THU AM News: Nobbits hopes to ‘tie up’ the market for specialized shoelaces; Kwik Trip to expand La Crosse production facility

— Fitchburg-based Nobbits USA LLC makes shoelaces that lessen the chances of knots coming untied.

Nobbits makes shoelaces from polyester with raised dots — “nobbs” — formed from an adhesive on both sides of the shoelace. These nobbs create consistent tension throughout the lace stopping knots from coming undone and creating a more comfortable fit. 

The nobbs are strategically placed throughout the shoelace to reduce the amount of slippage between the eyelets, which is the most common reason why shoes come untied. A study done at UC-Berkeley revealed that when running, feet hit the ground seven times greater than the force of gravity, which in turn drives the inertial force of the shoelaces forward, causing them to come untied quicker.

On Nobbits’ shoelaces, the nobbs lock the shoelace and knot in place, making it almost impossible to naturally come untied.

Veteran sports entrepreneur and Nobbits founder Ron Brent said the company plans to focus sales on active people, such as athletes. And he anticipates a wide audience as more than 2 billion pairs of shoes are sold each year, with about 60 million active people. 

Read the full story at 

— The “Diligent Dozen” Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest pitches will go live June 2, the eve of this year’s Entrepreneurs’ Conference.

Finalists representing diverse tech-based sectors in Wisconsin’s early-stage economy will present from 10 a.m. to noon June 2, as part of the 18th annual contest. This year’s finalists will have five minutes to pitch their business ideas. The four-month, staged contest culminates the following day with award announcements during the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference.

The 12 contestants emerged from three rounds of judging in the contest organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council, which produces the contest in conjunction with its partners and sponsors. The contest began in late January with more than 250 entries; more than 4,100 entries have been received since the contest began in 2004.

See the finalists: 

Register for the full conference: 

— Kwik Trip is continuing to expand development and staffing of its food production and support campus in La Crosse.

The project has earned an additional $5 million in performance-based tax incentives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

“Our work with WEDC has helped Kwik Trip’s growth and ability to provide excellent job opportunities,” said John McHugh, director of public relations for Kwik Trip. “The strong demand for our products has allowed us to expand even more than originally planned.

McHugh told that the stores’ low prices, clean spaces and limited exposure — customers spend an average of 2 minutes in the store — drew in consumers and resulted in a “huge spike” in basic goods. 

Kwik Trip concentrated on nothing but making loaves of white bread as it flew off of the shelves at the start of the pandemic, McHugh said. Milk sales also went up substantially, and instead of more single servings of milk, Kwik Trip shifted to more gallons and half gallons. And ice cream sales went “through the roof.”

The company now needs to expand several of its La Crosse facilities to continue to grow.

Kwik Trip is now forecasting that the project will result in the creation of 662 new full-time jobs and a capital investment of more than $378 million. That does not include jobs or investment at its retail stores.

“Kwik Trip is a Wisconsin success story,” WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes said. “While most of us are familiar with Kwik Trip for its retail operations, the company continues to grow its manufacturing and supply chain base in our state, which is creating hundreds of jobs and new investments even faster than anyone could have anticipated.”

The convenience store chain operates 456 stores in Wisconsin and is known for creating its own line of food products. It got up to $21 million in tax credits in 2017 for its expansion. At that time, the company anticipated hiring at least 329 new workers and investing at least $309 million in the project, and WEDC created an Enterprise Zone to assist with that growth.

So far, the company has created 527 jobs and spent more than $230 million in capital investment — well above what was anticipated at this point in the project. Because Kwik Trip is exceeding the goals of its Enterprise Zone, the WEDC board recently voted to amend Kwik Trip’s contract to make it eligible for an additional $5 million in tax credits. The actual amount of credits to be awarded will depend on the number of jobs created and amount of capital invested.

— Madison-based GrocerKey is launching a customizable retailer platform GK Open.

GrocerKey’s technology allows grocers to customize online offerings, enable home delivery and offer mobile self-checkout. The company works with independent and regional grocery partners, including Kowalski’s Markets, Piggly Wiggly Midwest and Woodman’s Markets.

The GK Open platform allows independent and regional retailers to fully customize their e-commerce platform. Through self-service, retailers’ existing IT or developer team can now write and execute custom code in a secure environment. Retailers can also choose to customize via GrocerKey’s professional services.

As retailers invest in eCommerce solutions to capture increased consumer demand, many find available solutions rigid and technology providers unwilling to accept customization requests due to platform limitations.

“One size doesn’t fit all, especially in today’s competitive grocery marketplace. Whether retailers have 11 stores or 211 stores, they understand the needs of their businesses and their customers better than anyone,” GrocerKey CEO and co-founder Jeremy Neren said. “GK Open offers a self-service option to help retailers of all sizes quickly ramp up their online grocery game, to meet those unique needs and achieve profitable growth.”

— The Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce is returning to live, in-person events on June 15 starting with its “Chamber Muster.”

The business networking series event will be at the Explorium Brewpub in Milwaukee from 4-6 p.m. 


— gALPHA Young Leaders is recruiting Dane County high school students looking to build their own social impact startups.

The four-week gener8tor program, from June 28 to July 23, is for high school students or outgoing seniors. It’s a free, virtual program. Ten teams will be selected to participate in the “Founder’s Track” to build a social enterprise from scratch and learn the fundamentals of becoming a startup founder. 

Teams and individuals selected for the “Learner’s Track” will have an opportunity to participate in weekly “lunch and learns” and attend guest speaker events.

“Our goal is to sharpen skills like leadership, public speaking, and business acumen through building your own company,” said gener8tor Social Impact Director Joe Baz. “It is a perfect summer experience for a young adult’s resume. And most importantly, participants will make friends, build cool things, and have fun!”

Know a high school student who wants to participate? Visit: 

— TODAY: Join us at noon for ‘Summer Tourism Outlook — How will Wisconsin take advantage of a post-pandemic visitor surge?’

The virtual lunch hour event features three tourism leaders — Department of Tourism Acting Secretary Anne Sayers, Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association President and CEO Bill Elliott and Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions President Tom Diehl.

The trio will discuss the state of the tourism industry in Wisconsin and how the political, health and economic climates may influence what Wisconsin’s robust tourism industry will look like this summer.

The program is set to run via webinar from noon to 1 p.m. today.

Register here for this free event:

This event is sponsored by Madison Gas and Electric Company, University Research Park, Wisconsin Technology Council and The Phelps Hamus Group.


# Evers Revives Push To Expand Medicaid In Wisconsin

# Republicans move to reinstate work-search requirement

# Tony Evers likely to veto GOP effort to cut enhanced unemployment benefits

# Eau Claire area’s face mask mandates repealed



– Crop Report: Wisconsin Farm Fields Getting Dry 


– DNR Approves Tyco’s Plans To Remove PFAS In Marinette, But Warns Pollution Won’t Be Eliminated


– Foxconn’s Eau Claire spaces for lease 

– Foxconn strikes deal to make Fisker electric vehicles, possibly in Mount Pleasant 


– Public Health Leaders Say People Who Have Recovered From COVID-19 Still Need The Vaccine 


– Former Milwaukee Police Chief Morales Could Have His Job Back In 45 Days


– Wisconsin remains a priority state for redistricting


– Plans unveiled for 32-story luxury apartment tower in Third Ward 

– First batch of 300 apartments being built at Oak Creek’s Drexel interchange will be ready by year’s end 


– Chippewa County businesses wrestle with mask policies 


– Food-tech incubator “Hundred Acre” to launch at Century City this summer 


– Milwaukee Admirals returning to the Panther Arena this October 


– SHINE Medical in Janesville selects Netherlands site for European expansion 


– FTC, Wisconsin sue Frontier for delivering internet that’s too slow


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

– WiscoBoxes: Building for growth with new space

– Festival Foods: Newest store opens Friday in West Allis

– SHINE: Selects location in northern Netherlands for European isotope production facility

– UW Health: New CDC rule allows COVID-19 vaccine to be given along with other vaccines