Monday, October 5, 2015
Baldwin calls for reauthorization of Export-Import Bank on Manufacturing Day
October 5, 2015 10:51 AM
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin on Friday visited Waukesha Metal Products, where she spoke of the importance of making a commitment to manufacturing.

Friday was National Manufacturing Day, and, given the recent announcements of major manufacturing closures and layoffs in the area, she was asked how Wisconsin citizens can encourage their children to enter the industry.

“I think the U.S. and frankly the state of Wisconsin has to make it clear that we’re making a long-term commitment to making things,” Baldwin said. “We can’t have an economy that is built to last if we don’t make things as part of that economy.”

One of the ways to do that she said is to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

“We tell our manufacturers we want to see growth in exports, and we’ll support you, but without an export financing institution that’s a hollow promise,” Baldwin said. “I’ve been fighting for the renewal and reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank ever since I got to Congress. Unfortunately, right now the Republicans in the House are holding up reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, and its future is in jeopardy. The world is taking notice, and it impacts Wisconsin probably worse than any other state because we have such a robust manufacturing economy. We have got to make a long-term commitment to it.”

Here in southeastern Wisconsin, GE Power & Water is laying off 350 employees in Waukesha, and Joy Global Surfacing Mining Inc. said it will lay off 113 workers in Milwaukee beginning Nov. 30.

Johnson Controls Inc. also recently announced plans to cut 3,000 people globally over the next two years, and Caterpillar Inc. expects to eliminate 10,000 jobs at unspecified locations by 2018.

Baldwin said closures like these are also concerning because they create a “seismic ripple effect” with the smaller- and medium-size companies that supply these larger companies.

She asserts a commitment to manufacturing has to come from all levels of government, public and private partnerships, and technical colleges and university systems.

A positive step, she said, is the creation of manufacturing hubs and the kind of work that is done by the Water Council, but far more needs to be done.

According to Baldwin, the two major critical issues to strengthening the state’s manufacturing economy are reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank and preparing the future workforce.

“That’s one of the reasons we’re here with these young people today,” she said of the latter. “To say this isn’t your grandfather’s factory. This is an exciting pace to work, and it needs a lot of preparation and skills to do that.”

The young people to whom Baldwin referred were the 50 engineering students from New Berlin High School who participated in the Sussex-based Waukesha Metal Products tour with her on Friday as part of the Manufacturing Day events taking place across the state.

Waukesha Metal Products vice president and chief operating officer Michael Steger said Manufacturing Day is important because it allows manufacturers like his company to teach the future workforce about the industry.

“Not everyone realizes or understands what manufacturing is all about it,” he said. “It gives us a great opportunity to show them the different career pathways and provides us the opportunity to share the technology behind the manufacturing and how the parts and sub-components are used in automobiles or in general how they’re used in practice.”

Other Manufacturing Day events in the southeastern Wisconsin area included a visit from Gov. Scott Walker to GenMet Corp. in Mequon; student tours and discussions with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson at TLX Technologies LLC in Pewaukee; and tours at Dynamic Tool & Design Inc. in Menomonee Falls.

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Dairy Farmers of America to close Plymouth plant
October 5, 2015 11:05 AM
Dairy Farmers of America has announced it will close its cheese processing plant in Plymouth in January and lay off the 300 employees who work at the facility.

Kansas City-based DFA said it decided to close the plant, which manufactures Borden Cheese and private label cheese products, because of its dated infrastructure and technology. It has been in operation since 1954.

The company indicated it is working with employees to find them other employment, and is evaluating hosting a job fair for them. It is also working with Wisconsin Rapid Response to find job openings locally.

The Borden Cheese products manufactured at the Plymouth plant will now be made by a third-party manufacturer.

“Business decisions that impact the lives of our employees are incredibly difficult,” said John Stephens, DFA’s chief operating officer, consumer brands. “This closure in no way is a reflection of our dedicated employees, who have done excellent work here.

“Unfortunately, despite numerous upgrades to this facility, it has become increasingly difficult for us to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. We appreciate the dedication of our employees here and will be working to help them through this transition.”

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Northlake Engineering acquired by N.H. firm
October 5, 2015 11:11 AM
Bristol-based Northlake Engineering Inc. has been acquired by Salem, N.H.-based Standex International Corp. for about $13.5 million in cash.

Northlake designs, manufactures and distributes electromagnetic products and solutions used in the power distribution and medical equipment sectors. It has about 70 employees, all of whom will be retained at its Bristol location in the transaction. As of August, Northlake had about $10 million in revenue over the past year, according to a release from Standex.

“This is not a consolidation play,” said Thomas DeByle, chief financial officer at Standex. “If anything, we’ll grow that facility. It’s right in the beginning, but I anticipate putting more employees in that existing footprint.”

Standex, which has more than 5,000 employees worldwide, is a multi-industrial firm with five divisions: Food Service Equipment Group, Engineering Technologies Group, Engraving Group, Electronics Products Group and Hydraulics Products Group. The company expects the acquisition of Northlake to be accretive to fiscal 2017 earnings, to the tune of 4 to 6 cents per share.

Standex also has Wisconsin locations in Hudson, Belleville and New Berlin, and is currently building a second, 72,000-square-foot location in New Berlin. With the acquisition of Northlake, Standex will have 750 employees in Wisconsin.

Northlake will likely keep its branding under the Standex umbrella, DeByle said. It will be integrated with the Electronics division, which is based in Cincinnati. Economies of scale and similar product offerings make the acquisition a good fit, he said.

“Our electronics group deals in high reliability magnetics, and so does Northlake Engineering,” DeByle said. “So there’ll be sales synergies, there’ll be cross-selling opportunities, there’ll be cross-consolidation, more buying power.”

“Becoming part of Standex will enable us to achieve Northlake’s strategic growth objectives faster than we could on our own,” said William Hardt, president of Northlake. “We are excited about the opportunity to help Standex Electronics broaden its high-reliability magnetics business. Our intimacy and longstanding relationships with blue-chip customers in the power distribution and medical equipment industries make Northlake and Standex a great strategic fit. Operating as a combined organization will provide Northlake with critical mass and the opportunity to leverage new sales channels and products. This will enable us to operate more efficiently than we could as an independent company, while accelerating our growth.”

“Acquiring Northlake directly supports our Electronics Group strategy of expanding our high reliability magnetics business into adjacent markets to drive growth and profitability,” said David Dunbar, chief executive officer of Standex. “Northlake is highly regarded for the performance and quality of its products, which complement our Standex Electronics offerings and position us to provide a wider array of solutions to customers in the power generation and medical equipment markets. In addition, Northlake brings us an experienced management team, and I welcome the opportunity to benefit from their expertise.”

“We welcome the entire Northlake team to Standex Electronics and look forward to working together to successfully expand our product portfolio and customer base,” said John Meeks, president of Standex Electronics. “During its 60-plus years in business, Northlake has built a solid organization with a strong brand reputation in power distribution, medical equipment and other high-reliability magnetics markets. Acquiring Northlake also creates the potential for both revenue and cost synergies related to cross selling and procurement savings as we leverage Standex’s broader global supply chain and operational excellence practices to support Northlake’s product sales and operations.”

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Franklin manufacturer expanding
October 5, 2015 11:15 AM
Carlisle Interconnect Technologies Inc. is planning a $3 million, 30,000-square-foot addition to its building in the Franklin Industrial Park.

The wire and cable manufacturer, formerly known as Electronic Cable Specialists, will also be adding 75 parking spaces to its property at 5300 W. Franklin Drive to accommodate its recent growth. The expansion will allow the company to add 31 full time jobs, according to an application filed with the city of Franklin.

Carlisle built its original building in 1992, and added an addition in 1998. The current building is 42,300-square-feet, said Joel Dietl, Franklin planning manager.

The Franklin Community Development Authority will vote on Carlisle’s expansion plans Oct. 8.

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Manufacturing Summit to focus on strategies and best practices for the 'new normal'
October 5, 2015 11:18 AM
A panel of top executives from some of southeastern Wisconsin's leading manufacturers will share insights and strategies at the 2015 BizTimes Manufacturing Summit, which will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The Summit will be part of the Wisconsin Manufacturing & Technology Show, held from Oct. 6 to 8 at the Exposition Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis.

The executives on the panel will be:
* Aaron Jagdfeld, president and CEO of Generac Power Systems Inc., Waukesha.
* Dan Cahalane, president of American Roller Co., Union Grove.
* Bob Porsche, president of General Plastics Inc., Milwaukee.
* Neal Glaeser, president of Denali Ingredients, New Berlin.

The panel discussion will be led by Joseph Weitzer, dean for the Center for Business Performance Solutions at Waukesha County Technical College. The theme for the discussion will be: “Riding the Ups and Downs of the 'New Normal.'” The panel discussion will include strategies to manage the ebb and flow of business given shortened lead times, increased customer expectations, staff shortages and the balance of having to “do more with less.”

Following the panel discussion, which will take place from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Manufacturing Summit attendees will be able to learn about manufacturing industry trends, strategies and best practices at a variety of roundtable forums. The roundtable forum will be comprised of three, 25-minute session discussions. The topics of the roundtable forums will include:

* “3D Printing for Manufacturing,” led by Allen Kreember of Stratasys Inc. and Tom Rohrbeck of Graphics Systems Corp.
*  “Be a 'Problem-finder,' Not Just a 'Problem-solver,” led by George Saluta, of Sigman Management Systems LLC.
*  “Competing in the 'talent' game: Practical approaches to attracting the right employee,” led by Weitzer.
*  “Eliminating Waste from the Product Development Process,” led by David Vedder and Rodd Rosenthal, both of Graphics Systems Corp.
*  “Fostering a future workforce: how to engage, develop and prepare for the next generation of workforce,” led by Stephanie Borowski of GPS Education Partners.
*  “Front Line Leadership,” led by Andy Marris of MRA.
* “Global Expansion Opportunities,” led by Roxanne Baumann of WMEP.
*  “Managing Foregin Exchange Risk in Turbulent Times,” led by Tyler Lynch of BMO Harris Bank.
*  “Mitigating the Legal Risks of Manufacturing in a Global Economy based on your Go To Market Channel,” led by Rod Rogahn of Rogahn Kelly Law.
* “Profit Sustainability,” led by Mark McDermid of WMEP.
* “Sales: Prospectig & Closing,” led by Christine McMahon in partnership with the WCTC Center for Business Performance Solutions.
* “So your product is free, now what are you selling?” led by Tom Nelson of Nelson Container Corp. Inc.
*  “Successfully Reinvigorating your Operational Excellence Program,” led by Cameron Yazdani and Thomas Schultz of Schenck SC.
* “Why Private Equity Loves Manufacturing,” led by Ann Hanna of Schenck M&A Solutions.
* “Why should companies use a 3PL?” led by Jon Teraoka of W.I.S. Logistics.
* “Will an ESOP Work for Me?” led by Richard Shuma of BMO Harris Bank.

For more information or to register for the Manufacturing Summit breakfast, visit

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National report shows manufacturing slowdown
October 5, 2015 11:20 AM
Following a recent report that showed further contraction in industry activity in the Milwaukee area, a national report released today also showed a slowdown.

According to the Manufacturing ISM Report On Business, the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reflected stagnant activity in the sector nationwide, falling from 51.1 in August to 50.2 in September. Any number more than 50 indicates growth, while less than 50 signals contraction.

This was the lowest level since May 2013.

A blog from the National Association of Manufacturers said this illustrates the struggles that manufacturers continue to face in light of headwinds in the economy from the stronger dollar and sluggishness abroad.

In the September survey, respondents showed concerns over exchange rates, crude oil, China and apprehensive customers. Below are some of the comments:

* "Revenues and profits in our industry continue to (be) impacted by low crude and gas prices.
* "High value of dollar is affecting global procurement pricing."
* "Concerns about China downturn and its effect on our consumer confidence."
*  "Overall business is slowing. Consumers are nervous. Not sure what is coming next."
* “The orders from customers seem to be slowing a bit from the first part of the year. We have promises but not actual Purchase Order numbers."
* "Continue to feel impact of oil and gas market slowdown. Aerospace demand has also been slower than expected. Consumer Electronics not robust."

Areas that were down from August to September included new orders (51.7 to 50.1), production (53.6 to 51.8), and employment (51.2 to 50.5).

“This report reflects continued slow growth for manufacturers, as global headwinds present a persistent challenge for the sector,” the NAM’s blog said. “Manufacturing leaders express cautious optimism for the coming months, but it is clear that the strong dollar, reduced crude oil prices and soft global demand have taken their toll on production and overall sentiment.”

As for the Milwaukee-area report released Wednesday, the PMI was below 50 for the sixth consecutive month, according to the Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing.

The PMI was at 39.44 in September, down from 47.67 in August. It has been below 50 for eight of the past 25 months.

The continued low PMI comes at a time when several large Milwaukee-area manufacturers have been announcing significant job reductions.

Earlier this week, GE Power & Water announced it will lay off 350 employees, and Joy Global Surfacing Mining Inc. said it will lay off 113 workers beginning Nov. 30.

Johnson Controls Inc. also recently announced plans to cut 3,000 people globally over the next two years, and Caterpillar Inc. expects to eliminate 10,000 jobs at unspecified locations by 2018.

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Johnson Controls completes global air conditioning joint venture
October 5, 2015 11:24 AM
Johnson Controls announced it is immediately beginning operations of Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning, a global joint venture that is said to provide global customers with a full range of air conditioning products and technology.

The joint venture agreement was made with Hitachi Ltd. and Hitachi Appliances Inc. Glendale-based Johnson Controls first announced its intention to form the joint venture in January.

Through the agreement, Johnson Controls acquired a 60 percent ownership stake of the new entity, which has approximately $2.8 billion in sales annually. Hitachi Appliances retains ownership of the remaining 40 percent of the company.

The joint venture includes approximately 14,000 employees and 24 global locations dedicated to design, engineering and manufacturing throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America. It will build on both organizations' technology, research and development leadership, as well as expanding marketing channels.

Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning brings together Hitachi's air conditioning products, which include variable refrigerant flow systems, residential air-conditioning solutions, high-efficiency chillers and leading-edge rotary and scroll compressors, with Johnson Controls' HVAC and building automation solutions.

The joint venture's management team will be led by Franz Cerwinka, chief executive officer, and Shinichi Iizuka, chief operating officer and president.

Cerwinka has 20 years of experience with Johnson Controls, including four years in Japan as vice president of finance with the company's automotive business and work with more than 10 joint ventures. Iizuka has been with Hitachi for more than 35 years, having spent eight years in India as the president of Hitachi Home & Life Solutions India Ltd. He has led Hitachi's air conditioning business since 2013.

"We are very pleased to start operations and are anxious to serve our customers with an unmatched global network of channels and technology," Cerwinka said. "Johnson Controls and Hitachi are a perfect match with our complementary product lines, unparalleled brands and rich 100-year histories."

"I have spent my career with Hitachi and know that combining with Johnson Controls will propel us forward to outperform the competition," Iizuka said. "Just as Hitachi and Johnson Controls have each made innovation the foundation of their separate success, innovation will now be the cornerstone of Johnson Controls – Hitachi Air Conditioning's success."

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Jockey enters the bedding market
October 5, 2015 11:27 AM
Kenosha-based Jockey International Inc., known for men's undergarments and women's intimates, announced a new licensing agreement with Pacific Coast Feather Company, a leading manufacturer of down and feather bedding based in Seattle.

The new Jockey bedding collection debuted this week at the New York Homes Fashion Market. The brand will show a range of bedding basics including comforters, duvets, pillows, pillow protectors, feather beds, fiber beds, mattress pads, mattress toppers and mattress protectors.

"Our consumers have always trusted Jockey against their skin. As America's leading provider of intimates and underwear, we saw a unique opportunity to apply our patented apparel technologies to the bedding space," said Milou Gwyn, vice president of domestic licensing at Jockey. "We are thrilled to show our consumer how innovation and technology can change the way they sleep. Successfully upgrading bedding basics will further enforce Jockey's position as a reliable provider of everyday essentials for the consumer."

The partnership, brokered by the Joester Loria Group, will focus on innovating classic bedding basics by introducing Jockey's technical apparel fabrics to PCFC's long-tested comfort bedding techniques. For instance, Jockey's “classic supersoft fabric,” previously applied to undergarments and activewear, is used to make duvets and pillows softer and less stiff.  

In development are stain-resistant textiles that will help keep at-home whites at their brightest.  Additionally, moisture wicking and stay dry features will pair with temperature regulating technology to yield breathable bedding.

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Joy Global to temporarily close operating unit, lay off 113
October 5, 2015 11:29 AM
Joy Global Surface Mining Inc. announced it will temporarily close an operating unit its Milwaukee facility and lay off 113 workers beginning Nov. 30.

Joy Global plans to lay off 109 union workers and terminate four non-union workers from the Original Equipment department at the facility, located at 4400 W. National Ave., during the temporary closure. The positions impacted include welders, loaders, assemblers, inspectors, overhead crane operators, spray painters, machinists, electricians and others.

The Original Equipment department makes the largest heavy mining machinery. There are a total of 800 workers at the National Avenue facility, and the other departments, including the Machinery and Motor Shop departments, will continue operating during the unit closure.

“It’s definitely not the whole facility,” said Caley Clinton, advertising and PR manager at Joy Global. “We even have other manufacturing operations here that are not affected by this. It’s just a lack of work for that department. We have work that we’re wrapping up in that area right now, but given the commodity markets, our customers, there’s just not a lot of demand right now for big equipment.”

The union workers at the plant are represented by United Steelworkers Union Local 1114. The union has bumping rights in its collective bargaining agreement, so it is difficult to determine which employees will be affected, and in which phase of the layoff they will be included. The layoffs will occur in phases beginning Nov. 30 and continuing through May.

“We wanted to give them a 60 days heads up,” Clinton said. “But we don’t know when work will come back. This downturn just has dragged on longer than I think most people have anticipated.”

Joy Global also revealed in the filing that it has laid off more than 150 employees prior to Sept. 30 because of declining sales at the company, who also have recall rights.

“At this time, the company is unable to estimate when the operating unit will start up,”
Joy Global representatives said in a WARN mass layoff filing with the state. “We assure you that all laid off and terminated employees will be paid all earned wages and agreed-upon fringe benefits upon being laid off or terminated.

“We anticipate all layoffs of union employees will be temporary although, at this time, we do not have a reasonable estimate of the duration of the layoff. The union employees will have certain recall rights under their collective bargaining agreement.”

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the Milwaukee Area Workforce Development Board will work to assist the dislocated workers.

Joy Global continues to face major headwinds with the slumping mining industry. Earlier this month, it reported fiscal third quarter net income of $44.9 million, or 46 diluted earnings per share, down 37 percent from $71.3 million, or 71 diluted earnings per share, in the previous fiscal third quarter.

The global mining equipment manufacturer’s net sales for the third quarter were down 9.5 percent to $792.2 million.

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Local manufacturing activity in negative territory for sixth straight month
October 5, 2015 11:31 AM
A key measure of Milwaukee-area manufacturing indicated further contraction in September. The seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers Index was below 50 for the sixth consecutive month, according to the Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing.

The PMI was at 39.44 in September, down from 47.67 in August. Any number more than 50 indicates growth, while less than 50 signals contraction. The PMI has been below 50 for eight of the past 25 months.

In the September survey, respondents said:

* No major issues are of concern at this time.
* Many suppliers are rationalizing product offering, which forces customers to use valuable resources to requalify alternate materials instead of focusing resources on growing the businesses.
* There has been slowing demand from customers as the end of fiscal year is approaching.
* There are still plans to institute Kanban systems.

Customers’ inventories and imports grew in September, while new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, inventories, prices, backlog of orders, exports and imports declined or slowed.

Seasonally adjusted blue collar employment declined from 54.3 in August to 45.1 in September, and seasonally adjusted white collar employment grew from 50.7 in August to 58.0 in September.  

In the six-month outlook on business conditions, there was no change in positive expectations compared with August in terms of market conditions. Approximately 38.5 percent of respondents expect positive conditions over the next six months, 38.5 percent expect conditions to remain the same and 23.1 percent of respondents expect conditions to worsen within the next six months.

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Harley hiring 100 temporary positions
October 5, 2015 11:33 AM
Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Motor Co. is currently hiring for 100 temporary seasonal positions that will begin on Nov. 16.
The motorcycle manufacturer is looking for entry-level machine operators who will receive a starting hourly wage of $16.80, according to Tony Macrito, manager of corporate media relations.

The exact timeframe of the positions, which are full-time with potential for overtime, will be determined closer to the end of Harley’s surge production season, Macrito said. Based on sales projections for volume and product mix, the surge production season is expected to end around June. 

Besides entry-level machine operators, other openings may be available for candidates with more work experience and skills.

More information will be available at the Oct. 10 orientation session at Harley’s Menomonee Falls facility located at W156N9000 Pilgrim Road.

Those interested in attending the orientation session may register by calling (414) 342-9787.

Candidates must be able to pass a drug test and physical, and receive a passing score on a basic skills assessment. Past manufacturing experience is a plus.

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Klement Sausage moving corporate offices to former Pabst brewery
October 5, 2015 11:36 AM
Klement Sausage Company will move its corporate offices from Bay View to the former Pabst brewery complex in downtown Milwaukee in early 2016.

Klement’s will occupy the fourth floor of the newly constructed Pabst Professional Center building at 1036 W. Juneau Ave.

“This move supports Klement’s long term commitment to the city of Milwaukee and our growth plans,” Ray Booth, CEO of Klement Sausage Company said in a written statement. “The Pabst Professional Center represents our ‘Best of Class’ business goal and supports that our best days as a company are ahead of us.”

Klement is moving its corporate offices downtown from 2324 S. Burrell St., just off Lincoln Avenue.

With Klement’s lease, the 40,000-square-foot Pabst Professional Center is now at 75 percent occupancy, said Michael Kelly, executive vice president of Blue Ribbon Management, the developer for the building.

TCF Bank has leased the fifth floor and Logicalis, an IT consulting firm has leased a portion of the third floor. About 10,000 square feet are left of the third floor, Kelly said.

The first and second floors of the building is structured parking.

“Klement is a fantastic tenant and we are happy to have them,” Kelly said. “We believe the building will fit their needs and will be an opportunity for them to start a new chapter in their company.”

The new location will house the majority of Klement’s executive team as well as sales, marketing, finance, IT, planning and customer support staff.

Houston-based Tall Tree Foods acquired Klement Sausage Co. Inc. in May 2014, keeping Booth as the CEO to lead the business and the current management team in place.

The company was assisted by Siegel-Gallagher in the relocation search and Madisen Maher Architects has been selected for the design of the headquarters.

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Actuant earnings fall on strong dollar, weaker demand
October 5, 2015 11:38 AM
Menomonee Falls-based Actuant Corp. reported fourth quarter net income of $22.1 million, or 37 cents per share, down from $35.6 million, or 51 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Operating profit at the global diversified industrial company totaled $28.8 million, down from $61.7 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenue was $300.4 million in the fourth quarter, down from $354.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The company blamed a strong U.S. dollar for about half of its 15 percent sales decline year-over-year.  The rest of the drop was attributed to weakened end markets in the energy, agricultural and general industrial sectors.

“Our focus remains on tightly managing costs while continuing to fund our best growth initiatives across the businesses,” said Robert Arzbaecher, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “On the cost front, we again achieved a year-over-year percentage reduction in (selling, administrative and engineering) expense greater than the decline in revenues. However, gross profit and operating margins in the fourth quarter were down due to the adverse impact of lower production and absorption levels associated with inventory destocking, approximately $3 million of downsizing costs, unfavorable sales mix, and negative purchase price variances driven by the stronger U.S. dollar. We were especially pleased with the strong fourth quarter cash flow which drove our 15th consecutive year of free cash flow conversion of net earnings in excess of 100 percent, which provides the fuel for future business growth.

“Given our expectations of continued sluggish demand in fiscal 2016, we are undertaking actions to further simplify our business and rationalize the cost structure. This will position Actuant for stronger profitable growth as end market demand improves. We expect fiscal 2016 to be a transformative year for Actuant and I am excited to be able to launch these important actions to help achieve our vision.”

For the full year, Actuant reported net income of $19.9 million, or 32 cents per share, down from $163.6 million, or $2.26 per share, in 2014.

Its 2015 operating profit was $53.6 million, down from $203.1 million last year.

And full-year revenue totaled $1.2 billion, down from $1.4 billion in 2014.

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EnSync narrows loss
October 5, 2015 11:40 AM
Menomonee Falls-based EnSync Inc. has reported a fourth quarter net loss of $3.5 million, or 9 cents lost per share, compared with a net loss of $4.5 million, or 16 cents lost per share, in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The company, formerly known as ZBB Energy Corp., makes energy management systems for the utility, commercial, industrial and multi-tenant building markets. The fourth quarter operating loss totaled $3.5 million, compared with a $4.1 million operating loss in the same period a year ago.

Revenue was $313,178 in the quarter, compared with $1.2 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2014. Product sales declined significantly year-over-year.

During the fourth quarter, EnSync formed a global strategic partnership with Solar Power Inc., which includes a $33.4 million initial equity investment and an initial supply agreement valued at $80 million to $120 million.

“This quarter, the main takeaway for investors are the significant product development achievements and the start of executing our strategic plan to accelerate revenue,” said Brad Hansen chief executive officer and president of EnSync. “The closing of the SPI partnership brings the ability to leverage SPI’s footprint to expand penetration globally, including countries like Germany, Australia and Japan. But more importantly, the SPI partnership brings EnSync additional capital and the ability to produce new revenues and new revenue streams.

“Changing the company name was vital to the execution of our strategic plan. We have evolved from being a pure-play battery company into a distributed energy generation systems and services company, whose mission is to revolutionize the generation and distribution of electricity.”

For the full year, EnSync reported a net loss of $12.8 million, or 36 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $9.6 million, or 46 cents per share, in 2014.

The company’s full-year operating loss was $13.6 million, compared with an operating loss of $8.8 million last year.

Revenue for 2015 totaled $1.8 million, down from $7.9 million in 2014.

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Best Practices: Eight steps to a strong export strategy for SMEs
October 5, 2015 11:42 AM
Most small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) consider themselves to be an exporter if they sell to a large international group that moves its factory to a foreign country, but continues to buy from the SME.

Sorry to be blunt, but that is not exporting or an export strategy -- that's called going with the flow!

Read more.

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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.

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