Janesville company VNE Corp.'s territory covers all of the Americas

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Jim Leute
Monday, June 17, 2013

— Take a look at a wall map of the Neumo Ehrenberg Group's 26 worldwide operations, and it's difficult to understand how it hangs level on the wall.

Envision a vertical line through the Atlantic Ocean, and 25 of the companies are represented by dots on the right side of the map.

To the left is just one dot.

It represents VNE Corp., a Janesville company that's quietly manufactured high-end stainless steel fittings, valves and specialty products since 1980.

With products for both sanitary and industrial applications, VNE serves the dairy, food processing, beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, chemical and water treatment industries, among others.

As the lone dot on the left side of the ocean, VNE serves customers in the United States, Canada, Latin American and South America.

Its 51,000-square-foot plant on Barberry Drive employs 66 people in administration, sales, manufacturing, customer service and distribution.

As a German multinational, the family-owned Neumo Ehrenberg Group is one of the world's largest privately held manufacturers and distributors of stainless steel products and metal cutting tools. Employing more than 1,300 people, it has facilities in 11 countries and a distribution network in 40.

The group operates in three areas:

-- Stainless steel flow technology, which includes VNE.

-- Tooling products, which are marketed worldwide as Vargus. The products are manufactured in Israel and distributed in North America, South America and Central America by Vargus USA, a division of VNE in Janesville.

-- Stainless steel trading, a division that buys and sells raw stainless steel materials such as sheet, hollow bars, solid bars, tubing and pipes.

VNE started on Pearl Street in a building leased from Rath Manufacturing, the Janesville company that today is known as RathGibson.

More than 40 years later, the connection continues as VNE is RathGibson's largest U.S. distributor of stainless steel sanitary, industrial and high purity tubing.

VNE built its own plant on Barberry in 1991 and essentially doubled its size in 1995 to incorporate manufacturing. Two years later, it bought and connected to a neighboring building for the Vargus operation.

“Since I joined the company in 1989, we've had sales growth of 3,700 percent,” said Dan Larsen, VNE's chief executive officer. “That's 37 times what we were doing in 1989.”

Last year's sales set a record that the company hopes to top this year, Larsen said.

“Our No. 1 goal is customer service,” Larsen said, adding that a reputation for high quality, advanced manufacturing technology and an intense commitment to new product development are close behind.

“We concentrate really hard on how we can make it easier for our customers to do business with us. That's a credit to our employees, many who have been here a long time. Their dedication and hard work is what makes VNE successful.”

Along with the hard work comes a commitment to a fun family atmosphere, said Kim Woletz, the company's human resources and safety manager.

The company routinely stages cookouts for employees, celebrates most holidays in a fun way and engages in all the usual programs dedicated to employee wellness, she said.

“We're like a big family here,” she said. “We recognize that people have lives outside of these walls, and we work hard to accommodate their needs.”

Visitors to VNE's warehousing and manufacturing facility would be hard pressed to find a cleaner operation.

The floors and equipment are spotless, a nice complement to the millions of dollars worth of stainless steel products that gleam from inventory racks.

The same is true on the Vargus side of the house, where millions more in cutting tools await distribution on the left side of Neumo Ehrenberg's map.

Inventory rotates routinely, and—for now—VNE is content in its space.

The day could come, however, when the company needs to expand, and Larsen said the company has plenty of land if it's needed.

“We feel very good about our future,” he said. “People are always going to drink, eat and take their medicine, and we have a strong role to play in that.”

Last updated: 7:52 am Monday, July 29, 2013

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