FRI AM News: SwanLeap near top of fastest-growing companies list; WisBusiness: the Podcast with JP Miller for Maydm

— SwanLeap has again nabbed the top spot among Wisconsin businesses in the latest Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in the country. 

The Madison-based transportation and logistics company had $162.6 million in revenue for 2018, and grew by 6,383 percent last year. It was ranked 35th out of U.S. companies. 

Meanwhile, rounding out the top five for Wisconsin were two software companies and two manufacturers. 

Fetch Rewards, another Madison company, was ranked 68th — the second highest of Wisconsin companies. This startup has a shopping rewards program for members, and reported $9 million in revenue last year for year-over-year growth of 4,323 percent. 

The next two highest-ranked are involved in producing beer: Octopi Brewing, based in Waunakee, and Milwaukee’s Spike Brewing Equipment. 

Octopi Brewing was ranked 160th, with $4.9 million in 2018 revenue and 2,384 percent growth; while Spike Brewing Equipment was ranked 426th, with $5.4 million in revenue and 1,074 percent growth. 

No other companies from the state were ranked in the top 500 or had growth above 1,000 percent. In all, 49 Wisconsin businesses were included in the list of the top 5,000. 

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— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with JP Miller, curriculum director and programs lead for a Madison company called Maydm. 

Maydm aims to teach girls and youth of color in sixth grade through high school about opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. 

“We teach them skills such as web development, Android app development … all sorts of these STEM-related engineering skills that can be used in the workplace,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to reach parity with national demographics.” 

Program participants are as young as 10 years old, and JP says Maydm’s recent summer program had about a dozen middle-schoolers. These kids get started with a simplified coding program that helps them learn through a process that’s similar to solving a puzzle. 

“These kids are amazing — kids in general are amazing. They’ll surprise you everyday if you just open your eyes and your ears and listen to them,” he said. 

Miller stresses the importance of making these activities fun for kids. 

“They’re middle-school students, and it’s summertime! You know, we’re not going to be in a stodgy classroom,” he said. “They want to have fun, so we start by having fun.” 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See a full list of podcasts, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— A representative for Foxconn Industrial Internet — one of the Taiwanese tech manufacturer’s many subsidiaries — says Foxconn “probably did everything the wrong way” when it came to engaging with UW-Madison. 

Richard Vincent is chief business officer for Foxconn Industrial Internet, abbreviated as Fii. He spoke yesterday at an event organized by the university’s Office of Business Engagement. 

“You can imagine Foxconn Group is basically 100 separate companies with over one million employees,” he said yesterday. “And everybody got the memo that they have to come to Wisconsin.” 

He says Foxconn representatives inundated the campus, sending groups of more than 50 people at a time. 

“It just became overwhelming. … It was untenable to all sides,” he said. “Group after group after group … so we kinda backed off from that. Lesson learned.” 

Now, he said Fii has had “some successes” in partnering with the university and is working on a number of different programs. 

Fii has more than 200,000 employees and 40,000 engineers, with more than $64 billion in revenue. Vincent, who hails from Silicon Valley, says he’s on a five-year assignment to expand Fii’s business in Wisconsin. 

“We are the advanced technology group of the Foxconn technologies,” he said. “We are kind of the tip of the spear in tech innovation. We started engaging maybe six months ago … looking for ways to advance some of the initiatives we have here in Wisconsin.” 

He said Fii aims to tap into the “intelligence and research capabilities” of a number of groups on campus. That includes high-performance computing work, materials science and more. 

“It will continue to advance as we start getting our story straight on what we’re doing here,” he said. 

Vincent also said Fii is looking to recruit from the university. 

— Panelists at the business engagement day at UW-Madison said partnerships between the university and companies should go beyond just hiring talented graduates. 

“If you have a business question and you’d be interested in having us researchers consider it, we’re really eager to talk with you,” said Joan Schmit, the American Family Insurance Distinguished Chair in Risk Management for the Wisconsin School of Business. “If you have some data, that is tremendously valuable.” 

She says the university has worked with insurance companies that have data to spare, partnering to disentangle info that’s useful to both the business and researchers. That includes insights on customers and how to reach them, as well as other info useful to students pursuing graduate degrees. 

Jerry O’Brien, director of the Kohl’s Center for Retailing in the School of Human Ecology, discussed a partnership with Lands’ End in which students were brought on to help design “cutting-edge” fitting rooms for new stores. 

When potential partners come in simply to snatch up skilled workers, O’Brien said the conversation usually doesn’t progress very far. But when partners come in with a software trial, a case study to examine, or an offer to send a subject matter expert to a class, “now we’re getting a richness that my faculty and our staff love.” 

Adrienne Bestul, senior manager of talent development for Dodgeville-based Lands’ End, says she’s proud of the partnerships her company has cultivated at the university. She said working with O’Brien has helped Lands’ End find talent from various departments, ranging from finance to information technology to supply chain management. 

“As an apparel retailer, that’s an incredibly important part of what we have to do to be successful,” she said. 

— The state’s July unemployment rate increased slightly to 3 percent from 2.9 percent the month before, according to the latest federal numbers from the state Department of Workforce Development. 

The DWD release shows July’s unemployment rate matched the rate from last July. Wisconsin’s rate remains below the national rate of 3.7 percent. 

See the release: 

— Fifteen community health centers across the state are getting $2.4 million in new federal funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration. 

The funds are coming from the agency’s Integrated Behavioral Health Services program, supporting the health centers’ continued work to prevent substance abuse and other behavioral health risks. 

Stephanie Harrison is CEO of the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association, which represents 17 community health centers in Wisconsin. A handful of sites are clustered in the Milwaukee area, while others are located as far south as Beloit, and as far north as Iron River and Superior. 

These facilities provide services to more than 314,000 people in the state, “regardless of their ability to pay,” according to a release. 

Harrison says these centers are always looking to leverage more federal dollars to supplement the funding they get from the state. 

“While progress has been made increasing access to these services, community health centers are still working to ensure that the recovery programs are sustainable and they can hire qualified staff members to best meet significant community needs,” she said in the release. 

See the release: 

See where the centers are located: 

— A researcher with the Versiti Blood Research Institute is getting a $2.4 million grant to study a problem with therapies that rely on heparin, a blood-thinning agent used to treat heart attacks. 

Renren Wen, an associate investigator at the Wauwatosa-based research center, is exploring the causes of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, which leads to reduced blood platelet count and serious, potentially fatal outcomes. 

The funds come from the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. 

See more:  


# Wisconsin corn farmers facing more market uncertainty after USDA planting report

# Why United Conveyor chose Pleasant Prairie for $20M investment

# Dairy group calls proposed siting rule unworkable, unfair

# Evers, Wisconsin Democrats propose gun background check bill



– Wisconsin celebrating 25 years as nation’s cranberry leader

– First Wisconsin case of EIA confirmed since 2004


– Wisconsin’s unemployment rate ticks up to 3.0%

– Wisconsin unemployment rate increases to 3%


– Milwaukee’s Tallymore plays Milwaukee Irish Fest


– Washed away: Northwest Wisconsin copes with the costs of a changing climate


– Food hall in plans for The Lokal at 84South

– Lakefront Brewery recalls My Turn Junk beer; bottles could explode


– Whitefish Bay pharmacy to close


– On the level: AGC general counsel uses litigation experience to keep members out of court


– Briggs & Stratton closing Kentucky plant as walk-behind mower sales lag

– Briggs & Stratton will consolidate small engine production with closure of Kentucky facility

– Power Test launches pump repair division


– Governor appoints three members to state DATCP board

– Construction barrier: Lawmakers seek limits on using students fees for UW buildings

– Evers, Democratic lawmakers unveil universal background check bill

– ‘Enough is enough’: Tony Evers, Democrats push for stricter background checks on firearms


– Ikon Hotel in Milwaukee wins endorsement for $5M city loan


– Bill calls for DNR to sell bug spray to prevent Lyme disease


– DEZ Tactical Arms shooting range on target to open in Baraboo by end of year


– Kohler Co. evaluating options for hosting future golf events in Wisconsin


– Hy-Vee investigating possible data breach at gas stations, coffee shops, restaurants


– Coulee Graziers to hold pasture walk in September


– Study: Milwaukee’s commute time among nation’s lowest

– Madison Metro Transit general manager Chuck Kamp plans to retire in November


– David Newby: No vote on ‘new NAFTA’ until it’s fixed


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

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M3 Insurance: Mitch Maurina joins M3 as Business Development Executive

Worzalla: Employees collect more than 500 pounds of school supplies for Portage County schools