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Selected headlines — 11/23 edition of The Business News

Built from the ground up

Started from scratch in 2004, AmeriLux keeps growing

by Amanda Lauer
alauer@thebusinessnewsonline.com

“It’s amazing what’s possible when you don’t know what’s impossible.” That statement from Kurt Voss, CEO and owner of AmeriLux International in De Pere, has certainly proven to be true in his life. He built a company from the ground up which is now a leader in its marketplace and continues to grow and flourish. “We started from scratch in 2004,” Voss said. “I didn’t have any experience in the field. We were looking to start a sustainable enterprise — one that could last for a long period of time.” With a degree in business administration, Voss had spent time in other industries, but his spirit of entrepreneurship and unfailing optimism inspired him to strike out on his own. That combination proved to work out well. Since AmeriLux International first opened its doors, they’ve gone from one employee to 135 — 100 of whom (including 39 by acquisition) were hired in just the last four years or so, and sales have increased exponentially. In 2019 alone, sales grew 27 percent over the previous year. and at this point in 2020, they are up 37 percent already. Their De Pere facilities have increased from 20,000 square feet to 125,000 square feet. Read More

Submarine vet helped launch museum

Manitowoc’s Pilger completed three WWII combat patrols in South Pacific

by Nancy Barthel
nbarthel@thebusinessnewsonline.com

In 2013, the outdoor level of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, with its impressive close-up view of the World War II submarine USS Cobia, was dedicated as The Gerald R. Pilger, Sr., Memorial Quarterdeck. A commemorative plaque notes: “He exemplified the values of The Greatest Generation — love of family and country, courage and service to others.” Pilger was born May 22, 1924, and when the World War II submarine veteran died at age 88 on June 24, 2012, friends and family celebrated a life that was spent in service to his beloved hometown of Manitowoc. His can-do enthusiasm, along with that of fellow members of the local chapter of Submarine Veterans of WWII, had succeeded in fulfilling a dream: bringing the USS Cobia to Manitowoc as a memorial to lost shipmates and the 28 submarines that were built in Manitowoc during World War II by the people of Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. Read More

People who make a difference

Gonzalez focuses volunteer efforts on youth

by Nancy Barthel
nbarthel@thebusinessnewsonline.com

Baseball has long been a meaningful part of Mario Gonzalez’ life. A Chicago native, he was born to be a Cubs’ fan. He attended games as a kid, and his bus stop after school was so close to Wrigley Field that he has fond memories of the excitement of the crowds leaving the afternoon games at the same time he was heading home from school. Then, there were memorable games of catch with his father, said Gonzalez, who is the communications and marketing manager for Wello in Green Bay. The nonprofit describes itself as a well-being network that mobilizes people while connecting organizations and resources to identify and solve complex problems that negatively affect quality of life in Brown County. During high school he played second base. “I went to Lane Tech High School in Chicago, and our varsity baseball team played for the City Championship in 2011 at Wrigley Field,” he said. “We lost that game 1-0 -- heartbreaker. I was not a starter in that game. I was able to stretch, warm up, take ground balls on the infield and run the bases prior to the game, an awesome experience as a Cubs fan.” Read More

Growth strategies

Hilbert company makes equipment for maple-syrup industry

It’s not every day that a business started in a community of 1,086 people receives national kudos and international orders, but Smoky Lake Maple Products, 208 N. 12th St. in Hilbert has gotten both. The 10-year-old manufacturer of premium, stainless-steel equipment for the maple-syrup industry most recently received accolades from the U.S. Small Business Association as Exporter of the Year in September. “We are extremely grateful and honored we received the award,” said Angela K.M. Schumacher, co-owner. “It’s not just about slapping labels on boxes and sending things out the door. Every person here is a critical link in the chain. Nothing can go out the door unless a lot of things happen first, and happen well.” Pride of craftsmanship and ownership is evident for the 15-member team that’s worked from the company’s current location for the past five years. Read More

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