann said he has used a robotic welder for two years.

LOCAL IMPACT

4x Innovations has developed a national following while making a local impact.

Kakde said Wiegmann has turned to others in the local business community for guidance.

“As he ramped up, he built the local relationships that enabled him to get the resources to start growing as his business began to take off,” she said.

She also emphasized that Wiegmann is an “avid supporter” of Manufacturing Month in Platteville, during which local students have toured 4x Innovations to learn about manufacturing and engineering opportunities.

Wiegmann also continues to expand his reach to a wide range of customers.

“We have almost no local customer base,” he said. “We ship just about everything we build.”

The company’s wide range and continued growth have made believers out of many observers, including Koziol.

“I see a super bright future for 4x Innovations,” she said. “(Wiegmann) is so smart and thoughtful in the choices he makes. I really think the sky is the limit.”