The Volt, running on empty

A circular firing squad seems to be forming around the Chevrolet Volt, Chevy’s mostly coal-powered car, according to Bloomberg through Autoweek: “Ever since it became known that the plug-in hybrid car’s batteries had burst into flames after government crash tests, the Volt has become the whipping boy of Republican politicians. Conservatives have equated General Motors Co.’s Volt with everything from government bailouts to radical left-wing environmentalism.

IBTV Coffee Break: Kurt Bauer, President/CEO WMC Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

This week’s IBTV Coffee Break is with Kurt Bauer, president/CEO of WMC – Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. The statewide chamber of commerce represents over 3,500 of Wisconsin’s businesses, including many signature companies, with the average business represented having under 50 employees. In this interview, we get to hear about the organization, who it represents, some of its philanthropic activities, its new communications activities, why it appears to be focused on representing the political perspectives of a single party, and why the jobs situation in Wisconsin hasn’t been as strong as desired.

CEO Leadership: GenMet’s Mary Isbister

The Wisconsin manufacturing industry has weathered the economic storm very well, but if the industry is going to reach its full potential, more people have to shed their outdated image of companies that “make things.” In the first installment of our CEO Leadership series, Mary Isbister, president of GenMet, a Mequon-based metal fabricator, said the cause of workforce development would be better served if businesses, not job seekers, were in the driver’s seat.

Manufacturing enthusiasm

With the buzz the manufacturing sector has generated lately – and the star treatment that’s ensued – you’d think the Kardashians had taken control of the National Association of Manufacturers. Suddenly, manufacturing is tres chic, as evidenced by the gleam seen lately in the president’s eye when he talks about the sector’s future. During a visit to Milwaukee’s Master Lock last week, President Obama acknowledged the real and abiding problems American manufacturers have encountered in the face of foreign competition, but he was notably upbeat about their prospects.

Help wanted: Marinette Marine has 800 more hires to go

For Marinette Marine’s Charles Goddard, business is good – so good that the company is scrambling to ramp up its workforce by hundreds of employees over the next several months. This sense of urgency is due to the fact that Marinette Marine has secured contracts to build 10 Littoral Combat Ships for the U.S. Navy, and the company is using every workforce development resource it can find to meet demand for a ship-building program whose economic impact will extend far beyond company walls.

My fellow Wisconsinites, the state of manufacturing is strong, but …

It’s been a week of high-profile “state of” speeches, but while people of goodwill can disagree about the state of the nation and Wisconsin, there is no question the state of Wisconsin’s manufacturing industry is strong, according to Buckley Brinkman, executive director of the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Take 5: The Wisconsin Idea is alive and well

With all the dairy components – including whey protein and skim milk – produced in Wisconsin, Galloway Co. has introduced Fitness Edge, a new protein drink now available at Madison-area Woodman’s stores. While Galloway is based in Neenah, this is one product launch with a “Wisconsin Idea” underpinning, as Galloway’s Mark Gottsacker explains in this inaugural edition of “Take 5.”


Adrian Reif, self-described Head Yumbutterologist, lives, breathes, and sleeps peanut butter. That is, when he's not awakened in the middle of the night with to-do lists swirling through his head.

Troy Berg, Dane Manufacturing

I'm here because of the love of two women," Troy Berg freely admits – his wife, Michelle, and mother, Sharon – whom he insists don't get enough credit. Both helped the 46-year-old president of Dane Manufacturing purchase the company he has owned since 2001. Since then, he's spent the last 10 years carving a legacy of his own.

State Manufacturing Rebound Strengthens

Lee Swindall reflected for a moment on what the Wisconsin manufacturing industry had morphed into during the aftermath of the Great Recession, and he described a class system.

It's a hit: Local bat maker RockBats goes major league

They're two words that, all by themselves, can electrify almost any mid-March conversation within a 20-mile radius of Miller Park (or Warner Park, for that matter). Opening day. Those words bring to mind a smorgasbord of sensations – the taste of cold beer and hot pretzels, the smell of freshly cut grass, a surging rush of renewed optimism, and the sound of bats launching taters into the exosphere.

40 Executives Under 40

Many of us can recall the sage advice about going into plastics that Dustin Hoffman's character got in the iconic movie The Graduate, ["There's a great future in plastics. Think about it."] but not Roy Hasenfratz. Even though he's in upper management at Corbi Plastics, he has not taken this advice to heart.

Safety first at Schoep's

mmediately prior to a tour of the Schoep's Ice Cream production facility on Madison's near-east side, visitors are asked to remove jewelry – and even click pens – to prevent anything from dropping into the product. Rubber overshoes cover street shoes, and guests are presented with white overcoats, hair caps, ear plugs, and protective glasses. Those with facial hair must also sport beard masks. Though the garb may feel silly, it's clear food safety is no laughing matter.

On foreign soil: The trials and triumphs of operating overseas

Nothing about establishing an overseas presence came easy to Hankscraft Inc. And with labor costs rising meteorically in the last few years in China, where the company employs 300 workers, company president Mark Blume knows he still faces some keen challenges.

Dave Franchino

"Each night, every asset we have walks out the door," said Dave Franchino (46), president of Design Concepts Inc., as a compliment to his staff.

With no product of its own, the design innovation firm improves other company's products and strategies through design, engineering and implementation.

In Business magazine