Rite-Hite Co. LLC

Rite-Hite Co. LLC

8900 N. Arbon Dr., Milwaukee

Industry: Dock lifts and safety systems, related industrial products

Employees: About 250 in Milwaukee, about 1,500 globally.


The products and systems designed and produced by Milwaukee-based Rite-Hite Co. LLC play a critical role in the movement of goods from manufacturing and warehousing operations around the world.

Rite-Hite’s best known products are its dock leveling systems. The company produces hydraulic, mechanical and air-powered leveling systems, which act like a movable bridge from the dock door to flatbeds or semi trailers.

“The size and shape (of dock levelers) is almost infinite,” said Walt Swietlik, director of customer relations and sales support. “They can range from small and basic to large and very complex.”

Rite-Hite’s dock leveling systems are used in a wide range of industries – from retail stores and municipal buildings that receive small to medium sized shipments on trucks, to large distribution centers that deal with over-the-road trucks and even overseas shipping containers.

“In more involved manufacturing operations and regional distribution centers, they’re very common,” Swietlik said.

Another of Rite-Hite’s products, its Dok-Lok series of products, helps secure tractor trailers to loading docks to prevent workplace accidents.

“It mounts to the front of the building and electromechanically restrains the trailer,” Swietlik said.

Rite-Hite also makes a wide range of products used throughout manufacturing and distribution facilities, including high-speed doors used in warehouses, manufacturing and retail outlets. Many of those doors open automatically, to accommodate fork truck traffic and can be customized for the medical, pharmaceutical, food and other industries.

The company makes a line of flexible dock doors, designed to withstand impacts from fork trucks. Traditional dock doors are made from aluminum and generally need replacement after they are run into several times.

Rite-Hite also makes a line of high-volume, low-speed fans, designed to ventilate and reduce heating and cooling costs in manufacturing and warehousing facilities. Some of the fans have blade diameters as large as 20 feet. Some customers have reported as much as 30 percent in reduction to their energy bills after installing the fans.

“That’s a growing market for us,” Swietlik said. “The market is still relatively small but there is a lot of opportunity moving forward.”

Rite-Hite, which is owned by the family of Mike White, who founded the company in 1965, has about 250 employees in the Milwaukee area and about 1,500 in its locations around the globe. The company has manufacturing facilities in Milwaukee, Iowa, Mississippi, Colorado, Michigan and Toronto in North America. It also has three manufacturing plants in Europe and one in China.

Like many manufacturing-based companies, Rite-Hite’s sales and revenues slumped in 2009. While Swietlik would not give specific financial information about Rite-Hite’s sales or revenues, he said the company is confident about its future prospects.

“There’s a bit of pent-up demand out there, and we’ve got innovative products that the market is excited about,” he said. “When capital spending gets up, we’re going to be ready to go.”

Late last year, Rite-Hite began producing high-speed doors for the pharmaceutical market and developed a new visual communications system that works with its Dok-Lok systems.

Although the company has several products under development it plans to introduce this year, Swietik declined to discuss them.

“With our innovations we spend a tremendous amount of time on the front end talking with our customers to find if there is a match or fit in some of our markets,” he said.

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