In late 2020, Adventure Rock owners Eric Olson and Craig Burzynski opened a third location in Walker’s Point, bringing indoor rock climbing, yoga, and fitness to a new geographic market and nearly doubling their full- and part-time employee counts. MEDC financing helped the duo purchase the 15,000+ square foot building located on S. 2nd St. Loans from our banking partner Park Bank supplemented the cost of the building and allowed for significant improvements to the structure prior to opening. Adventure Rock first opened its doors in Brookfield close to 25 years ago, with a second location on Milwaukee’s East Side opening in 2016. With the newest Walker’s Point facility, the organization averages 75 employees, many of which are women and minorities. Adventure Rock offers daily visits, memberships, classes, coaching, community building, and more to climbing and fitness enthusiasts of all ages.
Christopher Kidd & Associates
When architectural and engineering firm Christopher Kidd & Associates (CKA) wanted to relocate its headquarters and buy a building, owners looked to MEDC and primary lender Waukesha State Bank for financing. With the loan funds, CKA purchased a three-story commercial warehouse in a developing area of the Menomonee Valley with plans to renovate the upper floors for firm use and the lower levels for rental. The company had outgrown its prior headquarters in Menomonee Falls. CKA, which is owned by namesake, Christopher Kidd, specializes in both new construction and renovations for medical, retail, church, and institutional buildings. The company is licensed to operate in 48 states and 70% of their business is national. CKA has close to 50 employees, and three Wisconsin offices in Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls, and Sheboygan, as well as a location in Fort Collins, Colorado.
In 2020, MEDC helped Courtney Skinkis purchase her first business, Confluence Graphics. Located in Glendale just north of downtown, the brick and mortar design and print studio had been a go-to source for area businesses for close to 30 years. MEDC financing helped Skinkis buy the full assets of the business, including all equipment, inventory, customer base, furniture, and fixtures. With strong experience in customer service, Skinkis made the investment with plans to take the business to a new level with the help of her husband Brad, a 35-year printing veteran including 9 years with Confluence. Since assuming control of Confluence Graphics, the couple have increased sales, launched a new website, expanded social media activity, initiated monthly promotions, and engaged with the community through sponsorships. In 2022, Milwaukee Magazine selected Courtney as a “Woman of Distinction.”
Farmhouse Paint Bar & Hall
In 2015, married couple Jesus and Thaime Nañez bought a one-acre, three building property on Milwaukee’s south side with the dream to provide a creative venue for the community. With the help of a Small Business Association (SBA)-backed Community Advantage loan from the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. and personal credit cards, they created a charming farmhouse for art classes and event space. The following year, the couple turned to MEDC and primary lender Tri-City Bank to help them refinance their debt, complete renovations on the property, and access working capital. Today, the Farmhouse Paint Bar & Hall hosts year-round, in-person painting, sign making, and mosaic classes and offers a space for private parties. Both full- and part-time staff have been added. The couple received a SBA Wisconsin Emerging Small Business Persons of the Year award in 2020.
Fred's Frozen Custard & Grill
When Fred’s Frozen Custard and Grill in Milwaukee’s Washington Heights neighborhood came up for sale in 2019, Samantha Kassel and Alexander Ogden looked to MEDC to help them purchase the established business and real estate. The married couple, who live in the area and were long-term customers, wanted the opportunity to bring their enthusiasm, ideas, and small business experience to this popular, seasonal restaurant. The Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce also provided funding. Fred’s, which dates back to 1967, serves burgers, sandwiches, sides, and custard, and has a dedicated customer base. Kassel and Ogden have kept what was working well, and introduced menu improvements, enhanced customer service, delivery options, more efficient sourcing, and new marketing and social media efforts. Both work onsite and have plans to add staff as the business grows.
In 2017, the owners of Gravity Marketing wanted to purchase a two-story, 5,300 square-foot building in Walker’s Point. The marketing and advertising firm looked to MEDC and primary lender Johnson Bank to access the financing for the real estate purchase and necessary renovations. The move provided more space for the growing company that offers expertise in marketing, media, advertising, printing, web, direct mail, and video production. Today, the property provides a fun and creative workspace for the Gravity team with a design that pays homage to the era of the original 1880s building and uses many of the traditional elements of its construction. Most of the renovations were completed by local contractors. At the time of the loan, Gravity had 11 full- and part-time employees and planned to add an additional six. The firm was founded in 2009 by president and majority owner Mike Kuharske.
After finding success with online sales and pop-up events, Cris Siqueria and Shelly McClone-Carriere wanted a brick and mortar location to house Lion’s Tooth, their bookstore and café. Loan funds from MEDC and Spring Bank allowed the business partners to purchase and renovate a building on Kinnickinnic Ave in Bay View. Lion’s Tooth opened its doors in March, 2021, bringing quality underground publications to the community, and supporting local artists and authors. The indie shop specializes in small press books, zines, and comics for kids and adults. The owners host events such as musical performances, art exhibits, book launch parties, and more. The café serves, light plates, snacks, coffee, wine and beer. An upstairs apartment is rented providing added revenue. Previously, Siqueria owned a bookstore in her native city of São Paulo, Brazil, and McClone-Carrier was one of the founders of the Riverwest Co-op.
Maynard Steel Casting Co.
Maynard Steel Casting Co., a foundry on Milwaukee’s south side, looks to MEDC to help them manage changing business and economic cycles. Most recently, MEDC and lending partner Ixonia Bank provided financing to help the company restructure existing debt. Family-owned and operated since 1913, Maynard Steel is a leading supplier of complex carbon and low alloy steel castings for mining, agricultural, and other heavy equipment applications. A unique capability to pour castings of up to 65,000 lbs. has made Maynard a trusted source to industrial giants such as Caterpillar, Joy Global, John Deere, CHN, Siemens and Volvo. As industrial markets are cyclical, fourth generation owner and current President and CEO Michael Wabiszewski appreciates the company’s long-term relationship with MEDC. Maynard Steel employs over 100 full-time staff, most of which are City of Milwaukee residents.
Due to ongoing growth in his aluminum balcony business, Howard Wurgler of Midwest Iron looked to MEDC and primary lender Westbury Bank to help with the purchase of a building on Milwaukee’s northwest side. At close to 50,000 square-feet, the new property on W. Sleske Ct. would more than double production space for the company that makes stairs, balconies, and other metal products. The move also allowed the business to insource all balcony powder coating operations for significant cost savings. Midwest Iron was started in 2007 by Wurgler and offers engineered metal solutions, from the structural steel start of a project through the finishings. Midwest Iron's work can be seen throughout the country, with notable local projects including the North End apartment complex, Beaumont Place, UW Health Center in Madison, and the Northwestern Mutual campus in downtown MIlwaukee.
Pete's Fruit Market
With financing from MEDC, Pete’s Fruit Market on North Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Dr. in Milwaukee was able to add a full-service kitchen in an underutilized back corner of the grocery store, bringing hot and cold foods, prepared lunches and dinners, and catering options to the Bronzeville neighborhood. The location of the new kitchen is ideal, as shoppers have to walk through the store, increasing the potential of impulse buys. The new kitchen design also features a walk-up window, allowing staff to easily serve customers. There are two Pete’s Fruit Market locations in Milwaukee, both managed by the children of founder Peter Tsitiridis. Each cater to the diversity of their neighborhoods, with the north side market featuring a host of southern food options. Fresh fruits and vegetables are mainstay products, and both also offer fresh meats, a deli, and a grocery section. The MLK store is owned by Theodore Tsitiridis.
Sid Grinker Restoration
When emergencies and natural disasters occur, Sid Grinker Restoration (SGR) offers expert restoration services to residential and commercial customers throughout Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. When SGR needed financing to renovate and expand its headquarters, the company looked to MEDC and our lending partner Johnson Bank. With the funds provided, SGR constructed a 5,656 square-foot addition to its existing property on W. Walnut St. in Milwaukee, providing expanded office, garage, and shop space, more efficient working conditions, and the ability to add needed staff. The renovation also included a 2,000 square-foot space for a third-party tenant and added revenue. Sid Grinker started the business in 1961, and it remains family-owned and operated today. Over the years, SGR has become a go-to source for fire and water damage restoration, mold remediation, and biohazard clean-up.
Standard of Excellence Education & Training Center
In 2020, MEDC provided financing to Standard of Excellence Education & Training Center (SEETC) to help the organization refinance existing debt, complete property renovations, and have additional working capital. Located on W. Appleton Ave. in Milwaukee, SEETC is a pre-vocational and occupational training center with hands-on learning opportunities for those entering the healthcare field. Students receive training as certified Community Based Residential Facility (CBRF) direct care professionals, allowing them to work in adult family homes, CBFRs, nursing homes, as personal care workers, and in hospitals. On average, SEETC trains 300 students every year. SEETC is run by owner Rosland Anderson and her husband Henry Anderson, who both have significant experience in training and education. The upper level of the property is leased providing added revenue.
Ultra Fiberglass Systems
MEDC and primary lender Park Bank provided financing to Kristen and Andrew Sneed, owners of Ultra Fiberglass Systems (Ultra, Inc.), to purchase a 9,000 square-foot building and an adjoining vacant lot located on W. Carmen Ave. on Milwaukee’s northwest side. Previously, Ultra had been the tenant at this location, and the real estate purchase offered ownership along with the option of future expansion as the business grew. Ultra Fiberglass Systems is an industry leader in structural fiberglass solutions for markets including municipal water treatment, electrical distribution, chemical processing, food and beverage, manufacturing, transportation, marine, and construction. Products include fluid container systems, walkways and stairways, decking systems and supports, ramps, rooftop covers, and machine guards. Ultra first opened its doors in 1985 and was purchased by the Sneeds in 2007.
Wheel & Sprocket
In 1973, Wheel & Sprocket (W&S) opened as a small shop in Hales Corners. Fifty years later, the company has 12 locations in Wisconsin and Illinois, including a 24,000 square-foot retail store and headquarters in Bay View. The purchase of the real estate and extensive renovations for this new flagship store, which opened in 2020, was funded with loans from MEDC and WBD Lender Services. The facility was converted from a 100-year old lumber equipment manufacturer and features cream city brick and other original design elements. Along with retail space for bikes, skis, accessories, and repairs, the building serves as a community event space, and houses a café and three non-profits, including the Chris Kegel Foundation, started in memory of the W&S founder. His children, Noel, Amelia, and Tessa Kegel, run the business today. W&S employs more than 250 people with more than 30 at the Bay View location.