Editors and News Directors:
On April 13, Thomas Industries decided to relocate manufacturing operation from Sheboygan to Monroe, LA. Unfortunately, this announcement has led to both political posturing and considerable distortion of the facts regarding state government’s efforts to retain the manufacturing facility. The Department of Commerce has compiled the enclosed fact sheet and timeline of the project. Please feel free to run or excerpt it. If you need additional information, or would like to discuss the project further, please contact me at 608/267-9661 or [email protected]
Thomas Industries Fact Sheet
Monday, 2/2/09 – Sen. Joe Leibham claims* that upon hearing of Thomas Industries’ potential move, he calls the Governor’s office to “suggest he get involved.” However, it was actually a Leibham staffer, Greg Gasper, who called the Department of Commerce Area Development Manager, not the Governor’s office. Commerce Area Development Manager (ADM) Dennis Russell calls Thomas Industries 32 minutes later. Very little information is shared by the company. Dennis Russell sends Joy Schneider at Thomas Industries the Prospect Data Sheet (PDS) required to get the underwriting and review process started.
*April 15th email from Leibham to talk radio host Charlie Sykes
Friday, 2/6/09 – With no PDS in hand, Commerce officials decide to proactively open a file on Thomas Industries and begin research. Sec. Leinenkugel is briefed by Commerce staff for the first time. Greg Gasper sends an Outlook meeting notice to Governor’s legislative staff. It appears this is the first time Leibham’s office contacts the Governor’s office. Governor’s office immediately contacts Commerce and is told the review is already underway. This is forwarded on to Greg Gasper, who replies “That’s good news. We’ve appreciated Commerce’s reaction time on this one.”
Monday, 2/9/09 – Two Commerce staffers attend a meeting chaired by Sen. Leibham that includes local representatives from Thomas Industries, mayoral and economic development staff. Company presents general list of needs. Commerce indicates that it will respond immediately to the company as soon as the company details the specific project needs via the PDS. Commerce staff makes first mention of asking the Governor to call the company. Sec. Leinenkugel is briefed about meeting.
Tuesday, 2/10/09 – Sec. Leinenkugel emails Commerce staff and asks for an “aggressive” package. Sen. Leibham calls Dep. Sec. Aaron Olver to debrief on meeting. Leibham asks to speak with Sec. Leinenkugel.
Wednesday, 2/11/09 – Sec. Leinenkugel talks to Sen. Leibham and discusses a call to Thomas Industries. Sec. Leinenkugel notes the willingness to have the Governor do the same when the project is clear. Greg Gasper emails Sen. Leibham’s Thomas Industries’ contacts to Commerce. However, they are locals and do not include any of the actual decision‐makers. Aaron Olver asks Commerce staff to prepare briefing documents for calls by Sec. Leinenkugel and Governor Doyle to decision‐makers at the company’s headquarters. Page 2
Friday, 2/13/09 – Company’s PDS is received at Commerce. Leinenkugel speaks with Helen Cornell, VP of Finance at HQ. Governor’s office asks for update and articulates the desire to make a call.
Monday, 2/16‐ Wednesday, 2/18/09 – Commerce works with locals to finalize incentive package. On 2/17, Aaron Olver travels to Sheboygan and meets with Sen. Leibham. They discuss Thomas Industries. Phone call is scheduled with Governor and company’s CEO.
Friday, 2/20/09 – Governor Doyle makes call with Sec. Leinenkugel to Thomas Industriesʹ CEO Barry Pennypacker to detail the state’s offer. Commitment letter and offer details are emailed to Helen Cornell at 3:39 PM from Sec. Leinenkugel. Commerce mails commitment letter to company detailing incentives. The dollar amount matches 100% of what the company requested. The state offer makes the move to Wisconsin cost‐free for Thomas Industries. Sen. Leibham is informed of call by Aaron Olver.
Monday, 2/24/09 – Gov. Doyle writes President and CEO Barry Pennypacker and VP‐Finance Helen Cornell to express his commitment to the project.
Tuesday, 2/25/09 – Commerce Bureau Director John Stricker attends a meeting chaired by Sen. Leibham that is attended by local principals. NOTE: NO MEMBERS OF THE COMPANY’S EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT TEAM ARE IN THE ROOM. State offer is discussed. Sen. Leibham follows up with an email thanking the participants for their efforts and urges everyone to avoid media contacts. NOTE: Leibham mistakenly claims offer is made at this meeting, but in reality it was made by Governor Doyle five days earlier with the company’s CEO.
Wednesday, 2/26/09 – Sen. Leibham calls Zach Brandon and wants to discuss talking points for a media call. Zach Brandon urges Sen. Leibham not to talk to the media out of concern that doing so might tip the state’s hand to Louisiana. Sen. Leibham talks to media, anyway, and calls the state’s offer “unprecedented.” He possibly tips state’s hand by announcing that the offer goes “beyond” what the company is seeking.
Monday, 3/2/09 – Sec. Leinenkugel calls Helen Cornell to check in.
Friday, 3/6/09 – Aaron Olver talks to Sen. Leibham about the determining factors.
Friday, 3/13/09 – Sen. Leibham calls Zach Brandon for information regarding the local union’s position on specific concessions requested by management.
Thursday, 3/19/09 – Zach Brandon talks to IBEW regarding the status of negotiations. Page 3
Tuesday, 3/24/09 – Secretary Leinenkugel, again, follows up with Helen Cornell. Secretary Leinenkugel speaks with IBEW local leadership.
Wednesday, 3/25/09 – Helen Cornell emails Secretary Leinenkugel to say that the company has “all the information needed” from the state and that “it is still trying to better understand the union’s position on a few critical matters.” She thanks Secretary Leinenkugel for his “support in this process.”
Thursday, 3/26/09—Friday, 4/10/09 – Commerce continues to monitor the situation and is in constant contact with local officials and the Governor’s Office.
Monday, 4/13/09 – Thomas Industries calls Commerce to notify the department of a pending news release announcing Monroe, LA as the company’s choice. Secretary Leinenkugel calls Helen Cornell to discuss and debrief.