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Regional banks report flat quarterly results
October 22, 2014 11:48 AM
Three regional banks with a strong Milwaukee market presence have reported flat or slightly lower net income in their third quarter earnings reports.

Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group Inc., parent company of PNC Bank, reported third quarter net income of $1 billion, or $1.79 per share, compared to $1 billion, or $1.77 per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

“In the third quarter, PNC continued to deliver solid performance in a challenging revenue environment by executing on our strategic priorities,” said William Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “We added customers, grew deposits, and increased fee income and capital. We also effectively managed expenses even as we made targeted investments in our businesses and technology. Looking ahead, balance sheet discipline should continue to differentiate PNC and help to drive long-term shareholder value.”

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, parent company of U.S. Bank, today reported third quarter net income of $1.5 billion, or 78 cents per share, compared to $1.5 billion, or 76 cents per share, in the same period last year.

“U.S. Bank delivered another solid performance in the third quarter with $1.5 billion of net income, or 78 cents per diluted common share,” said Richard Davis, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Our ability to provide customers and clients with a diverse array of banking products and services while addressing their distinct financial objectives, in any economic environment, allows us to continue generating an industry-leading financial performance. Our return on average common equity, return on average assets, and efficiency ratio metrics remain among the strongest in the industry. Our consistently solid financial performance is a result of our adhering closely to the core fundamentals of controlling expenses, managing capital prudently, selectively investing in initiatives that generate steady long-term growth, and expanding existing customer relationships. That was certainly the case in the third quarter as our disciplined approach returned positive operating leverage and the diversification of our business profile allowed us to maintain our momentum as the economy slowly rebounds.”

And Chicago-based Northern Trust Corp. today reported third quarter net income of $204.5 million, or 84 cents per share, down slightly from $206.5 million, or 84 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

“Our financial performance in the third quarter of 2014 reflects continued growth in our business serving personal and institutional clients,” said Frederick Waddell, chairman and CEO. “Trust, investment and other servicing fees, which represent two-thirds of our revenue, increased 11 percent compared to last year. New business and higher equity markets contributed to strong growth in assets under custody and under management, which increased 13 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Our pre-tax profit margin improved to 28.2 percent in the quarter and our return on equity was 10.1 percent. This performance reflects ongoing efforts focused on growing our client franchise while achieving sustainable improvements in productivity.”

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Chase Tower is for sale
October 22, 2014 11:51 AM
The Chase Tower, a 22-story office building at 111 E. Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Milwaukee, is for sale, according to numerous commercial real estate sources.

Read more in today’s Real Estate Weekly.

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I/O Technologies moves to larger space
October 22, 2014 11:54 AM
Germantown-based I/O Technologies has moved to a larger location and is expanding its staff to meet customer demand.

The custom software developer moved from a 900-square-foot space at W157N11647 Fond du Lac Ave. in Germantown to a 1,400-square-foot space at N116-W15830 Main St., Suite 101, also in Germantown.

The company, which currently has six employees, plans to add another one to two employees over the next 18 months, said Jeanie Martin, president and owner.

“No one likes the work of moving, but we’re doing so with a smile because our company’s growth is driving the need for additional space,” Martin said. “We thank our great customers who rely on us for custom software solutions, and our business partners who have been with us every step of the way.”

I/O, which was founded in 1994, offers tailored software that aims to simplify day-to-day business activities, affording better decision-making and lower operating costs.

The Germantown and Brookfield chambers of commerce, both of which I/O belongs to, will hold a ribbon cutting on Oct. 28 to celebrate the new headquarters.

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Marketplace Governor’s Awards finalists announced
October 22, 2014 11:52 AM
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has named 18 finalists for the 2014 Marketplace Governor’s Awards, including 10 Milwaukee-area companies.

The Marketplace Governor’s Awards recognize minority, women and service-disabled veteran business owners across the state. The finalists were chosen from among 200 applicants.

An awards luncheon will be held on Thursday at Marketplace 2014, the Governor’s Conference on Minority Business Development, at the Potawatomi Expo Center in Milwaukee.

Small and large business winners will be announced in two categories: “The Outstanding Business Award” for established businesses that have demonstrated the capacity to grow over the past five years and have plans for further expansion; and “The Rising Star Award” for businesses established after 2010 that have demonstrated strong growth potential.

The local companies in the Outstanding Large Business Award category are: Able Access Transportation LLC of Milwaukee, Fusion Integrated Solutions of Milwaukee and Insulation Technologies Inc. of Milwaukee. In the Outstanding Small Business Award category are: Advance Lawn Service Company LLC of Hartford, Clean Rite Supply Inc. of Brookfield, P3 Development Group LLC of Milwaukee and The Quest Co. of Waukesha. And the local Rising Star Award finalists are: Middleton Construction Consulting LLC of Milwaukee, ScopeBridge LLC of Milwaukee and USA Mobile Drug Testing of South Milwaukee.

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Seeger gives candid insight to young professionals
October 22, 2014 11:56 AM
Debbie Seeger, senior vice president and co-founder of Brookfield-based Patina Solutions, offered five pieces of uncensored career advice to young professionals at the 2014 BizTimes Get Smarter Talent Development Conference.

Among Seeger’s tips: Make your work your passion if you’re not lucky enough to find your passion and make it your work.

Seeger was one of 10 local business leaders who shared their wisdom at the career boot camp last week. A video of one leader’s speech will be released each day.

View a video of Seeger’s speech here.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Don’t let conflicting goals bring you down
October 22, 2014 11:58 AM
Recently a high school cross-country runner from Devils Lake, N.D., demonstrated her priorities in a thought-provoking way.

Her story clearly illustrates how our priorities and values largely determine our choices. Inherent in the story is the idea that when we have competing goals, we can be forced to make a choice.

Read more in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog by Julie Henszey, executive coach and owner of Next Step Goals LLC.

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Morning Headlines: Packers ready to raze buildings
October 22, 2014 11:59 AM
The Green Bay Packers will begin razing buildings this week on land it owns along Lombardi Avenue. The team wants to remove the structures, including the former Kmart store, before winter to save it the cost of maintenance, fire protection and security. The Packers now own 54 parcels near Lambeau Field, all in the village of Ashwaubenon, totaling nearly 63 acres.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Real Estate Weekly: Plans submitted for educational facility at former Pabst brewery
October 22, 2014 12:00 PM
Blue Ribbon Management LLC plans to transform the former bottling facility building at the former Pabst brewery complex in downtown Milwaukee into a 250,000-square-foot multi-purpose educational facility, according to plans submitted Tuesday to the City of Milwaukee.

Read more in today's Real Estate Weekly.

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Home prices rise in state and region
October 21, 2014 11:45 AM
The prices of homes sold in September rose in all of Wisconsin and also in the southeastern part of the state, according to the latest data from the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

Median home sale prices in southeastern Wisconsin were up 6.7 percent, compared to a year ago, to $160,000, during September. Statewide, median home sale prices were up 3.1 percent during the month to $148,700.

Year-to-date median home sale prices are up 4.6 percent in southeastern Wisconsin to $159,000, and prices are up 2.4 percent statewide to $148,500.

“Much like the rest of the U.S., median home prices have grown at a healthy, sustainable pace this year,” said WRA president and CEO Michael Theo.

However the number of homes sold in the state was down 0.2 percent in September and is down 3.4 percent year-to-date. In southeastern Wisconsin the number of homes sold in the region rose 1.0 percent in Setpember to 2,187, but year-to-date sales in the region are down 5 percent compared to the first nine months of 2013.

“Although home sales are slightly lower than last year, it’s important to recognize how far we’ve come since emerging from the Great Recession,” said Dan Kruse, chairman of the WRA board of directors. “To be only slightly lower than last year’s solid market suggests a relatively healthy market for housing in the state.”

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Kohler Engines names new president
October 21, 2014 11:49 AM
Following former Kohler Engines president Tom Cromwell’s appointment to group president at Kohler Co.’s Power Group in September, the company has promoted Brian Melka to the role of president of Engines Americas.

Melka assumes full responsibility for the engines business in the Americas region, establishing strategic direction, managing operational demands, driving growth and profitability objectives, and attracting and developing talent. In addition, he will have worldwide responsibility for new product development, marketing and overall growth of the gasoline engines product lines. Melka joined Kohler in 2013 in the role of vice president.

Prior to Kohler, he served in numerous senior capacities at Milwaukee-based Rexnord Corp., where he most recently held the role of vice president of global mining and product management. Before joining Rexnord, he spent more than 12 years working for various Rhode Island-headquartered Textron Inc. businesses including Greenlee Textron and Jacobsen Textron.

Melka holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Kohler Engines manufactures small engines for riding lawn mowers, garden tractors, walk-behind lawn mowers, concrete construction equipment, outdoor power equipment, welders, pressure washers and other products.

Headquartered in Kohler, Kohler Co. is a global leader in the manufacture of kitchen and bath products, engines and power systems, furniture, cabinetry and tile. It also owns and operates two five-star hospitality and golf resort destinations in Kohler and St Andrews, Scotland.

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Walsh named president of Irgens
October 21, 2014 12:09 PM
Jaclynn “Jackie” Walsh has been promoted to president and chief operating officer of Milwaukee-based commercial real estate firm Irgens.

Walsh is a founding member of Irgens and has been with the firm since 1998. She was previously executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Walsh will oversee day-to-day company operations in support of its real estate portfolio including property and facilities management, design and construction administration, leasing, project management, information technology, and marketing/communications.

Mark F. Irgens will continue as CEO and manager and will lead the company’s strategic direction in real estate investment strategies.
“Over 17 years ago, Jackie and I began discussions about the formation of Irgens,” said Irgens. “As a founding member of the firm, she has exhibited exceptional leadership and has had a direct impact on our continued success.”

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Northwestern Mutual on track for hiring commitment for HQ project
October 21, 2014 12:07 PM
Northwestern Mutual is on track to meet commitments for construction of the 32-story, 1.1 million-square-foot Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons project that it is building at its corporate headquarters campus in downtown Milwaukee, according to the first quarterly report submitted by Prism Technical to the city of Milwaukee.

The city is providing $54 million in tax incremental financing for the $450 million project, and as part of that deal Northwester Mutual has promised to use small business enterprises (SBEs) for 25 percent of the project costs and to use  city residents through the Resident Preference Program (RPP) for 40 percent of the hours worked on the project.

Demolition work for the project began in December and construction work began recently. The project is expected to be complete in 2017.

According to the Prism report, Northwestern Mutual paid SBEs for 24.1 percent of project costs through March 31 totaling $2.43 million. The company contracted professional services from SBEs for 35.3 percent of the costs or $3.18 million. Nearly 44 percent of the overall work was performed by Milwaukee residents, exceeding the goal by more than 1,400 hours. In total, Milwaukee residents have worked nearly 18,000 hours on the project before construction even started. In addition, Northwestern Mutual provided on-the-job learning experiences to 15 construction apprentices.

“We are excited to see how our construction project has already had a significant impact on small businesses and local residents, and believe this report provides evidence of the company’s commitment to the city,” said Sandy Botcher, Northwestern Mutual vice president and project leader. “We look forward to demonstrating continued strong results in the future.”

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Harley earnings slide
October 21, 2014 11:56 AM
Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. today reported third quarter net income of $150.1 million, or 69 cents per share, down from $162.7 million, or 73 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The company’s quarterly consolidated revenue shrunk to $1.30 from $1.34 billion a year earlier.

"Harley-Davidson's third-quarter financial results were in line with our expectations, and we are on track for a year of growth and strong financial performance in 2014," said Harley-Davidson chairman, president and chief executive officer Keith Wandell. "We continue to see the success of our product, manufacturing and retail strategies, which are delivering an outstanding customer experience, driving bottom-line improvement and expanding the reach of the brand."

Dealers worldwide sold 73,217 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the third quarter of 2014, compared with 70,517 motorcycles in the year-ago quarter This year, U.S. dealers sold 50,167 new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the third quarter, up 3.4 percent compared to sales of 48,529 motorcycles in the year-ago period.

"With the successful launch of the 2015 motorcycles in late August, including the return of the Road Glide models, and the outstanding efforts of our dealers, third-quarter retail Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales topped the strong growth of the year-ago quarter. A rebound in Sportster motorcycle sales from this year's second quarter and increased availability of the Street 750 and Street 500 motorcycles also contributed to these positive results," Wandell said.

Harley-Davidson continues to expect to ship 270,000 to 275,000 motorcycles to dealers and distributors worldwide in 2014, an approximate 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent increase from 2013.

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ManpowerGroup reports strong quarter
October 21, 2014 12:00 PM
Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup today reported third quarter net earnings of $130.5 million, or $1.61 per share, up from $94.7 million, or $1.18 per share, in the same period a year ago.

The global staffing company’s quarter revenues increased 4 percent to $5.4 billion.

Included in the prior year third quarter results was a restructuring charge, primarily related to office consolidations and severance costs, of $8.1 million ($6.2 million after tax or 8 cents per diluted share). There were no restructuring charges in the current year quarter. Net earnings in the third quarter were not materially impacted by changes in foreign currencies compared to the prior year period.

Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup chief executive officer, said, "Our third quarter results were strong, with solid revenue and profit growth in the majority of our operations and brands. While the economic recovery has recently become more choppy in some markets, we are still seeing growth opportunities and I am confident we are well positioned to deliver unique value to our clients in these uncertain times.

Looking forward, Prising said, "We are anticipating the fourth quarter of 2014 diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $1.39 to $1.47, which includes an estimated unfavorable currency impact of 8 cents.”

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Northwestern Mutual donates $400,000 to childhood cancer research
October 21, 2014 12:02 PM
Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual is reinforcing its commitment to fight childhood cancer with a $400,000 contribution to an innovative research program headed by national nonprofit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

The funds, donated through Northwestern Mutual Foundation, will support the Young Investigator program, which equips scientists who are early in their careers with resources needed to put their research ideas in motion.

The latest round of funding from Northwestern Mutual Foundation, announced today, will back four researchers, who will each receive $100,000 in startup funding over a two-year timeline. In total, Northwestern Mutual has supported eight research projects in the Young Investigator program this year with $800,000 in grant funds. Four of those projects were awarded initial funding last year.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which fights childhood cancer through ongoing fundraising, selects its “Young Investigators” through an extensive review process, taking into considering factors such as scientific merit and candidates’ potential to generate viable cures and treatments.

Funding provided by Northwestern Mutual is part of its designated Childhood Cancer Program.

“Our Childhood Cancer Program has a relentless focus on research,” said John Kordsmeier, president of Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “That’s why we’re honored to provide an opportunity for researchers to come together and advance their knowledge in an effort to discover the next generation of childhood cancer treatments. We want to give families hope and a chance for a better future to find a cure for childhood cancer.”

Through its national fundraising efforts, Northwestern Mutual has generated more than $6 million for childhood cancer research and support for impacted families, according to the financial services firm.

Along with its recent donation, Northwestern Mutual is presenting the second ALSF Young Investigator Summit today and Wednesday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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