Wisconsin Manufacturing News

Modine reaches collaborative agreement with European manufacturer; Rockwell earns Reader’s Choice Awards; Wausau Steel Corp. settles software license case; Spacesaver acquires Compact Storage Systems; Vollrath Company to consolidate in Wisconsin; A.O. Smith raises earnings estimates

Modine reaches collaborative agreement with European manufacturer

Racine-based Modine Manufacturing Co. has entered a collaborative agreement with Sierra SpA, a European producer of finned pack heat exchangers for the civil and industrial applications. The agreement will allow Sierra SpA to offer Modine’s patented Parralel Flow microchannel heat exchanger technology in Europe.

“This new relationship will allow both Modine and Sierra to mutually expand their capabilities within the European commercial HVAC&R market and provide leading thermal systems technology for current and future market needs,” said Matt McBurney, director of the North American commercial products group for Modine.


Rockwell earns Reader’s Choice Awards

Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx process automation system recently earned 36 first-place honors in Control magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, an annual survey of brand preference among process automation suppliers.

The awards reflect Rockwell Automation’s average 29 percent compound annual growth rate for process over the last five fiscal years. Among control engineers, Rockwell Automation also received top honors in Control Engineering magazine’s engineers’ choice awards. The company won five awards – more than any other supplier – for its machine safety, programmable automation controllers, drives and application software.

“These awards validate our continued leadership in control and information solutions,” said Steve Eisenbrown, Rockwell Automation senior vice president. “There’s no higher distinction than having our customers and their industry peers recognize our unmatched ability to help manufacturers become more productive.”


Wausau Steel Corp. settles software license case

Wausau Steel Corp. has reached a $144,000 settlement with the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a commercial software industry group. The group maintained that Wausau Steel had unlicensed copies of several commercial software programs on its computers.

"Wausau Steel worked fully with BSA in resolving any issues of unlicensed software use. It is important for all businesses to conduct software licensing reviews before finalizing any purchase of software assets," said Mike Keefe, Officer and Vice President of Wausau Steel. "Performing the software audit allowed us to maximize our IT efficiency and helped us to protect our own software assets."

Wausau Steel has production facilities in Wausau, Milwaukee and Big Lane, MN.

Spacesaver acquires Compact Storage Systems

Spacesaver Corp. of Fort Atkinson has acquired Waukesha-based Compact Storage Systems (CSS), a maker of industrial, heavy-duty carriage systems used to compact racking and shelving into high-density footprints.

With the acquisition of CSS, Spacesaver president Paul Olsen said Spacesaver is now strongly positioned to help manufacturers and companies in the material handling and logistics industry improve profitability.

The management and sales team of CSS has joined Spacesaver, which currently has more than 500 employees.

“Companies that make products and/or distribute them are under constant pressure to get more out of their existing facilities, especially in today’s economic, risk-sensitive environment,” Olsen said. “Now we’re in an excellent position to partner with them to get it done. By acquiring CSS, we have the products and business infrastructure necessary to help companies rethink their existing space – and leverage the benefits of our compacting carriage systems to create more lean and profitable operations.”

Spacesaver’s acquisition of CSS represents a significant growth opportunity for the company, said Jim Muth, vice president of industrial marketing and product development for the new venture.

“CSS’s established distribution network will become part of the Spacesaver Group of independent distributors,” said Ken Bowman, the new venture’s vice president of sales and distribution. “We also look forward to rapidly growing our distributor network focused on helping manufacturers and those in the materials handling and logistics industry leverage these systems to meet their unique business needs.”

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Vollrath Company to consolidate in Wisconsin

Vollrath Company LLC of Sheboygan will receive $258,000 in tax credits from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce to help the company consolidate its business in Wisconsin.

Vollrath recently purchased a business competitor from Fort Wayne, Ind., and is consolidating its facilities in Kewaunee, Sheboygan and Menomonee Falls.

The $12.5 million project will retain 543 jobs and create 48 jobs.

“My administration is committed to helping companies retain and create good-paying jobs for Wisconsin residents, so I’m pleased that Vollrath Company has chosen to expand in our state,” Gov. Jim Doyle said.

Vollrath provides aluminum and stainless steel cookware, steam table pans, utensils, countertop equipment and buffet systems. The products are sold to commercial food service markets throughout the world.

A.O. Smith raises earnings estimates

Milwaukee-based A. O. Smith Corp. announced that it expects to significantly exceed analysts’ first quarter earnings estimates.

The company now projects its first quarter results will be between $.95 and $1.00 per share.

"Both of our business segments are experiencing higher sales volumes than we originally expected," said chairman and chief executive officer Paul Jones. "In addition, the results of our extensive cost reduction efforts and continuing strength in water heater sales in China will benefit the first quarter."

The company increased its full-year earnings forecast to $3.20 and $3.40 per share and intends to release its first quarter 2010 results before the market opens on April 20.



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