Top 75 private companies

Deliotte, the large Milwaukee business consulting firm, annually offers a listing of the 75 largest privately or closely held companies in Wisconsin.

We always enjoy reading through the list because some of those businesses have a presence right here in Watertown and the surrounding areas.

We’ll take a brief look at some of them today as they relate to our local economy. Some of those we’ll mention have smaller local connections while others have a stronger presence.

First of all, the top five companies on the list are all familiar names. They are Northwestern Mutual, S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc., ABC Supply Co., American Family Insurance and U.S. Venture Inc.

American Family Insurance, has a limited presence locally with several insurance agencies representing the company. There are no corporate offices here but the agencies have a lot of local customers.

Kwik Trip, the fueling station with highly popular stores as part of their locations, has three business spots in Watertown. One is on West Main Street, another on North Fourth Street and the third is on Highway 26 South. It is No. 7 on the list and it’s sure to go up, if the number of new stores that continually get opened is any indication.

Quad (formerly Quad/Graphics) is 11th on the listing and while it doesn’t have a presence in Watertown, it does have two printing operations in Dodge County. One is located in Hartford, just inside the Dodge County line, and the other is in Lomira. If you go back in your memory far enough, you’ll recall the Lomira plant opened probably in the late 1960s as a production and canning plant for a huge cooperative called California Canners and Growers. This was a huge sprawling plant that was designed to help the farmers by cutting out the “middle man” in the canned vegetables, etc.. market. Unfortunately, that plan didn’t work and the business closed not too long after it opened. It was vacant for some time before being picked up by Quad and it is now an integral part of the company’s operation.

Michels Corp. is listed at 14th on the list. It operates a large quarry in the Town of Portland, a project we wrote briefly about in our column of last week. It also has other business interests in both counties and throughout the state.

Menasha Corp. is listed at 16th. While it no longer has a presence in our city or the two counties, it did at one point own and operate the old LEWISystems plant on South Montgomery Street, and also Orbis Corp., a plastic fabrication company, which for some years was located on near the Watertown Regional Medical Center property before the operation was moved to Oconomowoc adjacent to I-94. The Watertown building now houses the Women’s Health Center, which is an affiliate of the regional medical center.

Trek Bicycle Corp. is number 23 on the list. Trek is headquartered in Waterloo and also has a large operation in Johnson Creek.

Ewald Automotive, listed at 47th on the list, has a dealership in Oconomowoc and other communities in the area.

Standard Process, which produces a wide range of nutrients for people, has its headquarters in Palmyra, in the southern part of Jefferson County.

No. 70 on the list is Holz Motors in Hales Corners. It is the largest Chevrolet dealership in Wisconsin and the company also owns Holz Watertown, a dealership with franchises for all of the General Motors product lines.

Badger Truck Center is No. 72 on the list this year. This name is relatively new to the Jefferson County area, but it not long ago purchased the Chevrolet Buick dealership along I-94 in Lake Mills..

Shorewest Realtors, the large real estate company with offices throughout Wisconsin, has offices in Watertown as well as Oconomowoc.

So, you can see a number of the top 75 private or closely held companies in Wisconsin have a presence in this immediate area.

Leaf pickup project

The recent cold weather, coupled with some accumulations of snow has really put the city’s leaf pickup operation behind the eight ball. Some people had raked all their leaves to the curbs, only to have several inches of snow cover them, making it nearly impossible for crews to access the leaves without picking up an inordinate amount of snow with it.

Then, there were loads of people who weren’t able to rake their lawns, also probably because of the unexpected October snow, and now they are faced with raking up soaked leaves, which weigh a ton! We know about that all too well as we worked at my parents home earlier this week. It was a project but we managed to get the raking done.

At our home, the leaves were covered with snow and the pickup of a week ago left a lot of leaves in the gutter and along the driveway where shoveled snow was piled on top of them.

But, earlier this week, with some thawing conditions, the snow dissipated some and the crews were back sucking up the wet leaves. They don’t pick up as well, but we were happy with the results.

Some people have been complaining about the minimal pickups in some areas, but if we can keep away from more snow falling, the crews will be making more passes to pickup leaves and hopefully things will be much improved in a matter of a week or two.

This leaf caper reminds me of some years when we got an unexpected heavy first snowfall with a high moisture content, and then the temperature dropped quickly, leaving roads in nearly impassible condition. That can happen if temperatures and snowfall levels are “perfect” for that situation to occur.

There was some whining from the public about the condition of the roads, but it was all but impossible to make things better immediately. Sloppy snow that turns to ice is a tough one for anyone to handle.

Again, the crews do the best they can under the circumstances, and, with time, things always improve. And, remember, this is Wisconsin!

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