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Gerard Randall honored as Innovator of the Year

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Gerard Randall accepts the 2002 Innovator of the Year Award as Wisconsin Law Journal publisher Mark Stodder watches. The Daily Reporter Publishing Co. honored Randall from among a group of 15 finalists for the award during a dinner ceremony Oct. 16.

Gerard Randall, president and chief executive officer of the Private Industry Council of Milwaukee County, was named the 2002 Top Innovator of the Year by the Daily Reporter Publishing Co., which publishes the Wisconsin Law Journal and The Daily Reporter.

"Gerard is being honored tonight for recognizing a real problem – and doing something about it," said Mark W.C. Stodder, publisher of the two papers. "His efforts truly serve and build the community – and will have a lasting impact on the lives of many."

Randall received the honor at the Daily Reporter Publishing Co.’s Innovator of the Year program, held last Wednesday night at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, for starting the REACH Institute, which helps young adults who have dropped out of high school get their diplomas or GEDs while working at high-paying jobs.

Randall started REACH after recognizing that hundreds of young adults were dropping out of school in Milwaukee’s inner city. At the same time, he knew some industries, including construction, faced worker shortages. So he worked on matching those young adults with companies, including C.G. Schmidt, that were looking for workers. Through its partnerships, the REACH Institute has impacted the lives of 1,600 youths who have been served by the council.

"It’s a great honor to be in the company of all the innovators who were the finalists," Randall said. "It’s a great honor for us, there’s a lot of work to do, and certainly, this is inspiration along the way."

First-ever program

The publishing company’s inaugural Innovator of the Year program, emceed by WTMJ Radio’s Charlie Sykes, was held to honor innovation in Wisconsin and the people who make it happen – those who created a new product, service or process that positively impacts their companies, industries or communities.

While Randall received top honors at Wednesday night’s event, four other nominees received Vision Awards for their innovative products or programs. They are:

  • The Milwaukee-based law firm of Foley & Lardner, which expanded its use of intranets and extranets to allow attorneys to collaborate on projects and reduce duplication of efforts among its 1,000 lawyers around the globe.

  • Menomonee Falls Village President Joseph Greco, who started the Southeastern Municipal Executives, a group of 57 mayors and village presidents in southeastern Wisconsin, a group that emphasizes regional cooperation.

  • Denny Moore, a professional engineer and a vice president of Zenith Tech of Waukesha, whose creative use of corbels on the Kinnickinnic Bridge helped save time and money – and avoid excavation work that could have disrupted the ecosystem.

  • Neal Verfuerth, president and CEO of Orion Lighting and Energy Services, who created the Illuminator, a lighting fixture that uses reflector technology to increase lighting by 50 to 100 percent while using about half the energy of high-intensity lighting products.

Others honored as finalists at the event were:

  • Michelle Fitzgerald, who started Legal Horizons – a new kind of law firm that provides consumers direct access to legal resources and allows them to choose the level of legal assistance they need without making large financial investments or long-term commitments.

  • Alissa Bails of R.A. Smith & Associates, who created SuccessGIS, a unique and comprehensive program for the implementation of geographic information systems.

  • Leo Brideau, president and CEO of Columbia-St. Mary’s, who created the Medical Moment, a multimedia campaign designed to give consumers hands-on preventive health information.

  • Todd Ellefson, president of Astiva Worldwide, who developed a new line of air fresheners using the Perma-fuse technology, which allows a fragrance to be injected into plastic and leads to a longer-lasting product.

  • FABCO President and CEO Jeré Fabick and Lincoln Contractors Supply President and CEO Norman Knief, who formed an unusual alliance between their two companies to offer one-stop equipment shopping for construction companies, ensuring quality service and even more competitive pricing.

  • Sun Tzu Security Ltd. President Kelly Hansen, who developed Proactive Remote Information Security Monitoring, a real-time, 24-hour system that provides remote network-security monitoring and complete intrusion detection.

  • William Mielke, president of Ruekert-Mielke Inc., who developed an unprecedented agreement that promotes intergovernmental partnerships and helps correct the often detrimental effects of suburban sprawl. The partnership for the waste-water treatment plan, specifically, shares the costs and spreads the benefits of economic development around the eastern part of Racine County.

  • ABC Supply Co. Inc. Director of Special Projects Don Mischo, who invented GreenGrid, which turn energy-saving sod roofs into modular components that can be completed while a project is being constructed, then raised and set in place as soon as the roof surface is ready for it.

  • Dave Sheedy, J.H. Findorff and Son’s senior project manager, who used the latest construction technology to build the 295,000-square-foot Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Hall in just nine months.

  • Milwaukee County Supervisor James White, who as chair of the county’s Committee on Transportation, Public Works and Transit used his contacts in the construction industry to help create Encompass, a program to get minority and female students involved in the engineering field.

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