by Rich Rovito, WMEP Industry Reporter
Rich Meeusen has had a long career in manufacturing and has led the day-to-day operations at Badger Meter Inc., a Brown Deer-based maker of water meters and other flow measurement technology, since 2002.
As the leader of the publicly held company, Meeusen was well-known in certain circles. However, he took on a much more visible role in the community about six years ago when he helped launch an aggressive push to make southeast Wisconsin a water technology hub.
Meeusen, who will serve as keynote speaker for the Manufacturing Matters! conference at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee on Feb. 27, 2014, has spent countless hours serving as the water initiatives “evangelist,” as he likes to say. He is co-chairman of the Water Council, which is convening the region’s existing water companies and research clusters, developing education programs, and building partnerships that cut across all sectors in an effort to create a hub around water and tap into the estimated $483 billion global market.
In September, Meeusen spoke passionately at the opening ceremony for the Global Water Center, a $22 million, 98,000-square-foot, seven-story facility in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. The facility houses water-related research facilities, existing businesses with ties to the water industry, and accelerator space for emerging companies in the water business.
This marked a major milestone in the effort led by Meeusen, who insists that there are 150 water-related companies in the region. His goal, and the goal of the Water Council, has been to create a “Silicon Valley” of water technology in the Milwaukee area.
A native of West Allis, Meeusen is a lifelong resident of southeastern Wisconsin. He began his career as an accountant before becoming chief financial officer at Zenith Sintered Products, a Germantown manufacturer, where he worked for seven years before joining Badger Meter.
Known for speaking off the cuff, his candid comments on pertinent issues in business often attract widespread attention. He says he decided to take a vocal and committed role on the water initiative because he felt that the region lacked strong corporate and political leadership.