Monday, October 27, 2014
WCTC continues Integrated Manufacturing Center fundraising
October 27, 2014 09:26 AM
Waukesha County Technical College announced on Friday that it plans to continue fundraising while moving ahead with plans to build a $4.5 million Integrated Manufacturing Center. To date, the WCTC Foundation has raised nearly $1.4 million toward the project, but it needs to raise $2 million to take advantage of an anonymous donor’s $1 million pledge.

“Time and time again we have heard from manufacturers that the $4.5 million training center would be the best option to produce the skilled employees they need, and we remain committed to making this happen for them,” said Mike Shiels, dean of the WCTC School of Applied Technologies. “We have received overwhelming support from employers and are grateful for their contributions. We are actively working with several more employers on gift commitments.”

WCTC administration and WCTC Foundation representatives provided an IMC campaign update to the WCTC District Board last week, during which time they presented several options to continue with the project, including a recommendation for a two-phase, design-build process. The board was in consensus that the $4.5 million building would best meet the needs of employers and the community.

“The WCTC District Board wholeheartedly supports this project as we feel it is in the best interest of our students, employers and the economic vitality of our community,” said WCTC District Board chair Pauline Jaske. “We have encouraged college staff to move forward with plans for the $4.5 million building as the WCTC Foundation continues to reach out to area manufacturers for financial support.”

With hopes of securing the additional funds needed by January– and to keep the college’s overall master facilities plan on target—WCTC will now move forward with the project’s architectural and engineering firms to plan for a two-phase design build-out by floor (ground floor and second floor) with plans to break ground in April. If the funds are not raised by January, the project could be delayed to break ground in fall 2015.

WCTC announced in late August a $1 million pledge from an anonymous donor toward the WCTC Foundation’s fundraising campaign for the IMC. The pledge was made with the caveat that the college secures an additional $2 million in private funds for the project, which, if realized to its full build-out, will cost about $4.5 million.

The proposed 24,000-square-foot center will be connected to the college’s existing industrial building and will be home to several programs within the School of Applied Technologies. The college plans to spend $1.5 million on the project in accordance with the state’s limit on capital project spending. WCTC has been working closely with the Waukesha County Business Alliance and the group’s Manufacturing Executive Council on the IMC capital campaign.

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Washington County school officials learn from manufacturers
October 27, 2014 09:34 AM
Washington County school officials called their tours of area manufacturers last week an eye-opening, informative experience. They learned what they're doing right in their classrooms and what they can improve, and they formed new partnerships.

Organized by the Washington County Workforce Alliance, the tours were meant to help educators better understand the needs of today’s workplaces.

“We should be preparing students for the world of work, but how often do we get out into the real world of work?” said Daren Sievers, the superintendent of the Slinger School District. “We needed to take a day to get out and see how it functions today.”

Over two days last week, more than 100 educators including teachers and administrators from the Slinger, West Bend and Kewaskum School Districts visited six manufacturers and two health care facilities.

For instance, 20 teachers and four administrators from the Slinger School District visited Maysteel LLC, a manufacturer of precision sheet metal enclosures, in Allenton; Triton Trailers LLC, a manufacturer of aluminum trailers in Hartford; and Aurora Advanced Healthcare in Hartford.

The following day, the group reconvened to discuss what they learned and to plan next steps.

Among the district’s future initiatives is to set up an internship program for its metal fabrication students at Maysteel, grow an already established internship program at Triton, and explore a certified nursing assistant program with Aurora.

Meanwhile, Sievers said the tours reaffirmed to the Slinger School District that it is on the right track with its technology and engineering departments, as well as its software courses.

Still, he and Kewaskum School District superintendent Jim Smasal both said work can always be done to continue teaching students soft skills such as accountability, reliability, communication and collaboration.

According to Smasal, approximately 130 teachers and 10 administrators visited Triton and Maysteel in addition to Regal Ware Inc., a maker of cookware, in Kewaskum; Serigraph Inc., a designer and manufacturer of decorative, functional and brand-related graphics, in West Bend; and Signicast Investment Castings, a leading provider of investment castings.

Smasal said the Kewaskum School District officials will have a meeting in November to discuss what they learned from the tours. Then in December he plans for the businesses to visit the schools to discuss future partnerships.

As for the district’s curriculum, he said he wants to give students more opportunities to apply their math skills and teach them how to create an environment in which they want to live and work. He said the latter can be achieved through a strong work ethic, a positive attitude and working well and professionally with colleagues.

Finally, Smasal said the work in preparing students for today’s work world needs to include parent involvement.

“We need to get the message out to parents and to show them what this century’s manufacturing looks like,” he said. “There’s many lifelong beneficial careers in manufacturing that we shouldn’t look down our nose at. It’s very computerized and very group-orientated, and there’s much more skills needed than people realize.”

Sievers added, “There’s a lot of assumptions and myths about manufacturing, but it’s not dirty and it’s not repetitive. It’s high-tech and high-skilled.”

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BizTimes begins new 'Best Practices' feature
October 27, 2014 09:41 AM
Beginning today, BizTimes Milwaukee's Manufacturing Weekly e-newsletter will run a new, regular feature called Best Practices.

Best Practices will highlight various articles from manufacturing publications that are intended to give our readers the most important manufacturing news, as well as insight into how to run their businesses better.

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Best Practices: Lessons in using the five senses
October 27, 2014 09:45 AM
“Gemba is a gold mine,” Teruyuki Maruo

If you were led blindfolded onto a working production floor, would you be able to sniff out the problem areas?  Could you immediately pinpoint the exact causes of bad quality and late shipments with your eyes closed?

Read more.

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Best Practices: Where should supply management report in a manufacturing organization's hierarchy?
October 27, 2014 09:50 AM
A previous blog, “Should Procurement Have a Seat at the Table?” is directly related to the question of organizational structure.

Consequently, the issue presented in the title to this blog is one that is loaded with emotion. Perhaps the best way to both defuse this emotion and determine manufacturing’s optimal procurement function reporting structure is by identifying and eliminating those functional areas that should definitely be avoided. Even if this process does not result in a “last man standing” scenario, it will certainly reduce the options.

Read more.

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Sensient earnings fall
October 27, 2014 09:57 AM
Milwaukee-based Sensient Technologies Corp. has reported third quarter net earnings of $21.3 million, or 44 cents per share, down from $31.5 million, or 63 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

Revenue at the flavor and color manufacturer was $364.5 million, down from $370.5 million in the same period a year ago.

The Color Group reported revenue of $127.8 million in the quarter, up from $124.1 million in the third quarter last year. The Flavors & Fragrance Group had revenue of $215.5 million, down from $225 million a year ago. And the Corporate & Other segment reported flat revenue at $36.2 million.

Some of the decline was attributed to restructuring costs.

“Sensient’s strong third quarter results were in line with our expectations,” said Paul Manning, president and CEO of Sensient Technologies. “The Color Group continues to deliver consistent growth and sustainable profit margins. The Flavors & Fragrances Group is on track to deliver operating margins in the high teens within the next few years. We remain optimistic about growth opportunities for both groups.”

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Strattec reports record quarter
October 27, 2014 10:01 AM
Milwaukee-based Strattec Security Corp. reported fiscal 2015 first quarter net income of $10.3 million, or $2.55 per share, up from $3.9 million, or 91 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

Revenue was $122.2 million, up from $79.6 million in the same period last year.

The company’s net sales to Chrysler Group LLC were $32 million, up from $26.6 million in the first quarter of 2014. General Motor Co. sales brought in $44.9 million, up from $15 million a year ago. Sales to Ford Motor Co. totaled $11.8 million, up from $11.4 million in the first quarter of 2014.

Strattec, which designs, develops, manufactures and markets automotive access control products, attributed the increase to higher vehicle production volumes and more of its products being used in vehicles it supplies.

"On behalf of all STRATTEC associates, it is a great pleasure for us to announce the results of an outstanding three months,” said Frank Krejci, president and CEO. “In our core business, we experienced the combination of a strong automotive market and benefits from our strategic initiatives which resulted in an 18 percent increase in sales versus last year.  For a limited period of time, unpredictable market circumstances in our service business added another 35 percent to our revenues. Extraordinary efforts by our hourly and salary associates to respond to unusual customer demands and higher utilization of assets combined to generate significant incremental margin. It resulted in an unusually good quarter in which sales and profit broke our previous records.”

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Generac acquires Pramac America assets
October 27, 2014 10:05 AM
Waukesha-based Generac Power Systems has acquired some assets of Kearney, Neb.-based Pramac America LLC, from Siena, Italy-based Pramac Industries Inc.

The transaction price was not disclosed.

Pramac America manufactures and distributes portable generators, water pumps and other related products under the Pramac, Powermate, DeWalt and Porter Cable brands under a licensing agreement with the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Generac purchased the Powermate brand, working capital and equipment from Pramac. It will also assume the licensing agreement for the DeWalt and Porter Cable brands. The entity will be renamed Powermate America LLC.

Pramac previously announced it will close its Kearney facility. That closure will still happen, Generac said, but it will retain the Marietta, Ga. location and operate the business from there.

Generac acquired the assets to expand its portable engine powered tools offerings.

“It will provide even greater distribution opportunities for both companies and allow Generac to leverage our combined scale and strength to create value for our customers in sourcing, distribution, manufacturing and product design,” a Generac spokesman said.

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Koss reports loss on lower European sales
October 27, 2014 10:08 AM
Milwaukee-based Koss Corp., the high-fidelity headphone manufacturer, reported a fiscal 2015 first quarter net loss of $94,998, or a 1 cent loss per share, compared with net income of $79,402, or 1 cent per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

Revenue was $5.5 million, down from $6.8 million in the same period a year ago.  

Koss reported a 2014 net loss of $5.6 million and 2014 revenue of $23.8 million, down 33 percent from 2013. The company, which recently suspended operations in Mexico because of low demand, attributed its continued earnings slump to lower European sales.

"Sales, especially in Europe, remain soft. We have begun to see the full impact of our cost reduction initiatives in the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2014," said Michael Koss, president and chief executive officer. "Sales in Europe were off approximately $1 million with Ukraine and Czech Republic accounting for most of this sales decline compared to the same quarter last year. U.S. sales changes were impacted by a large promotional load-in order with a customer in last year's first quarter. When adjusted for that load-in sale, U.S. sales were actually higher this quarter as compared to last year."

Koss continued, "While we are certainly disappointed with recent sales figures, especially in the export markets, we have taken actions to significantly reduce our costs and conserve cash. These cost reductions included suspending our Mexico operations and curtailing the STRIVA product line development. There were also many other actions that helped reduce selling, general and administrative expenses by almost $1 million from last year's levels."

The company determined that based on the financial results, it would not declare a dividend for the quarter. Koss will determine whether to declare and the amount of any future dividends on a quarter-by-quarter basis.

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Strong sales in China propel A.O. Smith
October 27, 2014 10:12 AM
A.O. Smith Corp. has reported third quarter net earnings of $50.6 million, or 56 cents per share, up from $46.2 million, or 50 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The company’s quarterly sales grew 8.5 percent to $581.6 million from $536.2 million a year earlier.

"A. O. Smith continued to benefit from improvement in several key sectors of the economy in the U. S.," said Ajita Rajendra, chairman and chief executive officer. "A growing home construction market created higher demand for residential water heaters, and continued strength in high efficiency, condensing boilers, favorably impacted demand for commercial boilers. Our team in China continued to do an excellent job of growing the business and serving our customers in that important region of the world. Increased consumer demand for water heaters and water treatment products had a favorable impact. Overall, China sales increased approximately 16 percent in the quarter."

Third quarter sales for the North America segment increased approximately6 percent to $392.4 million compared with third quarter 2013 sales of $370.1 million, driven by higher sales of residential water heaters and commercial boilers and a price increase implemented May 1, 2014.

Looking forward, Rajendra said, "Our A. O. Smith team continues to execute at a high level, and our focus on customer satisfaction and cost management can be seen in our strong financial performance to date. With improved market conditions in our major markets, and continued customer acceptance of our products in China, we feel confident about our company's prospects for the remainder of this year."

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Harley earnings slide
October 27, 2014 10:16 AM
Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. has reported third quarter net income of $150.1 million, or 69 cents per share, down from $162.7 million, or 73 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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Kohler Engines names new president
October 27, 2014 10:19 AM
Following former Kohler Engines president Tom Cromwell’s appointment to group president at Kohler Co.’s Power Group in September, the company has promoted Brian Melka to the role of president of Engines Americas.

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

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

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

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

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

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Menasha Packaging plans $5 million Hartford expansion
October 27, 2014 10:25 AM
Neenah-based Menasha Packaging Co. LLC is planning a $5 million expansion of its production capacity in Hartford.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Neenah-based Menasha Corp. that makes graphic packaging and product merchandising solutions, is expanding capacity to meet customer demand. It also plans to add 74 employees, some of whom will be at the Hartford plant and some of whom will be in support operations roles in Neenah.

The expansion will include new machinery and equipment, and the addition of a third shift to increase production. The facility is at 621 Wacker Drive in Hartford.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has approved $502,000 in economic development tax credits for Menasha Packaging over the next three years to assist with the project. The tax credits are contingent upon the company creating the agreed upon number of jobs.

“I’m pleased that Menasha Packaging—after looking at options in other states—decided to go forward with the expansion in Wisconsin, where the company has six facilities," said Gov. Scott Walker. “Manufacturing remains a vital component of Wisconsin’s economy and because of the successes of companies like Menasha Packaging, the state is outpacing the nation when it comes to growth in manufacturing jobs.”

“The commitment from WEDC was an important factor in our decision,” said Mike Waite, president of Menasha Packaging. “The capital investment in Hartford will support the company’s growth and allow us to continue to meet and exceed the needs of our broad customer base.”

Menasha Packaging has more than 2,400 employees at 30 facilities nationwide, six of which are in Wisconsin. About 900 of the employees are in Wisconsin.

The company expanded its Hartford facility to 269,000 square feet in 2010.

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New hires and promotions
October 27, 2014 10:29 AM
St. Francis-based Wixon Inc., a manufacturer of seasonings, flavors and technologies for the food and beverage industry, has hired Nathan Radue as project manager for the company’s protein division.

In this newly-created position, Radue will lead projects in support of Wixon’s operations, sales, marketing, regulatory and quality assurance/quality control departments. He will also oversee new product development projects and sales opportunities with an emphasis on meeting strategic goals and driving efficiencies to continue growth of the protein division.

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Made in Milwaukee: New disinfection system drives PreventaMed's rapid growth
October 27, 2014 10:32 AM
Jeff Veenhuis formed PreventaMed Technologies Inc. two years ago with the goal of preventing, minimizing and alleviating illnesses and injuries.

PreventaMed manufactures contamination assist trays and distributes cooling products and heat stress safety kits, but it has entered its biggest foray with the Surfacide Helios Disinfection System, an innovation that Veenhuis said will be the primary driver in growing the company's annual revenue from approximately $1 million to up to $10 million in the next 12 months.

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)
» MSOE's Business Excellence Consortium
» 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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