40 Under 40: The 2013 Class

Honoring Some of Dane County's Most Promising Young Execs

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Abe J. Degnan, 37
President, Degnan Design Builders, Inc.
Spouse/Partner: Lisa Degnan

Degnan’s personal life is family-centric. When he’s not working on a building project, he’s leading a Cub Scout pack, teaching Sunday school, or camping with the kids. The Degnan family is active, enjoying water-skiing, wakeboarding, downhill skiing, and racquetball. Degnan also is involved in the DeForest Norski Duathlon and sprint triathlons and training.With the aspiration of growing a business that might become a family legacy for his children, Abe Degnan was a volunteer project manager for three Green Built Home Makeover projects for the Madison Area Builders Association (MABA), which “transformed the homes, and probably the lives, of three Madison-area families” at no cost to them. In this way, he also “leveraged business skills to achieve personal goals.”

In addition to serving as the 2013 president of MABA, the UW-Milwaukee graduate is a member of the Village of DeForest Board of Zoning Appeals.

Chris Doering, 29
Vice President-Commercial Banking, Associated Bank
Spouse/Partner: Sasha Doering

A recent groom, it seemed to Chris Doering that last year his hobby was wedding planning – whether he had an aptitude for it or not (he prefers golf). This year, he’s looking forward to traveling and perhaps taking his bride up in a plane, given that he’s a private pilot.

Doering has also made commitments to groups such as the Madison Development Corp. Venture Debt Committee and Dane County Development Corp. Loan Committee. He is also involved with the UW Family Business Center as an ambassador and a graduate of Leadership Greater Madison, where he’s helped create a new young professionals group, for which he now serves as a board member.

Doering’s professional goal is “a successful, long career in banking by creating a strong network of influential people and by engaging in community events and giving back.” He most admires Mark Bugher for what he has done for the Madison area as director of University Research Park.

Kay-Tee Franke, 30
President, Engaging Results Communications
Spouse/Partner: Joel Franke

This coffee-fueled soccer mom (“I’m only human after I’ve finished my coffee”) is passionate about family sports, which include bowling tournaments and golf.

Franke is also an advocate for the business and civic causes she represents in Greater Madison. She’s VP of Dane Buy Local, a former chairperson and active committee member for March of Dimes, is on the board of directors for the Professional Development Council of Wisconsin, and is a member of Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs.

Her biggest achievement to date has been building Engaging Results Communications, which she describes as “a company that leverages new technology to reinforce old principles of communication.” Her aspiration for her company, which she founded in 2010, is “to disrupt the market while making a positive impact on the community.”

When asked what changes she’d like to see in the Madison market, Franke replied, “Business leaders, government, and educators working closer together to close the gap between job openings and those seeking skills for employment.”

Brett J. Frazier, 32
Executive Director, Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce
Spouse/Partner: Jody Frazier

After several years in professional theater, Brett Frazier reconnected with the world of politics (his college focus was political science) when he was elected as a write-in candidate to the Common Council of Milton in 2009. In addition to his work on behalf of the Oregon area, he’s currently chair of the Milton Public Works Committee and commissioner for the Milton Joint Fire Commission.

Frazier says his attraction to public service stems from his desire to help others: “What makes the difference in terms of success or failure is how quickly we realize we are not elected to serve ourselves.”

Between all those gigs, Frazier worked for five years for pc/nametag in Verona, and he lists former employer Nick Topitzes as the person he would most like to emulate because of the compassion Topitzes showed employees during the recession, and because of his leadership and resilience during hard times.

And yes, Frazier still enjoys “climbing on stage every once in awhile to play make-believe.”

Aaron Gibbons, 38
Construction Manager, Iconica
Spouse/Partner: Jamie Gibbons

After graduating from UW-Madison 14 years ago, Aaron Gibbons started in the building industry as a carpenter. He rose to superintendent, project manager, and now is construction department manager, handling the variety and complexity of more than 100 projects valued at over $100 million.

Along the way, Gibbons has learned “the art of being firm and direct while still having the ability to negotiate, compromise, and persuade others without damaging relationships or sacrificing results,” which, he says, has also aided him in his personal development. Leading and mentoring are the benefits of his career path, he adds.

As a father of two young girls, Gibbons is endeavoring to “teach them about life through doing.” To learn about food, for example, they are raising chickens and growing a garden. He is an outdoorsman, too, and to encourage physical fitness, he coaches his daughters in soccer. “And we spend time camping and taking advantage of all Wisconsin offers for outdoor activities,” he adds.

Jun 5, 2013 09:30 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I just wanted to say that two of the women on this list are great!! Keetra Burnette and Mary Beth Collins are two blessings in me and my sons life!! Just wanted to say keep up the great work ladies and dont change a thing!! Love you both!!

Timeca Echols and Jaron Dorenzo

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