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Obama visits Master Lock

BY Brae Canlen

President Obama traveled to Milwaukee on Feb. 15 to visit a Master Lock factory where the company brought back approximately 100 jobs from China. The visit also included a discussion of the economy and American manufacturing. 

Obama gave a callout to Master Lock in his State of the Union address for moving jobs back to the United States, and company president and CEO John Heppner participated in the January “Insourcing American Jobs” forum at the White House. 

Since mid-2010, Master Lock has brought back approximately 100 union jobs to its Milwaukee factory. The decision to bring these jobs back was partially motivated by economic reasons related to increasingly higher labor and logistics costs in Asia, as well as ongoing labor availability challenges, especially in the coastal areas of China. Advantages of moving the jobs to Milwaukee include a more competitive overall cost structure, greater control and the ability to provide better service to customers — in addition to the overall economic benefit to the company’s home state of Wisconsin. According to Heppner, Master Lock would like to bring more jobs back from overseas should the underlying economics support the move.

As part of the Insourcing Forum, Heppner stressed two key challenges that he recommends government and business officials address to continue the insourcing of jobs: One was improved access to skilled labor in North America. The other was innovations in the supply chain structure to improve efficiencies and productivity. 

“We are happy that the issue of manufacturing and insourcing continues to be a priority for President Obama,” Heppner said. “We support meaningful dialogue on this important topic and look forward to continued work with the government, educational institutions and fellow businesses to help improve the climate for manufacturing in the U.S.”

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Wilsonart names new president

BY Brae Canlen

Wilsonart International, a maker of countertops and sinks, has named Kristen Manos as its new president. She replaces Bill Gaetano, who announced his retirement late last year. DiGaetano has been president of Wilsonart since 2005 and is a 33-year veteran of the Temple, Texas, company. 

Manos was previously executive VP and president of Herman Miller North American Office Environments, where she ran a $1.5 billion profit and loss organization, which also included the Geiger subsidiary. Her previous experience at Herman Miller included marketing and market development where she established a branding strategy and a vertical selling strategy in education and health care. She also led an initiative to reinvigorate the design focus within the company. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Kris into our organization," said Jane Warner, executive VP of parent company Illinois Tool Works (ITW). "She brings significant knowledge, industry relationships and key strategic perspective from her broad range of experience."

Prior to her Herman Miller experience, Manos was VP global marketing at Haworth, a Holland, Mich.-based furniture company. She also led their product development team, customer satisfaction unit and developed the first strategic plan for the company.

Manos began her career at Navistar in manufacturing where she had assignments as a first line supervisor in the engine plant, a manufacturing engineer and a financial analyst in materials management. She ultimately became manager of strategic business development and OEM marketing.

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Viance launches deck-building contest

BY Ken Clark

Charlotte, N.C.-based Viance kicked off its Ecolife Fish-More Deck Challenge for 2012. This promotion will award a Team Grand Prize to a builder and homeowner of the winning deck selected in the Deck Challenge.

The builders Grand Prize will be a Tracker Pro Team 175 TF, and the homeowner of the winning deck will receive $2,500 in cash. Ten monthly prizes will also be awarded each month to 10 professional remodelers/deck builders and 10 DIY homeowner deck builders in the amount of $500 each.

To qualify, professional deck builders and DIY homeowners may compete in the Deck Challenge by building an “Ecolife Deck Project” and submitting photos and materials receipt for contest submission.

The Deck Challenge began this month (February) with the last day for entries on Dec. 31, 2012. The winning deck project will be selected by a team of independent professionals from the Building Products Industry.

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