2019 Waukesha County Awards Finalists and Winners Announced


Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, the Waukesha County Business Alliance and the Waukesha County Center for Growth have announced the finalists and winners for the 2019 Waukesha County Awards. The awards recognize top-performing businesses and nonprofit organizations that have a significant presence in Waukesha County and are making our community a great place to live, work and play. We are also honoring the 2019 Waukesha County Advocate of the Year.

The winners of the Business of the Year categories will be announced and the winners of the Nonprofit of the Year categories will be celebrated at the second annual Waukesha County Awards Gala dinner on Thursday, June 13, 2019 at the Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield Hotel. Click here to register for the program.

“These organizations, both businesses and nonprofits, represent what makes Waukesha County such a great place to be,” said Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow. “The thing that sets us apart as a community is the way we all—businesses, government, nonprofits and educational institutions—work together to make our community stronger. I’m honored to celebrate the contributions of these organizations.”

Waukesha County Advocate of the Year

  • Holly Hawkins, president of the Milwaukee office for Tri-North Builders: Holly has been in the construction industry for nearly 20 years. Holly puts her passion for combating the skilled worker shortage in Wisconsin into action through numerous workforce development and youth outreach efforts. She is deeply involved in Waukesha County Business Alliance’s Construction Alliance, which focuses on raising the perception of career pathway opportunities and creating interest for youth in pursuing trades as viable careers. She also sits on the education policy committee and has arranged and hosted two Careers Uncovered programs at Tri-North’s Waukesha office, which brought together educators and school counselors with construction professionals. Additionally, she has participated in roundtable conversations and was instrumental in bringing Kids Building Wisconsin (an interactive construction event for youth) to Milwaukee in January 2019. She is also working with her kids’ school to bring additional STEAM programs to the classroom.

Business Finalists
Large Business of the Year Finalists

  • First Bank Financial Centre: First Bank Financial Centre (FBFC) has been serving the residents and businesses of Waukesha County since 1859. As they celebrate their 160th anniversary this year, they recognize that their success would not be possible without a commitment to living their mission statement everyday: “Make Lives Better.” They make lives better through their quality products and services, through charitable giving and their 12,500 hours of volunteerism annually, and by being an outstanding employer of choice. And while they have expanded their service area over the years, they are proud to continue to call Oconomowoc home.
  • Generac Power Systems: Founded in 1959, Generac was the first to engineer affordable home standby generators, along with the first engine developed specifically for the rigors of generator use, and is now the #1 manufacturer of home backup generators. Generac manufactures the widest range of power products in the marketplace including portable, residential, commercial and industrial generators. The Generac family of companies employs nearly 5,500 people worldwide, and has been headquartered in Wisconsin for its entire 60 year history.
  • Waukesha State Bank: Waukesha State Bank is one of the largest locally owned, independent banks in the state of Wisconsin. Since their modest beginning in 1944, they have been serving the financial needs of the community with a personalized, one-on-one approach to banking, and an emphasis on customer service and community involvement. Waukesha State Bank has full-service offices located throughout Waukesha County, offering comprehensive banking and investment services for both individuals and businesses. Staffed by nearly 300 banking professionals, Waukesha State Bank is truly a bank for everyone.

Medium Business of the Year Finalists

  • R&R Insurance Services: As one of the largest independently owned insurance agencies in the Midwest, R&R is proud to have stability in family ownership, dedicated in-house resources for clients and a strong commitment to the community. The private ownership fosters the vision to grow and plan strategically, the agility to act quickly, and a continual investment in talent and resources. This summer, R&R will relocate to a new corporate headquarters. The 60,000 square foot facility includes incredible design features and state-of-art technology, allowing R&R to continue providing superior service to customers and assisting in the recruitment of top talent in the industry.
  • Ruekert & Mielke: Ruekert & Mielke Inc. (R/M) is a 100% employee-owned civil engineering firm with more than 75 years of experience partnering with communities and businesses to help them overcome their infrastructure challenges. R/M has developed state-of-the-art, proprietary technology to address pain points commonly faced by organizations and communities, and their experts take an innovative approach to addressing their clients’ specific infrastructure and asset management needs. R/M’s engineers, environmental specialists and support staff work together with their clients to provide unparalleled planning, design, and construction management services while focusing on building a more sustainable future.
  • Vrakas CPAs + Advisors: Vrakas CPAs + Advisors has been providing certified public accounting and business advisory services since 1971. With 70 professionals, their experience, size and resources enable them to provide services in a variety of areas including assurance, tax, business consulting, technology and valuations. They specialize in serving closely-held businesses and their owners in a variety of industries including, construction, manufacturing/distribution, dealerships, professional services, real estate and retail. They also have extensive experience working with private equity and ESOP owned companies. Vrakas is fiercely independent and is steadfast in its desire to remain one of the largest, locally-owned CPA firms in southeastern Wisconsin.

Small Business of the Year Finalists

  • All Occasions/Bubb’s BBQ: Since 1929, All Occasions Catering & Bubb’s BBQ has strived to make sure their catering is not only about the food, but creating an experience for you and your guests to remember. The cornerstones of their company include exceptional customer service, innovative culinary and a team culture. Their wide variety of menus and full service capabilities make them the perfect choice of any of your catering needs. These elements are what make All Occasions Catering stand out from the rest.
  • Orange Hat Publishing: Orange Hat Publishing, established in 2011 by owner Shannon Ishizaki, is a full-service book publishing company, offering professional editing, illustrations, marketing and world-wide distribution. They pride themselves on being author-focused to help writers navigate the otherwise daunting process of publishing. The creation of the book is completely collaborative– they help each author create a quality distinctive book from all genres, including children’s, middle grade, fiction, memoirs and many more! At Orange Hat, they have a team reviewing each submission, maintaining their desire to only publish quality books. They love Waukesha and have found such incredible connections with fellow businesses in the community.
  • SWICKtech: SWICKtech believes that all companies have the potential to grow when they embrace evolving technology and an IT team who puts relationships and the future first. Their team consists of self-proclaimed, certified Rockstars. Their culture embodies a client-first maxim while having fun every day! Their ability to work with a wide variety of industries for strategic planning and documenting technical environments allows them to leverage technology to accelerate their clients’ growth. Yes, they’re nerds. Passionate nerds, who take accountability for your IT needs. Your success, that’s why.

Nonprofit Winners

Large Nonprofit of the Year WinnerThe Women’s Center: The Women’s Center provides safety, shelter and support to empower all impacted by domestic abuse, sexual violence, child abuse and trafficking. The only agency of their kind in Waukesha County, all of their programs and services are offered at no cost to adults and children from throughout the region, and include a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, individual and group counseling, employment and life-skills, rape crisis response, AODA and mental health support, legal advocacy and free child care for anyone using their services. To get involved, get help or learn more, visit www.twcwaukesha.org or call their 24-hour hotline at 262.542.3828.

Small Nonprofit of the Year WinnerFamily Promise of Waukesha County: Since 2014, Family Promise of Waukesha County has been helping homeless families with children regain and retain their independence. They partner with faith-based communities and other groups, utilizing their buildings and volunteers along with their day center to provide free room and board for up to 90 days. During this time, their case manager connects these families to other local resources to help them develop life skills, locate housing and secure sufficient income and benefits to reestablish their own home. They then follow up with these families to help them keep their homes and flourish.

Many nominations were submitted for the awards, and an independent judging panel reviewed nominees. Business nominations were reviewed based on the following six criteria: a commitment to good business practices, customer-focused commitment, community service involvement, a history of good employee relations/benefits, financial growth and consistency and education partnerships and workforce development. Nonprofit nominations were reviewed based on the following four criteria: promotes health, safety and quality of life, fulfills the mission of the organization, financial sustainability and engages in collaborations and partnerships.

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