Monday, March 23, 2015
Superior Die Set to start online training program
March 23, 2015 10:49 AM
Oak Creek-based Superior Die Set Corp. increased sales by 13 percent in the last six months, and this year plans to hire eight to 10 employees and spend $1 million in new machinery.

“We embrace change, and we’re always challenging the assumptions that what we’ve been doing all along is the right thing,” said president Frank Janiszewski.

One of the 92-year-old, fourth generation company’s upcoming initiatives is a new online training program developed by the National Tooling and Machining Association that allows employees to virtually learn how to run machine tools.

Available courses include basic math, blueprint reading, problem solving and CNC machining.

Janiszewski anticipates about six employees to start the program in the latter part of the year. Each module consists of three courses, and it will take employees one hour a day, four days a week for a month to complete a course.

Employees may do anywhere from one to four modules, Janiszewski said. The company pays for the training (a module costs $500 to $750), and the employees do the training on their own time.

Another upcoming goal for Superior Die Set is to reduce its lead times by 75 percent. Instead of turning around work in four to six days, employees would do it in one or two days.

That initiative was one of the many details about the company that Janiszewski shared with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Friday when he visited for a tour. Ryan stopped by several First District businesses that day in his efforts to commemorate their achievements and to hear their opinions on issues.

One of the congressman’s takeaways from his visit at Superior Die Set was on the economic trend of reshoring.

“I wanted (Ryan) to know that it’s real and the reasons for it and that it helps us and other manufacturers if we’re bringing that type of work back to the U.S.,” Janiszewski said.

According to Janiszewski, Superior Die Set has undergone myriad changes over the last 18 months since bringing on a new vice president of manufacturing, including new positioning of equipment and adjusting the process flow.

“If you saw the plant a year-and-a-half, two years ago, you wouldn’t recognize what it is today,” Janiszewski said.

Additionally, Superior Die Set hired 15 employees over the last couple years, and it invested $2.8 million in capital expenditures from 2013-2014.

Superior Die Set employs 200 in Oak Creek, 26 at its Greendale Precision Services subsidiary and 275 at its Poland subsidiary.

For more information on Superior Die Set, read its Sept. 2, 2013 Made in Milwaukee profile.

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Johnson Controls awarded $8.6 million Navy contract
March 23, 2015 10:57 AM
Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. has been awarded an $8.6 million contract from the U.S. Navy to do energy savings performance work at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam near Honolulu.

The contract is guaranteed to save the Navy $14.8 million over the next 15 years, according to Steve Spanbauer, global director of federal solutions for Johnson Controls.

Johnson Controls will put in new, upgraded infrastructure at the Navy base, including LED lighting and rooftop air conditioning units.

The project will pay for itself in energy savings in addition to resulting in a reduction in energy and greenhouse gas emissions, Spanbauer said.

Johnson Controls is in the beginning stages of construction. The installation period is expected to take 13 months.

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Waukesha contract manufacturer purchases new laser technology
March 23, 2015 11:02 AM
Waukesha-based Miro Tool & Mfg., a manufacturer specializing in metal stamping, fabrication and machining, recently advanced its manufacturing service capabilities with the purchase of a Mitsubishi eX Series 2D CO2 laser.

The undisclosed investment allows Miro to increase its laser and waterjet cutting capability and capacity, enhancing their fabrication services.  

“Miro continues to focus its growth, both in terms of capacity and technology, in manufacturing services, primarily fabrication, metal stamping and machining,” said Miro president Jeff Brown. “Our new laser will not only help us directly in fabrication, but also in the many projects we process involving a cross-pollination of the manufacturing services Miro offers.”

This eX Series model is the fifth generation in the line of 2D Mitsubishi lasers, and it is said to feature low running costs, eco-friendly features, high-speed lens movement and upgradable automation.

Building on its background as a tool & die shop, Miro states it is further transitioning itself into contract manufacturing with the purchase of the laser.

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Bill would designate 25 universities as ‘Manufacturing Universities’
March 23, 2015 11:11 AM
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) on March 18 joined four other U.S. senators to introduce bipartisan legislation that would designate 25 national universities as “Manufacturing Universities.”

The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015 would provide the universities $5 million per year for four years to better align educational offerings with the needs of modern manufacturers. The legislation is endorsed by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“As the demand for a highly skilled workforce continues to grow, I’m proud to support bipartisan legislation that ensures our universities offer courses that will help prepare students for our 21st century Made in Wisconsin manufacturing economy,” Baldwin said. “In Wisconsin, we can create stronger economic growth and shared prosperity for our state if we make investments in higher education and advanced manufacturing. This bipartisan legislation will give students the ability to carry on our Wisconsin tradition of making things and help us build a stronger middle class in Wisconsin and America.”

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology would be charged with designating the Manufacturing Universities. The incentives they receive would be used to meet specific goals, including focusing engineering programs on manufacturing, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, growing training opportunities and fostering manufacturing entrepreneurship.

The program would be run by the director of the NIST, in coordination with the secretaries of Defense and Energy and the director of the National Science Foundation, among others.

"UWM has a long history of working with manufacturers throughout the state, helping them to stay competitive in our global economy,” said Tom Luljak, vice chancellor of university relations and communications for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “In particular, our efforts around advanced manufacturing, new lightweight materials and energy storage systems have benefited Wisconsin industries. We thank Sen. Baldwin for her leadership in advancing UW-Milwaukee's ability to continue our strong partnerships with the industries that are such a crucial part of Wisconsin's economy."

Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced the legislation with Baldwin.

In addition to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Wisconsin-Madison, the legislation has been endorsed by more than two dozen universities and associations, including the Association of American Universities, the Precision Metalforming Association and the National Tooling & Machining Association.

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Best Practices: Are you boring employees into leaving?
March 23, 2015 11:15 AM
Good pay and benefits can only buy an employee’s attention for so long. If you want to reduce turnover AND improve profitability and competitive position, employees must be challenged and developed.

Imagine going to work every day and standing at the same place in an assembly line doing basically the same work every day. Boring.

Read more

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Wisconsin Tech Summit to host more than 50 emerging companies
March 23, 2015 11:18 AM
The Wisconsin Technology Council will host the second annual Wisconsin Tech Summit today at the GE Healthcare Institute in Waukesha.

The summit will include 16 major companies who will “speed date” with more than 50 emerging local companies. The hope is that the quick meetings lead to research and development partnerships, direct investments, strategic partnerships, and even mergers or acquisitions.

Among the major companies taking part are: American Family Insurance, Aurora Health Care, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Dedicated Computing, Direct Supply, Faith Technologies, GE Healthcare, HP Enterprise Services, Intel, Johnson Controls Inc., Kraft Foods/Oscar Mayer Information Systems, Marshfield Clinic Applied Sciences, Mortenson Construction, Rockwell Automation, TASC and WEA Trust.

The event will feature an opening panel discussion in which the major companies will discuss their needs and goals; “office hours” to demonstrate resources available to emerging companies; and a closing presentation by Peter Gunder of American Family Insurance.

The summit will include breakfast, a networking lunch and onsite reception. For more information, visit

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Federal Heath Sign Company acquires DuraColor
March 23, 2015 11:22 AM
Oceanside, Calif.-based Federal Heath Sign Company LLC recently acquired Racine-based DuraColor LLC.

DuraColor is a custom graphics manufacturer. The company is a large format digital and screen printer with expertise in producing graphics for display companies, original equipment manufacturers (OEM), retailers and petroleum companies.

Federal Health is a signage and visual communications company.

In a news release, Federal Health said, “DuraColor’s manufacturing/digital printing capabilities coupled with its state-of-the-art finishing equipment will add an extra dimension to Federal Heath’s turnkey capabilities in meeting the needs of customers in worldwide market segments.”

“Traditional production methods in both the printing and signage industries are being replaced with digitally printed high resolution graphics,” said Federal Heath president and chief executive officer Kevin Stotmeister.

DuraColor’s president Peter Carey added, “To our knowledge, no other company brings together the range of image-related products and services for major retailers as Federal Heath and DuraColor will. DuraColor looks forward to becoming part of the Federal Heath family of leading brands, with an even greater emphasis on servicing our customers and cross-selling our joint capabilities.”

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CDM Tool sold to Jacsten Holdings
March 23, 2015 11:26 AM
Hartford's CDM Tool & Mfg. Co. Inc. has been acquired by Milwaukee private investment firm Jacsten Holdings LLC. The family company was sold by Pam Priestaf, whose father founded CDM.

Jacsten has a long-term buy-and-hold investment strategy, and on average holds its portfolio companies for around 10 years.

Founded in 1962, CDM makes plastic injection molds and precision molds for the plastic industry. It has about 35 employees, all of whom will remain with the company, said Stephen Hansen, an investment professional at Jacsten.  Scott Kolkema will continue to lead the company, in partnership with Jacsten. The business is located at 749 N. Wacker Drive in Hartford.

“In Jacsten we found a partner that met all of our requirements,” Priestaf said. “We were drawn to the fact that Jacsten is itself a family-run company that is committed to CDM Tool for the long-term.”

Priestaf’s requirements included: Keeping the business in Hartford and continuing to be involved in the community; valuing and securing the future of employees; and valuing loyal customers.

Jacsten saw opportunity in CDM because of a shortage of mold manufacturing companies in the industry, Hansen said.

“CDM Tool possesses unique technical expertise and capabilities in designing and manufacturing medium-to-large complex tooling for highly engineered parts,” said Mike Hansen, founder of Jacsten. “The company’s consistent track record speaks for itself, as does its list of loyal customers that have been partners with CDM Tool for, on average, 15+ years and in some cases over 35 years.”

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Manufacturing recognitions
March 23, 2015 11:30 AM

Menomonee Falls-based Bradley Corp. received the Gold-level Well Workplace Award from the Wellness Council of America and its local affiliate Wellness Council of Wisconsin. The award recognizes an organization for its commitment to the health and well-being of their employees.

Bradley Corp., a manufacturer of commercial plumbing fixtures and equipment, has launched a number of wellness initiatives over the past three years, such as offering special discounts on exercise classes and wearable fitness tracker technologies, as well as providing reductions in health insurance premiums for improvement in physical fitness.

Bradley also added a part-time on-site health coach to help guide people to more healthy habits, and it offers fruit and other healthy snacks at its facilities.

“Many of our employees embraced these wellness initiatives right off the bat,” said Mike Sipek, chief executive officer of Bradley Corp. “What matters most is they were able to set meaningful and successful health goals for themselves. I believe our employees are healthier, happier and more engaged in their work and our company because of these efforts.”

Added Jessica Raddemann, Wellness Council of Wisconsin’s executive director, “Bradley worked hard to successfully meet the rigorous standards set by the Well Workplace process. It is our pleasure to recognize them as the newest Wisconsin employer to achieve Well Workplace status.”

The Wellness Council of Wisconsin was founded in 1985 by nine employers from the Wisconsin business community. With more than 6,000 member organizations located throughout North America, WELCOA is highly recognized and regarded for its innovative and result-oriented approach to worksite wellness.

To date, more than 700 corporations, healthcare systems, public agencies and educational institutions employing over 2.25 million people have met rigid worksite wellness criteria and have been recognized as some of America’s Healthiest Companies.

For more on workplace wellness, BizTimes Media is presenting on Friday the 2015 Wellness Summit on “The Competitive Advantage of a Mentally Healthy Workplace.” Click here for more information.

Waukesha-based Generac Power Systems Inc., a leading designer and manufacturer of backup power generators and engine-powered tools, received the 2014 Natural Gas Generator Company of the Year Award from Frost & Sullivan for its contribution to the North American natural gas generator set industry.

Recipients of the award are selected based on their demonstration of excellence in growth, innovation and leadership. Generac in particular received the award for its “continuous performance in identifying untapped needs in the market and its ability to develop product solutions for residential, commercial, industrial and mobile applications that utilize natural gas. The company's strategic business acquisitions were also noted for extending Generac's long-term growth opportunities.”

Based in Mountain View, Calif., Frost & Sullivan is a growth partnership company that partners with clients to create innovative growth strategies to help them accelerate growth and improve their decision-making processes.  

Germantown-based plastic manufacturer L.T. Hampel Corp. was ranked as a Top 10 Industrial Thermoformer among North American thermoformers for 2015.

The Top 10 Industrial Thermoformer ranking benchmarks companies by key performance metrics based on industrial thermoforming sales. Out of a possible 228 thermoforming companies, Hampel was ranked 10th for industrial thermoforming. The rankings are compiled by Plastics News, a plastics industry publication that covers the business of the global plastics industry. 

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New hires and promotions
March 23, 2015 11:36 AM
St. Francis-based Wixon Inc., a manufacturer of seasonings, flavors and technologies for the food and beverage industry, has named Jean Hansen as logistics manager.

Hansen will be responsible for oversight of the logistics staff who handles inbound receipts and outbound shipping from the company’s headquarters and off-site distribution center. She will manage all transportation functions, devise strategic plans, and develop process improvements that maximize efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Hansen has nearly 20 years of progressive experience within the distribution industry. She most recently was employed as the warehouse/logistics manager for Baptista’s Bakery, now a part of Snyder’s-Lance, in Franklin.

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Made in Milwaukee: Sheboygan shop makes skin care products used in celebrity swag bags
March 23, 2015 11:40 AM
The natural skin care products made in a downtown Sheboygan shop have made their way into the swag bags given to celebrities at last year’s Emmy Awards, the 2015 Golden Globe Awards and next, the MTV Movie Awards on April 12.

“I feel excited that our increased exposure allows our products to be in the hands of people all over the United States whether they’re a celebrity or not, but of course I can’t help but feel a little giddy over the idea that a celebrity would have my lip balm in their pocket,” said Caitlin Brotz, owner of Olivü 426, which also makes natural home products like room spray and soy candles.

Read more in the current issue of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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Hilary Dickinson This exclusive news bulletin is compiled by BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Hilary Dickinson. This bulletin is published every Monday morning. Send manufacturing industry news and tips to or call her at (414) 336-7123.

Manufacturing resources
Manufacturer Associations » Association of Equipment Manufacturers
» The Association for High Technology Distribution
» APICS – the Association for Operations Management
» Fabricators and Manufacturers International
» National Fluid Power Association
» Polyeurethane Manufacturers Association
» Precision Metalforming Association, Wisconsin District
» Society of Manufacturing Engineers - Chapter 4
» Society of Plastics Engineers - Greater Wisconsin
» Tool, Die and Machining Association of Wisconsin
» Wisconsin Truss Manufacturers Association
» Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Device Association
» Wisconsin Sign Association
» Wisconsin Electrical Machines and Power Electronics Consortium
» Water Quality Association of Wisconsin
Manufacturing Advocacy, Leadership Training and Continuing Education » Center for Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) at the University of Wisconsin
» Independent Business Association of Wisconsin (IBAW)
» FET - Federation of Environmental Technologists Inc.
» MSOE's Corporate Partner Network
» The Paranet Group
» TEC Midwest
» UW-Milwaukee Center for Continuing Engineering Education
» Waukesha County Business Alliance-Manufacturing Alliance
» Waukesha County Technical College Center for Business Performance Solutions
» Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Other resources » American Society for Quality
» Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation
» MATC's Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM) facility
» Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
» Milwaukee Export Assistance Center – U.S. Commercial Service
» Milwaukee World Trade Association
» MSOE's Applied Technology Center
» MSOE's Rapid Prototyping Center
» Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
» Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce
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