Made in Wisconsin: Hometown Trolley - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

Made in Wisconsin: Hometown Trolley

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CRANDON (WAOW) -- Tucked away in Crandon, Wisconsin is the second oldest maker of trolley busses in the United States.

For 33 years, Hometown Trolleys have rolled on streets across the world.  The business moved to Crandon in 1992. Since then, it's become a major contender in the transit market.

They're one of only four companies in the United States manufacturing trackless trolleys to be driven on city streets.

And owner, Kristina Dunow says the business is gaining speed. Right now, three Hometown Trolleys chug off the assembly line every month.

"We're bursting at the seams in this building," Dunow says. "So, we're looking at expanding into a different building so we can do more than the three a month.  Our sales are there to get more of the market."

Two trolley models are made in Crandon, but later this year two more models will be released; the Streetcar and the Carriage.  The Streetcar will drive Hometown Trolleys into the future with a hybrid option.

"You have to keep up with the competitions and the demands in the market.  Green technology is the future of transportation so we're trying to get on that wave as it's going," Dunow said.

The company employs twenty workers, most of them, like Jerod Ackley, are from Crandon.  He's lived there all his life but never heard about the company until applying for the job.

"I didn't really know about the place until I saw an ad in the paper, " Ackley says.  "I've seen one, once in a great while, but I never thought I'd be working here."

Ackley helps assemble the final pieces of the trolley, like the seats and speakers. His favorite part is seeing the final product before it leaves the station.

"Just knowing that when we're done with it, it's going somewhere and somebody's going to use it," Ackley adds.

Millions of people ride on Hometown Trolleys.  They're in many US states, as well as Canada, South America and Puerto Rico.

And Dunow said that's something to toot her whistle about.

"We're really proud of it. I'm really proud of all the work that our small group here does to build a trolley like this that millions of people will ride on. I'm not even sure the employees realize how much pride they should take in their work. People are going in and out of these trolleys by volume and looking at their handcrafted woodworking or metal work and the brass. It's all done right here."

Online Reporter: Cami Mountain

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