Harley recalls nearly 55,000 new motorcycles
April 24, 2015 05:30 PM
Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Motor Co. is recalling nearly 55,000 motorcycles because of possible safety defects, according to new documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to the filings, Harley will recall 45,901 motorcycles because of a problem with the power train.
The recall covers certain Electra Glide, Ultra Limited, Police Electra Glide, Street Glide, Road Glide and Road King models from the 2014 and 2015 model years.
In the affected motorcycles, the clutch master cylinder may lose the ability to generate enough lift to disengage the clutch, especially if the motorcycle has been parked for an extended period of time. When the engine is running and the motorcycle is in gear, if the clutch cannot be fully disengaged, the motorcycle may move unexpectedly, increasing the risk of a crash.

Harley-Davidson will notify owners, and dealers will flush the clutch system and rebuild the clutch master cylinder, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin April 23, 2015.
Harley also is recalling 8,904 additional motorcycles because of problems with exterior lighting and visibility. The recalled model year 2015 XG500 motorcycles were manufactured between Jan. 28, 2014, and March 9, 2015, as well as the 2015 XG750 motorcycles manufactured May 12, 2014 to March 9, 2015. The affected motorcycles may have been manufactured without a rear reflector assembly.
Harley-Davidson will notify owners, and dealers will install a rear reflector assembly, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in April 2015.
Owners with questions about the recalls can contact Harley-Davidson customer service at 1-800-258-2464.

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119 employees affected in Fort Atkinson plant closure
April 24, 2015 12:11 PM
McCain Foods USA Inc. of Lisle, Ill., announced on Wednesday that it will close operations at its Fort Atkinson manufacturing plant at 801 Rockwell Ave. due to “changing business dynamics.”

Approximately 119 employees will be laid off, according to the WARN notice filed with state officials. Among them, 109 are represented by a union.

The first layoffs are expected on June 26, with the remainder taking place by Dec. 18.

Products currently produced at the Fort Atkinson plant will be moved to other McCain Foods plants, including the plant in Rice Lake, Wis.

“It is never an easy decision to close a plant, especially when it means job losses. While it is never our intention to eliminate jobs, our decision is based on the overall business climate,” said Frank Finn, president of McCain Foods USA Inc. “We appreciate everything our Fort Atkinson plant employees do to deliver high quality products and create a safe working environment. We will treat every employee with the utmost respect, and will continue to work closely with union officials during this transition.”

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SC Johnson ends contract with logistics provider, affecting 98
April 24, 2015 12:13 PM
Racine-based SC Johnson & Son has ended its contract with Ohio logistics provider Exel, according to a WARN notice filed with state officials on Wednesday. As a result, 98 Exel employees will be affected.

Exel provides outsourced logistics services to SC Johnson & Son’s facility located at 9800 72nd Ave. in Pleasant Prairie. According to the WARN notice, SC Johnson is transitioning its logistics services vendor from Exel to American President Lines based in Joliet, Ill.

Exel reportedly received information indicating that APL intends to make offers of employment to a “substantial” number of Exel employees currently working at the Pleasant Prairie facility. Those employees will continue performing similar logistics services at the SC Johnson Pleasant Prairie facility as employees of APL.

Employees who do not continue their employment with APL will be laid off from their positions with Exel, effective June 22, unless they accept a regular position at another Exel site. Exel is currently reviewing staffing needs at its other facilities and expects to offer opportunities to some of the affected employees at other Midwest locations.

SC Johnson said the following in a statement: "Like all businesses and organizations, we regularly assess our contracts and relationships with partners and vendors. This simply is a normal exercise and part of customary contract renewals to ensure we are maximizing the return on our investments and inform our path moving forward."

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$1 million gift from Majerus family funds new Marquette scholarship
April 24, 2015 12:10 PM
A $1 million gift from the pocket of the Majerus Family Foundation will create the Rick Majerus Endowed Scholarship at Marquette University.

The new scholarship celebrates the legacy of Rick Majerus, a celebrated Marquette alumnus and college basketball coach who died in December 2012.

Scholarship funds will benefit first-generation students enrolled in Marquette’s Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, targeting those in need of financial support. The recent scholarship gift represents the largest the Klingler College has ever received.

“On behalf of the many students and families who will benefit greatly from this gift for years to come, the Marquette community offers the most heartfelt of thanks to the Majerus family,” Marquette University President Michael Lovell, Ph.D., said in a press release. “Rick’s time at Marquette gave him the foundation to become an inspiration to those who knew him, never wavering from core values that placed academics and character ahead of on-court success. His family’s willingness to now give back on his behalf, and help other students have opportunities to live a limitless life, is a testament to those values.”

Majerus, a Sheboygan native, graduated from Marquette with a history degree in 1970 and nine years later completed a master’s degree in education at the university. After his undergrad career, he devoted 15 years to Marquette as an assistant and head coach of the men’s basketball team. In addition to working under Marquette head coaches Al McGuire and Hank Raymonds, Majerus served as head coach for three seasons.

He later coached at Ball State University, the University of Utah, and Saint Louis University, in total winning 517 games and leading Utah to the NCAA national championship game in 1998.

Majerus’ family, who has issued the scholarship funds to the Klingler College, hopes to build on their gift with additional donations from the community.

“Through Rick’s scholarship, we hope to help a broad spectrum of young men and women who will learn through a Jesuit education how to live up to their potential and be, as Rick was, a person for others,” said Jodi Majerus, Rick’s sister.

Among the donations that have already poured in is a $250,000 contribution from Jon Huntsman, a Utah-based business leader and philanthropist and friend of Rick Majerus from his days of coaching in Utah.

Individuals interested in making their own contribution to the scholarship fund can do so on Marquette’s website.

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PNC loans $10 million to MAM
April 24, 2015 11:54 AM
PNC Bank N.A. has closed on a $10 million loan to the Milwaukee Art Museum Inc. for its major restoration and renovation project.

MAM is currently restoring the War Memorial and Kahler buildings in a $25 million project. The museum has committed $15 million, while Milwaukee County is contributing $10 million. The loan from Pittsburgh-based PNC will provide bridge financing for the Plan for the Future project, which began in the fall.

The museum campus currently includes the War Memorial Center (1957) designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen; the Kahler Building (1975) by Milwaukee-based architect David Kahler; and the Quadracci Pavilion (2001) by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. With the renovation, the museum’s gallery space will increase by 10,000 square feet.

MAM houses a collection of more than 30,000 works, with strengths in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, and American decorative arts. It is the world’s leading repository for work by untrained creators and has one of the largest collections of works by Georgia O’Keeffe.

The Collection Galleries in the Museum’s Saarinen and Kahler buildings have been taken off view for the next year for extensive restoration work. The museum, however, remains open and active. The collections will be re-installed in the fall of 2015, and the Museum will unveil easier wayfinding, a new lakeside entrance, redesigned galleries, and restrooms on every floor.

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Comcast abandons bid to acquire Time Warner Cable
April 24, 2015 10:16 AM
Comcast Corp. announced today it has abandoned its attempt to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. after federal regulators said the proposed $45 billion deal would give Comcast an unfair advantage in the broadband services market.

The U.S. Department of Justice said the plan to merge the two largest U.S. cable companies would have made Comcast an "unavoidable gatekeeper" for broadband services.

The deal had faced vocal criticism from some politicians, media company executives and consumer advocate.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler said the merger would have posed an "unacceptable risk to competition and innovation."

“Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away,” said Brian Roberts, chief executive officer of Philadelphia-based Comcast.

In a separate release, Time Warner Cable CEO Robert Marcus said his New York-based company remains strong. “Throughout this process, we’ve been laser-focused on executing our operating plan and investing in our plant, products and people,” Marcus said.

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Briggs & Stratton posts lower earnings on restructuring charges
April 24, 2015 11:19 AM
Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. reported fiscal third quarter net income of $33.9 million, or 75 cents per share, down from $39.2 million, or 82 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2014.

The small engines manufacturer reported operating income of $45.4 million, down from $53 million in the same period a year ago.

Revenue totaled $619 million, down from $628.4 million in the third quarter of 2014.

The company attributed the decrease to more shipments being shifted to earlier quarters to accommodate production ahead of a plant closure. There was also an unfavorable sales mix and a foreign exchange impact of $6.7 million in the quarter. Briggs also incurred restructuring charges of 8 million during the quarter.

“While sales were relatively consistent with last year, we continued to make progress on introducing new products and improving our operations,” said Todd Teske, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Briggs & Stratton Corp. “The restructuring of our Products business to focus on higher margin products and streamline our manufacturing operations has contributed to improved Products segment earnings of nearly $5 million in the quarter and $20 million for our fiscal year to date. We also launched several innovative products this spring including our new EXi engine that never requires oil changes and our new In-Start lithium-ion electric starting technology providing users with our easiest push button starting engine ever.”

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A.O. Smith reports strong profit ahead of efficiency mandate
April 24, 2015 11:01 AM
Milwaukee-based A.O. Smith Corp. today announced first quarter net income of $58.4 million, or 65 cents per share, up from $46.7 million, or 51 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

The water heater manufacturer recorded revenue of $618.5 million, up from $552.2 million in the first quarter of 2014.

The company pointed to a new government mandate to increase its water heater efficiency, the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, as a challenge and a benefit in the quarter.

“NAECA III has been a significant challenge for the water heater industry in the U. S., as we were required to redesign nearly 80 percent of our residential product offering. Our team has done a tremendous job of maintaining its focus on our customers during this project,” said Ajita Rajendra, chairman and chief executive officer. “Thanks to all of our employees, we are on track to complete this complex transition.”

But North America segment sales increased 10 percent in the quarter, which the company believes was driven by customer pre-buy ahead of the price increases that came along with the redesigned water heaters. Sales were up 13 percent in the Rest of the World segment, driven by continued high demand for the company’s products in developing areas.

“Our North American results in the first quarter were quite strong. We expect water heater volumes in the second quarter will be negatively impacted by the customer pre-buy we experienced in the first quarter,” Rajendra said. “Lower volumes and approximately $4 million of incremental ERP costs contribute to our expectation that 2015 second quarter earnings per share will be about flat with 2014 second quarter earnings per share, after adding back 3 cents per share of non-operating pension costs to the 2014 earnings per share.”

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Strattec posts higher 3Q profit despite automaker headwinds
April 24, 2015 10:38 AM
Milwaukee-based Strattec Security Corp. today reported fiscal third quarter net income of $5.4 million, or $1.20 per share, up from $4.2 million, or $1 per share, in the third quarter of 2014.

The vehicle access control product manufacturer’s operating income was $5.9 million, up from $5.1 million in the same period a year ago.
Revenue was $88.8 million, up from $85.3 million in the third quarter of 2014.

Net sales to Chrysler Group LLC, General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. were all down year-over-year, but Tier 1 Customers, Commercial and Other OEM Customers, and Hyundai/Kia more than made up for the decline with higher net sales.

“I am pleased to report that we were able to continue to show modest sales growth in the current year quarter, despite the negative headwinds of a slower than anticipated ramp up in Ford’s introduction of the new F-150 pick-up trucks and a reduction of about $8 million in sales due to Chrysler’s temporary shutdown of its Windsor, Canada minivan assembly plant in order to change over to their newly designed models. The Chrysler Windsor assembly plant shutdown is expected to impact us in a similar manner in the next quarter before we begin to refill their pipeline,” said  Frank Krejci, president and chief executive officer.

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First Business Financial starts year with strength
April 24, 2015 11:50 AM
First Business Financial Services Inc. today reported first quarter net income of $4.2 million, or 97 cents per share, up from $3.3 million, or 84 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2014.

The parent of First Business Bank-Milwaukee reported revenue of $18.8 million, up 43 percent from $13.1 million in the same period last year.

Net interest income was $14.9 million, up from $13.6 million in the first quarter of 2014. Non-interest income totaled $3.8 million, up from $3 million in the same period a year ago.

Non-performing assets as a percentage of total assets declined to 0.65 percent from 1.13 percent at the end of 2014’s first quarter.

“We’re off to a strong start in 2015,” said Corey Chambas, president and chief executive officer. “While the first quarter is historically our softest in terms of overall production across the franchise, our record quarterly results clearly display the success and benefits of our acquisition of Alterra as we continue to grow loans and increase revenues. … our initiative to expand Alterra’s SBA lending platform to our Wisconsin markets has already started to produce results. Coupled with our steady and growing legacy franchise, which again delivered record levels of loans, deposits, trust revenue and top line revenue, our early 2015 performance continues to exhibit the strength of our differentiated approach to business banking.”

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Brandish Creative moves to larger offices
April 24, 2015 09:58 AM
Brandish Creative Group has moved to larger offices in Oconomowoc, where it also plans to add three new designers this year.
The company’s move to 175 E. Wisconsin Ave. from 326 W. Third St. comes in response to unprecedented growth and the firm’s ongoing commitment to meet its clients’ needs.

Brandish was launched in late 2014 by Tony Stone, regional graphic artist and marketing expert. Brandish offers a variety of services for small businesses, including logo design and branding; environmental graphics; brochures, catalogs, direct marketing; web design and email marketing; and advertising requirements.

“We could not think of a more idyllic town to launch our creative studio than downtown Oconomowoc. The lakes, historic buildings, art shops and restaurants provide a valuable source of artistic inspiration and a great business synergy,” Stone said. “The acquisition of new office space has been accelerated by the growth of Brandish, allowing us to hire additional design and office staff. Adding more talent and brain power to our team has bolstered a direct value to the clients we serve while developing employment opportunities for local creatives.”

The move will be celebrated on Thursday, April 30, from 4 to 7 p.m. with a combined ribbon-cutting with the Oconomowoc and Greater Brookfield Chambers of Commerce, and reception for clients, prospects, friends and neighbors.

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Weekend preview
April 24, 2015 10:40 AM
From Bucks playoff action to big name artists to fine dining, options abound for this weekend in Milwaukee. has the rundown in its Weekend Preview. OnMilwaukee is a media partner of BizTimes Media.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Administrative trademark decisions may preclude infringement litigation
April 24, 2015 12:09 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on March 24 that Trial Trademark and Appeal Board (TTAB) decisions “can be weighty enough” to preclude a district court from litigating the likelihood of confusion between trademarks in a subsequent infringement suit.

Read more about what this means for businesses in today's Milwaukee Biz Blog by Katrina Hull, partner in the Milwaukee office of Michael Best & Friedrich.

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Morning Headlines: Portage County plans new $85 million downtown jail, courthouse
April 24, 2015 10:41 AM
Portage County may build a new $85 million jail and courthouse in downtown Stevens Point, that would be connected to the existing County Annex on Strongs Avenue.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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Nonprofit Weekly: Nonprofit Center seeks new leader as Kunde announces leave
April 24, 2015 12:18 PM
Leigh Kunde will wrap up 22 years of service as executive director of the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee at the end of July, according to an announcement made by the center on Thursday.

Read more in today’s Nonprofit Weekly.

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