By Tim Kowols Two businesses were named Door County's Industry and Entrepreneur of the Year at this year's Door County Economic Development Corporation Annual Meeting held Thursday at Sturgeon Bay's Stone Harbor Resort.
Sturgeon Bay's Pro Products, Inc. captured Industry of the Year honors while Sister Bay's Johnson Family was named the Entrepreneur of the Year Door County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Caleb Frostman says there are a couple common traits both award winners share.
You can read the full releases for both award winners from the Door County Economic Development Corporation online below.
The Door County Economic Development Corporation announced today that Pro Products, Inc. is the winner of the Door County Industry of the Year Award. The annual award recognizes a local construction, service or manufacturing business that has made a substantial impact on the community and enjoyed significant accomplishments during the past year. The announcement came during the DCEDC annual investors meeting today at Stone Harbor Resort & Conference Center in Sturgeon Bay.
Pro Products, Inc. was incorporated in the year 2000, making automotive aftermarket components. In 2006, they began manufacturing precision machined components for original equipment manufacturers. Today, the firm provides Computer Numerical Control machining, small fabrications and weldments, and part assembly services. Pro Products works with all types of steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, copper, plastics, castings and forgings.
This successful, family-run business, led by company directors Joseph Hurley, Sandy Hurley, Jonathan Hurley and Steven Hurley, have molded the company's marketplace well beyond Wisconsin: in 2013, 80% of their business was Wisconsin based; in 2016 80% of their business was nationwide. The company projects that a significant portion of future sales will come from overseas markets.
Pro Products, Inc. has invested significant resources in Door County, most recently in 2015 with a new 40,000 square foot manufacturing facility in the Sturgeon Bay Industrial Park, easily accessible for incoming raw materials and outgoing shipments of completed machined parts. In 2016, they added an additional 6,000 square foot warehouse space.
Considerable capital investment has also been made to acquire state of the art manufacturing equipment to be an industry leader of high quality machined goods. In addition to the facility and equipment, the company invests in their employees, providing opportunities for enhanced employment with high quality jobs, supporting families in Door County. In the past five years, Pro Products has grown from 22 employees to over 40.
A combined total of over 120 years of programming and machining experience has created a unique, skillful staff, capable of trouble-shooting and recommending creative solutions to manufacturing challenges. The long-tenured employees, coupled with the state of the art equipment, allow the company to efficiently produce each part they make, with the key focus and result being a high-quality, competitively priced part for the customer, while maintaining profitability for the company.
The management philosophy centers on creating highly skilled and challenging jobs providing employment opportunities to stimulate an individual's growth and development. They strive to identify an employee's strengths, evaluate their potential and provide relevant training to enhance their career path. The company recently utilized the Wisconsin Fast Forward Grant program for employer-led, customized worker training. The management of Pro Products Inc. has continued an ongoing endeavor in the community to create awareness about these highly skilled career opportunities.
Pro Products is dedicated to supporting the economic strength of the county and exhibits good corporate citizenship through local mentorship. The company also supports the technical education programs at Sturgeon Bay and Southern Door High Schools with donations, and directional and mentorship support .
"We are pleased to recognize Pro Products, Inc. as our industry of the year," said DCEDC Executive Director Caleb Frostman. "Their continued growth and investment in our community are welcome indicators of optimism and excitement for a bright future. We hope that will continue for many years to come."
This year marks the 44th year of the Door County Industry of the Year Award, first presented by the Door County Chamber of Commerce in 1973. Last year's award winner was Therma-Tron-X, Inc. Other recent winners of the Industry of the Year Award include Jim Olson Automotive Group, Hatco Corporation and Renard's Cheese Store & Deli.
The Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) announced today that The Johnson Family, owners of Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik, are the winners of the annual Door County Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The announcement came this afternoon during the DCEDC annual investors meeting at Stone Harbor Resort & Conference Center in Sturgeon Bay.
Founded by family patriarch Al Johnson in 1949, Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant has been a mainstay of success. The entrepreneurial spirit that began with Al continues in his children, Lars, Rolf and Annika Johnson, who have been able to find the appropriate blend of innovation and historic nostalgia that represents Door County extremely well. Al's wife Ingert became a lifelong partner whose business and customer savvy matched Al's. With a flair for style and tradition, plus deep roots in Scandinavian heritage, Ingert lead the design and décor which is part of the company's unmistakable and unique brand.
Al Johnson was a larger than life individual who was loved by many in Door County, and who has been deeply missed since his death in 2010. The transition of the business to his children was rather smooth, mainly because they all have been working in the restaurant since they were children, and had such wonderful examples in their parents.
Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant and Butikhas firmly established itself as one of the most iconic and recognizable restaurants in Door County and the state of Wisconsin. Al Johnson's serves over 3,000 people per day July through October. They have been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and numerous restaurant magazines, travel magazines, newspapers, The Food Network and The Travel Network.
The place "with the goats on the roof" has become a treasured institution in Sister Bay that has seen exceptional business growth during its history. Experiencing 25% sales growth over the past three years, Al's now sells their famous lingonberries, pancake mix, cookies and more online, and are expanding that product line to grocery and retail shelf space across the Midwest. A new 5,000 square foot production and warehouse facility currently under construction will assist in expanding this part of their business. Their growth is also exhibited in a popular new outdoor serving space in a refurbished, authentic Scandinavian building.
This business directly influences positive economic development in Door County by their historical, yet innovative local, national and international presence. This business directly helped put, and keeps, Door County on the map.
The Johnson Family has also proven to be exceptional corporate citizens. Al Johnson's recently received Travel Green certification from the state of Wisconsin. Al's contributes more than $100,000 annually to non-profit groups, including the Go Bo Foundation, founded to help children with life-threatening medical conditions. They have also donated to many worthwhile causes, charities, schools and raffles both in and outside Door County with gift cards, gift baskets and certificates.
"It is our extreme pleasure to recognize The Johnson Family with the Entrepreneur of the Year award," said DCEDC Executive Director Caleb Frostman. "Al Johnson and his family have built an indelible and iconic business. Their brand is famous to most everyone that knows of or has ever visited Door County. It truly is a story of American innovation, entrepreneurship and achievement like few others. We are excited to watch their company's growth and we wish them nothing but continued success."
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award celebrates those individuals who have taken the initiative to start and grow a successful small business in Door County. Eligible businesses include those with fewer than 50 full time employees, exhibiting exciting growth potential and that have at least three years of successful business experience. Last year's winners were David Eliot and Madeline Harrison, owners of Peninsula Publishing & Distribution.