Oberland named Northwestern Mutual president
April 24, 2014 02:00 PM
Gregory Oberland has been named president of Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., taking the responsibility from chairman and chief executive officer John Schlifske.

Schlifske became president when Gary “Skip” Poliner retired from the post in June.

Oberland will be responsible for sales, marketing and agencies. He previously served as executive vice president-products, sales and marketing. Oberland will continue to report to Schlifske.

The move is “intended to strengthen the company’s strategic focus on growing and enhancing its field force and delivering financial security to clients,” Northwestern Mutual said.

“Greg is a respected leader who has done a phenomenal job bringing our planning and sales processes and product strategies together,” Schlifske said. “He also has earlier experience aligning large complex groups in various parts of the organization with company strategy. Now we want to draw from his talent as a corporate leader to build on that and make the connections among agencies, sales and marketing even tighter.”

Oberland joined Northwestern Mutual in 1982 as an attorney and moved to the business side in 1987. He has worked in the disability income insurance, life underwriting, policyowner services and information systems departments. He holds a bachelor’s from the University of Notre Dame and a law degree from Georgetown University.

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Modine to close Illinois plant
April 24, 2014 10:00 AM
Racine-based Modine Manufacturing Co. announced it will close its Ringwood, Ill. manufacturing facility and lay off about 135 full-time employees.

Modine makes thermal management technology and solutions, often for major automotive manufacturers.

The Ringwood plant, which opened in 1961, makes parallel flow and serpentine condensers, oil coolers and radiators for automotive, commercial vehicle, off-highway and building HVAC applications. Its work will be moved to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, Lawrenceburg, Tenn. and Jefferson City, Mo.

The closure will take place over 18 months, and affected employees will receive severance benefits. The Illinois Department of Labor and state and local agencies will offer employment assistance and other services.

Modine expects to incur a $2 million fourth quarter charge as a result of the closure to pay out severance and fixed asset impairment charges. Total closure costs will be $5 million, but annual savings will total at least $5 million when it is completed in fiscal 2016.

“Closing operations is never easy,” said Scott Wollenberg, regional vice president – North America. “However, our analysis of Modine’s global product lines and North American manufacturing strategy led us to conclude that the best long-term solution for Modine and its shareholders is to consolidate all North American parallel flow heat exchanger manufacturing into other North American facilities. Closing the (Ringwood) plant will help us rationalize production, maintain the scale we need in our manufacturing operations and improve our overall competitiveness and profitability. We are committed to making the transition as seamless as possible for our customers and to assisting our affected employees during the transition.”

Modine reported $1.4 billion in fiscal 2013 revenues. It has operations in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

In 2008, the company settled a lawsuit alleging the Ringwood facility contributed, along with Ringwood’s Rohm and Haas Co. plant, to pollution that resulted in cancer cases in nearby McCullom Lake, Ill. The plaintiffs alleged that the Modine and Rohm and Haas caused 22 brain cancer, nerve cancer and pituitary cancer cases in McCullom Lake by polluting the air and groundwater.

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Federal Tool to move to West Bend, expand facility
April 24, 2014 12:00 PM
Federal Tool & Engineering LLC plans to move its Cedarburg operations into a building it owns in West Bend.

The company will add 49,000 square feet to the existing 21,000-square-foot facility at 2150 Stonebridge Road. The project is expected to cost about $2.7 million, said Christian Tscheschlok, executive director of Economic Development Washington County.

"We are thrilled about our company's anticipated move to West Bend. City and county officials have been very cooperative and welcoming," said David Tomczek, president of Federal Tool. "We were drawn to West Bend because of their energetic work force, easy access to Hwy 45, and Moraine Park Technical College's new Jackson Regional Center. We are confident this is a winning decision for our business."

Federal Tool has about 55 employees who will move to the new facility, and it will add an another 10 jobs as a result of the expansion, Tscheschlok said.

"What they've done is outline an opportunity for a project to
consolidate their facilities in West Bend in a property that they already own and then engage in an expansion to support that consolidation," he said. "As a result, we put out a term sheet that describes terms of a revolving loan offer of $200K from Washington County."

Tscheschlok couldn't discuss the specifics of the terms yet because the loan is still under discussion with the company.

The City of West Bend approved Monday plans to match the $200,000 revolving loan, which would be administered and underwritten by the EDWC.

"While there remains work to be done in bringing this important deal to fruition, EDWC is pleased to be partnering with the City of West Bend in offering Federal Tool a competitive package designed to secure this growth opportunity," Tscheschlok said. "Even though this high level of collaboration between city and county may be business as usual here, it is pace setting for the region and state. EDWC is excited that companies are demonstrating through their expansion choices that Washington County is a successful place for doing business."

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Wirtz to distribute Solemn Oath beer
April 24, 2014 10:00 AM
Solemn Oath Brewery will launch its craft beer in Wisconsin through an exclusive partnership with Hartland-based Wirtz Beverage Wisconsin.

With the agreement, it will be the first craft beer brand for the leading wholesale distributor and the first market expansion for the emerging Illinois-based craft brewery. To start, beers will be available in Milwaukee and Madison on draft.

"Wisconsin is our first market outside of Illinois, and there's a reason for that," said John Barley, president of Solemn Oath Brewery. "My brother Joe and I grew up in Wisconsin and our parents still live there, so it's exciting to return with our beer. We love the world-famous heritage of brewing in the state and look forward to working with Wirtz Beverage to add our voice to that conversation."

Wirtz Beverage Wisconsin is a member of Wirtz Beverage Group, one of the country’s leading wholesalers of wine, spirits and beer brands.  Statewide affiliates also include operations in Illinois, Nevada, Minnesota, Missouri and Iowa. Wirtz Beverage Group is a division of Wirtz Corp. whose diversified holdings also include banking, real estate, insurance and the Chicago Blackhawk Hockey Team.  

While its founders hail from Wisconsin, Solemn Oath is based in Naperville, Ill., and began in 2012. The company is driven by a passion for Belgian-inspired and wood-aged beers.

“We’re thrilled to have Solemn Oath as our first craft beer partner,” said Nate Phippen, vice president of sales at Solemn Oath. “They’re a quality beer company through and through and we like that they’re constantly switching things up and challenging themselves to create the very best beers. It’s an important partnership for both of us, so a lot of planning is underway to support the endeavor for the long-term. We think we can add real value to the category and our customers.”

“We’ve experienced great success in craft beer in many of our business units like Illinois, Minnesota and Nevada,” added James Wirtz, Craft Beer Specialist for Wirtz Beverage. “Launching our craft beer platform in Wisconsin is just a natural progression.”

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Mining still dragging on Caterpillar
April 24, 2014 11:45 AM
Caterpillar Inc. today reported first quarter net income of $933 million, or $1.44 per share, up from $880 million, or $1.31 per share, in the first quarter of 2013.

Revenue was $13.2 billion, flat from $13.2 billion in the first quarter of 2013.

The Peoria, Ill.-based company’s world mining division is based in Oak Creek and it operates a production plant in South Milwaukee.

The Resource Industries segment saw a sales decline of 37 percent because of weaker mining equipment demand.

Mining equipment orders continue to lag, and the Resource Industries division will likely have poor sales for the year, but the company remains optimistic about long-term mining prospects.

“Given the business and economic uncertainties around the world and continuing decline in our mining sales, I am pleased with our performance in the first quarter. We understand we don’t control the economy and have instead focused on what we can improve. We’re lowering costs, improving cash flow and driving value for our customers through the continued deployment of our lean manufacturing initiatives. We see the benefits of these actions in our first-quarter results and in improving market position for many of our products,” said Caterpillar chairman and chief executive officer Doug Oberhelman.

“This was a quarter that clearly highlighted the diversity of Caterpillar’s business across industries and regions of the world, and how that diversity continues to help us through the downturn in mining. Both Energy & Transportation and Construction Industries had good results in the first quarter and performed at levels better than we anticipated.”

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Walker named to Time 100
April 24, 2014 10:00 AM
Gov. Scott Walker has been named to the Time’s 2014 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Billed as “The heartland’s Republican hopeful,” his leadership in the face of difficult challenges and public attacks is lauded in a profile by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

“I am certainly humbled by this honor,” Walker said. “But being named to this list is not about me, this is about our bold reforms and what they have accomplished. Together, we turned a $3.6 billion deficit into a nearly $1 billion surplus, cut taxes by $2 billion, and helped the private sector create more than 100,000 jobs and nearly 17,000 new businesses. We are turning things around, and we are moving Wisconsin forward.”

This is the 11th year of the Time 100 list, which includes titans, pioneers, artists, leaders and icons who have made an impact across the globe.

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Morning Headlines: Walker touts low unemployment, surplus in economics forum
April 24, 2014 12:00 PM
Unemployment rates in Wisconsin are lower than they have been in more than five years. But Wisconsin still lags behind Minnesota when it comes to median income and college degrees, and the Great Recession appears to have left its mark on consumer confidence.

Read more in today’s Morning Headlines.

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Bubbler Weekly: UCC to present Friends of the Hispanic Community Awards
April 24, 2014 12:00 PM
The United Community Center will honor a lineup of area leaders who have significantly contributed to the development and well-being of the community during its 44th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, May 2.

Read more in today’s Bubbler Weekly.

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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,,, and

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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