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Manpower earnings up 193 percent
April 23, 2014 12:00 PM
Milwaukee-based global staffing firm ManpowerGroup today reported first quarter net earnings of $70.1 million, or 86 cents per share, up 193 percent from $23.9 million, or 31 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2013.

Revenue was $4.9 billion, up 3 percent from $4.7 million a year prior.

The company attributed the sharp increase in earnings to a $34.8 million restructuring charge related to office consolidations and severance costs. There were no restructuring charges in the first quarter this year.

"Despite the slow start in January, we are experiencing more positive revenue trends as we enter the second quarter in almost all of the major geographies,” said Jeffrey Joerres, chairman and chief executive officer of ManpowerGroup. “Growth in our Europe business improved to over 4 percent in constant currency in the quarter, and exceeded 3 percent on an average daily basis.

"The work that our team did last year to simplify and re-calibrate our company is paying off as we were able to achieve strong flow through and operational leverage.”

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Bucyrus Foundation to donate $1 million to UPAF
April 23, 2014 12:00 PM
The United Performing Arts Fund announced today it will receive a $1 million gift from the Bucyrus Foundation to be distributed over the next 10 years.

The donation is the largest sustaining gift in UPAF's 47-year history. For the 2014 UPAF Campaign, the funds will be designated to the Bucyrus Foundation Leadership Challenge to match - up to $100,000 - new Leadership gifts of $1,000 plus or existing Leadership gifts that increase at least 10 percent over last year.

"It is important that we protect the world-class performing arts community we're so fortunate to have in southeastern Wisconsin," said Tim Sullivan, president of the Bucyrus Foundation. "We are proud to have a longstanding commitment to UPAF, an organization that is integral to ensuring these valuable assets thrive today and for generations to come."
 
Bucyrus Foundation has been a major supporter of UPAF since 1996, donating more than $2.5 million in the nearly 20-year partnership.
 
"Bucyrus Foundation is a true partner to UPAF," said Deanna Tillisch, president and chief executive officer of UPAF. "This generous multi-year gift will help grow our campaign not only in 2014, but over the next decade. We are extremely grateful for Bucyrus Foundation's long-term dedication to the mission of UPAF."
 
In 2013, a $100,000 gift from Bucyrus Foundation was used as a challenge grant that incentivized donors to raise their gift by one giving level. The challenge match contributed to significant growth in Leadership giving and membership in UPAF's affinity groups: UPAF Notable Women, sponsored by BMO Harris, and Next Generation UPAF, sponsored by We Energies Foundation.
 
As an umbrella organization, UPAF supports a breadth of performing arts groups in Milwaukee.

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BuySeasons names new CEO
April 23, 2014 11:00 AM
New Berlin-based costume and party supply retailer BuySeasons Inc. has appointed Rick Barton to chief executive officer, replacing Dev Mukherjee after just over a year in the role.

Mukherjee departed the company Tuesday. Company representatives would not comment further on the leadership change.

Barton will take over on April 28. He most recently served as president and CEO of Maumelle, Ark.-based Leisure Arts, a publisher of lifestyle and instructional craft publications and creator of e-books, digital downloads and DVDs. Leisure Arts was formerly owned by BuySeasons’ Englewood, Colo.-based parent company, Liberty Interactive Corp. Before Leisure Arts, Barton served as CEO of Buy-Rite Designs, managing partner at Hunt Private Equity Group and CEO of Paper Magic Group.

“We are thrilled to have Rick lead BuySeasons,” said Greg Maffei, president and CEO of Liberty Interactive. “We have known Rick for many years since he served as CEO of Leisure Arts, a former Liberty subsidiary. His experience in branding, retail and operations will fit well with this group of businesses. “We want to thank Dev for his vision and commitment during a period of change for the company.”

BuySeasons was founded in 1999 and sells costumes, accessories, seasonal décor and party supplies to consumers and large retailers on BuyCostumes.com, BirthdayExpress.com, CostumeExpress.com, 1stWishes.com and CelebrateExpress.com.

In January 2013, BuySeasons chief executive officer Dan Haight left the company and was replaced by Mukherjee, who had been a senior vice president in Sears Holdings Corp.'s home appliances division. Mukherjee expanded the company’s management team in December, adding a chief marketing officer, a chief financial officer and a vice president, controller for both BuySeasons and Liberty portfolio company Evite.

Liberty spun off its stakes in BuySeasons and travel website TripAdvisor Inc. into a new publicly-traded company called Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings in October.

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Public accounting firms merge
April 23, 2014 11:00 AM
Brookfield-based Sitzberger Widmann & Company S.C. and Milwaukee-based Hau & Associates have merged their public accounting firms.

The new company, Sizberger Hau & Company S.C., is based in Brookfield and has 16 Certified Public Accountants and 38 total employees at offices in Brookfield, Milwaukee and Pewaukee.

“Dan Hau and the team of Hau and Associates complement our cornerstone ideal of quality professional public accounting services,” said Fred Sitzberger, founder of Sitzberger Widmann. “The expansion of the practice significantly increases our knowledge base and service for current and future clients, charting their financial course through the changing economic times.”

The combined firm ranks as one of the top 24 public accounting firms in the market. Hau was established in 1981 and Sitzberger was founded in 1994.

Sitzberger Hau specializes in audit and assurance, reviews, compilations, corporate and individual tax compliance, business consulting, payroll and certified valuation analysis for privately held construction, manufacturing, distribution, real estate, technology and nonprofit companies.

“I’ve known Fred for years and always admired his commitment to the profession,” said Dan Hau, CPA. “In the end, it’s about super servicing our clients and with the merger, we’re able to synthesize the process and offer deeper expertise to our clients.”

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Johnson Controls gets automotive experience boost
April 23, 2014 12:00 PM
Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. today reported second quarter net income of $291 million, or 39 cents per share, up significantly from $193 million, or 24 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2013.

Revenue was $10.4 billion, up four percent from $10.1 billion in the same period a year ago.

"While the economic environment continues to challenge top line growth in some of our businesses, I am pleased with the profitability improvements in all businesses" said Alex Molinaroli, Johnson Controls chairman and chief executive officer. "These results are consistent with the expectations we disclosed during our first quarter earnings call."

Automotive experience revenues, excluding discontinued operations resulting from the sale of the automotive electronics business, were $5.6 billion, up 11 percent over $5 billion in the second quarter of 2013.

Building efficiency sales were down 5 percent from last year, while power solutions sales were flat.

The company expects its pending acquisition of Air Distribution Technologies to significantly expand its third party distribution channels and create opportunities to cross-sell existing and new products.

"While we have made significant progress on the changes to our portfolio, our priority remains operational excellence to drive continued increases in profitability and shareholder value,” Molinaroli said. “Our first half results demonstrate the success of our employees' efforts and I thank them for their dedication to our customers and shareholders.”

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Cristo Rey Jesuit High School to open in 2015
April 23, 2014 12:00 PM
Milwaukee’s education landscape will welcome Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in fall 2015, according to an announcement made today by the Midwest Jesuits of the Wisconsin and Chicago-Detroit Provinces and the Cristo Rey Network.

The new school will be housed in the St. Florian’s school building, 1215 S. 45th St., and will be the 29th school in the national Cristo Rey Network – a Catholic-based grouping of schools that targets urban students of limited means with a college preparatory education.

Cristo Rey schools operate with longer schools days and longer school years and uphold the expectation that all students should attend college. Network schools also mandate each student complete a work-study program so that they are exposed to workplace demands and can explore career options early on.

Additionally, each school is supported by a Catholic religious order. In Milwaukee’s case, the Midwest Jesuits of the Wisconsin and Chicago-Detroit Provinces have stepped up in support. Along with providing funding and Jesuit personnel to the school, the Midwest Jesuits will ensure the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School maintains a Catholic identity, said Andrew Stith, who has been named president of the school.

“I am excited about the tremendous potential of this new school of the young people who will attend,” Stith said. “Our goal is to provide students from modest means with a high-quality, values-based education rooted in the Catholic Jesuit tradition of academic excellence and leadership development.”

Prior to being named president, Stith spent close to two years conducting a feasibility study that measured the need for a Cristo Rey school in Milwaukee. The study was supported by several stakeholders, including Marquette University’s College of Education, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, St. Florian’s Parish, Jesuits and the Cristo Rey Network.

With an outpouring of positive feedback from area students, parents, community leaders and businesses, the survey led to approval of the school by the Jesuits and the Cristo Rey Network this month.

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School will open with an estimated 100 freshmen students in 2015 and plans to add a new freshman class each of the subsequent three years until it reaches its capacity of 400. Its work-study program has already secured nearly 30 industry partners in greater Milwaukee, including Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C., Manpower Inc., and Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Mone touts ‘Moving Forward Together’ during interim
April 23, 2014 11:00 AM
While Mark Mone won’t fill the role of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s interim chancellor for much more than half a year, he is poised to build on the legacy of his predecessors with a vision and platform for the university’s time of transition.

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

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Morning Headlines: Plexus solidifies Neenah base with $50 million plant
April 23, 2014 12:00 PM
Plexus Corp.’s relocation of employees to its new $50 million manufacturing plant thrills Neenah officials.

Read more in today’s Morning Headlines.

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Real Estate Weekly: Health care and fitness facility planned at Drexel Town Square
April 23, 2014 12:00 PM
A health care and fitness facility, similar to a facility occupied by Wisconsin Athletic Club and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin that opened in Menomonee Falls earlier this year, is planned for the mixed-use Drexel Town Square development in Oak Creek, according to several sources.

Read more in today’s Real Estate Weekly.

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Milwaukee investment group buys Fontarome out of receivership
April 22, 2014 03:00 PM
Milwaukee-based private investment group SFM Investments LLC has acquired the assets of St. Francis-based Fontarome Chemical Inc. and its wholly owned French subsidiary FCI SAS out of chapter 128 receivership.

Fontarome, which manufactures ingredients for flavors, fragrances and pharmaceuticals, entered receivership in January. It remained operational during the three months it was in receivership, and none of its 40 employees were laid off, a spokesperson said. It retained all of its customers.

Patrick McComis and Joe Froehlich lead SFM. Froehlich is managing director of Corporate Financial Advisors LLC in Milwaukee and McComis previously worked as vice president of contracts and compliance at Milwaukee prescription drug management firm Restat LLC.

“He just thought we’d be a perfect team to partner up together to acquire the assets,” McComis said.

McComis and Froehlich feel the fundamentals, staff, technical assets and intelligence are still strong, and the company simply needs an influx of capital.

“If you look at why the company ended up in receivership, it was really driven by one overriding principle, and that is that they were undercapitalized,” McComis said. “They just did not have the cash flow in order to meet their bills. Like anybody else … you start cutting back here and cutting back there, and it just becomes a downward spiral.”

The pharmaceutical industry provides opportunity to smaller developers like Fontarome, McComis said.

“I believe there’s been a paradigm shift in pharmaceuticals. The growth is really in the smaller, more boutique pharmaceutical manufacturers that need companies like ourselves to produce their pharmaceutical ingredients,” he said. “I just think that the demand for companies like ourselves will grow significantly in the future, so we’re uniquely positioned to meet their needs.”

The Fontarome name will be eliminated, and the company will go under the SFM title until a new name is established. McComis will become the president and Froehlich will sit on the board.

SFM will add 10 to 20 new employees in the next nine months, McComis said.

"Our new ownership team sees great value in the company and its future," McComis said. "We will change the operating name and invest capital in innovation, technology and people to grow the business in the U.S. and globally. Our Milwaukee location gives us a strong advantage for U.S. manufacturing (and) we have 30 years of impressive history in the pharmaceutical and flavor and fragrance industries to leverage and a talented team of employees."

All of the manufacturer’s employees will be retained and new employees will be added. McComis and Froelich will also develop a more integrated business plan with FCI SAS.

"We have a strong balance sheet today and a base of loyal customers," said Froehlich,who will serve on the new company's board. "We'll continue to provide the same products and the same services customers rely on while we improve our operations and increase our industry footprint."

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Mone will be interim chancellor at UWM
April 22, 2014 02:00 PM
Mark Mone will serve as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee interim chancellor following the departure of chancellor Michael Lovell next month.

Lovell announced on March 26 that he had been named the first lay president of Marquette University in Milwaukee. His last day as UWM chancellor will be May 31.

Mone is a professor of management within the UWM Lubar School of Business and for the past two years has served as the chancellor's designee for strategic planning and campus climate. The latter is a cabinet-level appointment in which Mone works with the university's senior leadership and governance groups, and all university stakeholders to develop UWM's 2020 strategic plan, and develop and implement university-wide programs to improve organizational climate (collectively known as Best Place to Work).

Mone has been a member of the UWM faculty since 1989, serving for more than 15 years as the Lubar School of Business associate dean for executive education and business engagement. His responsibilities involved external relations for the Lubar school, including partnerships with business, medical, legal, government, and not-for profit organizations. Mone was responsible for the Executive MBA program, the longest running program of its kind in Wisconsin, career services, and other financial and marketing functions.

"Mark's academic credentials, leadership experiences, industry background, and long-term tenure with UW-Milwaukee make him an excellent choice for interim chancellor," said UW System president Ray Cross. "Mark has been actively involved in developing UWM's 2020 strategic plan. The relationships he has built in this effort, together with his extensive knowledge of the university and wider community, will keep UWM's significant research and academic initiatives moving on an upward trajectory."

Cross will work with the Board of Regents and the UWM community to begin a national search for the university's next chancellor, aiming to have a permanent appointment made by Jan. 1, 2015. That process will begin when Cross appoints a search-and-screen committee comprised of UWM faculty, academic staff, classified staff, students and community representatives. That committee will lead the search and recommend a slate of finalists for consideration by Cross and a special committee of Regents.

"I greatly appreciate this opportunity to continue to advance current UWM initiatives," Mone said. "Under the heading of 'Moving Forward Together,' I intend to work with all constituencies to complete our strategic plan and begin its implementation, continue work on strengthening student enrollment and educational quality, further engage our university partners through research, education and service, and identify and obtain additional resources for our campus."

Mone holds a Ph.D. in management (organizational behavior and organization theory) from Washington State University, a master of business administration degree from Idaho State University and a bachelor's degree in organizational management from Central Washington University.

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A.O. Smith reports record revenue
April 22, 2014 12:15 PM
Milwaukee-based A.O. Smith Corp. today reported first quarter net earnings of $46.7 million, or 51 cents per share, up from $39 million, or 42 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2013.

Net sales were a record $552.2 million, up from $509.6 million a year ago.

The global water technology manufacturer attributed the increase to higher sales in China.

"Our business in China got off to a strong start this year, with sales growing 25 percent over the same period last year," said Ajita Rajendra, chairman and chief executive officer. "The team in China has excelled at innovating, manufacturing and marketing products with features and benefits that meet consumers' needs in that region."

A.O. Smith repurchased about 446,000 shares of common stock during the quarter for $21.3 million. About 707,000 shares remain of the existing discretionary authority at quarter's end. The board approved adding another 1.5 million shares to the repurchase authority after the end of the quarter.

"We remain committed to growing our business organically as well as with acquisitions, and our pipeline of potential investments is active," Rajendra said. "However, we will remain selective and only make acquisitions that we believe will add long-term value for shareholders. In addition, the 25 percent increase in our quarterly dividend rate in February and the incremental share repurchase authority demonstrate our commitment to return cash to shareholders."

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Harley earnings up on shipments, efficiencies
April 22, 2014 12:00 PM
Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson, Inc. today reported first quarter net income of $265.9 million, or $1.21 per share, up from $224.1 million, or 99 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2013.

Consolidated evenue was $1.73 billion, up 9.9 percent from $1.57 billion in the same period a year ago.

The global motorcycle manufacturer attributed the increase to higher shipments of motorcycles and improvements in operating efficiencies.

"Harley-Davidson delivered gains on many fronts in the first quarter, with shipments up 7.3 percent, strong margin improvement and solid growth in dealer new motorcycle sales," said Keith Wandell, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc.

Dealers sold 57,415 new motorcycles across the world in the quarter, up from 54,254 in the year ago quarter.

"Our dealers had a solid quarter of retail motorcycle sales,” Wandell said. “Sales in the Asia Pacific region were up strongly, and we are encouraged by the continued growth of new Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales in Europe. We're also excited to be entering the heart of the retail selling season in the U.S., having achieved first-quarter retail growth of 3 percent in the midst of a long, cold winter.”

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MGIC recovers from year ago loss
April 22, 2014 12:00 PM
Milwaukee-based private mortgage insurer MGIC Investment Corp. today reported first quarter net income of $59.9 million, or 15 cents per share, up significantly from a first quarter net loss of $72.9 million, or 31 cents per share, in 2013.

Total revenues were $235 million for the quarter, down from $269.1 million in the same period a year ago.

"I am pleased with the credit performance during the quarter and am encouraged by the level of the new business being written given the significant decline in refinance transactions compared to last year and the slow start in home sales given this winter's harsh conditions," said Curt Culver, chief executive officer and chairman. "I feel the company is in an excellent position to take advantage of the housing recovery."

The loan delinquency percentage was reduced to 7.92 percent, from 10.91 percent in the first quarter of 2013. Net premiums written were $218 million, down from $248.5 million a year ago. Realized net losses were $231,000.

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Wisconsin Lutheran launches second phase of $6.7 million project
April 22, 2014 12:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran High School will break ground on a dramatic expansion on Friday as part of a $6.7 million project aimed at enhancing the school's amenities and better blending its arts programming with other curriculum.

Phase one of the project, just about complete, has renovated parts of the school's interior, including adding air conditioning to 18 classrooms and introducing sound technology to the school's band room.

Phase two is anchored by a new two-story, 29,400-square-foot wing that will provide a designated setting for WLHS's "STEAM" programming – defined by science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

While the Milwaukee-based high school has been offering courses across the arts, with classes in language arts, practical arts, textile arts, fine arts and industrial arts, it is now moving toward more integrated programming. In this way, the school plans to intersect its arts curriculum with its STEM programming so that students receive a well-rounded education, said Pastor Kenneth Fisher, president of WLHS.

"It's connecting left brain and right brain activities in a way that rounds out our students more fully," Fisher said.

For example, the school could integrate engineering classes with textiles arts classes through the use of its 3D printer and computer-aided design software, according to Matt Bilitz, director of mission advancement.

Until now, the school has not had adequate facilities for many of its STEAM offerings, Bilitz said. The current facility is 200,000 square feet.

In addition to outfitting the school with a new entrance, the wing will add music classrooms, a dedicated performance choral room, a student center, and classrooms for family and consumer sciences courses. The wing will also contain designated classroom space for Project Lead The Way, STEM-based programming that Wisconsin Lutheran High School rolled into its offerings close to four years ago.

"Serving our students better is worth investing in the future, and this is a way to serve our current students better and expand our program for the needs of the next-generation students," Fisher said.

Full-scale construction of phase two, led by Catalyst Construction, will begin at the start of June with completion expected in December. The high school hopes to begin using its new wing at the start of the next school year's second semester in January 2015.

Funding for the project has come from several contributors, including individual donors, major foundations, dozens of Lutheran churches that support WLHS's academics, and students and faculty.

WLHS administrators are hopeful that the new wing and STEAM curriculum will also help "attract a wider variety and more international students," Bilitz said.

While two dozen of the WLHS's 762 students are international students, the school is determined to grow that population to at least 70.

WLHS is located at 330 N. Glenview Ave. in Milwaukee.

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