Future 50 2007


"South moves north, North moves south.

A star is born, a star burns out.

The only thing that stays the same is everything

changes, everything changes."

– Country music singer Tracy Lawrence


And so it goes with the Future 50 program presented by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) and the Council of Small Business Executives (COSBE).

In this, the 20th year of the Future 50, the committee that oversees the program decided to open it up to more companies. In the past, nominees needed to be young companies (3 to 10 years old) and be based in a four-county area.

This year, the age restriction was lifted, and the geographic criteria was expanded to include seven counties.

So, the remaining qualification is growth. And this year’s Future 50 class is all about growth.

This year’s class also reflects the growing diversification of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy.

Twenty-six companies in the Future 50 are first-time winners. Of those emerging companies, 16 can be considered B2B (business-to-business) firms that provide a wide variety of services to other companies. Six of the rookie companies are technology-based, two are traditional manufacturers, one is in retail and another is in health care.

So, what’s to be learned from these growing companies? The COSBE held a roundtable “sound off” discussion with the chief executive officers of several of the Future 50 companies and asked them to rate the local economy on a scale of one (poor) to five (excellent). The average response was a four rating.

Here are a few of their comments:

  • “Economy is strong and growing.”
  • “Economy is good; media creates the perception that economy and consumer confidence is down.”
  • “Region is a great place to be; we love it here.”
  • “Very good for us.  Health care field explosion (especially with the baby boomers coming of age) has really helped our company.”
  • “We are facing overall challenges, but the Milwaukee 7 is encouraging.”
  • “Overall cost of doing business here is high.”
  • “Ability to do business in region needs improving.”

As you can see, their responses to that question were all over the board. However, an overwhelming consensus emerged when the Future 50 CEOs were asked to identify their most critical workforce challenges over the next three years: finding and keeping good people. Check out these responses:

  • “Hard to find well-qualified people for sophisticated development.”
  • “A lot of trouble finding sales and office talent.”
  • “Difficult to find and retain drivers and vehicle maintenance workers.”
  • “Hard to find/train good employees in construction.”
  • “Good salespeople are the hardest people to find.”
  • “Biggest issues with finding strong technical talent, i.e. programmers.  Have to hire staff from India.  Not a technical hub here.”
  • “Hard to find good people willing to work.”
  • “Biggest challenge is getting good people.”
  • “Finding and retaining employees that are good at customer service/savvy to serving customer base.”
  • “Recruiting young people and trying to retain employees.  We spend the time and money training and they leave to go to a competitor. In the old days, there was more company loyalty.”
  • “Younger employees don’t stay in jobs as long. Difficult to retain them.  Pensions and health benefits are being reduced and in some cases eliminated. They are not leaving because they are not loyal, but are looking for the best situation for themselves.”
  • “Competing with other businesses for talent, i.e. architects.”
  • “Finding good, skilled talent in machining.” 
  • “Shortfall of people coming into the trades in coming years.”
  • “Not enough educational degree programs for tech jobs.  Manufacturing mindset has changed – not as many people getting into manufacturing jobs.”

This year’s Future 50 class features nine “Master Mettle” companies that are winners of the award for the third time. Here are snapshots of those companies that have shown steady growth for three years:

Argon Industries Inc.

This contract manufacturer of sheet metal components is based in Milwaukee and is led by president Gregory Clement. The company projects revenue growth of 20 percent in 2007.

Capital Data Inc.

This provider of data-centric solutions is based in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward and is led by president John Steindorf. The company expects to add more staff to meet its customers, needs.

General MetalWorks Corp.

This metal fabrication company is based in Mequon and is led by company president Eric Isbister. The company projects 2007 revenue of $12 million.

La Macchia Group LLC

This design and building consulting company is based in downtown Milwaukee and is led by company president Ralph La Macchia. The company projects 2007 revenue of $34.5 million.


This online job posting service is based in Milwaukee and is led by president Scott Molitor. The company projects 2007 revenue of $9.5 million.

Mortgagebot LLC

This mortgage software provider is based in Mequon and is led by president Scott Happ. The company projects 2007 revenue of $25 million.

Neroli Salon & Spa

This salon and spa business is based in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward and is led by president Susan Haise. The company is expanding with a new Bayshore Town Center location and an online reservation system.

NovoPrintUSA Inc.

This interactive map and document publisher is based on Milwaukee’s east side and is led by publisher and CEO John Limbach. The company is growing by adding interactive products and services to its offerings.

Webcom Inc.

This workflow and case management software company is based in downtown Milwaukee and is led by CEO Aleks Ivanovic. The company is growing by leveraging key partnerships.

What makes these companies "cool"? Click here to find out.

The profiles of the Future 50 winners are posted below in alphabetical order.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display