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Briefcase 5/6/18 – Leader |

Briefcase 5/6/18 – Leader



Phillips-Medisize grows New Richmond factory

HUDSON — Medical device manufacturer Phillips-Medisize is expanding its New Richmond facility by 70,000 square feet this year.

The additional space will accommodate automation, material handling, robotics and high-tech manufacturing for products made by the company.

“This is the second expansion of our New Richmond facility in less than three years,” company President Matt Jennings said in a news release.

The latest expansion will allow Phillips-Medisize to further consolidate the supply chain for its customers, Jennings added.

The expansion and company growth also has created demand for more than 100 jobs ranging from entry-level positions to engineers to managers.

Presto defense sales up, household goods down

Eau Claire-based National Presto Industries continues to see sales grow for its defense products while the company sells less of its household products.

Overall, net sales increased $4 million for the company in the quarter that ended April 2 when compared with the first three months of 2017.

That was due to $8 million net sales growth for the company’s defense products, fueled mostly by shipping its backlog, more than making up for a $4 million decrease in housewares.

Presto did launch a new product line in March at the International Housewares Show, led by three luxury-level updates to its electronic pressure cooker and skillets.

Earnings for its defense and housewares segments were nearly $11 million for the recent quarter, about $1 million more than a year ago. The company’s overall net earnings were lower than a year ago though because the first quarter results for 2017 included $8.2 million from Presto’s absorbent products segment, which was sold in January 2017 to Drylock.

Net earnings per share were $1.57 in the recent quarter, compared with $2.60 a year ago.

Lunchtime talk is about business loan programs

Loan programs available to small businesses in the greater Eau Claire area will be the topic of a lunchtime presentation on Thursday.

The city government is sponsoring the talk from noon to 1 p.m. at The French Press, 2823 London Road.

The Western Dairyland Revolving Loan Fund, Regional Business Fund and the city’s own loan programs will be discussed.

The presentation is part of events for Economic Development Week, which is May 7 to 12 in Eau Claire.

Chamber gives eighth-graders taste of careers

Almost 300 eighth-graders from South Middle School will get tours of local employers and higher education institutions on Wednesday to explore potential careers in the Chippewa Valley.

The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce is coordinating the tours of numerous sites, which were chosen based on interests students expressed through academic and career planning activities.

Participating businesses and organizations are Chippewa Valley Technical College, Eau Claire County, Grace Lutheran Communities, Market Johnson, Marshfield Clinic, Mayo Clinic Health System, Mid-State Truck Service, Oxbow Hotel, Plank Enterprises, RCU, UW-Eau Claire and Volume One.

Wednesday’s event is a follow-up to a career day organized in November by Junior Achievement of Wisconsin.

Merchants Bank parent posts good start to ‘18

WINONA, Minn. — Merchants Financial Group had net income of $3.95 million to start 2018 — about $1.8 million more than last year’s first quarter.

“It has been a very good start to the year thanks to the work of our employees across our locations,” president and CEO Gregory Evans said in a news release.

Merchants Financial Group is the parent company of Merchants Bank, which has 21 locations, including one in Eau Claire.

Evans said all of the bank’s regions were ahead of their plan for the year, as was Merchants’ leasing division and secondary market mortgage operation. Deposits and loan growth are up as well.

The company’s board of directors authorized raising the stockholder dividend from 56 cents per share to 61 cents.

CCF Bank earnings rise, but weather had impact

ALTOONA — The parent company of Citizens Community Federal Bank reported second quarter earnings of $1.34 million — a 44 percent increase over the same three months last year.

Even with the growth seen at the end of March, the leader of Citizens Community Bancorp noted that unseasonal cold weather and market factors hindered the bank’s earnings.

“Our second fiscal quarter financial results were somewhat below our expectations, as prolonged winter conditions and somewhat higher interest rates impacted our mortgage business,” Stephen Bianchi, president and CEO, said in a news release.

The bank continues its push to increase the commercial loans in its portfolio. Commercial, agricultural and construction loans were 42 percent of the bank’s loan portfolio by the end of March, compared with 31 percent a year ago. The bank also added four commercial bankers to its payroll in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, residential, home equity and consumer loans are shrinking as a portion of the bank’s business.

Short Takes

• Two RCU board members were re-elected during the Eau Claire-based credit union’s annual meeting on April 24.

Bill Blackburn and John Sackett each won another three-year term.

• A safety refresher course for mine workers will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 18, at Horizons Lounge and Banquet Center, 10769 Highway Q, rural Chippewa Falls.

The MSHA Part 48 class costs $125, which includes lunch. To register, call 715-944-9120 or email

From staff reports

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