Monday, February 23, 2015
Manufacturer of the Year winners to be announced Thursday
February 23, 2015 08:56 AM
Thirteen Milwaukee-area manufacturers will be competing for a 2014 Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year award on Thursday. The winners of the 27th annual awards will be announced at a banquet at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

In total, 39 Wisconsin manufacturers have been nominated for the awards, which recognize a diverse array of manufacturers of all sizes and sectors of the economy for their paramount economic contributions to the state.  

Five grand award winners will be chosen, four of which will be based on company size and one of which for serving as an “exceptional” example to all in inventing and implementing innovative workforce development best practices.

The Milwaukee-area nominees are:
  • EmbedTek LLC, Hartland
  • General Plastics Inc., Milwaukee
  • Grede Holdings LLC, Menomonee Falls
  • Hatco Corp., Milwaukee
  • HUSCO International Inc., Waukesha
  • MGS Mfg. Group Inc., Germantown
  • Signicast LLC, Hartford
  • Super Steel LLC, Milwaukee
  • TLX Technologies LLC, Pewaukee
  • Trostel Ltd., Lake Geneva
  • Visual Impressions Inc., Milwaukee
  • Waukesha Metal Products, Sussex
  • Wisconsin Metal Parts Inc., Waukesha
Each nominee is evaluated in areas such as financial growth or consistency, technological advances, product development, environmental solutions, operation excellence/continuous improvement, commitment to employees, and effective research and development.

The Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year award winners are selected by an independent panel of judges representing industry, education and the public sector.

This year's event is sold out; contact Megan West at (608) 240-2673 to be placed on a waiting list.

Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP and the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce business association sponsor the annual awards program.

For more information, visit

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Action-packed agenda planned for Manufacturing Matters!
February 23, 2015 09:08 AM
By Rich Rovito, for BizTimes

The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s Manufacturing Matters! conference will feature industry experts and informative sessions aimed at allowing manufacturers to thrive in an ever-changing environment.

The conference, to be held Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Milwaukee, features: keynote speaker Mike Laszkiewicz, vice president and general manager of the Power Control business at Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc.; Gardner Carrick, vice president of strategic initiatives at The Manufacturing Institute; and Susan Helper, chief economist for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The conference also will feature leading Wisconsin manufacturers sharing their stories of innovation and success, as well as tracks on workforce issues, c-suite essentials, growth, operations and continuous improvement.

Gov. Scott Walker also is expected to address attendees and help kick off the conference.

Topics to be covered at Manufacturing Matters! include: succession planning; expanding into new markets; additive manufacturing; sustainability; and inventory best practices, among many others.

Also, the conference once again will host a panel of students who are interested or are already pursuing careers in manufacturing.

New pre-conference learning and networking opportunities will take place on Wednesday, including: open houses featuring Milwaukee School of Engineering's Rapid Prototyping Center; RTI Tech Scouting; workshops on workforce planning and HACCP certification; and the popular WMEP chairman’s reception, to be hosted by Tom Jacobson, vice president of operations at Oconomowoc-based Bruno Independent Living Aids and current chairman of the WMEP’s board of directors.

Visit for full conference information.

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Milwaukee one of five top American cities for manufacturing
February 23, 2015 09:14 AM
Milwaukee was named one of “5 Great Cities for Growing Your Manufacturing Business,” according to Chief Executive magazine.

The magazine, which provides ideas, strategies and tactics for top executive leaders seeking to build more effective organizations, said this about Milwaukee:

“The hard-working belt buckle of Wisconsin makes just about everybody’s list of rising manufacturing towns. Its manufacturing history includes leather, beer and machine tools. But nowadays, the increasingly diversified factory base of southeastern Wisconsin relies on Harley-Davidson, Master Lock, Badger Meter water meters, General Electric medical-imaging equipment, West Bend kitchen appliances, Johnsonville sausages, Kohler sinks and a variety of other types of goods. A planned water-technology research hub will no doubt further diversify things.”

The other cities that made the list were Reno, Nev.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Detroit; and “Any City,” S.C. According to Chief Executive magazine, many South Carolina cities, including Columbia, Greenville and Charleston, are deemed areas of “hot manufacturing growth.”

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SPX names new president of Waukesha division
February 23, 2015 09:20 AM
SPX Corp. has named Brian Mason as president of the SPX Transformer Solutions Inc. business unit, which is headquartered in Waukesha.

SPX Transformer Solutions, which was formerly known as Waukesha Electric Systems, is one of the largest manufacturers of power transformers in the United States as well as a leading supplier of transformer and LTC services and components.

Mason has more than 27 years of experience working in global manufacturing companies, including his most recent position at New Jersey-based Bel Fuse Inc., where he served as president of Cinch Connectivity Solutions.

“Brian’s engineering and operations background will be an ideal fit for our company,” said David Kowalski, president of Global Manufacturing Operations and Industrial Products & Services at SPX Corp. “We are confident that Brian’s proven record of leadership, coupled with his diverse experience in a variety of disciplines will enable SPX Transformer Solutions to continue its industry leadership, maintain its strong customer relationships, and continue providing superior quality products and services to the power transmission and distribution sector.” 

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WMEP tops $3 billion in economic impact
February 23, 2015 09:25 AM
By Rich Rovito, for BizTimes

Services provided by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership since its inception in 1998 have triggered $3.1 billion in economic impact, according to results documented by clients.

“I am certainly proud of the impact the WMEP’s talented professionals generated with some of Wisconsin’s finest manufacturers,” said Buckley Brinkman, the organization’s executive director and chief executive officer. “Crossing the $3 billion milestone is a tribute to more than 15 years of focus on aligning multiple organizations’ talents and energy to make the Wisconsin manufacturing environment the best in the world.”

The WMEP, a private, nonprofit consulting organization, provides a wide range of services to help small and midsize manufacturers accelerate growth, profitability and global competitiveness.

“It is exciting to see the WMEP gain recognition as an important resource to help Wisconsin manufacturers improve bottom line results with more than $1 billion of impact generated in just the last three years,” said Tom Jacobson, chairman of the WMEP’s board of directors.

The WMEP will host its annual Manufacturing Matters! conference on Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Mike Laskiewicz, vice president and general manager of Rockwell Automation’s Power Control business, will deliver the keynote address. Gov. Scott Walker also is expected to speak to conference attendees.

To view the Manufacturing Matters! agenda or to register for the conference, visit

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Engineer 3D! conference to offer training, technology sessions
February 23, 2015 09:30 AM
More than 80 diverse training and technology sessions will be offered at the Engineer 3D! conference scheduled for April 14-15 at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee.

The Midwest’s largest engineering technology conference, Engineer 3D! will feature keynote presentations from Erik Buell, president and chief executive officer of Erik Buell Racing LLC based in East Troy; Eric Haugaard, director of product technology at Cree Inc., which manufactures lighting products in Sturtevant; and Ben Paprocki, vice president and director of project management at Madison-based bb7.

The conference will also feature case studies, seminars and hands-on workshops on topics, including SOLIDWORKS, 3D printing and simulation.

Engineer 3D! is presented by Graphics Systems Corp., a 3D engineering software sales and training provider, in Menomonee Falls. For more information or to register, click here.

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TIP Technologies announces strategic partnership
February 23, 2015 09:37 AM
Pewaukee-based TIP Technologies Inc. announced a new strategic partnership to create a collaborative solution for discrete manufacturing organizations that deploy enterprise resource planning software and supply chain management solutions.

TIP Technologies, which specializes in quality assurance software, is partnering with Approyo, a SAP HANA firm based in Palo Alto, Calif. SAP HANA is an in-memory platform for processing high volumes of operational and transactional data in real-time.

The partnership will allow both companies to offer TIPQA within a state-of-the-art SAP ecosystem. TIPQA, a highly configurable off-the-shelf quality assurance software, is implemented around the world supporting aerospace and defense, medical device and automotive manufacturing organizations.  

"Our partnership with Approyo continues to keep us at the forefront of the market with a versatile offering that provides clients an integrated, best-in-breed solution for streamlining shop floor and quality operations, while delivering a new standard for measuring quality," said Mike Miller, chief executive officer and founder of TIP Technologies. "We believe this collaboration is a perfect fit for our customers who operate within the SAP ecosystem, and will empower customers with the tools they need to deliver quality products and advance in today's competitive market."

Added Marcus Retrac, president of Approyo: "The partnership with TIP Technologies allows us to enhance our solution offering. TIPQA is a great complement to our industry-leading SAP HANA solutions, and we are proud to be able to extend our partnership and offer this significant benefit to our customers."

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Wismarq Industries appoints new CEO
February 23, 2015 09:40 AM
Wismarq Industries LLC, an Oconomowoc-based provider of coil coating services for metal products, recently appointed Andrew Paskin as chief executive officer.

Paskin has a 30-year career in the metals industry, including senior leadership positions in strategic business units within Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp. headquartered in Franklin, Tenn., and Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. based in Montreal.

“I am extremely pleased to join Wismarq, a recognized leader in the North American coil coating industry,” Paskin said. “Our many loyal employees look forward to building on the company’s past successes and further enhancing our reputation for industry-leading quality and customer service. We deeply value the trust that our customers place in Wismarq and look forward to further investing in our capabilities to ensure Wismarq consistently delivers outstanding services to its discerning customers.”

Under Paskin’s leadership, the company said it will continue to support its core business in coil coating services while further expanding customer service capabilities to create a seamless ease of shopping experience.

During 2015, Wismarq intends to make additional investments in its technological capabilities across multiple areas, including high gloss finish applications at its Jackson, Tenn., facility and bi-directional printing processes at its Valencia, Penn., facility. In addition, Wismarq will implement lean manufacturing practices to expand production capacities across its four manufacturing locations and continue to enhance its leadership team.

Joshua Phillips, managing partner of Wismarq’s majority shareholder, Peninsula Pacific Strategic Partners LLC based in Los Angeles, added, “The board of directors is extremely excited about the company’s continued growth and the addition of Andrew Paskin to the outstanding team at Wismarq. We have been impressed with Andrew’s vision for the company, as well as his early successes as its chief executive officer in partnership with the company’s highly dedicated and talented employees. We believe Andrew will be an outstanding leader for Wismarq in the years to come as the company demonstrates significant growth and builds upon its reputation for industry leading quality and customer service.”

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Brady adds to board of directors
February 23, 2015 09:43 AM
Milwaukee-based identification solutions manufacturer Brady Corp. announced that Harold (Hal) Sirkin has joined its board of directors, effective immediately. Sirkin is a senior partner and managing director of The Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm based in Boston specializing in business strategy. He is an expert on globalization, operations, innovation and change management.

“Hal Sirkin is intimately familiar with Brady’s businesses, having served as a consultant on several of Brady’s recent strategic planning processes,” said Conrad Goodkind, lead independent director and chair of Brady's corporate governance committee. "During his long career, Hal has provided advice to a number of the world’s most successful companies. His breadth of business expertise will be a real asset as Brady begins its second century of providing products that identify and protect premises, products and people.”

Sirkin said, “Brady is a company with great customers, great products and great people. I look forward to working with Brady’s leadership team and the other members of the Brady board to help drive Brady’s long-term success.”

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Engineers prioritize pay over culture as talent war cranks up
February 23, 2015 09:47 AM
Experis, the global leader in professional resourcing within Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup, revealed that increased pay is the top consideration for American engineers seeking a new job, while electrical engineers are in greatest demand by the nation’s employers.

The 2015 Experis Engineering Talent Supply and Demand Survey, released ahead of National Engineers Week, found that 40 percent of engineers searching for a new position prioritize increased salary, bonuses and/or incentives.

In contrast, only 18 percent consider a better work environment or culture the most important factor. More interesting or challenging work, access to better professional training and career development or improved work/life balance are the biggest considerations for 17 percent.

Electrical engineers are the most sought-after, with 12 percent of employers desiring workers with these skills, followed by manufacturing engineers (10 percent) and software engineers (7 percent). However, employers cite a lack of applicants (46 percent), lack of experience (44 percent) and a lack of technical skills (32 percent) among applicants as obstacles to hiring.  

Rich Hutchings, Experis vice president, engineering, said, "Finding qualified engineers to fill mission-critical roles is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack — 86 percent of employers report such difficulty. More than 80 percent of engineering employers hope to hire in 2015, but less than a quarter are confident they will find the talent they need. Higher remuneration packages may sound costly, but a loyal and productive workforce is a priceless commodity when it comes to in-demand engineers."

Engineers, on the other hand, do not believe it will be difficult for them to find a new opportunity — 82 percent are either confident or extremely confident of doing so. A significant number — 47 percent — are actively seeking new positions in 2015, and 41 percent intend to change employers before the year is out.

Almost a quarter of engineers (23 percent) indicated that they are not satisfied with their current position, yet the vast majority (97 percent) is satisfied with engineering as a profession. Of those interviewed, 96 percent would be likely to recommend engineering to others as a career.

The profession remains heavily male-dominated — only 12 percent of survey respondents were female. Additionally, while 34 percent said that a parent or other family member had inspired them to become an engineer, only 13 percent of respondents felt their career choice had been inspired by a math or science teacher.

"There is still a great deal of work to be done to improve the profile of engineering as a viable and rewarding career choice for women," Hutchings said. "Business needs to engage with education so young people are aware of the high demand for engineers together with the competitive salaries available. Employers have a pivotal role to play, cultivating as speakers and school visitors those employees whose careers illustrate the positive possibilities of jobs in the engineering field."

A total of 1,400 engineers and 100 employers participated in the online survey.

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Business plan competition to tap tween girls
February 23, 2015 09:50 AM
As Marquette University opens up the application process for its 2015 ImpactNext business model competition, it has also launched a new startup idea competition aimed at drawing young girls into entrepreneurship.

The “Future She-E-O Contest,” a joint competition between Marquette’s Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship and Milwaukee-based Fashion Angels, will accept startup business proposals from tween girls across the country. The winner, to be selected by a panel of top business women, will earn a $10,000 college scholarship in support of an entrepreneurial course of study.

The top five youth candidates will be granted a trip to Fashion Angels’ headquarters, where they will meet with the female founders and take an extensive tour of the company’s facility. Fashion Angels designs and manufacturers lifestyle and activity products specifically for tween girls.

Finalists will also present their startup concepts at ImpactNext’s April 21 presentation and awards event.

The ImpactNext business model competition targets entrepreneurs from across the state as well as from Marquette’s own community. This is the first year the competition is open to anyone, according to Matt Cordio, consultant for the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship. The competition revolves around the development of business models as well as customer discovery. Entrepreneurs who enter their ideas can earn up to $10,000 toward their startup concept.

Business plan applications are due by Thursday, March 26. The April 21 finale event is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in the third-floor ballroom of Marquette’s Alumni Memorial Union, located at 1442 W. Wisconsin Ave.

For more information on ImpactNext, click here.

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Toolamation to move from Illinois to Kenosha, create 65 new jobs
February 23, 2015 09:56 AM
Beach Park, Ill.-based Toolamation Services Inc. plans to move its headquarters and manufacturing operations over the border to Kenosha, bringing 50 existing jobs with it. The company plans to create another 65 jobs over the next three years.

"We are looking forward to working with the State of Wisconsin and the City of Kenosha to grow our business and to bring new opportunities to the area," said Toolamation president Tony Deieso.

Gov. Scott Walker, company executives and local officials made the announcement on the factory floor at Toolamation, which is now based at 9037 Sheridan Road in Kenosha.

"I'm pleased to welcome Toolamation to Wisconsin and have them join the growing list of companies that are establishing operations in Wisconsin because of our strong business climate and outstanding workforce," Walker said. "In the last four years, we have added more than 23,000 manufacturing jobs in the state, and that growth is due in large part to the success of small- and medium-sized manufacturers like Toolamation."

The three existing industrial buildings on the 4.8-acre site total 46,350 square feet. One was previously occupied by IEA Inc. The site was listed by Chicago commercial real estate firm Lee & Associates for $1 million on the Kenosha Area Business Alliance website.

Toolamation makes high-volume machine tooling products. It had two facilities in Beach Park, which will be combined in the new space. Toolamation has invested $1.4 million in the project, which includes renovating the building to offer a more efficient space and room for future expansion. The company expects the new facility to open in the spring.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has approved tax credits for Toolamation totaling $300,000 over the next three years, contingent upon meeting its job creation goals. KABA is also funding a $490,000 loan for the purchase of the building and equipment.

The Milwaukee 7 was also involved with attracting Toolamation to Wisconsin.

"We're delighted that Toolamation has selected southeastern Wisconsin for its new headquarters," said Gale Klappa, co-chair of M7 and chairman and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Energy Corp. "Our attractive assets and manufacturing strength, coupled with a strong, coordinated effort by our regional and state partners, led to this winning result."

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Earnings reports roundup
February 23, 2015 10:03 AM

Milwaukee-based identification solutions manufacturer Brady Corp. reported fiscal second quarter net income of $11.6 million, or 23 cents per share, down from $16.4 million, or 31 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2014.

Operating income was $16.8 million, down from $18.3 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenue was $282.6 million, down from $291.2 million in the second quarter of 2014.

Read more.

Menomonee Falls-based ZBB Energy Corp. reported a fiscal second quarter net loss of $3.5 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a second quarter 2014 net loss of $2.3 million, or 13 cents per share.

The company, which develops renewable energy power platforms and hybrid vehicle control systems, reported an operating loss of $3.3 million, compared with an operating loss of $2.1 million in the same period a year ago.

Read more.

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Best Practices: 'The politics of improvement: The challenge of getting company leaders' buy-in'
February 23, 2015 10:10 AM
Most people agree that the first step to launching an improvement strategy is to make sure the company executives are on board and leading the effort. Most company executives understand the importance of improving. If both of these statements are true, then why is it still so difficult to get buy-in from the company leadership?

Read more.

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BizTimes accepts nominations for business awards
February 23, 2015 10:15 AM
BizTimes Media is accepting nominations for its annual Bravo! Entrepreneur and I.Q. (Innovation Quotient) Awards.

Bravo! Entrepreneur Awards will be presented to business executives who exemplify excellence in entrepreneurship, including bold leadership, accomplishments, tenure, innovation, risk-taking, staff development and community involvement.

I.Q. Awards will salute companies for their innovations in business. Recipients will have a track record for innovative products, services or processes.

Self-Nominations are welcomed. Nominations will be due by March 23 at 5 p.m.

Nominees for the Bravo! Entrepreneur and I.Q. Awards must be based in Wisconsin and have a physical presence in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington, Sheboygan, Racine, Walworth or Kenosha County and be able to attend the Bravo! Entrepreneur/I.Q. Awards event.

The awards will be presented at the Bravo! Entrepreneur/I.Q. Awards Luncheon at BizExpo on May 20. In addition, each Bravo! Entrepreneur and I.Q. Award winner will be featured in the May 18, 2015 issue of BizTimes Milwaukee.

For more information or to nominate an executive for a Bravo! Entrepreneur Award or a company for an I.Q. Awards, visit or contact Sarah Sinsky at (414) 336-7100.

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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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