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Business briefs
Karen Johnson Productions, a Racine-based service-based animation studio, has announced a formal name change to Aha! Studios Inc. Along with this change comes a specific refocus geared toward creating original content as well as an expansion of its traditional animation services.
“We are very excited about this new name and focus because it is a clearer reflection of who we as a company are becoming,” said Karen Johnson, founder and CEO of Aha! Studios. “We will continue to specialize in the traditional animation services that we are known for, but the scope of our studio has definitely broadened. We are devoted to becoming more of an idea studio where we can create concepts, and then guide them through all stages of production to deliver exceptional media products.”
In addition, the company is also pursuing a larger role in the children’s educational and family learning markets.
“Our mission is to become a leading producer of multi-media products that educate, inspire, and entertain children and families,” said Barbara Ferro, COO of Aha! Studios. “Within the past few years we have seen an explosion of children’s educational media and an increased emphasis on delivering wholesome family entertainment. This is a fast-growing $40 billion industry in which Aha! Studios has the creativity, innovation and drive to make a definite impact on.”
Aha Studios, Inc. is a full service multi-media company specializing in development of animated entertainment for television, CD-ROM games, web applications, toys and feature films. Additional information can be accessed at www.ahastudios.com.
Two former executives of one of the country’s largest machine tool distributors recently joined forces to create Tech Financial Services Inc. (TFS), a capital equipment finance and leasing company.
Mark Charlton, president and partner of TFS, left his position as vice president and founder of Systems Financial Credit, a division of Machinery Systems Inc., to form a company dedicated to offering leasing and finance solutions to the machine tool industry and purchasers of capital equipment.
Joining him as executive vice president and partner is Tim Murphy, who left his position as regional sales manager for Systems Financial Credit.
Charlton and Murphy will serve distributors, manufacturers and end-user customers by providing a wide range of financing and leasing options and specialized business solutions, they said.
“Our direct experience with the machine tool sales process will help differentiate us from traditional lending sources,” said Charlton. “That experience, combined with our knowledge of the economic and organizational issues confronting our customers, will allow us to provide the most competitive leasing alternatives.”
Charlton created Systems Financial Credit 17 years ago. Originally designed to handle only loans for sales generated by Machinery Systems, the company quickly expanded to include financing for sales made by competitors, as well. While there are approximately 200 major machine tool distributors in the US, only a few have in-house finance departments.
“By branching off to create an independent company, we feel we can more efficiently respond to the needs of the entire market of dealers, manufacturers and end-users,” added Charlton.
Tech Financial Services (www.techfin.net) has headquarters at 840 N. Old World Third St., Milwaukee, and a branch in Naperville, Ill.
Emory Business Valuation in Milwaukee has changed its name to Emory Business Advisors and, to accommodate growth, has moved to a larger suite of offices at 611 N. Broadway.
The firm, which represents buyers and sellers in middle-market merger and acquisition transactions, also has added Jeffrey M. White as a managing director and Jo-el Gratzke as an M&A associate. With Victoria Fox continuing as a managing director, the firm now has seven professionals.
White, who earned MBA and BBA degrees from the University of Wisconsin, has executed more than $4 billion in acquisitions and divestitures, ranging from under $1 million to more than $2 billion. Prior to joining Emory, he served as president and CFO of the publicly held RCN Corp., a $600 million communications company; CFO of Telecom New Zealand, which serves clients in New Zealand and Australia; and vice president of investments and acquisitions with Ameritech Development Corp.
Mike Wroblewski and Marianne Huebner, among the owners of Fiddleheads in Thiensville and Nectar Espresso Bar and Café in downtown Milwaukee, have purchased Cream City Coffee in downtown Cedarburg.
New Resources Consulting LLC, an information technology and professional consulting services provider, has purchased the Milwaukee PSC Group operations from its Illinois-based parent company.
“The team at New Resources has already been together for more than a decade, and we have been highly successful in designing client-centric solutions for Wisconsin-based firms,” said Mark Grosskopf, president of the Milwaukee operations. “In reviewing the current business climate and our clients’ most-pressing needs, we felt we could provide more responsive and cost-effective solutions as a stand-alone operation.”
The company (www.nrconsults.com) will keep its headquarters at 1000 N. Water St. in downtown Milwaukee and plans to expand to Madison and Appleton next year,
Associated Bag Company has completed an energy efficiency project that will save 222,549 kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity annually by simply turning on the lights.
Associated Bag, a national supplier of packaging products and shipping supplies, replaced 214 existing high-intensity discharge lights with new, high-efficiency light fixtures at its Milwaukee headquarters and distribution center. The annual electricity savings is the environmental equivalent of taking 32 cars off the road, planting 41 acres of trees or saving 20,032 gallons of gasoline, the company reported.
In combination with another lighting system installation at Associated Bag’s new distribution center in Dallas/Fort Worth, the company will save about 1 million kwh of electricity annually.
“These projects help keep us competitive in the marketplace by reducing our overhead expenses and are good for the environment at the same time. And, by simulating natural sunlight, we are also creating a better work environment for our employees,” said Herbert Rubenstein, president and CEO of Associated Bag (www.associatedbag.com).
The Illuminator fixtures, from Orion Energy Systems of Plymouth, use full-spectrum fluorescent light bulbs with reflective backings that increase ambient light while saving energy. The product has won Wisconsin’s Spirit of Ecology Award.
Over the expected 20-year life span of the new lighting in Milwaukee, Associated Bag will save 11.1 million kwh of electricity. That many kilowatt-hours will make an environmental difference in the Milwaukee area. Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, will be reduced by 8,330 tons; carbon, which also affects global warming, will be reduced by 2,272 tons; sulfur dioxide, which is related to acid rain, will be reduced by 31 tons; and nitrogen oxide, which affects acid rain and smog, will be reduced by 71 tons.
The 20-year energy saving is the equivalent of removing 630 cars from the road, saving 404,635 gallons of gasoline or planting 817 acres of trees.
“I congratulate Associated Bag on adopting this environmentally friendly technology,” said Neal Verfuerth, Orion’s president. “It is having a tangible effect on Southeastern Wisconsin’s environment and will possibly mitigate the need for future power plants.”
The county’s first complete, interactive parking Web site for downtown Milwaukee has unveiled an expanded layout.
“With the introduction of the fully expanded ParkMilwaukee.com Web site, all downtown parking options will be featured with a clickable map highlighting major destinations and nearby parking options,” said Ellen Winters, executive director of the Westown Association. “The site was originally developed by OnMilwaukee.com for the Westown Association, but with the generous support of a variety of organizations, the site has been expanded to allow users to easily find parking locations and rates for all garages and lots located downtown.”
Nov. 28, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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