Monday, November 17, 2014
Manufacturer of the Year applications due Friday
November 17, 2014 09:30 AM
Applications for the 2014 Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year Award program are due Friday. The winners will be announced at an award ceremony scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 26 at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

Now in its 27th year, the Manufacturer of the Year Award program pays tribute to the numerous manufacturers in Wisconsin across all industries and sectors of the economy who remain devoted to creating a better quality of life for the citizens of Wisconsin.

Nominees will be divided into four categories determined by size: small (1-99 employees), medium (100-299 employees), large (300-750 employees) and mega (751+ employees). Nominees may also apply for the Workforce Development award, which recognizes companies who have gone above and beyond to create and implement policies that help develop the workforce of tomorrow.

All manufacturers with significant physical presence/operations in Wisconsin are eligible to apply. There is no entry fee.

Last year’s Grand Award winners were Mercury Marine of Fond du Lac in the mega category; Masters Gallery Foods Inc. of Plymouth in the large category; Badger Alloys Inc. of Milwaukee in the medium category; Tailored Label Products Inc. of Menomonee Falls in the small category; and Alto-Shaam Inc. of Menomonee Falls in the Workforce Development Category.

As for Special Awards, Alliance Laundry Systems LLC in Ripon won the Investing Locally, Growing Globally Award; Realityworks Inc. in Eau Claire received the Innovation Excellence Award; Schuette Metals of Rothschild collected the Investing in the Future Award; and Xten Industries LLC of Kenosha earned the Employee Engagement & Commitment Award.

The Manufacturer of the Year Award program is sponsored by Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

For more information on how to apply, visit

comment »

IEWC announces leadership changes to U.S. business units
November 17, 2014 09:38 AM
As a result of New Berlin-based IEWC’s continued growth, the company has announced several changes to its leadership structure.

Effective Nov. 3, Chris Reich became business development director with national responsibilities in coordinating key growth initiatives within the U.S. division.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to leverage Chris’ commercial strengths to continue our aggressive expansion and availability of services within the U.S. market,” said Mark Christie, vice president of the U.S. division.

Effective January, IEWC is also making leadership changes within its U.S. West and U.S. South business units with the appointments of Marie-Claude Milot (U.S. West) and Pete Henrikson (U.S. South) as business unit directors.

“With the addition of Marie-Claude and Pete to IEWC’s team of U.S. business unit directors, IEWC has created a high-performance leadership structure, which will position the U.S. division for its next wave of growth and ensure that our customers continue to receive the exceptional service they have come to expect from IEWC,” said Kyle Spader, president of the U.S. division.

IEWC is a premier global supplier of wire, cable and wire management products with distribution centers strategically located throughout the world.

comment »

Manufacturing awards
November 17, 2014 09:42 AM

Milwaukee-based craft brewer Lakefront Brewery Inc. announced it won two medals in the 2014 European Beer Star. Lakefront’s Eastside Dark won the gold medal in the Bohemian-Style Schwarzbier category and its Holiday Spice Lager won silver in the Herb and Spice Beer category.

Held at the Nuremburg Convention Center in Germany, the 11th annual European Beer Star features a tasting panel of German brewmasters and is one of the most challenging beer competitions worldwide. The competition draws international participation with more than 1,600 entrant beers from breweries in over 40 countries.

“Some of the European brewers in the category have been making beer for hundreds of years; for us to enter and take gold says we’re producing some world-class beer,” said Lakefront Brewery’s president, Russ Klisch.

Klisch mentioned new brewhouse equipment playing a role in the awards, but largely gave credit to his staff, saying, “We have some of the most talented and passionate brewers in the business, and the best equipment in the world couldn’t replace that.”

Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp.’s Mow 'N' Stow engine, exclusively on Toro Recycler mowers with SmartStow, was chosen as a winner in the home category of Popular Science magazine’s 27th annual Top 100: Best of What's New Awards.

Every year Popular Science chooses the top 100 innovations from among thousands of entries. Judged on significance of innovation, quality of design, originality, ambition and scope of the project, the 100 winners make up thirteen categories, including engineering, entertainment, green, and health and home.

Briggs & Stratton's Mow 'N' Stow engine technology allows consumers to fold and store their Toro Recycler mower with SmartStow upright, requiring 70 percent less storage space than a traditional mower. Specific design innovations included redesigned vents and new oil seals to keep oil and gas in place when the engine is stored upright.

"All of our innovations are based on what we hear directly from our consumer research and Mow 'n' Stow is no exception," said Rick Zeckmeister, Briggs & Stratton vice president of marketing and planning. "In partnership with Toro, we literally changed the way people will store their mower, which gives them more garage space—something they said they desperately need. Receiving this recognition from the nationally renowned publication Popular Science further proves this is a breakthrough innovation."

Kenosha-based Snap-on Inc. captured seven People’s Choice Awards as voted by the readers of Professional Tool & Equipment News magazine. The 2014 PTEN People's Choice Awards feature the top 25 products selected by PTEN readers as the best among all the products nominated by manufacturers for the annual Innovation Awards.

Snap-on products won the most of any company. Their award-winning products were the 14.4V MicroLithium Cordless Ratchets, the 18V Lithium Compact Cordless Impact Wrench, the TechAngle Electronic Torque Wrench, the True Digital Video Borescope, the 14.4V MicroLithium Cordless Drill, the Automotive Service Tray and the Heavy Duty Diagnostic Cart.

"It's a tremendous honor to receive seven of the PTEN 2014 People's Choice Awards in its inaugural year," said Tom Kassouf, president of Snap-on Tools Group. "These awards are especially meaningful to us because they were chosen by the readers of PTEN–the people who use our products every day. These innovative products demonstrate our deep customer connections that enable us to help make work easier for professionals."

comment »

Best Practices: Five manufacturing trends that will shape the market in 2015
November 17, 2014 09:50 AM
As 2015 approaches it's time to look ahead at emerging trends that will impact 21st century manufacturing around the globe.

The entire supply chain ecosystem—encompassing manufacturers, distributors and retailers—is undergoing a business transformation. This is in response to changing dynamics involving shifting consumer expectations, time to market and intense global competition that is being dictated by the rising Internet and mobile economies.

Read more.

comment »

BizTimes launches new BizTracker news service
November 17, 2014 09:54 AM
BizTimes Media launched last week BizTracker, a new Wisconsin business news data digital streaming service for its readers.

The new service is available directly at and streams in real time across the home page at

The BizTracker will aggregate the latest business data reports of interest for BizTimes readers.

“This new feature will add value to the breadth of coverage we provide to keep Wisconsin business executives apprised of the latest and greatest information to help them make more informed decisions,” said BizTimes publisher Dan Meyer.

The BizTracker will provide data in the following news sub-categories: the economy; employment; manufacturing; finance; health care; real estate; entertainment; retail; and transportation.

The BizTimes BizTracker is presented in partnership with Associated Bank.

comment »

Stockholders selling Rexnord common stock
November 17, 2014 09:57 AM
Milwaukee-based Rexnord Corp. recently announced the launch of a public offering of 14,729,045 shares of its common stock held by certain funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management LLC headquartered in New York City.

The only selling stockholders, the Apollo funds are offering to sell all the shares of Rexnord they currently own. Rexnord will not issue shares in the offering and will not receive any proceeds from the sale of the shares by the Apollo funds in this offering.

Credit Suisse, which is acting as the sole underwriter for the offering, proposes to offer the shares of common stock from time to time for sale in one or more transactions on the New York Stock Exchange, in the over-the-counter market, through negotiated transactions or otherwise at prevailing market prices, at prices related to prevailing market prices or at negotiated prices.

Rexnord has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the offering.

comment »

Snap-on appoints new director to board
November 17, 2014 10:00 AM
Kenosha-based Snap-on Inc.’s board of directors has appointed Donald Stebbins as a director, effective Jan. 4.

Stebbins serves as president and chief executive officer of Superior Industries International Inc., a manufacturer of aluminum wheels for the automotive industry headquartered in California. He previously served as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Visteon Corp., an automotive components manufacturer headquartered in Michigan.

“Snap-on welcomes Don Stebbins to its board of directors,” said W. Dudley Lehman, Snap-on director and chair of the corporate governance and nominating committee. “With his substantial operational and financial experience, Don will be a great addition to our board. We look forward to his significant contributions to the Snap-on team.”

Stebbins’ appointment increases the size of the board of directors to 10 members. In accordance with Snap-on’s bylaws, he will serve for a term expiring at the 2015 annual meeting of shareholders and will be subject to annual election thereafter.

comment »

ZBB Energy narrows loss
November 17, 2014 10:05 AM
Menomonee Falls-based ZBB Energy Corp. reported a fiscal 2015 first quarter net loss of $2.2 million, or nine cents lost per share, compared with a net loss of $2.7 million, or 15 cents lost per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

The company, which develops renewable energy power platforms and hybrid vehicle control systems, reported revenue of $564,861, down from $1.1 million in the same period a year ago.

During the quarter, the company received a $3.3 million equity infusion for its China JV division that resulted in a gain of $1.3 million in income. It also completed a secondary offering of 13 million shares that brought in net proceeds of about $13.7 million.

"Much of the attention in the renewable energy market has been focused on the large energy storage projects mandated by various regulatory agencies," said Eric Apfelbach, chief executive officer. "While we will continue to bid for this large section of business, these projects will take multiple years to develop and be operational. We believe there are multiple opportunities in the near-term within the commercial and industrial and utilities markets, including behind-the-meter, microgrid power systems and our GridStrong conservation voltage reduction application. We are also focused on international markets and island projects where energy storage has been more readily adopted, as well as working with our strategic partners to leverage potential sales channels and reduce product and manufacturing costs. We believe this sales strategy will ultimately bring our company to cash flow breakeven and profitability."

comment »

Rockwell reports record 2014 sales
November 17, 2014 10:08 AM
Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc. reported fiscal 2014 fourth quarter net income of $248.7 million, or $1.79 per share, up from $215.3 million, or $1.53 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Revenue was $1.8 billion, up from $1.7 million in the same period a year ago.

"Results in the quarter were about as we expected with strong earnings on solid sales growth,” said Keith Nosbusch, chairman and chief executive officer. “Adjusted EPS grew an impressive 15 percent on 4.4 percent organic sales growth.”

For the full year, the global industrial automation firm reported net income of $826.8 million, or $5.91 per share, up from $756.3 million, or $5.36 per share, in 2013.

Revenue was $6.6 billion, up from $6.3 billion in 2013.

The architecture and software segment sales increased 6.1 percent over last year, while the control products and solutions segment reported a 3 percent increase year-over-year.

“For the full year we again achieved record sales and earnings per share,” Nosbusch said. “The U.S. led our sales performance with 7 percent organic growth, while segment operating margin increased almost a point for the second year in a row.”

comment »

FaB and MATC release more details on Food Maker School
November 17, 2014 10:12 AM
FaB Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Area Technical College have announced further details about the Food Maker School and Center of Excellence they are forming on the south side of Milwaukee.

FaB Wisconsin is an industry cluster that encourages economic development among food and beverage manufacturers across the state.

The new school, which BizTimes first reported on in October, will provide instructional technical food programs, a pilot-scale sauce production line with co-pack capacity, and laboratories for product development, food analysis and microbiology testing. The center will provide connections among students, entrepreneurs, existing food businesses, professional service providers, government agencies and FaB.

“FaB has worked closely with MATC over the past two years to develop needed technical programs for our food and beverage makers,” said Giacomo Fallucca, president and chief executive officer of Palermo’s Pizza and chair of FaB’s executive committee. “We are very excited about plans for the MATC’s Food Maker School, which will offer a state-of-the-art pilot plant and laboratories to develop our next generation of talent and industry innovators. And we couldn’t have asked for a more responsive partner than MATC.”

Wisconsin’s food and beverage industry encompasses more than 46,000 employees. It ranks fifth nationally for overall food and beverage processing and manufacturing employment and second in the country for cluster employment growth.

“At MATC we pride ourselves in providing the education and technical training that leads to careers for our students. The closer we can work with the industry, the greater the opportunities are for our students,” said Vicki Martin, president of MATC. “Our partnership with FaB ensures that our students are being trained for employment in the region’s rapidly-emerging careers.”  

FaB hosted its first all-member meeting on Nov. 10 at the proposed location for the Food Maker School, 816 W. National Ave. in Milwaukee.

“Our end game is to grow the number of food and beverage maker jobs by expanding our talent pool, innovation and business capacities. As an organized cluster, we are in a position to elevate awareness of the industry and gain the support needed for our business to grow at home and in markets abroad,” said Shelley Jurewicz, executive director of FaB Wisconsin.

comment »

SteelWind grows with acquisitions
November 17, 2014 10:17 AM
Oak Creek-based SteelWind Industries Inc., a steel fabrication company, announced the acquisition of Universal Industries LLC, a fabrication and machine shop located in Tomahawk, and Hall Steel Co. in Milwaukee.

The Universal shop specialized in medium-duty fabrications and has a long history of repetitive customer relationships that will complement SteelWind’s existing and ever-growing customer base.

“The machining capabilities that we were able to add as a result of this acquisition will be a response to demands and an opportunity to become a one-stop shop for our customers,” said Jason Geiger, SteelWind Industries vice president. “The acquisition has already added five new jobs to our Oak Creek facility.”

Hall Steel is a heat-treating, fabrication and flame-cutting facility that has been serving its customers for more than 70 years. Hall Steel’s current owner, Scott Miller, will join the team at SteelWind. The Hall Steel name will be absorbed into Steelwind.

“The acquisition was a good fit for us, and the timing was right. We look forward to continuing to provide the high level of quality and service to Hall Steel’s customers,” added Geiger.

SteelWind Industries is a large capacity Midwest metal fabrication company offering the most extensive metal fabrication including mining equipment, tanks and architectural metal fabrication.

SteelWind Industries is also the fabricator of the Miller Park Retractable Roof. In addition to metal fabrication, it offers machining, heat-treating services, sandblasting and industrial painting. From raw processing to completed products, SteelWind Industries has the capability to handle all project requirements at its facility in Oak Creek.

In other SteelWind news, the company was recently awarded two major industrial painting projects.

Steelwind will paint the airport renovation canopies at General Mitchell International Airport and a slide structure for the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells.

comment »

Magnetek earnings up on higher sales
November 17, 2014 10:22 AM
Menomonee Falls-based Magnetek Inc. reported third quarter net income of $3.2 million, or 88 cents per share, up from $1.1 million, or 34 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

Revenue was $29.6 million, up from $26 million in the same period a year ago.

The digital and motion control system manufacturer attributed the increase to higher sales into material handling markets and elevator markets. Material handling sales were up $2.3 million to $21.9 million, while elevator markets were up $1 million to $6.2 million year-over-year.

“The improvements we saw in end market conditions in our second quarter continued into the third quarter, and manufacturing activity in the U.S. continued to accelerate. The combination of higher sales volume, cost control and strong execution resulted in exceptional profitability at both the gross profit and operating profit lines,” said Peter McCormick, president and chief executive officer.

comment »

Made in Milwaukee: Atmosphere Engineering grows through acquisition
November 17, 2014 10:25 AM
Atmosphere Engineering Co. started out in 2002 in the Milwaukee Enterprise Center, a business incubator formerly owned by Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Although the incubator is no longer operational, its purpose of providing low-cost rent to help launch new businesses was fulfilled when it comes to the success of Atmosphere Engineering.

Read more in the current issue of BizTimes Milwaukee.

comment »

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
Current Issue