St. Croix EDC Names Top Businesses and Individual for 2016

SCEDC President Agnes Ring

Agnes Ring / President
St. Croix County Supervisor

Agnes Ring, president of St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC), announced the Business of the Year winners. Oliphant Brewing LLC (Village of Somerset), Wisconsin Lighting, Inc. (City of New Richmond), and Croix Gear and Machining (City of Hudson) are recipients of the 2016 Business of the Year awards in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.

The EDC board of directors also named Trudy Popenhagen as the recipient of the 2016 EDC Directors Award.

The companies and Ms. Popenhagen will be honored at a banquet on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at Ready Randy’s in New Richmond.

“The 2016 winners reflect all that is good about doing business in St. Croix County, Wisconsin,” said EDC President Agnes Ring.  “Oliphant is a start-up brewery with an edgy attitude and a destination taproom. Wisconsin Lighting has a stellar reputation as a manufacturer of distinctive lamps, lampshades, and decorative accessories. Croix Gear and Machining has a 50-year history in Hudson as an advanced manufacturer of close tolerance gears for national customers.  Trudy Popenhagen is a tireless supporter of economic development, tourism, and civic organizations. In all of St. Croix County it would be hard to find someone more engaged in enhancing our quality of life through her hands-on work with local organizations.

About the 2016 Winners

Oliphant Brewing is the 2016 Emerging Business of the Year (based in St. Croix County and in business for five or fewer years). The business was launched in 2012 by co-founders Trevor Wirtanen and Matthew Wallace. Oliphant is located in leased space at Main and Depot Streets in Somerset. The space includes the brewing operation, taproom, storage and warehouse, and cold room for the dozen or so alternating beers for the taproom patrons. The exterior of the brewery features two murals there were created by local artists. A chalkboard sign in the taproom describing the beer selections is also a work of art. Wirtanen and Wallace self-distribute their products to other parts of Wisconsin, and in late 2016, they gained regulatory approval to self-distribute into Minnesota. Oliphant’s 32-ounce cans, called crowlers, set their products apart from other breweries. Learn more at www.oliphantbrewing.

Wisconsin Lighting is the 2016 Small Business of the Year (29 or fewer employees). Wisconsin Lighting is a national manufacturer of lamps, lampshades, note cards, gift bags, candles, craft products, and decorative accessories, all from New Richmond, Wisconsin. The company specializes in supplying new, distinctive, and innovative products for department stores, the hospitality industry, craft retailers, lighting showrooms, furniture and accessory retailers, and catalog merchandisers. Wisconsin Lighting manufactures under several brands including Fenchel Lamp Shades, Nature’s Garden, and Hollywood Lights. New Richmond High School graduate Todd Loeher acquired Wisconsin Lighting when it was located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. In 2010, he relocated the business to New Richmond and operated it in leased space designated as a business incubator in the city’s downtown district. Having outgrown its space, Loehr then purchased the entire incubator building and successfully completed a major renovation of the exterior and interior. Energy efficient LED lighting systems help the company gain new markets and customers. Learn more at www.wilighting.

Croix Gear and Machining is the 2016 Business of the Year (30 or more employees). Croix Gear operates as a division of Marine Associates to better reflect the design and manufacture of gears for numerous business sectors across the U.S. In 2016, the owners celebrated their 50th year in Hudson, and in August, the company marked this special anniversary with a groundbreaking on a 23,000 square foot addition, bringing the total facility space to around 60,000 square feet. Since inception, the Johnston family has been involved in the ownership, starting with the late James T. Johnston who founded Marine Associates. Son Mark succeeded his father James, and when Mark died in 2010, his wife Ruthie was thrust into the role of company owner. Her son Matt is the current facility manager. Learn more at

About Trudy Popenhagen

Trudy Popenhagen retired in 2015 from a long career at Xcel Energy where she served as a community service manager in the greater St. Croix Valley and western Wisconsin. While at Xcel Energy, she was active in numerous economic development organizations, including St. Croix EDC, Polk County EDC, Pierce County EDC and the Greater St. Croix Valley EDC Collaborative. Those roles included leading the boards as president and serving in other officer roles, on executive committees and various other committees within the organizations. She also took an active role with area chambers of commerce and tourism organizations and led the early years of the region’s Legislative Day events in Madison on behalf of the St. Croix Valley. In addition to her leadership in economic development, Trudy has been a long-time advocate and volunteer for numerous community and non-profit organizations that help support improving the quality of life in the St. Croix Valley. In retirement, she enjoys travelling with her husband Lloyd and spending time with her children and grandchildren. She is the first female recipient of the St. Croix EDC Directors Award.

Banquet Details

This is the 23rd business awards program for St. Croix EDC. The banquet is open to the public but reservations are required. Dinner tickets are priced at $38.00. For credit card payments, visit To ask for an invoice, contact Nita at or call 715-381-4383. To pay by check, mail it to 1101 Carmichael Rd, Hudson, WI 54016. RSVP by Wednesday February 8, 2017.

The EDC was established in 1994 as a public-private business league that operates as the independent economic development arm of St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Reflective activities include marketing and communication, business retention, business expansion, business recruitment, new business incorporations, and advocacy on behalf of business and industry. Initiatives taken by St. Croix EDC help improve the business climate of St. Croix County, allowing businesses, large and small, to grow and prosper.

For more information, contact William Rubin or Nita Dusek at (715) 381-4383.