Rust-Oleum is Kenosha’s Business of the Year

The Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) and the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce will recognize seven local companies and one individual for their success on Thursday, Nov. 7.


The 2013 Kenosha County Business Excellence Awards will be held at the Student Center University Ballroom at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Rust-Oleum Corp. was selected as the 2013 Business of the Year. The award honors a firm that has been in business for at least five years and has more than 30 employees.

Rust-Oleum has experienced much growth and success since establishing its manufacturing plant in Pleasant Prairie in 1989. In the past 10 years, the paint and coatings manufacturer has grown tenfold. Of Rust-Oleum’s 11 plants in North America, the Pleasant Prairie plant is its largest. Rust-Oleum has added more than 50 employees within the past year. The selection of Rust-Oleum was based on factors that included history of growth (sales and employment), innovation (introduction of new products and services), community engagement and overall economic impact on the community.

Equity Creative is the 2013 Small Business of the Year, receiving the honor from nominees that have fewer than 30 employees and have been in business for more than three years. Equity Creative is a marketing and communications agency founded in Kenosha on April 1, 2007. Two Kenosha natives – Dean Helmke and Charles Skendziel – founded the business in Helmke’s basement, but soon grew large enough to lease a small downtown office. In 2010, as the agency added more clients to its roster including Summerfest, Alverno College, Yamaha and Chrysler, it moved its operations into a 4,500-square-foot space in the Business Park of Kenosha. Renovations began in early August 2013 on an additional 7,000 square feet of space to accommodate additional staff and meeting space. In the past three years, Equity Creative has grown to 30 employees and has seen its revenue more than double.

Michael Kopper, founder and CEO of Centrisys Corp., was tapped as Entrepreneur of the Year. Centrisys began in 1987 as a small company dedicated to the service and repair of decanter centrifuges. Centrisys has since grown from two to 85 employees and today has annual revenues of approximately $45 million. Originally located in Libertyville, Ill., Centrisys moved to its current headquarters in the Business Park of Kenosha in 1999. The headquarters has gone through four expansions, most recently with the purchase of an additional 23,000 square-foot building. The new building, adjacent to its existing facility, will accommodate the parts and distribution warehouse expansion and a USA joint venture partnership with SH+E Group of Germany. 

The Fast Five award puts a spotlight on up-and-coming companies that have made a significant, recent economic impact in Kenosha County. That impact is defined as meeting at least two of the following criteria: significant revenue or employment growth; introduction of a new product, service or innovation; and growth in regional, national or international exports.

Recipients of the Fast Five recognition in 2013 are: ASYST Technologies LLC; Catalyst Exhibits Inc.; Clean & Green Solutions LLC; Dooley & Associates, LLC; and IRIS USA Inc.

The panel of judges who select award recipients include previous award winners, a representative from KABA, the Kenosha Chamber and media sponsor BizTimes Media, as well as representatives from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Carthage College.
For more information and to register to attend the awards ceremony, visit

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