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Walker pulls ahead in final Marquette Law Poll
October 29, 2014 12:32 PM
In the latest Marquette University Law School Poll, released today, Republican Gov. Scott Walker put more distance between himself and Democratic challenger Mary Burke.

Walker garnered 50 percent of likely voter support, while Burke pulled 43 percent of likely voters.

Among registered voters, Walker had 46 percent and Burke had 45 percent of respondent support.

This latest sample included 1,409 registered voters with a margin of error of 2.7 percent and 1,164 likely voters with a margin of error of 3 percent. Likely voters are those who have already voted or are certain they will vote on election day, Nov. 4.

Walker and Burke were tied at 47 percent among likely voters in the previous poll released Oct. 15.

Likely voters become a better indicator of the result as the election draws closer, said poll chief Charles Franklin. But the difference in polling among registered voters shows the turnout will play a large role in the outcome.

“Polls don’t vote, people do, and whatever our results show today…the determinants of the outcome are who shows up on election day,” Franklin said. “What you’re seeing here in the contrast between all registered voters in a one-point race and all likely voters, a seven-point race, is just how important differential turnout is.”

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Kraft acquires Berkshire Hathaway marketing division
October 29, 2014 11:26 AM
Milwaukee businessman Bobby Kraft and an investor group have acquired World Marketing Inc., the marketing and direct mail division of Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway's Media Group. The investors will move World Marketing's headquarters and administrative operations to Milwaukee.

The other members of the investor group and the purchase price were not disclosed.

World Marketing, a direct mail, fulfillment and critical document solutions provider, processes more than 1 billion pieces of mail each year. Its clients include American Airlines, Kraft Foods, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The company, which has more than 450 employees, will continue operating its plants in Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas and an office in St. Louis. Kraft will become chief executive officer, and four finance officer and support staff positions will be created in Milwaukee.

Kraft is also president and chief executive officer of First Edge Solutions, a Milwaukee-based multi-channel communication, print and document management provider that has production facilities in Phoenix and Atlanta and satellite offices in Chicago, San Diego, New York and St. Louis.

First Edge acquired Milwaukee-based on-demand marketing, document output services and photo book publishing company Proven Direct in May and moved its headquarters to 1301 W. Canal St. in Milwaukee. World Marketing will also be headquarted at that office, but will remain a separate entity.

“It’s a complement to some of the existing operations operated by the new ownership team,” said Joshua Morby, a spokesperson for Kraft. “Bobby was looking for opportunities to add value to some of the other operations that they have. It’s certainly complementary to the experience that they have in the marketing sector.”

The investor group, which has more than 100 years of combined direct mail and corporate operations experience, plans to add video marketing and digital services and tools to World Marketing’s offerings.

"World Marketing has developed a great reputation with an incredible list of clients," Kraft said. "We're committed to continue providing exceptional support and service those clients have come to expect from the more than 450 world-class employees working in our operations across five states."

"With the rapid growth of our newspaper business, World Marketing was no longer a core part of our business as our focus accelerated on newspapers," said Terry Kroeger, president and CEO of BH Media Group. "We are pleased to have found a buyer that is focused and dedicated on growing its direct mail business, which will be a good result for customers and employees."

"This new leadership team brings the experience and additional product offerings which add incredible value to our current customers and clients as well as position us as a company to expand operations here in Wisconsin," said longtime World Marketing executive Joe Ewers, whose family started the operation in 1974. "We're excited about what's to come."

Milwaukee-based Optimus Financial Services helped secure acquisition financing from Associated Bank for the transaction.

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Fiserv reports record quarter
October 29, 2014 12:10 PM
Brookfield-based Fiserv Inc. reported third quarter net income of $239 million, or 95 cents per share, up from $159 million, or 61 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

The global financial services technology solutions provider reported revenue of $1.3 billion, up from $1.2 billion in the same period a year ago.

Sales performance was up 27 percent year-over-year. The adjusted internal revenue growth was 5 percent, driven by 8 percent growth in the Payments segment and 1 percent growth in the Financial segment.

“The business performed very well in the quarter, delivering strong results including 8 percent adjusted internal revenue growth in the Payments segment, and record sales performance for the company,” said Jeffery Yabuki, president and chief executive officer. “The strength of our business model combined with growth in high quality revenue, produced excellent adjusted operating margin expansion and free cash flow results.”

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Cool summer, acquisition weigh on Wisconsin Energy
October 29, 2014 12:12 PM
Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Energy Corp. today reported third quarter net income of $126.3 million, or 56 cents per share, down from $137.5 million, or 60 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

Operating revenues at the utility were $1 billion, down from $1.1 billion in the same period a year ago.

The company attributed the decline to costs incurred by the ongoing acquisition of Integrys Energy and a cooler summer. Residential electricity use declined by 7.9 percent from the third quarter of 2013, while consumption by small commercial and industrial users was down 1.4 percent and large commercial and industrial usage was about flat.

"Despite a very cool summer -- with the high temperature in Milwaukee never reaching 90 degrees -- we delivered solid results," said Gale Klappa, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our focus on financial discipline and industry leading reliability continued to serve us well," Klappa added.  "We also saw signs of a slightly stronger economy across the region as Wisconsin's unemployment rate dipped to 5.5 percent."

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ARI Network Services reports fiscal 2014 net loss
October 29, 2014 12:06 PM
Milwaukee-based ARI Network Services Inc. reported a fourth quarter net income $174,000, or 1 cent per share, compared with net loss of $298,000, or 2 cents lost per share, in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Net revenue at the sales software and marketing provider was $8.6 million, up from $8.5 million in the same period a year ago.

For the full year, the company reported a net loss of $102,000, or 1 cent lost per share, compared with a net loss of $753,000, or 8 cents lost per share, in 2013.

ARI’s 2014 net revenue was $33 million, compared with revenue of $30.1 million in 2013.

"Fiscal 2014 was a year of growth and accomplishments for ARI,” said Roy Olivier, president and chief executive officer of ARI. “We recorded the highest revenue in company history and were able to grow EBITDA 10 percent versus the prior year. In the early part of our fiscal year, we acquired DUO Web Solutions and through that were able to re-launch our Digital Marketing Services offering, which we expect to be one of our key drivers of organic growth in fiscal 2015. In December of 2013, we successfully re-listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market and recently were added to the Russell Microcap Index.

“Throughout the year, we were also able to enhance our product offerings and expand our customer base in our primary growth verticals of automotive tire and wheel and home medical equipment, which we entered during fiscal 2013."

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Public invited to ‘Meet the Media’
October 29, 2014 12:14 PM
Have you ever wanted to bend the ear of the publisher or editor of your favorite local news publication? Have you ever wanted to drink a cold beverage with your favorite television news anchorperson or your favorite radio newscaster? Have you ever wanted to exchange quips with your favorite political commentator, columnist or editorial writer?

This is your chance: The Milwaukee Press Club will celebrate its 129th anniversary on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, by giving southeastern Wisconsin residents the opportunity to meet and greet local media celebrities at a "Meet the Media" event.  

Attendees will then be entertained by more than 40 "celebrity bartenders" - professionals from nearly all of the area's media outlets, as well as various community and business leaders throughout the region.

The “Meet the (Milwaukee) Media” event will take place Dec. 4 from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Newsroom Pub, home to the Milwaukee Press Club located at 137 E. Wells St., in downtown Milwaukee.

The event is free and open to the public. However, advanced registration is required and may be done online at www.milwaukeepressclub.org.

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Leinenkugel asks young professionals how they want to be remembered
October 29, 2014 12:16 PM
Richard Leinenkugel, president and chief beer merchant at Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., advises young professionals to model their lives on how they want to be remembered.

“Everybody right now should write their own obituary. What is it that you want to be eulogized for?” Leinenkugel said at the 2014 BizTimes Get Smarter Talent Development Conference.

Leinenkugel was one of 10 local business leaders who each shared five tips with millennials at the event. A video of one leader’s speech will be released each day.

View a video of Leinenkugel’s comments here.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Sheehy calls for regional solutions
October 29, 2014 12:17 PM
Over the years, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and its president, Tim Sheehy, have been vocal and ardent opponents of new taxes.

That's why more than a few business leaders were still trying to process the messages Sheehy gave them when he spoke to the Milwaukee Rotary Club recently about the need to raise public financing for the region's cultural and entertainment venues.

Read more in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog by executive editor Steve Jagler.

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Morning Headlines: Piping Systems to add 100 jobs in expansion
October 29, 2014 12:18 PM
A $5.5 million expansion at Piping Systems Inc. in Hortonville is expected to bring more than 100 new jobs to the Fox Valley.
Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Real Estate Weekly: Construction begins for Hampton Inn & Suites in West Allis
October 29, 2014 12:21 PM
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday to celebrate the start of construction of a 101-room Hampton Inn & Suites hotel at the corner of West Greenfield Avenue and South 82nd Street near Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis.

Read more in today’s Real Estate Weekly.

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BizTimes unveils speaker lineup for 2015 Northern Trust Economic Trends Breakfast
October 28, 2014 11:10 AM
BizTimes Media LLC today announced the speaker lineup for the annual Northern Trust Economic Trends Breakfast, to be held on Friday, Jan. 29, at the Italian Community Center in downtown Milwaukee.

The 2015 conference will provide business leaders with a sneak peek of the year ahead in business. Panelists will provide insights about the emerging trends in manufacturing, business technology, logistics, biomedical advancements, the housing market and more.

The featured panelists will include:
  • Michael Knetter, Ph.D., an economist and president of the University of Wisconsin Foundation. Knetter serves as a research associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research. He serves as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund. He previously served as an associate dean of the MBA program and professor of international economics in the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. He also served as a senior staff economist for the Council of Economic Advisors for former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Knetter will provide his annual macro-economic outlook for the year ahead.
  • Tina Chang, chief executive officer of SysLogic Inc., Brookfield. Chang will speak about the emerging trends in information technology for businesses.
  • Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. Still will provide an update about Wisconsin’s growing biomed economy and trends among start-up businesses in the state.
  • Keith Rozolis, president of ABC Supply Co. Inc., Beloit. Rozolis will speak about what lies ahead in the housing market and the latest trends in logistics.
  • Todd Teske, chief executive officer of Briggs & Stratton Corp., Wauwatosa. Teske will discuss the emerging trends in manufacturing, including automation and robotics, as well as some of the prevailing retail trends.
The 2015 Northern Trust Economic Trends Breakfast will be followed by breakout sessions for business leaders. To register to attend the 2015 Northern Trust Economic Trends Breakfast to be presented by BizTimes Media, visit www.biztimes.com/trends.

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Bucks to move offices to Schlitz Park
October 28, 2014 08:42 AM
The Milwaukee Bucks announced today that it will move its corporate office to the Schlitz Park complex, just north of downtown Milwaukee. The team also says it has added 40 employees to its sales staff and executive team in recent months and now has more than 130 employees.

"We’re putting together one of the most talented and hard-working group of professionals in the NBA and now we’re excited to have one of the best offices in sports," added Peter Feigin, Bucks president. "Milwaukee offered a number of worthwhile locations, but Schlitz Park was the right community for us to expand our footprint downtown and bring our business team together. We’ll be able to further integrate ourselves with more Milwaukee businesses and create the best possible work environment for our employees.”

The Bucks officers are currently located at the Milwaukee Theatre.

The team will move its offices in January to an 18,000-square-foot space on the sixth floor of the Stock-House building at Schlitz Park.

The team's Schlitz Park office space covers the entire top floor of the Stock-House building, the tallest at Schlitz Park, and overlooks downtown Milwaukee and the Milwaukee River and will allow the Bucks’ staff to work in an open floor concept.

"We are going to use this site to attract the most talented workers in the country," Feigin said.
Meanwhile, the Bucks are still working with local officials to develop a plan for a new arena. The NBA says Milwaukee needs to have a new arena by 2017 for the team to stay here long term.

Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry said the team hopes to have an announcement about a site for a new arena in 30 to 60 days.

"I know where I would like it to be," he said. "We still need to get a number of things done. It's complicated."

Feigin said the team is considering plans to relocate its practice facility from the Cousins Center in St. Francis to the new arena.

Lasry declined to specific questions related to a potential arena site, including one reported that asked if the Schlitz Park office for the team indicated the preferred arena site was on the north side of downtown.
Lasry also declined to answer when asked if the Bucks ownership submitted the winning bid in the auction sale for the Shops of Grand Avenue. The top bidder in the online auction, held last week, for the mall bid $16.5 million for 298,109 square feet of building space and a 1,748-parking structure. The auction did not include the Boston Store building, which is owned by Wispark LLC.

"I think whoever bought it got a great deal," Lasry said.

The Bucks ownership is not the group that submitted the winning bid for the Shops of Grand Avenue, but the winning bidder is from out of state, according to sources.

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Fantle named executive director of Milwaukee NARI chapter
October 28, 2014 11:22 AM
David Fantle, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and formerly the vice president of VISIT Milwaukee, has been named the new executive director of the Milwaukee chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to work with the NARI board, staff, members and the Milwaukee-area community to further define, strengthen and add even greater consumer value to the NARI brand,” Fantle said.

Fantle is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, and prior to his time at VISIT Milwaukee he held senior communications posts at Kohl’s Corp. and Wisconsin Gas Company. He is the past president of the Southeast Wisconsin chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and has served on the boards of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, the Wisconsin State Fair, Film Wisconsin, The Black Public Relations Society Milwaukee chapter, the Nicolet High School Foundation, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, the Jewish Community Center of Milwaukee and the Glendale Little League. He also served six years as a Bayside village trustee and village president.
       
“Dave has the management experience, record of accomplishment and passion that will help Milwaukee/NARI continue to fulfill its mission of serving the area’s remodeling industry and educating the public on the many advantages of selecting a NARI contractor for any home remodeling project,” said David Pekel, MCR, UDCP, CAPS, Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc. president and owner of Pekel Construction and Remodeling, Inc.

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Artisan Partners reports ‘muted’ third quarter
October 28, 2014 11:12 AM
Milwaukee-based Artisan Partners Asset Management reported third quarter net income of $63.1 million, or 57 cents per share, up from $56.1 million, or 35 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

Total revenue was $212.4 million, up significantly from $178 million in the same period a year ago.

Assets under management were $106.2 million, up from $96.9 million in the third quarter of 2013. Net client cash outflows totaled $645 million.

“Our business development results in the third quarter were muted compared to recent quarters,” said Eric Colson, president and CEO of Artisan Partners. “Two of our five distribution channels and two of our six investment teams experienced positive client cash flows for the quarter. Our Global Equity team has experienced strong demand in the Global Equity and Non-U.S. Growth strategies, both of which experienced positive net flows. We also continued to see solid flows into our newest strategy, High Income, which has contributed to positive flows in the financial advisor channel. Client outflows in the strategies managed by the U.S. Value team were the primary driver of overall negative net flows for the quarter. Despite weakness in the U.S., flows from our non-U.S. clients were strong, continuing a long-term trend of increasing flows from outside the U.S.

“Financially our primary metrics remain in line with our long-term expectations. Assets declined late in the quarter due to a combination of market depreciation and client outflows. However, three months is a very short period. The leverage of our business model continues to generate an above average operating margin. Cash flow was strong and continues to support an attractive dividend.”

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Marcus Corporation promotes general managers at area hotels
October 28, 2014 11:15 AM
Marcus Hotels & Resorts, a division of Milwaukee-based The Marcus Corporation, has promoted three general managers in its Milwaukee hotels.

Jim Waldvogel will now serve as area vice president and general manager of the Hilton Milwaukee City Center; Tim Smith will run The Pfister Hotel as general manager; and Omar Naimi will run the InterContinental Milwaukee as general manager.

Waldvogel has worked for Marcus Hotels & Resorts for the last 17 years, having joined the company as general manager of the Crowne Plaza-Northstar hotel in Minneapolis, Minn. He was promoted to general manager of the Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington in 2007 and promoted to area vice president last April. As area vice president and general manager of the Hilton Milwaukee City Center, he will lead daily operations of the hotel. He will also maintain operational oversight of The Pfister Hotel and Intercontinental Milwaukee as well as have oversight of the Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington and the Crowne Plaza-Northstar in Minneapolis.

Smith, who has been with Marcus Hotels & Resorts for close to 30 years, will manage the company’s “flagship” property, The Pfister Hotel. Smith started his career with the company as an account executive at the Marc Plaza, now the Hilton Milwaukee. He was appointed corporate director of sales in 2005 and named general manager of InterContinental Milwaukee in 2007.

Naimi, who replaces Smith as general manager of InterContinental Milwaukee, has worked for Marcus Hotels & Resorts since 2011, when he was hired as director of hotel operations and interim general manager of The Pfister Hotel. He previously was general manager of the Tanjung Rhu Resort and Spa in Langkawi, Malaysia and, prior to that position, served Marriott Hotels & Resorts for 12 years across operations and food and beverage divisions.

Additionally, Marcus Hotels & Resorts has named Skip Harless general manager of the Hilton Madison Monona Terrace.

“Jim, Tim, Omar and Skip have demonstrated great professionalism and leadership within our company, and I have great faith that all four of these individuals will continue to make significant contributions to the continued success of Marcus Hotels & Resorts,” said Thomas Kissinger, interim president of Marcus Hotels & Resorts and senior executive vice president of The Marcus Corporation.

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