FRI AM News: WisBusiness: the Podcast with Dave Clark, Marquette University; Generac CEO talks talent acquisition, company growth

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” features Dave Clark, the executive associate dean and professor of economics at Marquette University. 

Clark, who consults with the Wisconsin Realtors Association on the group’s monthly reports, shares insights on the latest data and trends in the state’s real estate and housing market. 

“It’s clear that we are not keeping pace in terms of sales with August of last year, and even on a year-to-date basis — looking at the first eight months of 2022 versus the first eight months of 2021 — we are below that pace of last year,” he said. 

Still, he notes last year saw record home sales in Wisconsin, so it’s no surprise that this year is failing to keep pace with 2021. Clark discusses several factors playing into that change, such as higher mortgage rates and limited supply of homes. 

“We’ve been experiencing the tight supply for quite some time, and that’s been pushing prices up,” he said. “And it has been certainly keeping sales volume down, at least over the last year.” 

He also explains the effect of inflation expectations on mortgage rates and the perspective of lenders on the current landscape. WRA’s August report shows the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose 83.8 percent over the year, from 2.84 percent in August 2021 to 5.22 percent in August of this year. 

“We still have a classic seller’s market, but it will begin to soften that market the longer those rates stay as high as they are,” he said. 

Listen to the podcast here: 

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— The president and CEO of Generac Power Systems says the Waukesha-based manufacturer has had to “up our game” to attract talent in the competitive job market. 

Aaron Jagdfeld discussed the company’s talent acquisition and retention strategy this week during a breakfast event hosted by the Capital Times in Madison. Generac, which manufactures backup power generators, is nearing $5 billion in sales this year and currently employs more than 10,000 people. 

Jagdfeld noted over 2,000 of those workers were hired in the past year and a half as the business pursues an aggressive growth strategy. Generac has made 28 acquisitions in the past decade, including 10 in the past three years alone. 

“It’s been really difficult to recruit and retain people, even if we were just trying to maintain a static level of people. But our big challenge is we’re trying to grow … let’s be honest, it’s a competitive environment,” he said. “And so what are we doing to do that? We’ve had to really up our game, and we’ve also had to up our profile.” 

He explained market-standard compensation and benefits have become “table stakes” for the industry. 

“We used to kind of say, well we pay on the low side of market but we make it up with growth and opportunities. Yeah, no you can’t do that. That won’t get people in the door the way that it might have before,” he said. 

While the company’s upward trajectory remains a major selling point to prospective employees, Jagdfeld said, the business has expanded its strategy. That includes getting the Generac brand onto one of the Summerfest stages in Milwaukee, as well as getting more involved at the community level in both nearby Milwaukee and Dane County. 

Generac also recently renovated its headquarters in Waukesha County and now offers more work flexibility for employees, he added. 

Along with hiring efforts, he also touched on the company’s move towards other energy technologies such as battery storage. He noted those 10 most recent acquisitions have all been operating in the emerging energy technology field. 

“As a company, to say we want to just be a manufacturer in Wisconsin, I guess that would be good enough. We could continue to do that, and we’d be happy to do that,” he said. “But I think there’s so much more we can bring to the world.” 

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— More than 6,600 small businesses and nonprofits in Wisconsin have been approved to receive Main Street Bounceback Grants. 

State officials announced this figure yesterday in a release from Gov. Tony Evers’ office. These grants help companies in the state with the cost of opening a new location or moving into a vacant commercial space. 

“Our investments to support thousands of small businesses across all 72 counties of Wisconsin have helped transform local Main Streets and even entire communities in every corner of our state,” Evers said in the release: 

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— UW-Madison has announced the inaugural director of the university’s newly created Technology Entrepreneurship Office. 

Bonnie Bachman is an economics professor from the Missouri University of Science and Technology who has a master’s degree in mechanics and materials science and a doctoral degree in materials science and engineering. Her first day was Oct. 3, according to a release. 

The new office is a partnership between UW-Madison’s School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences, College of Letters & Science and College of Engineering. In her new role, Bachman will lead the office’s efforts to boost commercialization of science and technologies developed at the university.

Tom Erickson, founding director of the CDIS, says talent on research on campus is “second to none” but adds the university needs to do more to be “at the forefront of advancing translational research.” 

“We need to develop tech-transfer concepts that go beyond patenting to improve lives, stimulate economic growth, and realize the Wisconsin Idea,” he said in the release. 

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— Now that updated COVID-19 booster shots are available for everyone aged 5 years and older, state health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated before the holidays. 

The Department of Health Services yesterday announced eligibility for boosters targeting omicron variants along with the original strain has been expanded to include younger children, following approval by the CDC and FDA. DHS says doses of the updated boosters for this age group are expected to arrive in the state over the next several weeks. 

“Fall has arrived and the holiday season will soon be here, and this means more of us will gather indoors in homes and other spaces in closer contact with others,” DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said in the release. “We encourage all Wisconsinites to make plans to boost their own and their loved ones’ protection against COVID-19.” 

The DHS site shows younger kids are lagging behind on COVID-19 vaccinations. 

For all age ranges, 65.5 percent of the state’s population has gotten at least one dose, 61.8 percent has completed the vaccine series and 36 percent has gotten an additional or booster dose. But for residents aged 5-11 years, those figures are 31.9 percent, 27.2 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively. 

According to DHS, the updated boosters are recommended as a single dose for anyone aged 5 years and older who has gotten the primary COVID-19 vaccine series but hasn’t received a vaccine dose in the past two months. The updated Pfizer booster can be administered to those aged 5 years and older, while the updated Moderna booster is for those aged 6 years and older. 

Track vaccinations here: 

See the release: 

— DHS says 120,600 fentanyl test strips have been distributed around the state in hopes of preventing drug overdose deaths. 

As part of the state’s test strip distribution program, tribal nation health clinics, county health and human services departments, and other groups that work with people who use drugs are getting fentanyl test strip packages directly from the manufacturer. These groups are distributing the strips at no cost to the user, and the Department of Health Services says there’s no limit to how many someone can receive. 

The agency in August issued a public health advisory warning about fentanyl, noting synthetic opioids last year were linked to 91 percent of opioid overdose deaths in the state and 73 percent of all overdose deaths. Between 2019 and 2021, the number of fentanyl overdose deaths in Wisconsin nearly doubled. 

DHS notes fentanyl is present in drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and fake prescription pills, and urges anyone who is using these substances to test them for fentanyl. While they don’t show the amount or strength of fentanyl that may be present, they do indicate whether or not the powerful opioid is present. 

This first phase of the state’s fentanyl test strip distribution program is funded with $1.25 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars. DHS says more test kits will be purchased with the state’s share of the National Prescription Opiate Litigation settlement funds. 

See a map of where test strips can be obtained: 

Get more details in the DHS release: 

<i>For more of the most relevant news on COVID-19, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and</i>

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— The four finalists in the “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin” contest include an electric fire truck, a diagnostic testing device, a recreational vehicle and a harvesting cart used by farmers. 

The final round of voting in the contest runs through Wednesday, when Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and Johnson Financial Group will announce this year’s winner at WMC’s Business Day in Madison event. 

Companies represented in the top four include Pierce Manufacturing, Plexus Corp., Columbia Vehicle Group and H&S Manufacturing. 

See the release: 


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– Winners of meat processor resiliency grants named

– Wisconsin corn farmers may see record yield per acre in ’22


– On the level: Boldt’s Huggett talks about job opportunities, technology, direction of the construction industry


– Clean energy jobs rebounding in Wisconsin after COVID-19 declines, but still below pre-pandemic levels

– Madison Forward Fund provides direct assistance to low-income families


– First Lady visits Milwaukee to speak with teachers, parents and students about difficulties facing education

– UW-Madison prof Monica Kim wins coveted MacArthur fellowship


– Chippewa County moves forward on well water testing project


– Landmark Credit Union taking its customers back in TYME


– Raising Cane’s has ‘pretty big’ plans for Milwaukee region


– Wisconsin law firm Davis|Kuelthau to merge with Chicago’s SmithAmundsen

– Davis|Kuelthau to merge with Chicago-based law firm


– Generac COO stepping down


– ‘Bad Axe’ cuts deep in its depiction of Midwestern small-town strife


– The repeal of abortion rights in Wisconsin reshaped 2022 political campaigns. Will it change outcomes?


– Activist investor continues push for Kohl’s Corp. board shake-up

– Pick n’ Save parent Kroger, rival Albertsons reportedly in talks for massive merger

– The Buzz: You can expect these stores, restaurants to open by end of 2022


– Building Blocks: Delavan-Darien Athletic Complex


– Danish firm that chose Milwaukee for first U.S. HQ among new Global Water Center tenants


– Northside Elementary ‘Flips the Switch’ to solar energy


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

UW-Madison: Experienced innovator tapped to lead new technology entrepreneurship office

Dept. of Health Services: Free fentanyl test strips now available statewide