WEDC - Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

05/23/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/23/2017 08:52

Artisans Inc. receives WEDC loan to help employees purchase company

Assistance ensures that Rusk County company will remain in its current location

MADISON, WI. May 23, 2017 - The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has awarded an $800,000 loan to Artisans Inc. in a move that will ensure the apparel company will retain its operations in northern Wisconsin.

The loan will help enable Artisans' employees to purchase the 54-year-old Rusk County company from Gordon and Bev Dukerschein, who are retiring, and operate the business under an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Other companies had expressed an interest in purchasing Artisans from the Dukerscheins; however, they offered no assurances the business would have remained at its current location in Glen Flora, a small village just east of Ladysmith.

With the commitment from WEDC and additional financing from the Dukerscheins, Artisans will retain its 90 existing employees and is expected to create 11 new jobs over the next three years as the company continues to grow.

'Without WEDC's loan, Rusk County was facing the potential risk of losing a major employer,' said Michael Wright, chairman and CEO of the company. 'ESOPs are one of the few structures that allow employees, especially in rural areas, to participate fully in the generation of wealth that can sustain communities.'

'Our employees now have the chance to secure a future in the community they love and support,' added Charlie O'Mahoney, president of Artisans. 'We very much appreciate WEDC's support and Rusk County's efforts on our behalf.'

'Artisans is a major employer in Rusk County and WEDC is pleased to be able to work with the company and its employees to ensure it will remain in Glen Flora for years to come,' said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state's lead economic development organization. 'We know northern Wisconsin faces unique challenges when it comes to economic development, and this is another example of how WEDC works with companies and communities in the region to help address those challenges.'

Local officials lauded Artisans employees and the company's former owners for taking the steps needed to keep the company in the community.

'The transition at Artisans is the best possible outcome that could have occurred,' said Rusk County Economic Development Director Andy Albarado. 'It is tremendous what the Dukerscheins, along with the employees and management team, were able to put together. Over the last 50 years the Dukerschein family grew a successful vibrant company, and by transitioning it to the employees another chapter is written in the company's legacy.'

'A big part of growing jobs in our area is making sure we keep the ones we have,' added state Sen. Jerry Petrowski, who represents the region. 'This loan will help keep an anchor employer in Glen Flora and help them grow their business.'

Founded in 1963, Artisans manufactures a variety of screen-printed and embroidered products that are sold primarily to retailers throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean. The company serves the customized, handcrafted and high-quality apparel market in retail stores, resorts and events.

WEDC is providing Artisans with a seven-year loan under its Business Opportunity Loan Fund Program. In addition to repayment of the loan, Artisans is required to retain 72 full-time jobs in Glen Flora through January 2022 and to create up to 11 full-time jobs by January 2020.

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About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Visit www.inwisconsin.com or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.

About Artisans Inc.
Artisans Inc.is a leading brand of upscale sportswear and ready-to-wear casual apparel that features custom designs, laser appliques, embroideries, digital prints, and screen-printed artwork. It has been a privately held, family business since 1963. For more information, visit www.artisansinc.com.