Wisconsin Manufacturing News

With news from Bucyrus, Johnson Outdoors, Snap-On, ZBB Energy Corp., and Stay-Lite Lighting.

Bucyrus reaches new heights
The soaring demands for raw materials to meet growing economies such as China and India continue to fuel growth for Bucyrus International Inc., which reported second quarter net earnings of $62.3 million, or 83 cents per share, up from $27.8 million, or 40 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The South Milwaukee-based mining equipment manufacturer’s quarterly sales grew to $621.0 million from $374.8 million a year earlier.

Weak boating market takes toll on Johnson Outdoors
The fiscal third quarter over the summer historically is the strongest quarter of the year for Racine-based Johnson Outdoors Inc., but the global outdoor recreation company is not celebrating the quarter this year. The company announced that its quarterly net income fell to $7.8 million, or 87 cents per share, from $8.3 million, or 93 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The firm’s net sales for the quarter dropped to $141.2 million from $149.9 million a year earlier. The company attributed the weaker results to the effects of a soft domestic boat market on its marine electronic brands.

"Growing economic uncertainty in the U.S. hit a peak just as the warm-weather season for our businesses was getting underway, and it has now impacted distribution channels in every business this quarter, with retailers being cautious and keeping their inventories to a minimum. As a result, we have ramped down production, restructured operations and moved aggressively on all identified cost-reduction initiatives. On the positive side, despite a soft summer retail market, retail reports indicate that, in general, our brands are outperforming the competition as meaningful new-product innovation accounted for more than a third of year-to-date revenues," said Helen Johnson-Leipold, chairman and chief executive officer. "Looking ahead, we will continue to invest in growth and innovation to help ensure we maintain our market-leadership positions when the economy rebounds. At the same time, we are moving forward on supply chain optimization initiatives in every business to drive improved efficiency across operations. Our strong commitment to the future for Johnson Outdoors and to enhanced shareholder value remains constant and unchanged regardless of the economic climate."

Snap-on reports strong quarter
Snap-on Inc., a Kenosha-based manufacturer and marketer of tools, diagnostics, equipment, software and service solutions for professional users, reported second quarter net earnings of $66.9 million, or $1.15 per share, up from $43.8 million, or 74 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The company’s quarterly net sales grew to $766.1 million from $711.9 million a year earlier.

"Snap-on’s second quarter operating performance evidences continued achievements in our strategic diversification and growth initiatives," said Nick Pinchuk, Snap-on’s president and chief executive officer. "Despite the continued macroeconomic challenges, the strength of our global and diverse customer base and the value created by our innovation and rapid continuous improvement processes combined to deliver significant sales and profit improvements."

Snap-on expects that its sales and earnings for the balance of 2008 will continue to exceed 2007 levels. Snap-on incurred $6.6 million of restructuring costs in the first six months of 2008 and expects full year 2008 restructuring costs to be in a range of $13 million to $16 million, down from its previous estimate of $15 million to $20 million.

Milwaukee energy storage company launches African project
Milwaukee-based ZBB Energy Corp. recently reached a memorandum of understanding with Envision Solar International to provide energy storage systems as part of the LifeVillage solar project in Cote d’Ivoire on the west coast of Africa.

LifeVillage will incorporate ZBB’s energy storage system along with roof-mounted photovoltaic panels designed to provide a reliable source of electric power to remote areas. The system is a complete modularized solution that is durable and long-lasting, deployable via truck to virtually anywhere on the continent.

The prototype for the LifeVillage project is scheduled to be completed by ZBB and Envision by the beginning of October. The prototype will be built and initially demonstrated in the United States and then shipped to Cote d’Ivoire. Based on the success of the prototype, the two companies plan to establish remote area village power systems throughout west and central Africa.

ZBB chief executive officer Robert Parry said, "LifeVillage promises to be a major advancement for remote areas without access to any adequate power. Since the ZESS 50 is compatible with alternative energy sources such as solar, it is the perfect energy storage system for this project."

Stay-Lite Lighting acquires Indiana firm
Pewaukee-based Stay-Lite Lighting has acquired Avon Electric Inc. of Danville, Ind. Avon is an electrical contractor owned by Jay Anderson and in business for more than 10 years. Anderson will continue with Stay-Lite as branch manager.

"The combination of Avon’s electrical business and Stay-Lite’s lighting management specialty is an exciting opportunity for the industrial, commercial and retail businesses currently serviced by Stay-Lite as well as prospective clients," said Kirk Tuson, president of Stay-Lite. "Stay-Lite has been providing lighting maintenance and upgrades in Indiana for many years by traveling from Wisconsin. An Indianapolis-area based operation with locally employed technicians will enhance the service offering and response time. Also, the addition of an Indiana electrical license adds further value for our clients."

Stay-Lite also announced a partnership with Lutron Electronics of Coopersburg, Pa., enabling the company to offer electrical and lighting controls to its base of customers. Stay-Lite’s factory-trained technicians will commission projects on behalf of Lutron to accommodate specialized installations for theaters, sporting venues and other settings with sophisticated lighting needs, including wireless applications.

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