Monday, December 15, 2014
Port of Milwaukee steel shipments rank second highest since 1970
December 15, 2014 09:08 AM
The final shipment of steel for 2014 arrived today in the Port of Milwaukee, bringing the year's total volume of steel shipments to 179,000 metric tons, the second highest annual steel tonnage since 1970, according to port spokesman Jeff Fleming.

Last year, the Port of Milwaukee moved 111,842 metric tons of steel. Its previous high was 200,888 in 2006.

“This year was a particularly good year for steel,” Fleming said, adding that 2014's total steel tonnage was significantly higher than during the recession. 

For example, steel shipments dipped to its lowest point in 2011, with 60,975 metric tons.

“The volume of steel we handle is affected by several factors, and one positive factor is the strength of manufacturing in this region,” Fleming said. “Manufacturers use steel, and when volumes are up at the Port of Milwaukee it usually correlates with strong manufacturing output.”

Besides the regional economic conditions, the factors affecting steel volumes are global economic conditions, reliability, efficiency of delivering steel through the St. Lawrence Seaway, and cost-effective port operations.

Fleming is optimistic that steel will continue to be a strong commodity moving through the Port of Milwaukee in 2015.

Although steel is on the rise, he said the port’s biggest commodity is salt, with over one million tons of salt moved this year. Salt is always a steady commodity due to Wisconsin’s snowy winters. Some other commodities moved through the port are limestone used in scrubbers at coal-fired power plants, grain and cement.

Additionally, Fleming said the port can handle a variety of other cargoes, including a mining shovel being shipped to Africa and an oversized piece of deep sea oil drilling equipment headed to the Gulf of Mexico.

Overall, the St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date cargo shipments of 35 million metric tons moved through the system for the period of March 28 to November 30. Total cargo volume is up 5 percent due predominantly to formidable tonnage of steel, salt and grain shipments.

“Steel, salt and grain tonnage numbers registered double-digit increases (80 percent, 48 percent and 44 percent, respectively) over last year’s performance,” said Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation administrator Betty Sutton. “Solid cargo improvement, continued infrastructure investments and start-up of the first foreign liner service to a U.S. Great Lakes port in two decades (Spliethoff’s Cleveland Europe Express) are just three highlights in a season that has us optimistic about our system’s future.”
The St. Lawrence Seaway will close for the season later this month, and today's ship, the Federal Mattawa, is the final one to bring overseas cargo into the Port of Milwaukee.
One additional ocean-going ship, the bulk carrier named Three Rivers, is expected to depart the Port of Milwaukee later this week with a load of exported soybeans headed for Turkey. Ships traveling between ports on the Great Lakes will continue to call on the Port of Milwaukee into the coming months.

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Retired A.O. Smith CEO joins Rexnord board of directors
December 15, 2014 08:56 AM
Paul Jones, retired chairman, chief executive officer and president of Milwaukee-based A.O. Smith Corp., joined Milwaukee-based Rexnord Corp.'s board of directors on Dec. 10. Jones will also serve on the Compensation Committee and the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of the Board.

“We are very pleased to have Paul join our board,” said George Sherman, Rexnord’s non-executive chairman. “He is an exceptional leader who brings broad global experience and strategic insight, as well as an outstanding track record of performance. I am confident that Paul’s knowledge and experience will assist the board and the Rexnord management team in executing Rexnord’s long-term growth plans and driving shareholder value.”

Prior to joining A.O. Smith in 2004, Jones served as chairman and chief executive officer of U.S. Can Company Inc., a leading provider of containers for personal care, household, paint and industrial products, from 1998 to 2002. Additionally, he held various roles, including president and chief executive officer, at Greenfield Industries Inc., a manufacturer of cutting tools and other material removal products, from 1989 to 1998.

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SC Johnson receives World Environment Center sustainability award
December 15, 2014 09:24 AM
Racine-based SC Johnson has been awarded the 31st Annual Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development from the World Environment Center. This is the second time that the company has been awarded WEC's Gold Medal, having previously received it in 1994.

The award is in recognition of its comprehensive, company-wide focus on sustainability and transparency initiatives, as well as its Greenlist ingredient management process that focuses on improving product ingredients.

SC Johnson will accept the Gold Medal Award on May 14 during the Gold Medal Presentation Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“The company has demonstrated continuous improvement over its long history, and has gone above and beyond expected corporate commitments with programs that integrate sustainability into the core of its business values and implementation,” said Gold Medal Jury chair Kathy Sierra.

SC Johnson chairman and chief executive officer Fisk Johnson said, "We are extremely proud to accept this Gold Medal Award. At SC Johnson, we have long believed that sustainability and helping consumers make the best product choices go hand-in-hand. It is especially rewarding to be recognized for our Greenlist process. In addition to driving ongoing product improvements, it has fueled a far-reaching ingredient disclosure effort. These transparency initiatives are fundamental for the company and help us earn the trust of families buying our products."

The World Environment Center's Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development was established in 1985 to recognize significant industry initiatives in global environmental excellence and sustainable development. Recent recipients of the WEC Gold Medal Award are Volkswagen (2014), Unilever (2013), IBM (2012), Nestle (2011), Wal-Mart (2010), The Coca-Cola Company (2009) and Marks & Spencer (2008).

The Gold Medal Jury is independent of WEC and its programs, and is composed of international leaders from academia, government, non-governmental organizations and retired industry professionals.

In other SC Johnson news, Johnson spoke on the future of consumer trust at the 2014 Consumer Specialty Products Association annual meeting on Dec. 10 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"Simply, the science on chemical safety is very complex and therefore easily misinterpreted and distorted. If we want to earn trust and credibility, we have to lay it all out there for scrutiny, address genuine safety concerns and uphold high standards," Johnson said.

Among the company’s transparency initiatives are providing product-specific fragrance ingredient information, publishing details from its day-to-day restricted use list in its 2014 sustainability report, and launching

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WCTC reaches $4.5 million fundraising goal for Integrated Manufacturing Center
December 15, 2014 09:28 AM
Waukesha County Technical College and the WCTC Foundation announced on Dec. 10 that they have reached their fundraising goal to build a new $4.5 million Integrated Manufacturing Center at the college’s Pewaukee Campus.

The college plans to break ground for the project in April 2015.

“We are thrilled to have reached this goal in order to provide our students and Waukesha County employers with this advanced facility to produce skilled workers in our region,” said WCTC interim president Kaylen Betzig. “We are especially grateful to the Waukesha County Business Alliance and its Manufacturing Executive Council for their efforts on behalf of this campaign.”

After the WCTC Foundation’s IMC campaign began in spring 2014, WCTC announced in late August a $1 million pledge from an anonymous donor toward the WCTC Foundation’s fundraising campaign for the IMC. The pledge was made with the caveat that the college secured an additional $2 million in private funds for the project. The college plans to spend $1.5 million on the project–in accordance with the state’s limit on capital spending.

WCTC and the WCTC Foundation missed three previous fundraising deadlines in the fall and later announced in late October that they would continue fundraising while moving ahead with their building plans. They had hoped to secure the additional funds by January in order to keep the college’s overall master facilities plan on target. If the funds were not raised by then, the project may have been delayed, to break ground in the fall of 2015.  

“Now that the $2 million has been realized, the WCTC Foundation will receive the anonymous challenge gift of $1 million,” said WCTC Foundation president Ellen Phillips. “The WCTC Foundation is grateful for the overwhelming support of area manufacturers, businesses and individuals who stepped up to make this happen for our students.”

The 24,000-square-foot center will be connected to the college’s existing Industrial Building and will be home to several programs within the School of Applied Technologies. The building will include two Automated Systems Technology (AST) labs and an AST classroom, an integrated manufacturing and engineering lab, industrial maintenance technician lab, two electronics labs, an electronics fabrication lab, a technology lab, an engineering lecture hall, two engineering classrooms and two conference rooms.

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GPS Education Partners celebrates ribbon cutting at Milwaukee center
December 15, 2014 09:35 AM
GPS Education Partners held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 11 to mark the opening of its Central Milwaukee Education Center located at Capitol Stampings Corp. in Milwaukee.

The Butler-based nonprofit organization offers high school juniors and seniors a nontraditional education path that prepares them for manufacturing and technical careers through both classroom instruction and industry experience. Students attend academic classes at area manufacturing companies and spend a portion of each day working under mentors in a manufacturing setting. Each student typically has an opportunity to rotate among GPS’ business partners to gain exposure to a diversity of career options.

The Central Milwaukee Education Center, housed right at Capitol Stampings Corp.’s workspace, has been in operation since September. The program launched with a cohort of nine students, mostly juniors, who are associated with NOVA Tech, a Milwaukee Public Schools charter school that also opened in September. The school, located at 2433 W. Roosevelt Drive, is overseen by Milwaukee’s TransCenter for Youth Inc.  

According to Andy Hepburn, program director at GPS Education Partners, the nonprofit sought a business site that would geographically complement NOVA Tech so that its students could explore manufacturing and technical trades. No other GPS center exists in the area.

Capitol Stampings Corp. is located at 2700 W. North Ave.

The Central Milwaukee Education Center’s inaugural cohort will continue their studies next year and will be joined by a second cohort of high school students.

GPS Education Partners now operates 16 sites across Wisconsin and serves more than 200 students.

Hepburn said the organization feels there are more opportunities to plant additional centers in the greater Milwaukee region, particularly in cities like Racine and Kenosha. However, no specific plans are in the works, he said.

“We’re always looking for new opportunities,” he said.

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Briggs & Stratton, Generac Holdings are Newsmakers of the Year
December 15, 2014 09:47 AM
Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. and Waukesha-based Generac Holdings Inc. were named the 2014 Newsmakers of the Year by Diesel Progress North American magazine. It is the first time in the 18-year history of the magazine’s award to have a tie.

The Diesel Progress North American Newsmaker of the Year is awarded annually to the company, product, person, technology, trend or market that made the most news in the last 12 months in the off-highway, on-highway, stationary and marine engine-powered equipment markets.

A late flurry of acquisitions and engine news from both companies caused the editorial board of Diesel Progress to call it a tie for 2014.

Briggs & Stratton, a producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment, developed new innovations and acquired Holdrege, Neb.-based Allmand Bros. Inc. this year. Generac, a leading designer and manufacturer of a wide range of generators and other engine-powered products, in 2014 acquired Bismarck, N.D.-based MAC Inc. and released several new products.

“While both companies are long established, and very well-known names in the engine and engine-powered equipment markets, there really was a sense in 2014 that these are two companies coming of age,” said Mike Osenga, publisher of Diesel Progress North American. “Both companies are making aggressive moves, going into new and different product and market segments, while at the same protecting their core businesses.”

Cummins Inc. of Columbus, Ind., was the 2013 Newsmaker of the Year. Other previous recipients include Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc., Lisle, Ill.-based Navistar Inc., and Oshkosh-based Oshkosh Corp.

Diesel Progress North American, a publication of Waukesha-based Diesel & Gas Turbine Publications, covers the manufacturers of engine-powered equipment outside of the automotive world.

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New Berlin distributor introduces new nesting product
December 15, 2014 09:40 AM
Logopress Corp. of Besancon, France and its North American distributor and technical center Accurate Die Design Inc. of New Berlin has released a new product intended for a variety of industries, including textile, plastics and food.

Called Logopress3 NESTING, it nests multi-body part files or individual part files according to the options that the user sets. Nesting involves laying out cutting patterns to minimize the raw material waste.

Die designers, for example, can use Logopress3 NESTING when building wire electric discharge machining burn blocks or for nesting various shaped sharpening shims for under die inserts.

The product can also be used in applications pertaining to sheet metal, cloth, adhesives, leather and packaging.

Logopress3 is currently used in over 30 countries.

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Johnson Controls forges academic partnership for energy storage research
December 15, 2014 09:51 AM
Renewable energy expert Deyang Qu has been named as the Johnson Controls endowed professor in energy storage research, a collaborative appointment between the company, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's College of Engineering.

He will begin his new duties in Milwaukee on Jan. 15.

"I am honored by this appointment and look forward to helping lead joint projects that will get ideas and concepts about storing energy out of labs and into products," said Qu. "This will also provide a unique opportunity for students to gain early exposure to the real-world of industrial engineering and my focus will be on developing student curricula to build the skill sets needed for advanced technology industries."

The appointment, based at UWM’s College of Engineering & Applied Science and affiliated with WEI, is part of a collaboration among Johnson Controls, the world's leading supplier of automotive batteries, and two of the state's largest public research universities. The industry-academic partnership aims to advance research, development and commercialization of energy storage technologies.

Qu, a faculty member in the chemistry department, at the University of Massachusetts Boston since 2005, will be responsible for providing long-term strategic coordination between the universities and the clean energy industry's needs in matters of curricula, sponsored research and the talent pipeline development.

"With his history of academic excellence and industry experience, we are fortunate to have Dr. Qu join the universities and Johnson Controls," said MaryAnn Wright, vice president engineering and product development, Johnson Controls Power Solutions. "He will take the lead for the applied research and development projects we already have in place, execute new technology development projects and will continue to mature the skill sets needed to foster future employees to ensure we meet our goal of groundbreaking discoveries in energy storage technologies."

In addition to the endowed professorship, Johnson Controls' multi-million dollar investment in research already has produced two joint laboratories at UWM's College of Engineering & Applied Science, where faculty, students and the company's scientists work side-by-side. One of the labs is a state-of-the-art "dry pilot manufacturing" lab, the only one of its kind on a university campus in North America, which enables work on the next generation of Lithium-ion batteries.

"This endowed professorship is a model of success for our students as they build expertise and skills that immediately transfer to the needs of future-focused companies like Johnson Controls," said Mark Mone, UWM interim chancellor. "I'm grateful to Johnson Controls for strengthening our deep working relations with this appointment. Our regional and state economies benefit greatly from joint efforts such as this. I am pleased by the naming of Deyang Qu as endowed professor and the resulting growth in collaboration."

The company also has funded and installed the Johnson Controls Energy Storage Research Lab, housed in the Wisconsin Energy Institute at UW-Madison, to test, evaluate and optimize how battery systems perform and interact with a vehicle's powertrain and electrical architecture.

"Professor Qu is a wonderful addition to the University of Wisconsin as the Johnson Controls chair. His research has encompassed broad engineering interests, including the development of high performance energy storage systems for emerging electric vehicle technologies and for fundamental material and electrochemistry research," said Michael Corradini, the Wisconsin distinguished professor of engineering physics at UW-Madison and WEI director. "He will be a great addition to the Wisconsin Energy Institute and collaborator in the Center for Renewable Energy Systems."

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Molinaroli violated Johnson Controls ethics policy, board says
December 15, 2014 10:00 AM
Alex Molinaroli, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc., failed to comply with the company's ethics policy when he engaged in a relationship with a consultant for the global multi-industrial firm, according to a proxy statement the company filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Dec. 9.

The executive committee hired an independent outside counsel to advise it on Molinaroli’s relationship with Kristin Ihle and its impact on the firm. The findings indicated no misuse of corporate assets and that the assignments and compensation awarded to Ihle’s firm, Lichter & Ihle, had not been improperly influenced by Molinaroli.

But the analysis did find Molinaroli violated the Johnson Controls ethics policy, which required he alert the audit committee in a timely manner of a situation that could be perceived to raise issues of conflict of interest, the proxy statement said.

“As a result, the compensation committee exercised discretion to reduce Mr. Molinaroli’s fiscal year 2014 Annual Incentive Performance Program payment by 20 percent,” the statement said.

In fiscal 2014, which ended Sept. 30, Molinaroli received total compensation of $19.5 million. Of that $19.5 million, about $3.9 million was attributed to the Annual Incentive Performance Plan.

The board also terminated Lichter & Ihle in September and its projects already in process will be completed by January 31, 2015.

“The board concluded, in the exercise of its business judgment, that no further action be taken in respect of this matter. It also expressed its confidence in Mr. Molinaroli’s leadership of the Company as its CEO, which it also deemed to be in the best interests of the shareholders,” the statement said.

The report also indicates Molinaroli received a 40 percent base salary increase in October 2013 associated with his promotion to president and CEO, and will be getting a significant raise over the next two years.

“Consistent with our philosophy, we plan to increase Mr. Molinaroli’s total direct compensation (consisting of base salary, annual incentives, and long-term incentives) significantly over the next two years to align his compensation with competitive market data and then normalize thereafter,” it says.

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New building planned in Mukwonago for Gearbox Express
December 15, 2014 10:03 AM
Gearbox Express, a Mukwonago-based business that rebuilds gearboxes for wind turbines, plans to move to a 75,000-square-foot industrial building that will be built southwest of Highway 83 and East Wolf Run in the village.

The building will be built by Madison-based Sara Investment Real Estate and will be leased by Gearbox Express.

Gearbox Express currently occupies a 43,000-square-foot building at 909 Perkins Dr. in Mukwonago. The company was started in 2012.

“We’re growing like crazy,” said chief executive officer Bruce Neumiller. The company currently has 19 employees and plans to add another 8 to 10 in employees within the next year, he said.

Construction of the new building is expected to begin soon and be completed in nine to 12 months, Neumiller said.

The Gearbox Express building will be built on a 10-acre site in a 45-acre industrial park that is being created near I-43 in Mukwonago.

“We have a lot of interest in that area,” said village planner Bruce Kaniewski. “We are in an advantageous position. We have the land. We’re right along the interstate.”

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Economic Trends Breakfast to offer 2015 outlook
December 15, 2014 10:06 AM
BizTimes Media LLC will host the annual Northern Trust Economic Trends Breakfast on Thursday, Jan. 29, at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward.

The 2015 conference will provide business leaders with a sneak peek of the year ahead in business. Panelists will provide insights about the emerging trends in manufacturing, business technology, logistics, biomedical advancements, the housing market and more.

The featured panelists will include:

* Michael Knetter, Ph.D., an economist and president of the University of Wisconsin Foundation. Knetter serves as a research associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research. He serves as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund. He previously served as an associate dean of the MBA program and professor of international economics in the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. He also served as a senior staff economist for the Council of Economic Advisors for former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Knetter will provide his annual macro-economic outlook for the year ahead.
* Tina Chang, chief executive officer of SysLogic Inc., Brookfield. Chang will speak about the emerging trends in information technology for businesses.
* Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. Still will provide an update about Wisconsin’s growing biomed economy and trends among start-up businesses in the state.
* Keith Rozolis, president of ABC Supply Co. Inc., Beloit. Rozolis will speak about what lies ahead in the housing market and the latest trends in logistics.
* Todd Teske, chief executive officer of Briggs & Stratton Corp., Wauwatosa. Teske will discuss the emerging trends in manufacturing, including automation and robotics, as well as some of the prevailing retail trends.

The 2015 Northern Trust Economic Trends Breakfast will be followed by breakout sessions for business leaders. To register to attend the 2015 Northern Trust Economic Trends Breakfast to be presented by BizTimes Media, visit

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Best Practices: The 'factory' upstairs is draining your productivity
December 15, 2014 10:13 AM
When most executives think of an industrial company, they picture a highly disciplined factory under constant scrutiny for any evidence of inefficiency. Let’s call this the “downstairs factory.”

It rarely occurs to anyone that there could be similar “upstairs factories” in the same company -- in non-factory departments like finance, marketing and sales.

Read more.

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Hilary Dickinson This exclusive news bulletin is compiled by BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Hilary Dickinson. This bulletin is published every Monday morning. Send manufacturing industry news and tips to or call her at (414) 336-7123.

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