Madison execs wish big for 2020

In lieu of New Year’s resolutions, our Executive of the Year award winners have some wishes they’d like to see come true for their businesses and the community in 2020.

Madison is a beautiful and fascinating place to live, but it’s not perfect — at least not yet. As we look ahead at all 2020 has to offer, we checked in with some of Greater Madison’s top execs — who also happen to be winners of our 2020 Executive of the Year awards — to see what tops their wish lists for their businesses/organizations and the entire region in the new year.

Dave Franchino, president and principal, Delve

“We’ve got a pretty exciting strategic plan for Delve — amusingly called “Green Cheese,” both because it’s our chance to shoot for the moon and because our company headquarters are located on the site of the old Madison Dairy building. Stop by our office and you’ll see cheese is a prominent theme. Our business looks completely different than it did five years ago and I’m pretty sure that it will look just as different five years from now. I’m hopeful our economy stays strong for everyone’s sake and excited for the opportunities and challenges we’ll have in the new decade.

“Looking beyond our company, this is an exciting time for Madison and Dane County on the business front. Our area is becoming more widely known and respected for our work in technology and health-care innovation, which is creating good opportunities for employment and growth and helping us attract and retain strong employees. Having both state government and the UW system in our backyard has created exciting partnerships and helped foster economic growth and stability.

“That said, we, as members of the business community, must continue to be aware of and try to play our part to address the various challenges and inequities too many members of our community face. Dane County tends to weather economic downturns better than many other areas but there’s ample evidence many are struggling, even in good economic times. Our businesses may be national or even global, but our hearts and homes are right here. I think our businesses need to continue to work on being better, more active, and positive members of the communities we live and work in.

“As an example, those of us with a strong presence in the STEM fields can — and need to — work to increase opportunities and the level of diversity throughout the entire educational continuum and into our firms. I’m confident firms like Delve can be an important part of helping build stronger, more vibrant, and more equitable communities in all of our locations.”

Casey Liakos, president, Carex Consulting Group

“For Carex, I want us to stay true to our focus on our local client partners. We work with most of the larger organizations in the area — and many smaller but growing ones — and these relationships are hugely important to us. We want to be the best in town, and our approach to doing that is to serve our Wisconsin partners in every way we can.

“More broadly, Carex is committed to the cause of attracting and retaining great talent in the area. We want to be at the forefront in working with local business, government, and nonprofit leaders to attract a diverse mix of talent to the area, and in bridging the talent gap between Madison and Milwaukee. When smart people move here for our incredible university or to work at Epic or another large employer, we want them to stay. If we can continue to get better in these areas, the entire ecosystem will benefit.”

Andrew Gundlach, owner/president, Argent Companies (Anytime Fitness of Southern Wisconsin)

“Being in the fitness industry, I am all too familiar with New Year’s resolutions. For 2020, I’ll be paying close attention to two proposed federal bills that would really help more people get healthy: the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act and the Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act. Preventive health measures need to be celebrated and incentivized. These bills would allow individuals to use their flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay for gym memberships, fitness equipment, exercise videos, and more, as well as promote workplace fitness programs. This type of legislation will reduce health-care costs and help drive healthy behavior.”

Mindy MacWilliams, executive vice president–Wisconsin/Illinois, Atmosphere Commercial Interiors

“We are fortunate to have had healthy growth in our Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Arizona regions, and I hope the new year creates continued opportunity. We benefited from federal tax cuts over the last few years and decided to share 50 percent of it with team members as end-of-year bonuses, with the remainder used for reinvestment in growth.

“Our customers remain at the heart of what we do, and we look forward to growing with them and for them. We plan to expand both organically and/or through acquisitions in all four states [Atmosphere Commercial Interiors operates in].

“We [also] believe in local community participation, which includes Habitat for Humanity builds, Middleton Outreach Ministry’s give back, the Empty Stocking Club event, and other charities our team members participate in. We [will remain] active members of DMI, the Madison and Middleton Chambers, and many industry groups.”

Salli Martyniak, president (retired), Forward Community Investments

“For too many years, Wisconsin has ranked No. 50 in black-white racial inequities, including incarceration rates, home ownership, median household income, infant mortality, high school graduation, and other indicators. Yet, there has been no statewide effort to address these startling racial disparities. I would like to see Gov. Evers work with the state Legislature to develop a plan — supported by legislation — that would, at worst, take Wisconsin from No. 50 to No. 45. It would be a long overdue, small start in the right direction.”

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