President and chief executive officer
2013 revenue: $21.6 million
Leslie Cowen, founder of Milwaukee-based Badger Alloys, transitioned the company to his son Robert in 2007. At the time, Leslie said to his son, “I’ve built the foundation of this business. What you do with it is up to you.”
Robert took that decree seriously, and in seven years has grown the company into a $22 million full-service sand foundry that was recently named a Manufacturer of Year by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
The company has experienced a 254-percent increase in net income over the past four years, and has grown from 76 employees to 125 in the same time period.
It was Robert’s focus on future growth and sustainability that drove the company’s success.
“The Badger Alloys team continuously studies the manufacturing process to develop new ways to not only increase efficiency, but also reduce waste and improve overall performance,” said James Popp, president of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Middle Market and advisor to Badger Alloys.
In 2012, the company invested $2 million in a sand reclamation unit, which allows Badger Alloys to reclaim 100 percent of the sand used in the foundry. The equipment allows the company to keep 17 million pounds of sand out of area landfills and will help the company nearly double its capacity.
Robert believes in doing the right thing and has implemented his philosophy in business practices, in the community and with his employees.
Nearly half of his workforce has been with the company for more than 10 years, a credit to the family-like environment of the company.