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Waupaca Foundry

Culture - Jan 19, 2022

WMC Elects President, COO & CEO of Waupaca Foundry Mike Nikolai as New Board Chairman

Kurt R. Bauer | WMC TV

Newly appointed Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce 49th Board Chairman, Mike Nikolai shares 2-year term objectives, the value of WMC membership, and the continued sustainability of business in Wisconsin. 

Let's start by learning a little bit more about Waupaca Foundry and your career path.

"Waupaca Foundry is a Wisconsin founded and still-based company in Waupaca, Wisconsin. We are owned by the Hitachi group, and our claim to fame is we are the largest gray and ductile iron foundry group globally in the world. When you look at it, we are melting over 1 million tons of cast iron in five facilities throughout the US."

Tell me a little bit about how you got involved with WMC.

"I would say that our past CEO, Gary Gigante was also on the WMC board so I started to do events with him, and also working with the regulatory group within WMC. I did start to see the value, how a common voice across some of their government regulatory agencies really did bolster our company's position. So it's good stories like that, that had me become more involved with WMC."

Just to extend on that a little bit why is WMC important to Waupaca foundry?

"Again, it really gives us a larger voice. We do have a large regulatory presence being an iron foundry. We feel we're the largest recycler in the world, which does give us a a good common voice. But some of the issues that do come up day to day, you really need to have a common voice throughout the business industry. WMC really does do a great job of commonizing that voice and supporting the business conditions."

Why should other businesses be involved in WMC?

"I think the biggest thing I tell people is your staff gets things done. The staff expertise in the regulatory government policy area, and just general business conditions really does shine through. That's a really a credit to WMC that you've been able to put together a strong team that does support the business community."

You are the 49th, Chairman of the organization, why did you want to become chair and what do you hope to accomplish while in chair?

"I can say it's kind of selfish because it does, you know, promote my business opportunities with Waupaca Foundry. So when I look at WMC, it is a good sounding board, and it does allow me to reach more people. Plus our customers do value the insight of WMC. So it's a good sounding board plus, it's just the right thing to do to continue to support business in Wisconsin."

We'll close with this final question and I'm going to ask you to complete a sentence. Your chairmanship will be a success if?

"I think if we continue to grow membership one of the big things that WMC did that I'm proud of being on the board is we grew the membership during the COVID year and it continues to grow which is a great testament that people wanted to hear the voice of the business community, and I would say, continue the sustainability of the organization. Being the 49th. Chairman, it's an honor. And I think if we can continue to grow the government as a pro business throughout this election year, it would be a feather in our cap to WMC and the organization. So I'm proud to be the next chairman."
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