Physicians Realty Trust buys Third Ward office building
March 30, 2015 12:16 PM
Milwaukee-based Physicians Realty Trust, a health care real estate investment trust, on Friday closed on a deal to purchase the seven-story Renaissance on Water office building in the Historic Third Ward. Physicians Realty Trust will move its headquarters to about 7,500 square feet of space in the building.

The 132,480-square-foot building, constructed in 1896, is located at 309 N. Water St.

Jack Jacobson of Milwaukee-based NAI MLG Commercial brokered the sale for the seller, El Segundo, Calif.-based Athene Asset Management L.P.

Jacobson declined to disclose the sale price and there was no asking price. The building has an assessed value of about $7.6 million, according to city records.

The building was previously owned by Bob Patch, who lost the property to foreclose in 2009 to Aviva U.S. Corp., which was later acquired by Athene.

Since December of 2010, “a lot of money went into the building to get it ready for sale,” Jacobson said.

The building, considered by some to one of the most attractive historic buildings in the Third Ward, was listed for sale in February. There was significant interest in the property, Jacobson said.

“We had a large number of people who were interested in the building,” he said. “I had nine tours of qualified buyers in two weeks, which I didn’t expect. There was a lot of competition for the building. (Athene) got a good price.”

Physicians Realty Trust is currently located at 735. N. Water St. in downtown Milwaukee and needs more space, Jacobson said. A representative for Physicians Realty Trust could not be reached for comment.

“They want to expand, they own real estate,” Jacobson said. “This accomplishes two goals for them.”

The building is currently about 72 percent occupied. NAI MLG Commercial managed the building for Athene, and will continue to do so for Physicians Realty Trust, Jacobson said.

The occupancy rate should improve under new ownership, he said.

“There’s a lot of activity in the market,” Jacobson said.

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Steele Solutions announces new CEO, president
March 30, 2015 11:50 AM
Franklin-based Steele Solutions Inc. announced today that Mike Thelen has transitioned from company president to chief executive officer and chairman of the board. Co-owner Kevin O’Neill will replace Thelen as president.

“Steele Solutions has grown every year since its founding,” O’Neill said. “Our new leadership structure will help us plan and support continued annual growth while retaining the product quality and customer care we’re known for. We are now positioned to ensure that our customers and business partners continue to enjoy the ‘Steele Solutions Experience’ when working with us.”

Thelen helped launch the company in 1996 after working several years in the material handling industry. He will remain active in its day-to-day operations and in strategic planning for the corporation.

O’Neill joined Steele Solutions in 1997 as vice president of sales and marketing, a role now held by Garland Bridgewater.

Terry Young, another founding owner of Steele Solutions, will remain as vice president of engineering.  

Steele Solutions is a designer and manufacturer of industrial mezzanines, equipment platforms and other steel structures. It operates out of three facilities in metropolitan Milwaukee, and it also has offices in Cleveland and Philadelphia. The company’s steel structures have been installed throughout the U.S. and in 12 countries.

Along with the leadership changes, Steele Solutions announced it is currently hiring for multiple positions in the sales, engineering, drafting and production departments.

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ABC Supply acquires Minneapolis roofing distributor
March 30, 2015 12:21 PM
Beloit-based ABC Supply Co. has acquired the assets of Minneapolis-based roofing supply distributor Western Roofing Supply Co. Inc.

ABC Supply is the country’s largest wholesale roofing distributor, and also one of the largest suppliers of siding, windows and other exterior building products. It was founded in 1982 and has more than 490 branches across the country.

Western Roofing Supply was founded in 1923 and supplies contractors with roofing materials for residential, commercial and industrial applications. Its facility will become the fifth branch of ABC Supply in the Twin Cities market. The Western Roofing branch will soon begin offering windows, siding and gutters.

The location of the Western Roofing distribution facility complement’s ABC Supply’s existing St. Paul, Coon Rapids, Maple Plain and Savage locations.

“It will allow us to provide more seamless service to contractors working in the central part of the metropolitan area, giving them convenient access to the products and support they need,” said Jim Welch, vice president of ABC Supply’s Midwest region.

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WaterStone Bank adds investment services
March 30, 2015 12:16 PM
Wauwatosa-based WaterStone Bank has added investment services to its banking offerings with a new division.

WaterStone Investment Services will offer customers assistance in managing investment dollars, with guidance on investment risk tolerance and long-term goals. The division will offer products and services including advisory services, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, life insurance, financial planning and other non-FDIC insured financial solutions from LPL Financial.

Bill Taylor, a seasoned financial advisor, has been added as the first employee of the new division. Taylor has nearly a decade of financial advisory experience, most recently at the investment center at FirstMerit Bank. He also previously worked at Wells Fargo Advantage Funds.

“WSB is always looking to improve the experience of our customers in ways that benefit both the customers and the bank,” said Doug Gordon, president and chief executive officer of WaterStone Bank. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to be able to offer a more robust financial suite of products and strengthen the relationships with our customers.”

WaterStone Bank has branches in Wauwatosa, Brookfield, Franklin, Germantown, Oak Creek, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Waukesha and West Allis. It also has a commercial lending branch in Minneapolis.

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M&A Forum will offer advice for buyers and sellers
March 30, 2015 11:29 AM
“It's A Seller's Market: How Long Will It Last?” will be the theme of the 2015 BizTimes M&A Forum.

Business owners interested in selling their companies, as well as executives interested in acquiring businesses are invited to attend. The conference will take place on Friday, May 1, from 7:30 to 11 a.m. at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center.

The keynote presenter at the event will be Andy Greenberg, chief executive officer of GF Data and a managing director of Fairmount Partners, a private investment bank in the Philadelphia area. Prior to joining Fairmount, Greenberg was a managing director in charge of M&A groups at Brown Brothers Harriman and Commerce Capital Markets. Before his move to investment banking, he was Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Commerce.

Greenberg will discuss the macro-level factors affecting values and trends in the market. He also will share confidential data on private equity-backed transactions in the $10 million to $250 million value range.

Greenberg’s presentation will be followed by a panel discussion featuring buyers, sellers and professional experts who will share their experiences and expertise on the state of the mergers and acquisitions market in the region and beyond. The panelists will include:
  • David Nestingen, president and CEO, IEWC Global Solutions.
  • Steven Peterson, managing director, Brass Ring Capital Inc.
  • Alex Kowalski, owner and CEO, Performance Welding.
  • Kent Velde, president, Lakeview Equity Partners LLC.
  • Ann Hanna, MBA, CPA , managing director, Schenck M&A Solutions.
  • Eric Lenzen, shareholder and co-chair, Corporate Finance Practice Group, Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.
The panel discussion will be followed by breakout sessions covering a variety of M&A issues, including danger zones and pitfalls in a deal, the deal process from a monetary standpoint maximizing value in a business.

To register to attend, visit

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DATCP warns Badgers fans to watch for scams
March 30, 2015 11:33 AM
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection sent out a reminder today to Wisconsin Badgers fans and others planning to attend the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship this weekend in Indianapolis: Only buy tickets from people or businesses you know and trust.

“Demand for Final Four tickets is huge, and scammers know fans are willing to pay anything for a ticket,” said Sandy Chalmers, DATCP assistant deputy secretary. “If you’re buying from a reseller, make sure policies on refunds or cancellations are clearly stated and are acceptable to you.”

The DATCP particularly pointed to Craigslist and other classified ads as frequent sources of fraudulent ticket offers. If it seems too good to be true or requires payment by wire transfer or pre-paid debit card, be wary, the department said.

The DATCP recommends dealing with “official” ticket sources including, PrimeSport, NCAA Ticket Exchange, or the ticket offices of participating schools.

Tickets to the championship have security marks that can’t be reproduced. The DATCP recommends buying tickets with a credit card to assure fraud protection, being cautious in giving out financial information, buying tickets through a secure site, asking for a copy of the tickets before making payment, and completing any in-person deals at a police station.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Other states are eating our lunch on clean energy
March 30, 2015 11:08 AM
When it comes to investing in clean energy sources and preparing for the future, Wisconsin is falling way behind other Midwest states, according to John Imes, executive director for the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative.

Read more about how other states are gaining a competitive advantage on Wisconsin in today's Milwaukee Biz Blog.

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Gitomer: Sell like you did as a kid. 100 percent closing ratio.
March 30, 2015 10:13 AM
Think back to your selling ability when you were a kid.

That statement no doubt brought a big smile to your face. The toy you wanted. The place you wanted to go. The candy bar you wanted in the checkout aisle of the grocery store. The TV show you wanted to watch. The movie you wanted to go to. The friend you wanted to hang out with. Even staying up later than your bedtime.

All sales. And a high percentage of positive outcomes.
Whatever it was you wanted, you most often made the sale.

Read more in today's Small Biz Strategies by Jeffrey Gitomer.

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Morning Headlines: Cellular Dynamics being acquired by Japanese company for $307 million
March 30, 2015 11:37 AM
Madison-based stem cell company Cellular Dynamics International Inc. is being acquired by Tokyo-based Fujifilm Holdings Corp., the companies announced in a news release.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Manufacturing Weekly: Denali Ingredients expanding in New Berlin
March 30, 2015 11:39 AM
New Berlin-based ice cream ingredient and inclusion manufacturer Denali Ingredients Inc. is preparing to break ground late this spring on an expansion that would triple the size of its research and development facility at 2400 S. Calhoun Road to 4,000 square feet.

Read more in today’s Manufacturing Weekly.

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Gehl Foods acquired by Wind Point Partners
March 27, 2015 10:32 AM
Germantown-based Gehl Foods Inc. has been acquired by Chicago private equity firm Wind Point Partners.

The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal. Gehl Foods has three Germantown facilities and a West Bend bottle-making operation. All four facilities and its 330 employees were included in the deal.

Gehl Foods, which manufactures aseptic dairy products including nacho cheese, pudding and smoothies, reported $250 million in sales in 2014. It was founded in 1896 by J.P. Gehl as a three-room creamery that made “renovated” butter. In the 1960s, it shifted to non-refrigerated, sterile dairy products.

Katherine Gehl rejoined the family company in 2007 and has led it as president and chief executive officer since 2011, succeeding her father, John, and her brother, Andy. Effective immediately, Katherine Gehl has been replaced by Eric Beringause, a food industry veteran who most recently served as CEO of Sturm Foods in Manawa. She will continue as a member of the board of directors.

“Wind Point’s investment in Gehl Foods reflects our belief in the company’s continued growth potential following the outstanding track record and significant investments in technology and people under Katherine Gehl’s leadership,” said David Stott, principal at Wind Point Partners. “We plan to continue to invest in the operations in both Germantown and West Bend, and we look forward to working with the entire team at Gehl Foods.”

Gehl Foods has increased sales by 80 percent and added more than 100 jobs since 2007. During that time, the company has invested more than $100 million in new technologies and has increased product innovation and new business.

More than 1 million people nationally consume Gehl cheese sauces each day in more than 200,000 movie theaters, concession stands, convenience stores and restaurants.

“With its competitiveness substantially improved, Gehl Foods has tremendous prospects,” Gehl said. “To maximize its potential, the company must accelerate its growth. Wind Point has the capacity to deploy the technology and capital to take Gehl Foods to the next level.

“The move will allow Gehl Foods to respond even more effectively to customer needs and to strengthen its position in national markets. The move is also positive for our employees, because they will be able to take advantage of greater opportunities as the company advances in the marketplace.”

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Wisconsin Oven acquired by Penn. manufacturer
March 27, 2015 11:35 AM
East Troy-based industrial oven manufacturer Wisconsin Oven Corp. has been acquired by White Deer, Penn.-based Thermal Product Solutions.

Wisconsin Oven, which has about 150 employees, makes ovens used for heat treating, finishing, drying, curing, manufacturing automation and process control in the aerospace, automotive, composites, energy, finishing, military and pharmaceutical industries. It was acquired by French company PLC Holding in 2012. In 2013, Wisconsin Oven moved its assembly work to a 27,000-square-foot Waukesha facility and hired 20 employees there. And in 2014, it added 30,000 square feet to its East Troy plant to keep up with growth and manufacture larger ovens.

Thermal Product Solutions manufactures industrial ovens, environmental chambers, test chambers and curing ovens under the brands BlueM, Gruenberg, Tenney, Lindberg and MPH. Wisconsin Oven will become one of its brands.

"Wisconsin Oven has experienced incredible growth since selling to PLC group of France in 2012,” said Dave Strand, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Oven. “This acquisition by TPS will provide great new opportunities and allow continued growth for the entire group. We are extremely excited about becoming part of the TPS family. The experience combined by all these great companies will provide expert solutions for applications in all temperature ranges."

Ann Hanna of Schenck M&A Solutions acted as exclusive financial advisor to Wisconsin Oven Corp. and Rich Silverthorn of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C. provided legal counsel for the transaction.

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Meltric Corp. moves to new building
March 27, 2015 10:35 AM
Franklin-based Meltric Corp., a manufacturer of electrical plugs and receptacles for industrial users, recently moved to a new 90,000-square-foot building at 4765 W. Oakwood Park Dr.

The new building is about a quarter-mile from the company’s previous location, a 36,000-square-foot building at 4640 Ironwood Dr.

The Ironwood Drive building, which was built in 1999 and is owned by Meltric, is now listed for sale by Mark Schnoll and Jim Larkin of Colliers International|Wisconsin.

“They outgrew their facility and built one almost three times bigger,” Schnoll said.

Milwaukee County had a 7.66 percent industrial space vacancy rate in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the latest Xceligent data.

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Developer buys Prospect Avenue property
March 27, 2015 10:25 AM
An affiliate of Milwaukee-based Dermond Property Investments purchased the two-story building at 2150 N. Prospect Ave. occupied by Izumi’s, a Japanese restaurant.

The restaurant occupies the first floor of the building. The upper floor has about 4,000 square feet of vacant office space.

The Dermond affiliate purchased the property for $835,000 from an affiliate of Newport Beach, Calif.-based Sabal Financial Group L.P.

The two-story, 8,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1934 and sits on a 0.4-acre lot. The property has an assessed value of $810,000, according to city records.

The sale was brokered by Mark Schnoll and Mike Wanezek of Colliers International|Wisconsin.
Dermond has not indicated its plans for the property, Schnoll said. The building is protected by a historic overlay district so city officials would not permit it to be torn down, he said. However, Dermond would be allowed to put up a new building on the parking lot behind the building, Schnoll said.

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Brewers add Associated Bank Check Deck
March 27, 2015 11:37 AM
The Milwaukee Brewers have announced Miller Park will include a freshly renovated seating area called The Associated Bank Check Deck this season.

The area, formerly known as the Harley-Davidson Deck, can hold 42 people, with prices beginning at $47 per person, and is available for group rentals. Those seated in the Check Deck have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet including unlimited soft drinks beginning one hour before game time and ending one hour after the first pitch. Ticketholders also receive two complimentary draft beers per adult and access to a private bar and flat screen high definition TVs.

“We’re excited about Associated’s enhanced partnership with the Brewers organization as well as our increased prominence at Miller Park,” said Christopher Piotrowski, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Associated Bank. “We have been a business banking partner and official sponsor of the Brewers since 2006, the year we launched our unique Brewer-themed checking.  We are expanding our partnership for the community, the love of baseball and to support the Brewers in building an even better fan experience.”

The Check Deck will include fan engagement activities that are being finalized by Associated Bank. The bank will also offer special events for Associated customers, additional ATM machines and a Matt Garza gnome giveaway during the August 2 game. The bank also plans to add a charitable element to the partnership.

Associated Bank has also included in its expanded Brewers partnership an Associated Bank “Check In” gate in left-centerfield. Associated Bank customers who display a valid credit or debit card can access the stadium through the gate. Fans with Brewers Checking will also receive 2-for-1 ticket discounts on select games and a 10 percent discount in the Brewers Team Store.

“Associated Bank has been a valued partner of the Brewers for a decade, and today’s announcement is another example of their committed support of the team and community,” said Rick Schlesinger, Brewers chief operating officer. “This is a partnership on many levels, and offers benefits to fans and the community through hospitality, entertainment, promotional and philanthropic elements.”

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