Monday, April 21, 2014
Argon Industries completes move, adding equipment and jobs
April 21, 2014 11:00 AM
Milwaukee-based Argon Industries has moved its operations into one facility, added a new powder coat line, and is adding jobs.
Argon Industries, a contract manufacturer of light to medium sheet metal components and assemblies, has installed a $1.2 million state of the art powder coat system in conjunction with moving its two operations into one 128,000-square-foot facility at 11500 W. Brown Deer Road. 

Argon purchased the new facility on May 15, 2013, installed and completed the powder coat line in January, and completed renovations in February, said Gregory Clement, President/Owner of Argon Industries. 

“Powder Coat operations have created 12 jobs,” said Clement. “The ultimate goal for the company is to create over 70 jobs in the next two years.

Clement added, “We have made two significant investments for Argon Industries. One, acquiring a 128 sq. ft. manufacturing facility on the northwest side of Milwaukee, bringing all operations under one roof and second, expanding our business services by installing a state of the art Powder Coat Paint line. These investments signal our commitment to be the best sheet metal fabricator in Wisconsin.”

Argon Industries worked with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation in its move to the new facility.  

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Modine adds Christine Yan to Board of Directors
April 21, 2014 10:00 AM
Racine-based Modine Manufacturing Company has increased the size of its Board of Directors from seven to eight, adding Christine Y. Yan, 48, president of storage and workplace systems of Stanley Black and Decker.
Prior to her current role, which she has held since July, 2013, Yan was integration leader of Stanley Engineered Fastening Group when it acquired Infastech, a leading global supplier of specialty engineered fastening technologies headquartered in Hong Kong. Since 2006, Ms Yan held the positions of President of the Americas business of Stanley Engineered Fastening; and President of the Stanley Engineered Fastening’s Global Automotive business.

Yan, a native of China, began her career as a Product Development Engineer in 1989 at Emhart Teknologies, the predecessor to Stanley Black & Decker’s Engineered Fastening Group. Prior to assuming the positions noted above, Ms. Yan held a number of positions of increasing responsibilities, including Engineering Manager; General Manager of China Operations; Vice President of Research and Development; and Vice President of Sales and marketing for Stanley Engineered Fastening’s North American Automotive business.

Yan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Shandong University in Shandong, China, a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"We are delighted to welcome Christine to the Modine Board,” said Modine’s Lead Director, Marsha Williams. “She has a track record of distinguished service and proven technical, strategic and operating leadership in multiple geographic markets. Her experience and insights will prove invaluable as we focus on achieving our Enduring Goals, and in particular our global diversification and growth objectives."

This action will officially be taking effect on May 5.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Sheboygan says ‘nein’ to Germany
April 21, 2014 10:00 AM
Sheboygan-based Johnsonville Sausage LLC is holding tightly onto its bratwursts.
Read more about a ridiculous trade flap with the European Union in this Milwaukee Biz Blog by BizTimes executive editor Steve Jagler.

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Johnson Controls makes $1.6 billion acquisition
April 21, 2014 11:00 AM
Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. has agreed to acquire air distribution and ventilation product manufacturer Air Distribution Technologies Inc. for about $1.6 billion.
The Richardson, Texas-based Air Distribution Technologies is owned by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. It is a leading North American independent air distribution and ventilation product provider.

ADT’s products include grilles; registers and diffusers; terminal units; and fire and smoke dampers and fans sold under brands like Ruskin, Titus, Hart & Cooley, Krueger, PennBarry and Tuttle & Bailey.

Johnson Controls is a global industrial firm that provides products and services aimed at improving operational efficiency and energy savings for buildings, as well as cars and their batteries, electronics and interiors.

"This investment expands Johnson Controls' position in the buildings space with additional products that are complementary to our existing heating, ventilation and air conditioning offerings," said Alex Molinaroli, Johnson Controls chairman and chief executive officer. "It reflects our stated commitment to invest in the buildings business as a growth platform and further enhances our offerings and channels. Air Distribution Technologies customers will have undisrupted access to the products and brands that they have come to expect.  This new channel will provide an important growth platform for Johnson Controls as we continue to pursue additional investments in new products and increase our market coverage worldwide.”

ADT will be integrated into Johnson Controls’ Building Efficiency division and will continue to use its own brands, distribution channels and employees. Both leadership teams will guide the integration.

"Johnson Controls is a leader in the building technology industry that will complement our strong brands and valued relationships," said Terry O'Halloran, CEO of Air Distribution Technologies. "Our customers will now have access to an unmatched portfolio of products and offerings as well as backing and continued innovation from the best experts in the industry."

The acquisition is subject to limited conditions and is expected to close in July.

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MGS acquires plant in New York
April 21, 2014 10:00 AM
MGS Mfg. Group Inc., headquartered in Germantown, announced it has purchased Hospira’s injection molding plant in Buffalo, N.Y.
The transaction is scheduled to close at the end of June this year. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The plant employs 120 people and runs 40 injection molding machines, ranging from 100-ton to 400-ton, producing parts for Hospira’s pharmaceutical and device businesses. As part of the agreement, the Hospira employees who work at the Buffalo facility will join MGS. No layoffs are planned as part of the purchase. 

“This represents a strategic move for both companies,” says Paul Manley, MGS chief operating officer and chief financial officer. “MGS has made, and will continue to make, substantial investments in manufacturing technologies and capabilities to increase service to our healthcare industry customers. This opportunity with Hospira will benefit both of our organizations.” 

“MGS’s expertise in cost-efficient custom manufacturing and molding of components and sub–assemblies better positions Hospira to meet customers' evolving needs for molded parts,” says Matthew Stober, senior vice president of operations for Hospira. “MGS meets or exceeds the ISO and FDA guidelines for single-use disposable plastics manufacturing and will ensure supply continuity is maintained at all Hospira facilities.”

MGS Mfg. Group is a leading supplier to the global plastics industry of tight-tolerance injection-molded components, injection molds, specialty multi-shot equipment and automation systems.

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State unemployment rate drops to 5.9 percent
April 21, 2014 10:00 AM
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development today released preliminary estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that indicate Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent in March.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in February. The March estimate would put the state at its lowest unemployment rate since November 2008, and below the national rate of 6.7 percent, which was flat in March.

The preliminary BLS estimates also indicate Wisconsin also gained a seasonally adjusted 6,400 private sector jobs in March, a dip from the 6,900 nonfarm jobs added in February.

The state's monthly job and unemployment reports are preliminary and subject to significant revisions.

“For the first time in over a half-decade, Wisconsin's unemployment rate has dropped below 6 percent, and that's because our state's labor force and employment have increased and unemployment has decreased,” said Reggie Newson, secretary of the DWD. “Even as these numbers are aligned with many other economic indicators showing (the) state is moving in the right direction, there is much more work to be done to develop our state's workforce and create more good-paying jobs for Wisconsin's working families."

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Badger Meter earnings jump 59 percent
April 21, 2014 10:00 AM
Brown Deer-based Badger Meter Inc. today reported first quarter net income of $4.6 million, or 32 cents per share, up 59.3 percent from $2.9 million, or 20 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2013.
Revenue was a record $83.4 million, up 16.3 percent from $71.8 million in the same period a year ago.

The company attributed the earnings jump to both Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the northeast and a higher than average snow cover across the country in the first quarter of 2013, which was not as much of a problem in this year’s first quarter.

Favorable product launches and related lower research and development expenses also contributed to the earnings increase. Due diligence related to a potential acquisition that was not completed subtracted about $1.7 million from the earnings increase.

“We are pleased with the first quarter results, especially the first quarter record sales, compared to last year’s unusually weak first quarter. The sales increase was across the board, with higher sales of both residential and commercial municipal water products and flow instrumentation products,” said Richard Meeusen, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

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Repair segment drives Snap-on growth
April 21, 2014 10:00 AM
Kenosha-based Snap-on Inc. today reported first quarter net earnings of $98.2 million, or $1.62 per share, up from $82.8 million, or $1.40 per share, in the first quarter of 2013.
Revenue was $787.5 million, up 6.2 percent from $741.7 million in the same period last year.
Snap-on manufactures and markets tools, equipment, diagnostics, repair information and systems solutions for professionals.

The company’s Repair Systems & Information Group reported segment sales of $262.7 million, up 6.7 percent from 2013. The increase was attributed to sales from Challenger Lifts Inc., which was acquired in May 2013, favorable foreign currency translation and increased sales of diagnostic and repair information products to independent repair shop owners and managers.

“Our first quarter results, including a 6.2 percent sales increase and a 15.7 percent rise in diluted earnings per share, represent an encouraging start for 2014,” said Nick Pinchuk, Snap-on chairman and chief executive officer. “We believe that these results provide continued evidence that Snap-on’s value proposition of making work easier for serious professionals in workplaces of consequence is an ongoing strength as we continue to move forward along our clear runways for coherent growth: enhancing the franchise network, expanding in the vehicle repair garage, extending to critical industries and building in emerging markets. At the same time, our year-over-year 100 basis point improvement in operating margin further confirms the abundant potential of Snap-on Value Creation, our suite of principles and processes we employ every day around safety, quality, customer connection, innovation and rapid continuous improvement. Finally, these results would not have been possible without significant contributions from our franchisees and associates worldwide; I thank them for their ongoing and extraordinary commitment and dedication.”

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Fromm, Milwaukee World Festival to host Petfest
April 21, 2014 10:00 AM
Mequon-based pet food manufacturer Fromm Family Foods and Milwaukee World Festival Inc., the nonprofit organization that produces Summerfest, will host a new festival this year called Fromm Petfest.
The event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Milwaukee’s Henry Maier Festival Park. Families and their pets are welcome to attend the free festival.

“Summer is such an exciting time for Wisconsin residents and the lakefront has become synonymous with festivals,” said Bryan Nieman, brand director at Fromm. “We truly believe that pets are part of the family and decided it was time to invite them into the fun of festival season.”

Petfest will include dock diving, agility demonstrations, nutritional seminars, grooming competitions, a pet-themed marketplace, live music, food and family-focused games and activities.

“Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. is proud to partner with Fromm Family Foods to bring yet another free event and programming to Henry Maier Festival Park,” said Don Smiley, president and chief executive officer of Milwaukee World Festival. “Petfest will be a great addition to this year’s fall festival schedule and give the community the opportunity to enjoy time at the festival grounds with the whole family and their pets.”

The event will also benefit the Wisconsin Humane Society and the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission. The Humane Society and MADACC will host dog and cat adoptions at the event as well.

Dogs and cats will be admitted with up-to-date vaccinations, a leash and a signed waiver. Participation rules and more information are available at

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Rexnord acquires water treatment company
April 21, 2014 11:00 AM
Milwaukee-based Rexnord Corp. has acquired wastewater pretreatment solution provider Green Turtle Technologies Ltd., Green Turtle Americas Ltd. and Filamat Composites Inc.
Green Turtle is based in Toronto, Ontario and Charlotte, N.C. and generates about $18 million in annual sales. Its customers are in North America, and use its products in institutional and industrial applications, to meet sanitary sewer regulations in an environmentally-safe way. 

The company will become part of Zurn Industries LLC, a commercial plumbing products company under Rexnord’s Water Management arm.

“Zurn is excited about the addition of Green Turtle and its position as a market leader, giving us the ability to offer another environmentally friendly solution to customers,” said Craig Wehr, president of Zurn. “Green Turtle’s Proceptor and Retroceptor products provide an excellent complement to the existing Zurn offering.”

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MillerCoors earns World Beer Cup accolades
April 21, 2014 11:00 AM
MillerCoors received several honors at the 2014 World Beer Cup.
Seven MillerCoors beers received individual honors, and Coors Brewing Company and MillerCoors head brewmaster Dr. David Ryder was also recognized.

“At every step, from ingredients to brewing to packaging, our team at MillerCoors is devoted to brewing the highest quality beers in America,” said Ryder. “The World Beer Cup is one of the most prestigious competitions in brewing, so to have our excellence recognized by the judges at the World Beer Cup is a true honor.”

The 2014 World Beer Cup awards were announced in Denver, Colo., on Friday, April 11. 
Following is the complete list of brand medals won by MillerCoors:


  • Coors Light – American-Style Lager or Light Lager or Pilsener
  • George Killian’s Irish Red -- Irish-Style Red Ale
  • Winterfest (AC Golden Brewing Company) – American-Style Amber Lager


  • Miller Genuine Draft -- American-Style Lager or Light Lager or Pilsener
  • Icehouse – American-Style Cream Ale


  • Coors Banquet – American-Style Lager or Light Lager or Pilsener
  • Henry Weinhard’s Blue Boar (Blitz-Weinhard Brewing) – American Style Cream Ale

The 2014 World Beer Cup featured competition in 94 styles of beer, with 4,754 individual beers entered. Those beers came from 1,403 breweries and 58 countries.

Glendale-based Sprecher Brewing also took home two medals for its beers. The Black Bavarian, its signature beer, won a gold medal in the German-style Scwarzbier category, and Shakparo, a West African-style beer, earned a bronze medal.

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Molly Dill This exclusive news bulletin is compiled by BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Dan Shafer. This bulletin is published every Monday morning. Send manufacturing industry news and tips to or call him 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 ((BAW)
» 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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