4/30 Update: After work project leads to new cleaning solution

Posted on Apr 30, 2020 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive
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As the COVID-19 pandemic intensified throughout Wisconsin, one employee of U.S. Lubricants, a division of U.S. Venture, wanted to do something to help.

By day, Joe Leistikow is a chemist and formulator for U.S. Lubricants, which means he mixes and creates new products. But after hours, he couldn’t stop thinking about mixing a product that would neutralize the virus. “A lot of other people had the same idea, so the supply chain for raw materials quickly collapsed,” he said.

Leistikow reviewed common cleaning products, like bleach and hydrogen peroxide, and the idea of creating a cleaning solution hit him. These were ingredients that were readily available through the company’s supply chain and were already approved by government agencies for use as cleaners.

Working out of U.S. Venture’s Rockford, Ill., plant, Leistikow mixed and tested until he got the right cleaning solution product now known as Protec CDF 289-RTU.

“I love to troubleshoot,” he said. “We were able to work through it and just like all innovation, you get something right after 100 errors.”

From start to finish, the process of creating the cleaning solution took less than a week. “We encourage an entrepreneurial mindset throughout our organization,” said Greg Vandenberg, U.S. Venture’s director of giving and community engagement. “This is just one example of how innovation moves our business forward and solves problems for our customers.”

The division was immediately tapped to donate the cleaning solution to nonprofits, and plans are in the works to integrate Leistikow’s creation into the company’s product line. Regional nonprofits receiving donations of the new cleaning solution include Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. and Childcare Resource & Referral.

Neenah manufacturer reports COVID-19 outbreak

VT Industries’ Eggers Division plant in Neenah announced it has a coronavirus outbreak among its employees.

The company reported it had “several” confirmed cases, but did not supply an exact number in a news release. The door and millwork manufacturing plant was deemed an essential business under Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order and was allowed to continue its operations.

VT Industries said it has increased cleaning and sanitizing at the facility, is enforcing social distancing and has installed barriers or is requiring additional personal protective equipment in areas where maintaining a 6-foot distance between workers is not possible. Temperature checks and face coverings are also required for all employees.

Canary Fund seeks COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund applicants

The Canary Fund, working with its community partner, The Pollination Project, is seeking grant applications for its COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.

Individuals and community groups across 12 Wisconsin counties are eligible to apply. Applications are being accepted here.

The Canary Fund seeks to recognize the activists, visionaries and change-makers of Northeast Wisconsin who see and work to address unmet needs in area communities. The fund’s mission includes providing those change-makers with seed grants of between $1,500 and $5,000. The grant requests need to fall into the following categories: direct response projects, community resilience initiatives and initiatives that support projects moving their activities into the virtual realm.

The Pollination Project is a 501(c)(3) organization specializing in seed grant funding. The Pollination Project and the Canary Fund, which was started in 2019 to honor the late Jim Rivett, work together to get funding support to change-makers in Northeast Wisconsin.

Green Bay Back to Business Grant launched

The Greater Green Bay Chamber, in collaboration with inaugural funder American Foods Group, announced the creation of the Greater Green Bay Back to Business Grant.

The grant caters to small- and medium-size businesses whose operations have been significantly impacted as a result of COVID-19.

An initial $200,000 investment by American Foods Group, including its trucking arm America’s Service Line, enabled the creation of the fund. Other contributors that have since joined the effort include the Schneider Foundation, Breakthrough, City of Green Bay and Badger State Brewing Co.

Eligible businesses may apply for and receive upward of $10,000 so long as they have not already received from the Paycheck Protection Program or federal SBA disaster loan.

The funds will be awarded to eligible Brown County businesses that meet a few qualifying criteria:

  • A Brown County-based business in an industry outlined in Emergency Order #12 – Safer at Home Order, or by any subsequent emergency order or that demonstrates it is otherwise affected by the COVID-19 outbreak due to a decrease in the physical foot traffic on which the business depends.
  • Employs five to 50 employees.
  • Has been in business for a minimum of two years.
  • Demonstrates an income loss as a result of Emergency Order #12 or COVID-19.

The American Foods Group assembly of Green Bay plants, known as Green Bay Dressed Beef, initiated and organized the monies for the Greater Green Bay Back to Business Grant. The idea for the grant originated in those plants.

A four-person grant committee comprised of business leaders will review and make prompt decisions on the simple and straightforward grant applications. To apply, or for more information, visit https://thestartuphub.org/backtobusinessgrant. Applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on May 7.