The latest business news in     Northeastern Wisconsin

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Selected headlines — 5/23 edition of THE BUSINESS NEWS

Craving led to business
Parker John’s BBQ & Pizza started out as a pizza place in Kiel

A craving for great take-out pizza after a long day at work prompted Aaron and Jennifer Sloma to set up shop in 2008 as Parker John’s Pizza in a town of 3,700. Today, it’s a five-location business (or six, depending on how you define restaurant) with the original site just off Highway 67 in Kiel.

It was a logical next step for the Slomas who had worked for a regional hospitality company that owned multiple restaurants and hotels across the Midwest.
“That’s before we decided to do it ourselves,” Aaron said. “I wanted to be back in Wisconsin, and felt I knew the area and what people liked.”

They took a short detour, purchasing Millhome Supper Club just outside of Kiel and building a successful catering company out of that restaurant. When a small building in Kiel became available, Jennifer thought it would be a good place for a pizza place. They bought it, gutted it, remodeled it and opened it as Parker John’s Pizza, naming it after their son.

Originally, the business was just pizza but the transition to include barbecue happened in 2011. They kept pizza on the menu as Parker John’s was doing a hearty business in delivery but chose to transition the interior into a barbecue restaurant and renamed their business Parker John’s BBQ & Pizza.
COVID steered her to new career
Unable to do business for former company, she became insurance agency owner

Tanya Finch’s career trajectory led her to a sales representative role with a large Midwestern hospice company, and things were looking good in January 2020.

Then, COVID hit, and by May it was evident that the time wasn’t right to attempt to meet with directors of nursing and leadership at medical facilities.
“I couldn’t set up relationships if I couldn’t even go into the front door [of these places],” Finch said.  “Obviously, it was difficult to ring on accounts when you couldn’t even meet with these people.”

By June 2020, Finch was unemployed and at a crossroads as to what to do next. She asked herself dozens of questions, such as, “Where is a good place to work?” and “What is a pandemic-resistant business?” Her career to that point had entailed many sales-oriented and administrative roles in several industries, and she contemplated whether a return to one of those would be best.

People who make a difference

Zak focuses on helping nonprofits

By Nancy Barthel

Bruce Zak, regional president-Northeast with Johnson Financial Group, has a tremendous appreciation for Northeastern Wisconsin’s nonprofit organizations and how they help create community.
After graduating in 1992 from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a bachelor’s degree in business and an emphasis in finance and economics, Zak entered Valley Bank’s management trainee program in Madison. The training included becoming a “loaned executive” with the annual United Way fundraising campaign. The experience had “a huge impact” on his life, he said.
“These nonprofits (supported by United Way) do a lot of heavy lifting in our communities every day,” Zak said.

To be successful, nonprofits “need that support of outside resources to accomplish their mission,” he said. “That’s what I enjoy about Northeastern Wisconsin. People just do the right thing, and they do it discreetly. Do the right thing on a day-to-day basis and good things happen.”

As regional president of Johnson Financial Group-Northeast, Zak oversees 125 associates in Appleton, Green Bay, De Pere and Kohler who provide services in consumer and private banking, insurance, wealth, mortgage operations and commercial banking.

Growth strategies

Fond du Lac company meets the need for power

By Amanda Lauer

Numerous companies can say that their products are used nationwide. Some can boast that their products can be found in applications worldwide, but who can say that their products are used throughout the universe? Not too many. Among them is Fedco Batteries in Fond du Lac.
“My late wife and I started this in 1975,” said Steve Victor, Fedco’s CEO. “We rented a two-car garage from the city of Fond du Lac and wholesaled radio and TV parts and TV antennas. We had two employees. That market died when cable TV came along. Then, we got involved in industrial parts, MRO — maintenance repair operations.”

In 1983, an engineer from Wisconsin Power & Light came to the shop with a battery used in electric meters asking if Fedco could get any of them. They couldn’t but made the decision to start stocking and selling those. Their battery market expanded when IBM started producing personal computers. The batteries that ran the clock system lasted about a year, so there was a big demand for replacement batteries.

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