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Anguil is the 2013 SBA Wisconsin and Region 5 Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Small Business Award winner. Anguil Environmental Systems is a family-owned business that has transitioned very successfully to second-generation management. Gene Anguil started the business in the 1970s, and with his eldest son, Jeff, developed a line of air pollution control products to help manufacturers meet EPA-mandated emission standards. With Gene’s manufacturing and engineering acumen and Jeff’s sales vision, the company flourished and had reached $10 million in sales when it hit a crisis point.
Jeff’s tragic illness and death in 1992 brought the firm to a time of transition and difficulty as sales slumped. Gene turned again to his family, daughter Deb and son Chris, to ask for their help in re-focusing the business. Both were well suited to the challenge, with Deb drawing on her MBA and sports competition background to take on operating the business; while Chris was made Vice President of Sales. With their help, the firm regained its growth trajectory and flourished over the next several years.
At the firm’s 30th anniversary celebration on August 10, 2008, Gene announced that Anguil would begin its transition to the second generation leadership. In 2009, Chris moved from sales to President of the firm, responsible for profits as well as revenue. Deb was promoted from Vice President of Operations to Chief Operating Officer with the added responsibility of running the business efficiently and profitably. The transfer resulted in a greater emphasis on planning and strategizing for growth rather than relying on instinct.
While Anguil was affected by the global economic downturn, its sales have since rebounded to twice the previous level and its workforce has also doubled in size—currently 65 employees. Given its focus on the environment, the firm has made an ongoing commitment to healthy living for its employees. That accelerated in 2008 when a wellness committee was formed. The firm built an athletic facility on site, provided healthy snack options in the lunch room, provided risk assessments, and brought in a visiting nurse each month. The program has continued to expand, including a newsletter, onsite classes, and company-wide volunteerism.
Anguil has helped other family-owned businesses in Wisconsin through Chris’ affiliation with TEC (The Executive Committee) and Deb’s participation in the MMAC’s Executive Round Table and the Milwaukee World Trade Association’s Board of Directors.
The firm was recognized as SBA Wisconsin’s Exporter of the Year in 2007, and its recognition by the SBA has been an asset over the years.
When Christine and Dick Burt were seeking a new business, they saw an opportunity to save jobs and grow a company in Racine. In 2010, they started a manufacturing company specializing in vinyl heat sealing and named their business Altus Vinyl. Altus is Latin for 'noble', which expressed their aspirations for the company. Altus received an SBA 7(a) loan and a microloan from SBA resource partner WWBIC to fund a business expansion. They also worked with the Racine County Economic Development Corporation.
Altus Vinyl LLC offers capabilities in heat sealing products and can provide added customized features such as foil stamping, debossing, screen printing, and magnetics. Customer service is a hallmark of their work.
By 2012, the business had grown from 5 to 12 employees, many of whom had previously worked in the industry and had been laid off prior to Altus opening its doors. Sales had grown by 62%. Thanks to its recent expansion, Altus is positioned for future growth. As Christine says, 'Having a business is a constant stream--it is ever-moving. Having a 'community team' which includes your family, your employees, your state, local and federal governments; your lending partners, your vendors, your customers, and your own faith--these are your rocks!
They contribute to the growth and expansion. Teamwork is helping to make each community member successful through providing more employment and nourishing the economy. The SBA website is a terrific resource.' Regional Administrator Marianne Markowitz recognized Christine Burt and her accomplishments as a woman business owner in the Racine Community in March 2013 in recognition of Women's History Month.
Photo caption: Christine Burt describes production at Altus Vinyl to SBA Regional Administrator Marianne Markowitz, Wisconsin District Director Eric Ness, Racine Mayor John Dickert, WWBIC’s Heather Lux, and other local economic development stakeholders