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Profile: Central Wisconsin
54 minutes | May 3, 2022
Lori Schlueter - Donaldson Company
On this episode of Profile, Michael and I visit with Lori Schlueter, Plant Manager of Donaldson Company’s Stevens Point location. Lori has a lifetime of experience in manufacturing. She started off doing assembly work while still a teenager, working alongside her parents and siblings in a plant in southern Minnesota. She kept working in the factory through college on nights, weekends and summers and after graduating, she took a position in the office rather than the assembly floor. Through years of hard work and by taking every opportunity she found, Lori has worked her way up to plant manager of the Stevens Point plant. Lori also takes us back to tell the story of the Donaldson Company, started by Frank Donaldson, back in 1915 that has now grown to a global company with locations in more than 40 countries. They are a world leader in filtration, but chances are, you’ve been impacted by a filter made right here. Whether it’s the equipment paving our roads or the tractors in our fields, the Stevens Point plant makes liquid filters for them all.www.mstc.eduwww.mstc.edu/programsPodcast Class: www.courses.mstc.edu/ www.portagecountybiz.comhttps://www.donaldson.com/en-us/
54 minutes | Mar 29, 2022
Jenny Riggenbach - Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin
On this episode of Profile, Michael and I visit with Jenny Riggenbach, CEO of the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin. Jenny spent most of her youth right here in central Wisconsin, but left for college to earn a degree in Community Education and Engagement. While such studies may seem commonplace now, this was a novel field of study. But what she learned about this new approach to civic engagement and enriching communities through action, shaped her and has allowed her to share this influence with all of us. Since then she worked for numerous community organizations in Milwaukee and Central Wisconsin, landing her recently in a position to lead the Community Foundation. Jenny shares the rich history of her own experience, in addition to providing some insights into the history of the Community Foundation, which is now celebrating its 40th year. This organization provides the avenue for maximizing the effectiveness of philanthropy and connecting donors to the community. To tell her story and the story of the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, here’s Jenny. www.mstc.edu/summerwww.mstc.edu/continuing-education/enrichment-classeswww.mstc.edu/programs/Corrections-Community-Advocacywww.portagecountybiz.comwww.cfcwi.org
50 minutes | Mar 15, 2022
Kelly Guay and Kathy Johnson - Sunset Point Winery
On this episode of Profile, Michael and I visit with Kelly Guay, owner of the Sunset Point Winery and her mother, Kathy Johnson, who is also the Tasting Room Manager and Vice President of the Stevens Point Alliance. Now, we all have hobbies, but what happens when your hobby becomes a passion, and that passion starts to consume more than just your free time? This is exactly what happened to Kelly Guay and her husband, Don. They started making wine at home for fun, which led to more wine and more experimentation. At some point, they decided to turn this hobby into a business. But they needed help. Kelly’s mom and dad answered her call for help, and they relocated to Central Wisconsin to help with the construction and operations of the tasting room. Sunset Point Winery is now a fixture of downtown, and Kathy and Kelly have become fixtures of our community. This episode is really a masterclass on how to turn your side hustle into a career and how a family can band together to support a vision. You will be sure to enjoy the story of the Sunset Point Winery with Kelly and Kathy. www.mstc.edu/podcastwww.mstc.edu/programswww.mstc.edu/career-accelerator www.sunsetpointwinery.comwww.portagecountybiz.com
55 minutes | Feb 15, 2022
Dr. Shelly Mondeik - Mid-State Technical College
On this episode of Profile, Michael and I visit with Dr. Shelly Mondeik, president of Mid-State Technical College. Right out of high school, Shelly went to technical college, got her degree and took a job as a medical secretary. But through hard work and an eagerness to take every opportunity, she advanced in the organization learning new skills and taking on leadership roles. Fueled by a passion to teach others, she took a position as a technical college instructor. It wasn’t long before she was promoted to Dean and the VP of Learning. Then in 2017 she was welcomed as the president of Mid-State. www.mstc.edu/podcastwww.portagecountybiz.comwww.mstc.edu/programs/leadership-development Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Pandora or wherever you listen to podcasts!
52 minutes | Feb 1, 2022
Ashley Schroeder - The Garden
On this episode of Profile, Michael and I visit with Ashley Schroeder, owner and wellness guide for the Garden, a wellness club that just opened in Plover. Ashley accrued years of experience working in sales, marketing, hospitality, fitness and event planning. She has wrapped all of this together to now venture out to start a new business here in central Wisconsin. We’ll learn from Ashley how the Garden is more than just a place to work out. It’s a place for community to grow and be well together. This podcast is a little different, because typically we talk to well established companies. We recorded this episode just four days after they opened. It’s a rare opportunity to see into the first stage of a business that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. To hear the story of how the Garden came to be and where it’s going, here’s Ashley.www.mstc.eduwww.portagecountybiz.comwww.thegarden.lifewww.mstc.edu/applywww.mstc.edu/programs/Health-Wellness-Promotionwww.mstc.edu/programs/Entrepreneurship
43 minutes | Jan 18, 2022
Sarah Jo More - The Main Grain Bakery
On this episode of Profile, Michael and I visit with Sarah Jo More, owner of The Main Grain Bakery. Sarah Jo first started baking with a couple of friends out of second story apartment, delivering a weekly supply of sourdough bread to an email list of friends and family. Eventually, they took the leap and opened a commercial bakery to success that surprised even Sarah Jo. The Main Grain has now become a Stevens Point staple and synonymous with delicious and innovative baked goods. Sarah Jo also takes us beyond the Main Grain’s downtown location to share some developments with the Central City Market and how a group of entrepreneurs are revitalizing and preserving an historic building in Stevens Point. To hear more of the story of the Main Grain Bakery, here’s Sarah Jo.www.mstc.eduwww.portagecountybiz.comwww.maingrainbakery.comwww.mstc.edu/applywww.mstc.edu/programswww.mstc.edu/programs/culinary-arts
61 minutes | Dec 7, 2021
Michael Witte and Todd Kuckkahn - Portage County Business Council
Welcome to Profile: Central Wisconsin, a podcast about the origins of the organizations that make our community thrive. In early November, co-host Todd Kuckkahn resigned from the Portage County Business Council to embark on a new adventure. On this episode of Profile, we have something special: two co-hosts and two guests. First, Todd and I will interview the new Executive Director of the Portage County Business Council, Michael Witte. We learn, of Michael broad range of experiences that have made him uniquely equipped to take the helm at the business council. Then, tables are turned and Todd and Michael switch places. Michael and I get the pleasure of learning about Todd’s journey to Central Wisconsin and where his path leads him next. He has been a tremendous asset to the Business Council and will be sure continue to do great things. To tell us about the recent past and future of the Portage County Business Council, here are Michael and Todd. www.mstc.edu/podcastwww.mstc.edu/partnerwww.portagecountybiz.comwww.toddkuckkahn.com
47 minutes | Oct 26, 2021
Bill Fonti - Furniture and ApplianceMart
On this episode of Profile, Todd and I visit with Bill Fonti, CEO of Furniture and ApplianceMart. Hold on, because Bill is a whirlwind. He has a relentless commitment to work and life. He started learning at an early age, first by watching his father operate an appliance store in Madison and later by picking up whatever work he could find as a teenager. This work ethic has carried him through life and helped to propel Furniture and ApplianceMart to its current successful peak as one of the top retailers in the state. Bill also shares with us how his father, Vince Sr., had the vision to bring a store to Stevens Point and how this family business has grown throughout Wisconsin. You’ll hear a story of hard work, commitment to family and community, and how these efforts can really yield results. But you’ll also hear that it’s not always about effort, but also intent. Bill share’s how they have set employee personal development as a benefit and how it has helped them to grow. www.mstc.edu/podcastwww.portagecountybiz.comwww.furnitureappliancemart.comTo learn more about the Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering Technology and Apprenticeship Center, visit:www.mstc.edu/partner
44 minutes | Oct 12, 2021
Joe Kinsella - Pointe Precision
Todd and I had the great pleasure to interview Joe Kinsella, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Pointe Precision, a local machine shop with a global reach. They make precision components to the tightest tolerances imaginable for the aerospace and medical industries. Mission critical and life critical. While they are now well established, the origin story of Pointe Precision is really one of hope and rebirth. Joe was a manager a local manufacturing facility at a time when that organization decided to relocate out of state. I’m sure you’ve heard this type of story before. When the business leaves, it takes with it the jobs and leaves behind an empty building. However, to keep the jobs local, Joe formed a new ownership group to buy all the manufacturing equipment and start a new company. At that time, he saved 94 jobs. Since it’s start, Pointe Precision and its leadership have been committed to this community. Joe will tell this story and more.www.mstc.edu/podcastwww.pointeprecision.comTo learn about the Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering Technology and Apprenticeship Center visit:www.mstc.edu/partner
51 minutes | Sep 28, 2021
Scott Groholski - Point of Beginning
On this episode of Profile, Todd and I visit with Scott Groholski, president and owner of Point of Beginning, a civil engineering, land surveying and landscape architectural firm. They’re the team you call when you want to find out where and how to locate your project. You’ve seen them out in open fields and roadways with their bright yellow vests and equipment mounted on tripods. They have worked on everything from Heartland Farms Field in Amherst to Lambeau Field in Green Bay. We’ll learn how Scott’s professional journey started at Mid-State Technical College where he both studied and played on the basketball team. His love of sports has continued to influence his professional portfolio and how he manages the Point of Beginning team. www.mstc.edu/podcastwww.pobonline.comwww.portagecountybiz.comTo find out how to contribute: www.mstc.edu/partnerTo enroll today:www.mstc.edu/registertoday
67 minutes | Sep 14, 2021
Les Dobbe - Lineage Logistics
Welcome to Season 2 of Profile: Central Wisconsin! We kick off this season with an interview with Les Dobbe, Director of Business Development at Lineage Logistics, a cold storage and distribution center.Les is an entrepreneur and dealmaker, but really, he’s a solutions guy. He figures out what you want, how much you need, where to get it from, when you need it, how to get it to you and where to put it. This is the model of traditional logistics. You have someone who knows someone who knows someone else, and these personal connections make the world turn. However, this is not the future of logistics. Les peels back the curtain of his giant distribution center to reveal how high-tech data analytics and information are now the new driving force for innovation in this industry. Lineage Logistics is more than just a big cold box. They leverage their large network to find the most efficient path from producers to consumers. We had no idea how interesting material handling and distribution could be, so this interview is a little longer than normal. Trust me, it’s worth it.www.mstc.eduwww.portagecountybiz.comhttps://www.lineagelogistics.com/facilities/stevens-point
51 minutes | May 25, 2021
Jason Blenker - Blenker Construction and Drexel Building Supply
Todd and I have the opportunity to visit with Jason Blenker, President of Off-Site Construction Solutions for Drexel Building Supply and former co-owner and president of Blenker Building Systems. Just after college, Jason was recruited to work for one of the country’s largest home builders. After several years, he decided to return to rural Wisconsin to join the family business. Along with his parents and two brothers, they grew a traditional construction contractor into a family of 5 separate companies, each providing a unique solution to the building industry. However, what really set them apart was their novel approach to construction. They specialized in a form of off-site construction, where they would build the walls in a factory and then ship the completed walls and components to the job-site where they would assemble the pieces in short order. This expedited the construction process and promoted efficiency of time and materials. Last year, the manufacturing arm of Blenker Companies, Blenker Building Systems, merged with Drexel Building Supply to develop an even more diverse portfolio of building solutions. We’ll learn about the past and future of these two great local businesses. To share the stories of both Blenker and Drexel, here’s Jason.
64 minutes | May 11, 2021
Gautam Malik - Gamber-Johnson
On this episode of Profile, Todd and I visit with Gautam Malik, Chief Operating Officer of local innovative manufacturer Gamber-Johnson. Gautam is not your typical COO. Not because he was born in India and immigrated to the United States to live the American dream and not because he manages an organization that managed to shift from making wooden furniture to rugged mounting systems for high tech equipment, but because he has a unique and fresh take on how operations should be managed. You’ll hear how Gamber-Johnson has used facilitated collaboration and communication by building an office with no offices and no departments. This has allowed them to become a nimble, dynamic organization. A company that is poised for global growth and one that we are fortunate to have headquartered right here in Central Wisconsin.
52 minutes | Apr 27, 2021
Louis and Russell Wysocki - Wysocki Family of Companies
On this episode of Profile, Todd and I are have the pleasure to be joined by two members of the Wysocki family; enterprising founder, Louis, and his business savvy son and the current CEO, Russell. As always, this episode starts with some history, but given the privileged opportunity to interview Louie, we take a deeper dive into some history of our community. He shares how the Wysocki family went from plowing a 50 acre field with a car to now tending over to 25,000 acres with high-tech precision equipment. Louis’ efforts not only grew the family farm, but empowered the greater distribution of Wisconsin potatoes throughout the country. Because of his leadership roles in numerous trade organizations, Louis was recently recognized as one of the 50 most innovative and influential individuals in the industry by Potato Grower Magazine. The Wysocki Family of Companies is more than just a produce farm. They also include a separate entity for storage, processing and packaging, called Paragon Potato Farms, and one for sales and marketing called RPE. As the current CEO, Russell will share with us his vision for the future and how they plan to use water conservation and solar energy to take a leading role in sustainable operations. This is surely not an episode to miss.
44 minutes | Apr 13, 2021
Jay Anderson - Steel King
On this episode of Profile, Todd and I are joined by Jay Anderson, President of the stalwart local manufacturer, Steel King Industries. Landlocked in the old industrial park of Stevens Point, Steel King is one of the community’s best-kept secrets. For over 50 years, they have manufactured racks and related products for the material handling and storage industries. Steel King has since expanded to three different facilities and they provide storage solutions throughout the county.
58 minutes | Mar 16, 2021
Layne Cozzolino and Mindy McCord - Siren Shrub Company
Our previous guests have all been well-established companies with years of experience, but on this episode of Profile, Todd and I have the opportunity to meet with a couple of entrepreneurs who are just past the start-up phase and are on the cusp of breaking boldly into the beverage market with a unique fruit and vinegar drink, called shrub. Two strong women, Layne Cozzolino, who previously ran a non-profit focused on growing local food economies and her close friend, Mindy McCord, who spent years managing a café and experimenting with canned goods, first started making shrubs in their own homes to bring them to parties and events. We hear the story of how they have made the rare leap of taking a craft product from the farmers market to the supermarket.
55 minutes | Mar 2, 2021
Josh Stolzenburg - Northwind Solar
Todd and I visit with Josh Stolzenburg, CEO and co-owner of Northwind Solar. Installers of solar electric, battery storage, and electric vehicle charging systems, Northwind was recently named the 2020 Wisconsin Renewable Energy Business of the Year. Back In 2017, Northwind transitioned from an LLC to a worker-owned cooperative, so Todd and I also have a lot of questions about this business model and leadership structure. Josh not only tells the story of Northwind, but he gives a great primer on cooperative worker ownership. You’re sure to learn as much as we do.
54 minutes | Feb 16, 2021
Joe Martino - Stevens Point Brewery
On this episode of Profile, Todd and I have the pleasure of exploring the iconic Stevens Point Brewery. The origin story of the Brewery is as old as our community itself, but joining us on this episode is current co-owner, Joe Martino. After moving to the Midwest, Joe worked for some of the largest food and beverage producers in the country and was active in the product development of many household brands. When an opportunity arose to purchase the Stevens Point Brewery, he just couldn’t pass it up. Joe leveraged his years of experience, ingenuity and big-market thinking to take a local regional brand and bring our Wisconsin-made flavors to a national stage.
38 minutes | Feb 2, 2021
Jared Linzmeier - Ruby Coffee Roasters
In this episode, Ben and Todd get the opportunity to connect with Jared Linzmeier, CEO and co-owner of Ruby Coffee Roasters. Jared shares how he left Wisconsin and stumbled upon the industry of craft coffees. He eventually returned to his childhood community to start his own business. Ruby Coffee Roasters is now a nationally acclaimed business and was named the Best Roaster in Wisconsin by Food and Wine Magazine in 2018 and 2019. Last year, Ruby also opened a café in Downtown Stevens Point.
40 minutes | Jan 19, 2021
Doug Munsey - Ki Mobility
Todd and Ben have the opportunity to meet with Doug Munsey, president of Ki Mobility. Doug is a modern-day inventor and entrepreneur. After years of experience selling products in the rehab industry, he ventured out with a partner to start a business building wheelchairs for the long-term disabled. In just 15 years, they have taken Ki Mobility from a workshop in a barn to a leading global brand.
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