Southeastern Wisconsin financial service industry news
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Briggs & Stratton completes acquisition of Allmand Bros.
September 2, 2014 09:59 AM
Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. has completed its acquisition of Holdrege, Neb.-based Allmand Bros Inc. for about $62 million in cash for all outstanding shares, net of acquired cash. Briggs & Stratton financed the transaction from cash on hand.

"This acquisition helps us to further our strategic initiative of focusing on attractive higher margin, commercial end use products," said Todd Teske, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Briggs & Stratton, when the acquisition was announced. "The acquisition of Allmand augments our higher margin commercial product portfolio, expands our market access to include the rental channel, and helps diversify our business into industry segments that we do not meaningfully participate in today. In addition, we believe this acquisition will accelerate our sales growth in the U.S. and abroad. We look forward to welcoming the management team and the employees of Allmand to our team, and building upon the strong foundation that has made Allmand a highly successful company."

Allmand Bros. designs and manufactures high quality towable light towers, industrial heaters and solar LED arrow boards used for construction, roadway, oil and gas, mining and sporting and special events. It has about $80 million in annual sales and sells its products and parts in 40 countries.

"For over 75 years, Allmand has been producing innovative products that make customer worksites brighter, warmer, safer, and more productive," Roger Allmand, chairman of Allmand Bros., said when the acquisition was announced. "The combination of Allmand with Briggs & Stratton will provide even more opportunities for our people and our customers.  With a proven track record of operating successfully for over 100 years, we believe that Briggs & Stratton will be able to accelerate our presence globally.”

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McGrath to keynote ACG conference
September 2, 2014 10:02 AM
The Wisconsin chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth will host noted author Rita McGrath as its keynote speaker at its annual Growth, Leadership and Human Capital Conference.

The conference will be held on Monday, Sept. 15, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Pfister Hotel, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave. in Milwaukee. It will provide insight and advice on corporate growth, recruiting and retention and leadership and talent development from local and national experts, as well as robust networking with about 400 attendees.

McGrath is an expert on strategy in uncertain and volatile environments and a Columbia Business School professor.

“As the pace of change in the economy becomes ever faster, competitive advantages that companies used to be able to extend for years, if not decades, don’t last,” McGrath said. “These kinds of fast-moving, highly competitive environments make growing a business challenging, and place new demands on leaders. Indeed, if a product or service can be copied, matched or made irrelevant quickly, one of the few sources of advantage left is through the creation of capabilities, in which your people develop a pipeline of new advantages to replace those that have eroded. In my talk, I’ll outline the elements of a new playbook for strategy, in which taken for granted assumptions about change, business exits, resource allocation, innovation and leadership will all be challenged.”

Bestselling author Doug Tatum, behavioral app developer Guy Halftek, Montage Talent CEO and interviewing technology expert Kurt Heikkinen and human resources executive Susan Schmitt of Rockwell Automation will also speak at the conference.

At the inaugural GLHC Conference in 2013, a sold out crowd heard business management expert Ram Charan’s keynote address about growing revenues in global markets.

“The response to the GLHC Conference from the business community has been tremendous,” said Tom Walton, ACG president and managing director of Hanley, Hammill, Thomas. “As we move into the second year of the conference, our goal is to provide the leadership of Wisconsin-based companies new perspectives on the short and long-term challenges that they face in driving organizational growth and success. ACG Wisconsin is excited to bring an exceptional line-up of speakers to Milwaukee that will spark change in the way business owners and executives think about talent development.”

For more information or to register for the conference, visit

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Wipfli partners with Vertex on sales tax software
September 2, 2014 10:05 AM
Milwaukee-based accounting and business consulting firm Wipfli LLP has partners with Vertex SMB to provide a sales and use tax solution called Vertex SMB TaxCentral.

TaxCentral, which is targeted to small and medium-sized businesses, integrates with companies’ existing ERP systems and e-commerce platforms to calculate and manage sales tax. Wipfli sells Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions that are often used in the health care, manufacturing, real estate, financial services and construction industries.

“As a firm that is deeply committed to helping our clients face their business challenges, Wipfli is excited to partner with Vertex SMB,” said Craig Cookle, partner-in-charge of Wipfli’s sales and use tax practice. “Their solution, along with our seasoned sales and use tax specialists and ERP specialists, will help clients automate and simplify their sales tax calculation, management and reporting. We look forward to a very successful partnership with Vertex SMB.”

Vertex SMB is a sales and use tax solutions division of Berwyn, Penn.-based Vertex Inc., a corporate enterprise tax software and service provider. Wipfli has 1,200 employees at 23 U.S. offices and two offices in India.

“We are searching for partners who are leaders in their respective areas to help us bring our sales and use tax solution to the small and medium-sized market,” said David Henkin, vice president and general manager at Vertex SMB.  “As one of the fastest growing consulting firms and value-added resellers in the country, Wipfli will be instrumental in bringing our solution to this market.”

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Wisconsin banks increase lending
September 2, 2014 10:21 AM
Wisconsin's banks reported combined net income of $472 million through the end of the second quarter, down from $495 million in net income through the end of the second quarter of 2013, according to the Quarterly Banking Profile by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The report included 255 reporting institutions, down from 261 last year. Total assets were $101 billion, up from $97.3 million in the second quarter of 2013. Total deposits were $78.6 million, up from $77.5 million a year ago.

Lending was up, with $69.8 billion in total loans and leases, compared to $67.3 billion in the second quarter of 2013.

"Wisconsin's banks demonstrated their continued support of the state's businesses with a dramatic 12 percent increase in commercial lending over the past year,” said Rose Oswald Poels, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Bankers Association. “The industry marked a strong growth in key categories including overall lending as well as showing a decrease in delinquencies compared to last year. These signs sharply illustrate that Wisconsin's banks continue to play a critical role as economic drivers in supporting businesses and consumers."

Green Bay-based Associated Bank N.A. topped Wisconsin banks, reporting $49.2 million in net income for the quarter. The bank has $25.5 billion in total assets.

Next was Madison-based John Deere Financial f.s.b., with $20.6 million in quarterly net income, followed by Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management, with $7 million in net income for the quarter.

Racine-based Johnson Bank, with $7 million, and Baraboo-based The Baraboo National Bank, with $6.2 million, rounded out the top five.

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FIS to close Brown Deer business unit, lay off 32
September 2, 2014 10:14 AM
Jacksonville, Fla.-based FIS plans to close its print and mail business unit in Brown Deer and lay off 32 workers there.

The Brown Deer location is at 4900 W. Brown Deer Road. The company will consolidate its operations within other FIS facilities, according to a WARN notice filed with the state.

Layoffs will begin on Oct. 27 and will happen in phases until the work has been transferred, ending around March 31, 2015.

Affected employees were notified last week. There are 25 hourly and seven salaried positions impacted by the closure, including mail processing clerks, operations analysts and print and insert operators.

None of the employees will have bumping rights. They will be paid all earned wages and agreed upon benefits, as well as severance payments.

FIS, which was formed when Fidelity National Information Services Inc. acquired Brown Deer-based Metavante Technologies Inc. in 2009, is one of the world’s largest providers of banking and payment technologies. It serves more than 14,000 financial institutions and businesses in more than 100 countries.

The company last year closed its Schlitz Park facility in Milwaukee and laid off about 300 employees.

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A&A Manufacturing sold to London investment firm
September 2, 2014 10:09 AM
New Berlin-based A&A Manufacturing Co. Inc. has been acquired by London-based international investment manager 3i Group plc and its management.

A&A, which also has a European headquarters in Germany, manufactures niche engineered, mission critical protective equipment that extends equipment life and ensures employee safety, usually in the industrial sector.

3i is investing about $110 million in A&A. The enterprise value of the transaction is $202.5 million. Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. served as an advisor to 3i in the transaction.

A&A has 474 employees worldwide and revenues of about $91 million. It recently acquired two German companies in its market.

According to a release from 3i, A&A will continue to grow in Europe and Asia, both organically and through acquisition, with the help of the 3i network. It will also strengthen its North American position by developing new products and growing into new end markets.

“A&A’s strength lies within its product design capabilities and this is reflected in its market leading position,” said Ken Hanau, managing partner of 3i North America. “It is a great business and we look forward to working with the management team to help accelerate its expansion into international markets.”

“3i was a natural choice of partner for A&A,” said Brian McSharry, chief executive of A&A. “With their international network and local market insight, we will be able to accelerate our international growth strategy and be best placed to service our global customer base.”

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American Metal Technologies acquires Ohio die casting company
September 2, 2014 10:24 AM
Sturtevant-based American Metal Technologies LLC has acquired Kotobuki-Reliable Die Casting Inc.

Xenia, Ohio-based Kotobuki-Reliable manufactures precision machined aluminum die castings in a variety of alloys. It previously had Japanese owners.

AMT is a precision machining company that primarily serves tier 1 customers in the automotive, truck and off-highway market segments. The growing company’s owners decided to pursue a vertical integration strategy targeting high-pressure aluminum die casting firms, with the help of Milwaukee-based investment bank Promontory Point Capital.

The acquisition will allow AMT to have greater influence over the sourcing and quality of its aluminum casting requirements while improving its relationships with key customers, according to Promontory Point, which evaluated acquisition candidates and served as financial advisor in the transaction.

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Roadrunner completes acquisition of Active Aero Group
September 2, 2014 10:18 AM
Cudahy-based Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc. announced has completed its previously announced acquisition of Belleville, Mich.-based Active Aero Group, a supply chain solutions provider specializing in sensitive or time-critical freight.

The total purchase price was approximately $115 million in cash and was funded with borrowings under Roadrunner’s credit facility.

“As we have indicated, the ability to provide air and ground expedited services to meet customers’ total transportation needs has been a key strategic objective for Roadrunner,” Mark DiBlasi, president and chief executive officer of Roadrunner, said when the acquisition was announced. “Active Aero’s strong position in the marketplace is based upon the high quality of its service offering and personnel and its unique blend of expedited services. As a result, we believe Active Aero represents an ideal match with our strategy and an excellent platform for growth in expedited services globally.”

Active Aero offers ground and air expedited services, mainly in the United States and Mexico. It uses spot bid technology, controlled capacity, a unique procurement system and multi-modal offering to efficiently meet time-critical logistics challenges.

Active Aero reported $265 million in revenue in fiscal 2014 and is expected to be accretive to Roadrunner earnings in its fourth quarter.

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Money moves
September 2, 2014 10:06 AM

Vrakas/Blum S.C. in Brookfield has hired Nicole Gabriel as a staff accountant. Gabriel is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She interned at the public accounting firm in winter 2013. She will be responsible for performing audits and other assurance engagements, as well as corporate, partnership and individual tax preparation.

Sheboygan-based Community Bank & Trust has hired Jason M. Engledow as market president, working out of the bank’s Glendale office. He has more than 12 years of banking experience in Wisconsin, including as vice president in business banking, commercial and residential lending. Engledow holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University and a bachelor’s in management from Indiana University.

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Molly Dill This exclusive news bulletin is compiled by BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Molly Dill. This bulletin is published every Tuesday morning. Send financial services industry news and tips to or call her at (414) 336-7144.

Additional Resources

» Wisconsin Association of Accountants
» Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants
» Wisconsin Association for Financial Professionals

Financial Institutions

» Wisconsin Bankers Association
» The Wisconsin Credit Union League
» Community Bankers of Wisconsin
» Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association

Financial Planning

» Financial Planning Association of Southern Wisconsin
» National Association of Personal Financial Advisors


» Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin
» Wisconsin Association of Mutual Insurance Companies

Mergers & Acquisitions

» Midwest Business Brokers and Intermediaries
» Association for Corporate Growth - Wisconsin
» Turnaround Management Association - Chicago/Midwest

Other Resources

» Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
» Wisconsin Government Finance Officers Association

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