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State Loan Fosters Employee Ownership Of Glen Flora, Wisconsin, Manufacturer

Employees from Artisans Inc., a leading brand of upscale sportswear and ready-to-wear casual apparel, purchased the 54-year-old Rusk County company from family ownership, with plans to keep the manufacturer in the small village of Glen Flora, Wisconsin.

Employees were able to acquire the business with assistance of a $800,000 loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to ensure the apparel company will retain its operations in northern Wisconsin.

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.

According to state officials with the commitment from WEDC, and additional financing from Artisans owners Gordon and Bev Dukerschein, the company 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 & CEO of the company. “ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans) 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 & 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.”

“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.”

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.

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