Interest rising for Wisconsin Family Business of the Year Award program

Organizers for the Wisconsin Family Business of the Year Award say they’re seeing a big bump in interest for this year’s program, which carries on the tradition of recognizing family-owned businesses for their contribution to the state.

Awardees will be announced at the 15th annual awards ceremony, held May 3 at the Monona Terrace in Madison. Nominations are being accepted until March 30.

Family businesses are judged on contribution to community and industry, business performance, flexibility, innovation and how family values influence the business.

One award winner from 2015, Stan’s Fit For Your Feet, got its start as Stan’s Bootery in Milwaukee back in 1950. It was founded by Stan and Emerance Sajdak, grandparents of Megan Sajdak, marketing director for Stan’s Fit For Your Feet and New Balance Milwaukee.

“Their vision was to provide exceptional sit-and-fit shoe service and fashionable comfort to every customer,” Sajdak wrote in her nomination letter. “This meant spending time with every person measuring both their feet and searching high and low to find the perfect shoes for them.”

Stan and Emerence’s son and Megan’s father, Jim Sajdak, joined the founders in 1972. He helped develop the company into what it is today — a locally owned and operated family business using digital foot scanners and other technology to improve customer experience.

Now, Megan and her brothers Andrew, David and Ben all work for the company.

“Though the shoe industry has changed considerably since 1950, we maintain my grandparents’ ideals,” Sajdak wrote. “We continue to work one-on-one with each customer, and we travel the world to find the finest footwear for our community.”

Brakebush Bros., a chicken processor based in Westfield, was a 2017 award winner. Board Chairman Carl Brakebush says the award, now displayed in the company’s entrance lobby, means “a great deal to our family and our team members.”

“It gives us confidence that we are doing the right things to keep the business moving forward,” Brakebush says. “It also gave our team members and suppliers that same confidence.”

Gordon Flesch, a Madison-based technology company, was recognized as a high-performing family business in 2015.

“As we transition into the third generation, we aim to build upon our strong reputation in the marketplace and continue to grow our company,” said Patrick Flesch, vice president of sales for the western region of the company’s service area. “This type of recognition reinforces that we are doing the right thing for our employees and customers.”

See more on previous award winners:

Download the nomination form here:

–By Alex Moe