Manufacturing garners the spotlight this month

Posted on Sep 27, 2019 :: Editor , Editor’s Insights
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

While most people know Wisconsin as the Dairy State, it’s really manufacturing that’s at the heart of the state’s economy, with one in five jobs related to the industry. And with October known as Manufacturing Month across the country, businesses, schools and organizations hold a variety of events drawing attention to the industry.

One of the state’s largest events is the Manufacturing First Expo & Conference, which is being held Oct. 30 at the KI Center in Green Bay. The event draws more than 1,200 people and features keynote speakers, special presentations, breakout sessions and a large expo hall filled with more than 200 exhibitors.

David Kohler, a man whose name has been associated more with golf lately than manufacturing, is using his keynote presentation to focus on Kohler Co.’s 145 years of manufacturing and innovation that produces a wide range of products from engines to bath fixtures.

Kohler says Wisconsin has established a well-earned reputation across the country as a center of manufacturing, and innovation is vital to keeping it that way.

“We reinvest 90 percent of our earnings back into our company annually, which gives us a competitive advantage to drive future growth,” he says. “We have increased our investment in information and process technology across our global facilities, creating model Industry 4.0 pilot factories in select locations.”

That investment in Industry 4.0 is vital since manufacturing is moving more toward automation, the internet of things and other high-tech tools to help companies stay competitive and grow at a time when many businesses struggle to find enough workers.

“The drive to innovate keeps our brands relevant,” Kohler says. “We constantly push the envelope on design, function and user experience, which leads us to discovery in all areas of our business.”

To learn more about this year’s event, please see the Don’t Miss story on page 59.

This month’s cover story by Jessica Thiel on Paper Converting Machine Co. provides another example of how a longtime, successful manufacturer must change with the times to meet industry and customer demands. The 100-year-old Green Bay company went through a major shift in 2005 when it was acquired by Barry-Wehmiller.

With the new owner came a whole new way of thinking that focused on putting employees first. That change in thinking has led to additional growth and helped PCMC become an employer of choice. To learn more about the company and its plans for increased diversification, please read the story starting on page 24.


coming up

Mergers and Acquisitions Forum

The M&A market is hot right now, but how can you ensure your deal’s success? The 2019 Mergers and Acquisitions Forum on Oct. 9 at Lambeau Field Atrium’s Legends Club Room in Green Bay will provide the advice and insight you need. The event features a keynote address, a panel discussion with M&A thought leaders and breakout sessions. Visit for more information.


Women’s Leadership Conference

Organized by New Sage Strategies, the Women’s Leadership Conference will be held Oct. 17 at Liberty Hall in Kimberly. The day features a keynote from author Lois Frankel, presentations from local women leaders and a panel discussion during lunch. The conference is designed to inspire the leader inside each woman. Go to for more information or to register.


An extra dose of Insight

Listen to Stan Blakney, president of Paper Converting Machine Co., discuss how the Green Bay company plans to diversify its business.

Blakney’s interview is just one of the many Insight has done during the past 10 years with New North business leaders that you can find online at