Road Widener leverages sales with export grant
Road Widener was founded in a two-car garage by a pair of road construction pros with a vision to make road building more productive and profitable. But to accomplish that dream, they needed to come up with innovative pieces of equipment that were reliable, efficient, safe, and profitable for contractors and dealers.
The compact Road Widener neatly disperses sand and gravel to create a shoulder along side new asphalt.
In 2007, the Delafield-based company brought its loader, grader, compact track loader, and skid steer attachments to market. Its primary product dispenses a stream of materials such as sand, topsoil, or asphalt to fix road shoulders or fill utility trenches. The company also makes an offset roller attachment that prevents tipping while compacting road shoulders.
“As a small contractor, this tool has helped me take on demanding jobs that no one else wanted to touch, and do it profitably, all with my small crew,” said Bryan Petersen, owner of Petersen Landscaping, one of the firm’s customers.
Growth follows innovation
Road Widener continued to tackle new challenges, coming up with a dual-discharge machine in 2016 designed to further boost productivity and, in 2017, developing a remote-control model that enables an operator to control the machine’s functions from the palm of their hand, increasing worker safety.
The company’s innovative approaches enabled it to secure patents in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Europe, and Mexico. Other foreign patents are pending. The popularity of Road Widener’s machines has allowed the firm to grow into a state-of-the-art fabrication facility in southeastern Wisconsin. Equipment manufacturing is outsourced to a company in southeastern Wisconsin, and the firm has plans for a second production facility in Minnesota.
Expanding into European markets
Road Widener company executives attended the bauma trade show in Germany.
To gain a foothold in Europe, Road Widener needed to find a way to get its 3,400-pound equipment to Munich, Germany, to participate in a trade show called bauma. The event is considered the world’s leading trade show for construction machinery, attracting more than 3,000 exhibitors from 60 nations and nearly 500,000 visitors in 2022.
But moving heavy equipment across the Atlantic Ocean carries substantial costs. So, the firm applied for and received an International Market Access Grant from WEDC. The $25,000 grant helped cover those shipping costs and gave Road Widener a chance to display its products to new customers from around the world.
“It allowed us to get international exposure for our equipment and also to get into European markets,” said Lynn Marsh, Road Widener’s president. “It eased the burden of the cost to make more sense for us.”
Road Widener’s trade show booth garnered a lot of interest, and the company left the machines with a European dealer to seek future sales. “It helped us to realize that ‘Made in America’ still means something,” Marsh said.