Report says Bucks plan to buy Journal Sentinel buildings for new arena
October 30, 2014 09:24 PM
Milwaukee Bucks new co-owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry are in negotiations to purchase the Journal Communications Inc. buildings with the intention of building a new arena on the downtown block of land known as Journal Square, according to a report by, a media partner of BizTimes.
The new report cited several sources within the Milwaukee Department of City Development and the local commercial real estate community.
The deal is not complete, but sources familiar with the negotiations said the Bucks ownership group has architectural renderings of an arena that fits within the Journal Square at 333 W. State St., a site that sits between Third and Fourth streets to the east and west, and State Street and Kilbourn Avenue from the north to south.
A source indicated this is the ownership group's preferred location for a new arena.
At this week’s announcement of the Bucks' move of its business offices to Schlitz Park, Lasry said he knows the preferred site of the new arena, but will not announce it for another 30 to 60 days.
The historic building at 333 W. State, built in 1924, still houses the staff of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which would need a new work space. The former Sentinel building at 918 N. 4th St. is vacant. The paper's printing facilities are in West Milwaukee.
In July, it was announced that Journal Communications is merging with the E.W. Scripps Co., based in Cincinnati. With the proposed merger, which is expected to close sometime in 2015, the broadcast and print properties would be separated, with the Journal Sentinel becoming the flagship paper of the new print company.
Substantial portions of the Journal Sentinel campus, including the former press room, have been vacant for years.
As for the Journal Square site, city and real estate sources say one version of arena layout includes setting the arena bowl below street level, similar to some of the arena concepts for the Sacramento Kings.
For the complete report, visit

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New York-based real estate investor submitted winning bid for Shops of Grand Avenue
October 30, 2014 04:49 PM
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based real estate investor Alexander Levin submitted the winning $16.5 million bid in an online auction last week to purchase the Shops of Grand Avenue mall in downtown Milwaukee, according to a source.

Levin invests in distressed retail real estate, according to the source.

For example, he purchased the West Volusia Towne Centre in Orange City, W.V.  for $12 million in 2012. He bought the 159,886-square-foot shopping center for half of what it cost to develop in 2007. U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo foreclosed on West Volusia Towne Centre in 2010.

The value of the Shops of Grand Avenue, built in 1982, has fallen dramatically over the years as the mall has struggled with high amounts of vacant retail space. An investment group formed by New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. bought the property in 2005 for $31.7 million. In 2012 it was sold in a foreclosure auction for $8.5 million to a subsidiary of the mall's lender, a group of Bank of America investors.

The mall was offered for sale last week on with a starting bid of $4.75 million.

The property that is being sold is a four-building complex at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. with 298,109 square feet of space, and an adjacent 1,748-space parking structure. The auction did not include the Boston Store building at 331 W. Wisconsin Ave., which is separately owned by Wispark LLC.

For Levin’s $16.5 million winning bid for The Shops of Grand Avenue there is an additional 5 percent buyer’s premium and other pro-rations that will boost the total cost of the transaction to $18 million, according to another source.

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U.S. economy extends strong growth
October 30, 2014 12:20 PM
The U.S. economy grew at a solid annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter, propelled by significant gains in business investments, exports and military spending.

The third quarter result followed a 4.6 percent rebound in the second quarter, the U.S. Commerce Department reported. The economy shrank at a 2.1 percent rate in the first three months of the year due to a harsh winter.

Analysts believe the economy is maintaining momentum in the fourth quarter, with a huge dip in gasoline prices expected to bolster consumer spending. Many economists say the economy is poised to achieve consistently stronger growth for the rest of this year and all of 2015.

“U.S. economic activity is strong. While some investors fret that falling oil prices could dent the energy boom, lower pump prices will be a stronger tailwind for households,” Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of BMO Private Bank, told BizTimes this morning.
"The economy does appear to be accelerating of late," said Dan Greenhaus, an analyst with investment firm BTIG, told The Associated Press. He added that the GDP report showed an economy "on a sounder footing today than at any time over the last few years."

Many economists think full-year growth for 2015 will hit 3 percent, giving the economy the best annual performance since 2005, two years before the Great Recession began.

For the third quarter, consumer spending grew at a 1.8 percent annual rate. Consumer spending contributed 1.2 percentage points to growth in the third quarter. Another major contribution came from an 11-percent rise in export sales, far outpacing imports, which fell at a 1.7 rate.

Federal defense spending shot up at a 16 percent rate, the fastest advance since a 17.4 percent gain in the second quarter of 2009.
Business spending on equipment grew at a 7.2 percent rate in the third quarter, and residential construction grew 1.8 percent.

Much of the optimism for the economy going forward stems from the strength of job growth, which has lowered the national unemployment rate to a six-year low of 5.9 percent. In September, the economy added 248,000 jobs.

The additional workers should translate into more income and consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

The Federal Reserve decided Wednesday to end its quantitative easing stimulus program after six years of pumping money into the U.S. economy via asset purchases to shore up growth. Over the past six years, the Fed has pumped more than $3 trillion into the economy through bond purchases designed to keep long-term rates low.

Today’s GDP report prompted the Dow Jones Industrial Average to climb another 140 points today. The blue chip indicators now comfortably back above the 17,000 mark. The largest local gainers this morning were Wisconsin Energy Corp. (up $1.04 to $49.33) and Strattec Security Corp. (up 88 cents to $103.50).

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BizTimes announces Fittest Execs finalists
October 30, 2014 12:24 PM
BizTimes Media has announced the finalists in its 2014 Fittest Execs competition.

They are:

FEMALE 25 - 39
  • Jessica Connors, Executive Director of Operations, Core Health Group
  • Heather Mangold, President, Mangold Creative
  • Andrea Tarrell, Director of Marketing, HNI
FEMALE 40 - 49
  •    Maureen Arndt, Vice President of Operations, The Starr Group
  • Dominique Beaudin, Director of Technology, HNI
  • Susie Falk, President, The Falk Group
  • Patricia Metropulos, Executive Director & CEO, Kathy's House
  • Patti Schauer, VP- Finance/HR, Core Creative, Inc.
  •    Wendy Brucker, Administrative Manager, KHS USA, Inc.
  • Kim Deandrea, Director - Personal Insurance, David Insurance Agency
  • Bette Hanel, Executive Director, Laurel Oaks
  • Mary Starr, Executive Vice President, The Starr Group
  • Lori Zindl, President, OS Inc.
MALE 25 - 39
  • Matt Bilitz, Director of Mission Advancement, Wisconsin Lutheran High School
  • Mike Mangold, Lion Tamer, Mangold Creative
  • Matt Shumlas, Director, Sales & Account Mgmt, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Kyle Smith, Owner, Heaven & Earth Acupuncture
  • Cameron Yazdani, Director, Schenck SC
MALE 40 - 49
  • Tom Bruseth, President, Warehouse Equipment
  • Michael Lovell, President, Marquette University
  • Mike Sekula, Vice President Supply Chain Management, Inpro
  • Jeff Weis, Managing Partner, Masters Building Solutions
  • David Woida, Senior VP/ Managing Director, NorthMarq Capital
MALE 50+

  • Christopher Gorenc, President, Converted Products, Inc.
  • Mike Kwiatkowski, Vice President, PNC Bank
  • Glen Ringwall, Co Founder, Ringwall Manion Group UBS Private Wealth
  • Ron Stokes, C.O.O., Roaring Fork Restaurant Group
  • Joe Swanson, SVP of Operations, Regal Ware, Inc.
  • BDO USA LLP    
   Kevin Dallman, Jenna Hirschboeck, Lori Langholz, Chris Mueller    
  •    Hanson Dodge Creative    
   Tony Maurer, Ilya Slootsky, Mike Stefaniak, Sarah Van Elzen    
  •    Healics, Inc.    
   Nicole Isler, Michael Naparalla, Patti Plough, Pam Punak    
  •    Schenck SC    
   Tyler Carlson, Kathy Lakritz, Terri Lillesand, Cameron Yazdani    
  •    The Starr Group    
   Maureen Arndt, Brendt Johannsen, Mary Starr, Nick Starr
The annual Fittest Execs initiative works to promote health and wellness in the workplace, starting at the executive level. The competitors were evaluated on biometric screenings and fitness tests eight weeks apart to compare scores and determine the most improved and best overall test-out scores.

The winners will be announced at an awards presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 18, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Wisconsin Athletic Club, N91W15700 Falls Parkway in Menomonee Falls. The event will include networking with local business leaders, information about health and wellness trends, a “plank-off” competition and a cocktail reception. The public is welcome to attend.

For more information or to register, visit

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Global Precision moves to Menomonee Falls, plans to double workforce
October 30, 2014 12:30 PM
Global Precision Industries Inc. has moved from a 1,500-square-foot space in Germantown to a 7,000-square-foot facility in Menomonee Falls.

The company was previously located in office space at W175 N11081 Stonewood Drive, Suite 207, in Germantown, and has moved to W14665 Whittaker Way in Menomonee Falls, which has more warehouse room for its expanding prototyping operations.

The engineering project management, logistics and production expertise provider, which currently has six employees, plans to expand to 15 to 20 employees by the end of 2015. It will now offer rapid prototyping, product design, testing, product qualification and product launch.

Global Precision has experienced revenue growth of 30-70 percent over each of the past four years, said Ron Pence, chief marketing officer. The growth is driven by repeat business from existing clients, expanding capabilities in the area of product design and the expansion of its production and manufacturing capabilities.

Global Precision also has an office in Ningbo, China, to service growth in the business and act as an in-country platform for U.S. opportunities. The company is on track to earn $4 million in revenue this year.

The company is adding additional prototyping machines and also has plans to acquire another company in the next couple of months, Pence said.

“This expansion recognizes the value of our business model to right shore projects that meet specifications, timelines and cost constraints,” said Gale Pence, founder and CEO. “Right shoring allows us to produce at the optimal point around the globe (including the U.S.), while maintaining full control from design through delivery and qualification.”

Gale Pence received a BizTimes Bravo! Entrepreneur Award in May.

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Spectrum Resources plans move to new Muskego building
October 30, 2014 12:32 PM
New Berlin-based Spectrum Resources Inc. plans to move from New Berlin to a new building that it plans to build in Muskego.

The company plans to build a 60,000-square-foot multi-tenant industrial building in Moorland Commerce Center West, which is located southwest of College Avenue and Moorland Road, north of GE Healthcare distribution center in Muskego. The building will be constructed on a two-ace site that is currently occupied by three houses.

Spectrum Resources, a printing solutions provider that also offers warehouse and distribution services, will occupy about 27,000 square feet of space in the building. The firm currently occupies about 16,000 squarse feet of space at 2800 S. 166th St. in New Berlin, said company president Larry Surges.

The rest of the space in the Muskego building will be leased to other tenants. The firm is in talks with a tenant that would lease 25,000 square feet and another tenant that would lease 8,000 square feet, Surges said. He declined to name those firms.

Spectrum Resources currently has 18 employees and plans to add 6 more next year to its sales force and for its warehouse services operation, Surges said.

Brookfield-based Briohn Building Corp. will design and build the building for Spectrum Resources.

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Luxury apartment development planned in Wauwatosa
October 30, 2014 12:33 PM
A pair of Georgia-based developers plan to build a 236 unit luxury apartment building on the site of the Hall Automotive service center at 11011 W. North Ave. in Wauwatosa, according to plans submitted to the city.

The site is located on the south side of North Avenue about a half-mile southwest of Mayfair Mall.

Atlanta-based Atlantic Realty Partners Inc. and Sandy Springs, Ga.-based Campbell Capital Group LLC are the developers for the project. The firms are working on several projects in the Milwaukee area. They are planning a 194 unit luxury apartment project in the Bishop’s Woods office park in Brookfield and Atlantic Realty Partners earlier this year bought the former Gallun tannery site in Milwaukee, where it plans to build a multi-building apartment development.

The Wauwatosa project, called The Reserve at Mayfair, will consist of a four-story building wrapped around a parking structure. Amenities will include a swimming pool, fitness center and private courtyards.

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Journal Communications earnings up on political ads
October 30, 2014 12:35 PM
Milwaukee-based Journal Communications Inc. today announced third quarter net earnings of $7 million, or 14 cents per share, up from $4.6 million, or 9 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

Total revenue was $105.1 million, up from $97 million in the same period a year ago.

The communications company, which is in the process of merging its broadcast division with The E.W. Scripps Co. and spinning of its newspaper division, achieved the quarterly gains primarily through television retransmission revenue and a frenzy of political and issue advertising leading up to the Nov. 4 election.

The Publishing division reported revenue of $35.7 million, down from $37.7 million in the third quarter of 2013.

“Our focused broadcast sales efforts grew both television and radio revenue, excluding retransmission and political, by approximately 3 percent and drove television and radio digital revenue up 22 percent and 31 percent, respectively,” said Steven Smith, chairman and CEO. “Publishing experienced a soft quarter due to lower retail and classified spending and circulation volume declines. A publishing expense reduction initiative in the fourth quarter will create a lower expense base in the business going forward.”

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Johnson Controls fourth quarter, annual earnings up
October 30, 2014 12:36 PM
Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. today reported fourth quarter fiscal 2014 net income of $346 million, or 46 cents per share, up from $139 million, or 15 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Net sales were $10.9 billion, up from $10.7 billion in the same period a year ago.

Building Efficiency segment sales were up 1 percent, Automotive Experience division sales were up 3 percent, and Power Solutions segment sales were up five percent in the fourth quarter.

"We ended fiscal 2014 with solid contributions from all of our primary businesses, continuing the strong performance we have seen throughout the year," said Alex Molinaroli, chairman and chief executive officer. "While the macro-economic environment continues to be challenging in some key markets, each of our businesses generated top line growth in the fourth quarter. Importantly, Building Efficiency orders were higher for the first time in a year. During the quarter, we announced a number of organizational and management changes that we believe will drive further improvements in shareholder value in 2015 and beyond.”

The global multi-industrial firm reported full year net income of $1.3 billion, flat from 2013.

Net sales for 2014 were $42.8 billion, up from $41.4 billion in 2013.

During fiscal 2014, the company repurchased $1.2 billion of shares, acquired ADT, sold the Automotive Electronics business, created a joint venture with Hitachi and announced plans for an Automotive Interiors joint venture, reorganized the Building Efficiency business and announced plans to sell Global Workplace Solutions.

"We began 2014 with a focus on execution and with an action plan to change our portfolio and our organization,” Molinaroli said. “Our earnings performance throughout the year proves our success in driving operational excellence throughout the company, and our progress around portfolio and the organizational changes in just one year exceeded our expectations. We believe initiatives to improve the profitability of our businesses continue to gain momentum. Our 2014 results provide a foundation that we believe will position us to deliver record sales and earnings in 2015." 

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Modine earnings down on restructuring costs, mixed sales results
October 30, 2014 12:38 PM
Racine-based Modine Manufacturing Co. today reported fiscal 2015 second quarter net earnings of $2 million, or 4 cents per share, down from 5 million, or 10 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2014.

Net sales were $377.3 million, up 4 percent from $364.2 million in the same period a year ago.

The company, which manufactures thermal management systems and components, attributed the earnings decline to a mix of lower margin product and plant inefficiencies. It incurred $1 million in restructuring expenses during the quarter.

South America segment sales were down 14 percent, due to lower sales and weak economic conditions in Brazil. North America segment sales were down 2 percent, while Europe segment sales were up 5 percent, Asia segment sales were up 17 percent and Building HVAC segment sales were up 31 percent.

“Sales continue to show year-over-year increases despite mixed market conditions,” said Thomas Burke, president and CEO. “However, our earnings during the quarter were negatively impacted by sales mix and inefficiencies related to plant consolidations and volume shifts.”

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Roadrunner revenue up 37%
October 30, 2014 12:39 PM
Cudahy-based Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc. reported third quarter net income of $14.4 million, or 37 cents per share, up from $13.2 million, or35 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2013.

Revenues totaled $498.1 million, up 37.2 percent from $363.2 million in the same period a year ago.

The trucking firm made $1.9 million in acquisitions during the quarter. Its Truckload Logistics segment revenue increased 54.5 percent, its less-than-truckload segment revenue was up 4.8 percent, and its transportation management solutions segment revenue increased 71.3 percent year-over-year.

“Our third quarter 2014 results were impacted by unusually large acquisition transaction expenses primarily related to our Active Aero acquisition, as well as certain settlement and employee transition costs,” said Mark DiBlasi, president and CEO. “These costs were substantially offset, on an after-tax basis, by net contingent earnout adjustments of $3.3 million related to prior acquisitions within our TL segment, which also reduced our effective tax rate from 38.7 percent for the third quarter of 2013 to 32.8 percent for the third quarter of 2014. Overall, organic and acquisition growth led to a 37.2 percent increase in third quarter 2014 revenues and a 14.1 percent improvement in EBITDA over the prior year quarter.”

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Jacobson champions integrity among young workforce
October 30, 2014 12:40 PM
When asked for career advice, Catherine Jacobson, CEO of Froedtert Health, first and foremost recommends integrity.

“Always do what’s right. Sometime in your career, you will be challenged. It will come back to bite you if you take that easier route, so keep your integrity,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson was one of 10 local business leaders who each shared five tips with millennials at the recent 2014 BizTimes Get Smarter Talent Development Conference. A video of one leader’s speech will be released each day.

View a video of Jacobson’s comments here.

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Milwaukee Biz Blog: Proof that Wisconsin admires its teachers
October 30, 2014 12:42 PM
Teachers of Wisconsin: lift up your heads and be proud. A recent survey shows your reputations are secure and you are highly respected.

Read more in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog by Richard Pieper Sr. of PPC Partners Inc. in Milwaukee.

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Health Care Weekly: QuadMed, WPS partner to launch innovative health care option
October 30, 2014 12:43 PM
Sussex-based QuadMed and Madison-based WPS Health Insurance announced today the launch of Intellicare, a combined solution to help businesses improve their employees’ access to high-quality, cost-effective health care focused on positive outcomes.

Read more in the new Health Care Weekly.

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Morning Headlines: Downtown Madison housing boom shows few signs of slowing
October 30, 2014 12:44 PM
The downtown Madison apartment boom is in full swing, with hundreds of new units constructed each year. A question remains: When will the market hit saturation?

Read more in today’s Wisconsin Morning Headlines.

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