More Unanswered Kipp Questions: Was KLS Lubriquip at the Goodman site in the Past?

More Unanswered Kipp Questions: Was KLS Lubriquip at the Goodman site in the Past?

Madison-Kipp Corporation originated as Kipp Lubricator Company in 1898. Kipp’s lubricator operations were later called Kipp Lubricator Systems (KLS), KLS International, or KLS Lubriquip at different times. The lubricator division at the Madison facility, also at times known as the “Products Division,” was separate from the Die Cast Division, called Kippcast. In 1989, Kipp sold KLS to Illinois-based IDEX Corporation, but operations stayed in Madison for some time afterwards. Former Kipp employees recall that the company kept the same name and employees. [1]

Where did KLS Lubriquip operate before and after Kipp sold the division to IDEX? According to the 2012 class action lawsuit deposition (see pg. 33-36, pg. 9 of the PDF) of Kipp’s former employee Jim Lenz, who worked at the factory from 1980 to 2011, Kipp’s Lubricator Division operated out of 201 Waubesa Street plant, while the Die Cast Division operated out of the Atwood building. He said the Lubricator Division was called Lubriquip around 1983-84, but also that Kipp changed the names of both the die casting and lubricator divisions “several times.” Mr. Lenz claims that “the two divisions didn’t talk to each other,” but in 1983 or 1984 the Die Cast Division gave the Lubricator Division (Lubriquip) the PCE vapor degreaser, which they used till they “moved out of the building.” He said he did not know how long Lubriquip used the vapor degreaser after that, and it’s not clear when the division left the building.[2]

Where did KLS Lubriquip go after this? Did the company take the PCE vapor degreaser with them? Presumably so. Though KLS Lubriquip eventually operated from a facility at 2041 Stoughton Road [3], there is some evidence that they may have operated and/or stored materials closer to the Waubesa Kipp facility for some time at the former Kupfer Ironworks property at 149 Waubesa Street, currently the Goodman Community Center.[4] 

Evidence that KLS Lubriquip may have been at the Goodman Community Center Site:

The 2002 Kipp Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment by Robert Nauta of URS consulting lists KLS Lubrication Systems in the RCRA Generators List (pg. 5-3) at 149 Waubesa Street, the site of the current Goodman Community Center. Later in the document, the “Map Findings” database section (pg. 21-22), KLS Lubrication Systems, owned by Lubriquip, Inc., is listed at 149 Waubesa Street. The “record date” associated with Lubriquip is 1980 and the “contact” is William Clapp. Under “other pertinent activity identified at site” (RCRA Information System), with “activity name,” Durline Scales is listed. The “impact” listed is “soil contamination,” with a notification date of June 16, 1987 and closing date of June 29, 1987. The “responsible party” is not reported, nor are any other details about the spill.[5] DNR’s Mike Schmoller is the contact listed, since he was the project manager for the site at the time.

In Kipp’s 2006 Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment, written by the same consultant under a different company name (RSV Engineering), 149 Waubesa Street is not listed in tables included in the front section of the report. However, in the “Map Findings” database section of the report, on pg. 33, the owner listed with 149 Waubesa Street is Lubriquip Inc., classified as a “small quantity generator,” and again with the contact name William Clapp. KLS International is no longer listed. Under “other pertinent environmental activity identified at site,” the Atwood Community Center is listed under “activity name” (since they owned the building by that time) and the soil contamination incident in 1987 is also listed. Details about the spill are all “not reported” and no “responsible party” is listed. Mike Schmoller was also the DNR contact at that time.

Strangely, the 2010 Kipp Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment [6] again written by Robert Nauta, now with his own consulting firm (RJN) lacks any mention of KLS International or Lubriquip, though 149 Waubesa Street and/or Kupfer Ironworks are listed in some tables. This report is notably scant and lacking critical and well-documented information about the Kipp property that is highly relevant to the site investigations and risk assessments.[7]

Did KLS Lubriquip—owned by Kipp or another entity—operate or store something at 149 Waubesa Street? Or were these connections between KLS Lubriquip and 149 Waubesa Street database errors or typos? If KLS Lubriquip was at the site–for how long, and what did the company do there?

We emailed Mike Schmoller and his supervisor Linda Hanefeld at the DNR with these questions. Here is the response we received from Ms Hanefeld:

Without doing a complete file review and looking for this information (our records are available for your review), we do not recall having any documentation regarding KLS International and/or Lubriquip operating at the Goodman Center so we are not in a position to answer your question.”

Hmmm. Mr. Schmoller’s name is listed as the contact for both the 2002 and 2006 ESA document listings for KLS Lubriquip because he was the DNR site manager for the 149 Waubesa Street site when it was Kupfer and Durline. He is still the site manager for the Goodman Community Center site. Notes in his handwriting, on the first page of DNR’s 1984-2006 Kipp waste manifest records, printed in 2012 (so the notes were likely written that year), mention KLS and suggest that KLS used PCE from 1984 to 1987 (presumably while still at 201 Waubesa, but that’s not clear).[8]

So does Mr. Schmoller really not recall anything about whether or not KLS Lubriquip was at the Goodman site after they moved out of the Waubesa Street building, and if they were there, what they did and for how long? Or, is he unwilling—or not being allowed by his superiors at the DNR—to share his knowledge of this with us?

Since the DNR won’t answer our questions, we are back to a familiar place—asking you, citizens out there, for your insights:

Does anyone who was around the east side in the 1980s and 1990s recall anything about KLS or Lubriquip being at 149 Waubesa Street, at the Kupfer or Durline buildings or properties?

-What might have prompted Kipp to give its vapor degreaser to KLS Lubriquip in 1983 or 1984 (if we can assume Jim Lenz’ account is accurate), then shortly thereafter move out of the building, and then sell the company?

Please share your insights! Write to




[1] Because the company changed its name several times, and was owned by different entities, for simplicity we are going to refer to it mostly as “KLS Lubriquip” unless records we reviewed used a particular name.

[2] The assertion that the Lubricator and Die Cast Divisions “didn’t talk to each other” is difficult to believe, given they were in the same facility, doing related work, for the same company.

[3] Where it operated till 2006 when it was bought by Graco.

[4] Long-time Kipp neighborhood residents recall Kipp storing containers of unknown materials (perhaps wastes?) on the 149 property during the 1980s and/or 1990s.

[5] In 1987, Kupfer Ironworks was no longer in business at the site (the company closed in 1985), and Durline didn’t buy the property till 1990.

[6] For some reason, the 2010 Phase 1 ESA is hidden in Appendix B of a 2012 report by Kipp’s current consultants, Arcadis. The actual Appendix is not on this link (see above for link to Appendix).

[7] These significant gaps are troubling, given that Mr. Nauta had worked for Kipp since the 1990s, so he was extremely familiar with the site.

[8] If Kipp stopped using PCE in 1987, why were they still shipping PCE out as wastes through 2006? Was this PCE they had sitting around in storage after they stopped using it? Or….???

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