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2013 Family Business of the Year Award program has a Badgerland feel

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Greater Madison was well represented at the recent Wisconsin Family Business of the Year Award presentation, with five of the nine companies honored hailing from the area.

Von Rutenberg Ventures of Waunakee received the Grand Award for medium-sized companies, while Cleary Building Corp. of Verona and Dave Jones, Inc., J&K Security Solutions, and Morgan Murphy Media of Madison each received special awards.

“We love presenting the Wisconsin Family Business of the Year Award and having the opportunity to tell [these companies’] stories,” stated Neil Fauerbach, a principal with Smith & Gesteland, the awards program’s founding sponsor. “They really are the forces in their communities that make things happen.”

Also receiving awards were Ron’s Refrigeration & Air Conditioning (Grand Award, small businesses), Wisconsin Rapids; JF Brennan Co., Inc., La Crosse (Grand Award, large businesses); Pioneer Ford Sales Ltd., Platteville (Everybody’s Neighbor Award); and Van’s Lumber & Custom Builders, Inc., Dykesville (Whole Package – Golden Rule Award).

Von Rutenberg Ventures’ story reflects the kind of family values that the Family Business of the Year Award program seeks to exemplify.

The company started in 1961, when Bill and Betty Von Rutenberg bought an eight-stool hamburger joint in downtown Madison called The Nibble Nook. Later, they sold the establishment and bought Burkes Supper Club, which later became Mariner’s Inn. With the help of their sons Bill and Jack, they later added Nau-Ti-Gal and Captain Bill’s to their stable of restaurants and started operating Betty Lou Cruises in 1998.

“What stood out for the judges in the Von Rutenberg nomination were a few things,” said Fauerbach. “Their mother, Betty, instilled in them some very powerful values of hospitality and customer service. But above all, family was always the priority. Perhaps that’s why they consider their team to be a family. Like many businesses, they are very involved in their communities, which is evident from their philanthropic efforts.”

Cleary Building Corp., which won the special Shamrock Pride Award, opened for business in 1978 and has since grown into a national company employing 900 people. The company currently has 80 offices nationwide. Tom and Carol Cleary founded the business, and their three children have all worked there. Their son Sean is now the majority owner and president.


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