CEO - Head of Research and Development
Location: Racine County, WI
Industry: Material Handling
Edmund Brown vividly remembers the uncomfortable, hot and sweaty rubber suit he wore as a 19-year-old, power washing tires on vehicles at Octopus Car Wash. “I had the worst job in the place,” he said.
But he also remembers staying late to help clean the parking lot and picking up extra duties outside the scope of his job. His boss noticed and gave Brown more responsibilities. Eventually, Brown was in charge of the whole car wash operation when his boss needed a day off.
“What I learned from this is that the harder one works, the better chances of them getting ahead,” he said. “Additionally, I have always relied on the notion that you lead by example. You can never be too superior that you can’t get your hands dirty. Life and business are a team effort.”
Brown follows that mantra today in his role as CEO and head of research and development at the company he founded, Topper Industrial, in Racine County. Topper Industrial manufactures material handling equipment with an emphasis on delivery carts. The company is family-owned, with more than 20 years of experience creating lean material handling solutions for the supply chain. Topper Industrial’s mission is to design and build innovative, safe equipment that will make people’s jobs easier.
Brown graduated in 1971 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He launched Topper Industrial in 1994, initially intended to be a custom metal fabrication and weld shop. Brown leaned on his engineering background and creative nature, and by 1988 he shifted Topper Industrial to become an industrial cart manufacturer, leading the way in the material handling industry.
In the next five years, the company intends to build on its success investing in new equipment and growth to increase its efficiency and, at the same time, raise brand awareness.
Brown is a natural inventor, and he holds several patents from his years at Topper. He and his wife, Jan, have five children, and each one works at Topper, along with nearly 100 associates.
“As I look back on the career path and why I was able to stay successful, I am always eager to share that I believe that I have remained influential by being innovative,” Brown said. “I am proud that I have created a company that solves problems by being clever, original and inventive. Lastly, I would like to add that you are only as good as the products you produce. Topper Industrial will remain a leader as a material handling manufacturer by creating strong, reliable and innovative products.”
Ed Brown is a classic car collector. He has restored over 20 vehicles himself. He originally planned to be an automotive mechanic. He owns a farm in Wisconsin with 30+ acres. He has three horses. His favorite, an Arabian that he has had with his wife for 30 years. Ed is a proud Texaco enthusiast. He has turned one of his exterior buildings into a Texaco of his own.