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Family-owned Manitowoc company incorporates sustainability into new facility

Dramm Corp. unveils new headquarters, production facility for making greenhouse, gardening supplies

Dramm Corporation unveiled its new headquarters in Manitowoc recently.
Dramm Corp., which produces equipment for greenhouses and home gardens, recently unveiled its new corporate headquarters and production facility in Manitowoc, Wis. in December 2022. Photo courtesy of Dramm Corp.

A small, family-owned company in northeast Wisconsin had sustainability in mind when it finalized an expansion last month.

Dramm Corp. in Manitowoc recently opened its new headquarters and production facility. The company has about 100 employees, and produces equipment, fertilizers and water treatment systems for professional greenhouses and home gardeners.

The new building’s frame was made using 74 percent recycled materials, and the structure can be completely recycled at the end of its life. Carpeting used in the new facility has no carbon footprint, and is made from recycled fibers.

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The new 98,000 square-foot building also features more than 200 solar panels, which saves 90 percent of Dramm’s annual energy costs, and multiple electric vehicle charging stations. Additionally, the facility was designed to allow for natural light to decrease the amount of electric lighting used during the day.

Heidi Dramm Becker, a co-owner of Dramm Corp., said the company’s focus on being environmentally-minded stems from the values her parents and grandparents instilled.

“We need nature as resources to live, but at the same time, we can’t just deplete it,” she said. “So anything we can do to offset it or use less of it, I think it’s our responsibility.”

At the same time, Hans Dramm, a co-owner of Dramm Corp., said the company had to be realistic about the sustainability measures it could incorporate into the new facility.

“We’re still a business; we have to take care of the long-run perspective of the business — our employees and everything that goes along with running a business,” he said. “But, where we could, we certainly wanted to look to the future and look to underpinning our values.”

Dramm Corp.’s expansion effort began about four years ago when it outgrew its previous location in Manitowoc, Dramm said.

“We physically grew until we couldn’t grow anymore,” he said.

After working with the city, company officials identified a property in the Manitowoc Industrial Park, Dramm said.

“We weighed all the options and this, we found, to be the best, and it’s also great exposure with the interstate,” he said.

Throughout the process, the co-owners said it was important to them to keep the business in Manitowoc, where it began in the 1940s under the ownership of their grandfather, John G. Dramm.

Dramm Corp. ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Dramm Corp. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, Dec. 16, 2022 to celebrate the completion of its new corporate headquarters and production facility in Manitowoc, Wis. Photo courtesy of Dramm Corp.

“We want to stay here and continue the business,” Dramm said. “We’ve always had slow, steady organic growth. We’re not trying to expand rapidly. Who knows what the future may hold, but we’d like to keep the focus here and stay rooted in the community.”

Beyond the new headquarters and production facility, Dramm Corp. plans to begin construction on a 2,400 square-foot research greenhouse later this year.

Dramm Becker said the research greenhouse will be used to experiment with different fertilizers, gardening tools and other products.

“It’ll be used very practically to try all of our tools,” she said. “If we are a manufacturer of garden tools, really, we should have a greenhouse, so we can be trying them all the time. And it’ll be fun too because then we can grow all kinds of beautiful flowers for the summer.”

Now that the expansion is completed, Dramm said the company plans to return its focus to the core of the business and serving customers.

“It feels like a great relief now that we’re finally through this project,” he said. “It required a lot of attention. It was almost like having two jobs.”