Regional Roundup

Posted on Jul 1, 2016 :: Up Front
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

» Interstate 41 Corridor

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

Schneider makes simultaneous acquisitions to close the final mile

Schneider acquired a pair of firms that will help the company expand its reach in the home-delivery market.

The Green Bay-based transportation firm acquired Watkins & Shepard, an 800-driver carrier, and Lodeso, a Zeeland, Mich.-based company that provides shipment-tracking software and has been working with Watkins & Shepard.

As online shopping continues its growth, so do the opportunities in the delivery market, which the company now serves as a single-carrier service from seaport to a consumer’s front door.

Both acquisitions complement the growing Final Mile+ service from Schneider, which provides customized home, commercial and retail delivery with white-glove service.

“The ability to provide differentiated experiences for retailers, manufacturers and consumers is a primary area of strategic growth for Schneider,” says Schneider President and CEO Chris Lofgren. “We will continue to make significant investments to capture the full potential the combined companies now have to connect the first mile to the final mile.”

Based in Missoula, Mont., Watkins & Shepard is a leading provider of LTL, truckload and logistics services for difficult-to-handle goods, such as furniture and floor coverings. Lodeso uses proprietary technology to handle supply chain complexities within the national home delivery industry.

Plexus moves design center to downtown Neenah

Plexus Corp. will relocate its Neenah Design Center to the Gateway office building now under construction in downtown Neenah.

Plexus’ design center is currently located near Interstate 41 in Neenah.

The estimated $8 million to $9 million Gateway building is a privately funded project led by John Bergstrom and is expected to open in the summer of 2017. The building is across the street from Plexus’ world headquarters.

“The close proximity with our Global Headquarters will facilitate stronger collaboration between our teams and enable our Neenah Design Center employees to take advantage of the great amenities that the community has to offer,” says Todd Kelsey, Plexus’ executive vice president and chief operating officer.

About 200 Plexus employees will move from the design center to the new downtown Neenah building when construction is complete.

Austin Straubel adds international gateway

Austin Straubel International Airport has opened yet another gateway to international markets for Northeast Wisconsin with a $4.3 million, stand-alone International Arrivals Terminal.

The terminal will be used by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to process more than 400 international aircraft arrivals annually.

“GRB is often the first point of entry into the U.S. for corporate and private aircraft because it has an International Port of Entry status, is on the Great Circle flying route from Europe into the heartland of the United States, and has a fully operational USDA-approved autoclave to handle regulated international trash,” says Airport Director Tom Miller.

The terminal, located at the airport’s former firefighting facility, was remodeled and repurposed to meet CBP safety and security requirements. The terminal will serve general aviation flights and charters.

Funding for the International Arrivals Terminal came from several sources, including the Federal Aviation Administration, WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics and Brown County.

» The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

First National Bank of Niagara acquired by Michigan bank

Mackinac Financial Corporation has acquired the assets of Niagara Bancorporation in an all-cash transaction for a fixed $7.3 million purchase price.

Niagara Bancorporation is the holding company for First National Bank of Niagara and operates four banks in the Northwoods region. All locations are expected to remain open. The transaction is expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2016 and increases Mackinac’s, which operates as mBank, locations in Wisconsin from three to seven.

The acquisition increases mBank’s position as the largest bank headquartered in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with assets estimated at $930 million and gross balance sheet loans of roughly $735 million total loans under management to approximately $1 billion and combined core deposits to total approximately $650 million.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to partner with another community-focused institution in the state of Wisconsin for our next transaction,” says Kelly W. George, mBank president and CEO. “The increased footprint which bridges our Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Eagle River, Wisconsin, locations will allow us to offer an even more convenient and comprehensive banking experience to both western UP and northern Wisconsin markets.”

First National Bank of Niagara operates four full-service banking centers, one each in Niagara, Aurora, Florence and Spread Eagle. Niagara has total assets of approximately $70 million, loans of $35 million and deposits of $60 million.

» West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Last cookie facility in Ripon to close its doors

There are no more cookies made in “Cookietown.”

Treehouse Foods, Inc., announced it will shutter the last remaining production facility in Ripon, which once marketed itself as “Cookietown, USA,” by the end of the year because of declining demand for the product manufactured there.

About 60 workers will lose their jobs when the plant is shut down. Treehouse, which also owns facilities in Green Bay and Manawa, took over the plant in February with its $2.7 billion acquisition of ConAgra Food Inc.’s store-brand snack business. The company further announced it would be shutting down a facility in California by mid-2017 as well, laying off another 600.

Before selling to Treehouse, ConAgra closed its namesake Rippin’ Good Cookie plant in Ripon in 2015, which resulted in 300 workers losing their jobs.

» The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

Retail opportunities abound in Sheboygan County

Retailers looking to increase sales may want to give Sheboygan County a look.

A recent study commissioned by the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation and the town of Sheboygan found more than $1 billion in opportunity in the region — sales that are currently going elsewhere because there are not enough retail outlets in the marketplace. With the county’s population and job opportunities continuing to grow at a rapid pace, those opportunities are expected to grow by another $40 million.

The first phase of a study, compiled by The Retail Coach, found that one-third of all goods being bought by Sheboygan County residents are not being purchased within the market. Notable opportunities include: $123 million in sales opportunities for clothing and clothing accessories stores, $93 million for department stores and $11 million for shoe stores.

The customer base covered in the study was an area with a population of 115,105, roughly the boundaries of Sheboygan County. The average customer age is 40.7 with a median household income of $53,260, greater than both the state and national median household income.

The retail study follows successful efforts by the SCEDC to add additional housing to the county, particularly high-end, multi-family rental space. Sheboygan County is adding more than 500 apartments by 2017.