BizTimes Milwaukee | May 25, 2020

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» MAY 25 - JUN 14, 2020



20 Real Estate COVER STORY


Construction during COVID Coronavirus creates challenges for the building industry

Special Report


BizTimes Milwaukee (ISSN 1095-936X & USPS # 017813) Volume 26, Number 3, May 25, 2020 – June 14, 2020. BizTimes Milwaukee is published bi-weekly, except monthly in January, April, May, July, August and December by BizTimes Media LLC at 126 N. Jefferson St., Suite 403, Milwaukee, WI 53202-6120, USA. Basic annual subscription rate is $42. Single copy price is $3.25. Back issues are $5 each. Periodicals postage paid at Milwaukee, WI and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: Send address corrections to BizTimes Milwaukee, 126 N. Jefferson St., Suite 403, Milwaukee, WI 53202-6120. Entire contents copyright 2020 by BizTimes Media LLC. All rights reserved.


53 Strategies 53 SALES Christine McMahon 54 MANAGEMENT John Howman 55 LEADERSHIP Karen Vernal

58 Biz Connections

22 Building and Construction In addition to the cover story, coverage includes a look at the recently completed BMO Tower, a project that overcame numerous challenges.

32 Office Space Coverage includes photographs of the home office setups for Milwaukee-area executives and a look at how office space is going to function in the immediate future.



39 Notable Women in Construction & Design



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Leading Edge

BIZTIMES DAILY – The day’s most significant news →


Wisconsin economy begins to reopen after Supreme Court ruling By Andrew Weiland, staff writer About two weeks before Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order was set to expire on May 26, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck it down. By a 4-3 majority, the court ruled the governor’s order was unlawful, invalid and unenforceable. The “Safer at Home” order was an attempt to prevent the spread

BY THE NUMBERS New Jersey-based information technology company GalaxE. Solutions, Inc. is planning to open a Milwaukee innovation center that will bring


tech jobs to the city.

4 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the state and keep the health care system from becoming overwhelmed by a potential surge in patients. Several businesses were deemed “essential” by the order and allowed to maintain full or partial operations, but the order also had the effect of shutting down much

of the state’s economy, resulting in significant job losses since it was put in place by Evers in late March. Recently, Evers had eased some restrictions of the order, such as letting golf courses open. The Supreme Court ruling allowed many businesses in the state to reopen. Some welcomed customers almost immediately, while others took steps to modify their operations with protective measures for employees and customers, and still other businesses said they were not ready to reopen yet. Local governments responded with some maintaining local stay-at-home orders. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the city’s stay-at-home order would remain in place. It includes bans on public gatherings, non-essential business, operations and travel, and does not have an end date. Barrett later modified the order to allow barbershops, salons and child care centers to reopen, but bars and restaurants remain closed except for curbside or delivery services. “We’ve been working to have, ready to go, if necessary, a local order that would deal with the reopening of businesses,” Barrett said. “And that’s what our goal is – our goal is to reopen businesses but to reopen them in a safe fashion.” Barrett cautioned against

opening business too soon. “If there was just a light switch, and we said the businesses are reopened, there’s absolutely no guarantee that people would have the confidence to go into businesses,” he said. “So, we have to make sure that people not only are safe but they feel safe.” Most Milwaukee County suburbs established a similar stayat-home order through May 21, eight days after the state Supreme Court ruling. The city of Racine extended its stay-at-home order through May 26 and said a phased and gradual reopening of the local economy would begin then. The city said it would restrict large gatherings through July 31. Kenosha County said it would extend its stay-at-home order through May 26, but then quickly reversed course after the Wisconsin Counties Association provided guidance that said the state Supreme Court order could also apply to local governments. Waukesha County executive Paul Farrow encouraged businesses to follow CDC and Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. guidelines for reopening. “While there is no longer a ‘Safer at Home’ order, there is still COVID-19 in our community. Be smart, be vigilant, and stay safe,” he said. n

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LOCATION: No Studios, 1037 W. McKinley Ave., Milwaukee



@BIZTIMESMEDIA – Real-time news

FOUNDERS: Jared Judge FOUNDED: 2019 PRODUCT: Online platform for booking musicians WEBSITE: EMPLOYEES: One employee and four volunteers GOAL: Expand product offerings.

Jared Judge

BookLive working to help musicians weather impact of coronavirus By Brandon Anderegg, staff writer

6 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

BOOKLIVE FOUNDER and gigging violinist Jared Judge was playing the opening night of a community theater show in Waukesha when, during intermission, the director informed the audience it was also closing night. “The mood shifted from this very happygo-lucky performance to, ‘Oh my god, what is happening?’” Judge said. “This is our livelihood and we were sad to close the show we had worked so hard on.” What Judge felt during that show is similar to what many musicians have experienced throughout the COVID-19 crisis – the rug being pulled out from under their feet, especially for those who have also lost their service industry jobs due to the coronavirus. Judge launched BookLive in 2019 as a way to help musicians cultivate the entrepreneurial side of being a gigging musician. The startup’s software serves as a management tool, teaching musicians how to market themselves, price their services and enable web transactions so they can book gigs online. With some musicians losing their primary source of income, Judge and his team needed

to pivot to stay true to their mission of helping musicians make a living. In early May, BookLive launched “Virtual Serenades,” a feature that allows users to send friends and family a live recording of their favorite song performed by a local artist. Virtual serenades have raised nearly $2,000 for artists so far with 10% of BookLive’s profits going toward Imagine MKE’s artist relief fund, which raised $200,000 to help musicians weather the coronavirus. BookLive is also a marketplace for event planners or businesses in search of musicians for live performances. Even with the economy reopening, Judge still believes virtual serenades will have a permanent place in the startup’s business model. “There will always be special occasions in your life where you might not be throwing a party, but you still want to make it special by sending a virtual serenade,” Judge said. “This might also be a way for people who are throwing live events to get a demo performance if they want to book them for the live event.” n

Construction & Real Estate

THE REOPENING CHECKLIST: What Employers Should Be Preparing For Right Now


To download your copy, visit:


Founder, Envision Growth Oby Nwabuzor is the founder of Envision Growth, a Milwaukee-based development group focused on urban regeneration. Nwabuzor relies on several tech tools to increase her efficiency throughout the day.

BLACKWEB “I use a variety of technological devices throughout the day and, with that, they barely make it to noon. Blackweb is a portable battery pack for those, like me, who are heavy users of smartphones, tablets and iPads. With Blackweb, your devices will stay powered throughout the day.”

L aC ie “Using an external drive as your main drive can help save the wear and tear on your actual internal drive. So, yes, an external drive actually helps your computer last longer. Also, if you are an Apple user like me, an external drive can help with improved performance for Macs with slower internal drives.”

Matt Meyer 262-347-2659

WAVE “This accounting software has a free, ad-supported version, but you may come across some drawbacks. Nonetheless, if you want to budget around an accounting software, Wave comes free for companies with fewer than 10 employees. The platform handles invoicing, tracking of expenses, receipt scanning and more.”

MKE PARK “We are living in a fast-paced society where mobility is essential and the era of carrying change seems to be at its end with the use of debit/credit cards and mobile wallets. MKE Park allows us to pay meter parking directly from a smartphone. Other cities are also offering this. While there is a small added fee, I believe the convenience is well worth it. Say goodbye to carrying tons of change.” n

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Leading Edge



What does your role entail? “I am tasked with developing the partnership strategy and long-lasting partnerships in the K-12, college/university and professional organization areas to ensure American Family has a diverse talent pipeline. I also assist in AmFam’s community engagement and neighborhood outreach in the surrounding areas where our new Milwaukee office will be on Historic King Drive.”

How has COVID-19 impacted your work? “Typically, I’d be present at events and visiting existing and prospective partners to learn more about their programming and the audiences they serve. That work is now a virtual experience, or events have been postponed. I’m also working with my colleagues to assist in the development of a local and national strategy to support our existing partners and explore other areas that need additional support.”

What’s kept you in Milwaukee? “The fact that Milwaukee hasn’t reached its full potential. It’s a city that is still under the radar and slowly is becoming desirable to people. However, there are still several looming challenges for professionals of color that need to be addressed.”

Biggest career motivation? Advertise in these upcoming special reports and get your message in front of area business executives.

“There are a lot of individuals who planted seeds early in my life that helped me thrive in my educational studies and throughout my professional career. Those seeds have helped me realize the success I’ve attained. I want to continue doing the same for other rising students and professionals, so the narrative about our city changes.”

What keeps you busy outside of work? Business in Washington County

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“I am the co-founder of a young professional organization called Social X, which has the mission of engaging, retaining and attracting diverse professionals. I enjoy running and SX has a run crew called F.E.A.R. (Forget Everything And Run). Also, I’m active in ministry in my church, Pilgrim Rest.” n

RANELL WASHINGTON Health Care June 29, 2020 Space Reservation: June 17, 2020 Contact Linda Crawford today! Phone: 414.336.7112 Email: 8 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

Partnership development advisor at American Family Insurance AGE: 38 HOMETOWN: Milwaukee EDUCATION: Bachelor’s in finance and certificate in real estate from the University of WisconsinMilwaukee PREVIOUS POSITION: Vice president of business banking at Town Bank

Chuck Severson slides a stone across the ice at Ozaukee Country Club.

Testing tactics on ice By Brandon Anderegg, staff writer

C the


huck Severson is a strategist by nature – not only as a senior portfolio manager at Baird, but also as a “skip” on a Milwaukee Curling Club team. The curling team’s captain, also known as a skip, oversees the team’s strategy and is typically the last of teammates to sling a 42-pound chunk of granite across the ice. One of Severson’s strengths is understanding an opponent’s position and knowing when to score versus calling a defensive maneuver. “It’s a little bit like chess on the ice when you’re trying to outwit your opponent,” Severson said. “So, you’re trying to think strategically a couple shots in advance to where you want to position your stones for what you’re trying to accomplish.” Severson has been an ice tactician for about as long as he’s worked at Baird. The person who hired Severson in 1988 is also a curler and felt Severson and his wife would enjoy the sport, he said.

Two worlds.

“Curling is a great social sport,” Severson said. “It helps if you’re a good athlete, but you don’t have to be a fantastic athlete to be a competitive curler. It also helps because, living in Milwaukee, you’ve got to get out of the house in the winter and curling helps do that.” The Milwaukee Curling Club formed three years before Wisconsin became a state, back when curlers waltzed onto a frozen Milwaukee River, near what is now the Pabst Theater, Severson said. Over the years, Severson has traveled with his team to a variety of curling tournaments, called “bonspiels.” The bonspiel is one of Severson’s favorite aspects of curling because it’s a chance to not only make new friends, but also reconnect with old ones. “Today, I only play three or four tournaments a year because I have this day job,” Severson said. “But it’s a really fun winter game where the comradery is wonderful.” n


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Leading Edge

B I Z T R AV E L E R : S T U T T G A RT BOB GROSS Founder and owner, Gross Automation, LLC

Bob Gross, owner of Brookfield-based Gross Automation, LLC, has traveled internationally with the three most recent Wisconsin governors on Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s global trade ventures. He’s spent time in Dubai, Seoul, London, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Poland, Sydney, Qatar, Guadalajara and Vasteras, Sweden, but a standout trip was to Stuttgart, Germany in 2018. n

T R A N S P O R TAT I O N : “We flew United Airlines … It’s just (Chicago O’Hare International Airport) to Frankfurt. I tend to go nonstop, especially for international flights, if I can. I take the bus to O’Hare, which takes you right to the international terminal. You don’t have to park, you don’t have to pay exorbitant rates.” “We walked everywhere. Stuttgart is like a 7-kilometer fishhook around the city. It’s all pedestrian. And the nice thing about walking is you get to talk a lot, and you ask, ‘What’s that in the distance?’ There’s a story to everything.”

ACCO M M O DAT I O N S A N D F O O D : Gross stayed in Aloft Hotel Stuttgart, a Marriott hotel. His favorite restaurant was Carls Brauhaus on the Schlossplatz (a palace square in the center of the city), where he ate traditional dumplings, called Maultaschen. “It was just one of the most enjoyable evenings.”

E XC U R S I O N S: “I’m currently the president of the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club, so I reached out to the president of the Kiwanis of Stuttgart. At the end of one of the days, he met us and we went on a walk around the city … About every four or five blocks, we would pick up another Kiwanian who would meet us on the route. It was awesome. It turned out, the guy who was walking with me, for a living, gives walking tours of Stuttgart … We saw parliament buildings and castles from the 1400s and museums and parks, fountains and statues.”

T R AV E L T I P : “If I had a call to action to anybody who was going to travel internationally, it would be: contact the local service club. I’ve learned when I take these trips, business is good, but it’s really good to reach out to the people who care. To be in a Kiwanis, a Rotary, a Lions, or any of the clubs, those are the people who care; they’re the ones who give back to the community.”

10 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020


on my nightstand...

A recent survey of readers.


Do you agree with the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling that strikes down Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order? YES:




Share your opinion! Visit to cast your vote in the next Biz Poll.

President Murphy Associates

“How to Win Friends & Influence People” By Dale Carnegie DALE CARNEGIE’S “How to Win Friends & Influence People” was first published in 1936 and, even though it has been around for nearly 85 years, it still provides important lessons. “It reminded me that no matter what product you sell or what service you provide, your actual business is people and relationships,” said Judi Murphy, president of Brookfield-based Murphy Associates and partner at Oak Hill Business Partners. The book touches on ways to make people like you, win them to your way of thinking and change

them without causing resentment. Murphy said two ideas stuck out to her. First, have fun doing what you love. “I love what I do, which is helping business owners grow quickly and steadily, using marketing strategy and public relations as core. This is fun and uses my creative instincts and skills. If it’s not fun, don’t do it,” she said. The second point is to be sincere and honest. “Sincere with praise and encouragement, and honest about accountability and results,” Murphy said. n

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Leading Edge


PULLOVER HOODIE HEAVYWEIGHT TERRY BY NAKED & FAMOUS DENIM $169 at Milworks, Milwaukee This 100% cotton classic sweatshirt isn’t your everyday hoodie with a drawstring hood. Its French terry cloth is knit on one of the world’s few remaining Japanese Tsuriami machines. Available in amber, charcoal, hunter, black, grey and denim.

LUXLETIC JUSTINE PULLOVER AND WEEKENDER MIDI LEGGING BY LILLY PULITZER $118 and $108 at The Navy Knot, Whitefish Bay These two items, both pictured in ‘Zanzibar Blue Beach Happy Stripe,’ make for a bright and cheery, yet comfy, work day at the home office.

BABY ALPACA SWEATSHIRT BY PERU UNLIMITED $225 at Mark Berman & Son, Mequon Described as the ultimate inside, outside, whenever-you-need-a-sweater, sweater. Made of 80% baby alpaca fiber and 20% merino wool in a variety of colors.

KNIT SWEATER BY SURVIVAL $58 at Lela Boutique, Milwaukee This soft and loose-fitting sweater is part of Survival’s new spring knits collection. It comes in three color choices – cream-heather grey, black-cream and cream-camel.

12 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

VERANO BEACH PANTS BY OUTERKNOWN $98 at Milworks, Milwaukee Working from home just got cozier with these breathable trousers made of hemp and organic cotton. Pictured in bright black, but also come in salt, grey and deep blue.

FINE CASHMERE SCARF $299 at Faye’s, Mequon “The perfect work from home accessory – glam up that T-shirt for your next Zoom call,” said owner Faye Wetzel. One-of-a-kind.


NEW EVENT DATE: June 30, 2020 | 9:00-11:00 am

A Futurist Toolkit: Seven Practical Ideas on How We Get to 2035 Join us in June as Futurist David Zach shares his insights on the future of Washington County for the next fifteen years and beyond. Instead of just fascinating and/or frightening forecasts, you’ll get a “toolkit,” a set of questions to ask on how to put all those fads and trends in a practical perspective.

David Zach

Following the keynote, local CEOs will discuss how upheavals like COVID-19, technology trends, and innovation are changing the face of Washington County and what you can do to remain relevant and competitive for the next two decades.





– David J. Decker, President, Decker Properties, Inc. – W. Kent Lorenz, Retired Chairman, CEO, Acieta LLC – Paul Manley, President, MGS, Germantown – Debbie Seeger, Advisor, Patina Solutions

Following the presentations, the program continues with thee breakout sessions led by subject matter experts. Attend two live; the rest will be available on demand. § Embracing Change and Strengthening Your Culture § Business Owners: 4 Costs Your 401(k) Plan Could Be Hiding From You § Optimizing Performance and Engagement Across Your Workforce § Adapting Education to Build a Future Workforce and Region § Legal Resources Post COVID-19 § And More





#GIVINGTUESDAYNOW A new global day of giving and unity, took place on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. The day was designed to drive an influx of generosity, citizen engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world. BizTimes readers were able to give directly to the local organizations featured on these pages. If you would like to give back, please consider the organizations below – no amount is too little.

To enrich the mind, body, and spirit of the young and young at heart through exploration in a garden environment based on children’s literature. Bookworm Gardens does not charge an admission fee for individuals and families so as not to have any barriers to access of the experience.

ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis nurtures hope and restores confidence in anyone affected by a breast cancer diagnosis by providing free, customized information and one-to-one support to patients, families and friends.

To be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

Girls on the Run of Southeastern Wisconsin inspires girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development (PYD) program that is designed to enhance girls’ social, psychological, and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences.

To inspire philanthropy, serve donors, and strengthen communities now and for future generations.

The International Institute of Wisconsin is an organization dedicated to the promotion of international cooperation, understanding, and a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural perspective through education, arts, exchange, communication, social activities, and immigration and naturalization services. The Institute initiates, coordinates, and sponsors a variety of activities and programs appropriate to the fulfillment of this primary purpose.

To Solve Hunger.

14 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

The Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation’s goal is to find a cure for paralysis through funding the latest in medical research and to provide assistance to those that suffer from neurological disorders.


LUMIN Schools is a network of eight Christian schools, each providing rigorous academics and character education within a safe and nurturing environment.

The Marcus Center acts as an energizing force that connects our community to the world through collaboration, innovation, social engagement and the transformative power of live performing arts.

The Milwaukee Rescue Mission (MRM) has faithfully served those who are homeless and poor in Milwaukee since 1893. Sharing God’s love by caring for those who are poor in body, mind and spirit, to see lives transformed through Christ to hope, joy and lasting productivity.

The Milwaukee Urban League leads through education, employment, and advocacy to achieve economic vibrancy and equal access to all industries and disciplines that position African Americans to create wealth and live a better quality of life.

Seton Catholic Schools is a transformational educational system committed to overcoming academic and social challenges, empowering students, families and educators to attain their God-given potential.

To improve the health and wellbeing of Milwaukee and surrounding communities by providing linguistically- and culturallyappropriate, quality, patientcentered health care, health education and social services Sixteenth Street values and respects all people, protects the right to health and wellness, and never turns anyone away regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

Inspired by the Franciscan Values of compassion, dignity and respect, St. Coletta of Wisconsin supports persons with developmental and other challenges to achieve their highest quality of life, personal growth and spiritual awareness.

United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County changes lives and improves our community by mobilizing people and resources to drive strategic impact in health, education, and financial stability.

We are Blood Health Innovators who enhance lives through discovery, diagnosis, and treatment. We will expand the frontiers of patient health through the integration of science, medicine, and service.

YWCA Southeast Wisconsin’s (SEW) mission is to eliminate racism and empower women, promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

The mission of Zachariah’s Acres is to connect children with special health care needs, and their families, to the miracles of nature so they may know their Creator.

The mission of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee is to take part in conserving wildlife and endangered species, to educate people about the importance of wildlife and the environment, and to support the Milwaukee County Zoo. blood-research-institute / 15


Signature Two Company is prohibiting customers from waiting in its salons and will require all guests to wear masks.

Businesses work to gain customer confidence as they reopen By Lauren Anderson, staff writer IF ANY INDUSTRY is prepared for the increased sanitation and hygiene protocols that businesses need to implement, it’s hair salons, said Signature Two Company coowner David Hagemeier. “Salons done right are all about safety and sanitation,” said Hagemeier, whose portfolio includes nine salons in the Milwaukee area. “That doesn’t mean we won’t need to make changes to deal with what’s happening here, but the idea of preventing transmission and operating safely is the most important reason we have licensed establishments and our people must go through schooling.” Wisconsin’s more than 5,000 hair and nail salons have sat virtually empty since March 25. Now, as they reopen their doors to customers, salon operators are enforcing a new set of procedures to protect their employees and win back customer confidence. For one, customers can expect significantly fewer people in the salon at any point than in pre-pandemic days. Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. reopening 16 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

guidelines recommend that salons limit the number of clients in the shop at one time, including having clients check in from their cars until their chair is ready. “It’s important to keep my people safe,” Hagemeier said. “I will insist on no waiting in the salon. Guests must wear masks without exception.” For nail salons, because six feet of social distance isn’t practical, WEDC recommends using face shields or a plastic partition between the employee and client with space cut out where hands or feet can be slid underneath to conduct the manicure or pedicure. Salons are also encouraged to cover their chairs in a non-porous material for easy cleanup or use a disposable cover similar to those used in dental offices, provide handwashing stations at the front of the salon, and treat all used towels and smocks as if they are potentially contaminated, putting them in a plastic bag after use. Roots Salon, which operates three locations in the Milwaukee area, laid out its plan in a mid-May email to customers for when they

YMCA of Greater Waukesha County is limiting treadmill availability to encourage social distancing.

return, including requiring all service providers, front desk staff and customers to wear a mask, stylists to wear gloves for all color, nail and facial services, offering hand sanitizer at all stations, and using freshly-washed aprons in between every guest. Beyond social distancing and increased hygiene, Roots is also seeking to make its salons COVIDfree zones by prohibiting talk of the virus. “We are creating a space to escape how daily life has been for the last couple of months, we will encourage everyone in the salon to refrain from talking about COVID-19,” Roots said in its email to customers. “This will help ensure that we are providing this escape and that you can relax as you once did in the past.” Milwaukee Public Market has been largely desolate since the onset of COVID-19 forced bars, restaurants and venues to limit operations or close doors. But the market is slowly coming to life again in recent weeks as it phases in a reopening plan. The market’s leadership team – like restaurant and retail operators across the state – is focused on drawing customers back to the building, conscious of the ways in which the pandemic has affected customers’ comfortability with din-

ing out and shopping in stores. According to the latest Marquette University Law School poll, conducted May 3-7, 56% of Wisconsin registered voters surveyed said they would be comfortable going to a large retail store while only 42% said they would be comfortable eating out at a restaurant. Even as local and state restrictions lift, it could be a while before the Public Market – ordinarily teeming with customers over the lunch hour – will look like the pre-pandemic version of itself. For restaurants, WEDC’s guidelines recommend reducing the capacity of customer-facing businesses as much as possible, eliminating unnecessary physical contact between staff and customers, maintaining six feet of distance between individuals whenever possible, installing sneeze guards and partitions at cash registers and bars, and positioning tables six feet apart from each other. The Public Market plans to maintain social distance by maximizing its outdoor seating space, which was recently expanded along St. Paul Avenue and across North Water Street. Having ample space, both inside and outside, is an advantage that public markets and food halls across the country are benefitting from, market executive director Paul Schwartz said,

especially as full-service restaurants and retailers are faced with the challenge of creating distance often out of very little space to reopen with limited cash flow. While Milwaukee Ale House in Grafton was quick to reopen its doors following the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order, co-owners Mike Stoner and Daniel O’Neil said they had been planning for it weeks prior. Stoner measured out at least six feet between tables that will seat diners (some will remain empty) and placed social distancing markers on the floor of the entrance. The two-story restaurant with two outdoor decks is able to fit a total of 300 people, but with the business’ social distancing measures in place, the capacity is down to 110-115. “I already have it in place that we will take reservations, I don’t

care if it’s a party of two,” Stoner said. “I need to know that we’re seating properly, so no more than five tables every 15 minutes. By the time I turn things, we’re not going to ever reach 115 in here.” Chris Becker, chief executive officer of YMCA of Greater Waukesha County, recognizes the challenges that come with gaining the confidence of members as the organization reopens its fitness centers. “I would say it’s a rule of thirds,” Becker said. “A third of our members are chomping at the bit to come back. A third are a little unsure about what the facility will look like and whether they will be comfortable in a group fitness setting … Then there’s a third of our members who will take more of a ‘wait and see’ approach. But we knew from the beginning that the members’ confidence and the trust they have in our organization is key to people feeling safe to

come back.” Before deciding to reopen four of its locations on May 20, the leadership team spent “countless hours” examining its programs and operations, talked with government officials, sought out best practices from other Ys and consulted with its employees, Becker said. Reopening has brought many new protocols, including floor markings to encourage social distancing, limiting availability of treadmills and exercise bikes, spacing out smaller pieces of equipment, and requiring staff members to disinfect equipment after use. Capacity limits will be based on the square footage of each location and individual spaces and studios. Each space will have a staff member enforcing capacity, flow and cleaning. For now, locker rooms, saunas, steam rooms and whirlpools are closed.

“First and foremost, everything related to our plan is centered on one key, which is ensuring the health and safety of our staff and members,” Becker said. Now, YMCA of GWC is focused on getting the word out to members and those who might have let their membership lapse during the shutdown that its facilities are ready when they are. “A strong majority of our members have continued to stay with us at this time and we’re thankful for that. We’ve heard numerous times from our members that they want to stand with us and support the organization,” Becker said. “We’ve had some that have canceled, but in many cases, they have said, ‘We’ll be back when the smoke clears.’” n

BizTimes reporter Maredithe Meyer contributed to this report.

A PODCAST ABOUT PEOPLE, ISSUES AND IDEAS. The BizTimes MKE Podcast is designed to keep you informed and provide ideas and strategies to help improve your business. Each episode features thought-provoking insights and best practices from business and community leaders.



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Bill Berrien | Making ventilator parts and the untapped potential of U.S. manufacturing

Ian Abston | ‘Getting new things done in Milwaukee is really hard’

Steve Zimmerman | From sustainability to survivability: Managing uncertainty amid crisis




Vonco Products dives back into PPE production ORDINARILY, Keith Smith is not deeply involved in the tactical operations of Kenosha Countybased Vonco Products. “I’ve got great leadership here and they can run this business really well,” said Smith, president and chief executive officer of Vonco, adding that the leadership team might get together occasionally to define the top priorities or address bottlenecks. Of course, these are not ordinary times. Smith said the leadership team now meets daily at 8:30 a.m. “There’s so many changes happening so quickly. We need to make quick decisions, implement quick policies, implement quick communications,” Smith said. The contract manufacturer of flexible packaging products moved to Trevor in western Kenosha County from northern Illinois in 2016. The company included the medical industry in its served markets before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic hit, primarily making fluid control, containment and supply products. Smith said the company had “dabbled” in making personal protective equipment in the past. “It’s been hard to compete because it’s mostly offshored over the last few decades and so we’ve focused on other product lines,” he said. But as the coronavirus outbreak ramped up and calls for PPE from federal officials down to individual hospitals started coming in, Smith said it was clear there was a major supply issue. So Vonco 18 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

started dusting off old designs and creating new products to meet the need. “We’ve made gowns in the past, but they’re more suitable for a jacket, a rain poncho or something of that nature. Now it’s medical grade gowns,” Smith said. Vonco launched products including stand-up spouted pouches for hand sanitizer, isolation gowns, food service gloves and shoe covers. Those products are in addition to its standard infection prevention products, including form-fitting medical device covers, specimen collection bags and biohazard transport bags. Smith praised the “bravery” of his workforce in getting products made safely and his technical and development teams for taking on product development work that would usually take anywhere from six weeks to six months on extremely accelerated timelines. “It’s a stressful time for everybody,” Smith said. “The world is different and work is different. We’ve implemented 24 new policies over the last six weeks to keep people safe, so it’s constant change on top of it, so the stress is high. We really need to take care of each other.” Adding to the stress, Vonco lost about 10% of its workforce when the 12 employees it had through a Department of Corrections program could no longer come in because of concerns of spreading COVID-19 through jails. The company was dealing with increased demand with a smaller workforce and production ran 24 hours per day for 13 out of 14 days

Vonco makes biohazard transport bags.

VONCO PRODUCTS LLC 10826 250th Ave., Trevor

INDUSTRY: Flexible packaging EMPLOYEES: 120

at one point. Smith said prior to COVID-19, Vonco hadn’t worked on Saturdays or Sundays in two years. Staffing is now back up to pre-COVID levels and the company continues hiring, using virtual interviews and videos to show prospective employees what the work looks like. “You don’t get a good feel for the culture and so that’s a little bit of the risk you take on both sides,” Smith said. In addition to the now daily leadership meetings, Smith said he has shifted from a quarterly all-company meeting to addressing the entire staff weekly. His message, delivered with a microphone covered with one of Vonco’s bags, covers updates in company policy and changes in law. It also emphasizes the importance of following the policies to keep everyone healthy. Smith said he points out that if Vonco shuts down, it means the company is no longer delivering PPE to those who need it.

“It’s a domino effect on the supply chain,” he said. Just as employees have taken on the increased workload, Smith said they have adapted to the cultural changes that come with more communication. “There’s no playbook so I think people are comforted in the fact that since there is no playbook we need to be quick and use each other as a sounding board to make great decisions in a really tough time,” he said. n

ARTHUR THOMAS Associate Editor

P / 414-336-7123 E / T / @arthur8823


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Real Estate

REAL ESTATE WEEKLY – The week’s most significant real estate news →


Area hotel projects moving ahead despite market uncertainty

BUYER: Polly’s Washtub Land South LLC, registered to Mandel Group SELLER: Pabst Farms Land Co. II LLC, registered to William Niemann of Pabst Farms Development Inc. PRICE: $3.45 million SIZE: 36 acres 20 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE a banner year for hotels in southeastern Wisconsin. The market was coming off a strong 2019, the region was slated for plenty of new hotel developments, and operators were preparing for visitors to fill rooms for major area events, especially the Democratic National Convention. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leading to empty hotels and a shakier outlook for hotel developers. Market data for hotels in downtown Milwaukee shows the extent of the pandemic’s impact. “In the 45 years of being in this business, I have never seen it like this,” said Greg Hanis, an industry consultant and president of New Berlin-based Hospitality Marketers International Inc. The data, provided by Hendersonville, Tennessee-based STR Inc., shows occupancy rates for downtown Milwaukee hotels no higher than 12.9% on a weekly basis for the five-week period beginning March 22 through April 25. By comparison, the downtown Milwaukee hotel occupancy rate for the full month of March 2019 was 70.1%, and in April 2019 the occupancy rate was 74.5%. Other key metrics aren’t any better. Compared to April 2019, the three weeks in April showed average daily room rates were down nearly 48% and revenue per

available room was down 91.6%, said Hanis. The comparison isn’t apples to apples, since the April 2020 data was without a handful of days. Even so, the contrast is clear. Hanis said hotel owners and developers have different perspectives of the current state of the industry, depending on their situation. Those who are already running several existing hotel properties are more concerned with how to support their operations, make mortgage payments and pay their employees. As a result, many are likely pausing plans for new hotels. “They’ve tabled development plans to see what will happen, they’re more concerned about day-to-day operations,” he said. Individual developers and those in smaller markets are generally more optimistic, said Hanis. He said a project near the start of the development process is likely 18 months to two years away from opening. Their thinking, he said, is that they’ll finish their projects when the COVID-19 pandemic is over and the hotel market is strong again. So, despite the struggles facing the hotel industry right now, there are still several hotel and meeting space developments in Milwaukee and throughout the region that are either in progress or expected to commence soon. The largest of these is the proposed doubling of the Wisconsin Center convention space

FEATURED DEAL: PA BS T FA RMS A PA R TMENT S DE V ELOPMENT SITE Mandel Group Inc. has purchased 36 acres of vacant land in Oconomowoc at Pabst Farms, a site where the Milwaukee-based developer plans to construct 315 apartments. The land is located north of where Valley Road meets Gold Medal Drive. The Pabst Farms apartments will be spread across 25 buildings. They will consist of 111 one-bedroom, 148 two-bedroom and 30 three-bedroom units, plus 26 three-bedroom townhouse-style units. Also included is a 4,000-square-foot clubhouse with leasing and maintenance offices, a gym and a club room. Land to the west is marked for commercial development, though no specific plans are in place there. Pabst Farms is a 1,500-acre development located on former farmland in Oconomowoc. It includes residential neighborhoods, retail, hotels, an industrial park and a hospital.

are following strict protocols to ensure the site remains as safe as possible. The hotels are slated to open by the end of 2020, and the developers don’t plan to limit staff size or room availability. “Nobody is certain what this summer and fall might look like,” Ordman said. “We have sales and operations teams in place who are actively working toward an opening in which these hotels are fully operational.” Oak Creek is working with Wisconsin Dells-based Stand Rock Hospitality to develop a 121-room Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel and an 11,500-square-foot event space next to the Ikea store, northwest of Drexel Avenue and I-94. Andrew Vickers, Oak Creek city administrator, said the project appears to be on track. He said Stand Rock hopes to close on the property by June 1 and commence construction shortly thereafter. Further south, the proposed 35,000-square-foot expansion of Racine’s Festival Hall coupled with a new 171-room hotel is also moving forward in that city’s downtown. The city is working with Dallas-based Gatehouse Capital on the project. Shannon Powell, a spokesman in Racine Mayor Cory Mason’s office, said the city speaks frequently with the developer. A project team is in place consisting of city and Gatehouse staff, “which works to move the development forward,” he said. n


in downtown Milwaukee. The nearly $420 million project would expand the facility to 300,000 contiguous square feet of exhibit hall space and add another ballroom of at least 30,000 square feet. Although the project isn’t directly tied to more hotel rooms, it could lead to more overnight stays and encourage additional hotel development downtown. Marty Brooks, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Center District, told BizTimes earlier this spring that an expanded convention space would be able to host simultaneous or overlapping events. In particular, overlapping events would eliminate scenarios in which the Wisconsin Center is occupied by events moving in and out but is not bringing with it the demand for hotel rooms on those nights. “It’s really giving us the ability to have hotels book over more nights,” he said. The project could also raise the likelihood of more hotels being developed nearby. Potential development sites include the lot southwest of Wisconsin and Vel R. Phillips avenues, and the former Bradley Center site. “I would love to see in the properties adjacent to or within a couple blocks of the convention center … one or several other fullservice hotels developed,” Brooks said. The downtown convention center expansion is slated for a 2021 groundbreaking, but WCD is waiting for the market to recover before it issues bonding for the project. Coralville, Iowa-based Hawkeye Hotels and Bloomington, Minnesota-based JR Hospitality are continuing construction of a two-building, three-hotel project at the northwest corner of Clybourn and Jefferson streets downtown. Altogether, the hotels will add 331 new rooms to the downtown market. Allison Ordman, a spokeswoman with Hawkeye Hotels, said construction is continuing during the coronavirus pandemic, and workers on site

4200 ON THE LAKE Construction has commenced on a 236-unit luxury apartment complex at 4200 S. Lake Drive on Lake Michigan in St. Francis, with a slated project completion of spring 2021. Known as 4200 On The Lake, the apartment project will feature amenities such as an open courtyard with an outdoor swimming pool, pet washing station and two-story clubhouse. The development team said the project broke ground before Gov. Tony Evers issued his “Safer at Home” order in March. Construction work continued during the order under enhanced safety measures. The developers noted that part of the site’s appeal is its proximity to downtown Milwaukee, Interstate 94 and Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. DEVELOPER: M&R Development, Campbell Capital Group SIZE: 236 units GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Stevens Construction Corp.

ALEX ZANK Reporter

P / 414-336-7116 E / T / @AlexZank / 21


Construction during COVID CORONAVIRUS CREATES CHALLENGES FOR THE BUILDING INDUSTRY BY ALEX ZANK, staff reporter LIKE VIRTUALLY EVERY OTHER construction contractor, The Boldt Co. has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and was tasked with adjusting the way it works in the office and on the job site. Dave Kievet, chief operating officer of The Boldt Co., said the company is fortunate it’s only looking at a 20% hit to its forecasted revenue for the year due to the coronavirus. Many of its projects are considered essential work and have continued despite social distancing orders during the pandemic. Boldt works in sectors such as health care, higher education and industrial. “We do know some contractors out there that have basically shut their whole businesses down,” Kievet said. “So, in that respect, being only 20% off our mark, I think that we were really lucky and we did well with that.” But there could be some good coming out of the health crisis. Kievet said construction sites have become safer as a result of the pandemic, not only from spread of infection but of any workplace hazard. Stu Wangard, chairman and chief executive officer of Wauwatosa-based Wangard Partners Inc., noted a renewed focus on teamwork and cooperation among developers, contractors and municipal officials. “You’re seeing a much stronger sense of community and working together,” he said.

INDUSTRY IMPACTS Construction has fared better than other industries during the pandemic. It was deemed essential in Wisconsin and many other states, meaning most projects were able to continue during social distancing mandates, including Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order. Even so, there’s plenty of evidence showing the coronavirus has harmed the industry. A recent Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin survey found that more than 60% of construction firms reported having a project shut down in March or April and 89% saw projects delayed or canceled as a result of the pandemic. What’s more, 44% of contractors surveyed said they laid off field workers and 22% said they furloughed or laid off administrative staff or project managers. Another survey of local commercial real estate 22 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

professionals shows some projects are seeing significant delays of 90 days or more. A majority (65%) of respondents said that at least a portion of the projects they’re involved with were being delayed. While 54% said at least 90% of their projects were proceeding without delay, 29% of respondents said less than 70% of projects remained on time and nearly 16% said fewer than half of their projects were on track. The poll was conducted in April. It was conducted through a collaboration of six local industry groups. There’s evidence suggesting there will be fewer construction projects to come in the near future. Architectural billings are considered a canary in the coal mine for the industry. The American Institute of Architects each month puts out the Architectural Billings Index, which the group says is an economic indicator for nonresidential construction activity with a lead time of about nine to 12 months. In March, the ABI recorded a record decline. The score of 33.3 for March reflects a decrease in services provided by U.S. architecture firms. Any score below 50 indicates a decrease in billings. The Midwest fared better than the U.S. average, with a score of 44.2. William Babcock, executive director of AIA Wisconsin, said Wisconsin firms are certainly feeling the pandemic’s impacts. “Every architect in Wisconsin has been impacted by this health crisis and the resulting adverse effect on economic activity,” Babcock said. Industry employment has also taken a hit. The Associated General Contractors of America said the industry lost 975,000 jobs in April. This constituted nearly 13% of the industry’s employment and was by far the worst one-month decline ever, said Ken Simonson, AGC of America chief economist. “Without new federal help, it is hard to see a scenario where the construction industry will be able to recover any time soon,” he said. The group also found in a survey of its members that 38% of contractors in the Midwest reduced their headcount. This was actually better than other regions of the U.S. except the south, at 29%. Dan Bukiewicz, president of the Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council union group, said hours have been lost on routine service work, power-plant projects, and work related to

A team works outdoors at the Eagleknit project site in Walker’s Point.


A worker inside the Eagleknit building. / 23

STORY COVER major events, including Summerfest and the Democratic National Convention. “There’s been some fallout, that is for sure,” he said. But it appears Wisconsin’s construction industry has fared better than other states recently. According to data from construction technology firm Procore, the worker hours logged in Wisconsin for the week of April 26 rose 6% from the hours logged the week of March 6. By this metric, Wisconsin was performing better than its neighbors. Worker hours were down 2% in Iowa, 3% in both Illinois and Minnesota, and down 69% in Michigan.

The data is based on the transactions logged via the company’s software by tens of thousands of construction firms across the country. Some industry sectors have been hit harder than others. AGC of Wisconsin said health care and industrial projects experienced the largest number of shutdowns. Bob Barker, executive vice president of AGC of Wisconsin, said he has heard from members that some non-critical manufacturing and health care projects have been delayed. And, as expected, the retail sector has slowed down. “We have heard of increasingly more companies being cautious about capital investment in this current economic situation,” Barker said. Business will also slow significantly in the com-

BIG MILWAUKEE-AREA PROJECTS Despite COVID-19, construction is continuing in the region. Here are some of the largest projects happening in the Milwaukee area: » FOXCONN MANUFACTURING CAMPUS: Crews continue work on Foxconn’s massive manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant. Buildings going up on the site include, among others, a 1 million-square-foot manufacturing facility, a 260,000-squarefoot smart manufacturing center and a data center featuring a glass dome. The company said in a recent statement that construction is continuing through the pandemic, and that contractors have implemented preventative safety measures on site. » R1VER: Brownsville-based Michels Corp. has reached a significant milestone on its R1VER mixed-use development in Milwaukee’s Harbor District. This spring, Michels “topped off” its 210,000-square-foot office building, and work is also underway on the apartment and retail portion of the project. A spokesman said that before the end of the year the office building should be ready for occupancy and construction should commence on a new hotel. » KOMATSU HEADQUARTERS: Another major Harbor District Project, Komatsu Mining Corp.’s new manufacturing and office headquarters campus appears set to begin soon. The company did not provide an update, but construction permit applications have been filed recently with the city, suggesting the work could be imminent. Plans include a 430,000-square-foot manufacturing building and 176,000-square-foot office building with a 650-stall parking structure. 24 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

» SOLDIERS HOME: Work continues on the Soldiers Home restoration project, which involves the conversion of several buildings, including the iconic Old Main, into 101 supportive-housing units for veterans. Madison-based developer The Alexander Co. said rehabilitation work continues and the team is optimistic work will finish in the first quarter of 2021. » HURON BUILDING: The BMO Tower just opened its doors in April, but it won’t hold claim as downtown Milwaukee’s newest office building for long. Work continues on the 11-story Huron Building. Milwaukee-based J. Jeffers & Co. officially broke ground last May on the new office building, which will be anchored by Husch Blackwell. » ST. JOHN’S ON THE LAKE: Work continues on St. John’s on the Lake’s new 22-story, 422,000-square-foot tower on Milwaukee’s East Side. The project replaces a three-story building that opened on the site in 1979, and includes 50 skilled-care suites, 24 assistedliving suites and 79 independent-living apartments for older adults. » BRADLEY SYMPHONY CENTER: Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is transforming the former Warner Grand Theater into its new home in downtown Milwaukee. MSO recently installed a replica of the original “Warner” sign this month. The center is scheduled to open in the fall.

ing months for home builders, said David Belman, president of Waukesha-based Belman Homes. “We’re expecting not only a very down quarter, but the next six months are going to be pretty light for our industry,” he said. Education projects, including work from universities and K-12 school districts, have been busier due to the closure of school buildings statewide. “We heard that schools were actually asking contractors to speed up their work while the students weren’t in there,” Barker said. “There’s a lot of variation by sector on how this has impacted the industry.”

CONTINUING CONSTRUCTION The construction industry has adopted safety practices in order to keep job sites safer from the COVID-19 outbreak. Contractors and labor groups got together to adopt a set of best practices early on, said Bukiewicz. At the forefront of those changes was getting personal protective equipment to job sites, he said. Other measures include installing handwashing stations, regularly cleaning the sites and adopting social-distancing practices. Workers have also been trained to recognize communicable diseases and how to take proper precautions, he said. This is done through specific certification training. There is also a policy in place to treat potential disease exposure. A worker with a fever is sent home for three days and retested after that. If a worker is found to have the coronavirus, the job site is immediately shut down, disinfected and evacuated for 72 hours, Bukiewicz said. “It’s been a real challenge for a lot of people and a lot of responsibility, but people have really stepped up and it’s made a lot of difference in how we’ve been able to continue work and not have an outbreak on projects,” Barker said. At least one construction project in the area has had to respond to workers contracting the virus: the recently-completed BMO Tower in downtown Milwaukee. Two workers on the job site were diagnosed with the disease in late March. In response, general contractor Chicago-based Pepper Construction temporarily closed the site for a thorough cleaning, but work ultimately continued and the 25-story glass office tower opened to tenants in April. Pete Klosterman, vice president of field resources of Miron Construction Co. Inc., said the firm formed a task force responsible for creating COVID-19 related strategies and communications to its 1,600-plus employees. On job sites, it has added more break room space, directional routes, more toilets and more handwashing and sanitizing stations. Miron is based in Neenah, and has an office in Wauwatosa. It is in the process of moving its local office to downtown Milwaukee. “The most challenging situations involved the perception and emotions of our skilled craftworkers, as there were few facts and many unknown circumstances for them to personally navigate on top of continuing to be productive in their professional careers,” Klosterman said in an email.

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5 26 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020







Belman Homes has the policy that a worker is sent home if they’ve come in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, and can only return with a doctor’s evaluation and clearance, said Belman. But adopting these new, more stringent measures does not come without impacts of their own. In the AGC of Wisconsin survey, 62% of contractors said social-distancing and other safety measures have negatively impacted productivity on job sites. Kievet said a major challenge for Boldt has been figuring out how to sequence its work to adhere to its new requirements. One example is hanging drywall. Whereas two people would previously work close to one another to hang drywall sheets 12 feet in length or longer, a single worker is now instead hanging eight-foot-long sheets. “We’re having to rethink everything we’re doing in order to get the work done,” Kievet said. Many projects have been able to continue under the more stringent safety protocols. Some have even seen little to no disruptions due to the pandemic. Milwaukee-based Cobalt Partners LLC is continuing construction activity at its Allis Yards mixed-use development in West Allis as well as its redevelopment of the former Ernie von Schledorn auto dealership site in Menomonee Falls. The West Allis project has only seen minor delays, which have come from added difficulties like scheduling inspections, said Scott Yauck, Cobalt Partners president and CEO. Workers performing demolition and asbestos abatement there are already wearing appropriate protective equipment due to the nature of the work, he said. Yauck said the hotel portion of the project will break ground within a month or so. Cobalt Partners’ Menomonee Falls project includes construction of a 33,000-square-foot Ascension health center and small-scale hospital. “We’re full speed ahead,” Yauck said. One project it hasn’t broken ground on, and likely won’t for some time due to the pandemic, is The Lokal at 84South, a cluster of local restaurants that Cobalt Partners planned to add to the mixeduse development in Greenfield. Cobalt was working through the financial model for The Lokal when the pandemic hit, said Yauck.

1. Foxconn’s Mount Pleasant manufacturing facility. 2. Construction continues on Michels Corp.’s new office building as part of the R1VER mixed-use development in Milwaukee’s Harbor District. 3. Shaun Scott, an iron worker for C.D. Smith Construction Inc. and a member of Iron Workers Local 8, fastens the final structural beam on the new Michels Corp. office building at R1VER. 4. The Old Main building, covered in scaffolding, is one of the buildings being converted into housing for veterans as part of the Soldiers Home restoration project in Milwaukee. 5. The Old Main building’s refurbished exterior is revealed as scaffolding comes down. 6. The Huron Building is going up at 511 N. Broadway in downtown Milwaukee. 7. St. John’s on the Lake’s new tower on Milwaukee’s East Side.


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STORY COVER “Small, especially local restaurants like that, it’s tough in good times,” he said. “The fact this occurred certainly has us rethinking what we’ll do there.” Wangard Partners is also moving forward with its projects. They include the redevelopment of the Eagle Knitting Mills building in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood into the innovation-focused Eagleknit; the 278-unit Tivoli Green multi-family project in Mount Pleasant; and the 149-acre Highlands Business Park in Sussex. Tivoli Green is slated for an Aug. 1 opening, possibly sooner. Wangard also expects to begin construction this summer on facilities for three companies in the Sussex business park. The firm is also working with a fourth company to relocate there, though Wangard said he wasn’t sure of the timeline for that project. A Kwik Trip store has already been announced for the business park. The Eagleknit project is moving forward in part because a business locating there is considered essential, said Wangard, though he declined to name the firm. One upside to the pandemic is that the reduced amount of traffic has made it easier to get materials and equipment to the Tivoli Green site and for crews to perform utility work along the highway at the Sussex industrial park.

“The amount of traffic going by is probably one-fourth of what it probably would be,” Wangard said. “We’re able to get our work done much faster, and (with) less disruption.” Wangard said there’s been some disruptions in supply chains, particularly with materials made of quartz and granite, such as countertops. A lot of those products are made overseas, and may have to start being fabricated locally, he said. Other materials like concrete and drywall are still readily available.

LOOKING AHEAD COVID-19 will leave its mark on the construction industry, even long after the initial outbreak subsides. Builders and developers have been thinking about how buildings will need to adapt to this new world, and what clients will now be demanding of them. “This pandemic is going to have an influence on the design of our buildings and spaces,” Babcock said. Cobalt Partners has been thinking of ways to market Allis Yards’ 320,500 square feet of office space to potential users in the wake of the pandemic. In preliminary materials provided to BizTimes, the developer emphasized building features such as HVAC air filtration systems, touchless doors and elevators, generous floor areas and common spaces, remote access technologies, larger elevator

lobbies and cabs, and flexible spaces that can grow, subdivide or be easily rearranged to accommodate distancing standards, among others. Belman Homes has also been drafting home designs based on perceived changes in demand that will be brought about through the pandemic, including home-package delivery areas, decontamination rooms, cold-storage centers, dual home offices, home libraries and homeschool centers. It may be up to the construction industry to help push the economy forward once things normalize. Bukiewicz said construction workers who have continued working through the shutdown period will be frequenting the shops and restaurants that have just begun reopening. And each new construction project commencing means that much more investment in the region. “What we really need is the developers, the business owners to get back in the saddle and have the confidence to move forward,” he said. Wangard said one thing he’s taken away from this health crisis and economic disruption is a heightened sense of cooperation in the industry. “This is something you have to celebrate that when we’re going through very difficult, challenging times,” said Wangard, “that there’s certain individuals, and it’s many of the ones we’re working with every day that are saying, ‘How can I make it easier for you? How can we work on this together?’ The sense of cooperation is back. There’s a healthy respect for each other on the job site.” n

For over 150 years, our industry has been meeting the needs of the community in Southeast Wisconsin. During this time, we have faced many challenges, but we have faced them together. The response to the current crisis is no different. Through investment in partnership, contractors and union labor continue to deliver: Risk Mitigation – Our contractors and tradespeople have always been on the frontline of safety, and are equipped to utilize new technology, resources and best practices that will help ensure projects continue to run on time and on budget. Enhanced Capacity – Our union trades men and women invest in themselves. Through years of in-class instruction and certification training, they are best positioned to meet the new protocols while maintaining quality and productivity. Quality – A distinguishing factor is continual investment in advanced skills and leadership training at all levels, ensuring that everyone who touches a construction project shares the builder’s vision. Through partnership and investment in our men and women, our industry will continue to be there for the building community and community at large. We will get through this, together.

NATHAN JUROWSKI Executive Director Building Advantage

Building Advantage is dedicated to advancing the interests of the men, women and companies in union construction in the Greater Milwaukee Area.

CONTACT US: (414) 897-1146 Milwaukee, WI 53208


DESIGNING AND BUILDING IN UNCERTAIN TIMES ESI Group continues to be a leading resource for food facility owners Zones of Control: Authored by: Luke Waite Regional Manager 866.369.3535

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1. The design should include a complete separation of production areas that have raw and ready-to-eat products. 2. This includes separate welfare areas for employees who handle either type of product. Including locker rooms, cafeterias, and additional support areas. 3. Separation is a key defense against the spread of COVID-19, but additional separation beyond what is required for food safety will be a tough hurdle. The additional separation in employee space still must keep them safe and still allow them to do their jobs. 4. Additional separation could impact how operating procedures are done resulting in more walls, doors, automated processes, interlocked spaces, and screenings for companies to get the job done. For 28 years, ESI has been providing industry leaders with solutions to any food facility challenges. To learn about temperature control, moisture control and cleanability go to

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Special Report BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION giant LED digital video board. Tenants also have access to amenities such as a fitness center and a conference room that can seat up to 110 people. But perhaps as noteworthy as the building’s painstaking detail is the journey its construction took to cross the finish line. The roughly 380,800-square-foot building was substantially finished last month and opened to tenants. To reach this point, the BMO Tower project overcame a number of obstacles, including a lengthy construction of its parking structure, a flooding incident, a switch in general contractor and a global pandemic. “It’s been quite a journey,” said Mark Irgens, chief executive officer and manager of Irgens Partners.

Putting up the tower

BMO Tower construction overcomes obstacles, reaches completion during pandemic BY ALEX ZANK, staff writer THE NEW 25-STORY glassy structure in front of Milwaukee City Hall stands out in downtown’s central business district. BMO Tower stands at 790 N. Water St., displaying the BMO Harris Bank logo in large lettering against the building’s sail-like parapet. At its

entrance is “Pensive,” a bronze sculpture depicting a contemplative W.E.B. Du Bois. Stepping inside, visitors are greeted by 25-foot ceilings, walnut wood wall panels and marble tile in the lobby. The security desk is made of a Brazilian marble called Invisible Blue. And there’s a

Milwaukee-based Irgens was selected to develop a new office building for BMO through a competition. Rather than just make a pitch for the new building, Irgens said, the firm also said it would buy and redevelop BMO’s existing building at 770 N. Water St., completed in 1967 for Marshall & Ilsley, which was acquired by Bank of Montreal in 2010. “(The proposal) solved two things for (BMO),” Irgens said. “It solved their desire for a new facility. It also, rather than just sell a building and not have any sort of input on what happens to it, they have a commitment from a locally-based, quality real estate developer in Milwaukee to redevelop the old building.” The project also included a replacement of the parking structure for the 770 building with enclosed climate-controlled parking. BMO Tower’s 653 parking stalls are located on floors three through 10. Irgens, BMO and general contractor JH Findorff & Son broke ground for the project in November 2017, starting with the demolition of the 770 building’s parking structure. About a year and a

half later is when the public learned of a major project challenge. At a topping-off ceremony for BMO Tower in June 2019, Irgens remarked that construction of the new parking structure took about two and a half months longer than expected. It was scheduled to be done in December 2018, but took until March of 2019. However, other work was accelerated to meet the December 2019 project completion deadline. Later, the completion date of BMO Tower was officially pushed back to this spring after a water-supply breach in November flooded the basement. The flooding damaged the building’s customized mechanical and electrical equipment, which then needed to be replaced. “It was just a bad situation, and it took us a few days to figure it out,” Irgens said, adding that the new specialty equipment pieces took time to be made and delivered. In January, Irgens announced it had terminated its contract with Findorff and named Pepper Construction the new general contractor for the project. It wasn’t until late February when Irgens Partners could confidently say the building would be ready by April, due to the work of replacing the damaged equipment. Irgens gave credit to the contractors and manufacturers’ representatives involved in getting the new parts made and installed. After all of this, as the BMO Tower was about a month away from its mid-April finish, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down a significant portion of commerce in the state and country. Construction was deemed an essential industry under Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order, so the project continued but with precautions that added another challenge. “And that was really hard, and we were really living from half-day to half-day to figure out what can we do, what can’t we do, how do we provide a safe work environment,” Irgens said. Working with Pepper, the construction team

adopted a number of new safety measures. Beginning March 16, Pepper issued new guidance to all field personnel and required all common areas to be disinfected daily. Hand-washing stations were placed on every floor, and hand sanitizer and work protocol signs were distributed throughout the building. Then two workers on the project were diagnosed with the coronavirus in late March, which prompted closures of the job site and “top to bottom” cleanings, according to Irgens Partners. Through all this, and “by some miracle” made possible by the hard work of the project team, the BMO Tower was able to open, Irgens said. “While it wasn’t accomplished like I wanted it to be accomplished, it was there and we’re open for business,” he said.

Next steps All those challenges are not visible in the end product, even through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that cover the 328-foot tall building. And Irgens appears confident in tackling the next challenge: trying to fill the remaining office and retail space amid the coronavirus outbreak. The BMO Tower presents an opportunity for companies adjusting their office environments to match a world altered by the pandemic, he said. In his pitch to prospective tenants, Irgens points to the touchless elevators and the building’s high-quality HVAC system. What’s more, the roughly 135,000 square feet of contiguous available space can be designed to adhere to workplace safety and social-distancing guidelines, he noted. “We’re really serious about providing a safe, comfortable environment for folks to be in, and it allows occupiers to adapt to the new normal quite easily,” he said. Irgens said there is still a market for new office space. While some tenants are choosing to stay put, others for various reasons simply have to find a new space. He added that Irgens Partners is still making deals, though not as much as

before the outbreak. So far, the BMO Tower is 55% leased to four tenants: BMO, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Heartland Advisors Inc. and Andrus Intellectual Property Law LLP. Michael Best and Heartland Advisors both said they have moved into their new offices. Andrus’ lease does not begin until later this year. Nicole Best, senior vice president, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer of Heartland Advisors, said the firm was officially moved in on April 20. “We are thrilled with the space,” she said. Heartland Advisors, though classified as an “essential business” under the “Safer at Home” order, has most of its 28 employees working from home. Best said no more than five workers are physically in the office on any day. While the firm prefers its employees collaborating under the same roof, it will take its time bringing workers back to the office, she said. A spokesman with BMO said the bank is in the process of moving into the new building. “The date we had planned for the move into our new BMO Tower was pushed back due to the COVID-19 situation,” said Patrick O’Herlihy, spokesman for BMO Harris. “The latest update is that we’re in the process of moving the belongings of our employees into the new tower, with the help of a moving service. To assist with the transition, a handful of employees in a few key functions are starting to work in the new tower; however, the vast majority are still working remotely.” Meanwhile, Irgens said available ground-floor retail space includes an area of BMO Tower at the southwest corner of East Wells Street and North Broadway, and the “connector building” between the BMO Tower and 770 North, the new name for the 770 N. Water St. building. Irgens said the connector area will likely feature a coffee shop that serves breakfast and lunch items, along with a tenant lounge for office employees. n

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Special Report OFFICE SPACE

Coakley Brothers employees demonstrate their movable hallway partitions.

Office space in the new normal BY MAREDITHE MEYER, staff writer THE END of stay-at-home restrictions for most of the state means many businesses can reopen, and their workers can head back to work. But for those who have shifted to working remotely, having the option to return to the office doesn’t necessarily mean they’re up for it. According to a recent study by IBM, 54% of employees would like to work primarily from home. IBM polled more than 25,000 U.S. adults during the month of April to find out how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed perspectives on transportation, retail spending and event attendance, in addition to the way people work. The large majority of respondents, 75%, said


they would like to continue working remotely at least occasionally. Such a shift has led to questions about the future of physical office space, especially as the threat of the coronavirus looms with no readily available treatment. “I would say it’s somewhat of a concern for landlords,” said Lyle Landowski, chief operating officer at Colliers International|Wisconsin’s Milwaukee office. Landowski pointed to the long-term possibility that tenants could have less need for space as employees trade in-person for remote work, but said that remains to be seen. “In the short term, you will see a significant

reduction in the occupancy of tenant spaces because there isn’t currently a vaccine for COVID-19, and to maintain social distancing and keep buildings and tenant spaces healthy, you just cannot occupy them at 100%,” he said. Colliers manages nearly 6 million square feet of office space across southeastern Wisconsin, including some of downtown Milwaukee’s newest and largest multi-tenant buildings, such as the BMO Tower, 833 East Michigan, 411 East Wisconsin Center and 100 East Wisconsin. The process of safely reopening to full capacity is different for each property, with larger tenants moving back into their physical office spaces more slowly than smaller companies, due to their volume and higher risk of exposure. “I think remote working and managing a remote workforce is definitely something companies have to think about,” he said. When Colliers’ own Milwaukee office reopened at the 833 East Michigan building recently, employees were not required to return and could continue working from home if they felt more comfortable. “What I’m anticipating is managers across the board are now much more willing to allow workfrom-home policies and are a lot more sensitive to people who request to work from home because of things like health care issues or child care issues,” said Andy Hunt, director of Marquette University’s Center for Real Estate. Hunt believes COVID-19 will spur changes in company policies, such as remote work flexibility, more than changes in office square footage. Others are fearful increased remote work will hurt the office space market. According to Marquette University CRE’s most recent commercial real estate industry flash poll, 70% of 286 respondents expect the extended period of employees working from home to have a negative impact on future demand for office space, while 45.6% expect the impact to be “slightly negative.”



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Special Report OFFICE SPACE The April flash poll was the second study CRE and several industry associations have conducted to understand the impact of COVID-19 on local commercial real estate. Hunt said it’s too early to tell if COVID-19 will in fact have a negative impact on the industry, but his prediction is office space demand will be slightly down yet close to normal once things level off in two to three years. Getting to that place could be chaotic. “You’re going to see people testing the waters on either getting a lot more space or really pulling back on their space,” he said. Anecdotally, he’s heard from industry contacts in New York City that “a major Wall Street Bank” is in the market for additional office space to ensure employees are kept at safe distances from one another. More likely, companies in the immediate future will simply work with the space they already have by reducing the number of employees in the space or reconfiguring the layout. One idea is rotating staff in and out of the office during the week to reduce density, as well as limiting capacity of conference rooms and other common areas, said Hunt. “You can imagine an environment where half the workforce comes in on Mondays and Wednesdays, the other half comes in on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and everyone works from home on Fridays, for example,” he said. Employers can also bulk up on cleaning supplies so employees can feel free to sanitize their own workspaces anytime. A hurdle for some companies will be stepping back from a popular modern design trend: the open-office concept. Known for smaller workstations, more communal spaces, and overall reduced footprint, it’s essentially the opposite of social distancing. “All of those aspects present a challenge in a new post-pandemic world where people need privacy in terms of their space,” said Ben Juech, ex-

Floor decals designed by Coakley Brothers and Splat! dpi.

ecutive vice president at Milwaukee-based Coakley Brothers and Brothers Interiors. Coakley is currently working with a number of local companies, ranging from large Fortune 500 firms to small nonprofits, to divide physical space, develop flow plans and install new furniture so employees feel safe going back to work. Temporary accessories like desk partitions, mobile screens, counter shields and rotating blinds can be added to an existing office layout to serve as barriers between employees. More permanent furniture such as the mounted “Hover” wall and the shoji-style “Square One” wraparound create private space within open areas. Textiles and materials commonly used in health care facilities are now being integrated into office products to make surfaces easier to sterilize, said Juech. Even basic products play an important role in keeping the office healthy, he said. Coakley partnered with Milwaukee-based Splat! dpi to design wall and floor decals directing one-way traffic flow throughout the office and reminding employees of safety precautions.

“When you have those visual reminders, even for something as simple as washing your hands in the bathroom, your brain just starts to think more proactively,” Juech said. Companies are investing in their office spaces despite shifting preferences, he said. In a post stay-at-home world, employees will be provided more flexibility to work from home, but that doesn’t mean offices have lost their edge. “There’s a misnomer that people don’t want their own space in an office,” Juech said. “People do want their own space, but they want variety … People see the value and the productivity on their teams when they are able to be together in an office.” As for the future of office space design, Juech expects there will be a happy medium between the pre-pandemic format of open, collaborative space and the current move toward private, individual space. “But I think the focus on germs and infection control are here to stay because we do have to plan for these types of things to happen,” he said. n



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BizTimes Milwaukee is launching the BizTimes Media 2020 Notable Women in Law feature within the August 17th issue of BizTimes Milwaukee. This special editorial feature will profile the women who who have a track record of setting legal precedents, winning big cases for their clients and mentoring the next wave of women in law – all while finding ways to give back to their communities. Your company, and its executives, are invited to submit a nomination form that will help us determine this year’s honorees. The special section will run in print and online, recognizing the chosen individuals for their accomplishments.

Nomination Deadline is July 17th



The brokers on this list will be among southeast Wisconsin’s highest-selling producers: to make the list, each must have closed a minimum of $10 million in home sales in 2019.

Profiling accomplished women steering the financial functions of their companies and nonprofits and leading in the fields of investment banking, investment management and private equity.


Nomination Deadline: Friday, May 29, 2020 Issue Date: June 29, 2020


Nomination Deadline: August 7, 2020 Issue Date: September 7, 2020



The executives on this list are shaping their own organizations as well as the path forward for other women in the industry. Nomination Deadline: September 4, 2020

These accomplished professionals represent various corners of the field. The common denominator: They went into health care to help people and have staked out paths to make an impact.

Issue Date: October 5, 2020

Nomination Deadline: November 13, 2020



Issue Date: December 14, 2020

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Special Report


MY HOME OFFICE GALLERY IN MID-MARCH, employees across the state were forced to pack up their work materials and set up makeshift offices at their kitchen tables, basements and spare bedrooms. Now two months in, workers have largely settled into the rhythms of working from home – a practice some expect will continue for many even after businesses begin reopening and resume normal operations. Several Milwaukee-area professionals submitted photos of their home office setups, along with strategies they have learned to stay productive while working from home. Joe Ruddell, sales manager for Dawes Rigging and Crane Rental, Inc., said some of the positives of working from his Watertown home office are the “great views” of his backyard, the companionship of his dog and a continual supply of coffee. He said he’s settled into a good work-from-home rhythm. “Set your alarm, get out of bed, take a shower, get dressed in your normal work attire, work your agenda, take a break, work some more, take a lunch, go outside if accessible and take a walk, come back and finish up your work day,” he said. “At the end of the day, shut off your computer, phone and anything to do with work. Enjoy your family and get up the next day and do it all over again.”

Working from her home office in Wauwatosa, TRG Marketing account supervisor Aileen Smith said she’s learned to organize her space at the end of the day as a way to keep her work separate from her home life. “I set up my laptop each morning – no leaving it out all night – at the end of my dining room table, perched on a shoebox for better ergonomics. I love this vantage point because I can watch the world walk by while I’m working on my own,” Smith said.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee vice provost Phyllis King’s home office features a mahogany computer workstation, with a keyboard tray and task chair, adjacent to an executive desk in the library room in her Mequon home. “The worst thing about working from home is working on the computer as the main means of communication,” King said. “Emails and teleconferences have grown exponentially. I never realized how tiring this could be. The computer may be efficient, but not always the most effective way to communicate.”

Laura Kaiser, conference and social media director for the Wisconsin Technology Council, has filled her Madison home office with “inspiration and motivation,” including candles, yoga frogs, a family photo and a frame full of brands and people she looks up to. “I can see outside when I turn my head – the light is wonderful. The corner placement allows me to be centrally located, but yet focused in my zone for video and conference calls,” Kaiser said.


Gary Billington, vice president of sales and marketing for U.S. Foods & Pharmaceuticals and founder and CEO of Connect the Dots, said his home office in Oak Creek is a “nice quiet retreat,” filled with personal memorabilia, awards, pictures of his parents and snowmobile trips, business books and his favorite motivational quotes.

Sally Piefer, an employment law attorney with Lindner & Marsack, describes her Oconomowoc home office as “functional and cozy.” Burrall Associates LLC principal Mark Burrall’s home office in Cedarburg faces the woods and offers him a view of the sunrise and sunset. “The best thing about my office is the uninterrupted time and space it allows me. My wife refers to it as my ‘man cave.’ I often see deer and turkey wandering through the property while I work,” Burrall said. Tina Raasch-Prost, an interior designer with TRP Design Group, LLC, said she had to quickly convert a former playroom in her Oconomowoc home into an office. “We had to make it work for my husband, the electrical engineer, and my work as an interior designer. I set up our existing furniture, and he personalized it for efficiency,” Raasch-Prost said.

John Howman, chief executive officer of Grafton-based Allied Consulting Group, LLC, has been working from his home office in Prescott, Arizona during the pandemic. “Plan your work around your biological clock,” Howman said. “I am most productive from sunrise to six hours after sunrise, so I get my most important work done early. If you are presenting, cut your presentation time down by two-thirds. I am doing 3-hour workshops in 45 minutes to an hour. Use noise cancelling headphones or (AirPods) and let the family know that work time is work time. Have a dog nearby.”


Home Office Updates - Social Distancing Products - Post COVID-19 Design Services



Employees across the country have spent the last few months adapting to a work at home routine, while company leaders have been strategizing new modes of workplace operation. Hard work has continued; new technology has helped keep people connected and productive. Now, businesses must adapt to the reality of how to safely bring their teams back together at the office. The Schroeder Solutions Team has reached out to colleagues and clients during this time to gain perspective and consider the many options for the new office standard. The team has conducted interviews, researched products and materials and explored design concepts to uncover what is next for the modern workplace. Creating spaces that work is our mission, so it is our job to communicate options and help clients make choices that make sense for their business and our community.

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BizTimes Milwaukee is proud to present the

HAVING 19 YEARS of experience in the architecture, engineering and construction industry, Erin Ankebrant is currently the director of finance and an associate at Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP. She also undertakes HR responsibilities and acts as an employee benefits administrator and has achieved the professional designation of a Certified Management Accountant. “Through her training efforts, Erin streamlined PRA’s project set-up process, resulting in saved time and effort and a shortened cash-conversion cycle,” said Tom Koch, chief operating officer for Plunkett Raysich. “Additionally, she helped implement new ERP modules that increased agility within PRA’s recruiting efforts and played a crucial role when the firm changed leadership, as she managed the financial transactions during the transition.” Ankebrant is an active member of the IMA Global Council and Components Roundtable Committee and holds a leadership position at the Institute of Management Accountants Mid-America Regional Council. In addition, Ankebrant “was instrumental in developing weekly virtual social gatherings during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the firm’s annual United Way Campaign and its Adopt-A-Family efforts,” Koch said.

inaugural list of Notable Women in Construction & Design spotlighting accomplished professionals throughout the region. The leaders profiled in the following pages were nominated by their peers at work and in the community and showcase the diversity of talent in our market. The leadership shown by the executives profiled here is setting an example to shape a better future for our region.

METHODOLOGY: The honorees did not pay to be included. Their profiles were drawn from nomination materials. This list features only individuals for whom nominations were submitted and accepted after a review by our editorial team. To qualify for the list, nominees must be based in southeast Wisconsin. They must be currently serving in a senior level role at their firm, must hold a leadership position in their industry outside of their own organization, have made a significant contribution to advancing workplace equality at their own workplace or beyond, and act as a role model or mentor.

JILL DIDIER, a vice president of business development for Neenah-based Miron Construction Co., Inc., is responsible for growth and development of the company in the greater Milwaukee market. Her previous experience includes service in the public sector, including nearly four years as mayor of Wauwatosa and serving as economic development coordinator for Milwaukee County from late 2011 to mid-2013. “Throughout her career, Jill has actively promoted transparency and accountability in government, expanded community outreach efforts, transformed economic development programs, and promoted cooperation and collaboration in the greater Milwaukee area,” said Christine Bohl, marketing specialist at Miron. According to Bohl, Didier played an integral role on the company’s team that helped establish and enhance relationships with many of the premier architectural firms in the region, as well as prominent entities in the area, such as Children’s Wisconsin, the Medical College of Wisconsin and Froedtert. Didier currently serves on The Construction Engineering Industry Advisory Council through Marquette University and is a member of the board at Danceworks. She is also actively involved on the WRTP/Big Step Advisory Committee, Employ Milwaukee Industry Advisory Committee, TEMPO Milwaukee, CARW, and NAIOP.

Miron - Women of the Milwaukee Office



To our friend and colleague, Jill Didier, we extend our sincere congratulations on being honored as one of BizTimes 2020 Notable Women in Construction and Design! We know that progress is made by working together; thank you to all women who are breaking down boundaries in construction and other industries! We are, Building Excellence. LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR CULTURE AT MIRON-CONSTRUCTION.COM


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WITH 15 YEARS of industry experience, Amanda Izquierdo has been with commercial real estate firm JLL for 8 1/2 years. “Amanda has been an integral part of building our Milwaukee office,” said colleague David Pudlosky, market lead/executive vice president at JLL. As a senior project manager for JLL, Izquierdo has worked on many high-profile projects. She worked with Abbvie implementing a campus-wide new workplace, and with S.C. Johnson and Kimberly Clark on campus renovations, and with BBVA Bancomer creating a 53-story world headquarters tower in Mexico City. Prior to joining JLL in 2011, Izquierdo worked in the architecture and construction industry at an international level for more than five years. She is currently acting as program manager for BMO Harris as they move nearly 600 employees into 127,000 square feet of space at Milwaukee’s newest office building, BMO Tower. A licensed architect, Izquierdo is also a LEED accredited professional in building design and construction. In addition to the work that she does with JLL, she is also a member of TEMPO Milwaukee’s Emerging Women Leaders and is part of WCREW (Wisconsin Commercial Real Estate Women).


MICHELE RAYSICH, senior project manager for JLL, joined the project and development services team in the commercial real estate firm’s Milwaukee office in July 2019. She has 12 years of experience in the design and construction industry. Raysich is responsible for providing project management services to clients, from building selection and initial design to budgeting, construction administration and project closeout. She has managed a variety of project types including educational facilities, health care and corporate tenant build-outs throughout the Milwaukee and Chicago areas. “She has a strong commitment to service clients’ needs from initial design to documentation all the way through the process of construction administration,” said David Pudlosky, market lead and executive vice president of JLL. Raysich’s notable work includes numerous projects with Toshiba America Energy Systems, ThermoFisher, Quad/Graphics, Germantown School District and Herzing University in Brookfield. She is a licensed architect in both Wisconsin and Illinois. She is also president of the board for Wisconsin Commercial Real Estate Women (WCREW), a sponsorship committee member for TEMPO Milwaukee’s Emerging Women Leaders, and is also involved with the American Institute of Architects. She is certified by the Council of Architectural Registration Boards and has been a Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast troop leader, United Way Workplace Giving ambassador, a UWM Extern representative and a UWM MentArch mentor.





KRIS BILTY has more than 15 years of experience in the remodeling industry. Ten years ago, Bilty co-founded Renaissance Design and Renovation with Jody Ryg, another long-time industry professional. Renaissance Design & Renovation, based in Elm Grove, is a full-service boutique residential renovation firm. The company excels in luxury finishes, exceptional design and comprehensive project management. “Kris’ ability to get to know her clients and design spaces to meet their individual tastes is remarkable,” said Sheila Baker, vice president of JE Hoffman Management Co., Inc. “She is a people person and customer service is her specialty.” Bilty recognizes that anyone can offer products and services, but the delivery of those services is most important, Baker said. Renaissance provides custom renovation experience focused on collaboration and quality and utilizes master artisans and passionate designers dedicated to uncompromised quality and craftsmanship, she said. “The special touches can be found throughout their custom projects,” said Baker. “Truly incredible work ethic and final product put RDR on the list well above others.”

40 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

RING & DUCHATEAU CONSULTING ENGINEERS HOLLY BLOMQUIST has more than 12 years of experience as an architectural lighting designer and has been with Ring & DuChateau Consulting Engineers since 2014. “Through the years, she has built a solid team that has established itself within the industry as a value-added service for engineering design, plus as a stand-alone provider of exceptional lighting design services,” said Pam Volk, business development coordinator for Ring & DuChateau Consulting Engineers. Blomquist’s architectural lighting designer career spans across many markets including corporate, science/technology, health care, arts, education, hospitality and cultural facilities. “With an extensive academic and professional background in theatrical lighting for both live performances and performance facilities, Holly brings exceptional aesthetic and technical acumen to every project,” Volk said. Some of Blomquist’s recent projects include Marquette University’s The Commons residence hall and its Athletic and Human Performance Research Center, UW-La Crosse’s Prairie Springs Science Center, an 800,000-square-foot distribution center for Uline, Hiawatha Bank’s corporate headquarters, renovation of Kohler Memorial Theater and Rockwell Automation’s corporate lobby and work café. Blomquist also serves as a mentor to interns, a volunteer as a project adjudicator at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, a member, instructor and speaker of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America Milwaukee section, as well as a participant and speaker in Women In Design Milwaukee.


SHELLY BASSO HAS nearly three decades of experience in the building industry, serving as president of Pewaukee-based Aspen Homes, Inc. She has been an active member of the Metropolitan Builders Association, the Wisconsin Builders Association, and the National Association of Home Builders since 1995. Basso is a licensed general contractor in the state of Wisconsin, a licensed real estate salesperson and broker as well as a certified Focus on Energy and Wisconsin Green Built Home Builder. She actively participates in the MBA Parade of Homes and has won many awards for design and interior decor. “She is well-respected, strong, dedicated and understanding of her role as a mentor,” said Kathy Raab, executive director of the Metropolitan Builders Association. Basso has served on the Metropolitan Builders Association board of directors for the past four years and is currently its president, just the third woman to serve in that role in the organization’s 75-year history. During that time, she has been instrumental in forming a Professional Women In Building chapter for the National Association of Home Builders and developing a Career Day for high school students that has grown to nearly 700 students in just three years, Raab said.


IBC ENGINEERING SERVICES, INC. AMBER BURKE, director of marketing and business development for Waukesha-based IBC Engineering Services, Inc., has 25 years of experience in the industry and has used that experience to secure projects of significance for the company. Burke has many talents such as excelling at communication, interpersonal skills, collaboration skills, research, strategy, training and business intelligence, said Diann Herrick, mechanical design engineer for IBC. “Amber goes above and beyond to help the company be as successful as it can be,” Herrick said. “We rely on her knowledge, theory, and hands-on experience to help the business grow.” “Amber believes strongly in continuous improvement and consistently finds ways to help the business reach its full potential,” Herrick said. “She is highly skilled at identifying business opportunities and building long-term relationships with prospects to increase company revenue and maximize profits.” Burke is a past president of Society for Marketing Professional Services Wisconsin and has served on numerous board positions both locally and nationally. She also developed the mentor/protégé program for SMPS Wisconsin. Currently, she is co-chairing the logistics committee for the 2021 Heartland Regional Conference in Milwaukee. She is also a member of the Wisconsin Healthcare Engineering Association and American Public Works Association.

Michele Raysich

Amanda Izquierdo


our notable JLL women

JLL is honored to congratulate Michele Raysich and Amanda Izquierdo on being selected as BizTimes Notable Women in Construction and Design. We are greatful for the hard work and dedication they bring to JLL and our clients on a daily basis. We are proud to have these inspiring leaders on our team!

— David Pudlosky, Executive Vice President









AB&K BATH & KITCHEN INC. TRACY GROSSPIETSCH, CKBR, UDCP, is AB&K’s director of design and sales. Since 2015, she has led the design team of the Greenfield-based remodeling company. Under her leadership, the design staff of six has won more than 60 local and national remodeling awards. Grosspietsch herself received multiple awards at the NARI Milwaukee Remodeler of the Year Awards in January. “In addition to the outstanding design work, Tracy has streamlined many operations, including the creation of a clear path for homeowners to understand the design and sales process,” said AB&K president Jeff Klement. Grosspietsch regularly presents design and remodeling trends at local home shows, and is a guest on local Milwaukee radio shows. Grosspietsch gives back to the community through work with Susan G. Komen of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Youth Sailing Team (MYST) and Advocates of Ozaukee County, which helps victims of domestic and sexual violence. “One of Tracy’s greatest volunteer achievements was spearheading the kitchen remodel at Advocates’ group home,” Klement said. “This project involved securing pro bono trade labor, acquiring donated materials, and overhauling the existing kitchen while upgrading mechanicals, finishes and appliances – all at no cost to the nonprofit. The kitchen is now current with local building codes and has functional, durable materials, and is an inspiring space where women and families are empowered to move forward with their lives.”

SHARON REITSMA has more than two decades of experience in the design and construction industry. For the past two years, she has served as project manager for Beloit-based Corporate Contractors Inc. (CCI) and works out of the company’s Delafield office. Corporate Contractors, Inc., is a leading general contracting firm that has completed thousands of construction projects locally and across the nation – from designing industrial sites and building new community assets to preserving cherished landmarks and renovating historic commercial buildings. In her role at CCI, Reitsma manages the overall budget, scheduling, contracts, and permitting for each project while providing innovative solutions for productivity and efficiency for a variety of project types including multi-family, multi-tenant, retail, educational, commercial, and industrial. Reitsma earned an undergraduate degree in interior design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University. For the past 18 months, Reitsma has managed completion of Parc on Lac La Belle, an $18 million luxury lakeside condominium project in Oconomowoc that included the coordination and completion of custom interiors for individual buyers. Experienced in both interior design and construction, Reitsma has earned a reputation for being a strong client advocate, said Lesia Burzinski, creative director at CCI. Reitsma has also been involved in Junior Achievement Wisconsin, a program to educate elementary grade students about finances, entrepreneurship and career options.

AFTER GRADUATING from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Amanda Coakley worked for almost two years for Ron Sonntag Public Relations, which did a lot of work for the Milwaukee chapter of NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry). Then she joined her family’s Delafield-based business, Bartelt. The Remodeling Resource. Coakley has been Bartelt’s marketing director for eight years. “She instantly brought life and excitement into our business and hasn’t slowed down,” said her father, Rick Bartelt, the owner of the business. “She is extremely well organized, goal oriented, forward thinking and she doesn’t stop until the project or task is done and successful.” Coakley could see where improvements could be made in multiple areas of the company (branding, social media, updating technology, advertising) while planning events and ways to show their customers how much they were appreciated, Bartelt said. “We could not be prouder of Amanda,” he said. “What she’s personally achieved and for all she’s done for our business.”

Bringing Your

vision home

On being selected as a BizTimes Media 2020 Notable Women in Construction and Design!

SHARON REITSMA Project Manager

Design showrooms in Greenfield | 3636 S. 108th Street Mequon | 11063 N. Port Washington Road

414-329-1882 42 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

Beloit | Milwaukee Area | CCIWI.COM







EPPSTEIN UHEN ARCHITECTS (EUA) AS VICE PRESIDENT, principal and officer at Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA), Kristin Dufek oversees the core practice areas of design, implementation, project management, IT and marketing. Dufek has nearly 25 years of experience in the architecture industry. She has been an integral part in growing EUA’s Healthcare Studio, developing relationships with Wisconsin’s largest health care organizations. She earned an undergraduate degree in pre-medicine from The University of Notre Dame and uses her experience and knowledge to provide perspective and a unique viewpoint on the role architecture plays in elevating wellness and healing. The studio has provided architectural services on thousands of projects throughout the region that vary in size from small renovations to replacement hospitals to clinics and specialty service facilities. “Kristin continues to be a key leader at EUA, a local leader in the community and a nationally recognized leader in health care,” said Rich Tennessen, president of EUA. “She has an incredible ability to achieve goals on many activities simultaneously while also mentoring co-workers in all areas of our practice. Her drive to make a difference and help others is a inspiration to all of us at EUA.” Dufek also serves as program and education chair for Milwaukee Women, Inc., and is dedicated to changing the face of leadership by encouraging more women to take on leadership roles. She has been instrumental in growing the organization by planning programs and roundtables featuring leaders from some of Wisconsin’s most successful companies.


MICHELLE GRAU has more than 15 years of construction industry experience, serving as vice president and owner of Waukesha-based Professional Construction Inc. Grau has learned many roles and throughout her career has adapted in order to help the company grow. Today, the company is focused on commercial, residential and community projects. In the past 18 months alone, Grau has worked on the design and execution of PCI’s new showroom and the Bark River spec house in Delafield. Grau, who co-owns the business with her husband, Mike, stresses the importance of keeping the “family” in family business. PCI incorporates family values and culture into every project and client relationship, treating customers as an extension of the team. “She is a selfless individual who is committed to her community, customers, employees and, most of all, her family,” said Jennifer Cobleigh, interior designer with Professional Construction. “Michelle lives by the motto of being kind and treating others as you would like to be treated. She follows through with this motto by making sure her employees and customers are always taken care of. Her dedication, determination, vision and openness to new concepts and ideas has helped PCI grow and become the company it is today.”

Strength. Persistence. Vision.

SPANCRETE AS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, and a member of the Spancrete team for 14 years, Kimberly Wacker leads business development, preconstruction and estimating, virtual design and construction, overall strategic marketing and brand development and corporate culture and communication. Recently, she spearheaded the company’s digital marketing and internal communications initiatives. She has overseen year-over-year web traffic growth and recently launched an employee app, a critical communication tool to keep all employees informed. “She has been instrumental in guiding the direction of the company and aligning our strategic growth initiatives,” said Alan Antoniewicz, president and chief operating officer of Spancrete. “As our industry changes, Kimberly sees to it that our business does too. She was responsible for the development and execution of our virtual design and construction team, guiding their efforts to utilize the most innovative technologies available that add value for our customers.” Wacker was the first woman on the AGC of Greater Milwaukee board and she also sits on the board of the Precast Concrete Institute’s Illinois/Wisconsin chapter where she helps guide the organization’s local precast construction strategies. She has a passion for developing the next generation of business leaders and has created a mentorship program at the company to help develop other female leaders and help Spancrete get involved in student education initiatives.

Kimberly Wacker Senior Vice President

At Spancrete, the qualities of our team exemplify the best of our work: delivering solutions that continually raise the bar and make us leaders in precast construction. We’re grateful for the skills and dedication Senior Vice President Kimberly Wacker brings to our team, and to have her lead with us. Congratulations to Kimberly and her fellow 2020 Notable Women in Construction and Design. Your work sets the foundation for a stronger future.

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5/20/20 2:05/ PM 43


BERGHAMMER CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS, Tammy Krenz, director of project administration and associate at Butler-based Berghammer Construction Corporation, has taken on several roles and responsibilities within the organization. Krenz was the first female associate in Berghammer’s 91year history, and she earned that recognition through years of dedicated service, said Matt Iwanski, senior vice president and principal of Berghammer. Today, she is responsible for guiding company-wide adherence to proper documentation standards and is responsible for the functionality of Berghammer’s project management software. Krenz leads the introduction and training of new staff and her mentoring efforts extend beyond her own duties, Iwanski said. Last December, Krenz tasked herself with empowering female staff at the company. She has rallied several women to attend community events organized by the Professional Women’s Development Network and WCREW. “The best companies owe much of their success to having employees that operate with the best interest of the company in mind,” said Iwanski. “These employees consistently support the organization through all that they do behind the scenes to provide clear and timely support for the crews and managers in the field – they are the ‘unsung heroes’ of the construction industry that keep the engine running without making headlines. Tammy Krenz is the epitome of this employee.”







DAJEN “DIANE” BOHACEK has served the plumbing, mechanical and sheet metal contractors in southeastern Wisconsin for 15 years in a variety of capacities. She is a labor relations expert with experience in negotiating new collectively bargained agreements on behalf of contractors with labor partners from Local 75 (plumbers), Local 601 (pipe fitters) and Local 18 (sheet metal). Bohacek manages the workforce development arm of the Alliance and manages the Youth Apprenticeship Program, matching high school students with an interest in the mechanical construction trades with interested contractors. “She also directs the marketing and outreach for the Alliance and its members, including having co-created and managed the Choose Bigger digital recruiting platform for apprentices in the local pipe fitting and sheet metal apprentice training programs,” said Jonathan Kowalski, executive director of the Plumbing, Mechanical and Sheet Metal Contractors’ Alliance. “She is passionate about the role her contractors play in the construction economy in our market and has invested tremendous amounts of time working with apprentice candidates as they explore the union construction industry.” Bohacek also participates in the national Women in the Mechanical Industry initiative and the local National Association of Women in Construction chapter.

JEAN MARIE THEIL, president of West Bend-based Belonger Corporation started in the world of contracting by offering business support services while putting herself through college. In 1999, she shifted her plans and set on the road to opening her own company. She founded Belonger Corporation in March 2000 in the basement of her home with only one employee and four customers. Today, the company is Wisconsin’s only woman-owned and American Indian-owned mechanical contracting firm. A focus on diversity and flexibility has allowed Belonger to become a national presence in the industry. The company currently employs more than 30 people between the office and field crews. Unprecedented growth has been the hallmark of the company since the beginning. Under Thiel’s leadership, the company has worked with several notable clients on mechanical projects including Lambeau Field, the Harley-Davidson Museum, Oak Creek power plant, Northwestern Mutual Tower & Commons, the Milwaukee streetcar, and the Milwaukee County Zoo Elephant Exhibit. Thiel currently holds several DBE/MBE/WBE certifications, and serves as the president of the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association. She also serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Procurement Institute and is chair of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce executive board.


Dajen Bohacek

44 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

Jean Thiel





FAITH TECHNOLOGIES INC. CLARE HIRSSIG is a key contributor to the General Building Engineering Team at Faith Technologies. She works in the Pewaukee office for Menasha-based Faith Technologies, and has been with the company for five of the 12 years she has been in the industry. “Clare brings many quality attributes to the engineering team, from her extensive technical knowledge to her ability to instill trust and confidence in the project teams that she supports,” said Cameron Vaught, Faith Technologies engineering team leader. “Clare leads by example and has been instrumental in the success of Faith Technologies’ Corporate Engineering team.” “Clare has helped drive the success of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin project over the last two years,” Vaught said. “She goes above and beyond in every task, often coming up with truly innovative ideas that bring immense benefit to the project. She acts as a key interface between the construction and engineering teams, while confidently representing the organization before the client and her other customers.” In addition to her career responsibilities, Hirssig finds time to be a volunteer, a mentor for multiple organizations and is an active member with the Illuminating Engineering Society and the National Society of Professional Engineers. “It is incredibly rare to find someone who is as committed to quality and as willing to work with others as Clare,” Vaught said.


ZIMMERMAN ARCHITECTURAL STUDIOS, INC. LISA JANSEN has more than three decades of experience in the interior design industry and serves as principal and director of interior design at Milwaukee-based Zimmerman Architectural Studios. She has worked on a variety of award-winning projects and also received the silver award from the American Society of Interior Designers for the A.O. Smith project in Milwaukee. Some of Jansen’s most notable project work includes the Froedtert Ambulatory Master Plan Implementation, Children’s Wisconsin, UW Health, Waukesha County Courthouse addition, Walworth County Health & Human Services and South Wood County YMCA & VA. She has been a member of the American Society of Interior Designers for more than 30 years. Jansen recently joined the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers and WCREW, a network to interface with other women in the commercial real estate industry. “She’s an outstanding leader who sees a strong sense of possibility in all that she does,” said Steve Raasch, president and chief executive officer of Zimmerman Architectural Studios. “She leads by example, with one of the keys to her success being very fluid and adaptable to any given situation. Her strong listening skills result in the quality of design and impact her clients are looking for.”

STANTEC CONSULTING SERVICES INC. SARAH MCDONALD leads landscape, architecture and planning efforts in Wisconsin for global design firm Stantec. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. She has led the development efforts on several notable projects throughout the state of Wisconsin, including several local parks, The Shipyard brownfield redevelopment in Green Bay, East River Trail and Plaza in Green Bay, Main Street streetscape in Wisconsin Dells, and Mead Park master plan and splash pad in Wisconsin Rapids. “Over the past decade, Sarah has been a lead designer in more than $30 million in total improvements that have created better living spaces in communities across Wisconsin,” said Kevin Kimmes, principal business development leader, Midwest at Stantec. “Sarah’s approach to work is exemplary,” said Kimmes. “She understands the importance of getting feedback from numerous stakeholders and partners leading to the best design solution. I feel fortunate to get to work with her every day.” McDonald serves as the Wisconsin Chapter president for the American Society of Landscape Architects and has advocated for legislation that supports improvements to water, transportation, parks and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Congratulations to

Sarah McDonald our Wisconsin Practice Leader for Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, who was selected as one of BizTimes 2020 Notable Women in Construction and Design. Our team and clients have experienced Sarah’s exemplary leadership and tireless commitment to excellence first-hand. #stantecproud

Design with community in mind / 45







AMANDA RAABE has been working in the design industry for 13 years. For the past 4 years, she has been working at Tredo Group Architecture on numerous projects, many right here in Milwaukee and surrounding areas. Her recently completed projects include St. Marcus School North Campus, United Community Center Youth Center, Wisconsin Lutheran High School Residence Hall, Honey Creek Place Apartments, ROC Ventures Office Building, Milwaukee Milkmen Stadium and the Johnson Insurance office building. “I am humbled to have worked with Amanda for years in collaboration on many projects,” said Tredo Group president Jeff Tredo. “She is our director of interior architecture, and this title is indicative of her range of creativity and talent, as well as her leadership. She is far more than an interior designer, often working as an architect on many projects, building furniture, creating artwork, and for the last year enjoying being a mom. She is also a true servant-leader going the extra mile on each project no matter the size or importance of the people.” “She is a powerhouse of design in this city, and as humble and hardworking a person as you will ever find,” Tredo said.

From your appreciative colleagues, dedicated clients and adoring fans we congratulate you on this deserved recognition of your professional contributions to every project you touch. You are truly one-of-a-kind! 46 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

SINCE JOINING MILWAUKEE-BASED architectural firm RINKA in 2016, Audry Grill has been involved in several major development projects in Milwaukee. Her most signature project with RINKA is the AIA Award-winning Milwaukee Bucks Entertainment District adjacent to Fiserv Forum. “She managed a complex and evolving design process with multiple stakeholders in both the public and private realms to successfully deliver what has been described as Milwaukee’s new living room,” said Chad Griswold, a partner at RINKA. Grill’s current clients include Associated Bank and Cobalt Partners, both of which are involved in major development projects in the Milwaukee area, including ongoing renovations to the Associated Bank River Center tower (formerly known as the Milwaukee Center), in downtown Milwaukee. “Besides her managing role with clients and projects, Audry crafts strategies for (RINKA’s) recruitment and internal professional development efforts,” Griswold said. “Her insightful character, approachable personality, and depth of diverse experience make her a strong mentor to junior colleagues, especially to fellow women growing in the profession.” Grill curates firm-wide meetings, which empower all levels of the firm to build effective communication skills, Griswold said. “Her highly effective balance of professional and family life is an inspiration to all of her colleagues,” Griswold said.


RINKA FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS, Katie Monachos, vice president, senior architect, and project manager at Milwaukee-based architecture firm RINKA has contributed to the expertise and international experience of the firm and helped foster growth and strengthen the team. Monachos has 14 years of industry experience and is the firm’s practice leader for all multi-family residential projects and is focused on creating and maintaining firmwide standards. She currently manages a diverse range of projects including The Yards apartments in Walker’s Point, Parterre apartments in Oak Creek’s Drexel Town Square, renovations to Schlitz Park in Milwaukee and a new neighborhood apartment and town center development in Brown Deer. She is also working on high rise projects including The Pier in Tempe, Arizona, the Couture on Milwaukee’s lakefront and master planning portions of the city of Cudahy, her new hometown since moving from Chicago. In addition to her managing role with clients and projects, Monachos regularly mentors project managers and junior level staff in design, management and technical capability. “Her leadership has helped create strong teams and foster impressive growth among her colleagues,” said Chad Griswold, a partner RINKA.







NADINE LOVE-FILER, a structural engineer, has nearly 35 years of experience in the design and construction industry. She joined New Berlin-based Anderson Ashton Design|Build in 1995 and was named president and owner of A&A Erecting Co., Inc., in 2010. A&A Erecting Co., Inc., is an affiliate of Anderson Ashton Design|Build. The partnership allows the company to provide a high level of craftsmanship while utilizing state-of-the-art building materials and components. Love-Filer thrives on the day-to-day duties of running a business, but understands the relationships and interactions she has with her clients and colleagues are crucial to the company’s success, said Brian Fisher, vice president of operations at Anderson Ashton. “Nadine has been a pioneer when it comes to women in construction having gone directly from graduating from MSOE with a PE degree right into the male-dominated world of construction and design,” said Fisher. “She commands respect from all her peers, which made her transition to A&A Erecting Company as president and owner an easy one. She is also a shining example of how women-owned businesses can flourish in a male-dominated industry.”

AMBER MACCRACKEN has built a portfolio of awardwinning work over her 15 years in the architecture industry, focusing on interior design of corporate workplaces, hospitality, historic structures and culinary spaces. “She has the unique capability to weave storytelling into her designs that supports each project’s goals and the client’s brand,” said Devin Sutherland, marketing and business development manager for Kahler Slater. “One of Amber’s most recent and notable accomplishments was the reimagination of downtown Milwaukee’s award-winning Bacchus restaurant that showcases a new aesthetic and reinvigorates the guest experience. The design executed the Bartolotta’s vision to reset expectations and elevate the experience in every sense, for every sense.” MacCracken has received ASID awards for several projects, including Miss Lizzie’s in the Miller High Life Theatre, a new café experience in celebration of Snap-on Inc.’s 100-year legacy and a new building for C.D. Smith Construction. MacCracken’s current work is as impressive as her recent accomplishments. Her active projects include the BMO Tower, the reimagined Milwaukee Athletic Club and the new Baker Tilly headquarters in Madison. Her passion about design education and women in the field of architecture led her to be actively involved with Women in Design and she teaches industry curriculum to middle and high school students, as well as at her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning.


VJS CONSTRUCTION SERVICES MADDY TARBOX joined Pewaukee-based VJS Construction Services more than 30 years ago. She started as one of only a few women in the local construction industry and today serves as vice president of marketing. “I have known Maddy for over 30 years; she has been the glue that has held VJS together,” said Craig Jorgensen, president at VJS. “Her insight and industry knowledge are two major reasons that VJS has consistently been elevated to one of the top general contractors in the Milwaukee area.” Tarbox played an integral part in growing what was once a $20 million a year company with 65 employees into a $210 million firm with more than 200 employees, Jorgensen said. She is experienced in the development and implementation of strategic initiatives for marketing, business development and corporate communications that lead to growth, long-term profitability and results, he said. Outside of work, Tarbox is an advocate for education and mentoring and regularly mentors young women through Society for Marketing Professional Services and Professional Dimensions.



Maddy Tarbox We applaud you for over 30 years of dedication to VJS Construction Services






GILBANE BUILDING COMPANY FOR SEVEN YEARS, Laura Hause has been an integral part of Gilbane Building Company. As senior project manager, she works collaboratively with clients and project teams to complete her projects on time and within budget. Gilbane Building Company’s downtown Milwaukee office has been steadily growing in recent years. As a leading construction firm in Milwaukee, Gilbane has assembled a portfolio of work in a wide variety of industries. For the past year, Hause has led Gilbane’s team on the Waukesha County Courthouse project and acted as construction consultant for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has also been co-leading the pre-construction efforts for the Dane County Jail project. “Laura’s ability to lead with a steady hand, while growing and developing her teams is uncanny,” said Adam Jelen, senior vice president at Gilbane. “She understands the intricate details of construction needed to be successful, and in the same moment, she never loses sight of the big picture purpose of her projects.” Hause excels due to her consistent, detailed and thorough work and her ability to take control of difficult projects with tight budgets and compressed schedules, Jelen said.

DEB PEREIRA has 33 years of in-depth experience in evaluating and managing all types of construction programs. Her combination of educational and practical project experience provides insight into the needs and challenges faced in the facility evaluation, planning, design, construction and operations industry. Her experience also forms a solid base for creative, proactive solution planning. As the program director for the Foxconn industrial construction work in Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park Area 1, Pereira has worked collaboratively with the state of Wisconsin and the project team to develop the Area 1 site infrastructure and three buildings to date, as well as conduct numerous informational sessions to support outreach efforts of the project. Pereira also previously managed Gilbane’s CAT-Response division. The group’s sole focus is rapid deployment to assess buildings post event, determine what repair options are feasible/ most efficient, develop estimates, coordinate and document the repair/rebuild process. “In this capacity Deb developed programs and led dozens of Gilbane professionals and partners to ensure accurate, reliable data was delivered in a timely fashion to meet owner, occupant, insurer and government authority requirements,” said Fred Wenger, sales and marketing specialist for Gilbane. “Deb directed teams post-Superstorm Sandy, Hurricanes Harvey, Ike, Wilma, Rita and Katrina and the New England flood of March 2010. The efforts of teams Deb led post-Superstorm Sandy resulted in the repair or reconstruction of more than 7,500 homes in New York and New Jersey.”


GILBANE BUILDING COMPANY AS GILBANE Building Company’s corporate director of safety, Becky Severson is responsible for directing the company’s construction safety program. In this role, Severson works collaboratively with Gilbane’s business units and operations teams to ensure safety is always a top priority, utilizing techniques, training and technology to reduce risks and eliminate accidents. Previously, Severson was the regional safety manager for Gilbane’s Midwest division. “In this role, she was integral to implementing the company’s commitment to Gilbane Cares, an incident and injury-free approach to safety that has changed the company’s culture,” said Fred Wenger, a sales and marketing specialist for Gilbane. “Gilbane Cares is a safety philosophy built on the belief that everyone on a Gilbane project is a member of our family and deserves to go home safely at the end of the day.” Severson retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard having served as a medical group commander and a bioenvironmental engineer focused on occupational safety and industrial hygiene programs. From officers across the country, she was named the Air National Guard Biomedical Specialist Field Grade Officer of the Year in 2015. Additionally, she is an active member of the American Society of Safety Professionals, having served as her chapter’s president and Women in Safety Excellence chair and participates in two ANSI standard subgroups.

Congratulations President Pam Fendt BizTimes Notable Women in Construction & Design Congratulations to Becky Severson, Deb Pereira and Laura Hause for your recognition by BizTimes as Notable Women in Construction and Design. 48 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

Your dedication to the Building and Construction trades and to building solidarity across the labor movement is unparalleled

Cheers! The Board, Staff, Local Unions, and Members of the Milwaukee Area Labor Council


ADVOCATE AURORA HEALTH KAREN MCKENZIE has 33 years of experience in the construction industry. Over the past 20-plus years at Advocate Aurora Health she has held multiple positions within its Planning, Design & Construction team, most recently serving as director. Her notable recent projects include the 150,000-squarefoot surgery center and medical office building at 84South in Greenfield. Under McKenzie’s leadership, the project was featured in a 2019 issue of Healthcare Design Magazine and was a Daily Reporter Top Projects winner. She is currently managing the construction of the 200,000-square-foot Aurora Health Center in Pleasant Prairie, which will include unique features like dedicated outdoor treatment space. The facility will open this summer. She is also managing two projects in Mount Pleasant, a 320,000-square-foot Aurora Medical Center hospital and a 22,000-square-foot clinic on Spring Street. The Mount Pleasant hospital, which will open in 2022, will have 300 employees. The clinic will provide primary care, a rotating specialist and urgent care. McKenzie is also a member of the LEAN Construction Institute, Milwaukee Community Practice and has served as a guest speaker at the National Association of Minority Contractors Golden Shovel Awards luncheon and the B2B Construction Industry Forum.





PLUNKETT RAYSICH ARCHITECTS, LLP RENEE MOE has been with Milwaukee-based Plunkett Raysich Architects for more than 22 years. As senior project architect and associate she recently completed work for the Medical-Surgical ICU, Cardiac ICU and Palliative Care units for Aspirus Wausau Hospital as well as the new cancer care and dining addition. Combined, these projects have a total cost of about $28.5 million. Moe managed the internal team on those projects, which was almost entirely staffed by female professionals. Her work ethic and talent led to her promotion as an associate in the company’s Healthcare Studio. In her role at PRA, she aggregated patient reporting data to identify common areas of improvement for hospitals. The information allows the company to cater directly to clients by addressing widespread limitations and how to counteract them. Her research and design work will help increase the quality of patient care and outcomes throughout health care facilities. She has pioneered the use of evidence-based design in the Healthcare Studio and is working on extending that methodology to every PRA project. “Renee has proven herself not only as a talented project architect, but also as a leader and philanthropist,” said Kevin Broich, principal in charge of the Healthcare Studio at Plunkett Raysich Architects. “She has led campaigns for the United Performing Arts Fund and is busy with the firm’s internal mentoring program.”


LABORERS’ UNION IN WISCONSIN PAMELA FENDT has worked for the Great Lakes Region Organizing Committee of Laborers’ International Union of North America since 2010. She is a delegate to the Milwaukee Area Labor Council and to the Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council for Laborers’ Union Local 113. Her key accomplishments include helping Laborers’ organizers in their work to bring new people and companies into the union, and working with the organizers’ committee members at statewide building trades meetings. Fendt is also a founding member of empowHER, an organization dedicated to the promotion and advancement of construction tradeswomen. “She brings inspiring insight to empowHER in utilizing her in-depth knowledge, from her education to practical work experiences,” said Deborah Mehling, apprenticeship and training office manager for Milwaukee Area Bricklayers JATC. Fendt’s peers describe her as a trusted and solid voice in the community for women construction workers. “She is tireless in her efforts to help those in need, to encourage those who are able to reach back and lift others up, and she is always willing to tackle the biggest of projects in order to make work and life better for all of us,” said Kilah Engelke, business agent for the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 559. “She has inspired me to not only be better at my own job, but to be better at making things better for others.”

Walbec Group proudly supports empowHER and promotes women having a seat at the table in the construction industry. Congratulations to empowHER members Pam and Rebecca on their achievements.

Connect with us on Facebook: @walbecgroup @empowHERWisconsin / 49






GREENFIRE MANAGEMENT SERVICES, LLC REBECCA SADLER has more than 14 years of experience in the construction industry. She joined Greenfire in 2015 as project coordinator and quickly worked her way through the ranks. She was promoted to manager of administrative services and appointed to the company’s leadership team in 2018. As a member of the leadership team, Sadler contributes to the company’s strategic planning, visioning, operations and business development. She also manages all administrative processes for both the Milwaukee and Wausau offices and is responsible for developing and nurturing Greenfire’s company culture. Sadler supports the company’s preconstruction and project management team and has a hand in nearly every project that Greenfire works on. Notable recent projects include the St. James Event Center, Maxwell Lofts, NO Studios, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and Vim + Vigor Apartments in Milwaukee. “Her insight, contributions, and strategic thinking are valued by everyone,” said Kip Ritchie, president of Greenfire Management Services, LLC. “She reports directly to the CFO and her work filters down through all facets of our company. As a result, she has simply become the mortar that holds our company together and keeps us strong.” Sadler also leads Greenfire’s community outreach program and works directly with Milwaukee Christian Center to support their YouthBuild mentoring program for local teens, offering first-hand experience on active job sites.

g in at br e l Ce

KAREN ORANGER is a skilled lighting design professional and a registered engineer. She has ten years of experience in the industry and for the past five years has served as an electrical engineer for Waukesha-based IBC Engineering Services, Inc. “Karen has a unique perspective in both lighting and electrical power distribution design for a broad range of projects, including commercial, municipal, and industrial projects,” said Amber Burke, director of marketing and business development at IBC Engineering Services, Inc. Oranger has contributed to several award-winning projects including: Northwestern Mutual’s Cream City Labs, Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons, Johnsonville Sausage global headquarters addition, Discovery World addition and remodeling, and the Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin’s Sports Science Center. Oranger earned her degree in architectural engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Her experience includes energy conservation studies and interior and exterior lighting design. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Wisconsin and holds a Lighting Certified Professional certification. She is also a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society and volunteer serving on the Milwaukee IES Board of Managers. “Karen has personal integrity, high moral standards and is technically strong,” said Burke. “Karen is very passionate about her field. It’s not just a job, she’s very dialed into good lighting design and takes inspiration from not only her travels, but the built environment.”

HARWOOD ENGINEERING CONSULTANTS, LTD. MARY PIONTKOWSKI, PE, SE, is vice president and director of structural engineering at Milwaukee-based Harwood Engineering Consultants, Ltd., where she has worked for 10 years. Harwood Engineering Consultants is a full-service engineering consulting firm that provides civil, electrical, fire protection, HVAC, lighting, plumbing, structural, and technology/security design, LEED and commissioning services. Piontkowski is experienced in designing health care, industrial, correctional, educational, religious, cultural, civic, commercial and high-end residential structures. Piontkowski acknowledges the role mentors have played in her success and believes in giving back to others, said Tom Olejniczak, president of Harwood Engineering Consultants. She is focused on providing colleagues and others coming up in the industry the tools to better understand the role structural design plays in the built environment. For Piontkowski, mentoring has a mushroom effect that goes beyond individual success and overflows into team and project successes, Szymanski said. Piontkowski is currently focused on structural considerations for long-term flexibility of new builds, particularly those in health care environments, and in 2019, she became a certified Parksmart advisor to introduce clients to strategies that reduce the environmental impact of parking facilities.


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SJ POPE DESIGN & RENOVATIONS SANDRA POPE has been in the design and construction industry for 20 years. As the owner of Hartland-based SJ Pope Design & Renovations she has transformed indoor and outdoor living spaces throughout southeastern Wisconsin with one goal in mind – to satisfy customers. A significant portion of her business is focused on renovation and new construction lakefront properties throughout Waukesha County. The company offers new construction and remodeling services for the residential market. It specializes in kitchen renovations, bathroom remodels, lower level remodels, indoor and outdoor living spaces, new homes, garages, sun rooms, finishing, painting, countertops and cabinets. The company offers free consultations, and prides itself on its ability to deliver quality services on time and on budget. According to Peter Pope, Sandra’s husband and general contractor for SJ Pope Design & Renovations, 100 percent of the company’s new business comes from client referrals. That’s a testament to the satisfactory service they offer, he said. “Even with periodic downturns and hard-hit recessions throughout the construction industry, Sandy’s business has never been affected and never relied on marketing,” Peter Pope said. “She takes a unique approach to making every renovation project and process enjoyable and low stress for every client.”


M.A. MORTENSON CO. ERIN SAEWERT is a senior project manager for Mortenson in Milwaukee. She has been with the company for more than 16 years. She has led several of the company’s cultural and corporate construction projects while also spearheading many initiatives, including LEED accreditation trainings, foreman trainings and the Women Advancing Mortenson affinity group. “Saewert’s leadership on high-profile projects totals nearly $500 million in construction. Her successful delivery of facilities has transformed communities,” said Scott Heberlein, vice president and general manager at Mortenson. Saewert is currently overseeing construction of the 296,000-square-foot Aurora Medical Center in Mount Pleasant. Her responsibilities include management of the Mortenson team of nearly 50 individuals and a team of nearly 150 craftworkers including subcontractors. “She is one of the driving forces in keeping the project safe, on schedule, and on budget while maximizing the value for Advocate Aurora,” said Heberlein. “Saewert is a proven leader in managing a collaborative team that is focused on the project’s overall success and exceeding customer expectations while contributing to the community.” Saewert is a LEED accredited professional and a Design Build Institute of American associate.





ENGBERG ANDERSON ARCHITECTS, INC. ALEXANDRA RAMSEY has 23 years of professional design experience and has been working at Engberg Anderson Architects, Inc. for 19 of those years. She has an extensive portfolio that ranges from local work to various projects across the country. “As partner and project manager, Alex focuses her talents on cultural, educational, corporate and library projects, leading creative efforts and design initiatives while playing a key role in the management of the firm,” said Hannah Burns, marketing coordinator at Engberg Anderson. “She plays a critical role in the development of building design, in the management and production of construction documents and drawings, and in assuring quality during construction.” Currently, Ramsey is working with UW-Green Bay in reimagining Cofrin Library as Wisconsin’s regional hub of research, collaborative learning and partnership. Ramsey is also leading the study of the former Younkers store building in Sturgeon Bay to determine the renovation, relocation and consolidation options for the Door County Archives. “Community engagement, along with interactive team and consensus-building methodology of design, has proven continued success for Ramsey,” Burns said. Ramsey is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the president of the Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation and a former board member of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation.

RING & DUCHATEAU LLP RACHEL RUECKERT is a partner and senior commissioning provider with Brookfield-based Ring & DuChateau Consulting Engineers. She joined the firm’s commissioning group as a commissioning provider and department co-leader in 2010, and was named a partner in 2018. While the company provides services for many types of facilities, the majority of Rueckert’s work is done in health care facilities. She has recently been lead commissioning provider for several projects: Froedtert Hospital’s Integrated Procedural Platform and Central Sterile Department, Advocate Aurora’s Greenfield Ambulatory Surgery Center and West Allis Women’s Oncology Pharmacy, ProHealth Care’s D.N. Greenwald Center expansion and Waukesha Memorial Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Center. Rueckert is a board member, current secretary and president-elect for the Building Commissioning Association Central Chapter. She is also an active member of AABC Commissioning Group (ACG), American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE), Wisconsin Healthcare Engineering Association (WHEA) and Horatio Alger Association. “Her success lies in personalizing her approach to facility issues, emphasizing the importance of making the right choices though they may not always be the easiest, most cost-effective or quickest options,” said Pam Volk, business development coordinator at Ring & DuChateau. “She does not view commissioning as a job, but as a way to help facility owners achieve their goals.”





CG SCHMIDT REBECCA SCHLOER has more than two decades of construction industry experience. For the past 15 years she has worked at Milwaukee-based CG Schmidt, most recently as senior project manager. CG Schmidt is a four-generation family-owned business. Founded in 1920, the firm has built some of the most recognizable structures in southeastern Wisconsin. In the past 18 months, Schloer has led the construction of more than 400,000 square feet of health care and educational space totaling approximately $75 million. She oversaw the construction of the three-story Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin West Bend replacement clinic, which was completed in December 2019. She oversaw district-wide facility improvements throughout the Waupun School District and is currently working on the Wauwatosa East High School Aquatic Center project, which began early this year and will be complete in the fall. Schloer is actively involved in empowHER, an organization dedicated to promoting a path for women in building trades, the Messer Mentor Program and the Wisconsin Healthcare Engineering Association. “Rebecca has been an integral part of building up the communities in which we work and live by improving educational environments and supporting modern technology and care processes in the health care market,” said Tovah Cohen, marketing coordinator at CG Schmidt.

HUNZINGER CONSTRUCTION CO. AFTER GRADUATING from Marquette University and joining the Hunzinger Construction Co. team 8 years ago, Christina Sladky has worked on several significant projects in the area. Some of her most notable work includes completing multiple projects for the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Currently, she is serving as project manager on the American Family Insurance Amphitheater renovation at the Summerfest grounds. Once this $50 million multi-phased project is completed, she will then shift to the $200 million Komatsu South Harbor Campus Project, which will create a new headquarters for the company in Milwaukee’s Harbor District. Committed to green building practices, Sladky became a U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional AP and is WELL AP certified. “Christina Sladky is an awesome example of what young women can accomplish by choosing construction as a career,” said Joan Zepecki, director of diversity and inclusion for Hunzinger. “She is enthusiastic and optimistic and her coworkers and clients love the energy and positive attitude she brings to her work. The joy she has for building is palpable.” Sladky is currently chair of the Association of General Contractor’s Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which is a program put in place for young professionals to network and receive support. / 51







PLUNKETT RAYSICH ARCHITECTS, LLP MARY SPRIGGS has been designing health care facilities for more than three decades. As senior associate and project architect at Milwaukee-based Plunkett Raysich Architects, she has worked on several recent projects including a NICU expansion at Aspirus Wausau Hospital, renovations at the Florida Heart Associates Catheterization Lab, and multiple renovations at UnityPoint Health Meriter Hospital in Madison, including a women’s and infant center expansion that added additional capacity and helped improve quality of care. Spriggs has spoken at several national conferences to advance research and development serving NICU patients, families and caregivers. She is a member of the Wisconsin Healthcare Engineering Association, American Institute for Architects, and Construction Specifications Institute, and was instrumental in developing and improving the Plunkett Raysich Architects mentorship program, which strives to help young professionals gain a foothold in the professional field, said Kevin Broich, a Plunkett Raysich partner in charge of the firm’s Healthcare Studio. “Her focus on innovative design and strong client rapport has resulted in long-lasting relationships and positive outcomes,” Broich said.

MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY LORA STRIGENS, vice president for planning and facilities management and university archiect at Marquette University has been a driving force on multiple construction projects as part of the university’s ambitious master plan, which aims to physically transform Marquette and enhance the campus experience. The master plan projects have included The Commons, a new $108 million, 890-student residence hall, completed in 2018. In addition, the new Athletic and Human Performance Research Center, a $24 million, 47,000-square-foot building, opened in the spring of 2019, providing a space for faculty and industry partners to collaborate on cutting-edge research. Under Strigens’ leadership, the university also completed its new Physician Assistant Studies Building in 2019, and unveiled plans for the future home of Marquette’s College of Business. Construction on that $70 million facility is set to begin in the fall of 2021. Prior to joining Marquette, Strigens was an associate vice president at HGA, an architecture, engineering and planning firm, and then moved into the higher education world at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where she was the associate director of planning. “Her expertise in architecture and urban planning uniquely propels Marquette into the future, while underscoring the university’s Jesuit mission of continually serving students and contributing to the advancement of knowledge,” said Bill Scholl, vice president and director of athletics at Marquette University.

CONTINUUM ARCHITECTS + PLANNERS VAISHALI WAGH, partner/ principal at Milwaukee-based Continuum Architects + Planners, plays a leading design and mentorship role for the firm. Wagh has expertise in historic renovation and adaptive reuse. For those projects she researches the building’s past uses and historical significance, prepares nominations for the National Registry of Historic Places, and helps clients navigate historic tax credits. “I’ve had the privilege of working with Vaishali and Continuum on a historic preservation project in Walker’s Point. I cannot imagine a better partner. She has a keen ability to consider the aesthetic, functional, budgetary and human factors of a project,” said developer Michael Morrison from True Inc., who’s redeveloping the historic National Block building in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. “Vaishali’s ability to decipher and navigate the gray areas adeptly is a gift in the realm of historic renovation, where current building codes and historic preservation don’t always play well. She is unflappable, with the ability to present her case, even in the face of opposition, with a level of respect and reverence.” But Wagh’s portfolio extends beyond historic renovation to include modern living, workplace and learning environments. Her work includes the Broadway Market Lofts (formerly Commission Row) in the Third Ward, conversion of Green Bay’s Whitney School (1918) into lofts, tenant improvements to 310W (the 310 W. Wisconsin office building in downtown Milwaukee), Jackson Street Townhomes in Port Washington, and the 98,000-square-foot addition to Hmong American Peace Academy on Milwaukee’s northeast side.

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might pay 30% upfront to cover initial materials and some labor, and then 10% per month until delivery. Sales needs to know what terms they are working with and what they can negotiate.

Back to business as … unusual A sales plan for reopening IT’S BUSINESS as unusual and no one has a crystal ball to guide us through what life is going to be like following the reopening of America. Some of my clients have a two-year backlog. Others have received federal grant money which will help them fulfill existing orders. Others still have had large contracts canceled and they are doing their best to restructure and stabilize their business. Uncertainty and volatility have become the new norm. Having lived through 9/11 and the 2008 recession, the leaders who proactively designed and implemented a strategic sales plan recovered faster. Some generated increased market share as a result of their strategic prospecting efforts. Before developing a sales plan, three company insights are needed: 1. What is operations able to produce? For example, production may be able to manufacture Product Line A now, but Product Line D is faced with supply chain constraints that will delay production. Unknown delivery dates make for an uncertain future and the sales team will need a strategy for how to address this situation with clients. 2. What, if any, are the new payment terms? In the near term, companies are likely to be cash flow challenged. Will the company be offering a flex payment plan? For example, a customer

3. What marketing support will be available? How can marketing impact key prospects, customers and influencers? Are there low cost/ high impact email or direct mail campaigns that can be leveraged? LinkedIn? Webinars? Whitepapers? A coordinated effort with sales can ensure that whatever budget is available is targeted to the right audience. Once the marketing details are available, the team can develop their sales plan that, at minimum, includes these four elements:


What does the sales team need to communicate to the market? Being real with clients and prospects is important, but equally important is how the messages are being delivered. To illustrate, if the company is unable to produce Production Line D at the moment, sales needs to prepare how they will frame that message to prospects and clients. “We can’t produce that line right now” is more dead ended than, “We are working on procuring materials and securing delivery dates. On Friday’s update, manufacturing stated that they are targeting to have that line back in production early Q3, which means that you could take delivery early Q4. Would that timing work for you or would you be interested in looking at a different product line that will meet your immediate needs and is available to ship on the timing that you require?”

faring, gently inquiring as to what is happening at their business and what they anticipate unfolding in the near future will provide valuable insights. This information should be inputted into the company CRM and shared with the executive team weekly to help executives manage sales forecasts and risk.


Mining for new business doesn’t stop because salespeople are unable to meet face-to-face with key decision makers. In fact, many decision makers under 40 years old don’t want to meet in person. They are happy to jump on a short conference call or have you email/text them. Ask marketing for their ideas around a lowcost campaign that would trigger curiosity and open the doors for a conversation or drive inbound traffic.


Long-term client relationships are built on trust. Maintaining credibility is essential. When plans change, immediately let the client know so they can proactively re-evaluate their plans. They may decide to buy from a competitor, but putting the client’s business ahead of the sale speaks volumes to your integrity. n


During a crisis, every company’s immediate need is to protect the base. Retaining the best and highest growth potential clients is necessary for business stabilization. This usually represents the top 20% of clients, but in a volatile market, this number will likely be higher. The plan should include a market canvass where sales people have a series of caring conversations. Asking decision makers how they are

CHRISTINE M c MAHON Christine McMahon is a former sales executive for Nabisco, SlimFast and Procter & Gamble. She offers sales and leadership training, conference keynotes and executive coaching. She can be reached at (844) 3692133 or / 53



How to lead during the COVID crisis Best practices to confront this challenge THE COVID-19 crisis is clearly the black swan event of your business career and maybe even your life. While we’re still faced with an unprecedented amount of uncertainty, I found this quote from retired U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal comforting: “If this is your first crisis in life, I welcome you to the game. If you have scar tissue from previous experiences, what you know is, we are going to come out of this. And we are going to come out of this better than we went into it.” Hopefully, by the time you’re reading this, we’re starting to move toward the “new abnormal.”


So far, feedback from Vistage members about employees working from home has been universally positive. While it’s unlikely a large percentage will work there permanently, we’ll definitely have more remote workers in the months ahead. If you have teammates who fit the Patrick Lencioni definition of the “ideal team player” as hungry, humble and smart, you likely see no productivity drop. In fact, those folks might be even more productive since they aren’t distracted by the “lovable slackers” at the office. But there’s a legitimate concern about the social isolation of our new remote workforce. 54 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

1. Conduct video one-to-one meetings. Lisa Reardon, chief executive officer of Pewaukee-based OwnersEdge, an ESOP holding company, says managers should conduct remote one-to-one meetings with their direct reports two or three times a week. 2. Make the workplace even safer. Reardon is reconfiguring work spaces to accommodate social distancing and taking other safety measures, which will likely become a permanent part of work life. It’s important to consider all aspects of safety – physical, emotional and psychological. 3. Communicate, then communicate some more. Bill Goggins, CEO of Harken Manufacturing in Pewaukee, sends video messages to his entire organization once or twice a week. Great messaging includes gratitude to those team members who continue to work, reinforcement that their work is important, confirmation the organization is strong and will get through the current crisis, and acknowledgement that it’s OK to be worried.

Figuring out what to stop doing can be just as important.


Keep everyone engaged with the organization. Now more than ever, it’s critical to have a true HR leader on your leadership team. If your organization is smaller and can’t afford a strategic HR leader, hire a fractional HR consultant.


Finally, look for opportunities in the current crisis. Observe and reward the heroes in your organization. Evaluate and strengthen your company’s organizational purposes. You’ll likely be able to add some ideal team players. And if your business is strong, it may be a good time to look at acquisitions. Things are tough right now, no doubt, almost surreal some days. But in the words of Gen. McChrystal, “Welcome to the game.” n

4. Face reality with a positive attitude. Crystal Miller, CEO of Kenosha-based Frontida Assisted Living, shared “The Stockdale Paradox” with our group and her entire staff. James Stockdale, a U.S. Navy vice admiral and aviator, emphasized that balancing realism and a positive mental attitude was the key to his surviving over seven years as a POW in Vietnam. That principle applies now too. 5. Thrive, don’t just survive. David Vroom is the CMO of Houston-based Chief Outsiders and a great friend to Vistage. His advice was to move from the “survive” mentality to the “thrive” mentality. He also advises you to prepare for the “pivot,” which many businesses will need to do to thrive. Do a start/stop/continue exercise to consider what your organization could do to create new opportunities, products or services.

JOHN HOWMAN As a serial entrepreneur, business and community leader since 1983, John Howman has led a variety of businesses, from technology to consumer products companies. He leads two groups for Vistage, a professional development group for CEOs, presidents and business owners. He can be reached at


experience more irritability, confusion, lack of focus, etc.


Navigating the waters of pandemic grief Leaders play a vital role in helping us get through this “Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is (raging) and overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” - Vicki Harrison, author SIXTEEN YEARS AGO, my husband, John Waldbauer, died. A few months later, a woman called me with a question: “Karen, do you think it is harder to go through a horribly painful divorce or lose your beloved husband of 20 years?” That night, I was given an extra dose of grace when I responded, “Pat, I have never gone through a divorce. So, I don’t know what that is like. And even for those who have lost a spouse, I hope they would not assume that they know exactly what I am going through, because no one else has loved and lived with John Waldbauer for 20 years.” Author, professor and researcher Brene Brown dubs this exchange as comparative suffering. We are so tempted to compare our suffering to others and then decide that our suffering is either worse than the other, or we minimize our own experience with statements like: “Others have it far worse than I do right now.” Grief is grief. Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away from you. It may manifest itself in physical disease, headaches, back pain, lack of appetite, fatigue, etc. You may

The global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has resulted in collective grief. The loss of food, housing, jobs, school, business, sports, concerts, transportation, and, for some, the death of a family member or friend. No one is immune. We live with the fear of the unknown and look for ways to respond. Our better angels have shown up as they always do in crisis. And our better angels have made a difference. They are the health care workers, risking their lives to care for C0VID-19 patients. They are the caregivers in nursing homes, the police and firemen and women, postal workers, teachers, workers in food service, finance and transportation. They are the men and women seeking public office in order to serve, and men and women in our armed forces. Better angels have shown up as leaders that recognize our collective grief and are committed to supporting employees through the complex transitions necessary during these unpredictable days.


Here we are. Two months ago, there were rapid-fire initiatives to move people from their offices to home. We experienced denial, anger, bargaining, etc. Soon there will be initiatives to bring employees back. However, they will not return to the same environment. Risks to our health will continue to require physical distancing, hand washing, etc. Offices will be reconfigured. Some employees will continue to work from home by necessity. Leaders will be challenged to lead! Leaders will need to be aware of and recognize the stages of grief within themselves as well as in those they serve. They will need to appreciate that for each person, the process will be different. The process will not be linear, and the process, for many, is not likely to be easy. With all the challenges before us, I have confidence that our better angels will continue to show up. I believe the generosity and kindness that this pandemic has elicited will continue. I believe that our choices will reflect our hopes and not our fears. And I believe we will lead less with judgment, and more with compassion, a gift for generations to come. Leaders will help us to navigate the calm waters and the raging waters. We will learn how to swim together. n

While rarely named in business, we are witnessing one another’s grief. In these unchartered waters, leaders have an opportunity to recognize in themselves and help their employees to recognize and name their experiences of loss. Elizabeth Kubler Ross, author of many books on death and dying, identified five stages of grief. Elizabeth was very clear to name the stages as descriptive, not prescriptive. She helped us to appreciate that grieving is not a linear process. The stages she identified are: » » » »

Denial: “This can’t be happening.” Anger: “Why is this happening to me?” Bargaining: “I’ll do anything to change this.” Depression: “What’s the point of going on after the loss?” » Acceptance: “It’s going to be OK.”

KAREN VERNAL Karen Vernal is a consultant and close advisor for Vernal LLC, a Milwaukee-based leadership and organizational firm. She recently sold the business. She can be reached at / 55


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Advertising Section: New Hires, Promotions, Accolades and Board Appointments

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE Peter Schwabe, Inc., a Midwestern commercial general contractor, announces Peter J. Schwabe has rejoined the firm. He will direct financial and strategic planning, with the intent of eventually transitioning into the role of President and CEO.

MANUFACTURING Spancrete Promotes Todd Backus to Senior Vice President/ CFO Backus has been with Spancrete for just over 25 years. He will continue being responsible for all financial, payroll and benefits, legal and technology functions, as well as taking on risk management for Spancrete in his promoted position.

NONPROFIT TEMPO Milwaukee members have elected Lori Richards, chief executive officer of Mueller Communications, as board chair of the organization effective May 1, 2020. Lori joined TEMPO as a member in 2011 and the board in 2014.



S.J. Janis Company, Inc., a Wauwatosa full-service design/build remodeling firm serving southeastern Wisconsin since 1951, named Nick Sannes president. Nick ensures staff have resources for success and he manages customer service for 1,400 clients.


Standard Process Promotes Dean Ploch to Vice President of Business Innovation In this new position, Dean is responsible for the company’s IT organization and project management team that will lead business critical activities and other growth initiatives across the company.


Spancrete Promotes Scott Bertschinger to Executive Vice President With Spancrete for more than 20 years, Bertschinger will be responsible for overseeing all operational management, design and engineering, construction services and HR/safety as Executive Vice President.

CONTRACTING CCI, a leading GC firm, announced that Marily Gardner has joined the company as Corporate Director of Strategic Partnerships. She will strengthen community relations and work closely with executives in the Milwaukee area to define growth strategies.


Spancrete Promotes Kimberly Wacker to Senior Vice President For almost 15 years, Wacker has successfully developed and executed Spancrete’s marketing and communication strategy. In her new role, she will be responsible for all business development, preconstruction, estimating, marketing and virtual design.

NONPROFIT Lisa Weisman is now the Regional Chief Development Officer at the American Red Cross of Wisconsin. With an extensive nonprofit leadership career, Weisman says she looks forward to making connections that “bring joy” to Red Cross supporters.

Perlick is pleased to announce Michelle Wendt joined our team as Talent and Training Manager. Michelle previously worked for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and The Paranet Group, Inc. Michelle received her master’s degree from Marquette University where she continues to be an Adjunct Professor. In her new role, Michelle will be responsible for talent and training initiatives, along with associate development and career pathing. Based in Milwaukee for 103 years, Perlick designs, engineers and manufactures luxury refrigeration equipment and systems for the bar and beverage and home industries.

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Bronzeville Collective co-owner Tiffany Miller shares business lessons with young entrepreneurs Tiffany Miller


Owner FlyBlooms and Bronzeville Collective Nonprofit served: Future Urban Leaders Service: Leader of the Young Creative Society entrepreneurship program

58 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020

BRONZEVILLE COLLECTIVE MKE co-owner Tiffany Miller has faced challenges as a small business owner during the COVID-19 pandemic, but she’s decided to use it as a learning opportunity for future entrepreneurs. Miller leads the nonprofit Future Urban Leaders’ Young Creative Society, an entrepreneurship program that helps Milwaukee middle school students develop and launch their own businesses. Miller initially started the after-school program at Milwaukee College Prep to provide students with an opportunity to express creativity through poetry, music, writing and theater, but students soon expressed interest in entrepreneurship. She adapted the program to help them explore their interests and think through all the elements of launching a business, from supplies and pricing to labeling and marketing. Miller has drawn from her experience of launching Bronzeville Collective, a makers boutique located at 339 W. North Ave., and FlyBlooms, her accessories brand located within the collective, to guide the students in their own entrepreneurial pursuits. While COVID-19 has interrupted in-person school this semester – and forced Miller to shut the doors of her own store – she has continued the program, meeting virtually with her students on Tuesday afternoons. The pandemic has been a springboard for discussions about how businesses have pivoted their operations. “My business has seen a really great increase being online, so we’re exploring what does that look like if you get an order of 50

(products) or even 25? How are you going to shift to get supplies, because supplies are kind of hard to get right now,” she said. Now in the second year of the program, students have already launched several businesses. Seventh grader Tyler Coleman-Mills has developed a line of soy candles, Pandles Candles. Eighth grader Christiona Tackes has developed a line of jewelry, Pink Line. Eighth grader Jaeden Brown created his own line of T-shirts, called Not Famous. He’s used his initial earnings to fund a photoshoot and is now finishing his website and connecting with Instagram influencers. Future Urban Leaders provides a $50 seed investment in each of the businesses. “We research together to maximize that investment to get that started initially,” Miller said. “I started my business with under $50, so it’s possible.” Whether their businesses end up being a long-term success or simply a learning opportunity, Miller said her students are benefitting from the opportunity to try their hand at it early on. n

LAUREN ANDERSON Associate Editor

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AROUND TOWN Reopening business during COVID-19 1.

BRETT and JOE ROBINSON bump elbows during a round of golf at Western Lakes Golf Club. Photo courtesy of Western Lakes Golf Club


IAN STARSKY of Brew City Kayak during the rental and tour company’s opening weekend in early May. Photo courtesy of Brew City Kayak


SMOKE SHACK has remained open for carry-out service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hospitality Democracyowned restaurant offered a Mother’s Day smoked ham special. Photo by Alex Zank


KIMCHI & DAIKON, a new concept slated to open at the 3rd Street Market Hall in downtown Milwaukee, prepared a meal for workers at Children’s Wisconsin as part of the food hall’s efforts to provide meals to health care workers in the region. Photo courtesy of 3rd Street Market Hall


Hikers traverse one of the trails at the KETTLE MORAINE STATE FOREST PIKE LAKE UNIT in Washington County the weekend it reopened in early May. It was among 40 state parks and forests closed in April due to Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” restrictions. Photo by Alex Zank


EGG & FLOUR PASTA BAR chef and owner Adam Pawlak installed partitions between tables at the Bay View restaurant as part of its reopening plans. Photo by Brandon Anderegg


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BizConnections VOLUME 26, NUMBER 3 | MAY 25, 2020


126 N. Jefferson St., Suite 403, Milwaukee, WI 53202-6120 PHONE: 414-277-8181 FAX: 414-277-8191 WEBSITE: CIRCULATION: 414-336-7100 | ADVERTISING: 414-336-7112 | EDITORIAL: 414-336-7120 | REPRINTS: 414-336-7100 |




EDITORIAL EDITOR Andrew Weiland ASSOCIATE EDITOR Lauren Anderson ASSOCIATE EDITOR Arthur Thomas REPORTER Brandon Anderegg REPORTER Maredithe Meyer

The Briggs & Stratton East Plant This 1922 photo shows the East Plant of Briggs & Stratton at North 13th and West Center streets in Milwaukee. The plant was the primary manufacturing site for the company’s automotive products until 1973 when lock production moved to the Good Hope plant in Glendale. The East Plant was demolished in 1976. — Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Public Library


It’s time to move forward, carefully THE WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT ruling that struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order brought it to an end 13 days early. Evers put the order in place on March 25 in an attempt to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of COVID-19 in hopes of preventing it from overwhelming the state’s health care system. Originally set to last through April 24, Evers later extended the order to May 26. The “Safer at Home” order did appear to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. An alternate care facility, set up at State Fair Park at a cost of $10 million, was intended to handle any COVID-19 overflow from area hospitals, but it has not received any patients. The rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations has remained largely steady over the past month, at about 350 patients, according to Wisconsin Hospital Association data. Hospital leaders say 60 / BizTimes Milwaukee MAY 25, 2020





Independent & Locally Owned


—  Founded 1995 —

the region saw its peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations in mid-April. “Safer at Home” was a public health success. But the collateral damage has been the devastation to the state’s economy. The state received nearly 550,000 unemployment applications from mid-March to mid-May. While necessary from a public health perspective, it was clear that “Safer at Home” was not sustainable for the state’s economy, or for the psychology of state residents, some of whom have been growing restless. Evers seemed to acknowledge this earlier this month (before the Supreme Court ruling), saying he did not intend to extend the order. Some, including Evers, criticized the Supreme Court ruling. But it is time to accept a challenging truth. We are going to have to live, somehow, with the coronavirus until a vaccine is developed or herd immunity is achieved. We are going to have to modify our lifestyles and our businesses to function in a world with COVID-19. We are going to have to continue to keep our distance and practice good hygiene, as much as possible. Some people will wear masks to protect themselves and others. Some will continue to work from home. Businesses will have to adopt policies and add

protection, like plexiglass sheets, to protect employees and customers. We must continue to protect those most at risk. In Wisconsin, 97% of the people who have died from COVID-19 were 60 or older. Wisconsin is now better prepared to fight the COVID-19 battle. The state’s testing and contact tracing capacity is up dramatically. The state now has 52 labs that can conduct more than 13,000 COVID-19 tests a day. WHA executive director Eric Borgerding said there is a “night and day difference” between Wisconsin hospitals’ readiness to handle a potential surge of COVID-19 cases today compared to two months ago. That’s crucial because the reopening of the state’s economy will likely lead to increased spread of the coronavirus. Life won’t be going back to normal for quite awhile. But life must go on. n


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Challenging times test your values Richard Schmidt, Jr. is president and chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based construction management and general contracting firm CG Schmidt, Inc. Schmidt says sticking to your company’s values is key to surviving challenging times. “My business is construction. We take uncertainty and risk, combine them with concrete, steel, brick and glass, and create high-quality projects delivered safely, on time and on budget. Doing that well is what has built our reputation as a trusted building partner to numerous Wisconsin businesses and organizations for the past 100 years. “Right now, the Milwaukee business community is in uncharted territory. The full impacts of COVID-19 and our ‘new normal’ are still unknown. I take inspiration, though, from the fact that this is not the first time we have faced uncertain times

or challenges. Like many other businesses in this great city, our company has weathered many storms, including the Great Depression, World War II, the Great Recession and more. We, like many others, have found that a key to helping survive difficult times is our values. “In these trying times, we’re all doing what we can to put health and safety first while keeping the economy in motion. As a construction company, that’s been a delicate balance, but we’ve worked diligently each step of the way to stay true to our company values of integrity, caring and a passion for excellence.

CG Schmidt, Inc. Milwaukee Industry: Construction Employees: 357

“As the business community looks ahead to its new normal, what will you do to reflect your company values? Perhaps they will be seen in the way you address the concerns or comfort of your employees returning to work, or maybe in how you adjust to support your customers’ new needs and financial realities. Challenging times certainly test our values, but they also provide unique opportunities to put them into action.” n / 61

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