By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
GCDC honors local businesses, entrepreneurs
Times photo: Tere Dunlap Super 8 of Monroe owners, from left, Art and Barbara Bartsch and Richard and Jane Thoman at Thursdays Green County Development Corporations annual meeting and dinner at the Monroe Country Club.
MONROE - A number of local businesses and business people were honored Thursday during the Green County Development Corporation's annual meeting and recognition dinner at Monroe County Club. Following are the recipients of the 2008 Outstanding Business of the Year Awards:

• Kuhn North America, Inc., Brodhead, CEO: Thierry Krier

Kuhn North America, Inc. just completed its third expansion in five years, at a cost of $3.8 million.

The company added 66,000 square feet to the existing 141,000 square feet of manufacturing space, added a new lobby/visitor center and renovated offices

Product output has more than doubled in the past five years, and the expansion led to an increase of approximately 50 to 100 employees.

Plans for the new space include new product manufacturing, part warehousing, and prototype and test facilities.

Kuhn North America became the official name in 2008 as part of the transition after the Kuhn Group purchased Knight Manufacturing in 2002, which propelled Kuhn into the top spot in North America and the world for TMR mixers and manure spreaders.

The company serves hay producers, dairy farmers and beef producers, with markets in the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Europe and Eastern Europe.

• Super 8 of Monroe, Monroe, Owners: Art and Barbara Bartsch, Richard and Jane Thoman

This has been a year of awards for the Super 8 Motel.

Super 8 presented owners Art and Barbara Bartsch and Richard and Jane Thoman with the Spirit of Super 8 Community Service Award for making positive contributions to their community. They also were presented with two awards from Super 8 and Wyndham Worldwide for their green initiative. Super 8 and her sister motel in Monroe - the AmericInn - qualified for the Travel Green program. The motel also was a featured tour of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association 2008 Wisconsin Solar Tour in October.

Super 8 of Monroe is the inspiration for the entire Wyndham Worldwide "green initiative" that is being set in place starting in 2009. The worldwide group comprises more than 9,000 hotels nationwide.

The Bartsches and the Thomans expanded the Super 8 of Monroe hotel this year with 11 guest rooms, a conference room, fitness center, business center and a swimming pool.

The expansion took a special focus when the Bartsches and Thomans decided to work with Focus on Energy and other organizations to build a more sustainable "green" facility. This was Bartsch's pet research project, as he explored options to build cost-saving, environmentally-friendly options into the design of the 20-year-old motel. Bartsch worked closely with Focus on Energy and other organizations and qualified for energy grants based on the sustainable additions employed in the expansion project.


• Don Wickstrum, Quest Industrial, Monroe (Don Wickstrum with wife Mary)

Offering automation to keep America competitive is Don Wickstrum's philosophy.

Quest Industrial offers a full range of services and brings complete solutions to markets ranging from cheese - with an ultrasonic robotic cutter - to plastics to high-speed packaging of parts. It was the first company to offer robotic decuffing to its customers.

The robotics and automation firm engineers, designs, fabricates, assembles, programs and installs automation and robotics in more than 25 states and three countries.

Wickstrum started Quest Industrial in 2001 in Brodhead in a small 8-by-10-foot shed. With a bachelor's degree in industrial technology management from UW-Platteville, Wickstrum learned how to program and fix robots while working at Woodbridge. He followed that with rebuilding old cells and re-engineering projects. Then he moved on to building new robotic equipment for specialized demands.

Quest Industrial was honored as the Exclusive Fanuc Integrator for its incredible growth rate in 2008. The company has doubled its sales every year.

The company saved its customers more than $15 million in 2008, while saving hundreds of jobs. Quest has 11 employees and is planning to hire more this year.

• Andy & Joyce Ziehli, Americana Gazette, Belleville (Pictured: Erin Blumer, communication coordinator, and Joyce Ziehli)

Since he was 16, Andy Ziehli had a dream to create a music and arts publication. In 2008, the first issue of Americana Gazette made that dream come true.

Americana Gazette is a print and online music and arts publication, featuring musicians and artists from Southern Wisconsin, along with national acts.

Americana Gazette was recognized as a legitimate National Music publication by the Americana Music Association of Nashville in 2008. The Americana Gazette is regarded as an up-and-coming publication in the Americana and country music community nationally. Readership covers the United States and England and Ireland.

Andy also released a Grammy-nominated CD in 2008, and updated and expanded the recording studio.

Future plans include releasing their first podcasts by April 1 and developing four additional podcasts/Internet radio programs for release in 2009. The Ziehlis plan to syndicate these programs. The couple will be filming the 2009 summer concert series at the Fat Cat Coffee Works in New Glarus. "Party on the Patio" will feature local songwriters and performers. The production will be distributed and streamed on the Internet. Four CDs are scheduled to be released in 2009.

Serial entrepreneurs, Andy and Joyce also operate Sugar River Productions, a state-of-the-art digital recording studio and record company, and Advisory Management & Research Services, a business to help southern Wisconsin small businesses with expansion and planning.

• Nicole and Jesse Maynard, Planet Wise, Nicki's Diapers, My Swimbaby, New Glarus (Jesse and Nicki Maynard with Cole and Lily)

Nicki and Jesse Maynard opened their first storefront called Planet Wise in April 2008 in New Glarus. Planet Wise actually is the bricks-and-mortar site for five Internet businesses that began with a new mother at home looking for natural parenting items.

Planet Wise also has earned the iParenting Media Winner Award.

Planet Wise was "built from the ground up" by a determined, passionate mother and now is run by the entire family. The Maynards welcomed new baby Holly into the family seven weeks ago.

Nicki began her first small business to fill a gap in cloth diapering services. She now has retail Internet sites for Nicki's Diapers, Planet Wise, My Swimbaby, Cloth Diaper Clearance and Under My Crib. Her clientele access her sites from all over the country and the world.

These diapers are not like the ones your mom used. The attractive, pinless options help trendy parents care for their babies in a natural style that doesn't harm the environment. In addition to diapers and accessories, the children's specialty line also features a large variety of baby products.

The Maynards' business adventures led them to be a U.S. distributor for an Australian cloth diaper and to embark into the world of patents with their own line of wet bags and diaper pail liners.

Nicki's heart is to support the new mother who is looking not only for natural products but also for knowledge. After years of disposable diapers, she now teaches young mothers classes in Cloth Diapering 101 and Babywear 101. She also sees the need for new mothers to create their own support group. At Planet Wise, Nicki and her staff of 11 offer a community area with free coffee and tea and lots of toys. She also provides healthy living classes, play groups and Saturday morning activities.