Business Alliance names Waukesha Metal Products its No. 1 company of 2014

Special to The Freeman

June 7, 2014

Waukesha Metal Products President/CEO Jeff Clark receives the #1 Business of the Year award from Waukesha Business Alliance President Suzanne Kelley during a Friday awards ceremony. 
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

PEWAUKEE – The Waukesha County Business Alliance honored its top 10 businesses of 2014 Friday, but only one could be named as the group’s top business of the year.

Waukesha Metal Products took home the honors this year for the first time thanks in large part to its dedication to its employees and a focus on exporting. The small Sussex- based manufacturer beat out other companies such as Centare, EmbedTek LLC, Hunzinger Construction and Hydro-Thermal for the award. Waukesha Metal President and CEO Jeff Clark said his business made the top 10 list in 2012 and has remained on the same track ever since.

“Probably not a whole lot different than years before,” he said when asked if anything had changed about his company this year. “It is a good group. We have steady business and a good business model that allows us to be successful in up and down economies.”

Waukesha Metal Products President/CEO Jeff Clark speaks after receiving the
#1 Business of the Year award.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Exporting makes up a large chunk of Clark’s business and he said understanding the different cultures that he deals with has been a major asset.

During the program, Clark shared an old story about a meeting with foreign investors where he attempted to be polite, but may have unwittingly offended them because of his lack of understanding of their culture.

Since then, he said, he has done his best to learn about the people he is doing business with.

“I think that is a big opportunity for Wisconsin businesses going forward,” he said. “We really have to export capability – and whether that is on a plant here in North America or plants out of other countries – you still have to be able to deal culturally with a global market.”

Suzanne Kelley, president of the WCBA, said the Milwaukee 7 – a cooperative economic development platform comprised of seven neighboring counties, including Waukesha – is looking to double exports in the next five years and Waukesha Metal Products has been a major contributor.

“Jeff’s is one of those companies (that) is really leading the way in that area,” she said. “It is really important to the ongoing growth of this region to ensure that we are making products here and moving them outside of our boundaries.”