Iconic Brand NESCO Manufactured in Two Rivers

Richard Carey owner of The Metal Ware Corp. holding a NESCO in a store aisle

Beer-soaked brats, sliced ham, grilled hamburgers or chicken breasts are among the most popular menu items at virtually every family gathering, picnic or holiday celebration in America.

Just as we rely on a cooler to keep our drinks ice-cold, we need something to keep these favorite foods steaming warm. For many, a NESCO-branded appliance provides the solution. Lucky for us, they’re made right here in northeast Wisconsin.

Forty years ago, The Metal Ware Corp. based in Two Rivers acquired the iconic NESCO brand of appliances that included roaster ovens, slow cookers and electric pressure cookers.

Today, Metal Ware Corp. and its 124 employees continues its impressive manufacturing history under the ownership of Manitowoc native and attorney Richard Carey, who proudly carries on the legacy of the Drum family. Community First Credit Union is equally proud to be the primary financial for Carey and Metal Ware Corp., which he acquired in 2016.

Long History

NESCO stands for National Enameling and Stamping Company, which invented the original roaster oven in Milwaukee almost a century ago (1931). It quickly gained popularity as a convenient substitute to wood-burning stoves and was used to promote the use of electricity in rural homes.

Metal Ware’s history goes back earlier (started in 1920) as a copper and nickel-plated utensil company that soon became known as the world’s largest electric toy manufacturer with operational steam engines and ovens for children.

Ironically, Carey first tried to purchase Metal Ware in 2009, his fourth year as general counsel to the business. The acquisition never materialized as some Drum family stockholders were not ready to sell. But, the principal owner, Wes Drum, helped Carey form his own manufacturing company anyway.

Having grown up in Manitowoc, Carey had watched closely as some of the once thriving Lakeshore manufacturing economy (including West Bend, Mirro and others) transitioned overseas to take advantage of cheaper foreign labor and production costs.

The Marquette University and UW Law School graduate had always loved the idea of owning and operating his own manufacturing company. Carey, whose nickname was Chardy – a shortened version of his first name Richard, created Chard International, which found success in making game processing, kitchenware and outdoor cooking appliances such as grills and turkey or fish fryers.

Sustaining Family Legacy

By 2016, Wes Drum sought out Carey again because he wanted his father’s legacy to continue and he knew Carey was the right person for the job. Within a few months, they put together a “structured acquisition or merger” continuing the Metal Ware Corp. name.

Carey had Carey in front of The Metal Ware Corporationbeen doing some manufacturing overseas but due to changing business conditions he saw “a really nice opportunity” to shift to domestic production instead.

“Our product lines were complementary,” said Carey, who embraced the values that Wes had fostered since taking over the business from his father four decades earlier. “Wes lived for this idea that he created jobs and took care of families. He had an ethical obligation to those people and his family history. I liked the idea of a bigger purpose – a purpose that helped people. I’m a big believer in American manufacturing.”

Metal Ware Corp. continues to specialize in deep draw and metal stamping, rotational molding and injection molding in manufacturing the NESCO and Chard lines of kitchen and game processing appliances. Besides the long-standing Two Rivers facility, it has a distribution center in Manitowoc and another company in Amherst Junction called Magic Products, which produces worm bedding and bait carriers under the brand Worm Ranch.

Community Connection

Carey first became aware of Community First in 2017 when he and others sought to attract a hotel to the downtown Two Rivers lakefront. While working with the Cobblestone Hotel Group, he met Community First Business Lending VP Michael Vedder.

“Community First found a way for me to continue serving our community with good manufacturing jobs and opportunities,” Carey said. “Mike took a look at my debt structure and came up with an approach that allowed us to grow, to make more investments in equipment and investment in people.

“It was very easy to see that Community First had everything I was looking for: the culture, the focus on community and a willingness to work with the member,” Carey said. “It’s been fantastic.”

Community First Credit Union is proud to be part of Metal Ware Corp.’s journey of success. Backed with flexible financial products, creative, individualized solutions, and local market expertise, our Business Services Team is equipped to serve your company, non-profit organization, or municipality – no matter the size.

If you are looking for flexible financial products, creative, individualized solutions, and local market expertise, contact Community First’s Business Services Team. Our professional staff is well-equipped to serve your company, non-profit organization, or municipality with expert guidance as you pursue your dreams.

Contact our Business Services Team

Related Blogs