Mining company closes office in Hurley
February 27, 2015 05:10 PM
Gogebic Taconite LLC is closing its office in Hurley, Wis., effective Sunday, announcing Friday that an extensive review of a potential mining site identified issues that "make major continued investment in the project unfeasible at this time."
Republicans in the State Legislature had made reforms to the state’s mining laws a top priority last year, even rolling them out in Senate Bill 1. The reforms were intended to pave the way for an iron ore mine GTac had proposed in northern Wisconsin. The Senate conducted hearings on the controversial bill in Madison, hundreds of miles away from the proposed site of the mine.
The company said Friday it intends to continue pursuing a permit to mine the site, but cannot justify keeping the office open "without prospect of immediate action."

The company said its analysis revealed wetland issues that make continued investment unfeasible, both because of cost and uncertainty over U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Employees at the Hurley office have been offered severance payments in addition to unemployment benefits, GTac president Bill Williams said in a prepared statement.

Williams added: "Residents should be reassured that bonding remains in place to guarantee the completion of reclamation activities at monitoring and testing sites on the mine property."
In a column written on Feb. 7, 2014, BizTimes executive editor Steve Jagler predicted that the reformed state mining law, as it was written, was moot and would not lead to the opening of a mine in Hurley.

comment »

HUSCO, General Plastics win Manufacturer of the Year awards
February 27, 2015 10:02 AM
The 2014 Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year awards banquet took place Thursday evening at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, where HUSCO International Inc. of Waukesha won a Grand Award in the mega category and General Plastics Inc. of Milwaukee took home a Grand Award in the small category.

The other Grand Award winners honored at the 27th annual awards banquet were: Seats Inc. of Reedsburg in the large category, Spectrum Industries Inc. of Chippewa Falls in the medium category and E.K. Machine Co. Inc. of Fall River in the workforce development category.

Special awards were given to Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery of Ellsworth and Universal Acoustic & Emission Technologies Inc. of Stoughton. The former won the Marketplace Opportunity Award, and the latter won the Employee Development & Commitment Award.  

“I am proud and fortunate to live in a state where one of our most powerful and dynamic industries— manufacturing—is devoted to innovation, investment in cutting-edge technology, the shaping and development of top-notch employees, and the distribution on a worldwide basis such an expansive selection of goods. Wisconsin’s manufacturers never settle for good, or even great, they are constantly striving to maintain that level of excellence and lead the pack when it comes to new ideas and best practices,” said Kurt Bauer, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce president and chief executive officer.

The seven winners were selected from among 40 nominees by an independent panel of judges representing manufacturing, service and the public sector.

The awards were sponsored by WMC, Baker Tilly and Michael Best & Friedrich LLP.

comment »

BizTracker: Manufacturers continue to slow, but anticipate economic bounce
February 27, 2015 11:02 AM
Manufacturing activity in southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois continued to grow more slowly in February, according to a new report.

Read more in the BizTimes BizTracker.

comment »

PAVE to launch search for new CEO
February 27, 2015 12:05 PM
After 27 years of shaping, building and evolving PAVE Milwaukee, founding chief executive officer Dan McKinley will leave the organization at the end of June.

McKinley is not retiring - a word he said he cringes at - so much as he is preparing himself to explore a new opportunity while also refreshing PAVE Milwaukee's leadership.

"After 27 years, you realize the organization is going to be better and stronger going into the future with somebody thinking about the next 10 years ahead," McKinley said.

And the best time for a significant transition falls when a nonprofit is excelling, according to McKinley.

"You want to do it at a time of strength, and that's what the board is doing," McKinley said.

PAVE Milwaukee, whose focus has evolved since its inception in 1987, today operates to to connect low-income children in Milwaukee with quality educational avenues. One particularly significant thrust of the organization's mission centers on partnering with school boards and leaders of high-potential schools, advising them on best practices for governance and organizational capacity.

The nonprofit currently collaborates with 57 partner schools in the city and has more than $13 million in assets.

"This is a good time to do the transition when the organization is strong, healthy and has wind at its back," said Cory Nettles, founder and managing director of Milwaukee-based Generation Growth Capital, Inc. and a partner-of counsel at Milwaukee's Quarles & Brady LLP.

Nettles, who is currently vice chair of PAVE Milwaukee's board and who will become chair on July 1, said the organization is now the strongest and healthiest it has ever been, noting that it has retained "very strong leadership" throughout its history.

Since McKinley and PAVE Milwaukee's board agreed that it was time for a transition, a conclusion reached during conversations last summer, the board has been devising a succession plan.

A subset of board members formed a committee at the end of last year to discuss how to steer the organization as McKinley wraps up his tenure.

The committee aims to have a new CEO take over on July 1, the day after McKinley officially exits, though he has agreed to continue advising the organization's leadership in the months following the transition.

Committee members have identified "several outstanding candidates" and anticipate formally opening the application process in the next month or two, according to Nettles.

While the job will likely draw applicants from across the country, the new CEO ideally will already have a considerable grasp of the "very unique nature" of Milwaukee's education reform situation, Nettles said. The board seeks a successor who will "understand the nuances of our education community" in order to keep PAVE Milwaukee's momentum accelerating, he said.

"Our focus in the next several years is going to be first and foremost to improve the quality of the education outcomes that we're getting for our children and then secondary to continue to scale - to broaden that impact," Nettles said.

As for McKinley's next several years, he remains uncertain about what is to come but plans to take some time "to discern what the next best thing might be," he said.

His near three decades of leadership at PAVE Milwaukee have leveraged his passion "to help children who grew up in pervasive poverty have the advantage of a really good education," he said, as "that's their way out of poverty."

And he holds a bright outlook for the nonprofit's future, its dedicated staff and robust board.

"I think the organization is full of hope," McKinley said. "It's a great organization. It can do so much, and that makes me feel real good."

comment »

Marquette adds Adams and Geske to board
February 27, 2015 09:51 AM
Marquette University has elected Rexnord Corp. president and chief executive officer Todd Adams and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske to its board of trustees.

Adams joined Milwaukee-based Rexnord in 2004. He previously held various positions at The Boeing Company, APW Ltd. and Applied Power Inc. (currently Actuant Corp.). Adams also serves on the boards of Generac Holdings Inc., The Water Council and Hunger Task Force.

Geske, a 1975 Marquette University Law School alumna, served as a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court from 1993 to 1998. From 1998 to 2013 she served as a distinguished professor of law at Marquette Law School where she directed the school’s Restorative Justice Initiative.

comment »

The BREW water accelerator launches third round
February 27, 2015 11:48 AM
The Water Council and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. have announced they are launching the third round of The BREW, a global seed accelerator for water technology startups.

The application process will open March 1 at 8 a.m. and the program will accept applications through March 31 at 11:59 p.m. The program will accept eight participants for round three, who will be announced June 23. This year, startups with agriculture water solutions are strongly encouraged to apply.

The Water Council launched the accelerator program in 2013 to invest in water startups with commercialization potential. BREW participants are eligible for up to $50,000 in funding for startup costs, in return for a small equity stake.

Round three will begin in September. During the 12-month accelerator program, entrepreneurs will have access to: a suite in Milwaukee’s Global Water Center; business model and operations training from The Water Council and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Institute for Water Business; faculty and students from Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School for Freshwater Sciences; the Water Center’s Flow Lab; mentorship from water technology experts and BREW preferred partners; opportunities to attend conferences and pitch sessions with The Water Council; investment capital funding sources; pilot project funding; and a one-year membership to The Water Council.

Round two participants will graduate on Jun 24 at a ceremony at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. They are: Cadens LLC, Hydro-Lite, Pellucid Water, pHinding Solutions, WatrHub and Wellntel.

“Through the efforts of The Water Council and its many partners, Milwaukee has truly become a world leader in water technology and has developed a strong reputation for innovation in this growing sector,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “The BREW provides emerging water technology companies with unparalleled support and services in a dynamic environment that we believe will lead to even more innovation in this increasingly important industry.”

“The Global Water Center has become a magnet, attracting over 14 startups in the water space who want to be close to the resources and energy,” said Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council. “Coupled with the number of large global businesses and academic presence, this provides a multi-faceted ecosystem for entrepreneurs to collaborate and grow their business.”

comment »

Harley to directly supply Canadian dealers
February 27, 2015 11:45 AM
Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. has announced it will end its distribution agreement with Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada and begin directly distributing to independent Canadian dealers.

The change is scheduled to take place at the end of the current Deeley contract, on July 31, 2017, but the companies are in talks to move up the date to as early as the third quarter of this year. Deeley has been Harley’s exclusive Canadian distributor since 1973, distributing Harley products to more than 1,460 independently owned dealerships.

The motorcycle manufacturer has been shifting its global distribution model to directly distribute its products to independently owned dealers across its footprint. Harley has direct distribution in place in Brazil, Australia, Italy and the Scandinavian countries. Under the model, Harley manages sales to dealers, marketing, dealer recruitment and retail capabilities, consumer events and other in-market activities, often through its subsidiaries.

"The contributions of the Deeley organization to Harley-Davidson's customers and the business in Canada have been tremendous, and we have the highest regard for the entire Deeley team," said Mike Kennedy, vice president and managing director of Harley-Davidson North America. "Deeley has achieved a level of success that has made Canada one of the largest international Harley-Davidson markets over time. We have made this decision to transition to direct distribution in Canada after long and careful consideration, and solely growing out of our global business strategy. We will work closely with the Deeley organization as we finalize a roadmap for the future and look forward to leveraging the many opportunities to fulfill dreams of personal freedom for customers."

"We have a long and proud relationship with Harley-Davidson, marked by Deeley's commitment to excellence – to our associates, customers and retailers – and that will continue to be our priority throughout the transition," said Malcolm Hunter, president and chief operating officer of Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada. "It has been a true honor to be part of this business we have all built together. We have accomplished so much and are proud of Deeley's legacy and our enduring contribution to motorcycling in Canada. The entire Deeley organization will work closely with Harley-Davidson to ensure a seamless transition and ensure that Canadian customers continue to enjoy an outstanding Harley-Davidson product, service and support experience. "

Don James, co-founder and majority owner of Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada, is a director on the Harley-Davidson Inc. board.

comment »

Weekend Preview
February 27, 2015 11:51 AM
Stumped about what to do this weekend? has got you covered with the Weekend Preview. Read about what’s happening here.

comment »

Morning Headlines: Assembly prepares to take up right-to-work bill
February 27, 2015 11:53 AM
As right-to-work opponents prepare for Wisconsin's fast-tracked bill to move to the Assembly next week, Republicans have launched a petition drive for supporters.

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

comment »

Nonprofit Weekly: SHARP Literacy branches out with new community partnerships
February 27, 2015 11:53 AM
SHARP Literacy, Inc., a Milwaukee nonprofit that uses interaction and the visual arts to help children learn and love to read, will expand its programming through a collection of new community partnerships.

Read more in today’s Nonprofit Weekly.

comment »

Extendicare Health Services to close, lay off 287
February 26, 2015 05:20 PM
Markham, Ontario-based Extendicare Inc. notified state officials that it intends to close its Milwaukee-based Extendicare Health Services subsidiary on April 30. As a result, approximately 287 employees will lose their jobs.

Ownership of Extendicare and its subsidiaries will be transferred to FC Domino Acquisition LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, per the share purchase agreement the companies made last November.

Extendicare Health Services Inc. is a Milwaukee-based subsidiary of Extendicare Inc., which is based in Markham, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. Extendicare Health Services Inc. operates 156 senior care facilities in the United States with approximately 15,000 beds. It offers a continuum of health care services, including nursing care, assisted living and related medical specialty services, such as subacute care and rehabilitative therapy on an inpatient and outpatient basis.

Milwaukee real estate developer Joseph Zilber, the founder of Zilber Ltd., sold the nursing home division of his business to Extendicare Inc. As part of the deal, Zilber insisted the company move its headquarters from Toronto to Milwaukee. The firm's Extendicare Health Services Inc. remained based in downtown Milwaukee.

Zilber Ltd. still owns the downtown Milwaukee office building at 111 W. Michigan St. where Extendicare Health Services’ headquarters is located.

Last year Extendicare Health Services Inc. agreed to pay out $10 million in a settlement to resolve allegations that it provided unnecessary services to drive up Medicare billings.

comment »

Laughlin to receive BizTimes Lifetime Achievement Award
February 26, 2015 10:20 AM
Steve Laughlin, co-founder and chief executive officer of Laughlin Constable, will be the recipient of the 2015 BizTimes Lifetime Achievement Award.

Laughlin has built a long and accomplished career at the Milwaukee-based creative and advertising agency, which has expanded to have offices in Chicago, New York and New Jersey, employing more than 250 people.

Laughlin Constable’s prestigious list of clients includes Bon-Ton Stores, Wisconsin Tourism, Palermo’s Pizza, GE Healthcare, CUNA Mutual, Northwestern Medicine, MillerCoors, Master Lock, Sears, Sargento Cheese, Hillshire Farm, Firestone, Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine, Kraft, OshKosh B’Gosh, Fruit of the Loom and many others.

Laughlin is a past recipient of the American Advertising Federation’s Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted in the Wisconsin Advertising Hall of Fame. He is a member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee and has served on the board of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, is a past board chair and MVP honoree of the Boy’s & Girl’s Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, board chair of the Milwaukee Film Festival and past board chair of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

Laughlin joins an illustrious list of past recipients of the award, including:
  • Gary Grunau, real estate developer and president of Grucon Group LLC.
  • Michael Cudahy, founder of Marquette Electronics and philanthropist.
  • Sheldon Lubar, founder and chairman of Lubar & Co. in Milwaukee.
  • Fritz and Debra Usinger of Usinger’s Famous Sausage.
  • Richard Pieper Sr., chairman of PPC Partners Inc.
  • Stephen Marcus, former CEO of The Marcus Corp.
  • George Dalton, former CEO of Fiserv Inc.
  • Robert Kern, former CEO of Generac.
  • Joe Zilber, former CEO of Towne Realty.
  • Harry Quadracci, former CEO of Quad/Graphics Inc.
Laughlin will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 BizExpo, to be presented by BizTimes Media LLC on Wednesday, May 20, at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Expo Center in Milwaukee. To register to attend or to nominate a dynamic company leader or an innovative company for the Bravo! Entrepreneur or I.Q. (Innovation Quotient) Awards, visit

comment »

Baird names Maxwell CFO
February 26, 2015 10:16 AM
Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. has named Terry Maxwell its new chief financial officer, effective March 10.

Maxwell replaces Dominick “Nick” Zarcone, who has served as Baird’s CFO since 2011 and has now been named executive vice president and chief financial officer at Chicago-based LKQ Corp. Inc., a leading supplier of replacement parts for cars and trucks. Zarcone worked at Baird for more than 20 years, during which time he led a team that helped raise capital and provide strategic advice to LKQ, which now has $6.7 billion in revenue and 29,000 employees worldwide.

Maxwell worked at Baird from 1986 to 2006 and served as head of Investment Banking before leaving for an academic role. He rejoined the company in 2014 as director of Corporate Development and Strategic Investment. Maxwell will continue to assist with Baird’s strategic investments and acquisitions.

“Nick has been the consummate Baird associate and a strong partner to me, Terry, Steve Booth and the rest of our leadership team,” said Paul Purcell, Baird chairman and chief executive officer. “He’s done a phenomenal job for us and we are proud of the service he has provided to LKQ over the years. While he will be greatly missed at Baird, we are incredibly excited for Nick as well as our long-time important partner LKQ.”

“Nick Zarcone and the rest of the Baird team have been important partners for LKQ,” said Robert Wagman, CEO and president of LKQ. “Nick is well-known and highly regarded by our entire senior leadership team and we are very pleased to have him joining our organization.”  
“Paul and I have worked closely with Nick for more than 20 years. We’re sorry to have him leave Baird, but are also very happy for him and this next step in his career,” said Steve Booth, Baird president and chief operating officer. “Terry’s ability to move into this new role is a testament to our long-term focus on developing our internal talent, which creates a deep pool of talent that often enables us to successfully promote from within.”

comment »

Walker says right-to-work key factor in attracting businesses
February 26, 2015 12:44 PM
Following the state Senate’s approval of the right-to-work bill Wednesday night, Gov. Scott Walker told reporters today that it is one more tool manufacturers have to make the case to come to Wisconsin.

Walker, who addressed reporters after his speech at the Manufacturing Matters! conference held at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, said reports from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation indicate that site selectors say right-to-work legislation is among the top considerations.

“It is indeed one of the things particularly manufacturing entities around the country and around the world look at when they choose where to put their sites,” he said. “It may not be the reason you get it, but more often than not it’s a disqualifier if you don’t.”  

Right-to-work laws are in place in 24 states. The laws prohibit businesses and unions from reaching labor agreements that require workers to pay union dues. The Wisconsin bill would impose criminal penalties on employers that agree to contracts that require union dues.

Democrats have repeatedly accused Republicans of “ramming through” the bill, but Walker called the accusation of moving it through too quickly and without enough debate a “hollow argument.”

“The people who made that argument are the people who voted for a budget repair bill that raised taxes, had no public hearing, and did it I believe in less than 48 hours,” he said. “To me, this had a lengthy debate.”

As for the future of Wisconsin unions, the governor said those that provide real value to their members will remain strong.

“If the unions provide training through their union dues, and people see it as an asset, they’ll do it,” he said. “If it’s coming separately from their employer, they may question it. It all depends on how they’re set up.”

To Walker, the right-to-work bill is just one issue among many in which he believes people will be interested at the Conservative Political Action Conference he is attending today in Washington, D.C. He said his focus at CPAC, considered to be the unofficial start of the GOP presidential primary season, will be job creation, reform and safety.

Walker said he has always been in support of right-to-work legislation in Wisconsin, but bringing it forward was a matter of priority and timing. Now is the appropriate time, he said, as in his first term employers and job creators needed stability.

When asked if it is a good sign for a possible presidential run that his message is resonating, Walker said he likes the fact that people are paying attention, but acknowledged there is a long way to go.

comment »

WEDC, Newaukee launch state's first YPWeek
February 26, 2015 12:24 PM
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation hopes to replicate and expand the success of Newaukee’s Young Professionals Week with the first-ever statewide YPWeek in April.

The event will kick off a collaborative effort among the WEDC and young professionals organizations in Wisconsin to better attract and retain young talent in the state.

“We have heard from companies and our economic development partners around the state that attracting and retaining young professionals is a top concern for businesses,” Tricia Braun, deputy secretary and chief operating officer of WEDC, said in an announcement. “WEDC is pleased to be able to work with the local organizations to develop ways to inspire young talent to move or stay here.”

The state’s YPWeek, scheduled to run from Saturday, April 11, to Saturday, April 18, will include the involvement of young professionals organizations based in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Appleton, Kenosha and Wausau. More than 85 events will roll out over the course of the week, which will debut in Wausau and end in Green Bay.

Included in the festivities are neighborhood bus tours in Milwaukee and a cooking demonstration in Kenosha as well as a variety of panel discussions exploring issues such as education and women in leadership.

YPWeek Wisconsin will also feature the 2015 Bubbler Awards, a program saluting top places for young professionals to work. Employees can nominate their workplace by Wednesday, March 25, and winners will be honored at an April 11 awards celebration in Wausau.

Newaukee, whose 2014 YPWeek drew more than 4,000 professionals among 34 Milwaukee events, will fill an advisory role in planning the first statewide movement with WEDC. Newaukee’s staff will guide organizations in other cities in designing events that play up the assets of each city.

The Milwaukee-based social architecture firm will also take the lead on ensuring branding consistency of YPWeek events across the state.

“There are numerous organizations in Wisconsin connecting with young professionals so they can be engaged with their community, have access to professional development activities as well as build their network through social interactions,” said Angela Damiani, president of Newaukee. “However, there is no central platform that regularly allows the leaders from these local organizations to meet and share ideas with each other. Our goal here is to fill that void.”

YPWeek Wisconsin organizers plan to continue examining how to better attract and retain young talent beyond the April event. Among the core issues they will address are finding ways to tout Wisconsin’s offerings and helping businesses see the value of young professional organizations.

“This is a national issue, and we are pleased to help build a collaborative, statewide effort to engage young talent,” Braun said. “We believe this first-of-its kind initiative will position Wisconsin as a national leader in millennial engagement, dynamic workforce and leadership development, and help establish the state as an ideal workplace destination for young workers.”

For more information on YPWeek Wisconsin, visit

comment »

Current Issue