9586 58th Place, Kenosha
Revenue: $40 million
Michael Kopper believes in the power of opportunity. A European company that he worked for had him move from his home country of Germany to the United States in his early 20s. He did not waver when the company failed. Instead, Kopper started his own company, eventually building a $40 million business.
Kopper is the president of Kenosha-based Centrisys Corp. The company provides centrifuge equipment and services to municipalities and manufacturers with various dewatering needs, including the wastewater, tunneling, mining, food processing, oil, gas and chemical industries. The firm also aids clients in research and development efforts.
"We consider ourselves process experts. Our customers come to us to help them solve problems," Kopper said. "We believe what we offer is the best equipment in business for dewatering almost all applications. If it isn't, we work to optimize it so that it is."
Kopper has worked around centrifuges since the age of 14, but he didn't begin designing and manufacturing the systems until after he started his business. It proved to be a lucrative stepping stone for the young company.
"Most of our competition (are) very large European conglomerates. We are one of the few who manufacture in the USA, and the only one that manufacturers in the USA for municipal wastewater," Kopper said. "I don't think I could have created this company in Germany. In many ways the USA is the land of opportunity. I hope that doesn't change."
With 80 employees, Kopper says the company still has a start-up feel, allowing the firm to concentrate on innovation within the industry and build close relationships with clients and employees.