UP FRONT: Regional Roundup – April 2014

Posted on Apr 1, 2014 :: Up Front
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

» Highway 41 Corridor

Brown, Calumet, Outagamie, Winnebago, Fond du Lac Counties

7M gift to SNC to start business school, MBA

St. Norbert College plans to establish the Donald J. Schneider School of Business and Economics and launch a new master of business administration program with a donation from the family of one of Northeast Wisconsin’s business leaders and entrepreneurs. Pat Schneider, wife of Don Schneider, who died in 2012, recently donated $7 million to the college.

“We are humbled and honored by Pat Schneider’s extraordinary generosity; this is the largest gift to endow an academic program in the history of the College,” said St. Norbert College President Thomas Kunkel.

A portion of the gift will allow the college to launch the MBA program, which is expected to start in the fall of 2015, Kunkel said. The great majority of the gift will be used to endow the business school and its operation.

The new school will be composed of the college’s existing business administration and economics departments, as well as new faculty and staff who will be hired, including a dean who will oversee the operation of the Schneider School. An advisory board to the school will be made up of area business leaders.

Business classes have been offered at St. Norbert almost from the time it opened in 1898. But Kunkel said the creation of the Schneider School and the MBA program will allow the college’s strong business and economics programs to reach an even higher level of excellence, as well as better serve the Northeast Wisconsin region.

Donald Schneider graduated from St. Norbert with a degree in business in 1957. He was president, CEO and chairman of Schneider National, the now-global transportation, intermodal and logistics provider headquartered in Ashwaubenon. He also served as a St. Norbert trustee and longtime adjunct instructor in the area of finance and business administration.


Oshkosh chamber partners with school district

The Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce lent support to the Oshkosh Area School District to develop work-based education programs to include youth apprenticeships. This program is part of a statewide School-to-Work initiative designed for high school juniors or seniors who want hands-on learning in an occupational area at a worksite along with classroom instruction. The elective program lasts one to two years, combining academic and technical instruction with mentored on-the-job learning.

The Oshkosh chamber and school district partnered with Oshkosh Bergstrom divisions for two automotive technician apprenticeships. Bergstrom also offers scholarships through FVTC for the apprentices.

The Oshkosh chamber will partner with area businesses to offer opportunities in several fields, including engineering, technology, manufacturing, information technology, health science and finance.


Lawrence University receives $1M gift for faculty research

Lawrence University received an anonymous gift of $1 million for the Richard and Margot Warch Fund for Scholarly Research.

Provost and Dean of the Faculty David Burrows will administer the funds for faculty scholarship, travel expenses, student research support and the purchase of research materials, including instrumentation and books.

“One of the great strengths of a Lawrence education is the opportunity for students to work closely with faculty who are engaged in scholarly or creative projects,” Burrows says. “Our faculty are outstanding scholars and creative artists as well as excellent teachers. These funds will enhance the support available to faculty. All faculty will be eligible to apply for small grants that will help them complete such projects.”

The endowed fund honors Richard “Rik” Warch, the second-longest serving president in Lawrence history, who led the college from 1979 to 2004, and his wife, Margot. President Warch passed away in September at 74.

“Rik felt interactions between faculty and students were the essence of the Lawrence experience,” Margot Warch says. “He celebrated the work and achievements of each faculty member as dean of the faculty and, as president, was always looking for dollars to encourage scholarship and development projects. He would be thrilled to know that a fund bearing our names now exists to support faculty research.”

Funds to support faculty research will become available beginning with the 2014-15 academic year.



» The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Pagel’s dairy acquires Ron’s Wisconsin Cheese

Cornerstone Business Services Inc. of Green Bay announced that John T. Pagel of Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy in Kewaunee purchased Ron’s Wisconsin Cheese of Luxemburg.

Ron’s Wisconsin Cheese is a privately owned manufacturer, retailer and wholesaler of fresh Wisconsin cheeses and proprietary cheese spreads. Established in 1976, the Ron’s brand is recognized throughout Northeast Wisconsin with a customer base including supermarket chains, distributors, convenience stores and restaurants. Ron’s will continue to offer the same products and introduce new products when the opportunities arise.



» The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Nercon announces move, plans to expand

Nercon Engineering & Manufacturing Inc., a manufacturer of conveyor systems in Oshkosh and Oconto, will consolidate manufacturing capabilities at its Oconto plant and move its corporate office in Oshkosh.

The decision to consolidate in Oconto was driven by lean manufacturing practices, which embrace value-added principles that increase quality while identifying wasteful practices to reduce unnecessary costs.

“To continue the same manufacturing operations in plants that are just 80 miles from one another is not efficient for our company or our customers,” Nercon Vice President Steve Anklam says. “Lean manufacturing is all about optimizing our processes and eliminating waste. This move and expansion in Oconto will help us eliminate waste, improve manufacturing and assembly processes, improve delivery and pass savings and benefits on to our customers.”

Nercon invested in improving the Oconto facility with more than $5 million in equipment and upgrades that included an addition of a new laser, powder paint system, deburring, CNC rolling and CNC axis router machines. The company also plans a 30,000-square-foot expansion to the plant.

Over the next year, Nercon will add 15 jobs in Oconto.

“Nercon has a very strong balance sheet with zero long-term debt,” Nercon Vice President of Finance Joe Roesler says. “We have been able to pay for all of our capital additions mentioned above with operating cash flow. We will also seek to leverage our strong balance sheet by looking for acquisitions that complement our conveyor business and our manufacturing capabilities.”

Nercon is looking to relocate its corporate office in Oshkosh to the Neenah-Appleton area, although nothing has been finalized yet. The corporate office will move to a modern, state-of-the-art facility to improve office efficiencies and to give the company more access to a larger pool of professional employees from the Fox Valley area.



» West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Waupaca chamber launches Save Local Now

The Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce introduced a new marketing advantage for local businesses called Save Local Now, a one-stop digital marketing platform. The Save Local Now platform provides local businesses with nine products to reach more customers and creates incentives for consumers to shop locally.

For the consumer, there are no minimum purchase requirements and no minimum group participation requirements. For merchants, there are no delays in uploading or changing deals and no fees to businesses and organizations in the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce.

Merchants can access their business profile and change their deals, events or promotions without a third-party administrator. The offers are available through Save Local Now iPhone and Android apps, mobile website and SaveLocalNow.com.

Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce President Terri Schulz says the chamber contracted with Save Local Now after spending the past year researching shop local and daily deals programs.

“We felt it was important to find a program that would change consumer behavior by rewarding them for shopping at our local member-investor businesses. Save Local Now provides that incentive and gives total control to the member businesses,” she says. “Each business decides what deal or incentive to offer and for how long.”

Save Local Now’s co-founder and CEO Keither Latore says the program was created because community organizations were looking for creative ways to market their products and be an asset to their business.

“The Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce now has a tool to help promote local businesses and organizations while encouraging people to shop local,” Latore says. “Business members have access to a digital marketing platform they might not otherwise be able to afford. Consumers have a convenient source for finding local businesses, deals, events and promotions.”

The free app is available at SaveLocalNow.com, iTunes or Google Play.


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