The Tannery sold to Madison-based real estate firm
October 31, 2014 02:00 PM
Madison-based Sara Investment Real Estate announced today that it has acquired most of The Tannery, a multi-building office complex at 700 W. Virginia St. in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood.

“We are very excited to add this property to our portfolio and look forward to increasing our presence in the southeastern Wisconsin market,” said Sara Investment executive vice president Traci Dalsin.

The sale price was not disclosed.

Formerly a Pfister & Vogel Leather Company tannery, the campus was redeveloped into an office complex during the 1990s.

The deal includes the Trade Center, Timbers, Atlas, Great Lakes Distillery and Juto restaurant buildings. The five buildings have a total of 243,472 square feet of space.

The Aurora Health Care corporate headquarters building was not part of the deal.

Tenants in the buildings that were sold to Sara Investment Real Estate include M.E. Dey & Co., Core Creative Inc., Lutheran Social Services and Interfaith Older Adult Programs.

Ben Adank, Scott Revolinski and Ned Purtell of RFP Commercial brokered the deal for the Sara Investment Real Estate and the seller, LCM Funds 20 LLC (a group of local investors).

The Tannery buildings acquired by Sara Investment Real Estate are 89 percent occupied.
“The buildings are predominantly leased,” Adank said. “There’s not a lot of vacancy there any more.”

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Volatile October ends with a stock market rally
October 31, 2014 11:48 AM
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed by 200 points to an all-time high of 17,195 this morning, as U.S. consumer confidence continues to surge and the national unemployment rate continues to fall.

The Nasdaq Composite Index surged 1.4 percent to the highest since March 2000.

The Thompson Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Confidence Index rose to 86.9 from 84.6 in September. That's the highest since July 2007, five months before the Great Recession began.  

Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist, said that almost six in ten of the respondents said the economy has improved recently, the highest proportion in more than 10 years.

Investors also reacted to the news that the Bank of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund said it will provide stimulus by putting half its holdings in local and foreign stocks, double previous levels, and invest in alternative assets.

Nearly all of the local stocks in the BizTimes Stock Index rallied today. The largest local gainers included Rockwell Automation Inc. (up $1.69 to $111.94, Johnson Controls Inc. (up $1.37 to $47.17) and Snap-on Inc. (up $1.31 to $131.81).

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Rexnord acquires Italian power product supplier
October 31, 2014 11:51 AM
Milwaukee-based Rexnord Corp. announced today that it has acquired Tollok S.p.A. Based in Ferrara, Italy, Tollok serves a global customer base and has annual revenues of about $21.25 million.

Tollok is a leading supplier of highly engineered shaft locking devices for the power generation and process industries, as well as general industrial applications. Tollok products are used to secure rotating shafts, manage torque transmission and counteract shaft bending and vibration. With more than 20 years of application experience, the company’s product technology and expertise help customers manage process variability and maximize uptime.

“Rexnord is excited to expand our portfolio of power transmission technologies by offering well-regarded Tollok products,” said Kevin Zaba, president of the Rexnord’s power transmission group. “Tollok is a logical extension of our focus on maximizing uptime and reliability for our industrial customers. We see significant opportunities to accelerate its market penetration in key regional markets.”

Tollok supports Rexnord strategies to accelerate growth by adding complementary products to its leading commercial presence and expanding its global reach. Combining the applications expertise of Rexnord and Tollok, the companies said, will create additional value for customers and enable expanded access into current and adjacent markets.

Rexnord representatives declined to comment further on the acquisition due to the quiet period in advance of its second quarter fiscal year 2015 earnings call, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 6.

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Kohl’s to open stores at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving
October 31, 2014 11:53 AM
Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Corp. has announced it will open its department stores at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to kick off its holiday shopping season.

The company, which will remain open until midnight on Black Friday, said it is making the move to give customers more time than ever to shop for holiday gifts.

Kohl’s competitor Macy’s earlier this month also said it will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Last year, both stores opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Kohl’s is in the process of hiring 67,000 employees nationwide for its holiday season, more than the 50,000 it added last year for the November-December stretch.

“Kohl’s will be the most compelling shopping destination for the entire family this holiday season with our strong portfolio of sought-after national and private brands, our extensive online assortment and a deep list of exciting products that are new to Kohl’s this year,” said Kevin Mansell, Kohl's chairman, chief executive officer and president. "We are well positioned to deliver on our vision to be the most engaging retailer in America with our pioneering Yes2You Rewards program, the re-launch of our improved Kohl's App that will enhance the customer’s mobile experience, faster ways to deliver online orders and, of course, our amazing store associates who are empowered to say ‘Yes’ and deliver the outstanding customer service we are known for."

The National Retail Federation recently announced it expects sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales) to increase a healthy 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion, higher than 2013’s actual 3.1 percent increase during that same time frame. This would mark the first time since 2011 that holiday sales would increase more than 4 percent.

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Getz tells young entrepreneurs to inspect what they expect
October 31, 2014 11:55 AM
Jalem Getz, president of Wantable Inc., tells young entrepreneurs to keep track of what’s happening with every aspect of their businesses.

“Whether it’s your employees or your vendors or other partners, make sure that you’re aware of what they’re doing and you’re involved in the decision-making process, and you’re inspecting what you expect,” Getz said.

Getz is a serial entrepreneur who founded the successful New Berlin-based online costume retailer BuySeasons Inc. and then Wantable, a subscription beauty box service. He was one of 10 local business leaders who each shared five tips with young professionals at the recent 2014 BizTimes Get Smarter Talent Development Conference. A video of one leader’s speech will be released each day.

View a video of Getz’ comments here.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Summit gives voice to creative community
October 31, 2014 11:57 AM
After a nine-hour day of presentations, conversations and collaborations at the 2014 Creative Milwaukee @ Work Summit, Maggie Jacobus will steer the creative community ahead to spark action out of dialogue.

The third annual Creative Milwaukee @ Work Summit, held last Friday at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, blended the expertise of a cross sector of creative professionals to assess issues that need solving in order to maximize the effectiveness of 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, The Commons and the Digital Billboard Art Project.

Read more in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog by reporter Erica Breunlin.

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Milwaukee Biz Poll: Should retailers be open on Thanksgiving Day?
October 31, 2014 11:58 AM
Today’s Milwaukee Biz Poll question is: Should retailers be open on Thanksgiving Day?

Vote now and view the results so far by clicking here.

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Morning Headlines: Inn on the Park proposing major exterior, interior remake
October 31, 2014 11:59 AM
Capitol Square’s only hotel is set for a $10 million-plus remake to transform the nine-story, 1960s-era building into a more gracious structure.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Nonprofit Weekly: Pallotta to return to Thought Leaders Luncheon
October 31, 2014 12:00 PM
National nonprofit thought leader Dan Pallotta, whose TED Talk has received more than three million views, will keynote Easter Seals of Southeast Wisconsin’s Thought Leaders Luncheon for a second year.

Read more in today’s Nonprofit Weekly.

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Report says Bucks plan to buy Journal Sentinel buildings for new arena
October 30, 2014 09:24 PM
Milwaukee Bucks new co-owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry are in negotiations to purchase the Journal Communications Inc. buildings with the intention of building a new arena on the downtown block of land known as Journal Square, according to a report by, a media partner of BizTimes.
The new report cited several sources within the Milwaukee Department of City Development and the local commercial real estate community.
The deal is not complete, but sources familiar with the negotiations said the Bucks ownership group has architectural renderings of an arena that fits within the Journal Square at 333 W. State St., a site that sits between Third and Fourth streets to the east and west, and State Street and Kilbourn Avenue from the north to south.
A source indicated this is the ownership group's preferred location for a new arena.
At this week’s announcement of the Bucks' move of its business offices to Schlitz Park, Lasry said he knows the preferred site of the new arena, but will not announce it for another 30 to 60 days.
The historic building at 333 W. State, built in 1924, still houses the staff of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which would need a new work space. The former Sentinel building at 918 N. 4th St. is vacant. The paper's printing facilities are in West Milwaukee.
In July, it was announced that Journal Communications is merging with the E.W. Scripps Co., based in Cincinnati. With the proposed merger, which is expected to close sometime in 2015, the broadcast and print properties would be separated, with the Journal Sentinel becoming the flagship paper of the new print company.
Substantial portions of the Journal Sentinel campus, including the former press room, have been vacant for years.
As for the Journal Square site, city and real estate sources say one version of arena layout includes setting the arena bowl below street level, similar to some of the arena concepts for the Sacramento Kings.
For the complete report, visit

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New York-based real estate investor submitted winning bid for Shops of Grand Avenue
October 30, 2014 04:49 PM
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based real estate investor Alexander Levin submitted the winning $16.5 million bid in an online auction last week to purchase the Shops of Grand Avenue mall in downtown Milwaukee, according to a source.

Levin invests in distressed retail real estate, according to the source.

For example, he purchased the West Volusia Towne Centre in Orange City, W.V.  for $12 million in 2012. He bought the 159,886-square-foot shopping center for half of what it cost to develop in 2007. U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo foreclosed on West Volusia Towne Centre in 2010.

The value of the Shops of Grand Avenue, built in 1982, has fallen dramatically over the years as the mall has struggled with high amounts of vacant retail space. An investment group formed by New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. bought the property in 2005 for $31.7 million. In 2012 it was sold in a foreclosure auction for $8.5 million to a subsidiary of the mall's lender, a group of Bank of America investors.

The mall was offered for sale last week on with a starting bid of $4.75 million.

The property that is being sold is a four-building complex at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. with 298,109 square feet of space, and an adjacent 1,748-space parking structure. The auction did not include the Boston Store building at 331 W. Wisconsin Ave., which is separately owned by Wispark LLC.

For Levin’s $16.5 million winning bid for The Shops of Grand Avenue there is an additional 5 percent buyer’s premium and other pro-rations that will boost the total cost of the transaction to $18 million, according to another source.

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U.S. economy extends strong growth
October 30, 2014 12:20 PM
The U.S. economy grew at a solid annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter, propelled by significant gains in business investments, exports and military spending.

The third quarter result followed a 4.6 percent rebound in the second quarter, the U.S. Commerce Department reported. The economy shrank at a 2.1 percent rate in the first three months of the year due to a harsh winter.

Analysts believe the economy is maintaining momentum in the fourth quarter, with a huge dip in gasoline prices expected to bolster consumer spending. Many economists say the economy is poised to achieve consistently stronger growth for the rest of this year and all of 2015.

“U.S. economic activity is strong. While some investors fret that falling oil prices could dent the energy boom, lower pump prices will be a stronger tailwind for households,” Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of BMO Private Bank, told BizTimes this morning.
"The economy does appear to be accelerating of late," said Dan Greenhaus, an analyst with investment firm BTIG, told The Associated Press. He added that the GDP report showed an economy "on a sounder footing today than at any time over the last few years."

Many economists think full-year growth for 2015 will hit 3 percent, giving the economy the best annual performance since 2005, two years before the Great Recession began.

For the third quarter, consumer spending grew at a 1.8 percent annual rate. Consumer spending contributed 1.2 percentage points to growth in the third quarter. Another major contribution came from an 11-percent rise in export sales, far outpacing imports, which fell at a 1.7 rate.

Federal defense spending shot up at a 16 percent rate, the fastest advance since a 17.4 percent gain in the second quarter of 2009.
Business spending on equipment grew at a 7.2 percent rate in the third quarter, and residential construction grew 1.8 percent.

Much of the optimism for the economy going forward stems from the strength of job growth, which has lowered the national unemployment rate to a six-year low of 5.9 percent. In September, the economy added 248,000 jobs.

The additional workers should translate into more income and consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

The Federal Reserve decided Wednesday to end its quantitative easing stimulus program after six years of pumping money into the U.S. economy via asset purchases to shore up growth. Over the past six years, the Fed has pumped more than $3 trillion into the economy through bond purchases designed to keep long-term rates low.

Today’s GDP report prompted the Dow Jones Industrial Average to climb another 140 points today. The blue chip indicators now comfortably back above the 17,000 mark. The largest local gainers this morning were Wisconsin Energy Corp. (up $1.04 to $49.33) and Strattec Security Corp. (up 88 cents to $103.50).

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BizTimes announces Fittest Execs finalists
October 30, 2014 12:24 PM
BizTimes Media has announced the finalists in its 2014 Fittest Execs competition.

They are:

FEMALE 25 - 39
  • Jessica Connors, Executive Director of Operations, Core Health Group
  • Heather Mangold, President, Mangold Creative
  • Andrea Tarrell, Director of Marketing, HNI
FEMALE 40 - 49
  •    Maureen Arndt, Vice President of Operations, The Starr Group
  • Dominique Beaudin, Director of Technology, HNI
  • Susie Falk, President, The Falk Group
  • Patricia Metropulos, Executive Director & CEO, Kathy's House
  • Patti Schauer, VP- Finance/HR, Core Creative, Inc.
  •    Wendy Brucker, Administrative Manager, KHS USA, Inc.
  • Kim Deandrea, Director - Personal Insurance, David Insurance Agency
  • Bette Hanel, Executive Director, Laurel Oaks
  • Mary Starr, Executive Vice President, The Starr Group
  • Lori Zindl, President, OS Inc.
MALE 25 - 39
  • Matt Bilitz, Director of Mission Advancement, Wisconsin Lutheran High School
  • Mike Mangold, Lion Tamer, Mangold Creative
  • Matt Shumlas, Director, Sales & Account Mgmt, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Kyle Smith, Owner, Heaven & Earth Acupuncture
  • Cameron Yazdani, Director, Schenck SC
MALE 40 - 49
  • Tom Bruseth, President, Warehouse Equipment
  • Michael Lovell, President, Marquette University
  • Mike Sekula, Vice President Supply Chain Management, Inpro
  • Jeff Weis, Managing Partner, Masters Building Solutions
  • David Woida, Senior VP/ Managing Director, NorthMarq Capital
MALE 50+

  • Christopher Gorenc, President, Converted Products, Inc.
  • Mike Kwiatkowski, Vice President, PNC Bank
  • Glen Ringwall, Co Founder, Ringwall Manion Group UBS Private Wealth
  • Ron Stokes, C.O.O., Roaring Fork Restaurant Group
  • Joe Swanson, SVP of Operations, Regal Ware, Inc.
  • BDO USA LLP    
   Kevin Dallman, Jenna Hirschboeck, Lori Langholz, Chris Mueller    
  •    Hanson Dodge Creative    
   Tony Maurer, Ilya Slootsky, Mike Stefaniak, Sarah Van Elzen    
  •    Healics, Inc.    
   Nicole Isler, Michael Naparalla, Patti Plough, Pam Punak    
  •    Schenck SC    
   Tyler Carlson, Kathy Lakritz, Terri Lillesand, Cameron Yazdani    
  •    The Starr Group    
   Maureen Arndt, Brendt Johannsen, Mary Starr, Nick Starr
The annual Fittest Execs initiative works to promote health and wellness in the workplace, starting at the executive level. The competitors were evaluated on biometric screenings and fitness tests eight weeks apart to compare scores and determine the most improved and best overall test-out scores.

The winners will be announced at an awards presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 18, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Wisconsin Athletic Club, N91W15700 Falls Parkway in Menomonee Falls. The event will include networking with local business leaders, information about health and wellness trends, a “plank-off” competition and a cocktail reception. The public is welcome to attend.

For more information or to register, visit

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Global Precision moves to Menomonee Falls, plans to double workforce
October 30, 2014 12:30 PM
Global Precision Industries Inc. has moved from a 1,500-square-foot space in Germantown to a 7,000-square-foot facility in Menomonee Falls.

The company was previously located in office space at W175 N11081 Stonewood Drive, Suite 207, in Germantown, and has moved to W14665 Whittaker Way in Menomonee Falls, which has more warehouse room for its expanding prototyping operations.

The engineering project management, logistics and production expertise provider, which currently has six employees, plans to expand to 15 to 20 employees by the end of 2015. It will now offer rapid prototyping, product design, testing, product qualification and product launch.

Global Precision has experienced revenue growth of 30-70 percent over each of the past four years, said Ron Pence, chief marketing officer. The growth is driven by repeat business from existing clients, expanding capabilities in the area of product design and the expansion of its production and manufacturing capabilities.

Global Precision also has an office in Ningbo, China, to service growth in the business and act as an in-country platform for U.S. opportunities. The company is on track to earn $4 million in revenue this year.

The company is adding additional prototyping machines and also has plans to acquire another company in the next couple of months, Pence said.

“This expansion recognizes the value of our business model to right shore projects that meet specifications, timelines and cost constraints,” said Gale Pence, founder and CEO. “Right shoring allows us to produce at the optimal point around the globe (including the U.S.), while maintaining full control from design through delivery and qualification.”

Gale Pence received a BizTimes Bravo! Entrepreneur Award in May.

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Spectrum Resources plans move to new Muskego building
October 30, 2014 12:32 PM
New Berlin-based Spectrum Resources Inc. plans to move from New Berlin to a new building that it plans to build in Muskego.

The company plans to build a 60,000-square-foot multi-tenant industrial building in Moorland Commerce Center West, which is located southwest of College Avenue and Moorland Road, north of GE Healthcare distribution center in Muskego. The building will be constructed on a two-ace site that is currently occupied by three houses.

Spectrum Resources, a printing solutions provider that also offers warehouse and distribution services, will occupy about 27,000 square feet of space in the building. The firm currently occupies about 16,000 squarse feet of space at 2800 S. 166th St. in New Berlin, said company president Larry Surges.

The rest of the space in the Muskego building will be leased to other tenants. The firm is in talks with a tenant that would lease 25,000 square feet and another tenant that would lease 8,000 square feet, Surges said. He declined to name those firms.

Spectrum Resources currently has 18 employees and plans to add 6 more next year to its sales force and for its warehouse services operation, Surges said.

Brookfield-based Briohn Building Corp. will design and build the building for Spectrum Resources.

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