Southeastern Wisconsin financial service industry news
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Associated Bank increases female leadership 10 percent in three years
May 19, 2015 10:53 AM
In 2011, 17 percent of the leadership roles at Associated Bank were filled by women. By 2014, that figure had grown to 27 percent, thanks in large part to the founding of the Associated Women’s Network.

The AWN was founded in 2011 with the goal of achieving 30 percent female leadership representation at senior vice president or higher, and it is already approaching that goal. The intra-company group offers professional development events with female board members, lunch and learn opportunities, and coaching for women interested in joining boards.

Last week, the AWN held its annual signature event in Milwaukee, at which about 100 members of the network from across the Green Bay-based bank’s footprint met each other and networked over lunch.

Donna Smith, one of the driving forces behind the creation of the AWN and the executive director since its beginning, was honored as she prepares to retire from her role as executive vice president and head of commercial banking on June 1. The group now has about 200 members.

“(Smith) actually started by being a good leader and developer of people…who just so happens to be a woman,” said Ruth Crowley, a member of Associated Bank’s board of directors and its first female director.

Crowley took the opportunity to reflect on how far the organization has come in gaining more female representation in a primarily male-dominated field.

“I’m really proud of the women in this room,” she said. “We know and we understand that not only are you, excuse the expression, ‘just’ women, you’re leaders, moms, sisters, supporters, drivers of the business organization. You’re special.”

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch was the keynote speaker at the signature event. She discussed her role as a woman in business, a mother and a politician.

When Kleefisch was a television anchor, she asked to go part-time to care for her young daughter and her managers weren’t willing to accommodate her request, so she quit.

“I left a $20,000 raise sitting on the anchor desk,” Kleefisch said.
That media company now allows female news anchors to go part-time. Kleefisch said she hopes her conversation with the C-suite helped put a few cracks in the glass ceiling.

Kleefisch also described her journey from a stay-at-home mom to a lieutenant governor, all while battling colon cancer.

“In the case of politics in general, we often hear that it’s an old man’s job or a young man’s job, but not a woman’s job,” particularly not one with two young kids, she said.

Women should feel empowered to make the choices that are best for them and their families. And the Kleefisch family manages to balance raising children with both parents working full-time in politics.

“You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once,” she said.

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Highland Investment Advisors moves to Mequon
May 19, 2015 11:06 AM
Highland Investment Advisors has relocated from Milwaukee to a larger office in Mequon.

The company, which was previously based at 3112 W. Highland Blvd. in Milwaukee, is now located at 1025 W. Glen Oaks Lane, Suite 108, in Mequon.

The new office will have room for the company’s staff of five and a conference room for client meetings. According to an email to clients, the move will make space for the growing firm.

Highland Investment Advisors is a fee-only registered investment advisor serving individuals, families, independent financial advisors, small businesses and nonprofits.

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Journal Media Group reports results of pre-merger 1Q
May 19, 2015 11:13 AM
Milwaukee-based Journal Media Group, the new company created by the April 1 merger of the publishing arms of Journal Communications Inc. and The E.W. Scripps Co., has reported the results of its first quarter.

The GAAP financials were prepared on a “carve-out” basis derived from Scripps’ financial statements, and do not include any cost savings or synergies expected from the combination and spin-off. The company also provided non-GAAP information adjusted for effects of the merger, and operations as a standalone entity.
On a GAAP basis, Scripps Newspapers reported a first quarter net loss of $3.5 million, compared with a net loss of $3.9 million in the first quarter of 2014. Its operating loss was $3.7 million, compared with $3.6 million in the same period a year ago.

And GAAP revenue was $91.5 million, down from $98.5 million in the first quarter of 2014. The company attributed the decrease to advertising revenue declines. However, expenses were down 6.7 percent as a result of lower employee costs and lower newsprint consumption.

Adjusted merged company EBITDA was $13.7 million, up from $13 million in the first quarter of 2014. Unadjusted merged company EBITDA was $2.9 million, compared with $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2014. Merged company revenue totaled $124.2 million, down from $134.1 million in the same period a year ago, driven by a 9.3 percent decline in advertising as retailers hesitated to spend on ads following a soft holiday sesason.

“Eight months from the day we announced the proposed transaction between The E.W. Scripps Co. and Journal Communications to spin off and merge their respective newspaper publishing operations, we commenced publishing our daily newspapers in 14 markets under the Journal Media Group umbrella,” said Tim Stautberg, president and chief executive officer of Journal Media Group. “This is an exciting time for our company as we shift our focus from planning for the integration of these two newspaper groups to the execution of our plans and the reimagining of the relationship our local brands have with readers and advertisers in the communities we serve.”

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ZBB Energy profit down on lower license revenue
May 19, 2015 11:15 AM
Milwaukee-based ZBB Energy Corp. reported a fiscal third quarter net loss of $3.5 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with net income of $8,930, or 0 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2014.

ZBB, which develops energy management systems solutions for the utility and commercial and industrial building markets, reported an operating loss of $3.4 million, compared with an operating loss of $4 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenue totaled $584,817, down from $4.6 million in the third quarter of 2014. During the quarter, the company received no license revenue, compared with $3 million in license revenue in the third quarter of 2014. Product sales were down to $287,644 from $822,318 in the same period a year ago.

ZBB recently announced a global strategic partnership with Solar Power Inc., through which it has completed an initial supply agreement valued at between $80 and $120 million. The partnership also includes a $33.4 million initial equity investment.

“We think the impact that the SPI deal will have on ZBB is on par with the market changing announcement that Tesla made last week,” said Eric Apfelbach, chief executive officer of ZBB. “SPI's comfort with ZBB's product capability and leading value model in real applications has led to this major initial supply agreement. As other customers and partners determine the same advantages, we expect to see continuing backlog and revenue growth. SPI also offers ZBB opportunities to expand our strategic vision to other products and additional applications for our existing products that will lead to more revenue growth. It's an exciting time for ZBB.”

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Badger Truck Center acquires New Glarus Motors
May 19, 2015 11:17 AM
Milwaukee-based Badger Truck Center has acquired New Glarus Motors in New Glarus.

Badger Truck Center is a family-owned commercial truck dealership located at 2326 W. St. Paul Ave. in Milwaukee. It also has a Badger Isuzu dealership at 10915 W. Rogers St. in West Allis. The company also has a truck equipment division that can up-fit standard and custom built solutions for dump bodies, flatbed and stake trucks, snow and ice removal equipment, lift gates, service and van bodies and more. A third division rebuilds transmissions, drivelines and rear axles.

New Glarus Motors was established in 1965 and has been owned and operated by Jeff Opie since 1996. It will become a division of Badger Truck Center. Badger Truck Center, which has 150 employees, plans to add more employees in New Glarus, which currently has 10 employees.

With the acquisition of New Glarus Motors, Badger Truck has expanded its vehicle offerings. It currently sells Ford and Isuzu vehicles, and will now add Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram products, service and parts.

“We are thrilled to have purchased a dealership in New Glarus,” said Paul Schlagenhauf, president of Badger Truck Center. “As a company that has been around for 50 years, we are always looking for new opportunities to expand our offerings to our customers. Having the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram franchise will allow us to cover more of the market our customers are interested in, providing a company that offers customers everything they need.”

“We have retained all the original employees, and are looking to expand,” said Matt Dierksmeier, vice president of New Glarus Motors. “We offer new and pre-owned vehicles. We also have a comprehensive service and parts center that can take care of customers’ needs throughout the life cycle of the vehicle. We are also the only dealer in Green County that is a member of Business Link, which is valuable for companies who deal with fleet operations.”

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Roundy's loss widens in competitive grocery market
May 19, 2015 11:19 AM
Milwaukee-based grocery store operator Roundy's Inc. reported a fiscal first quarter net loss of $4.5 million, or 12 cents lost per share, compared with a net loss of $2.3 million, or 1 cent lost per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

The company reported a quarterly operating loss of $9.9 million, compared with an operating loss of $1.1 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenue totaled $862.7 million, down from $981.9 million in the first quarter of 2014.

An increase in store count, primarily in the Chicago market, contributed to an increase in operating and administrative expenses, from $218.1 million in the first quarter of 2014 to $248.8 million in the most recent quarter.

The company is facing increased competition in the Milwaukee market. It expects 13 competitive store openings in the Wisconsin markets this year, including five supercenters.  Nine of those openings are in the Milwaukee market.

“We achieved our targeted EBITDA and gross margin rate for the first quarter, which were the result of improved operational efficiencies in both our Wisconsin and Illinois stores. Due to softer than anticipated March and Easter sales, our same-store sales were below our expectations,” said Robert Mariano, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Roundy’s. “We remain committed to improving financial performance across all of our banners. Our team has embarked on a number of initiatives aimed at managing expenses and further improving our operating efficiencies and execution.”

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Kohl's reports higher profit, comparable store sales
May 19, 2015 11:20 AM
Menomonee Falls-based Kohl's Corp. reported first quarter net income of $127 million, or 63 cents per share, up from $125 million, or 60 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

The national retailer recorded $280 million in operating income, flat from last year.

Revenue totaled $4.1 billion, also flat from the first quarter of 2014. Comparable store sales were up 1.4 percent year-over-year, compared with a 3.4 percent decline in the same period a year ago.

"Sales were modestly below our original expectations for the quarter, but accelerated in the March/April combined period after a weak February,” said Kevin Mansell, president and chief executive officer of Kohl’s. “We are very pleased with our earnings results, with a more balanced promotional calendar driving merchandise margin combined with strong expense control."

Kohl’s has 1,164 stores in 49 states. It opened two new stores during the first quarter, and now has four more stores than it did in the first quarter of 2014.

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Telkonet narrows loss
May 19, 2015 11:22 AM
Waukesha-based Telkonet Inc. reported a first quarter net loss of $744,078, compared with $778,208 in the first quarter of 2014.

The company makes in-room automation solutions aimed at optimizing energy efficiency, comfort and data collection that are part of the emerging Internet of Things.

Telkonet reported an operating loss of $671,837 in the first quarter, compared with a $715,782 operating loss in the same period a year ago.

Revenue totaled $2.6 million, flat from the first quarter of 2014.

The company is expanding its channel relationships and internal sales team, and has seen increased activity in its target markets and a strong pipeline for its EcoSmart intelligent automation platform.

"While typically our slowest quarter each year, we are pleased to report gross profit improvement of 21 percent, and gross margin percentage increased to 48 percent, despite flat year over year revenue,” said Jason Tienor, chief executive officer. “While the year began slower than hoped, we’ve since seen our deal flow increase rapidly as we’ve entered our busiest season, especially for deployments within the education market. This activity should enable our continued year over year topline growth while driving profitability for full year 2015.”

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VRC named Valuation Firm of the Year
May 19, 2015 11:24 AM
Milwaukee-based independent valuation firm Valuation Research Corp. has been named Valuation Firm of the Year by industry peers in the International M&A Awards for the fourth year in a row.

The annual M&A Awards recognize top deal teams, firms and professionals who represent best practices in cross border M&A deals.

The panel of judges for the competition included experts from 19 companies, among them Castle Harlan, Ernst & Young, Garrigues, Proskauer Rose and Shearman & Sterling.

More than 500 companies were finalists for the awards, which were divided into categories by size. The VRC award was in the Cross Border Firm of the Year category.

“We’re honored to be recognized for four consecutive years by leading M&A professionals,” said Ray Weisner, managing director of VRC.

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Molly Dill This exclusive news bulletin is compiled by BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Molly Dill. This bulletin is published every Tuesday morning. Send financial services industry news and tips to or call her at (414) 336-7144.

Additional Resources

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