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St. Croix Economic Development Corp. business award winners honored

The St. Croix County Economic Development Corporation honored the 2013 Business of the Year winners at an awards banquet Thursday, Feb. 27. The event was held at Kilkarney Hills north of River Falls. The banquet was a week later than planned. The Feb. 20 event was postponed by a snowstorm and moved to Feb. 27.

Three county businesses were honored at the event. The winners were:

— Precision Converting Technologies (PCT) as the 2013 Emerging Business of the Year (based in St. Croix County and in business for five or fewer years). The business is located in the town of Hudson.

— Air Motion Systems (AMS) is the 2013 Small Business of the Year (29 or fewer employees). The business is located in River Falls.

— Northern Metal Fab is the 2013 Business of the Year (30 or more employees). The business is located in Baldwin.

Marian Furlong, president of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC), said the county is fortunate to have strong, thriving businesses in St. Croix County.

“The EDC continues to work hard to see continued growth,” she said.

Furlong also outlined some of the organization’s accomplishments during the past year. Among the highlights were:

— Overseeing the recently completed legislative days. Thirty-four western Wisconsin business and community representatives visited Madison to express Western Wisconsin concerns to lawmakers.

— New website.

— Numerous visits to EDC members.

The EDC plays a large role in business recruitment and retention.

“We also saw a big staff change,” Furlong said. “When you have a staff of two people and one leaves, that’s a 50 percent turnover.”

Longtime administrative assistant Jackie Bradham left the EDC in 2013 and was replaced by Nita Dusek.

“First, thanks to Jackie; second, Nita is doing a great job, she is wonderful for that position.”

The EDC is headed by longtime Executive Director Bill Rubin.

The Thursday night winners each received a plaque from the EDC as well as a Legislative Citation from the State Senate and Assembly in Madison, and congratulatory letters from Governor Scott Walker, Reed Hall, Chief Executive Office, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC); U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy; U.S. Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin; and County Board Chair Daryl Standafer. State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf attended the event and made a few remarks.

Comedian Roger Radley provided the entertainment.


— Precision Converting Technologies (town of Hudson) is a specialty printer with an emphasis in the areas of security printing and converting. The company was founded in early 2012 by Daniel J. Gabrielson, a resident of the town of St. Joseph. Precision Converting’s capabilities include ID laminates, hologram laminates and thin films, security labels, UV reactive inks, color shifting ink, and unique material converting services. The company did not have a representative at the banquet.

— Air Motion Systems (River Falls) is the leading North American manufacturer of high performance ultra violet systems for the printing industry. Recently AMS introduced a system driven by LED technology into the market. Stephen J. Metcalf serves as company president and CEO. In 2013, AMS celebrated its fifth year in River Falls, after relocating from Arvada, Colo. AMS operates in a 31,000 square foot LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver certified corporate headquarters in the Whitetail Ridge Corporate Park.

Accepting the award was AMS’s Andy Ross.

“We are pleased to receive this award,” Ross said. “We are proud to be part of the River Falls and St. Croix County Business community.”

— Northern Metal Fab (Baldwin) was founded by Mark Lightfoot in Hudson in 1987 as a job shop manufacturer of light to heavy weldments and piece parts. The company moved from the North Hudson car shop area to Baldwin in the early 1990s.

Mark’s son Chris now plays an important role with the company that employs about 130 people. Northern Metal Fab offers integrated solutions to a wide range of projects, including prototypes or long production runs. Services include laser cutting, plate fabrication, assembly, painting, engineering, blasting, project management, and detail drafting. The company operates two facilities in the Baldwin Industrial Park, a 51,000 square foot building on Vandenberg Street and a 42,750-square-foot building on Evergreen Street.

“We started humbly in the 1980s in the back of a milk truck in the garage,” Chris Lightfoot said. “We are in an amazing economic environment in St. Croix County. We also have great public schools, WITC and great employees.”


This was the 20th annual business awards program for St. Croix EDC. The EDC was established in 1994 as a countywide business league that operates as the independent economic development arm of St. Croix County. Reflective activities include marketing and communications, business retention, expansion recruitment, new incorporations, and legislative advocacy.

The “St. Croix County” part of the title is a bit deceiving because the organization is funded by a number of sources. By imperfect measurements, the organization is funded roughly a third each by three entities: St. Croix County, various towns and cities in the county, and a long list of county businesses.

Nineteen individuals from all areas of St. Croix County serve on the SCEDC board of directors. The board meets monthly to conduct regular business. The current board is headed by President Marian Furlong of Hudson. That position changes each year.

For more information, contact William Rubin or Nita Dusek at 715-381-4383.

Doug Stohlberg

Doug Stohlberg has been part of the Hudson Star-Observer since 1973 and has been editor since 1987. He worked at the New Richmond News from 1971 to 1973. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.

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