— With over 1,100 member companies, the Waukesha County
Business Alliance has grown drastically since its
inception in 1918.
when representatives from those businesses came together
to celebrate the Alliance’s 98th annual meeting on
Friday at the Country Springs Hotel, the talk centered
around growing their own businesses and expanding
Power Systems President and CEO Aaron Jagdfeld, the
keynote speaker at the meeting, said it isn’t an easy
process to grow a business, but it begins with a
collaborative effort from employees.
I took the reins (of Generac) in 2008, our revenues were
about $500 million and today we’re closing in on $1.5
billion,” Jagdfeld said. “We now have 14 factories
around the world and 4,000 employees, with 3,000 of those
employees being right here in Wisconsin.”
talk also revolved around the importance of attracting and
retaining younger generations of employees as the older
ones continue to retire.
we sit here today, the last 12 to 18 months for us has
just been about getting people, finding people,”
Jagdfeld said. “We’re going to park the skills gap
discussion; we can’t find enough people.”
leading the way
where programs around the state, such as the Alliance’s
School2Skills initiative, come into play.
program, which is celebrating five years of existence,
gives high school students in Waukesha County the
opportunity to tour local manufacturers and see the
innovative technology in the area. The tours finish at
Waukesha County Technical College, where those students in
attendance learn about the schooling required to pursue a
career in the manufacturing field.
is all about teaching the next generation that (the
manufacturing field) is different than it used to be,”
Jagdfeld said. “I thought it was a manufacturing
stigmatism that was the problem, it’s really not. I
think right now it’s a labor force issue.
unfortunate when you see young people who would rather be
a barista at Starbucks. I’m not talking about people who
graduated high school and don’t go on to college. I’m
talking about college graduates.”
School2Skills program itself was led by former Alliance
Vice President of Community Engagement Mary Baer, who
retired late last year.
the meeting, the Alliance honored Baer by creating the
Mary Baer School2Skills Scholarship. It will be given
through the WCTC Foundation, with its primary purpose to
promote education related to manufacturing jobs.
of the first contributions to the scholarship fund was
$500 from the Fotsch family, which received the Don
Richards Leadership Award.
award recognizes those who have demonstrated a commitment
to improving the lives of others through leadership and
involvement. The Fotsch family, which formed the Fotsch
Family Foundation in 1967, has supported numerous causes
throughout the area over the years, including donating $1
million to WCTC’s new IMC building if the community
raised the other $2 million.
can’t thank you enough for this most prestigious
honor,” Nana Fotsch said. “Together, we can all
continue to make Waukesha County a terrific place. Not
only from a business standpoint, but for hardworking,
productive people and their families.”
also was a new award presented at the meeting: the
Waukesha County Advocate of the Year Award. It was given
to Dale Shaver, director of the Waukesha County Department
of Parks and Land Use.
the Alliance announced that at an upcoming event,
Wisconsin U.S. Rep. and House Speaker Paul Ryan will join
the Alliance for a congressional update. The meeting will
take place Oct. 13 at the Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield