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2 | BUSINESS LEADER • June 11, 2018


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COVER COMMUNITY FEATURE STORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PROFILES . . . . . . . . . . , STORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Family farm sells crops overseas.

Eau Claire County’s health care sector’s prominence grows in local economy.

Menomonie plant ups its green efforts.


GUEST COLUMN Jeff West . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

BOOK REVIEW Terri Schlichenmeyer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


BY THE NUMBERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

For workers, the record-low unemployment levels seen recently in Wisconsin are a great thing. Opportunities abound in many fields, allowing people to contemplate career moves that were hard to find several years ago. But for many businesses, the continually falling jobless figures have become too much of a good thing. Help Wanted signs in store windows and on marquees seem to be proliferating like rabbits around Eau Claire. In a recent chat, a couple Eau Claire

Andrew Dowd @ADowd_LT 715-833-9204


CALENDAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23


Chippewa Valley businesses take active-shooter preparedness classes.



Edie Litzkow - 715-833-9239

Area Chamber of Commerce officials pointed out to me that a lot of current business leaders haven’t encountered a worker shortage like this before. The standard strategies — want ads, advertising on job sites and leaving a stack of applications at the door — aren’t as effective when encountering a challenge of this magnitude. Those that really want to fill those jobs have to get creative. Several Chippewa Valley companies have already held their own job fairs — offering a peek into their operation, giving help with the hiring process and on-the-spot interviews.

And some firms have touted hiring bonuses and higher starting wages. Measures like that help get the attention of those who are already looking or might be spurred into changing jobs. In addition to selling their products or services, businesses now have to pitch the virtues of their jobs to potential employees. It’s a new challenge for them, but one they’ll have to take on to separate themselves from the competition. And putting out the standard black and orange Help Wanted bought from a general store is not going to cut it.

Published four times per year by the Leader-Telegram advertising department. Copyright 2018 Leader-Telegram, 701 S. Farwell St., Eau Claire, WI 54701. All rights reserved. 800-236-7077.


Crossing paths Eau Claire County business trends show fewer small retailers, continued health care sector growth

By Andrew Dowd, Leader-Telegram staff


etailers had long been the most plentiful kind of businesses in Eau Claire County, but their dominance of the local private sector has been usurped by the growth of health care and social services. County Business Patterns statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau showed the two big pieces of the area’s economy had been headed toward an intersection for years. In terms of employment, they already crossed paths in 2002 when health care and social services surpassed retail as the county’s No. 1 sector. The Census Bureau’s latest batch of data — 2016 business trends were released in April — showed the two business sectors were nearing the same intersection for the number of establishments. ••• But the falling number of stores seems at odds with the knowledge of local business experts. “It doesn’t feel like we’ve seen a decline in our retail sector,” said Scott Rogers, the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce’s governmental affairs and workforce director. He noted that the chamber’s membership — though he acknowledges not all businesses join the local group — has been steady for several years. Polls of members taken twice a year also have also shown a rise in confidence, with 91 percent of respondents to January’s survey assessing the local economy as “moderately strong” to “very strong.” County sales tax collections — fueled primarily by retail — continue to grow. In 2015, the county broke a milestone — passing $2 billion in taxable sales — and continue to rise. Another way of looking at the local retail sector’s health is the overall number of people employed at those businesses in the county. Retail jobs in the county declined after 2007 — falling in line with the onset of the recession — but settled around about 7,000 for several years before trending upward in 2016, based on the Census Bureau’s statistics. But the Census Bureau’s business trend data from 2008 to 2016 shows there has been a decline in retail establishments, losing an average of about five annually in the county. 4 | BUSINESS LEADER • June 11, 2018

Staff photos by Dan Reiland The former Mega East building has been vacant since the grocery store closed in early 2016. Eau Claire’s grocery scene has seen more changes in the past year as Gordy’s Market went through receivership and Festival Foods took over a couple of its old locations.

The reason why the declining number of retailers isn’t plain to see is the ones that declined the most were very small businesses, based on Census statistics that group workplaces based on their number of employees. Retailers employing less than 20 people went from 372 in 2008 down to 319 in 2016 — and those with only a handful of workers accounted for much of that. And in some of those cases, it could’ve been businesses growing instead of closing their doors. Retailers that employed between 20 and 99 employees proliferated — going from 46 in 2008 to 58 in 2016. Even larger businesses also have seen changes in their ranks during the past decade. There were 19 stores with 100 to 249 employees in 2008, but that had gone down to a baker’s dozen by 2016. But while the county long had one store that employed more than 250 people, a second retailer with that employment level was recorded in 2013. 450

Eau Claire County retail businesses by staff size

400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0




250 to 499 employees 20 to 49 employees 1 to 4 employees




100 to 249 employees 10 to 19 employees




50 to 99 employees 5 to 9 employees

••• There have been some recent instances of large stores on major Eau Claire thoroughfares that closed and have remained empty — Kmart in 2015 and the Mega East



grocery store in early 2016. But there also have been other and Menards don’t face the same pressure to compete with retailers that departed only to be replaced within months by online stores because their products — especially bulky items a newcomer. — would be difficult to deliver. Macy’s closed in March 2017, but Hobby Lobby will “The things you buy there are not all that typical of things occupy about 70 percent of that anchor store in the Oakwood you would buy over the Internet,” Schaefer said. Mall, opening later this year. Professor Thomas Kemp, chairman of the Economics Younkers, another anchor store at the local mall, began its Department at UW-Eau Claire, said that there has been going-out-of-business sale in April, as did other locations historically more shop space per capita in the U.S. than in the bankrupt Bon-Ton Stores chain. But just about two comparable nations, which he feels will decline due in part to miles away, a large new Mills Fleet Farm store is under competition from e-commerce. construction. “I would say that retail never goes away fully, but the And in the case of the four Gordy’s Market locations in Eau amount of space we devote to retail currently is probably not Claire that closed last year due to receivership, a pair of them sustainable,” he said. “We have more shop space per person reopened in December as Festival Foods and Gordy’s plans than most other developed nation has.” to reopen one of the other stores. Minor said he’s seeing the national trend of retail growing, “Retail is always changing,” said Stuart Schaefer, president but through smaller specialty stores rather than new of Commonweal Development in Eau Claire. “There’s always superstores. retailers coming and going.” “I’m starting to see more niche places,” he said. Commonweal studies the local real estate market for The chamber had a record 65 ribbon-cutting ceremonies retail and office space. Their 2017 market report had a 12.3 last year, Minor said, and it was for the usual variety of percent vacancy rate for retail space in the Eau Claire area, businesses seen in the Eau Claire area. which was up from the prior two years. Factors going into “We are pretty much spread across all pieces of the that include newly built commercial space without tenants economy,” he said. and the impact that large stores like Kmart, Mega West and And health care companies are among those clipping Gander Mountain (soon to reopen as Gander Outdoors) have ribbons in recent years and they plan to cut more in the near on the total figure when they close. future. ••• ••• Some of the high-profile store closings of recent years in Heath care provider Prevea Health didn’t have a presence Eau Claire don’t necessarily reflect on the local economy or in western Wisconsin before July 2015. consumers, local chamber president and CEO David Minor But the Green Bay-based organization now has seven said, because they’re based on calls made by CEOs and other health centers, two urgent care facilities and multiple services executives. available at two area hospitals in the Chippewa Valley. “Those decisions were made And Prevea isn’t done yet somewhere else where we can’t with construction under way on have an effect on them,” he said. health centers in Ladysmith and For some of the retailers Rice Lake, plus planning for a departing Eau Claire, such as Menomonie health center and a Macy’s and Younkers’ owner medical office building in Eau Bon-Ton Stores, Schaefer said Claire. they’d run into problems due to “The kind of growth we’re tougher competition. seeing all over America today “You can blame Amazon or the and especially the Chippewa Internet, but these are retailers Valley is a different kind of health that probably weren’t long for the care growth,” said Dr. Ashok Rai, world,” he said. president and CEO of Prevea. Traditional retailers seeing The focus is in outpatient single-digit growth can’t ignore Though a newcomer to the Chippewa Valley, Prevea Health has care — clinics in areas, including the double-digit growth of opened several locations in the past three years, including this smaller towns, where patients get e-commerce, Schaefer said. treatment and leave the same day urgent care clinic in the River Prairie development in Altoona. His colleague, Jamie — instead of hospitals. Radabough, Commonweal’s commercial leasing director, “We like to keep care local and convenient,” Rai said in a noted the new trend for retail is to become “omnichannel” phone interview. — growing an online presence that complements physical The number of ambulatory health care services has stores. grown in Eau Claire County from 155 in 2013 to 168 last fall, Schaefer used a more pragmatic term — “keeping up with according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. the times.” Prevea came to the Chippewa Valley via its partnership He noted that traditional retailers that did boost their with Hospital Sisters Health System, which owns Sacred online shops, namely Walmart and Target, are now runnersHeart Hospital in Eau Claire and St. Joseph’s Hospital in up to Amazon when it comes to Internet retail sales. Chippewa Falls. Prevea is half owned by its doctors and half Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Markets also showed owned by HSHS. that online sales don’t work for all goods, such as perishable The newcomer to the local market arrived roughly as foods. See page 6 At the same time, Schaefer said retailers such as Fleet Farm June 11, 2018 • BUSINESS LEADER | 5

from Page 5

Marshfield Clinic, which previously had ties with local HSHS hospitals, planned its own new facilities. In June 2016, Marshfield Clinic Health System announced it would be building a hospital and cancer center next to its existing main campus in Eau Claire. The cancer center opened in fall and the hospital has an open house planned in June. Scott Polenz, chief administrative officer of the new Marshfield Clinic hospital, said the company’s growth in the Chippewa Valley is to create an “integrated system” — hospital care, clinics and a health plan. “We believe health care, like all things, needs to continually evolve to meet the needs of the patient and the communities we serve,” Polenz said in an email. For example, two years ago Marshfield Clinic entered an agreement with Grace Lutheran Communities for its new skilled nursing facility beds to its Eau Claire campus. That addition let Marshfield Clinic do hip and knee replacements in an outpatient setting, which has a lower cost than a hospital stay. There also is a growing variety in the kinds of business models in health care too. “People are trying different things,” said Rogers of the chamber. Direct-pay medical practices of ReforMedicine and Joyful Doc opened in recent years in Eau Claire, he noted. ••• While new clinics and hospitals add to the growing number of health care and social assistance establishments in Eau Claire County, it was much smaller workplaces that pushed

the sector’s total beyond the ranks of retailers. Caregivers that provide in-home services such as homemaking, general support, day care and nonmedical services for the elderly and disabled have multiplied in recent years in the county. Between the start of 2013 and last fall, the number of those businesses grew by about 270 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were 48 of those in-home care businesses at the start of 2013, but had grown to 177 by last fall in the county. However, the average employment is a little above three people per establishment. The sector that employs the most nationwide is health care and social assistance, which had 19.7 million people working at 890,519 businesses in 2016, according to the Census Bureau. The bureau’s April 19 release of the 2016 County Business Patterns data highlighted recent growth in construction. Employment in construction grew 5 percent nationwide between 2015 and 2016, leading all other sectors for job growth. While construction had an impressive 12.7 percent job growth in Eau Claire County between those two years, it was beaten by the nearly 20 percent job growth in the local arts, entertainment and recreation scene. County Business Patterns do not include self-employed people, railroad employees, agricultural workers and most government employees. Contact: 715-833-9204,, @ADowd_LT on Twitter






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- Guest Article -

A LEGACY OF GETTING THE JOB DONE Waupaca Foundry backs up its competitiveness with energy What began modestly along the shores of the Waupaca River in 1871 has grown to become North America’s leading supplier of iron castings. Today, Waupaca Foundry employs approximately 4,500 people and operates seven iron foundries in Waupaca and Marinette, as well as, Tell City, Ind., Etowah, Tenn., and Lawrenceville, Penn. It also operates a machining and assembly plant in Effingham, Ill. The company has grown from a regional foundry to a global supplier to heavy industry with durable products designed for the agriculture and construction, transportation, and industrial sectors. Recognized as a supplier of quality iron castings, Waupaca Foundry has remained competitive in part by its commitment to relentless improvement throughout its operations and forward-thinking sustainability initiatives, all with the goal of providing a reliable experience to the millions who use products with castings every day. The Waupaca-based business holds the honor of being the world’s largest iron foundry and a national leader in energy management. And while the first is a testament to its manufacturing expertise, the latter goes handin-hand with how the company operates to remain competitive by being committed to energy conservation. According to Waupaca Foundry President, COO and CEO, Michael Nikolai, energy is one of the largest costs of manufacturing, with an annual price tag of about $180 million across all Waupaca Foundry locations.

“We are setting the pace in our industry by committing to continuous improvement in environmental sustainability by reducing our energy use,” Nikolai said. “Our efforts not only reduce our impact on the environment but make us a more competitive iron castings supplier in the global marketplace.” In 2016, Waupaca Foundry achieved certification to the ISO 50001 International Standard for Energy Management Systems. It was the only U.S.-based foundry, and just the second Wisconsin facility, to receive the certification. In 2017, this commitment to energy efficiency placed it among 15 elite recipients that received the “Excellence in Energy Efficiency Award” from Focus on Energy and the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. With support and guidance from Focus on Energy and Wisconsin Public Service, Waupaca Foundry completed a series of equipment upgrades that saved more than 4.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 250,000 therms of natural gas. “By continually improving our environmental sustainability, we are not only reducing our impact on the environment, we’re remaining competitive in a global marketplace,” said Bryant Esch, environmental coordinator for Waupaca Foundry.  The Wisconsin-based Focus on Energy program identified projects at the gray iron foundry that were designed to conserve energy plantwide. Some of the more significant initiatives included: • Converting LED lighting throughout manufacturing, office, and employee areas. The retrofit effort replaced inefficient lighting

with LED technology, with over 800 energy efficient LED fixtures installed within the past two years. • Replacing outdated compressors with new, more efficient models. At the same time, ductwork and additional equipment had been installed to capture the waste heat and use it to heat buildings during the colder months. • Expanding and networking electric and natural gas metering to a new energy management system. To measure the effectiveness of projects and programs, the system allows for monitoring of real-time energy use at departmental levels and archives historic data to allow analysis and comparison of current versus past data. Ongoing energy conservation initiatives are part of Waupaca Foundry’s vision for sustainability. By 2020, the company goal is to: • Reduce energy intensity by 25 percent. • Promote state-of-the-art pollution control technologies. • Reduce spent foundry sand generation by 30 percent and to reuse/recycle spent sand used in the metal casting process to achieve zero landfill disposal. • Reduce water consumption by 80 percent. Waupaca Foundry remains competitive because of its steadfast commitment to building on a legacy of getting the job done, which includes being fully pledged to environmental sustainability.

Article submitted by Focus on Energy.

853997 172273 06-11-18

June 11, 2018 • BUSINESS LEADER | 7


Seeing opportunity overseas

Staff photos by Dan Reiland Custer Farms is located in rural Chippewa Falls and has a secondary location in Dunn County. The farms operate Wheaton Grain and its own trucking company, Chippewa Valley Grain Transport.

Using intermodal facility opens up Asian market for family farm By Erica Jones, Leader-Telegram staff


ig shipping containers carrying goods to the Chippewa Valley by rail — much of it merchandise bound for Menards stores — would later leave empty. In those vacant metal boxes that would end up overseas, Ken Custer saw opportunity. The patriarch of a local family farm had been thinking about growing the market for his crops since the 1980s, and the 2012 opening of Canadian National’s Chippewa Falls intermodal terminal provided the means to go global. “When I speak the word ‘opportunity,’ it reminds me of how I feel about our country,” Ken Custer, one of four owners of Custer Farms, said. “We are fortunate to live in a country of opportunity for those who are willing to take the risk.” Custer Farms, which operates grain elevator Wheaton Grain and its own trucking company, Chippewa Valley Grain Transport, began exporting its soybeans on a backhaul basis using those shipping containers. “There’s not a lot of businesses that are shipping through intermodal containers in this area, so that’s just one thing that sets us apart,” said Darryl Custer, Ken’s son and the company’s grain facility manager and international sales manager. Wheaton Grain’s products leave the Chippewa Valley by rail, bound for the western Canadian province of British Columbia where they will then be loaded onto a ship for the overseas journey to Asia. Part of the reason for exporting to countries like China, South Korea and Thailand is their need for soybeans. Darryl Custer said it is common practice for people in these nations to use soybeans for everything. The product is also in high demand because of rapid growth, in terms of both population and economy. Wheaton Grain has exported 1 million bushels of soybeans so far this crop year, which is around 75 to 80 percent of the total yield. In comparison, roughly 17 million bushels of soybeans were produced in west-central Wisconsin last year, according to the 8 | BUSINESS LEADER • June 11, 2018

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other products exported to Wheaton Grain’s Asian markets include rye and distiller’s dried grains, which are a byproduct of ethanol production. Rye that doesn’t go to South Korea is sent to Tennessee for the purpose of making whiskey. Wheaton Grain also sells corn, but only ships it domestically. All of these crops grow on the farm’s roughly 6,000 acres,

The Custer family from left, Doug, his parents Debi and Ken, and brother Darryl run the business.

but Wheaton Grain has a second location in the Dunn County community of Connorsville. Custer Farms has been able to make these international connections because of help from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and a course called ExporTech. This course helps smaller businesses learn how to get into and manage international business.

Awarded for exports

that product out to our customer, and we found a trucking industry On May 18, the Chippewa County Economic Development Corp. that was not serving its customers. “They wouldn’t call, they wouldn’t show up, then our product recognized Wheaton Grain as Exporter of The Year. wouldn’t go out. Just terrible service. So we were forced to buy a Of the four companies nominated for this award, Wheaton Grain, Darryl Custer said, was selected because of its impact on the truck and deliver our own product.” After that, the truck sat around more often that it was being used, local economy, the things it does differently, and the leadership it so they went out looking for more work to keep it busy. Because of exemplifies for other farmers. that experience, one of CVGT’s guiding principles today is integrity Doug Custer said one of the things that sets Custer Farms apart — “doing what you say you’re going to do,” Ken Custer said. is the connection the company has with its customers. CVGT hauls for one other customer in the area in addition to “I think we have a pretty unique operation, the fact that we are transporting Wheaton Grain’s own product, although Ken Custer marketing grain, and we’re following the food chain to the end,” said there is another client they’re just getting started with. he said. “It’s not just growing and dropping it off somewhere. We While CVGT is licensed to drive in all 48 contiguous states, most know our customers; there are certain products that we even grow of the trucks drive to Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and other cities in specifically for customers.” Wisconsin. Charlie Walker, president and CEO of CCEDC, said Wheaton While earning Exporter of the Year is certainly an Grain was recognized for a couple different reasons. accomplishment, all three of the Custer men have different aspects “They’re an exporter of agricultural products, which means a lot of money coming into the local economy,” he said. “Far East (Asian) of the company they are most proud of. For Darryl Custer it’s the dollars are being circulated in fact that the family kept the the Chippewa Valley, which is exporting business going when a huge asset to the community, it would have been easier to and it leads the way for other keep things domestic because farmers in the area to export of all the challenges that come their products.” with international business. The exportation by Wheaton For Doug Custer it’s being Grain, Walker said, has a able to produce good crops cyclical impact on the area, using sustainable farming because it benefits the railways practices. and other industries locally. For Ken Custer, who has The volume of grain exported, been in the business longer paired with the the “farmer than his sons, there’s a little work ethic” the family brings to more to it. the table and their willingness “I was very disappointed Butch Goulet loads soybeans into a truck before transferring them to a and ability to innovate are all container to be shipped overseas at Custer Farms in rural Chippewa Falls. when I was dairying that I important attributes of the could not pay a good wage to company, Walker said. an employee,” he said. “Today, I’m just thankful that we’re able “It’s family-operated, and it’s been around for generations, and to pay a wage to working families who can raise families, build it continues to do well,” Walker said. “I think that’s a credit to homes and have a normal life … They come to us to work, and they the Chippewa Valley entrepreneurism, and that’s why they were dedicate their life to us to work for us, and I see my responsibility recognized.” to help them raise their families.”

Changes on the farm

Prior to 1997, the farm was a dairy, but Ken Custer said he never enjoyed dairy farming. In the business, he said it was common knowledge that a good year meant breaking even, and he was fed up with putting in so much work and still barely being able to hang on. With that, he decided to transition to a crop farm in the hopes of making at least some profit. The Custers admit there are definitely still obstacles in crop farming, but they manage them as they come. Doug Custer is the operation’s agronomy manager — the soil expert — and said they always have to worry about weather, but he has done his best to keep the soil farmable despite previous struggles and errors. “Years ago old practices caused a lot of soil erosion. We were filling up streams,” Doug Custer said. “We just can’t continue to farm that way. Farmers can’t afford to spread fertilizer and have it be lost.” Before starting Chippewa Valley Grain Transport, another obstacle the family got sick of dealing with was the unreliable nature of a trucking company they were using at the time. “The bottom line,” Ken Custer said, “was that we only had so much capacity to process and we had to have a truck here to get

Family and faith

With only 46 employees, Ken Custer said it’s “100 percent a family business,” but it’s not just his employees’ families that matter to him. When he, his wife — who is semi-retired — and sons are not working on the farm, they still spend a lot of time together, especially outdoors. Both Darryl and Doug Custer have two kids each, and Ken Custer said it’s not uncommon to find 30 or 40 family friends in the pool hanging out. While they all depend on one another and hard work to get by, Darryl and Ken both also credit God for their successes. “Our faith is a huge one. You trust that God’s got your back, and we use that probably more often than we should,” Darryl Custer said. “It seems that it always works out.” As for the future, the Custer family aims to stay in their wheelhouse, sticking with what they know and continuing to figure out ways to get past any new obstacles that come their way. Ken Custer said there are three things that continue to help them do this. “If I were to sum up kind of what keeps us going,” Ken Custer said, “it’s prayer, people and passion.” Contact: 715-833-9203, June 11, 2018 • BUSINESS LEADER | 9


Jeff West is the owner of Bear Down (, an executive and executive team coaching company based in Eau Claire. He was a founder and CEO of Silicon Logic Engineering. He also chairs Business Partners peer groups in Northwestern Wisconsin. West can be reached at: 715-559-2195 or

Getting ready for recession Planning for a slowdown removes emotion from crunch-time decisions

“Every good thing comes to some kind of end, and then the really good things come to a beginning again. CORY DOCTOROW, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR By Jeff West

According to the good folks at International Trends Research, one of the best companies at forecasting the business climate over two- to three-year timespans, the U.S. economy is likely to begin to slow it’s overall rate of growth with some industries even dipping into a recession beginning later this year and lasting well into 2019. Current economic expansion started in June 2009. That means we’ve been in an expansion mode for nine years now, nearing a U.S. record. During that time many businesses have seen strong growth, which has been reflected in low unemployment numbers, solid company profits and a strong stock market. However as we all know, nothing lasts forever, with business cycles being no exception. The question is how do you plan to prepare for it?

does slow down. Waiting aimlessly until a slowdown or recession is right on top of us causes all sorts of emotions to take over. Research shows conclusively that our ability to think clearly — let alone creatively — declines at a radical rate when trying to make decisions under stress and tension. Our body actually slows the amount of blood running to the logical part of our brain when we’re under selfimposed stress. Doesn’t sound like a solid strategy for making good decisions does it? If we look at a slowing economy as something to be taken advantage of instead of something to fear, all sorts of positive opportunities begin to appear.


A slowing economy forces us to look hard at our business as a whole. Products and services we’ve kept around when times were good even though they weren’t making the margins we needed can be trimmed. If we’ve put away some of our profits, we may have the opportunity to buy competitors that didn’t plan as well and for valuations you’d never come close to in a strong economy. Great employees you couldn’t find during good times become available. Lease rates can often be renegotiated or found elsewhere at lower costs. Building that new building you need can often be done at much lower prices than during times of expansion. New products and services can be created based on your customers’ changing needs. These are just a few of the many ways you can take advantage of slower economic times. I’m sure if you make time for it you can come up with many others. The nice thing about cycles … is they’re cyclical. I know, genius, right! What goes down does go back up again. If you go into the next downturn with a positive attitude and a solid plan, you lay the foundation for a better, stronger and faster growing company than you’ve ever had before when the cycle ultimately turns up again.

It’s easy to get a little lazy when times are good in our businesses. After a long period of stable growth, it can be a shock to our system when the numbers don’t begin to match the goals we set. If we manage our businesses day-to-day, a slowing economy can appear to come out of nowhere. All of a sudden our revenues and cash flow are taking a hit. Customers aren’t as numerous, account receivables begin to go up as clients push out their payments as their income begins to slow. If not prepared for it, we can easily find ourselves in a negative state of mind to say nothing of a precarious business situation. Nothing good comes from our thinking when we find ourselves in a constant state of worry. Being angry and frustrated at our situation does nothing to help us through a business slowdown. The old adage, “attitude is everything,” really applies here. If we believe the predictions of a slowing economy, how do we take advantage of it rather than be its slave? Companies with great leadership prepare ahead of time. If revenue does this, we do X. If it goes to here, we take actions Y and Z. By preparing in advance you take a lot of the emotion out of the decisions if and when your business 10 | BUSINESS LEADER • June 11, 2018



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June 11, 2018 • BUSINESS LEADER | 11


Under the gun Staff file photo Officer Amanda Carrier and Chief David Sprick of the UW-Eau Claire Police Department walk through an active-shooter simulation in 2015 at Schneider Hall on campus.

Eau Claire businesses prepare for the worst through active-shooter trainings By Eric Lindquist, Leader-Telegram staff


f the unthinkable happens, it’s best to have thought about it. That, in essence, is the reason for offering workplace active-shooter training. And with the number of mass shootings increasing in recent years across the country, a growing number of Chippewa Valley companies and organizations are pursuing such training for their employees. “I absolutely think it’s a good idea,” said Kyle Roder, public relations officer for the Eau Claire Police Department. “The reality is these kinds of incidents could happen anywhere — at any school, church or business — and every organization should have a plan.” While mass shootings and violent encounters at schools tend to generate the most attention, Roder cited an FBI report about U.S. active-shooter incidents from 2000 through 2016 that showed 43 percent occurred in locations of commerce, nearly double the rate in schools and four times that in government workplaces. An organization called Disaster Ready Chippewa Valley hosted a seminar in May at Chippewa Valley Technical College focusing on what local companies and organizations can do to recognize,

12 | BUSINESS LEADER • June 11, 2018

de-escalate and prevent active-shooter threats. It was the third active-shooter/workplace violence session the organization has conducted since 2011, and all of them have attracted among the highest attendance of the semiannual emergency training seminars it conducts, said DRCV administrator Chris Straight. “I think folks are concerned and rightly so,” Straight said. At the latest seminar, Roder and Eric Anderson, CVTC’s director of criminal justice and law enforcement, discussed everything from situational awareness — being cognizant of surroundings, exits and people who seem out of place — to ways to respond if a gunman shows up at the office. Christina Thrun, executive officer of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association, joined the rest of her staff in attending and came away believing it will be helpful in planning for something she obviously hopes never happens and also for learning strategies that might help deescalate a potentially violent situation. “Given everything that’s happening now in the world and in our country, I think it’s really important that we’re prepared,” Thrun said. “We serve customers, and you never know when you



might have a disgruntled customer.” Ben Bella, safety and compliance coordinator for regional electric cooperatives in Eau Claire, Black River Falls, Arcadia and Tomah, went to the seminar in hopes of picking up new tips for reducing the risk of a workplace shooting incident. Bella previously invited Anderson to do training at all of the co-ops in an attempt to be proactive regarding how to deal with potential internal or external threats. Employees are well aware of the increase in mass shootings and generally have been extremely appreciative of the opportunity for such training, he said.

Anderson has been providing active-shooter training for companies through CVTC since about 2012, and he said demand is steadily increasing, with more requests after each horrific mass shooting. The college has provided this training to 15 organizations, including two public institutions, one church and 12 businesses — mostly manufacturers and financial institutions. “I hear a concern for a threat coming into their space,” Anderson said. “They accept this doesn’t happen all the time and the chances are something like this will never happen at their workplace, but they’ve seen what could happen and they want to know what their staff should do given a situation like that.”

Staff file photo UW-Eau Claire police officers simulate an active-shooter response in 2015 inside Schneider Hall on the university campus.

Planning promoted

UW-Eau Claire Police Chief David Sprick, who is certified in an active-shooter training program called ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate), said he has trained more than 300 students, staff and faculty on campus and also has gotten positive feedback. “For a topic that can be terrifying, people seem to get involved and take it seriously,” Sprick said. Going through drills and hands-on scenarios is helpful because people are more likely to remember such experiences during a crisis, he said, adding that it gives people “kind of a file card in the brain’s Rolodex to go back to in the event of a similar type incident.” Roder developed an active-shooter training program that he has presented to several area businesses and organizations but stressed there are numerous groups and individuals that offer similar training. The key, he said, is that plans be individualized for specific workplaces. “Every organization should have a plan,” Roder said. “We don’t want people to be paranoid, but we do want them to plan ahead for something that may never happen, just like they do with fire and tornado drills.”

Staff photo by Eric Lindquist Eric Anderson, director of criminal justice and law enforcement at Chippewa Valley Technical College, demonstrates the workings of an AR-15 rifle during a workplace safety seminar in May.


Many local trainers use some variation of the easy-toremember “Run-Hide-Fight” protocol promoted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which calls for people faced with an active-shooter emergency to flee if possible, conceal themselves if they can’t get away and, as a last resort, fight back against the attacker with whatever tools are available. “There is a lot of stuff in this training that people don’t necessarily want to talk about or think about, but you could find yourself in a situation where it might mean the difference between life and death,” said CVTC public safety manager William Henning, also a certified ALICE instructor. An example, Henning said, is that the program teaches that hiding should really be more like barricading. That means knowing ways to lock doors or brace them shut See page 14 June 11, 2018 • BUSINESS LEADER | 13

from Page 13

and how to make it as difficult as possible for a shooter to enter a room. The frightening nature of such scenarios really hits home when trainers discuss the possibility of taking physical countermeasures against someone armed with a gun. “Anything around you could be used as a weapon if necessary,” Roder said, mentioning a scissors, pen or letter opener in an office setting. “Maybe a laptop upside the head,” Anderson told folks attending the May seminar at CVTC. To take a little of the mystery and fear out of being in the presence of a gun, Anderson brought a Glock 17 pistol and AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to the event and invited people to take a closer look. He even demonstrated what it looks like when someone reloads those firearms or attempts to fix a malfunction, possibly presenting an opportunity for trapped individuals to fight back. “Knowledge is power,” he said. Once things escalate to that desperate point, Anderson said, the goal is to distract, disorient or cause pain for the attacker — he advised people to target the eyes, ears, neck, throat, groin or joints if possible — until potential

Contributed photo Emergency personnel care for a mock victim during a mass shooting simulation drill May 20 at UW-Eau Claire.

victims can escape or help arrives. “Fighting is a last resort,” he emphasized. “It takes 100 percent commitment. You are fighting for your life.” Contact: 715-833-9209,, @ealscoop on Twitter


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- Guest Article -



Distracted by their finances at work (48% vs. 10%)


Spend three hours or more at work dealing with financial matters (50% vs. 26%) Miss work on account of their personal financial issues (16% vs. 8%) Cite health issues caused by financial stress (35% vs. 20%) Saved less than $50,000 for retirement (51% vs. 26%) Have difficulty making minimum credit card payments (55% vs. 13%)

Source: Employee Financial Wellness Survey, PwC, 2017

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defines financial wellness as “a state of being wherein a person can fully meet current and ongoing financial obligations, can feel secure in their financial future, and is able to make choices that allow them to enjoy life.” It is both an objective and subjective picture of personal assets and liabilities and feelings about money and security. 46% of financially stressed workers spend three hours or more per week dealing with personal finances at work. In a 2017 study, Mercer was able to quantify this as a loss of approximately 5% of total payroll to employees worrying about or dealing with their finances on company time. There is also correlation between financial and physical wellness. Employees who are stressed about their finances have higher healthcare costs than their less stressed counterparts. They are more likely to miss work or be unproductive at work due to the physical toll that financial stress takes on the body. Employees who experience financial stress would like help with their finances. While employees don’t necessarily want their employer directly involved with their finances, they are open to and trusting of advice from employer endorsed sources. Article submitted by Trustpoint.

IMPLEMENTING FINANCIAL WELLNESS PROGRAMS AT WORK While human resource professionals and company management is usually on board with providing financial education, there are some obstacles that curb their enthusiasm in doing so. The most common are cost, time and the misperception of their employees.

COST: Leverage current resources! Ask your plan provider if they offer employee education that encompass financial wellness principles. Some plan providers may have an additional charge for education. But many, like Trust Point, believe that education can help make the plan more successful, and offer education with no additional expense.

TIME: Employers who schedule employee education during working hours experience much higher levels of engagement than employers who schedule meetings before or after working hours or during lunch.

MISPERCEPTION: There seems to be a disconnection between employer perception of employee finances and reality; an idea that the paycheck to paycheck statistics only apply to “other companies.” To combat this, cultivate a culture of transparency, not necessarily as it applies to income but to “defining money moments.”

BEHAVIORAL FINANCE: It’s All About Emotion and Action The most successful financial outcomes result from programs that provide both knowledge and direction for employees. When it comes to

personal finance, the most important decision you make is “your next one.” Helping employees who are financially overwhelmed to make small but impactful tweaks to their spending or saving habits creates momentum for overall change. Consider the following:

Offer Incentives: Design your retirement plan with a match instead of or in addition to a profit sharing contribution so that employees have an incentive to participate in the plan.

Challenge Your Assumptions: Employees who struggle with their finances tend to assume they are the only ones struggling. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable opening up about financial topics and reiterate the message that they are not alone.

Make it Fun: This process can actually be fun for employees and employers alike. Money personality quizzes, wellness assessments and retirement planning calculators, paired with the right in-person support, and education can get employees excited about improving their finances.

WE CAN HELP! Employees are stressed about finances and looking to their employers for help. You have the power to influence not only the financial situation of your employees but your company’s bottom line by addressing this at the corporate level. Ready to get your plan in shape? Trust Point can help! Contact us today to start a conversation about your companies retirement needs. Visit for more information or call 715-461-7018. 854394 177591 06-11-18

June 11, 2018 • BUSINESS LEADER | 15


Getting everyone to lead Repetitious book explains ‘employee first’ view, but has a blind spot

Title: “Putting Your Employees First.” Author: Michael Bergdahl. Pages: 159. Publisher: Simple Truths (c. 2018).

By Terri Schlichenmeyer The Bookworm

Your office looks like Grand Central Station at rush hour. Like that iconic location, you see many people who are older and have been around the block enough times to know the score. You also have younger, less-experienced people whose career journeys are just beginning. So how do you best manage a diverse group of employees like that? Read “Putting Your Employees First” by Michael Bergdahl and find out. Your company has a lot of assets. You’ve got computers, furniture, office supplies, product, perhaps a fleet of vehicles, maybe an entire building. But your most important assets, writes Bergdahl, are the people you’ve hired. So when did you last pay them any serious attention? If your answer is anything other than “today,” you’re missing out. Investing in your staff and putting your employees first in the workplace offers many benefits for you and your profitability. But that’s only half the equation … Other benefits become apparent when employees’ workstyles are considered. Younger workers generally like to be managed differently than do their older peers. Part of that managing comes from knowing that leaders who display caring, empathy and honesty get more respect. Employees work harder for those who know that kids get sick, vehicles break down and life sometimes gets in the way of a job. But that doesn’t mean that a supervisor should be a pushover: an employee worth keeping will know that expectations are never erased and that the company’s goals still stand, no matter what. To get to that point, though, takes a paradigm shift. Supervisors still supervise, but “Employee First” workplaces rely on “employee-centered leadership, which 16 | BUSINESS LEADER • June 11, 2018

uses a shared, more collaborative approach to making team decisions,” Bergdahl writes. It requires “100 percent employee engagement,” public kudos for a job well done, trust and mutual respect, and it results in happier employees who display pride in their work, loyalty to their companies and stellar customer service. To start, writes Bergdahl, teach your managers to empower employees and to listen to them, but that’s not all. This method for a better workplace must come from top to bottom. At under 160 pages, you might think that “Putting Your Employees First” would be a quick, easy read. And you’d be absolutely correct, especially considering that there’s a lot of repetition inside these pages. That doesn’t make this book bad, however; author Michael Bergdahl has good ­— albeit common sense — advice here and it’s useful for managers who want to embrace a different style of workplace, and for entrepreneurs looking to hire staff that work better in a uniquely structured atmosphere. There are plenty of bold-type statements, helpful worksheets to accomplish goals and reiterated bullet points. However, employees who require more hand-holding to do their jobs confidently and well are largely left out of the conversation in a sea of redundancy. That’s unfortunate. Even so, and repetition notwithstanding, this book could at least make workplaces less stuffy, more worker-friendly and quite possibly more efficient for better profitability. “Putting Your Employees First” could The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and never also mean better retention — goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill and wouldn’t that be grand? in Wisconsin with two dogs and 15,000 books.


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June 11, 2018 • BUSINESS LEADER | 17


Scrapping waste

Staff photos by Dan Reiland Plant manager Greg Beskow of Andersen Corporation in Menomonie stands next to a bin of wood scraps, which will get ground up and recycled as animal bedding.

Andersen’s local plant puts multiple sustainability practices into place By Ben Rueter, Leader-Telegram staff MENOMONIE


crap wood left over after workers make windows at Andersen Corporation’s Menomonie factory used to end up in a landfill. But in line with a local and companywide effort to be more mindful of the environment, the Menomonie plant looked for other ways that excess material could be put to good use. That led to a partnership with Bright Wood, an Oregon-based company with a presence in Menomonie, which takes Andersen’s excess wood and grinds it into animal bedding. From March through May, 35 tons of scrap wood from windows were diverted from the landfill and will instead keep animals comfortable when they’re resting. “It’s been a great venture for us,” said Greg Beskow, manager of Andersen’s plant in Menomonie. Over the past five years Andersen Corporation has been making it a priority to be more mindful of the environment in all of its facilities, and the Menomonie plant has been going the extra mile to achieve this goal. The 115-year-old international company manufactures windows and patio doors. Andersen’s Menomonie manufacturing plant employs about

18 | BUSINESS LEADER • June 11, 2018

300 of the company’s 12,000 employees. Eliza Clark, Andersen’s director of sustainability and environmental, said volunteer time, park cleanups, invasive species removal and planting trees are all part of the corporate strategy of giving back to the community and the environment. One example of this is the St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity’s Eco Village in River Falls. Andersen helped create eco-friendly windows in 18 homes. “It’s a pretty cool project,” Clark said. At all Andersen facilities, Clark said the company wants to reduce water usage 20 percent by 2020. The 200,000-square-foot Menomonie plant has already hit this goal. Beskow managed this by figuring out where the plant was wasting its water. Andersen puts all the windows it produces through a simulated rainstorm to stress test their design. Before, the water used in the tests would run into the Menomonie city sewers. “It wasn’t being a good steward of water resources,” Beskow said. Now, the plant uses a water recycling system that captures the water in a tank and reuses it for future stress tests. Other ways Andersen is cutting its water use is in its irrigation system and investing in some drought-

resistant plants. The facility is also cutting back on energy use through more efficient lighting and a high-tech system for collecting dust. Just recently the Menomonie plant has replaced interior lamps with LED lights. Beskow said lights will now automatically dim and shut off when they’re not needed — saving the company further money and energy. An ECO Gate Dust Collection System now connects all of the machines that generate dust to one centralized ventilation system. The system is aware when a machine is inactive and will close vent gates leading to it, Beskow said. This way the system doesn’t have to work as hard, thereby saving Andersen energy. “You can really change your dust collection demand and we get really nice energy savings from that,” he said. Beskow said that even with all the work that has been done to the facility, he still looks for more things he can control to lower the company’s carbon footprint. Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling is helping Andersen by identifying other materials the Menomonie factory could recycle instead of sending Andersen Corporation employee Sawyer Nye installs a window sash on May 25 at the them to the international company’s factory in Menomonie. landfill. Beskow said they basically did a dumpster dive with him — rooting through a day’s worth of trash to identify what could be recylced or used to make energy. Composting is one option that Beskow would like to utilize. Beskow has made an effort to work with local businesses and pay his employees for their time caring for the environment. “The most powerful thing is that we are doing the right thing for the environment,” Beskow said. Employees have also gone out to Menomonie parks to help plant trees and remove invasive species. Andersen also has adopted a stretch of highway north of Menomonie, and three times a year employees gather to pick up refuse around the road. Even though his employees aren’t making windows at those times, Beskow said that he believes this is the right thing to do. Contact: 715-830-5840,, @BenRueter on Twitter


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June 11, 2018 • BUSINESS LEADER | 19

If you have a question about your health care, you know where to find us.

This is our state and our town. We were born here. We live

We have more ways than ever to help. 877.249.7232

here. You see us at soccer games and weddings and the PTA. We work here to make health care more affordable and better for companies and their employees. We have plans that feature doctors from Marshfield Clinic Health System, Mayo Clinic Health System, and other high-quality providers. Want to make health insurance worry free? We’re here, and we’re ready to help.

Marshfield, WI

Notice of nondiscrimination Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, Inc., complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or health status. Limited English proficiency language services ATENCIÓN: Si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gr atuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-800-472-2363 (TTY: 711). LUS CEEV: Yog tias koj hais lus Hmoob, cov kev pab txog lus, muaj kev pab dawb rau koj. Hu rau 1-800-472-2363 (TTY: 711).

BLR-2314-7d 177239 854338 6-11-18

20 | BUSINESS LEADER • June 11, 2018 002314-7_Questions_BizLeader_7.5x9.75.indd 1

5/16/18 3:04 PM

- Guest Article -

What employees really think about your health plan and how to improve results There are very few things that employees want so badly they’ll accept less pay to get it, but health benefits are one of those things. In fact, according to a 2017 Harvard Business review article1, health benefits are at the top of the list employees would trade for a raise. Eric Twerberg, Chief Sales Officer, Security Health Plan

Here’s more information, some of which might be surprising. In February 2018, Luntz Global published a survey of 1,000 employees over 18 years of age who received health benefits from their employers.2

The study found that: • most respondents were satisfied with their health plan coverage • respondents had realistic expectations that costs may continue to rise • respondents understood their health benefits had significant value • most respondents were aware and appreciated that costs of expensive medical services were covered So, based on these studies, as well as a host of others, we know that employees place a high value on health plan benefits when it comes to recruitment and retention. But that’s not where the story ends. Along the way, research has uncovered something else, and this is where things really get interesting: While employees place a high value on health benefits, most do not actually understand their benefits. In fact, a report by CNN Money3 found that more than half of employees do not actually know what is in their health benefit package. Pause and consider what we’re learning. • Employees rank health benefits as very important. • Most employees don’t actually understand what they’re ranking.

• The employer, through its HR department, has a huge opportunity to create a sustainable advantage in regard to recruitment, retention, and employee loyalty just by helping employees connect some dots. Dot number 1: Tell employees how much you’re contributing. Employees typically underestimate how much their employer contributes to the plan costs, with as many as half believing they pay at least half of the cost of their health plan. In reality, employers typically shoulder between 70 to 80 percent of the cost. When employees are informed of the true employer contribution, their favorable opinion leaps from 63 percent to almost 80 percent. Dot number 2: Tell employees what they’re getting. If 63 percent of your employees already like the plan you’re providing, imagine how they’ll feel when they know what is in it. Granted, connecting this dot is more powerful when your health benefit plan covers a wide range of health services with more generous benefits. However, with that said, benefit details matter to employees,

and you should start by focusing on the benefits that have the broadest appeal, such as preventive services, prescription medication coverage and emergency care. Remind employees that your plan offers free preventive services such as annual exams and health screenings. Research suggests you’ll be rewarded with good will.3 Dot number 3: Going from good to great. If you have room to enrich your offerings with value-added services, consider adding premium discounts for employees who participate in a company-approved wellness program. If your health plan is a qualified high-deductible plan (and many are), create a health savings account or health reimbursement account to assist employees with tax-preferred options to pay for copays and deductibles. And then make sure everyone in the company understands the value. Finally, as you prepare for next year’s benefit season and want help making sure you take advantage of all the ways you can maximize your benefits to achieve success, know we can help. At Security Health Plan, we understand your challenges because we’re here and just a phone call away at 877.249.7232.

1 Harvard Business Review, Kerry Jones,; 2 AHIP, Luntz Global, uploads/2018/02/AHIP_LGP_ValueOfESIResearch_Print_2.5.18.pdf; 3 CNNMoney, Maurie Backman, 854339 177240 06-11-18

June 11, 2018 • BUSINESS LEADER | 21


- Guest Article -



Everyone knows that compliance and health care go hand in hand. But identifying which areas the government prioritizes and will target for compliance enforcement is challenging. Fortunately, recent cases the government has pursued and settled illustrate the compliance risk areas the government is prioritizing. The compliance areas highlighted in the recent settlements announced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) summarized below are issues health care entities should consider when structuring transactions and business arrangements and when providing, and billing for, health care services. Overprescribing Opioids without Demonstrated Medical Justification The DOJ recently announced a settlement representative of the government’s use of fraud enforcement to combat the opioid epidemic. The government alleged that a chiropractor billed Medicare and a state Medicaid program improperly for painkillers, including opioids. The government alleged that the defendants prescribed painkillers and caused pharmacy claims to be submitted where there was no legitimate medical purpose for the prescriptions. Additionally, the government alleged that the clinics up-coded and billed Medicare for office visits that were not reimbursable at the levels sought. The clinics were also accused of billing for nurse practitioner services that were provided without the required collaboration arrangement in place. The case involved four managed pain clinics, all of which were closed through the course of the case. The settlement also required a nurse practitioner to pay $32,000 and surrender her Drug Enforcement Agency registration to settle allegations that she violated the Controlled Substances Act. The DOJ’s press release announcing the settlement directly comments on the opioid issues involved in the case and leaves no ambiguity regarding the government’s focus. “More Americans are dying because

of drugs today than ever before—a trend that is being driven by opioids,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “If we’re going to end this unprecedented drug crisis, which is claiming the lives of 64,000 Americans each year, doctors must stop overprescribing opioids and law enforcement must aggressively pursue those medical professionals who act in their own financial interests, at the expense of their patients’ best interests.” This recent enforcement action demonstrates the government’s commitment to compliance in this area. Lease Agreements that are Disguised Referral Payments Two northern California urologists have agreed to pay $1.085 million to resolve a False Claims Act charge relating to image guided radiation therapy, commonly used to treat patients with prostate cancer. The government alleged that the doctors submitted claims for services that were referred and billed in violation of the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute. The government claimed that the doctors improperly billed for services they referred to their separately owned radiation oncology center. The doctors were also accused of soliciting urologists to enter into lease agreements with the oncology center that enabled the urologists to profit from their referrals of image guided radiation therapy. The government continues to

target and closely analyze health care arrangements. Unnecessary Breast Cancer Testing A company will pay around $2 million to settle allegations of making false claims to Medicare for Breast Cancer Index (BCI) tests that were alleged to be not reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The government accused the company of knowingly promoting and performing BCI testing for breast cancer patients who had not been in remission for five years and who had not been taking tamoxifen. The government alleged that performing BCI testing under these circumstances was not reasonable and necessary based on published clinical trial data and clinical practice guidelines. This case highlights the need to ensure there is clinical support for providing and billing for services. In this case, the government took the position that patients who did not meet certain criteria would not benefit from the BCI testing. The cases and fraud settlements above illustrate three areas where the government is focusing compliance enforcement and where, therefore, health care entities should focus compliance efforts—controlled substance, health care arrangements, and billing. We expect these compliance trends to continue in government enforcement actions.

Attorneys John Fisher and Emilu Starck, Ruder Ware 178724_06-11-18_854448

22 | BUSINESS LEADER • June 11, 2018



June - September

June 14: Professional Business Documents class, 8:30 a.m.3:30 p.m., Room 204A, Chippewa Valley Technical College Applied Technology Center, 2322 Alpine Road. Cost: $119. Info/register: June 14-15: Leadership Institute, networking and leadership opportunity for students and business leaders, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m.-noon Friday, Room 103A, Chippewa Valley Technical College Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave. Cost: $45. Info/register: June 26: Business Tax Chat, advice on small business tax preparation, 6-8 p.m., Western Dairyland Community Action Agency, 418 Wisconsin St. Cost: $10. Info/register: or 715-836-7511, ext. 1171. June 27: Leading with Emotional Intelligence seminar, 9 a.m.-noon, Room 103A, Chippewa Valley Technical College Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave. Cost: $139. Info/register: June 28: Microsoft Excel class for beginners, 8 a.m.-noon, computer lab, Chippewa Valley Technical College Chippewa Falls Campus, 770 Scheidler Road, Chippewa Falls. Cost: $85. Info/register: July 9: Social Entrepreneurship Workshop presented by Red Letter Grant, 6-8 p.m., Red’s Mercantile, 224 N. Dewey St. Cost: $30. Info/register: July 11: Build Productive Teams [by Leveraging DiSC] seminar, 9 a.m.-noon, Room 100A, Chippewa Valley Technical College Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave. Cost: $99. Info/register: July 12: QuickBooks Online version beginners instruction class, 6-9 p.m., Western Dairyland Community Action Agency, 418 Wisconsin St. Cost: $99. Info/register: SuccessfulBusiness. org. July 18: Supervisory Management: Retaining Top Performers class for business leaders in the supervisory level or higher, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Holiday Inn South, 4751 Owen Ayres Court. Cost: $300, includes lunch, course materials. Info/register: 715-836-3636 or July 24: Communication Strategies for Teams seminar for entry-level employees, 9 a.m.-noon, Room 103A, Chippewa Valley Technical College Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave. Cost: $89. Info/register:


unemployment rate reported during April in Eau Claire, which is the fifth lowest jobless rate among major cities in Wisconsin.


students graduated in May from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout and Chippewa Valley Technical College.

July 31: Business Tax Chat, advice on small business tax preparation, 6-8 p.m., Western Dairyland Community Action Agency, 418 Wisconsin St. Cost: $10. Info/register: or 715-836-7511, ext. 1171. Aug. 2: Business Watch gathering of Menomonie area businesses and law enforcement to talk about crime prevention strategies for businesses, 8:30-9:30 a.m., Menomonie Market Food Co-op lower level, 814 Main St. E., Menomonie. Aug. 6: Finance + Tax Workshop presented by Red Letter Grant, 6-8 p.m., Red’s Mercantile, 224 N. Dewey St. Cost: $30. Info/register: Aug 9: Lean Start-Up: Is Your Idea Really a Business? class for entrepreneurs, 6-9 p.m., Western Dairyland Community Action Agency, 418 Wisconsin St. Cost: $29. Info/register: or 715-836-7511, ext. 1171. Aug. 15: Industry Roundtable Discussion for Services for the Aging, noon-1 p.m., Western Dairyland Community Action Agency, 418 Wisconsin St. Cost: $15. Info/register: or 715-836-7511, ext. 1171. Aug. 22: Supervisory Management: Mentoring for Professional Impact class for business leaders in the supervisory level or higher, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Holiday Inn South, 4751 Owen Ayres Court. Cost: $300, includes lunch, course materials. Info/register: 715-836-3636 or Aug. 28: Business Tax Chat, advice on small business tax preparation, 6-8 p.m., Western Dairyland Community Action Agency, 418 Wisconsin St. Cost: $10. Info/register: or 715-836-7511, ext. 1171. Sept. 6-7: Supervisory Management: Learning to Lead class for business leaders in the supervisory level or higher, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Holiday Inn South, 4751 Owen Ayres Court. Cost: $600, includes lunch, course materials. Info/register: 715-8363636 or Sept. 10: Social Media Workshop presented by Red Letter Grant, 6-8 p.m., Red’s Mercantile, 224 N. Dewey St. Cost: $30. Info/register: Sept. 13-14: Supervisory Management: Improving Managerial Efficiency class for business leaders in the supervisory level or higher, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Holiday Inn South, 4751 Owen Ayres Court. Cost: $600, includes lunch, course materials. Info/register: 715-836-3636 or


people moved to Altoona between 2016 and 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Altoona's 2.4 percent growth rate is the seventh-highest among Wisconsin cities.

$140 million

in refunds from power companies will go to Wisconsin residents this year due to the cut in corporate tax rates approved at the end of 2017 by the federal government.


increase in U.S. gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2018, based on an estimate released on May 30 by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The nation ended 2017 with a 2.9 percent increase for the fourth quarter of last year.

June 11, 2018 • BUSINESS LEADER | 23

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Business Leader | Summer 2018  

100% local business news in the Chippewa Valley.

Business Leader | Summer 2018  

100% local business news in the Chippewa Valley.