Family businesses earn state honors
Two well-known Rock County businesses were among seven honored statewide Thursday as family businesses of the year.
Winners were selected by an independent panel of judges from nominations submitted by the companies. Grand awards were presented in three size categories, while special awards were made to companies excelling in a particular area.
J. P. Cullen & Sons, Janesville, and Patch Products, Beloit, received special awards.
According to a Family Firm Institute study, family-owned businesses account for 60 percent of total U.S. employment, 78 percent of all new jobs, 65 percent of wages paid and 50 percent of the country's GDP.
"In our work with family businesses, we see a clear difference in their approach to business and in their roles in their communities," said Jeff Schleicher, managing partner of Smith & Gesteland, the award sponsor. "They understand their responsibilities and have been the leaders in getting our economy going again."
J. P. Cullen & Sons is a 120-year-old fifth generation general contracting and construction management company with additional divisions for industrial, concrete and masonry services. Its corporate headquarters are in Janesville, with a division office in Brookfield.
Cullen was honored for its values, which foster individual development, family integrity, and a sense of community health and well-being. Judges said the company is acutely aware of the many communities in which it works and contributes to organizations that help individuals and families.
"Standing on the shoulders of employees and families in the past are critical to the success of any business in the future," said Mark Cullen, who runs the business with his brothers David and Richard Cullen. "Our heritage, work ethic, and pursuit of excellence are what made us.
"Our employees and their integrity, hard work and dedication to community, safety and services are what carry us into the future."
Founded in 1985, Patch Products is a family-owned company that leads the toy industry in design, manufacturing and marketing of games, children's puzzles, preschool toys, creative activities and teaching tools.
In 2008, Patch reached the milestone of selling more than 100 million puzzles since its founding.
Judges noted Patch's extensive community involvement, including its annual toy and game sale that directs profits back to the community. The judges also said the Patch workplace mirrors the Patch family belief in a work/life balance for their employees.