Monday, March 17, 2014
Women in Manufacturing launches Milwaukee chapter
March 17, 2014 10:00 AM
Women in Manufacturing (WiM) has announced the launch of its first community chapter in Milwaukee.
The newly established WiM Wisconsin chapter will host a kickoff meeting on Wednesday, March 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Turner Hall Restaurant in downtown Milwaukee. This event will allow women who have chosen a career in manufacturing to network with peers and share ideas.

“We are thrilled to be launching WiM Wisconsin,” said WiM Executive Director Allison Grealis. “Having held our annual summit in Milwaukee in 2012 with great support from women manufacturers across the state, Wisconsin is the perfect location for our inaugural WiM community.”

WiM Wisconsin is directed by Maddie Hayes and Amanda Lalley Waukesha Metal Products, Sussex, WI; and Madeleine Bucheger, AFC America Ltd., Gurnee, IL. 

“We are very fortunate to have Maddie, Amanda and Madeleine championing the WiM community in Milwaukee,” continued Grealis. “They are a great example of young women in manufacturing leading the way.”

WiM communities are designed to bring together women in their states, allowing them to develop new contacts, participate in local networking events and become an advocate for women in the manufacturing industry—all while simultaneously learning about business development and job opportunities in their communities.

For more information or to register for the WiM Wisconsin kickoff meeting on March 26, visit

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Made in Milwaukee: ‘Ma Baensch steeped in tradition’
March 17, 2014 10:00 AM
Polish tradition says good luck comes to those who eat herring as the first bite of the New Year, and Milwaukee-based Baensch Food Products Co. has been serving up this traditional good luck food under the Ma Baensch brand for the better part of a century.
Read more about the company in the new issue of BizTimes Milwaukee magazine.  

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Harley hosts event at ‘Captain America’ premiere
March 17, 2014 11:00 AM
Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson and Marvel LLC hosted an event at Marvel's “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” movie premiere in Hollywood on March 13, following the close of the red carpet.
Fans at the event were spontaneously selected to walk and experience the official red carpet and to check out a brand new Street 750 motorcycle along with the stars of the film, who autographed the bike for charity.

In its continued partnership with Marvel Comics, Harley-Davidson's presence at the premiere included six Harley-Davidson motorcycles along the red carpet.

Captain America has been riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles since his introduction in 1941, and the latest chapter of the film saga is no different, the company said. A new Harley-Davidson Street 750 motorcycle is featured in the film, which will be in theaters on April 4. 

To commemorate the premiere, the company donated the autographed Street 750 motorcycle to “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” star Chris Evans to award to his charity of choice.

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Bravo/IQ awards to honor innovators
March 17, 2014 10:00 AM
Do you know of an innovative company or a bold, entrepreneurial company leader?
If so, nominate them for the 2014 BizTimes Bravo! Entrepreneur Awards or I.Q. (Innovation Quotient) Awards.

The Bravo! Entrepreneur Awards salute bold and innovative company leaders. To be considered for the awards, nominees should demonstrate the best traits of entrepreneurship; including a willingness to take risk, drive, perseverance and innovation.

The I.Q. Awards salute companies for their innovations in their products or services. Judges will choose the most innovative, clever and unique products, services or processes among the companies nominated.

Self-nominations are encouraged. Nominees for the Bravo! Entrepreneur and IQ Awards must be based in Wisconsin and have a physical presence in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington, Sheboygan, Racine, Walworth or Kenosha County.

Past recipients of the BizTimes Bravo! Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award have included: entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael Cudahy; Sheldon Lubar, founder and chairman of Lubar & Co. in Milwaukee; Fritz and Debra Usinger of the Usinger family; Stephen Marcus of The Marcus Corp.; Richard Pieper of PPC Partners Inc.; George Dalton of Fiserv Inc.; Robert Kern of Generac; Joe Zilber of Towne Realty; and Harry Quadracci of Quad/Graphics Inc.

To see a video of last year’s awards ceremony, click here.

The winners of the 2014 awards will be honored at the Bravo!/IQ Awards Luncheon at the BizExpo on Wednesday, May 21, at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee.

For more information and to nominate a company or company leader for the awards, visit The deadline is March 24.

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Sensient creates new director role
March 17, 2014 10:00 AM
Milwaukee-based color, flavor and fragrance manufacturer Sensient Technologies Corp. has created the position of independent lead director.
The company has named existing board member Dr. Elaine R. Wedral to the post. She will be responsible for coordinating the independent and non-management directors’ activities, and serve as the main liaison between them and the chairman.

Sensient also plans in December to change its long-term equity incentive compensation plan for company officers to 100 percent performance-based, versus the 50 percent performance-based model currently in place.

“Today’s actions are important additional steps in our ongoing efforts to enhance our corporate governance practices,” said Kenneth P. Manning, chairman of the board. “We are pleased to appoint Dr. Wedral, a valuable contributor to the board with diverse, relevant experience, to the important new role of independent lead director. In addition, the changes we are making to our pay practices create an industry-leading long-term incentive compensation plan and further align the interests of our officers with our shareholders and the long-term success of the company.”

Earlier this week, the company announced a restructuring plan to eliminate underperforming operations, improve efficiencies and consolidate manufacturing facilities.

All of the changes follow a hostile board takeover attempt by Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund FrontFour Master Fund Ltd. Last month, FrontFour indicated that it plans to nominate four people to Sensient’s board of directors at the next annual meeting of shareholders.

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New building planned in Oak Creek for Stella and Chewy’s
March 17, 2014 10:00 AM
Stella & Chewy’s LLC, a producer of natural pet food for dogs and cats, plans to move its operations from Milwaukee to a new 160,000-square-foot industrial building that is planned in the OakView Business Park in Oak Creek, according to sources.
Founded in 2003, Stella & Chewy’s moved in 2011 from a 17,000-square-foot space in Muskego to a 48,862-square-foot space at 2842 S. 5th Ct. on the south side of Milwaukee.

The company’s growth has continued since then and it needs a larger facility, one source said.
“They need even more space (than the company has in Milwaukee),” one source said. “Their market segment is exploding.”

Stella & Chewy’s will be the first tenant in the OakView Business Park, a 220-acre business park that is being developed by Wispark LLC southwest of West Oakwood Road and South Howell Avenue.

Wispark President Jerry Franke and a representative for Stella and Chewy's could not be reached for comment.

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Magnetek down on lower product sales
March 17, 2014 10:00 AM
Menomonee Falls-based Magnetek Inc. has reported fourth quarter net income of $373,000, or 11 cents per share, down from $1.02 million, or 31 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Revenue was $25.2 million for the quarter, down from $29.7 million in the same period a year ago.

The company attributed the revenue decrease to lower material handling product sales, which were down $4.2 million year over year.

"We experienced continuing softness in our end markets during the fourth quarter, particularly in material handling markets, which we believe peaked at least in the near-term in the second half of 2012," said Peter McCormick, president and chief executive officer. "The year-over-year decrease in material handling sales is representative of continuing economic uncertainties, which resulted in a lack of larger project business for us throughout much of 2013. Despite the sales decline, gross margins exceeded 34 percent, our continuing operations remained firmly profitable, and we continued to make solid progress in reducing our pension obligation."

For the full year, the power and motion control manufacturer reported net income of $3.1 million, or 94 cents per share, down from $12.6 million, or $3.90 per share, in 2012.

Revenue was $103.3 million in 2013, down from $114.3 million in the prior year.

Magnetek attributed the decrease to lower sales on the material handling products, as well as mining products, which were down 47 percent year-over-year.

"We continued to focus on organic growth, asset management, and cash flow during 2013," McCormick said. "Conditions in our end markets were not conducive to growth, and we experienced uneven demand throughout the year. In response to the continuing slow growth environment, we implemented a number of actions in terms of pricing, repositioning, and cost reductions during our third quarter to better assure acceptable levels of profit at existing sales volumes. We also improved our asset management as the year progressed, and generated sufficient cash to fund near-term growth initiatives and meet our pension obligations. Regarding our pension, we contributed nearly $25 million to plan assets during the year in an effort to improve the funded status of the plan, and we made meaningful progress toward that goal during fiscal 2013, aided by asset returns and interest rates increases in addition to our contributions. The improvement in our pension should favorably impact our earnings and cash flow going forward."

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Manpower survey projects robust hiring in Milwaukee
March 17, 2014 10:00 AM
The hiring outlook for the metropolitan Milwaukee market ranks second-best in the nation, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.
According to the survey, employers in the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis market expect to hire at a rapid pace during the second quarter. From April to June, 27 percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees, while 5 percent expect to reduce staff, yielding a Net Employment Outlook of 22 percent. Another 66 percent expect to maintain their current workforce levels and 2 percent are not certain of their hiring plans.

The Milwaukee market trailed only Provo, Utah, which recorded a positive outlook of +29 percent.

"Hiring activity is expected to increase considerably during the second quarter of 2014 compared to Quarter 1 when the Net Employment Outlook was 7 percent," said Manpower spokeswoman Nicole Langley. "Employers expect improved employment prospects compared with one year ago when the Net Employment Outlook was 18 percent."

For the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in Construction, Durable Goods Manufacturing, Nondurable Goods Manufacturing, Transportation & Utilities, Wholesale & Retail Trade, Information,  Financial Activities, Professional & Business Services, Education & Health Services, Leisure & Hospitality and Other Services. Hiring in Government is expected to remain unchanged.

Of the more than 18,000 employers surveyed in the United States, 19 percent expect to add to their workforces, and 4 percent expect a decline in their payrolls during the second quarter. Seventy-three percent  of employers anticipate making no change to staff levels, and the remaining 4 percent of employers are undecided about their hiring plans. When seasonal variations are removed from the data, the Net Employment Outlook is +13 percent, stable compared to the first quarter Net Employment Outlook of +13 percent.

“Although we expect measured, stable growth in new hiring for the coming quarter, the good news is that employers anticipate the lowest rate of workforce reductions in nearly four decades,” said ManpowerGroup president Jonas Prising. “With ninety-two percent of U.S. employers planning to hire or keep their staff levels steady, there is a sense of optimism that demand for goods and services is getting more predictable, allowing employers to feel more comfortable about business growth.”

Looking forward, Prising said, “To keep the momentum going, employers need to rethink their talent strategies so they can make the most of continued demand when they feel it. Flexible workforce models that incorporate a mix of full-time and contract staff are essential to getting ahead in today’s uncertain economic cycles. By remaining agile, business leaders can create adaptive workforces that leverage advanced technology and specialized teams to drive strong results.”

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Laacke & Joys buys Brookfield building for manufacturing operations
March 17, 2014 10:00 AM
An affilate of Laacke & Joys Co. recently purchased a 51,000-square-foot industrial building in Brookfield currently occupied by a Pella Windows & Doors operation. Laacke & Joys plans to move its manufacturing operations to the building from downtown Milwaukee.
The Laacke & Joys affiliate bought the building at 3205 N. 124th St., Brookfield, for about $1.92 million from the Green Bay-based Calawerts Family Limited Partnership, according to state records. The building has an assessed value of about $3.96 million, according to Waukesha County records.

Laacke & Joys was represented by Bill Langhoff of Colliers International|Wisconsin and the Calawerts Family Limited Partnership was represented by Sam Dickman Jr. and Sam Dickman Sr. of The Dickman Company.

Laacke & Joys will move its manufacturing operations to the Brookfield building from 1433 N. Water St. in downtown Milwaukee, Langhoff said. The company has closed its store in the downtown Milwaukee building.

The Laacke & Joys building on Water Street was sold in 2012 to Riverwater Partners LLC, a group representing Adam and Laura Peck. The Harmony Initiative, a collaboration of the Milwaukee Ballet Company, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts and the Medical College of Wisconsin, is working on plans to establish operations there.

The Pella Windows & Doors operation in the Brookfield building that was purchased by Laacke & Joys plans to relocate, Langhoff said. The Pella operation uses the building for installation, distribution, retail and administrative purposes, but has only been using about a third of the building, he said.

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Snowy winter boosts Douglas Dynamics
March 17, 2014 10:00 AM
Milwaukee-based Douglas Dynamics Inc., which manufactures snow and ice control equipment for light trucks, today reported fourth quarter and full year results.

In the fourth quarter, net income was $8.5 million, or 38 cents per share, up from a loss of $1 million, or 5 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Revenue for the fourth quarter was $72.9 million, up from $28.2 million in the same period a year ago.

Snowfall totals were much higher in 2013 than in 2012, which contributed to the large increase in quarterly earnings, the company said.

"Record fourth quarter sales signify a continued improvement in business conditions compared to last year, as snowfall levels were strong across core markets," said James L. Janik, president and chief executive officer. "Our financial results underscore the importance of our operational excellence and the competitive advantage of our manufacturing flexibility and supply chain, which enabled us to adapt efficiently to increased levels of demand and strengthen our relationships with our dealers."

For the full year, net income was $11.6 million, or 52 cents per share, up from $6 million, or 27 cents per share, in 2012.

Revenue for 2013 was $194.3 million, up from $140 million in 2012.

"Following the challenging market conditions we saw in 2012, the positive results for 2013 mark an important step in what we anticipate is a two year return to normal business conditions," Janik said. "As we progress further into 2014, we are encouraged by sustained strong snowfall levels across many of our core markets in the early part of our first quarter and positive non-snowfall indicators within our business such as significantly lower field inventory, strong retail re-order sales, improving dealer sentiment as well as continually improving light truck sales. We remain steadfast in our focus on enhancing margins and leveraging our industry leading product portfolio, which includes our record number of new product launches in 2013 and our TrynEx assets, to better serve the needs of our customers. We will continue to invest prudently in 2014 and beyond to drive future growth and profitability."

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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 » The Paranet Group
» Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership
» MSOE's Business Excellence Consortium
» Center for Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) at the University of Wisconsin
» UW-Milwaukee Center for Continuing Engineering Education
Other resources » American Society for Quality
» Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce
» Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation
» Wisconsin Department of Commerce
» 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
» MATC's Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM) facility

Molly Newman This exclusive news bulletin is compiled by BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Molly Newman. This bulletin is published every Monday morning. Send manufacturing industry news and tips to or call her at (414) 336-7144.
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