A business relationship that began more than 40 years ago has grown to benefit both UW–Madison students and Brown County’s economy.
The university began doing business with KI, the Green Bay–based manufacturer of contract furniture solutions in the 1970s. Since then, KI has provided custom walls, chairs, classroom products, library storage systems, and workstations for some of the largest projects on campus.
KI’s products are featured in the Schools of Education and Human Ecology, the Wisconsin School of Business, the College of Engineering, the Discovery Building, and in newer residence halls such as Ogg, Dejope, and Smith.
“UW–Madison is a great partner,” says Joe Burkard, vice president of corporate communications at KI. “Because it’s so close, we have an opportunity to go there to do observational research about how our products are used.”
“We want to give back to help students take full advantage of UW–Madison.”
That’s important for KI because its largest market is the educational sector. Contract magazine recently named it the nation’s number one furniture supplier to colleges and universities.
For its part, KI wants to help UW–Madison students succeed. The Krueger International Undergraduate Student Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance for engineering and human ecology students.
“We want to give back to help students take full advantage of UW–Madison,” Burkard says. “Recently, an engineering student wrote to thank us because he wouldn’t have been able to go to Madison otherwise. It’s very humbling and satisfying to do that.”
Since moving to Green Bay from Illinois in 1945, the firm has grown to employ 3,000 people globally and achieve sales of about $700 million a year. It has 350 employees in Green Bay, 200 in nearby Bonduel, and 250 in Manitowoc County.
KI has supported a variety of health and wellness, youth, and animal-welfare programs. In Green Bay, KI and its CEO, Dick Resch, are responsible for such community landmarks as the KI Convention Center, the Resch Center arena, the Resch Trail, and the Aquatic Center.
“Philanthropy is important to us. It’s the right thing to do,” says Burkard.