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6 Wisconsin family businesses honored

Six Wisconsin businesses were honored during the 16th annual Wisconsin Family Business of the Year Award banquet held Thursday, May 9 at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison.

Three grand awards were presented in small, medium, and large company categories, along with three special awards.

While no Dane County businesses took home awards this year, grand award winners came in the agricultural, manufacturing, and construction industries. They include:

  • Wallendal Farms, a third-generation, family-owned irrigated vegetable/grain farm located in Grand Marsh (Adams County), which won the Grand Award in the small company category.
  • J&D Tube Benders, a manufacturing-solutions company based in Schofield, near Wausau, which took home the Grand Award in the medium company category.
  • Hunzinger Construction Co., a fourth-generation construction company located in Brookfield (suburban Milwaukee), which received the Grand Award in the large company category.

Meanwhile, special award winners were:

An independent panel of judges drawn from the business community selected this year’s winners from among 19 nominees that ranged from bow tie makers to wedding planners. In the program’s 16 years, awards have been given to more than 100 family businesses.

Family Business Award sponsors include BDO USA, an international tax, assurance, and consultant practice that last year merged with Smith & Gesteland LLP, the founder of the awards program; First Business Bank, a regional bank and financial services provider based in Madison; and Boardman Clark, a regional law firm serving businesses and individuals.

Dan Kramer, a partner in BDO USA, served as the master of ceremonies, and photographer Carl Corey made his second appearance as the event’s keynote speaker. Corey, a Guggenheim Fellow in Photography and the recipient of over 100 awards from the photography and publishing communities, also spoke to the group in 2015.

This time, he took the audience through a series of 23 slides of Wisconsin small business owners he’s visited over the years. Corey’s photographs have been the subject of three monographs including: The Tavern League: A Portrait of the Wisconsin Tavern (The Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2011); Rancher (Bunker Hill / GalleryPrint, 2007); and For Love and Money: A Portrait of the Family Business (WHS Press, 2014).

As a small businessman himself, Corey noted how difficult it is to be a business operator, and he praised the gathering for their perseverance. “The real stars here tonight,” he notes, “are you guys. You should all be proud of what you’ve done to persevere.”

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