Welcome to the Business Facts newsletter with business news and information about St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

2nd Quarter 2016 | Inside this issue:


EDC Elects Officers & Directors at Annual Meeting

St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC) held its annual meeting on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Agnes Ring, who represents the residents of District 2 on the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors, was elected to a 1-year term as Board President. She has served on the EDC board since May 2014 and replaces Chuck Jerrick, who completed his 2015-2016 term as President. Jerrick remains on the board and will serve on the executive committee in his new role as Past President. Ring was first elected to the County Board in April 2012 and was recently elected the Chair of the Community Development Committee. She chaired this committee from 2014-16.
Jill Gorres was elected First Vice President. She is an Employee Benefits Specialist at JA Counter (New Richmond, WI).
Rob O’Keefe was elected Second Vice President. He is the Director of Information Technology at OEM Fabricators (Woodville, WI).
Mark Mitchell, Director of Project Development with Derrick Building Solutions (New Richmond, WI), was re-elected Corporate Secretary/Treasurer.
Incumbent directors Amanda Prutzman (Eckberg Lammers Law Firm), Jill Gorres (JA Counter), and Larry Knegendorf (Woodville, WI) were re-elected to 3-year terms on the board.
Scott Jones and Michael Fronmueller were elected to initial 3-year terms on the board. Jones is the Vice President of Business Loans and Services at RCU (Hudson WI branch) and Fronmueller is the Dean of the College of Business and Economics at UW-River Falls (River Falls, WI).
Michelle Erdman, Dawn Hukai, and Scott Wagner completed their final terms on the EDC board.
In addition to elections, the board of directors accepted the 2015 financial review from Guinn, Vinopal & Zahradka, LLP.
At the conclusion of the meeting, a plaque was presented to Chuck Jerrick for his service as President. The three departing directors, Michelle Erdman, Dawn Hukai, and Scott Wagner, also received mementoes for serving on the board.


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President’s Column: What Does Business Want?

President's Column

I am honored and excited to serve the St. Croix County Economic Development Corporation as its 2016-17 President.
We have an energetic board comprised of Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millenials, representing public and private sectors. We have our small and mighty staff—Director Bill Rubin and Assistant Nita Dusek. We have a common commitment to fulfill EDC’s mission of expanding and diversifying our economy through collaboration and leadership.
The first order of business is to extend a whole-hearted “thank you” to departing President Chuck Jerrick, who served from 2015-16. Chuck remains on the board and his good work (and his good humor) will continue with the Executive Committee in the capacity of Past President.
We extend deep appreciation to three EDC directors who completed their terms on the board in May—Michelle Erdman, Dawn Hukai, and Past President Scott Wagner. Their contributions were valuable and they will be missed.
Join me in welcoming two new directors, Scott Jones of Royal Credit Union (RCU) and Michael Fronmueller, the Dean of the College of Business and Economics at UW-River Falls. Both are eager to bring their expertise to the board and committees.
About Me
I am a Boomer, a product of St. Croix County, having grown up in Erin Prairie on a family farm that dates back to the 1850s. All members of my family (including my husband, two sons, and myself) are graduates of UW-Madison. On Wisconsin! My career focus has been on business planning—marketing, strategy, and branding—in professional services consulting and manufacturing sectors. I am one of three County Board Supervisors serving on the EDC board. First elected in 2012 from District 2 (which includes parts of the Towns of Somerset and St. Joseph), I serve as Chair of the Community Development Committee.
Economic Development Road Map
We live in a vital area. St. Croix and nearby Pierce County are included in the nation’s 16th largest metro area, the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI MSA, home to 3.5 million residents.
In many regards, St. Croix EDC sets the road map for economic development in the county and across the Greater St. Croix Valley. St. Croix County is expected to grow by 41% between 2010 and 2040—the fastest projected growth rate in Wisconsin. In my lifetime the county has more than tripled to the current population of 87,500.  (An interesting side note -- in the 50 years between 1900 and 1950 the county actually lost population, hovering around 26,000).
Following the Annual Meeting, the board began a discussion about the importance of EDC maintaining its relevance in changing times—by doing work that is pertinent to our members, partners, and the communities we serve. There’s no standing still in business and industry. What worked last quarter or last year, may not work next week. The same can be said about a member-supported business organization like St. Croix EDC.
Our work focuses on business retention, expansion, recruitment, new business start-ups, marketing and communications, and advocacy.  Over the last year we had a committee focused on Broadband in St. Croix County. There is much to be accomplished to make our county competitive in a world driven by technology.
Going back to the road map, I’ve asked the EDC board to reflect on our core activities and consider how current market trends should inform our work. Join the conversation. We welcome input from our public and private sector members and our readers. If you have any suggestions, please contact the EDC.  Here are a few topics we touched on:
• Workforce availability and readiness challenges.
• Changes in agriculture. Ag is a major component of St. Croix County. Farms are getting bigger and they are getting smaller. Agri-tourism is growing.
• The expansion of micro-businesses and self-employment. Add up the impact of ten micro-businesses and you may end up with 25+ employees.
St. Croix Crossing—A Defining
Lastly, the St. Croix River Crossing will have a profound impact on our region.  The bridge, which will connect St. Croix County with Washington County, Minnesota, reflects an infrastructure investment of $600+ million including the bridge, approaches, and mitigation. Located one mile downstream from the historic Lift Bridge connecting the Town of St. Joseph and Stillwater, it is considered a legacy-type bridge—a fitting product to a special corner of the world. The St. Croix is a federally protected river. Following decades of debate about the merits of a new bridge, the reality is here. The new bridge will open in the fall of 2017 and access to St. Croix County, Western Wisconsin, and the Twin Cities will be greatly enhanced.
Enjoy the beauty of spring in the Greater St. Croix Valley!


Chief Executive Magazine Ranks Wisconsin
#11 in Best State for Business

Wisconsin moved up one place to #11 in the national survey of best and worst states for business released May 9th by Chief Executive magazine. Wisconsin has enjoyed a steady climb up the rankings since its position at #41 in 2010.
Texas (#1) and Florida (#2) topped Chief Executive’s 2016 rankings, which they have done for the past 12 years. North Carolina and Tennessee retained their claim to third and fourth places, and Indiana moved up to one spot to the fifth place.
The biggest mover in 2016 was Ohio, improving 12 spots to 10th place in the ranking.
The five lowest ranked states for business included California (#50), New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut (#45).
“This is great news for businesses and employees in our state,” Governor Scott Walker said. “Wisconsin continues to improve in this ranking every year – from 41st in 2010 to 11th in 2016. This new ranking is yet another indication our reforms are working and continue to move Wisconsin forward. We are committed to ensuring our state is a great place to live, work, and raise a family and we will continue to implement pro-business policies to help Wisconsin businesses succeed and grow.”
Wisconsin finished ahead of its neighboring states in 2016, including Iowa (#17, a drop of 4 places), Minnesota (#34, a drop of 3 places), Michigan (#40, an increase of 3 places); and Illinois (#48, the same position as the 2015 ranking).
Wisconsin’s rankings since 2010 are 11th in 2016; 12th in 2015; 14th in 2014; 17th in 2013; 20th in 2012; 24th in 2011; and 41st in 2010.
Wisconsin ranked 3rd overall among Midwest states, behind Indiana and Ohio and ahead of Iowa (4th), South Dakota (5th), North Dakota (6th), Minnesota (10th), and Illinois (12th).
With a score of 7.76 out of 10, Wisconsin ranked 7th among the 50 states for highest workforce quality.
Chief Executive’s ranking is based on a nationwide survey conducted earlier this year in which more than 500 CEOs across the U.S. graded the states on their overall business climates, as well as a variety of specific business climate factors, including taxation and regulation, workforce quality and living.
The rankings are published in the May/June 2016 issue of Chief Executive magazine. Learn more at:

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United Way St. Croix Valley Introduces
Family Friendly Workplace

The Family Friendly Workplace™ (FFW) certification is an initiative by United Way St. Croix Valley’s Success By 6 (SB6) program to connect the business community and families. This trademark registered program gives businesses the opportunity to earn the Family Friendly Workplace™ certification for workplace practices that support families and provide financial support to early childhood education programs.
Funds generated by Family Friendly Workplace™ certification process will benefit educational programs and service delivery for early childhood development.
FFW certified businesses and organizations will help increase educational and service delivery funding through certification fees. This and the educational aspects connected with certification will lead to enhanced family-friendly workplaces, employer’s and employees’ heightened awareness of importance of early childhood and existing programs and services and increased family participation in early childhood programs and services, and enhanced successful workplace recruitment and retention of employees
Businesses will earn points for family friendly practices to be certified as a Family Friendly Workplace™. Certification will be at bronze, silver and gold levels.  A few examples of family friendly practices include paid leave, schedule flexibility for family issues/activities, offering tax-saving options for childcare expenses, and providing a private location for breastfeeding/lactation.
Qualifying businesses will receive a plaque and media toolkit to acknowledge and promote their certification, which will also raise community awareness about the need to support families while attracting and retaining workers.
Learn more at

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St. Croix Castings Marks 15 Years with
Awards and Accolades

By Brenda Bredahl 
St. Croix Castings marks its 15th year in business as the recipient of the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation’s 2015 Small Business of the Year and with accolades from a global customer.

In 2015, St. Croix Castings was named “Supplier of the Year” by Dover Corp., a $7 billion manufacturer in the energy, engineered systems, fluids and food/refrigeration sectors. The award was given to the company for outstanding performance in all Dover award categories, including quality, delivery, customer service and price improvement. 

 “While many companies got individual awards, it was quite an honor to receive Dover’s major award last year in Kansas City,” said Nadine Wert, operations manager. 

Carefully planned growth

For the past three years, St. Croix Castings has experienced significant growth while increasing profitability and quality. Sales have increased 33 percent from 2013 to 2014 and 9 percent from 2014 to 2015, resulting in $5.2 million in annual sales for the year ending 2015. 

Net profits have increased by maintaining a strategic focus on lower volume, higher involvement castings with an emphasis on quick turnaround, customer service and quality. 

The business experienced a difficult start, however. Back in July 2001 when Wert’s father, Milt Sell, and his brother Bob Sell, purchased the Reihm Foundry, annual sales were about $750,000. 

“When we bought the company it was a captive shop,” Milt said. 

“There were just two major accounts.”

The company planned strategic growth by diversifying the customer base, and the Sells invested $2.5 million in 2001 in the facility. 

But then the economic downturn caused by the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center had a dire effect on the new business. Diversifying the customer base helped St. Croix Castings weather the storm, and grew from four employees on one shift to 28 employees on two shifts. The company has several manufacturer’s reps as well. 

Focus on the customer, not the competition

Part of the company’s success, Wert says, is due to a strategic focus on the customer as well as participation in a unique partnership of foundries who offer varied services.

“We work with partnership of similar companies in the Midwest, and that has served us well,” said Wert. “When we can’t offer a specific service or process in iron, steel or an aluminum, we can refer our customers to a partner. It has resulted in much business coming back to us in the same way. This referral service is a great way to focus on the customer and their needs.”

 The company is an ISO-certified shop, offering medium to small volume aluminum castings using both sand and permanent molds. Several proprietary processes in the creation of sand molds plus 
in-house heat treatment and finishing create consistent high quality castings. 

Sand molding provides a versatile and economical option for medium and high volume components as well as small, custom runs. The process entails pouring molten aluminum into a mold cavity formed in sand that is bonded by clay and water with a chemical binder. Proprietary processes for quality control and stability create a high quality casting. 

Currently major customers include commercial and residential lighting, agricultural, fire protection equipment, commercial/recreational vehicle and bulk transport sectors. 

“We’ve become the primary supplier for some customers where we came in as a second source to 

get some customers out of jams caused by the dock strike two years ago,” said Wert. “As shipping costs and material costs increase overseas, we are seeing some of that work return.” 

Expansion and succession plans 

This year St. Croix Castings plans to build a storage facility onsite to increase the production space in its original shop. In 2017, Wert says that they will update several automatic molding machines and ancillary equipment and expand the sand molding system. 

“We’re also working on a five-year succession plan of ownership,” says Wert, who will eventually assume the business along with her sister, Jennifer Omann, who manages the technical and engineering side of the business. Milt and Bob Sell are looking forward to semi-retirement but will stay involved in the business. 

“We are lucky to have a wonderful core group of employees that have been with us since the beginning,” says Wert. 

St. Croix Castings and its team are active in the local community and contribute to the Syttende Mai Fun Run, Baldwin-Woodville High School, Baldwin-Woodville Community Education, St. Croix Area Volunteer League, the Hawks Blue Line Club, Baldwin-Woodville Athletics, Baldwin-Woodville Area Community Foundation, St. Croix County American Legion, Deserving Rides Program, St. Croix Central High School and Gethsemane Lutheran Matthew Project. 

In addition, the company regularly donates materials and offers technical assistance to Menomonie High School’s metal program and Hudson High School’s shop program as well as mold coating and engineering technical assistance to the University of Wisconsin-Stout engineering program. 


just the facts:
St. Croix Castings
415 Best Road
Woodville, WI 54028
715-698-2989 Fax
Est. 2001
28 employees

Brenda Bredahl is a writer, editor and content specialist who lives in Hudson.
She can be reached at 715-821-8000 or

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Turnkey Corrections & Three Square Market
Break Ground on HQ

First Tenants in Sterling Ponds Corporate Park

On May 24, TurnKey Corrections and Three Square Market conducted a groundbreaking to mark the ceremonial start of construction on its $8 million, 115,000 square foot headquarters in Sterling Ponds Corporate Park (River Falls, Wisconsin). Owners and brothers Todd and Tim Westby were joined by company associates, friends and family, city officials, and business leaders at the groundbreaking. Once completed in 2017, the facility will be home to over 150 employees for the two companies. Both companies are actively recruiting new associates and plan to increase their workforce in River Falls.
The headquarters is the first project in Sterling Ponds Corporate Park, located along State Highway 35 and Radio Road on the north side of River Falls. TurnKey and Three Square will occupy 11 acres in the park. Alliance Bank (Red Wing, MN) provided financing for the project. The Westbys will serve as their own general contractor.

TurnKey Corrections and Three Square Market are subsidiaries of TW Companies. Both companies deploy advanced technologies to manufacture kiosk and software solutions for correctional institutions in over 20 states as well as micro market locations – convenience stores in the workplace – to replace outdated vending operating technology throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Two additional projects are nearing construction in Sterling Ponds as well. The St. Croix Valley Business Incubator will support early stage entrepreneurs in the Greater St. Croix Valley. It is comprised of approximately 13,000 square feet of manufacturing and 18,000 square feet for offices and common areas. REV Materials LLC is proposing a 40,000 square foot production facility. REV is a start-up business established by local entrepreneur Jeff Cernohous, who successfully launched Interfacial Solutions and Magma Flooring, both located in River Falls. Interfacial was sold to Stratasys is early 2014. REV will supply custom-formulated materials to plastic manufacturers.
About the companies
TurnKey Corrections and Three Square Market are subsidiaries of TW Companies. Both companies deploy advanced technologies to manufacture kiosk and software solutions for correctional institutions in over 20 states as well as micro market locations – convenience stores in the workplace – to replace outdated vending operating technology throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Learn more at


Spring River Crossing Updates


This aerial photo posted May 26 shows the progress at Piers 8 and 9 near the shoreline in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota. Construction of the Minnesota Highway 36 approach and ramps are also visible. Construction crews anticipate completing stay cable installation at both pier locations in June.

Crews have completed stay cable installation at Pier 9.
Bridge segments travel on one of five barges from a fabrication plant on Grey Cloud Island near Cottage Grove, Minnesota and make the 33-mile, one-way trip to the bridge’s construction site in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota. The barges pass through a draw bridge (shown) on and a lift bridge used by trains in Prescott, Wisconsin.

Looking west at Pier 12. Crews are in the process of placing the first set of stay cables at this pier location.
Copyright © 2016 St. Croix Economic Development Corporation, All rights reserved.
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