Future 50 roster reflects recovery

Manufacturers and construction companies are strongly represented on the 2015 list of Future 50 companies that are rapidly growing in both employment and revenue in the Milwaukee area.

The Future 50 list was announced by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and its Council of Small Business Executives.

Of the 50 companies on the list, 15 are manufacturers and seven are construction-related.

“For years following the recession, we saw businesses hesitant to expand or build. The same held true for many residential customers. I think we are now witnessing a cautious end to that hesitancy,” said Mary Steinbrecher, executive director of COSBE. “I believe it’s a collective sign of recovery and optimism.”

Technology firms also have a strong showing on this year’s list (eight of the winners fall into that category).

“As businesses continue to grow, we see more and more of them reinvesting in their companies – whether that’s technology solutions or consulting services,” Steinbrecher said.

This year’s Future 50 roster includes an unusually small class of “Master Mettle” winning companies that qualified for the list for the third time. Those three-time qualifiers include: CornerStone Plumbing LLC of Waukesha; EmbedTek LLC of Hartland; KS Energy Services LLC of New Berlin; Smart Choice MRI of Mequon; Transcendent LLC of Hartland; and W.I.S. Logistics of New Berlin.

Combined 2014 revenue for all 50 firms totaled $1.37 billion, an 18 percent increase over the previous year, and in 2015, the firms are predicting another 16 percent growth. Total employment for all 50 firms was 3,883 in 2014 and the companies expect to employ 4,385 by the end of this year (a 13 percent increase). Notably, 46 percent of the firms report that more than half of their business comes from outside the Milwaukee region – a measure of how much new income is brought into the region.

On the 2015 Future 50 application, MMAC/COSBE asked applicants about the factors that led them to become entrepreneurs. Many owners said they were continuing a family business or a tradition of entrepreneurship in the family. The next most popular answer was, “Determining my own destiny.”

Others cited more altruistic missions: to “make a positive impact on individuals’ lives” and to create an “awesome work environment and take care of employees.”

John Teraoka, chief executive officer of W.I.S. Logistics, said, “After my last corporate job, I knew that I needed something different. I wanted a culture that was fun, and where customer service really was number one. I was tired of begging for resources and wanted the freedom to do what I wanted.”

COSBE has conducted the Future 50 program since 1988. The 2015 Future 50 winners will be recognized for their achievements at the annual awards luncheon, to be held Thursday, Sept. 10 at the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. To view the entire list of Future 50 companies or to register to attend the luncheon, visit www.mmac.org.

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