88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Milwaukee Icon: Carmex

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

This month on In The Wings, our topic is Milwaukee Icons.

And it doesn’t get much more iconic than a product produced in Milwaukee County, distributed around the world and used by millions of people.

 

Carma Labs, maker of Carmex, was founded in Milwaukee more than 80 years ago.

The lip balm company has since moved to Franklin, but 100 percent of its operation is still based at its local headquarters.

The company is family owned — third generation — and employs about 100 people.

 

And because it’s a family company, it does things a little differently.

Inside the distribution center, owner and music enthusiast Paul Woelbing uses his downtime to dig into a personal passion project.

He painstakingly built a custom pipe organ — complete with dozens of pipes, a percussion section, a xylophone and sleigh bells — and is constantly adding onto it.

It takes up two floors and fills the room with sound.  The company hosts Christmas parties showcasing music from the pipe organ, and puts out a CD every year.

Woelbing is also an avid motorcycle collector, and keeps much of his collection inside his office.

Watch him flip the switch on the organ in the video below, and get a tour of the Carmex factory.

For the companion audio story, click the player below.

Our series of “Milwaukee Icons” continues with well-known Riverwest dance club, Mad Planet.

Keep checking back for more as we close out the year.