Monday, June 29, 2015
Manufacturing sector contracts for third consecutive month
June 30, 2015 10:19 AM
A key measure of Milwaukee-area manufacturing activity once again indicated contraction in June. The seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers Index was below 50 for now the third month in a row, according to the Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing.

The PMI was at 46.55 in June, down from 47.70 in May. Any number more than 50 indicates growth, while less than 50 signals contraction. Since January 2014, the index has been positive 13 of the 18 months.

In the June survey, respondents said:
  • There have not been that many major issues at this time.
  • Freight rates are increasing due to driver shortages.
  • U.S. scrap metal prices are low.
Employment, customers’ inventories and imports grew in June, while new orders, production, supplier deliveries, inventories, prices, backlog of orders and exports declined or slowed.

Regarding these indices, respondents said:
  • There are plans to institute a Kanban system (“Just-in-Time” system).
  • Customers are expected to be pulling out larger demand in the next 12 weeks.
  • There have also been talks about optimism for Quarter 4, but this optimism is not showing or reflected in the actual orders yet.
  • Both production and orders from customers have been increasing.
Seasonally adjusted blue collar employment grew from 47.8 in May to 58.8 in June, and seasonally adjusted white collar employment grew from 52.2 in May to 62.8 in June.

In the six-month outlook on business conditions, respondents indicated a downward shift in positive expectations compared with May. Approximately 43.8 percent of respondents expect positive conditions over the next six months, 37.5 percent expect conditions to remain the same and 18.8 percent of respondents expect conditions to worsen within the next six months.

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New ExporTech sessions begin in July
June 29, 2015 09:45 AM
Since the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership's ExporTech program started in 2010, approximately 400 statewide companies have graduated. Graduates have averaged $900,000 in new export revenue in nine months after completing the program, and two manufacturers have won Governor's Export Achievement Awards.

The most recent group of six companies graduated on June 18, and now the WMEP is gearing up for its next group of manufacturers to start the program in July, according to Roxanne Baumann, director of global engagement at WMEP. This one will be hosted by the Milwaukee-based Water Council, and will consist of three sessions on July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 17.

ExporTech is a three-month process that leads the executive teams of usually about eight companies through the development of an export strategy. Through collaboration with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the WMEP helps companies answer such questions as what are the best countries to which to export, why take your products to market, and what differentiates your products.

Other topics, according to Baumann, include how to find international buyers; how to get paid; how to find a dealer, distributor or agent; how to protect your intellectual property; and what are the federal trade regulations on exporting.

The program costs $7,500 to participate. The WEDC provides $2,500 scholarships, and the Water Council will provide additional $2,500 scholarships.

Stevens Point-based Gamber-Johnson, which won the 2015 Governor’s Export award, exported .5 percent of products in 2012 when Baumann met the company’s leaders. Today, she said it is exporting almost 20 percent of products.

Baumann said it is important for companies to export because 95 percent of consumers are outside the U.S., and small-to-midsize Wisconsin companies are profiting from this global demographic.

Besides the Water Council ExporTech sessions starting in July, a different set of sessions will begin in Madison in July as well. ExporTech sessions have taken place all across the state in order to accommodate more companies.

The most recent group of graduates, who were hosted at Waukesha County Technical College, were American Prosthetic Components LLC of Green Bay; Aurizon Ultrasonics LLC of Kimberly; Herbsmith Inc. of Hartland; Letterhead Press of New Berlin; Pivot Point Inc. of Hustisford; and Spuncast Inc. of Watertown.

For more information on applying to the program, visit or contact Roxanne Baumann at (262) 442-8279 or at The deadline is mid-July.

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Milwaukee Tool expanding Mississippi manufacturing facility
June 29, 2015 09:52 AM
Brookfield-based Milwaukee Tool announced a $16.6 million expansion of its operations in Greenwood, Miss. This, along with other investments to Milwaukee Tool facilities in the state, represents a $35 million investment in Milwaukee’s U.S. manufacturing operations over the last four years. Milwaukee Tool has locations in Greenwood, Olive Branch and Jackson, Miss.

“Milwaukee Tool is dedicated to driving growth and creating new jobs in the United States,” said Milwaukee Tool Group president Steve Richman. “In the last several years we have created nearly 900 new jobs across the country, more than 250 of which are in Mississippi. We firmly believe that, through investing in our people, we will deliver disruptive innovation and the highest quality products for our users and distribution partners.”

The expansion in Greenwood will create 126 new positions, of which 105 positions have already been filled. This brings the total number employed by the company in Greenwood to 508. Milwaukee Tool employs a total of 891 workers throughout its three Mississippi locations.

“This announcement is great news for the Mississippi Delta as Milwaukee Tool increases its presence in Greenwood and creates new jobs for the region’s workforce. We are committed to partnering with our existing companies like Milwaukee Tool to advance industrial growth throughout the state, and we look forward to working with the company again in the future,” said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. “I thank Milwaukee Tool for its dedication to Greenwood and Mississippi.”

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Kenosha manufacturer introduces light fixture that battles hospital acquired infections
June 29, 2015 09:56 AM
Kenosha-based Kenall Manufacturing introduced on Friday Indigo-Clean, a light fixture that uses Continuous Environmental Disinfection technology to continuously kill harmful bacteria linked to hospital acquired infections (HAIs).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports around 1 in 25 hospital patients in the U.S. have at least one infection contracted in the health care setting. The CDC estimates HAIs cause at least 1.7 million illnesses and 99,000 deaths in acute care hospitals in the U.S. and add $35 to $45 billion in excess health care costs each year.

Kenall, which completed a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility just north of Chicago in late 2014, is poised to start commercial production of the technology immediately.

“Indigo-Clean represents a breakthrough in helping to reduce HAIs,” said Jim Hawkins, chief executive officer of Kenall. “It bolsters current disinfection efforts by infection preventionists and environmental services professionals in the fight against HAIs.”

The technology behind Indigo-Clean inactivates a wide range of micro-organisms that are known causes of HAIs, including MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), C.difficile and VRE (Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus).

The light operates continuously and requires no operator, kills bacteria in the air and on all surfaces, and complies with all internationally recognized standards for patient safety. Indigo-Clean was unveiled just before the annual meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) in Nashville.

Indigo-Clean is a light fixture manufactured through an exclusive licensing agreement with the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, which developed, proved and patented the technology.

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Report gives Wisconsin B+ for manufacturing, B for logistics
June 29, 2015 10:02 AM
A new report from Ball State University gave Wisconsin a B+ for manufacturing and a B for logistics.

The 2015 Manufacturing and Logistics Report, prepared by Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) for Conexus Indiana, the state's advanced manufacturing initiative, shows how each state ranks among its peers in several areas of the economy that underlie the success of manufacturing and logistics.

These specific measures include the health of the manufacturing and logistics industries, the state of human capital, the cost of worker benefits, diversification of the industries, state-level productivity and innovation, expected fiscal liability, the state tax climate, and global reach.

In the other categories, Wisconsin earned a B+ for human capital and a B for sector diversification. Expected liability gap and productivity and innovation each received a C+, and global reach got a C. Worker benefit costs and tax climate received the worst grades of a D and D+, respectively.

According to the report, several of Wisconsin’s scores declined from last year.

“Wisconsin dropped its grades in benefits costs category from C to D, in expected fiscal liability gap category from A to C+, and in human capital category from A to B+,” said CBER director Michael Hicks. “Wisconsin remains a very strong manufacturing state that is wrestling with critical fiscal and human capital issues to remain competitive in the 21st century.”

Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan and South Carolina received A’s for manufacturing. Indiana, Pennsylvania and Texas earned A’s for logistics. Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Washington got A’s for human capital. Arkansas, Georgia, Nevada, Texas and Utah received A’s for worker benefit costs.

For tax climate, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana and Utah earned A’s. The states who received A’s for expected fiscal liability gap were Delaware, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas. Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and South Carolina got A’s for global reach. Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia and Washington earned A’s for sector diversification. Finally, California, Connecticut, Michigan, Texas and Washington got A’s for productivity and innovation.  

In the report’s companion study, The Myth and the Reality of Manufacturing in America, Hicks also provided an analysis of why American manufacturing and logistics are in better shape than many believe.

“There are major misunderstandings among the public and the media about the manufacturing sector,” he said. “The U.S. manufacturing base is not in decline, and we have recovered from the recession. Nor are jobs being outsourced because American manufacturing can’t compete internationally. Moreover new jobs in manufacturing pay well above the average wage.”

The study notes that the Great Recession had lost its stranglehold by 2014, when U.S. manufacturers attained record levels of production.

“Overall, only 13 percent of lost jobs over the past decade, which are less than 4 percent of all manufacturing jobs, can be linked to international trade and most of trade-related job losses are in low productivity sectors,” Hicks said. “Changes in productivity, domestic demand and foreign trade all impact manufacturing employment in the U.S., and it’s important to clarify those impacts in order to understand what is happening in the manufacturing and logistics industries.”

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Rexnord to establish Milwaukee HQ for its Zurn business
June 29, 2015 10:08 AM
Rexnord Corp. president and chief executive officer Todd Adams announced on Tuesday at the Water Summit that the company will establish the global headquarters of its Zurn business in the Reed Street Yards Water Technology Park located in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood.

Rexnord acquired Zurn Industries LLC of Erie, Penn., in 2007. Zurn is a manufacturer of engineered water solutions that aims to provide and enhance water quality, conservation, safety, and flow control in a variety of end markets.

The building will be located across the street from The Water Council’s Global Water Center, and it is expected to be completed by the fall of 2016.

The headquarters will be approximately 50,000 square feet, said Dean Amhaus, president and chief executive officer of the Milwaukee-based The Water Council. He said construction is anticipated to begin in September.

The company plans to eventually have 120 employees at the site, according to Jodie Tabak, a spokeswoman for Mayor Tom Barrett.

“We anticipate continued growth and expansion of our water businesses and believe Milwaukee has created an ecosystem for water technology companies like ours to access world-class talent, innovation and technology development, as well as research partnerships that will help shape and address the world’s water challenges,” Adams said. “Rexnord’s heritage as a Milwaukee, Wis.-based company and support from The Water Council and the city of Milwaukee were instrumental in making this happen.”

Rexnord decided to establish Zurn’s headquarters in Milwaukee due to its collaboration with The Water Council over the past several years.

In March of 2013, Rexnord relocated some of its corporate offices and several executives from its West Milwaukee headquarters to a 14,000-square-foot space in The Water Council’s Global Water Center.

“As we’ve continued to build our global water business, it became clear we need to create a center of excellence and customer experience destination,” said Craig Wehr, president of Zurn. “This will allow us to better leverage our current scale, while making the right long-term investments to set the foundation for accelerated growth moving forward.”

Added Amhaus: “I think it’s a significant impact to be able to attract a global headquarters to the Reed Street Yards. It’s very, very rare to get a headquarters to move locations, and to get something of this size and magnitude is tremendous. It’s the first step of much more activity in the Reed Street Yards and the entire Water Council area.”

The Reed Street Yards is an 18-acre vacant area west of the Global Water Center at 247 Freshwater Way between the Harley-Davidson Museum and the Iron Horse Hotel. In a partnership with developer Peter Moede, who owns the land, General Capital Group plans to create a water technology business park in the Reed Street Yards. The city provided $7 million in tax incremental financing to install infrastructure on the site, and now it is ready for vertical development.

Amhaus said Zurn is the first company announced to be located in the Reed Street Yards.

Said Rich Meeusen, co-chair of The Water Council and chairman, president and chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Badger Meter: “The Water Council and Milwaukee region are an ‘apiary’ of talent and ideas when it comes to integrated water solutions, and we congratulate Rexnord on this leading edge decision. Entrepreneurs, researchers and global water technology organizations of all sizes are congregating here. Adding a leading worldwide industrial company like Zurn affirms our leadership position as the water center of excellence, and we look forward to elevating our partnership.”

Rexnord manufactures process and motion control and water management products. It has approximately 8,000 employees worldwide.

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Eder stops manufacturing of Confederate flags
June 29, 2015 10:12 AM
The board of directors of Eder Flag Manufacturing Co. Inc. in Oak Creek decided on Tuesday to no longer sell or manufacture Confederate flags.

Jodi Goglio, chief operating officer of the company, issued a statement about the company's decision after a question posed by BizTimes. The following is Goglio's statement:

"Eugene Eder, our company’s former, long-time owner, fought in World War II against the forces of bigotry, hatred and tyranny. Mr. Eder’s primary reason to own and operate Eder Flag after serving in the U.S. Navy was to produce American flags, a symbol of freedom and opportunity. The recent events in Charleston, S.C. and motivating factors behind those events, coupled with Mr. Eder’s legacy led to our decision to no longer manufacture or sell these types of flags.  Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in Charleston. Our hope moving forward is that all communities are able to live together in unity so that everyone can experience the freedom and opportunity for which Mr. Eder and so many other veterans fought."

Eder Manufacturing, which was launched more than 100 years ago, has grown to become America's largest manufacturer of both flags and flagpoles.

The company’s headquarters in Oak Creek eventually grew to capacity, which led to expansion to neighboring warehouses and production facilities. A distribution center in Orlando, Fla., was added to better serve customers in the southeast.

Currently Eder serves more than 5,000 customers and sells more than 20,000 different products.

Earlier Tuesday, major retailers such as Walmart and Sears, as well as retail ordering services such as Amazon and Ebay, banned the sales of Confederate flags.

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Jockey debuts footwear
June 29, 2015 10:15 AM
Kenosha-based Jockey International Inc., known for men’s undergarments and women’s intimates, announced Tuesday the launch of men's and women's casual footwear. Jockey is partnering with New York-based footwear experts The Eastman Group to design, manufacture and market casual footwear, slippers, flip flops, and athleisure styles for men and women.

Athleisure, a combination of casual and active lifestyles, will be the focus of the collection, filling what Jockey considers to be a void in the industry with “comfortable, casual and durable footwear for a variety of activity levels.”

Jockey said footwear has been a long-awaited category for the brand, and it has been searching for the perfect partner with whom it can expand into the footwear space. The company said The Eastman Group, which specializes in technical fabrics and innovative techniques, is the perfect match for Jockey to provide high quality, comfortable, and innovative apparel to consumers.

"We have found an ideal match with The Eastman Group, which has extensive knowledge of the footwear industry to pair with Jockey's expertise in textile technology and comfort features," said Milou Gwyn, vice president of licensing at Jockey. "This seamless integration of quality, cross-functional, and technology-driven footwear falls perfectly in line with Jockey's commitment to deliver innovative products."

Jockey's new men's and women's footwear collections will feature cutting-edge materials that regulate temperature, cooling in warm weather and insulating in the cold. Additionally, the shoes will include moisture-wicking fabrics with anti-microbial properties. The full collection will feature slippers in the fall months, sandals in the warmer seasons, and casual athleisure footwear year-round.

The new Jockey footwear collection will debut with a soft launch for the spring/summer 2016 season, with a full launch in fall/winter 2016.

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Hokanson appointed president of CL&D Graphics
June 29, 2015 10:17 AM
Oconomowoc-based CL&D Graphics Inc. has named Mike Hokanson president.

Hokanson has more than 20 years of experience heading operations in a variety of industries, including printing. He most recently was vice president of engineering services and senior director of global engineering services at Milwaukee-based Brady Corporation.

“We are excited to add Mike to the team,” Mike Dowling, chief executive officer of CL&D Graphics, said in a press release. “His addition will help CL&D achieve its goals going forward.”

CL&D Graphics serves as a printer for consumer products’ packaging in North America.

“CL&D has a great track record of delivering on their value proposition of speed and customer focus,” Hokanson said. “I’m looking forward to serving our customers and growing the company by continuing to emphasize these strengths.”

Hokanson completed a Master of Business Administration degree at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

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Patrick Cudahy to bring bacon eating contest, giveaways to Summerfest
June 29, 2015 10:21 AM
Patrick Cudahy, a Wisconsin-based brand of Smithfield Foods, is beefing up its support of Summerfest with a new partnership that will introduce a bacon eating contest to the 11-day music festival.

The contest will fall on Friday, deemed Patrick Cudahy Day on the Summerfest grounds. During Patrick Cudahy Day, the first 1,500 Summerfest-goers who enter the festival between noon and 3 p.m. will be given free weekday admission, so long as they show an original grocery store receipt of one pound of Patrick Cudahy Sweet Apple-Wood Smoked Bacon.

Summerfest will also distribute Patrick Cudahy bacon hats to the first 5,000 attendees beginning at 5 p.m.

At 5:45 p.m., the bacon eating contest will kick off as contenders attempt to eat one pound of bacon as fast as they can on the Uline Warehouse Stage.

“We’re very excited to announce our partnership with Summerfest,” Mitch Cooper, marketing manager of Patrick Cudahy, said in an announcement. “Summerfest is one of the nation’s most time-honored traditions and we’re proud to be a part of it. We look forward to sharing in all of the concerts, fun and excitement with Midwest bacon lovers.”

Patrick Cudahy, named the “Official Bacon” of Summerfest, is also behind the FM106.1 Country Music Series, serving as the series presenter. The series will run from Wednesday, June 24, through Sunday, June 28, and from Tuesday, June 30, through Sunday, July 5, with a lineup that will include Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban, Zac Brown Band, Carrie Underwood, Sheryl Crow, Thomas Rhett and other country stars.

Patrick Cudahy will maintain a presence on Summerfest grounds all 11 days at the Patrick Cudahy Say Hey Photo Booth, where festival fans can stage their own photos.

For more information on this year’s Summerfest lineup and schedule of activities, visit

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Best Practices: How to finance heavy equipment for U.S. manufacturing operations
June 29, 2015 10:26 AM
Onshoring has become a major trend in the United States. U.S.-based companies are increasingly pulling their overseas manufacturing efforts and setting up shop in the States. In fact, since 2010, more than 200 companies, most of which are U.S.-based, have brought back production that had been sent out of the country. In addition, foreign companies are increasingly bringing their manufacturing jobs to the United States. According to the Organization for International Investment (OFII), foreign investment in U.S. manufacturing totaled $493 billion from 2007 through 2012, as opposed to a total of $270 billion the previous six years.

Read more.

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Made in Milwaukee: General Plastics to nearly double space, add 15 employees in expansion
June 29, 2015 10:35 AM
When General Plastics Inc. president Robert Porsche bought the Glendale-based company in 1987, it had eight full-time employees, two customers and an 11,000-square-foot facility.

Fast forward about three decades, and General Plastics has 70 employees, more than 100 customers, and a third expansion in the works that will bring the production facility from 51,000 square feet to 93,000 square feet.

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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