Monday, January 26, 2015
Port of Milwaukee hosts five ships for winter lay-up
January 26, 2015 10:01 AM
The Port of Milwaukee is hosting five Great Lakes ships this winter season, all of which are docked in the Port’s inner harbor for their annual lay-up.

Three of the ships, the Stewart J. Cort, the Edwin H. Gott and the Burns Harbor, are1,000-foot bulk carriers. The two other winter lay-ups are integrated tug/barge cement carriers: the Samuel de Champlain with the barge Innovation and the G.L. Ostrander with the barge Integrity.

Each of the vessels pays a daily mooring fee and charges for other port services. In all, the Port expects to collect tens-of-thousands of dollars related to the winter lay-ups.

Additionally, ship owners frequently schedule repairs and maintenance on their vessels during this time, hiring local companies and employing local workers, according to port spokesman Jeff Fleming.

Depending upon ice conditions on the Great Lakes, the ships are likely to remain in Milwaukee until late March or April.

The Port of Milwaukee remains open during the winter, and lakers that are not in lay-up continue to deliver cargo such as salt to the Port.

For more information on cargo delivered to the Port, click here.

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Ariens re-elected WMC chair
January 26, 2015 10:06 AM
The Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) board of directors has re-elected Daniel Ariens, chairman and chief executive officer of Ariens Company in Brillion, to serve as chairman of the 3,500-member state chamber of commerce.

Arien’s re-election was announced at the WMC’s annual board meeting where Robert Kamphuis, chairman, president and CEO of Mayville Engineering Company Inc. was re-elected vice chair.

"WMC will advance a comprehensive policy agenda aimed at creating jobs in our state," said WMC president and CEO Kurt Bauer. "Under Governor Scott Walker's leadership and with the pro-business Legislature, our state has seen tremendous improvements in our business climate through tax cuts, regulation relief, lawsuit reform and much more. We need to continue this era of reform and push for even greater economic opportunity through pro-growth public policies."

In addition, Tod Linstroth, senior partner and past member and chair of the management committee at Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, was re-elected secretary; Gina Peter, CEO of Central States Commercial Banking and Wells Fargo Bank Wisconsin, was elected treasurer; Kurt Bauer was re-elected president and CEO; James Morgan was re-elected vice president; and Michael Shoys was re-elected senior vice president of WMC.

Others elected or re-elected to WMC's 53-member board were:

•    Dr. Jeffrey Bailet, executive vice president, Aurora Health Care/president, Aurora Medical Group, Aurora Health Care, Milwaukee
•    Randal Baker, COO, Joy Global, Milwaukee
•    Sidney (Skip) Bliss, president/CEO, Bliss Communications Inc., Janesville
•    Dr. Damond Boatwright, regional president/CEO of Hospital Operations, SSM Health Care of Wisconsin, Madison
•    Thomas Burke, president/CEO, Modine Manufacturing Company, Racine
•    Brad DeNoyer, CPA/partner, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, Madison
•    Gary Gigante, president/CEO, Waupaca Foundry Inc., Waupaca
•    Patricia Leonard Kampling, chairman/president/CEO, Alliant Energy Corporation, Madison
•    Clifford King, CEO, Skyward, Stevens Point
•    James Leef, president, ITU AbsorbTech Inc., New Berlin
•    Stephen Loehr, vice president, Kwik Trip Inc., La Crosse
•    J. R. Menard, executive vice president/treasurer, Menard Inc., Eau Claire
•    Paul Palmby, executive vice president/COO, Seneca Foods Corporation, Janesville
•    John Pfeifer, president, Mercury Marine, Fond du Lac
•    Aaron Powell, partner/chief strategy officer, Flexion Inc., Sun Prairie
•    Rajan Sheth, chairman/CEO, Mead & Hunt Inc., Madison
•    Glen Tellock, chairman/president/CEO, The Manitowoc Company Inc., Manitowoc
•    Dr. Susan Turney, CEO, Marshfield Clinic Health System Inc., Marshfield
•    S. Mark Tyler, president, OEM Fabricators Inc., Woodville
•    Michael Wallace, president/CEO, Fort HealthCare, Fort Atkinson

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Early bird registration for Manufacturing Matters! is Saturday
January 26, 2015 10:10 AM
The early bird registration deadline for the 2015 Manufacturing Matters! conference has been extended to Saturday. The conference will be held on Thursday, Feb. 26 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Milwaukee beginning at 7 a.m.

The early bird rate is $345 for manufacturers and $419 for non-manufacturers. Click here to register. Registrations are accepted until the day of the conference, including walk-ins. The regular rate is $395 for manufacturers and $469 for non-manufacturers.

Themed "The Changing Landscape of Manufacturing," the conference will feature more than 20 speakers who are national, regional and local experts, including Mike Laszkiewicz, vice president and general manager of Rockwell Automation Inc.’s power control business, and U.S. Department of Commerce chief economist Susan Helper. They will speak on topics ranging from connected enterprise and manufacturing technology innovations to workforce development and market expansion.

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, pre-conference workshops, an open house on tech scouting and a MSOE rapid prototyping tour will be offered, as well as a complimentary invitation to the chairman's reception from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Visit for more information.

Following the conference, the Manufacturer of the Year Awards is scheduled to take place at the Pfister Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 5:30 p.m.

Click here to see the complete list of nominees, and visit for more information on the award program and how to register. The registration deadline is Thursday, Feb. 12.

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Johnson Controls to form joint venture with Hitachi
January 26, 2015 10:14 AM
Johnson Controls Inc., Hitachi Ltd. and Hitachi Appliances Inc. entered into a definitive agreement to form a global joint venture.

The agreement was formed while executives from the companies attended the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

The new Johnson Controls-Hitachi joint venture will enable both companies to deliver the most diverse technology portfolio in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration industry.

Through the agreement, Glendale-based Johnson Controls will obtain a 60 percent ownership stake in Hitachi Appliances’ more than $2.6 billion global air conditioning business, excluding sales and service operations in Japan. The Johnson Controls-Hitachi joint venture will bring customers a full range of air conditioning products, including world-class variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technology, leading-edge inverter technology based room air conditioners and absorption chillers – on top of existing Johnson Controls products.

With approximately 13,800 employees and 24 manufacturing plants, the joint venture will build on both organizations’ technology, research and development leadership, as well as their expanding marketing channels. The transaction is expected to close later this year, subject to regulatory approvals and satisfaction of other customary conditions.

“For Johnson Controls, this partnership reflects our strategic commitment to our buildings business as a growth platform,” said Alex Molinaroli, chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson Controls. “The joint venture will propel us forward with superior products, enabling Johnson Controls to deliver the most diverse technology portfolio in the industry to meet customer demands across the changing global marketplace.”

The Johnson Controls-Hitachi joint venture management team will be led by Franz Cerwinka, chief executive officer. He has been with Johnson Controls for almost 20 years, having spent four years in Japan as vice president of finance for the Johnson Controls automotive business, including experience with more than 10 joint ventures.

Johnson Controls is a global multi-industrial company with 130 years of history in supplying heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, building controls, refrigeration and security systems for buildings. Through its Building Efficiency business, the company delivers solutions that increase energy efficiency and lower operating costs for over a million customers who are served through nearly 700 offices in more than 150 countries.

“The worldwide HVAC market is continuing to grow steadily, and the demand for energy efficient air conditioning systems with state-of-the-art technologies is expanding. As air conditioning systems are a key building block for building solutions, we believe this partnership will allow Hitachi and Johnson Controls to deliver the best solutions for our customers. Furthermore, in addition to air conditioning systems, we will be able to provide other building solutions that will enhance efficiencies throughout buildings, as well as surrounding areas,” said Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman and CEO of Hitachi.

Hitachi Appliances will continue to provide Hitachi-branded HVAC products in the Japanese market after the transaction.

Also during the World Economic Forum last week, Johnson Controls was named to the Corporate Knights 2015 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations Index. This is the fifth time Johnson Controls, who was the only top sustainability performer in the auto components sector, has been honored since the list’s inception in 2005.

Companies named to the Global 100 index are the top overall sustainability performers in their respective industrial sectors, selected from a starting universe of 4,609 listed companies with a market capitalization greater than $2 billion. The Global 100 is determined using twelve quantitative sustainability indicators.

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Glenroy acquires PF Flexibles from PolyFirst
January 26, 2015 10:18 AM
Menomonee Falls-based Glenroy Inc. recently acquired Hartford-based PF Flexibles, formerly known as Pouch Converting Technologies Inc., from Hartford-based PolyFirst Packaging Inc.

An employee of PF Flexibles confirmed the sale. In addition, Glenroy recently acquired a 40,000-square-foot industrial building at 1480 Independence Ave. in Hartford for $2.4 million, according to state records. That building is occupied by PF Flexibles.

A spokeswoman for Glenroy declined to comment on the company’s acquisition of the Hartford building.

Glenroy is a custom converter of flexible packaging film and provides wide web printed and unprinted packaging film rollstock and stand-up pouches. The company has more than 150 employees and 226,000 square feet of facilities in southeast Wisconsin.

PF Flexibles is a contract manufacturer of pre-formed pouches in the flexible packaging industry.

PolyFirst is a manufacturer of flexible packaging.

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Alderman says Johnson Controls is planning 50-story HQ downtown
January 26, 2015 10:21 AM
Johnson Controls Inc. is working on plans for a 50-story, 1.2 million-square-foot corporate headquarters office building that would be built near the lakefront in downtown Milwaukee, according to Ald. Robert Bauman, who represents the downtown area.

“That’s what I’ve heard from people at (the Department of City Development) and the mayor’s office,” Bauman said. “They want to build the biggest building in the state.”

By comparison, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. is building a 32-story, 1.1 million-square-foot office building at its downtown Milwaukee corporate headquarters campus. The U.S. Bank Center at 777 E. Wisconsin Ave. is 42 stories tall with 1.07 million square feet of space, according to city records.

Bauman estimates the proposed Johnson Controls corporate headquarters building would house about 2,000 to 3,000 employees. The building will house all of the company’s top executives and corporate office staff, he said.

“This is maybe one of the biggest deals ever for downtown,” Bauman said.

Ald. Nik Kovac, on the floor of the Common Council today, referred to the project as the, “Johnson Controls world headquarters consolidation.”

The building would be located southwest of the intersection of East Clybourn Street and North Lincoln Memorial Drive, where freeway ramps will be relocated, after the completion of the Hoan Bridge redecking project, to create a development site. City officials had hoped to lure a major corporate headquarters to the site.

“(Johnson Controls would be) the perfect candidate,” Bauman said.

A spokesman for Glendale-based Johnson Controls last week acknowledged that the company is working on plans for a major office development in the Milwaukee area, but declined to provide any details. The spokesman also said that the fate of the proposed downtown streetcar project would be a factor in the company’s decision making process.

“Johnson Controls is exploring a full range of options to address our expanding facilities needs in the area to support future growth,” Johnson Controls spokesman Fraser Engerman said. “These include options within Milwaukee, the surrounding communities and potentially elsewhere. These efforts are focused on growth and would not entail displacing our current local workforce. As we are evaluating options, a key consideration is a vibrant community with convenient transportation and easy access to our facilities. As a result we also have a keen interest in the downtown streetcar project and are monitoring that situation closely.”

Engerman said today that he has nothing to add to the statement that he made last week.

A majority of the Common Council voted today to support the controversial downtown streetcar project, but opponents used a parliamentary procedure maneuver to delay the final vote until Feb. 10. Opponents of the streetcar are circulating petitions in an attempt to force a public referendum vote on the project.

Johnson Controls CEO Alex Molinaroli was one of nine prominent Milwaukee business and civic leaders who signed a letter Tuesday to Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council in support of the streetcar.

Bauman, a strong supporter of the downtown streetcar project, said he thinks the Johnson Controls headquarters project near the lakefront could proceed without the streetcar, but he said the streetcar would make the site more attractive to the company and would improve the design of the building.

“Does (the streetcar) enhance the viability of that location? You bet it does,” Bauman said.

Bauman said he assumes that Johnson Controls would maintain a presence in Glendale. The company also has existing operations in downtown Milwaukee and last year leased a 143,000-square-foot office space in West Allis.

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Dielectric Corp. acquires Centerline Machine
January 26, 2015 10:25 AM
Dielectric Corp., a Menomonee Falls-based manufacturer of custom plastic and non-ferrous parts, sub-assemblies and finished products, recently announced that it has acquired Centerline Machine Inc. of Waupaca at an undisclosed price.

Centerline Machine specializes in the machining and fabrication of parts and products made of steel, composites and exotic alloys. Its operations will remain in its facility, but it will now be called Centerline Machine Inc., a division of Dielectric Corp.

"With the addition of the Centerline Machine operation, we can now offer a wider range of machining, fabrication and prototyping services. This expansion will enable us to better serve existing clients and to diversify our customer base," said Dielectric chief executive officer Mike Esser.

Furthermore, the acquisition allows Dielectric to expand its service mix to include metal fabrication, laser cutting and abrasive waterjet material processing.

Dielectric has 127 employees, and Centerline employs 30. No employees were eliminated as a result of the acquisition, according to Dielectric chief operating officer Perry Pabich. He added that the plan is to grow employment at both locations.

In another move that expands capabilities, Dielectric has introduced the following technologies in its Menomonee Falls facility:

• A Northwoods four-spindle router with a large table for bigger builds and an automated tool changer for greater efficiency
• A new large-part inkjet printing machine to achieve faster drying times
• An additional HAAS VF-6, three-axis large table, vertical machining center with five-axis option for greater capacity

"We are committed to meeting our customers' changing needs through technology improvements and added capabilities. These recent purchases, along with the addition of the Centerline Machine facility, enable us to continue to provide the quality and service that our customers have come to expect from Dielectric," Pabich said.

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Johnson Controls reports strong first quarter
January 26, 2015 10:29 AM
Glendale-based global multi-industrial firm Johnson Controls Inc. has reported fiscal 2015 first quarter net income of $546 million, or 76 cents per share, up from $502 million, or 69 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

Net income from continuing operations was $546 million, up from $484 million in the same period a year ago. The building efficiency segment recorded a 38 percent increase in income.

Revenue was $10.7 billion, up from $10.6 billion in the first quarter of 2014. Revenue was negatively impacted by foreign currency translation, the company said.

"Profitability improved significantly in the quarter, as we benefitted from higher volumes and our continuing focus on execution improvements,” said Alex Molinaroli, chairman and chief executive officer. “The results in the quarter are better than the expectations we provided at our analyst day in December.”

The company last week announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to form a global joint venture with Hitachi Ltd. and Hitachi Appliances Inc. The company expects the joint venture to close in the fourth quarter, and generate 2016 sales of about $3 billion.

“Our definitive agreement with Hitachi marks another significant step toward our transformation to a more product-focused, multi-industry company, to the benefit of our shareholders and customers,” Molinaroli said. “We are focused on increasing profitability and shareholder value and expect 2015 to be a year of record results for Johnson Controls.”

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Briggs & Stratton earnings up in 2Q
January 26, 2015 10:32 AM
Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. reported fiscal 2015 second quarter net income of $6.9 million, or 15 cents per share, up from $702,000, or 1 cent per share, in the second quarter of 2014.

Operating income was $13.3 million, up from $5.2 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenue was $444.3 million, up 6.6 percent from $416.6 million in the second quarter of 2014.

Original equipment manufacturers, the company said, have been pushing production later in the year, which may impact its third and fourth quarter results. In addition, lighter snowfall than last winter has slowed snow equipment sales.

The company completed the acquisition of Allmand Bros. Inc. for about $62 million on August 29, and the integration has been going well, Briggs leaders said during an earnings call. They remarked that the acquisition has exceeded their expectations. Restructuring charges during the second quarter were $6.8 million, up from $1.9 million in the second quarter of 2013.

Briggs’ closure of its McDonough, Ga. plant, which will shift work to its Wauwatosa plant and create 370 jobs here, is expected to happen in the fourth quarter.

“We are pleased to report improved quarterly results with margin improvements in both our engines and products businesses. These improvements reflect our cost reduction efforts as well as our focus on new product innovation and selling higher margin products,” said Todd Teske, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Briggs & Stratton. “Looking forward to the upcoming U.S. lawn and garden season, we have gained additional placement of our engines on lawn and garden products as compared to our placement last year. We continue to expect modest industry growth in the upcoming season. Further, we are again introducing several new products this spring including the industry’s only engine that doesn’t require an oil change. All of this together sets us up for continued improvement for the last six months of our fiscal year. However, we expect our OEM customers will ramp up their seasonal production later than last year in response to higher channel inventories of residential lawn and garden equipment, causing our quarterly results to shift between quarters.”

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South Milwaukee manufacturer’s fitness machines recalled
January 26, 2015 10:36 AM
About 140 strength training machines made by JHTNA Manufacturing LLC of South Milwaukee are being recalled due to the handle attachment detaching during use.

The recall involves five models of the Matrix Fitness series strength training machines that are used in commercial fitness facilities, including health clubs, hotels, apartment complexes and schools. The machines were sold by Johnson Health Tech North America based in Cottage Grove, Wis., and its fitness dealers nationwide from July 2013 through October 2014 for between $3,300 and $4,000.

Johnson Health Tech is aware of two injuries, one of which involved a man who was hit and cut on the head when the handle detached. In the other incident, a man fell when the handle detached on his machine.

Owners are advised to immediately prevent people from using the strength training machines and to contact Johnson Health Tech North America to schedule a free repair.

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Poblocki Sign acquired by Chicago merchant bank
January 26, 2015 10:38 AM
Milwaukee-based sign manufacturer Poblocki Sign Co. has been acquired by Chicago-based merchant banking boutique TJM Capital Partners.

Poblocki makes interior and exterior architectural signage, specialty displays and custom fabricated products for the health care, sports and entertainment, education, retail and hospitality, and corporate and professional services industries. It has another manufacturing location in Raleigh, N.C.

The company was sold by David Drury, who will now retire. Drury led the company to its status as an industry leader, and has worked to ensure a smooth transition in ownership, Poblocki said in a statement. According to Poblocki, TJM has made a long-term commitment to the manufacturer.

The details of the transaction were not disclosed.

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Workshop to address valuing your business
January 26, 2015 10:40 AM
BizTimes Media will host an interactive workshop designed to help business owners value their businesses and prepare them for sale.

The program, “What’s your business really worth—are you building a sellable company?” will be held on Thursday, Feb. 5, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Hotel, 375 S. Moorland Road in Brookfield.

Experts will offer information, advice and tools to help business owners increase the value of their companies and prepare them for a sale or acquisition.

Joel Nettesheim, principal, and Nancy Mehlberg, manager, at SVA Certified Public Accountants, will explain the concept of a “sellability score.” Panelists Daniel Eder, president of Reliable Door and Dock Inc. and Jim Lindenberg, owner and president of Lindy Enterprises, JML Holdings and Legends of the Field, will discuss their firsthand experiences with selling their companies.

For more information or to register, visit

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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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