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Consumer confidence soars
July 29, 2014 12:21 PM
U.S. consumer confidence jumped to its highest level in almost seven years in July, according to the Conference Board.

The New York-based private research association’s index of consumer confidence was at 90.9 in July, a sharp increase from 85.2 in June.

Despite geopolitical tension, a stronger job picture and improving employment reports led to positive consumer assessment of current trends and rosier outlooks on the economy, jobs and income growth.

In July, about 22.7 percent said business conditions are “good,” down from 23.4 percent in June. And 15.9 percent describe jobs as “plentiful”

Looking ahead, 19.1 percent of respondents expected more jobs in the months ahead, up from 16.3 percent in June. And 17.3 percent expect to see their incomes increase, up from 16.7 percent in June.

"Strong job growth helped boost consumers' assessment of current conditions, while brighter short-term outlooks for the economy and jobs, and to a lesser extent personal income, drove the gain in expectations," said Lynn Franco, the board's director of economic indicators. "Recent improvements in consumer confidence, in particular expectations, suggest the recent strengthening in growth is likely to continue into the second half of this year."

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Strattec stock added to Russell 2000
July 29, 2014 12:25 PM
Milwaukee-based Strattec Security Corp.’s stock, which trades on the Nasdaq with the “STRT” ticker symbol, has been added to both the Russell 2000 Index and the Russell 3000 Index, which are indexes that are constructed to provide board based benchmarks for performance of many U.S. equities by market capitalization.

"We are pleased to be added to the Russell 2000, which reflects our continued positive progress resulting in increased shareholder value," Frank Krejci, president and chief executive officer said. "We expect our inclusion will further raise the visibility of our company and possibly attract additional shareholders."

Strattec designs, develops, manufactures and markets automotive Access Control Products, including mechanical locks and keys, electronically enhanced locks and keys, steering column and instrument panel ignition lock housings, latches, power sliding side door systems, power lift gate systems, power deck lid systems, door handles and related products. The products are provided to customers in North America, and on a global basis through a strategic relationship with Witte Automotive of Velbert, Germany, and ADAC Automotive of Grand Rapids, Mich.

The products are marketed to global customers under the "Vast" brand name.

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Donovan confirms he will run for mayor
July 29, 2014 12:31 PM
Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan will announce tonight that he will run for mayor in 2016. Donovan will make a special political announcement at 6 p.m. at Serb Hall during a Rally for a Better Milwaukee event.

Donovan will challenge Mayor Tom Barrett. Donovan has long been critical of Barrett’s handling of the Milwaukee Police Department.

For ongoing coverage, tune in to WISN-Channel 12, a media partner of BizTimes.

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Oshkosh earnings down on defense downturn
July 29, 2014 12:33 PM
Oshkosh Corp. today reported fiscal third quarter net income of $105.1 million, down from $148.7 million in the third quarter of 2013.

Revenue was $1.9 billion, down from $2.2 billion in the same period a year ago.

The Oshkosh-based specialty access equipment, commercial, fire and emergency, military vehicle and vehicle body manufacturer attributed the decrease to expected lower sales in the defense segment, which were down 46.5 percent to $470.7 million. This was mostly due to lower sales to the U.S. Department of Defense. Fire and emergency also decreased 8.3 percent to $187.5 million because of lower international deliveries.

Meanwhile, its access equipment segment saw a sales increase of 10.4 percent to $1 billion due to higher unit volumes in North America and Europe and higher pricing. And commercial segment sales were up 27 percent to $6.2 million on an increase in concrete mixer volume.

"We are pleased with our overall third quarter results, led by record performance in the access equipment segment and breakthrough improvement in the commercial segment,” said Charlie Szews, chief executive officer. "Each area of focus in our MOVE strategy – powered by the Oshkosh Operating System – is helping us to meet our performance targets. This balanced strategy is guiding our team to produce results from the initiatives that we can control by optimizing costs, innovating to meet customers’ evolving demands and winning new business in emerging markets, even as some of our markets continue to recover at an uneven pace.

“We continue to manage the downturn in our defense business in a responsible manner. We recently completed the previously announced additional reduction in our defense segment workforce, while retaining the expertise and skill sets that are essential to support potential new business, including the U.S. Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program and several international tactical wheeled vehicle opportunities."

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AssureStart expands to Wisconsin
July 29, 2014 12:35 PM
Seattle-based small business insurance firm AssureStart has expanded its services to Wisconsin.

The company, which was founded in February 2013, offers business property and general liability plans online to businesses with 30 employees or fewer. It now sells business insurance policies in 15 states, and expects to cover all 50 states by the middle of 2015.

On its website, AssureStart.com, the insurer offers rate quotes and coverage recommendations and sells policies, with direct policy and certificate of insurance downloads. There is also an option to call, email or chat with a licensed insurance professional to get more information.

AssureStart is the managing general agent for policies underwritten by Midvale Indemnity Co., an affiliate of Madison-based American Family Insurance. The company plans to eventually expand its products to include commercial auto and workers’ compensation insurance.

“As the only insurer exclusively focused on small businesses, our mission is to help small business owners meet their unique insurance needs through an industry-leading technology platform,” said Greg Tacchetti, chief executive officer of AssureStart. “A growing number of small businesses handle their administrative tasks on the Internet. We’re offering a new way for them to buy business insurance and manage the entire process on their own. With certificates of insurance available at the point of sale, a small business owner can buy a policy online and present the necessary credentials to start work on a client project the same day.”

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Bailey to lead School of Natural and Health Sciences at Mount Mary
July 29, 2014 12:38 PM
Mount Mary University, located in Milwaukee, has named Cheryl Bailey, Ph.D., dean of its School of Natural and Health Sciences, the institution announced today.

Bailey is transferring to Mount Mary from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland, where she has served as a senior program officer and headed a national research program of first-year biology students.

Bailey also is a principal investigator for a project under the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Within the project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, Bailey is collaborating with biochemistry educators to “assess and teach foundational concepts,” according to Mount Mary University.

Bailey previously was an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and also worked for two years as a senior scientist for Promega Corporation in Wisconsin.

“Cheryl has professional and academic experience that will be instrumental in supporting our position as an institution that offers relevant science-based curriculum,” said Karen Friedlen, Ph.D., vice president of academic and student affairs at Mount Mary. “Her highly regarded work with the National Science Foundation and approach to integrating research into the classroom will advance all of our natural and health sciences programs.”

In her new leadership position at Mount Mary, Bailey will oversee natural and health sciences programs including biology, chemistry, mathematics, and undergraduate and graduate occupational therapy and dietetics. Additionally, she will help continue developing the school’s sciences curriculum as well as build on research opportunities for faculty and students.

“I’m excited to be working with the Mount Mary community where creative teaching and research are preparing the next generation of professionals,” Bailey said. “I look forward to working with faculty as they nurture students’ innovative solutions to real world solutions.”

Among Bailey’s accolades is her 2010 designation as a National Academies of Science Teaching Fellow in the Life Sciences.

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Fittest Execs deadline approaching
July 29, 2014 12:40 PM
Do you think you have what it takes to be a Fittest Exec?

The BizTimes Fittest Execs program has been re-vamped for 2014 to provide an even greater experience for participants and their companies. Participants will compete in two categories: Most Improved and Individual. Testing dates will be eight weeks apart in order to compare scores for the most improved. The Individual category winners will be determined by the best overall score during test-out.

Participants will enjoy several networking opportunities throughout the summer, public relations exposure, plus the potential to be named a "Fittest Exec."

Executives and teams who accept the challenge will be evaluated based on the following:

1. Biometric screening - Fingerprick blood testing compliments of Sensia Wellness.

2. Fitness Test - Assessment compliments of Wisconsin Athletic Club personal trainers.

The $99 registration fee for individual executives and $350 registration fee for corporate teams will include testing, summer networking, a 90-day Wisconsin Athletic Club membership plus a ticket to the Fittest Execs Awards event, which will be held on Nov. 18.

The sign-up deadline is July 31. To register, visit www.biztimes.com/fit.

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Morning Headlines: Alta Resources to add about 600 jobs in Neenah
July 29, 2014 12:42 PM
Alta Resources, an outsourcer of business processing services for Fortune 500 companies in the packaged goods, health care, entertainment and manufacturing industries, plans to add more than 600 jobs in Neenah.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Money Weekly: Roundy’s CFO leaves for Rite Aid
July 29, 2014 12:42 PM
Milwaukee-based Roundy's Inc. announced that its chief financial officer and executive vice president, Darren Karst, will leave the company to join Rite Aid Corp.

Read more in today’s Money Weekly.

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Bucks announce new executive leadership
July 28, 2014 04:17 PM
The Milwaukee Bucks today announced the addition of two new top executives and the appointment of longtime Bucks executive John F. Steinmiller to a new post.

Steinmiller will lead the organization’s community outreach efforts in a newly created role as executive vice president of community affairs and social responsibility. He now begins his 45th season as a member of the Bucks organization. For the last 34 years he worked as executive vice president of business operations. With Steinmiller in his new position, this is the first time that the Bucks organization will have an executive level team member focused entirely on making the team a partner in the greater Milwaukee community.

“John Steinmiller has been a part of this team’s fabric since the very beginning, and I can think of no better person to solidify this team’s bond with the city than a man who has dedicated his entire career to improving the team and the community in which it exists,” Bucks co-owner Wes Edens said.

In addition, Patrick McDonough has joined the Bucks as chief financial officer and Bob Cook has been hired as vice president of business affairs. Both of their career backgrounds have experience that the Bucks will rely on as they work to get a new arena built. The NBA says the BMO Harris Bradley Center is no longer adequate for the Bucks and a new arena is needed to keep the team in Milwaukee.

McDonough, whose career in accounting spans almost 17 years, has spent the last 13 years in the sports division of The Madison Square Garden Company in New York, including the last six years as vice president – accounting.

“McDonough’s lengthy history working with one of the country’s most respected sporting venues and brands will give us the knowledge base that we will need to create not only a world-class facility for the Milwaukee Bucks but to really build a successful franchise that can stand the test of time,” said Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry.

Prior to joining the Bucks, Cook served as a vice president at HNTB Corp., a national engineering and architecture company specializing in complex transportation projects and sports venues. At HNTB, Cook was based in Madison and has relationships in government, policy and statewide community organizations.

“We are so excited about how this team is coming together,” Lasry said. “The Milwaukee Bucks will be one of the best organizations in professional sports on and off the floor. That means recruiting the best talent and making the Bucks integral throughout the community. Bob Cook and Patrick McDonough are incredible additions to the organization.”

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Milwaukee small business owners give state C+
July 28, 2014 12:05 PM
Milwaukee small business owners feel Wisconsin has some room for improvement when it comes to small business friendliness, according to a new survey.

The survey by project hiring site Thumbtack.com and entrepreneurship organization the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation asked small business owners in Milwaukee to rate the state on several points related to small business support.

Area business owners gave a C+ grade for the state’s “friendliness,” or support of small business owners, a C for ease of starting a business and a C- for ease of hiring. The tax code was given a C grade, licensing a C, overall regulations a B- and zoning also a B-.

On the other hand, environmental regulations received a B+, health and safety regulations earned an A-, and training and networking programs garnered an A.

The survey was conducted nationwide and included 12,000 small business owners. The top rated cities were Colorado Springs, Boise, Houston, Austin and Louisville. The lowest rated were Sacramento, Buffalo, Providence, Bridgeport and San Diego.

Milwaukee also earned a C+ in last year’s survey. When rated among small business owners statewide, Wisconsin earned a C- for small business friendliness.

"After a two-month survey of thousands of small business owners nationwide, Milwaukee emerges in the middle of the pack for its friendliness to small business," said Jon Lieber, chief economist of Thumbtack. "Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and hopefully by hearing from Milwaukee's small businesses directly, the city can work towards this goal."

Some of the local comments included:
  • “I know Wisconsin supports small business owners, but it would be nice if there were more affordable resources that would allow small business owners to get the licenses, permits and funds needed without having to take out small business loans.” – Oak Creek wedding minister.
  • “While opening a small business in our state is not overly difficult, it often appears that we are forgotten. Large corporations are the focus of our politicians.” – Milwaukee realtor.

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Irgens acquires former Venice Club
July 28, 2014 12:16 PM
An affiliate of real estate development firm Irgens has acquired the former Venice Club property in Brookfield, according to state records.

The Venice Club was an iconic Brookfield restaurant, located at 1905 N. Calhoun Road, that closed about a month ago, according to Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto.

"I think it was the restaurant most identified with the City of Brookfield," Ponto said. "I think all of us were very sad to see the Venice Club close."

The Venice Club opened in 1947 in downtown Milwaukee. It moved to Brookfield in 1983.

The Venice Club has also been a staple at Summerfest for 35 years. The restaurant's Summerfest stand was perhaps best known for its fried eggplant. The Venice Club served a ton of fried eggplant every day at Summerfest, according to the restaurant's website.

The Irgens affiliate acquired the Venice Club property from Pewaukee-based AMR Real Estate LLC in a sheriff's deed on foreclosure action. The value of the real estate transaction was $900,000, according to state records.

A representative for Irgens could not be reached for comment.
Ponto said he does not know what Irgens' plans are for the property, but he said the Venice Club signs have been removed.

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Dental Associates to complete move downtown this week
July 28, 2014 12:18 PM
Dental Associates will open its new dental clinic today and will complete the move of its corporate headquarters by the end of this week to the Iron Block building in downtown Milwaukee.

The company recently completed a 30-month exterior and interior renovation project for the 154-year-old building at 205 E. Wisconsin Ave.

Dental Associates will have 58 employees working in the building, including 41 in the corporate office and 17 in the dental clinic.

Located at the southeast corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Water Street, the five-floor, 50,000-square-foot building sits at a prominent location in downtown Milwaukee. The building was purchased in 2012 by Dental Associates, which is moving its corporate headquarters there from Wauwatosa.

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Nusslock named COO at Davis & Kuelthau
July 28, 2014 12:20 PM
Milwaukee law firm Davis & Kuelthau s.c. has named Kathy Nusslock its chief operating officer.

Nusslock will manage the firm’s operations and work with the board of directors.

She has worked as a trial attorney for almost 30 years. Nusslock joined Davis & Kuelthau’s litigation team in 1998 and served in several management roles, including litigation team head, employment litigation practice chair, director, member of shareholder development committee and pro bono coordinator. Nusslock worked with individuals, businesses of all sizes, financial institutions, school districts and government entities.

Nusslock holds a juris doctorate from Marquette University Law School and a bachelor’s in economics from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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Fittest Execs deadline Thursday
July 28, 2014 12:24 PM
Do you think you have what it takes to be a Fittest Exec?

The BizTimes Fittest Execs program has been re-vamped for 2014 to provide an even greater experience for participants and their companies. Participants will compete in two categories: Most Improved and Individual. Testing dates will be eight weeks apart in order to compare scores for the most improved. The Individual category winners will be determined by the best overall score during test-out.

Participants will enjoy several networking opportunities throughout the summer, public relations exposure, plus the potential to be named a "Fittest Exec."

Executives and teams who accept the challenge will be evaluated based on the following:

1. Biometric screening - Fingerprick blood testing compliments of Sensia Wellness.

2. Fitness Test - Assessment compliments of Wisconsin Athletic Club personal trainers.

The $99 registration fee for individual executives and $350 registration fee for corporate teams will include testing, summer networking, a 90-day Wisconsin Athletic Club membership plus a ticket to the Fittest Execs Awards event, which will be held on Nov. 18.

The sign-up deadline is July 31. To register, visit www.biztimes.com/fit.

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