Monday, October 20, 2014
Washington County school officials to tour manufacturers
October 20, 2014 08:58 AM
Six manufacturing companies and two health care providers will be welcoming teachers, guidance counselors and other staff from three Washington County school districts for tours on Thursday and Friday.

The tours are part of an initiative by the Washington County Workforce Alliance to help educators better understand the needs of today’s workplaces.

In Hartford, the school officials will visit Broan-Nu Tone LLC, a manufacturer of residential ventilation products; Signicast Investment Castings, a leading provider of investment castings; Triton Trailers LLC, a manufacturer of aluminum trailers; and Aurora Advanced Healthcare.

They will also go to Serigraph Inc., a designer and manufacturer of decorative, functional and brand-related graphics, in West Bend; Regal Ware Inc., a maker of cookware, in Kewaskum; Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin St. Joseph’s Hospital in West Bend; and Maysteel LLC, a manufacturer of precision sheet metal enclosures, in Allenton.

The educators attending the tours are from the West Bend School District, the Slinger School District and the Kewaskum School District. The WCWA did a pilot project last year that involved more than a hundred teachers, counselors and other staff from the School District of Hartford visiting five local employers. In addition to Signicast, Broan-Nu Tone, Aurora and Triton Trailers, they went to Steel Craft Corp., a fabrication and metal stamping manufacturer in Hartford.   

The Washington County Workforce Alliance is a coalition of employers and educators, as well as members of Economic Development Washington County and the Hartford Area Development Corporation. It was formed about a year-and-a-half ago in response to an April 2013 pre-retirement intention survey conducted by Moraine Park Technical College.

According to Tom Hostad, the executive director of the Hartford Area Development Corporation and the chair of the WCWA, the survey showed that a large number of long-term employees from the Baby Boomer generation will be retiring in the next three to five years. In fact, close to 50 percent of the Baby Boomer retirements will occur over the next 15 years. Hostad said that number has not exceeded more than 35 percent for any other generation.

The survey also indicated the population growth of Washington County is not sufficient to backfill those retirements.

“The results were quite alarming to us, especially in the manufacturing and logistics and health care professions,” Hostad said. “Those will be the three employment areas in Washington County hit the hardest.”

Many teachers recommend students obtain more education because that is the path they followed, but Hostad said recent high school graduates also have the option to go straight into the workforce. Many employers, he added, provide tuition reimbursement programs that allow for further training.  

While helping educators better understand today’s workplace is the first phase, Hostad said the next phase is to get employers into the schools to see if the curriculum is in line with the workplace. That will likely occur in the first quarter of 2015.

Beyond that, the WCWA is holding a college and career fair in March and is planning to conduct workplace tours for students sometime next year.

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Midwest Engineering Systems to hold grand opening Thursday
October 20, 2014 09:12 AM
Midwest Engineering Systems Inc., an automation systems manufacturer, is scheduled to celebrate the grand opening of its new 100,000-square-foot facility in Pewaukee on Thursday with a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour.

The company outgrew its previous 55,000-square-foot space at N26 W23445 Paul Road in Pewaukee, which it moved into in 2011, as demand for automation systems increases. It is leasing its new facility located at W238N1800 Rockwood Drive, the former site of Harley-Davidson apparel manufacturer Holoubek Studios Inc.

“Ten years or so ago, we probably did maybe five to 10 robots a year. Now, we're probably doing 50 to 60 robots a year,” Dean Stefanac, vice president-engineering and operations, told BizTimes Milwaukee in an interview earlier this year.

The company currently has close to 115 employees, and is seeking to fill 10 to 20 more positions over the next few months, according to creative media and marketing specialist Lauren Rozman.

In the past, Midwest Engineering Systems was located at an 8,000-square-foot facility in West Allis and an 18,000-square-foot facility in Pewaukee.

Governor Scott Walker is expected to attend the grand opening in addition to Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas, Rep. Adam Neylon and Waukesha County Board Supervisor David Swan. 

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Strattec Security Corp. named 2014 Supplier of the Year
October 20, 2014 09:23 AM
Milwaukee-based Strattec Security Corp. has been named the 2014 Supplier of the Year by Ford Rotunda, which is part of the Ford Motor Company's customer service division.

"I'm extremely proud of the hard work by our Strattec associates to earn this prestigious award. It is especially gratifying since it highlights our efforts to diversify,” said Frank Krejci, president and chief executive officer.  “Last year, we won a Supplier of the Year Award from Chrysler in the Electronic Products category for designing, manufacturing and delivering product, which has historically been our strength. This award highlights the service business we created."

Steve Gilles, manager of New Business Development, added: "We provide support of increased customer satisfaction at Ford's automotive dealerships. As automotive access and security becomes more sophisticated, dealerships are choosing to outsource to Strattec the coding of replacement keys for increased product accuracy with the expectation of timely one-day delivery. This recognition from Ford Rotunda validates the investment in superior processes that Strattec has made in the last few years to enhance our product portfolio with value-added services that are world-class."

Strattec designs, develops, manufactures and markets automotive access control products, including mechanical locks and keys, electronically enhanced locks and keys, and steering column and instrument panel ignition lock housings. Strattec’s history in the automotive business spans over 100 years.

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Trostel launches youth apprenticeship program
October 20, 2014 09:30 AM
Lake Geneva-based Trostel, a custom rubber molding and compounding company, recently launched a manufacturing youth apprenticeship program in cooperation with GPS Education Partners, a nonprofit that provides immersive work-based education programs. The manufacturer began providing learning space and apprenticeship training to high school students at its Whitewater and Lake Geneva operations in September.

Trostel decided to partner with GPS on the program as a way to address the skills gap problem that involves manufacturers struggling to find skilled labor. The company said the collaboration benefits students, meets the needs of manufacturing and serves to strengthen local communities where it does business.

“Collaborating with GPS is more than an investment in our business and industry,” said Steve Dyer, president and chief executive officer of Trostel. “This is an investment in our students and the communities we serve. Education is key to helping our community’s youth to be successful in their future careers and in their lives. We are delighted to open the door to this program and proud to be a partner in this important initiative.”

In support of the program, Trostel donates classroom space; trains three youth apprentices as part of the program’s business rotation model; and contributes essential classroom learning materials like a projector and dry erase board.

“We are grateful to have business and community partners like Trostel who share our passion and vision for providing innovative pathways to help students succeed, and help local businesses and communities thrive,” says Stephanie Borowski, president of GPS.

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Milwaukee Electric Tool, Strategic Marketing Partners change names
October 20, 2014 09:35 AM
Brookfield-based Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. is currently transitioning into its new name, Milwaukee Tool, according to the company’s senior brand marketing manager Kharli Tyler.

The industry-leading manufacturer and marketer of heavy-duty tools and accessories recently changed its name due to its growing offering of solutions, such as hand tools, that are not electric.

In other news, Milwaukee marketing firm Strategic Marketing Partners has changed its name to Vive LLC.

Vive focuses on marketing for manufacturers. Its logo and website,, have been updated to reflect the name change.

“Our name change does not reflect a shift in our offerings or value proposition,” said Teresa Schell, president. “Rather, the name change to Vive more accurately identifies who we have become, which is a team focused on being Victorious, Innovative, Vibrant and Enduring. Vive delivers the same marketing support and is dedicated to building lasting relationships with professionals in the plastics and mold building industries.”

Vive has assisted several plastic processors, plastic service providers and mold builders across the country in creating marketing plans, communication strategies and branding.

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Institute for Supply Management accepting scholarship applications
October 20, 2014 09:40 AM
The Institute for Supply Management is offering the ISM-Milwaukee Supply Management Scholarship program for the seventh consecutive year. Applications are due Thursday, Oct 30.

The scholarship is a result of ISM-M’S commitment to foster the development of future leaders in the field of supply management who demonstrate academic excellence, exemplary ethics, integrity, leadership and professionalism.

Only ISM-M student members are eligible to apply. They must be 2014-15 full-time students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Preference will be given to individuals majoring in supply or operations management.  Winners will attend an ISM-M Scholarship recognition dinner to accept the award.

Visit to learn more.

Originally The National Association for Purchasing Managers, the Institute for Supply Management-Milwaukee has over 400 members and is a source of education and networking for supply chain, purchasing and procurement professionals in the greater Milwaukee region. In partnership with Marquette University, it publishes the Milwaukee PMI, a key market indicator.

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Badger Meter reports record quarter
October 20, 2014 09:45 AM
Brown Deer-based Badger Meter Inc. last week reported third quarter net earnings of $10.2 million, or 71 cents per share, up 13.1 percent from $9 million, or 63 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

Revenue was $96.3 million, up 3.6 percent from $93 million in the same period last year.

The flow measurement and control product manufacturer’s results set new company records for any quarter. The increases can be attributed to higher sales of residential municipal water products and flow instrumentation products, said Richard Meeusen, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Badger Meter. Sales of commercial water products were down slightly.

“This was another strong quarter for Badger Meter, with third quarter sales, earnings and diluted earnings per share that were the highest of any quarter in our history,” Meeusen said. “The third quarter 2014 results beat the previous all-time records set in last year’s third quarter.”

Badger Meter closed on the acquisition of National Meter and Automation Inc. on Oct. 1.

“We are pleased with the acquisition of National Meter, one of the major distributors for our municipal water products,” Meeusen said. “The acquisition will further integrate Badger Meter into this important sales channel, providing benefits for our customers, our company and our other distributors.”

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Briggs & Stratton narrows loss
October 20, 2014 09:48 AM
Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. last week reported a fiscal 2015 first quarter net loss of $15.3 million, or 34 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $19.3 million, or 41 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

Revenue was $292.6 million, down from $317.3 million in the same period a year ago.

Engine segment revenue was $153.1 million, down 16.7 percent from $183.8 million in the third quarter of 2013. Revenue for the products segment was $166.1 million, up 9 percent from $153 million in the same period a year ago.

During the quarter, the company completed its $62 million cash acquisition of Holdrege, Neb.-based Allmand Bros. Inc., which manufactures towable light towers, industrial heaters and solar LED arrow boards used in construction, roadway, oil and gas and mining.    

“As we expected, the first quarter results reflect improved profitability in both the engines and products businesses despite lower engine sales,” said Todd Teske, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Coming into the fiscal year, we anticipated that higher channel inventories of lawn and garden equipment would impact our first quarter engine sales compared with last year which benefitted from lower channel inventories and strong late season retail sales of equipment. Our OEM customers and retailers have taken actions to reduce inventories which impacted our engine sales. Despite the sales decrease, we are pleased with the improved margins in both the engines and products businesses, reflecting the cost cutting actions and our focus on higher margin products, including the acquisition of Allmand.”

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Snap-on earnings soar
October 20, 2014 09:51 AM
Kenosha-based Snap-on Inc. last week reported third quarter net earnings of $106.4 million, or $1.76 per share, up from $87 million, or $1.43 per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

Revenue was $806.3 million, up 7 percent from $753.2 million in the same period a year ago.

Snap-on, which manufactures tools, equipment, diagnostics, repair information and systems solutions for professionals, reported commercial and industrial group segment sales of $298.8 million, up 8.6 percent from 2013, mainly due to higher European and critical industries sales volume. And Snap-on tools group segment sales of $355 million, up 6.4 percent over last year, mainly through organic sales growth.

“We were encouraged by our third quarter results that demonstrate ongoing progress along Snap-on’s runways for both coherent growth and improvement, as solid organic sales gains across all operating segments were accompanied by a 23.1 percent increase in earnings per share,” said Nick Pinchuk, Snap-on chairman and chief executive officer. “In the third quarter, Snap-on was honored to again receive product awards from both MOTOR Magazine and Professional Tool & Equipment News. We believe this recognition reflects Snap-on’s capabilities in translating our deep understanding of professionals’ work into winning innovations. Finally, our results and progress reflect a tremendous dedication and effort all across Snap-on. In that regard, I thank our franchisees and associates worldwide for their commitment and their contributions.”

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Magnetek receives order to modernize Hoover Dam crane controls
October 20, 2014 09:57 AM
Menomonee Falls-based Magnetek Inc., a supplier of digital power and motion control systems, announced last week it received an order valued at more than $1 million to modernize the controls on four 300-ton power plant cranes for the Hoover Dam.

Magnetek is partnering with Precision Crane & Hoist Services of Nevada on the project. Magnetek controls are scheduled to be installed on each of the four cranes over a seven-month period, with the first installation scheduled for December.

Aging A.C. static crane controls will be retrofitted with Magnetek’s state-of-the-art control technology, including adjustable frequency drive panels and radio remote controls. Magnetek will provide complete control systems engineering and integration to meet the specifications of the Bureau of Reclamation, the operator of the Hoover Dam.

“Along with our partner on the project, we are very pleased to be able to assist the Bureau of Reclamation with the modernization of the cranes used in the Hoover Dam Power Plant,” said Dan Beilfuss, Magnetek’s director of sales. “The new crane control systems we are designing will utilize our technologically advanced drives and radio controls, providing crane operators at the Hoover Dam Power Plant with improved productivity, safety and reliability.”

The Hoover Dam has two power plant wings, one located in Nevada and one located in Arizona. Each power plant wing is 650 feet long and rises nearly 300 feet above the foundation of the power plant. Two 300-ton cranes are located inside each power plant wing and are used to move and maintain the 17 main vertical hydraulic turbines housed in the wings. The Hoover Dam Power Plant, one of the country’s largest hydroelectric installations, generates approximately 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power on average each year, enough to serve 1.3 million people in Arizona, Nevada, and California.

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Kapco wins Wisconsin Business Achievement Award
October 20, 2014 10:00 AM
Grafton-based Kapco Inc. is the inaugural recipient of the Wisconsin Business Achievement Award, presented by the Flowers Family Foundation Inc.

The award, which was presented last week at the State of Wisconsin Business Event in Madison, honors the outstanding economic and philanthropic contributions of individuals or entities engaged in free enterprise. The award includes a $50,000 donation from the Flowers Family Foundation to a Wisconsin-based nonprofit organization of the winner's choosing. Kapco selected Hometown Heroes, a charity that supports families in need, to receive the donation.

Established in 1972 as a small, family-run metal stamping company, Kapco has evolved into a full-service metal components manufacturer specializing in robotic stamping and welding, progressive die stamping, deep draw complete tool and die, heavy stamping, fabricating and wet coatings. Kapco contracts with some of the best known brands in the military, construction, industrial equipment, recreational vehicles, fitness equipment, and electronic motor and generator industries.

Kapco, founded by Tom Kacmarcik Sr., employs more than 400 people at six locations, all of which are in Wisconsin.

Chief executive officer Jim Kacmarcik also founded K-Nation Entertainment, a full-service entertainment company for emerging recording artists and is the owner of the Mequon-based Lakeshore Chinooks baseball franchise. More recently, Jim Kacmarcik became part of the minority ownership group of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Jim Kacmarcik said, "When Kapco was founded by my parents in 1972, I don't think they could have envisioned a day when our humble company would be honored in such a way. I'm surrounded by a team who truly cares about the quality of their work. I'm surrounded by a team who demonstrates each day that manufacturing is still a great source of employment in Wisconsin. I'm surrounded by a team that is proving you can have a profitable and fast-growing manufacturing company without shipping jobs and work overseas. We are both pleased and proud to contribute to Wisconsin's economy for the past 40 years. We are humbled by this recognition."

"My vision for the Wisconsin Business Achievement Award was to highlight the incredibly valuable and often unheralded contributions of businesses and the men and women who run them," said Rockne "Rock" Flowers. "Kapco Inc. certainly fits those criteria and then some. Kapco, Inc. enhances the quality of life for people in its community, not only through its positive economic impact, but also through its charitable and entertainment contributions."

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Coleman Tool expanding Union Grove plant
October 20, 2014 10:04 AM
Coleman Tool & Manufacturing Corp. plans to add 20,000 square feet to its Union Grove facility and hire 10 new employees over the next three years.

The company manufactures replacement parts for the waste removal industry. It is expanding operations at its plant, 1625 Leider Drive, to improve manufacturing efficiency and meet growing demand for value added machined and fabricated parts.

Coleman Tool was founded in 1971 and has 78 full-time employees. The company constructed the existing 68,000-square-foot building in 2007 and moved to Union Grove. Its replacement parts are used for garbage trucks, roll-off trucks and other refuse equipment. Coleman also offers customized machining and fabricated parts for industrial applications.

“Union Grove’s support will help us to maintain our operations under one roof. We had reached capacity within our production area. The new addition allows us reconfigure our manufacturing operations to become more efficient, allowing us to continue to provide quality products and services to our growing customer base,” said Michael Coleman, president.  

The Village of Union Grove is expected to provide $114,500 in tax incremental financing for the expansion through Union Grove’s Tax Increment District #3.

"We look forward to the expansion of an already great employer and community partner in Union Grove," said Mike Aimone, Union Grove president.

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A.O. Smith Corp. wins Outstanding Growth Award
October 20, 2014 10:08 AM
The Wisconsin Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG Wisconsin) recognized A.O. Smith Corp. of Milwaukee with an Outstanding Growth Award during the chapter’s member meeting this month.

Accepting the award on behalf of the company at the Milwaukee Athletic Club was Ajita Rajendra, chairman, president and chief executive officer of A.O. Smith. A.O. Smith Corp. is a global water technology company manufacturing residential and commercial water heaters, boilers and water purification systems.

Each year, ACG Wisconsin members are called upon to nominate businesses that they believe exhibit sustained financial performance, a strong corporate culture and strategic excellence. The 2014 pool of nominees included 23 public and private Wisconsin-based businesses. J.F. Brennan Company Inc., a La Crosse-based marine construction and environmental remediation company, also won an Outstanding Growth Award.

“The awards committee was challenged with a large pool of candidates,” said Karin Gale, shareholder, Schenck S.C., and ACG Wisconsin president-elect and awards committee chair. “However, our two award winners consistently rose to the top of the list in each criteria category. A.O Smith is an iconic name with a 140-year history in Milwaukee, but it was the company’s compounded growth over the last five years and its position as the leading water heater brand in the Chinese market that was most impressive. J.F. Brennan also has a long corporate history in Wisconsin. Now in its fourth generation of family leadership, (J.F. Brennan Company) is well-positioned for sustainable growth with its continued expansion throughout the Midwest, long-term succession planning, and proven commitment to environmental concerns and innovation.”

The ACG Wisconsin is comprised of 225 business leaders in corporations, private equity, finance and professional service firms.

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U-Line to be acquired by Illinois foodservice equipment manufacturer
October 20, 2014 10:12 AM
Elgin, Ill-based The Middleby Corp. plans to acquire Milwaukee-based U-Line Corp., the companies announced last week.

U-Line designs and assembles built-in refrigerators and ice makers that fit under countertops. The corporate headquarters has been in Milwaukee since it was founded by Henry Uihlein in 1962, and the headquarters will remain in Milwaukee. The brand, operations and leadership will also be retained as they are.

U-Line, which has 169 employees, also has an office in Laguna Beach, Calif., and a European office. Its products are shipped all over the world, and its annual revenues are about $60 million.

Middleby, which has about 4,500 employees globally, manufactures, markets and services equipment used in commercial foodservice and food processing, and residential kitchen equipment under brands including Blodgett, Toastmaster and Viking.

“U-Line is a well-established brand and a category leader in innovation, quality and performance in the high-end residential markets (it serves),” said Selim Bassoul, chairman and chief executive officer of The Middleby Corp. “U-Line has an outstanding reputation and provides a strong strategic addition to our growing residential platform. We are excited about the fourth quarter launch of a fully redesigned and expanded lineup of new products at U-Line and believe the company is well positioned for growth.”

The transaction price was not disclosed.

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Made in Milwaukee: Bushman Equipment builds lifting device for Port of Halifax
October 20, 2014 10:17 AM
“If you can make it, we can move it” is the motto of Menomonee Falls-based Bushman Equipment Inc.

The company custom designs and manufactures floor-based and below-the-hook material handling solutions for the automotive, paper, steel processing and aerospace industries. One of its newest pieces of equipment, however, was manufactured for the cruise industry.

Read more in the current issue of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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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 ((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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