Explore the history of Badger Corrugating Company from its start in 1903, key milestones and exciting evolution.
Badger Steel Roofing & Corrugating Company is Founded!
Badger Company founded October 3, 1903 by Gust Sexauer and his wife Anna who had convened the idea of undertaking a new venture in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Gust Sexauer had been a traveling salesman and was aware of many items that could be manufactured to benefit farmers, roofers and other businesses. The husband and wife team named the company Badger Steel Roofing and Corrugating Company. The company started off as a fabricator of metal building products such as ventilators, stock tanks, and a variety of products for the heating and metal building trades. These products where distributed through lumber dealers and sheet metal shops. The firm had a very humble beginning with the first plant being located at 730 North 3rd Street in the Old Zeisler brink dance hall with a total of only 1,600 sq ft.
Badger Corrugating soon outgrew its birthplace and in 1905 moved to the old washing machine factory located at 7th and La Crosse Street. During the first several years, practically all our materials were made by hand. By moving to the La Crosse Street location we were able to mechanize by installing a toggle press, power punch presses, corrugating rolls, angle rolls, etc. Within a short time this building became inadequate.
In 1908, Badger Corrugating purchased the warehouse located at 214-216 South 2nd Street, located directly across from the CB&Q passenger depot. This was a two story stone and brick building with railroad access at the front and rear. At first we were lost in this large warehouse but within a few years we added a 3rd floor to this location.
By 1919, we soon found ourselves cramped for space again, and purchased the Old Vote Berger Company plant and 15 acres of land bounded on the west by 12th Street, on the east by 16th Street, on the south Travis Street and the north Green Bay Street. We spent a lot of time and money on this facility installing a 24’ retaining wall, filled in four feet of ground to bring the floor level with the freight car doors, this also meant the roof had to be raised 4’. We then built our office on the second floor in the northwest corner this gave good light and air on all 4 sides. As we have expanded, we still cover this space to date with our current corporate offices, warehouse, showroom and sales desk.
Badger patented Cupulas and Water Tanks.
Badgers first Truck Wilcox flatbed.
In 1917, Clarence B. Sexauer, son of Gust and Anna came to work for the company. He learned the business from the ground up, beginning in the shop. In 1944, Mr. Gust Sexauer passed away and Clarence B. Sexauer became President.
Robert Sexauer had been with the company since 1940, he departed during the 1940’s to serve 3 ½ years in the Navy throughout World War II, then returning to Badger Corrugating. In 1967, Robert Sexauer grandson of Gust Sexauer bought controlling interest in the company and became the new President, with his wife Mary by his side as the company’s treasurer. Over the next few years Robert purchased all outstanding stocks to become sole owner. During his term all but one of his eight children worked in the company. His daughters Cathy and Barb in the accounting department, headed up by their brother Don. His sons Ed, Art and Charles worked on the floor in the warehouse. Mike ran operations from 1972 – 1985, prior to that, working in manufacturing and making deliveries. With Robert at the helm the company departed from the metal manufacturing side of the business and started to grow into the modern Badger Corrugating Company. Distributing a wide variety of residential and commercial building supplies by adding four times the amount of trucks to the delivery fleet and increasing the building material offerings.
Robert sold the company to his three sons Mike Sexauer, Art Sexauer and Charles Sexauer. Mike embraced his new role as President in 1985. Mike started working at the company in 1965 in manufacturing while still in high school. He joined the Marine Corp in 1967, after his tour in Vietnam ended in 1969, Mike was rearing and ready to return to help grow the family business. Starting back in the warehouse, Mike then moved to shipping and delivery; in 1972 took over as operations manager. Art Sexauer was head of inside sales and Charles Sexauer ran the commercial roofing department. As president Mike set out to put his own stamp on the business by diversifying the company product mix - prefinished millwork, windows, roofing and insulation just to name a few.
In 1990, Badger Corrugating Company entered the lumber market and added a complete line of lumber and sheet goods, this was a major juncture for the company at the time. Lumber became just a portion of the more than 4,000 products Badger offered. Along with lumber, in 1990, Badger also added cabinets to the product mix, this lead into the opening of the 1800 Showplace in 1991. The 1800 Showplace was created for dealers and builders to show products to their customers. The showroom displayed, specialty products such as windows, cabinetry, doors and fireplaces. Today the Showroom known as Badger Showroom has expanded and displays our full line of building materials.
Built first lumber warehouse located at 1802 West Avenue South located directly across from the corporate headquarters site at 1801 West Avenue South which covers an entire city block.
Badger Corrugating started the Interior Millwork Division located in the 1801 Facility.
Badger added a new millwork location to the many Badger facilities, the millwork production and sales office located at 944 and 1012 Green Bay Street. These facilities’ were acquired from Riverfront and Northern Supply Co.
Celebrated 100 Years.
Badger continues its expansion down Green Bay Street to the corner of Green Bay and 13th Street. In 2006 Badger built an additional warehouse known as the Interstate Building to house lumber and other building materials.
In 2013, Badger Celebrated 110 Years in business, along with the fifth generation of Sexauers. Mike’s children Jeff Sexauer and Melissa Sexauer-Mlsna are active in the business as is Melissa’s husband, Brian Mlsna. In 2013, work was completed on a 16,646 sq ft addition to the Millwork Division to provide a covered loading and staging area for pre-finished wood doors, cabinets, stair parts and trim. On December 18th, 2013 Mike Sexauer current President/CEO, along with his family members announces to their almost 200 Employees Badger Corrugating Company is now an ESOP. Badger’s employees now have a 40% stock ownership in the Company, ESOP standing for Employee Stock Ownership Program.
Today Badger is a full-line distributor of lumber, interior and exterior millwork, cabinets, flooring, windows, garage doors, roofing, agricultural products and a variety of other products to suit residential and commercial projects. Badger has its own fleet of trucks to meet any special delivery needs along with scheduled route trucks to ensure products are delivered on time and in Badger quality condition to the tri-state area.
Badger Corrugating Company is still led by the Sexauer Family in its fourth generation, the values remain the same since its beginning in 1903. The company has made it through many recessions, hard times while other businesses where being sold out to strangers or closing their doors – it’s nice to know that you can count on Badger to be here year-after-year.