CEOs Will Share Insights at Manufacturing Summit

    Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

    How can Wisconsin manufacturers compete in a global economy against offshore companies that have lower labor costs, lower taxes and more lenient or even nonexistent environmental and safety standards? The answers to that question will be explored at the Manufacturing Summit Breakfast at the Wisconsin Business & Technology Expo to be presented by Small Business Times May 3-4.

    The "Manufacturing in the Heartland" summit will not be a theoretical or abstract exercise. Instead, the conference will be an interactive discussion featuring the chief executive officers of four Milwaukee-area companies that not only are surviving in the global marketplace, but thriving with record results.

    Executives from Wisconsin manufacturing companies and their vendors are invited to attend the summit and ask questions of the panelists, who will share their insights about strategies for prospering in the global economy.

    Timothy Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, will provide the opening remarks of the summit. The CEO panel discussion will be moderated by Small Business Times executive editor Steve Jagler, who will take questions from the audience for the panelists.

    The panelists of the Manufacturing Summit will include:

    David Rayburn

    President and chief executive officer of Modine Manufacturing Inc., a Racine-based manufacturer of heating and cooling components. The company makes radiators and engine cooling modules for cars, trucks, buses and tractors, and heat pipes that keep computer laptops from overheating. Modine also has a heating division that produces unit heaters for buildings, schools, garages and greenhouses. Research and development is the cornerstone of Modine, with 500 engineers working on the next heating challenge, including fuel cells, hybrid engines and environmentally friendly cooling systems. Modine operates 35 plants and employs 8,500 people on five continents. In fiscal 2006, Modine expects record sales of $1.6 billion. Modine’s stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Robert Arzbaecher

    President and chief executive officer of Actuant Corp., a Glendale-based diversified manufacturing company. Actuant’s businesses are world market leaders in highly engineered position and motion control systems and branded hydraulic and electrical tools and supplies. Since 2000, the company, formerly known as Applied Power, has grown its annual sales from $482 million to more than $1 billion, and its market capitalization has grown from $113 million to more than $1 billion. Actuant has a workforce of 6,000 people and has operations in 31 countries. The company is known for its development of LEAD (lead enterprise across disciplines) Process, which uses a variety of continuous improvement tools to improve margins, returns on investments, customer service and quality. The company’s stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Richard Meeusen

    Chairman, president and chief executive officer of Badger Meter Inc., a Milwaukee-based marketer and manufacturer of flow measurement and control technology. Badger Meter’s products are used to measure and control the flow of liquids in a variety of applications. In fiscal 2005, Badger Meter reported record net sales of $216.7 million and record net earnings of $13.3 million. Those earnings were up 38 percent from the prior year’s earnings. As Badger Meter celebrates its 100th anniversary, it has been named among the "200 Best Small Companies" by Forbes magazine, and its stock, which traded is traded on the American Stock Exchange, has been added to the Russell 2000 Index.

    Peter Gottsacker

    President of Wixon Inc., a St. Francis-based manufacturer of spices, sauces, concentrates and flavor enhancers for restaurants, food manufacturers and vendors. Wixon’s products are found in foods in restaurants and on grocery store shelves throughout the world for companies such as McDonald’s, Sarah Lee, Dean’s Foods and Kraft Foods. Gottsacker led a local management team that acquired Wixon Fontarome from a French holding company in 2004. The company’s annual revenues have grown to more than $50 million, and the firm has more than 200 employees. Wixon’s headquarters includes six buildings, covering 450,000 square feet.

    All four of the panelists guided their companies to record sales in 2005.

    The Wisconsin Business & Technology Expo is the largest business-to-business event in the state. The Expo will include two business awards luncheons, keynote speakers, an after-hours reception, several seminars for businesspeople and more than 250 exhibit booths. For additional information, visit

    Expo to include Green Pavilion

    The second annual Wisconsin Business & Technology Expo, to be held May 3-4 in the Wisconsin Expo Center at State Fair Park, will include a Green Pavilion, an expo within the expo, sponsored by We Energies.

    The Green Pavilion will include a dedicated seminar and exhibit area, which will feature information on energy conservation, renewable energy and green building practices – all relating to commercial and industrial buildings.

    Information provided at the Green Pavilion will apply to all types of businesses, ranging from a small restaurant to a large manufacturer, according to David Ciepluch, energy efficiency project strategist with We Energies.

    "It’s an opportunity to meet one-on-one with our customers, and for them to talk with an engineer about their projects," Ciepluch said. "The smaller businesses are usually harder to reach, and we’re hoping to reach out to some of them this way."

    The pavilion will feature 22 seminars to show businesses ways to implement energy-saving techniques and green principles to maximize profits. The seminars will also include information on alternative energy options and energy rebate programs.

    The seminars will be sponsored by We Energies, with partners, including the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance, City of Milwaukee Green Team, Focus on Energy, WasteCap, Franklin Energy and Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp.

    The Green Pavilion will also include exhibits and booths from 25 local organizations and companies showcasing green products and services.

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