UP FRONT: Regional Roundup – March 2015

Posted on Mar 1, 2015 :: Up Front
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

» Highway 41 Corridor

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

Silver Star Brands acquires wellness Internet retailer

Oshkosh-based Silver Star Brands has expanded its portfolio of companies with the addition of Internet retailer Native Remedies, a marketer of homeopathic health and wellness products.

All positions within Native Remedies will be transitioned to Oshkosh, starting with customer relations and order fulfillment in early April. A minimum of 20 additional positions are expected to be created throughout the Silver Star Brands organization. Those positions will be posted internally and externally.

“The addition of Native Remedies is an excellent fit with the Silver Star Brands family of products and one we believe will be of great benefit to our customers,” says Vicki Updike, president of Silver Star Brands. “We are very pleased, as well, with this opportunity to grow our workforce in Oshkosh and the New North region.”

The addition of Native Remedies fits well with the company’s existing direct-to-consumer brands, which include Miles Kimball, Walter Drake, Exposures, Easy Comforts and As We Change. The acquisition is expected to strengthen the company’s position within the health, wellness and beauty segment, says Robert B. Goergen, Jr., CEO of Blyth, Silver Star’s parent company.

DealerFire sold, operations to remain in Oshkosh

DealerFire, a provider of web design and digital marketing for automotive dealers, was purchased by the California-based DealerSocket as a complement to the company’s customer relationship management and training solutions for the auto industry.

Established in 1999, DealerFire currently employs close to 100 — most in Oshkosh — and is in the midst of an expansion to add 120 jobs during the next three years. Those jobs are expected to remain. Founder Eric Hoopman will continue to lead the operation.

“We could not be more excited to join forces with DealerSocket,” Hoopman says. “They have proven to be totally focused on their customers, and we think the same way.”
Since 2001, DealerSocket has provided the automotive industry with CRM and training to save time and money, and improve sales staff effectiveness.

The company has more than 140,000 users at more than 4,000 auto dealerships throughout the U.S. and Canada.



» The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Sparks fly during the ceremonial keel laying of the Navy’s 13th littoral combat ship, USS Wichita. COurtesy of Lockheed Martin Corp

Sparks fly during the ceremonial keel laying of the Navy’s 13th littoral combat ship, USS Wichita. Courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corp

Latest littoral combat ship under way

Marinette Marine birthed the ship that will become the USS Wichita, the 13th ship in the Littoral Combat Ship class of vessels.

The ship’s sponsor Kate Staples Lehrer completed the time-honored tradition and authenticated the keel of Wichita, which will be known as LCS 13 until officially commissioned by the U.S. Navy.

Work began on the new ship even as uncertainty continues to swirl around the future of the LCS program.

While the secretary of defense has authorized the program to move forward with the 55-ship class, there was also a request for new variants for consideration.
Lockheed Martin, the primary contractor, will submit new designs, but it is possible that subsequent ships could be built elsewhere.

Marinette Marine, a division of Fincantieri, has delivered two of the completed ships to the Navy and has six ships under construction in addition to the Wichita.



» The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

ACUITY continues growth curve

ACUITY insurance continues to add to its team in Sheboygan and throughout the country.

The insurer announced projected growth in 2015 will mean adding 150 employees in both its expanded Sheboygan headquarters as well as throughout the 23 states where the company operates. ACUITY is the 62nd-largest property-casualty insurance company in the nation.

In 2014, the insurer increased its revenue by nearly $120 million to reach $1.24 billion in written premiums, a 10.6 percent gain over 2013. A project to expand its corporate headquarters continues in order to accommodate the growth and expansion of its workforce.

“We are increasing our staff not only to respond to our strong growth, but as an investment in our future,” says Ben Salzmann, president and CEO. “We need to be certain to have the people and resources in place to maintain our level of world-class service to a growing number of families, individuals and businesses.”

Manitowoc Co. breaks off ice division

The Manitowoc Company, Inc.’s board of directors approved a plan to separate the company’s Crane and Foodservice businesses into two independent, publicly-traded companies.

Manitowoc Co. anticipates the split of the Foodservice business to be completed in the first quarter of 2016, creating two separate companies with distinct enterprise strategies.

“We believe the separation of Cranes and Foodservice will position these businesses to take advantage of anticipated long-term improvement in demand and other opportunities in their respective markets,” says Glen E. Tellock, chairman and chief executive officer of Manitowoc Co.

Each business is a global leader in its market and both are positioned to grow in the future, Tellock says.

The Cranes business reported annual revenue of $2.3 billion in the 12-month period ended Dec. 31, and is one of the world’s largest providers of lifting equipment for the global construction industry. The business operates 37 facilities in 18 countries and generates nearly 60 percent of its revenue from non-U.S. markets.

The Foodservice business, which reported annual revenue of $1.6 billion during that same period, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial foodservice equipment serving the ice, beverage, refrigeration, food prep and cooking needs of restaurants, convenience stores, hotels, hospitals and other institutions. The business has a worldwide network of 120 distributors serving dozens of well-recognized restaurant chains.

Manitowoc Co. says benefits of the split include:
» Positioning each business to pursue individual strategies as market conditions improve
» Enabling each business to attract a long-term investor base appropriate for the particular operational and financial characteristics of each entity
» Enabling investors to value each company separately
» Enhancing the flexibility of each business to pursue distinct capital structures and capital allocation strategies to meet the individual needs of each business.


» West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Adventurers descend on Waupaca

An adventurous spirit has turned into a good business plan in Waupaca.

Adventure Outfitters, which opened its doors in downtown Waupaca in 2013, won the Rising Star Award from the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce.

The outdoor sports business experienced a 96 percent increase in revenue from its first summer season to its second season in 2014. It has since doubled its inventory and increased its fleet of rental equipment to handle consumer demand.

The business is owned and operated by partners Tim Lencki and Dan Wachsmuth.

The Rising Star Award is given to a business between one and five years old that provides a service while enhancing life in the Waupaca community and demonstrating economic growth.

Adventure Outfitters sells and rents outdoor sports equipment such as kayaks, canoes, snowshoes and fat tire bicycles. It also offers introductory classes on both outdoor sports and additional outdoor topics such as how to properly layer clothing for winter or outdoor photography.

In addition to its economic success — a location in Hartman State Park is planned for 2015 — Lencki has been involved with trail development, youth sports and river cleanup in the Waupaca area.


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