2012 Trailblazer Recipients
GOVERNOR’S TRAILBLAZER AWARDS FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS
2012 AWARD RECIPIENTS
Business Pioneers Awards
Trailblazer Business Pioneer Awards honor Wisconsin businesses that have been woman-owned for 25 years or more – recognizing the rich legacy and lasting economic impact of women's business ownership in Wisconsin.
Awards Mall/Total Awards & Promotions, Inc.
Donna Gray, CEO & President
Madison • 1977
Donna Gray, President and CEO, of Awards Mall / Total Awards & Promotions, Inc., and her husband, David, started their company in 1977. Re-purposing their garage into a showroom, they soon found that helping people to say “Congratulations!”, “Thank You!” and “Good Job!” was right up their alley. Following their mission to provide high quality recognition and appreciation products, the company has grown to one of the largest in the industry. They have received many awards themselves, including the Dane County Small Business Excellence Award, and the Sam Walton Award for Business Excellence. The company gives back to the community with their “Volunteer of the Day Program” and “Best in Business Award”. Donna is a member of Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, TEMPO Madison, and the Awards & Recognition Association.
Badger Trailer & Equipment Corp.
Karin Lee-Fournier, CEO & President
Jean A. Lee, Owner & Vice President
Franksville • 1920
Badger Trailer & Equipment Corp., doing business as Thermo King of Southeast Wisconsin, has been serving the transportation industry for three generations. It has evolved from semi-trailer repair and body modification in the 1920’s to the first Thermo King dealer in 1945 with L.E. Lubbers and, later, Gordon Lee, son-in-law. In 2006 Badger Trailer expanded into Sheboygan, added four mobile repair trucks and moved into a new state of the art facility built along I-94 in Racine County under the leadership of Jean Lee, daughter of L.E. Lubbers and Karin Lee-Fournier, granddaughter. Badger Trailer is a full service provider for trailer and transport refrigeration repair.
Kristine R. Sexton, President
Neenah • 1955
Kristine Sexton is the owner and president of Directions Marketing, a Certified Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) which has more than 55 years of experience connecting clients’ brands and services with their customers. Based in Neenah, Wis., Directions is a full-service integrated marketing communications and packaging agency that offers package design, strategic planning and development, classic communications, internet marketing, and public relations and social media services to local, regional and national businesses. The agency traces its roots to a design agency founded by Sexton’s father, Russell Mueller. Sexton started working with the company during semester breaks while attending college and began working full-time for the agency in 1976. Her father retired and sold the agency to his daughter in 1985. She continues to run day-to-day operations.
Drake & Company Staffing Specialists
Kelly Starr-King, CEO
Madison • 1978
Since 1978, Leanne Starr, Kim Starr, and Kelly Starr-King have been leading Drake & Company, where the top priority is ensuring that stellar talent is matched with the area’s best employers. The group’s business savvy, life experiences, and warmth and compassion help them excel at recognizing talent, character, and full potential. Their extensive involvement in the community has also given them a firsthand perspective of the kind of people it takes to make the business community flourish. In addition to Drake & Company’s success in staffing, Kelly is also proud to serve as Founder/President of their newest community project, LIGHTS ON THE LAKE Boat Parade & Fireworks! Now in its 4th year (Sunday of Labor Day Weekend), LIGHTS ON THE LAKE showcases area businesses and raises funds to help maintain the beauty of our lakes in a way that displays Madison’s creativity through wholesome entertainment for all ages.
Ed Gersek Inc.
Diane M. Bisick, President
Green Bay • 1963
Ed Gersek Inc was co-founded in 1963 by Lorraine and Edmund Gersek. The company has been woman-owned and operated since 1980 and is now owned by their daughter Diane M. Bisick who is the company president. Lorraine Gersek’s involvement in the construction business began in the 1940s and expanded over time. An active business partner alongside her husband, she continued to direct the business after his death in 1980. She is noted for having high standards for integrity, fairness, and quality and for her strong Midwestern worth ethic – qualities she instilled in Diane. Ed Gersek Inc recognizes that building a one on one relationship with their customers is an integral part of continuing a strong business providing expertise in earthwork, site utilities and aggregates in Northeastern Wisconsin.
J&L Steel & Electrical Services
LouAnne Berg, CEO
Hudson • 1977
LouAnne Berg was a single mom on welfare taking record keeping and business classes and never imagined she would someday borrow $1000 from her mom and start a steel erection company. In 1977, at age 26, she started J&L, with her former husband, as a steel erection business. As a young, female business-owner in the male-dominated construction industry, she faced and overcame many obstacles. Her colleagues note that she persevered with integrity and sound business decisions to earn the respect of many contractors, suppliers and industry leaders. She was a subcontractor rebuilding I-35W after the collapse. In 2008, in a tough economy, she expanded into electrical services. Today, J&L averages $15M in sales annually. LouAnne has received numerous industry honors and is a founder of the Association of Women Contractors. She is active in cultivating other women business owners and in giving back to her community. LouAnne is the 2012 incoming president of the Hudson Chamber of Commerce.
James Imaging Systems
Lola A. Tegeder, CEO
Brookfield • 1977
James Imaging Systems, Inc. is a family owned provider of integrated document technologies. Lola’s husband, James Tegeder, was one of the founders of the company in 1977 and she took over its leadership after his death seven years later. Under her stewardship, James Imaging Systems has grown significantly. The company now serves an eight-county area and specializes in the sales, leasing and servicing of multifunctional copiers, fax machines, and wide format and laser printers. They also consult on print fleet management to optimize workflow and reduce costs. “We provide equipment and advice that streamlines a company’s information workflow and enables them to run their business more profitably and efficiently,” states Tegeder. “We strive to provide more choices for our clients and add value by providing customized solutions that address their unique business needs. Our success and continued strong growth has resulted from motivated and dedicated employees focused on providing superior services and solutions for our clients in a timely manner. The real keys are our top quality people and responsiveness based on our local presence.”
Kujawa Enterprises, Inc.
Sally Kujawa, President
Oak, Creek • 1964
Sally Kujawa is the co-founder of KEI (Kujawa Enterprises, Inc.), a four- season, full-service landscape management and snow and ice control company serving Southeastern Wisconsin for more than 40 years. KEI has been ranked as a top contractor by numerous industry publications and was named to the Inc. Magazine’s list of the fastest growing companies in America. Sally currently serves as the CEO and Chairman of the Board. She has been recognized nationally as a pioneer in developing and using computer applications and applying technology to the landscape industry. The company also gives back to its community, including establishing and operating a training and job placement program for disadvantaged youth, as well as contributions to scholarship funds and garden/landscaping projects in public spaces.
Lindsay, Stone & Briggs, Inc.
Marsha Lindsay, CEO
Madison • 1978
Marsha’s specialty and that of her firm, Lindsay, Stone & Briggs, is revitalizing and turning around stalled brands and successfully launching new-to-the-world products, brands and categories. This expertise goes back to her founding of LSB in 1978, when, as a graduate student at UW-Madison, she started applying her research in brand positioning strategy and what’s now called behavioral economics to real-world marketing challenges. Today, companies from all over the world seek out LSB to tackle issues others have been unable to solve. Before her firm was even 10 years old she was named Wisconsin Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2005, she was honored by the International Women’s Forum as one of nine “making a difference” in the world. Marsha is active in professional, civic and community organizations.
MJ Care, Inc.
Mary E. Van Lare, P.T., CEO
Milwaukee • 1977
After graduating from the University of Michigan's Physical Therapy Program in 1967, Mary (Jensen) Van Lare worked in 12 different positions over a 10 year period, moving through three states, following her husband as he kept changing jobs. Finally, in Wisconsin, she was so frustrated with the way her bosses treated therapists that she felt "led by God" to go out "on her own," with her 17 year old therapy aide to assist her. Today, almost 35 years later, MJ Care is one of the 10th largest women-owned businesses in Wisconsin with over 375 associates providing Medicaid billing programs for schools in Wisconsin and Iowa; long term care rehab in Wisconsin; rehab staffing of Veterans Administration hospitals in Wisconsin and Indiana; and rehab staffing in schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. “With God's leadership and support,” said Ms. Van Lare, “we have a huge, bright future!”
2100 Lathrop, Inc. (dba McDonalds)
Dorothy A. Metz, President
Racine • 1957
A coal miner’s daughter, Dottie Metz grew up in Virginia. In 1956, right out of high school, she moved to Chicago, married, had two children, and embarked on her first professional career – already trailblazing as the first woman manager in a large corporate office. Her second marriage, to Richard Metz, brought her to Racine, Wisconsin, and the start of a new career working in the family business – the McDonald’s at 21st and Lathrop in Racine. Opening in 1957 and purchased by Richard Metz in 1959, it was the first McDonalds in the state of Wisconsin and the seventh in the nation! Today, Dottie Metz owns 2100 Lathrop, Inc., which includes six area McDonalds, including the original restaurant, and employs more than 400 workers. Dottie notes that she is proud to be the first employer for many area youth, many of whom come back to see her years later. Indeed all of her managers grew up, building their own careers in the restaurant with her. “I love “my kids” – I love seeing these young people accomplish something and move forward in life,” said Dottie Metz. “I love working with people. I love communicating with people. I love that hands-on connection with our customers and employees. I love this McDonalds. As they say, the ketchup gets in your veins!”
Special Recognition Awards
Trailblazer Special Recognition Awards are offered in partnership with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), honoring Wisconsin women business owners for their trailblazing entrepreneurial spirit, as evidenced by business innovation and success, and a personal commitment to the community.
Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation
Wendy Baumann, President and CVO
Milwaukee • Special Recognition
WWBIC is a statewide economic development corporation that provides quality business education and financing to Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Its mission is to promote economic development through microenterprise by providing access to capital including direct lending, one-on-one individualized business assistance, business education, and asset building financial awareness education programming, with an emphasis on women, people of color, and people of lower wealth and incomes. Founded in 1987, WWBIC this year celebrates 25 years of putting dreams to work. Nominated and selected by the Trailblazer Award Committee, WWBIC is the first non-profit organization to be recognized with a Governor's Trailblazer Award.
Heartland Information Research, Inc.
Kate Hill, President
Wauwatosa • Special Recognition
Heartland Information Research, Inc. (HIR) offers management consulting and special project services to government agencies, owner-managed businesses, and nonprofits. Founded in 1999 by Kate Hill, HIR has grown from a startup in the WWBIC business incubator to serving clients statewide from a company-owned facility. Kate’s philosophy to “help people or find resources that will” creates public/private sector collaborative working environments that leverage existing resources to maximize results while minimizing lead-times and costs. HIR supports a variety of business and community organizations with volunteered time for speaking engagements, workshops, and organizational development. Kate is a founding board member of the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, and a director of the Milwaukee Yacht Club leading Community Outreach initiatives.
Insider News Wisconsin
Yolanda James, Owner & Publisher
Racine • Special Recognition
Yolanda James assumed ownership of the Insider News Wisconsin (INW) in March 2010. The newspaper is a free publication that targets the African American community in the Racine/Kenosha area. It features stories, community events, social issues, and advertisements that are pertinent to this population. The INW is released on the 1st & 15th of each month and has gathered a pass on readership of over 35,000 in this special niche market. It has been in the community for over 15 years and is widely used by advertisers, politicians, community leaders, pastors, non-profit organizations, and members of the community.
Daphne M. Wilson, P.E., President
Milwaukee • Special Recognition
Zoe Engineering, LLC was founded in October 1999 by Ms. Daphne M. Wilson, P.E., who is the principal owner of the company. The company provides electrical power, instrumentation and controls and plant automation engineering services. The company was conceived out of a mission to serve a pre-existing and ongoing relationship in the local Municipal Water/ Wastewater and Power Generation markets. Since its inception, Zoe has expanded its services to include the Commercial, Industrial, Health Care, and Educational markets. Since 2003, Ms. Wilson has received continued support from WWBIC and has taken advantage of the numerous services WWBIC provides, including: Business and Financial Consultation and their well-recognized loan program, which has allowed Zoe to maintain its employees."