Monday, November 24, 2014
SC Johnson reduces greenhouse gas emissions, waste
November 24, 2014 09:33 AM
Since 2000, Racine-based SC Johnson has reduced greenhouse gas emissions from global manufacturing sites by 50.5 percent, as well as reduced global manufacturing waste by 71 percent. Both surpassed the company’s goal of 48 percent and 70 percent by 2016, respectively.

Those were among the findings in SC Johnson’s recently released 2014 sustainability report, which marks the company's 23rd year of public sustainability reporting.

Other progress in the third year of SC Johnson’s five-year strategy included that the company now uses 32.3 percent renewable energy globally, nearing its 2016 goal of 33 percent. It also currently has eight zero-landfill manufacturing sites on four continents. (Zero-landfill manufacturing sites eliminate all materials that would be transferred to landfills through reuse and recycling, and, ultimately, without the use of incineration.)

The report also detailed the SC Johnson Greenlist process that was launched in 2001 with the goal of choosing “better” ingredients based on information about their impact on the environment and human health. The process uses a four-point scale to rate ingredients: 3 for "Best," 2 for "Better," 1 for "Good" and 0-rated materials whose use is restricted.

When a new product or reformulation is created, SC Johnson works to select raw materials rated "Better" or "Best." SC Johnson's goal is to increase, year-on-year, the percentage of its ingredients that has a lower impact on the environment and human health. The company started with 18 percent "Better/Best" ingredients in 2001. Today, it is at 47 percent, and its goal is 58 percent by 2016.

"While there are 4,600 materials we screen for in our product development, the SC Johnson Greenlist process is not simply about eliminating the 'bad,'" said chairman and chief executive officer Fisk Johnson. "It's about making it easy for product developers to add in 'better.'  It's a systematic, computerized process that helps us continually make better ingredient choices for our products."

To read the full SC Johnson 2014 Sustainability Report, visit

In other SC Johnson news, the company announced last week that it has earned a perfect score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. The HRC Corporate Equality Index rates companies on a scale of 0 to 100 on their fair treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors. This year marks the 13th consecutive year that SC Johnson has been recognized on the list.

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Sprecher releases two new brews
November 24, 2014 09:46 AM
Glendale-based Sprecher Brewing Co. has released two new bourbon barrel-aged brews: the Czar Brew and the Commando. They became available in the Sprecher Gift Shop and at additional retail outlets earlier this month.

The brews spent two years aging in white oak bourbon barrels, which the company said melded and mellowed them to a degree never before achieved.  

The Czar Brew is described as a Russian Imperial Stout, while the Commando is a Peated Strong Scotch-style ale with dried fruit, caramel and smoky notes. The company said the bourbon and oak highlights balance the dark roasted malts in the Czar Brew and complement the malts and hops at the heart of the Commando.

The Czar Brew and Commando consist of 12 percent abv (alcohol by volume) and are offered in four packs of 12- ounce bottles.

Sprecher Brewing Co. is a maker of award-winning beers and gourmet sodas.

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Power Test to hold tree lighting celebration
November 24, 2014 09:48 AM
Sussex-based Power Test Inc. is holding its third annual tree lighting celebration on Thursday, Dec. 4 at 4:30 p.m. Open to the community and local businesses, it will take place at its location at N60 W22700 Silver Spring Drive.

Power Test asks that attendees bring donations for Sussex Outreach Services. Suggested donations include hats, gloves, toys and books, as well as canned goods and non-perishable foods.

Santa Claus is expected to make a special appearance for children, and snacks, cookies and hot chocolate will be served.

“It’s something we are doing to show what we believe in and to shed a positive light on manufacturing,” said chief executive officer Alan Petelinsek.

Power Test is an industry leader in the design, manufacture and sale of dynamometers, heavy equipment test systems, and related data acquisition and control systems.

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Northwoods to offer web strategy workshop for manufacturers
November 24, 2014 09:39 AM
Shorewood-based Northwoods Web Solutions is offering a free web strategy workshop for manufacturers on Tuesday. Called “Successful Manufacturing Websites & Online Catalogs,” the workshop will be held from 8:15 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Northwoods Web Solutions, 1572 E Capitol Drive in Shorewood.

The workshop will help attendees improve their websites and increase conversions using online catalogs, product detail pages, dealer/rep locators, search engine optimization, product information management, mobile and social media.

“This workshop provides website and digital marketing best practices for manufacturers that we have developed through our work with major companies such as Briggs & Stratton, ABB and Snap-on Tools,” said Patrick Bieser, Northwood’s chief executive officer and seminar presenter. “Mid-sized firms cannot succeed on name and brand recognition alone – they must have a strong and effective website, using the right online tools and strategy. Your website needs to be your best salesperson.”

Admission is free with advance registration. For more information or to register, visit

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Low interest financing available for clean energy projects
November 24, 2014 09:42 AM
Companies interested in investing in energy efficiency and waste reduction projects can apply for low interest financing by Monday, Dec. 8. The funding is available from the new Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Revolving Loan Fund (CERLF), a program jointly managed by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Wisconsin Department of Administration.

Private sector businesses are eligible for low interest loans of up to $1 million for projects that increase energy efficiency through the reduction of industrial/manufacturing facility use of fossil fuels; eliminate or reduce waste product through conversion to feedstock for energy production; and produce biogas.

Other cost-effective energy reduction or clean energy projects will also be considered for funding through the $7 million CERLF fund.

CERLF funding is awarded on a competitive basis, with preference given to food and beverage producers. Companies representing other industries are also encouraged to apply, as up to 20 percent of available funds may be awarded to non-food and beverage projects.

For more information about the CERLF program, click here.

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Xten sold out of bankruptcy
November 24, 2014 09:52 AM
Kenosha-based plastic injection molding company Xten Industries LLC has been sold out of bankruptcy to Mundelein, Ill.-based Commercial Plastics Co.

Xten, valued at $25 million, filed a WARN notice with the state in October indicating it would close and lay off 120 employees if the sale did not go through.

Following the transaction, Xten will change its name to Commercial Plastics Kenosha LLC and continue business as usual in Kenosha. All 120 employees and the management team will be retained at the location.

The sale was due to a variety of reasons, said Bill O’Connor, vice president of sales at CPC.

“It was just a business decision by the old owners,” he said. “I think they maybe took on too much too fast.”

Xten was established in the 1940s in Chicago under the name Hauser Plas Tech. It changed its name to Xten in 2000. The company has a 78,000-square-foot Kenosha plant with 31 presses. It previously had a Lockport, Ill. location, which was separated and liquidated a few months ago, O’Connor said.

CPC plans to hire several new employees at Xten. The combined company will generate $60 to $65 million in sales, he said.

“What a smart play by CPC. We have worked together for years on various projects and discovered along the way our compatibilities and synergies,” said Xten co-founder Bill Renick.“I am excited about the future.”

“We are also proud that Commercial recognized the great team we have here. It is encouraging to know that our employees will continue as part of a growing company and as part of the fantastic community of Kenosha,” said Matthew Davidson, co-founder.

In recent years, Xten has been quickly growing in Kenosha. From June 2012 to June 2013, it grew by about 150 percent, reporting $50 million in revenue in 2013. Last year, Xten added a fourth shift to move to 24/7 production and partnered with Kenosha-based Gateway Technical College to offer a scholarship and internal training program.

The 73-year-old company was named to the Inc. 5000 list in October. Xten received the Employee Engagement & Commitment Award from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce in February. It was the Kenosha Area Business Alliance’s 2011 Kenosha County Business of the Year.

“We see growth opportunity with the quality partnerships Xten has built over the years and look forward to further developing those relationships,” said CPC president Matthew O'Connor.

“Xten has the same core values that CPC has and bringing the two together only strengthens our ability to service our customers,” Bill O’Connor said.

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Seiberlich acquires V&L Tool
November 24, 2014 09:53 AM
Milwaukee business executive Kevin Seiberlich and Hamilton Henry Capital have acquired Waukesha-based V&L Tool Inc.

Seiberlich, chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Optimus Financial Services LLC will also serve as president and chief executive officer of the company.

“It’s been around since the ’60s and it’s got a solid reputation in the industry and it’s got a great framework for us to be able to grow it,” Seiberlich said. “We’re really looking at existing customers and how we can grow with them and new customers.”

V&L, which offers advanced manufacturing and complex assemblies, has more than 65 employees, and Seiberlich plans to increase employment by 20 percent in the first quarter of 2015. The manufacturer has a 150,000-square-foot main facility with CNC manufacturing and assembly capabilities. It primarily serves the advanced medical equipment, power generation, manufacturing, hydraulics and agriculture industries.

 “V&L is at the forefront of the complex machining and assembly work that underpins a resurgence in American manufacturing,” Seiberlich said. “That’s a testament to the remarkable expertise and dedication of the V&L team, which has been running at full capacity since our purchase.

 “V&L is positioned extremely well to grow with our new and current customers due to our strong market position and talented employee base. Add our positive financial position and the potential for value-add acquisitions and the company’s prospects are very bright.”

“Growth at the company is already driving new hiring and we will hold a job fair in the near future to meet the need,” said Jenny Schlut, human resources manager. “We’re actively recruiting experienced CNC set-up operators, particularly candidates who have turning and machining center experience.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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Best Practices: Four predictions on the future of plastics manufacturing in the U.S.
November 24, 2014 09:55 AM
The future of plastic manufacturing in the United States is far from certain, but many trends are beginning to take shape. From the accelerating pace of 3D printing innovation to new production procedures, plastic manufacturing will likely continue to be a strong yet steadily changing segment of the manufacturing industry overall.

Economists and analysts are watching trends in manufacturing closely, as it’s an industry that is in part driving the economic recovery in the United States. While predictions vary, they all point to significant change. Below are a few trends and predictions related to U.S. plastic manufacturing.

Read more.

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Best Practices: Customer-focused process improvement for manufacturers
November 24, 2014 09:56 AM
All too often, companies lose sight of what should be their core focus: providing value to customers.

When you come back to that focus and see your organization from a customer's perspective, it often brings a renewed energy and sense of why you're in business. Applying process improvement methodology to customer service has the potential to make a huge impact on your organization, from increased sales to lowered turnover.

Read more.

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New hires and promotions
November 24, 2014 09:57 AM

St. Francis-based Wixon Inc., a manufacturer of seasonings, flavors and technologies for the food and beverage industry, has hired Tara Headd as national account manager for the company’s foodservice division. She has more than 20 years of progressive experience in foodservice sales and has served in business development roles at Heinz, Cargill, Southeastern Mills, and Diversified Foods & Seasonings.

“The addition of Tara to the Wixon Foodservice Group team helps ensure that we have the ideal blend of services, talent and expertise to enable our foodservice customers’ success,” said Chuck Ehemann, Wixon’s executive vice president.

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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)
» 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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