Wisconsin Manufacturing News

WMC recognizes companies for environmental friendliness and pollution prevention; Soaring GM profits renew hopes for Janesville; Douglas Dynamics cautiously optimistic about 2011

WMC recognizes companies for environmental friendliness and pollution prevention

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has recognized nine Wisconsin companies with its   Business Friend of the Environment Award for leadership in pollution prevention, environmental innovation and environmental stewardship.

“Our economy is rebounding and these companies clearly demonstrate that you can protect the environment and have a successful business even in challenging economic times,” said Kurt R. Bauer, WMC president/CEO. “Wisconsin employers added 9,800 jobs in March, businesses are creating jobs and our business climate is improving, albeit slowly.”

The award categories and winners are:

Pollution Prevention

  • Fox River Fiber, De Pere (small category)
  • Schoeneck Containers Incorporated, New Berlin (medium category)
  • Green Bay Packaging, Inc. – Green Bay Coated Products, Green Bay (large category)

Environmental Innovation

  • The Johnson Foundation, Inc. – Wingspread Facility, Racine (small category)
  • Bell Laboratories, Inc., Madison (medium category)
  • Briggs & Stratton Corporation, Milwaukee (large category)

Environmental Stewardship

  • Applied Ecological Services, Inc., Brodhead (small category)
  • Briess Industries, Inc., Chilton (medium category)
  • Menasha Corporation, Neenah (large category)

Soaring GM profits renew hopes for Janesville

General Motors Co.’s fifth consecutive quarter of profitability is raising hopes about the automaker’s future and the prospects that the company could reopen its assembly plant in Janesville.

After years of wrenching cutbacks, GM said it will invest about $2 billion in 17 plants across eight states in a move that will add or save more than 4,000 jobs.

“We are doing this because we are confident about demand for our vehicles and the economy,” GM chairman and chief executive Dan Akerson said.

The investment is in addition to $3.4 billion and more than 9,000 jobs GM has already added or saved in the past two years.

The United Auto Workers union said it will ask GM about reopening its plants in Janesville, as well as Spring Hill, Tenn., and a plant in Shreveport, La., that is slated to close.

The Janesville GM plant was closed in December 2008.

GM said it will make more announcements over the next few months regarding plans for specific facility investments, pending state and local incentives.

Last week, GM reported that its first-quarter profit tripled on rising demand for smaller, fuel-efficient cars.

GM joined rivals Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. for the trio’s first quarter

in the black since 2006.

The U.S. government now owns 26.5 percent of GM, having cut its stake from 61 percent in the wake of its $50 billion federal bailout in 2009.

Douglas Dynamics cautiously optimistic about 2011

Douglas Dynamics Inc, a Milwaukee-based manufacturer of snow and ice control equipment for light trucks, reported a first quarter net loss of $0.8 million, or 4 cents per share, which was an improvement over a net loss of $5.7 million, or 40 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The company’s quarterly net sales grew to $23.5 million from $14.6 million a year earlier.

Historically, the company’s first quarter sales are the lowest of any quarter, due to distributors and end users generally not wanting to replace equipment until the beginning of a snow season.

James Janik, president and chief executive officer of Douglas Dynamics, said, "Our first quarter sales performance was a very solid start to 2011, as heavy snowfall across the country drove customers to purchase record amounts of parts and accessories as well as more equipment. While we showed a significant improvement in sales over the first quarter of the prior year, we believe that a lack of clear direction regarding the economic recovery and lingering difficulties in the credit markets continue to generate caution among our distributors. As the year goes on, we expect our performance to continue to improve versus 2010."

Janik added, "Sales of parts and accessories continued to be strong, trending higher than the average when compared to the preceding 10 years, which we believe to largely be the result of the continued deferral of new equipment purchases. We believe there will be a slow unwinding of pent up demand over the next several years, but remain cautious about the impact of escalating fuel prices on light truck sales and the overall economy."


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