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Johnson Controls is taking advantage of the recovery of the automotive industry.
Johnson Controls is taking advantage of the recovery of the automotive industry.

Automotive recovery revs up Johnson Controls

Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. is uniquely positioned for growth by capitalizing on the remarkable recovery of the U.S. automotive industry. The company’s stock has been trading at or near its 52-week high recently.

Johnson Controls’ Automotive Experience unit accounts for 49 percent of the company’s revenues. So, with each of the "Big Three" American automobile makers reporting strong June sales, the outlook is bright for key suppliers such as Johnson Controls.

Some encouraging statistics:

  • General Motors Co.’s June sales rose 6.5 percent to 264,843 vehicles.
  • Ford Motor Co.’s June sales rose 13 percent to 228,174 vehicles.
  • Chrysler Group LLC’s June sales rose 8.2 percent to 156,686 vehicles.

In April, Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts David Leiker and Joseph Veruwink took note of the positive tailwinds building behind behind Johnson Controls and reiterated their "outperform" rating on the company’s stock, which trades with the ticker symbol of "JCI."

"We upgraded Johnson Controls to ‘outperform.’ Higher earnings expected over the next several years with improving margins, growing automotive end markets and increasing demand for advanced batteries and building efficiency," the Baird analysts wrote in their research note.

Johnson Controls’ automotive battery segment, which employs around 13,000 people, is the largest global supplier of lead-acid batteries with a 36-percent market share.

"North American (automotive) production will rebound with growth of 4.4 percent and 6.8 percent respectively in the upcoming third and fourth fiscal quarters. Then finally, China production will be up 9 percent in the next six-month period consistent with the comment I made earlier about the prospects for the full fiscal year," Johnson Controls chief executive officer Stephen Roells said in a second-quarter conference call with analysts.

The company received another boost when it won a contract to provide automotive batteries t…

After the Zimmerman trial, and the ensuing outrage and protests, many wonder if race relations will ever recover.
After the Zimmerman trial, and the ensuing outrage and protests, many wonder if race relations will ever recover. (Photo: jkirsh / )

Violence shouldn't be the norm in race relations

I experienced a rather surreal moment Thursday afternoon, and I feel compelled to share it as food for thought.

I had just finished a productive business meeting with a friend at the Bella Café in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, one of the city’s more upscale neighborhoods. I began the four-block walk back to our office through the steamy, tropical Wisconsin summer air.

As I turned the next corner, I realized I was approaching a young African American fellow, maybe 17 years old or so. He was talking on a cell phone and eating a bag of chips. He was tall and lanky.

As I walked by him, our eyes met. I nodded. He nodded back. I kept walking back to the office. He stayed on the sidewalk and continued his phone conversation.

I did not ask him what he was doing in the neighborhood. I did not follow him around. I did not presume he was a "punk." I did not call the police. And I was not carrying a handgun.

We both went our separate ways. There was no confrontation. No one had to stand his ground. And no one got hurt.

I suspect moments like this happen routinely every day in cities throughout America. But they may never be routine again.

Make your business a great place to work, and your good employees will stay forever.
Make your business a great place to work, and your good employees will stay forever. (Photo:

Crain shares tips for successful entrepreneurs

I recently had the great privilege of hearing a keynote speech by Rance Crain, president of Crain Communications and editor-in-chief of Advertising Age, Crain's Chicago Business, Crain's New York Business and TelevisionWeek.

In the professional field of business journalism, Crain is a household name, and Crain Communications is a company we all respect and try to emulate. That’s why it was so riveting to hear Crain share his 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship as he spoke to a room full of publishers and editors at the Alliance of Area Business Publications (AABP) summer conference in Nashville.

Crain was kind enough to share the script of his speech afterward with me and to give me permission to share its highlights with our Milwaukee readers. So, here are Crain’s entrepreneurial maxims:

  1. Timing. Crain recounted how his father, G.D. Crain Jr., founded publications such as Business Insurance and Hospital Management before those under-served markets had fully evolved. "He had to wait for the market to develop before he made his move," Crain said. "Know when the time is ripe and also unripe when you launch a new product or service."
  2. Have a distinct point of view "so that your product stands out from all the rest."
  3. Enthusiasm. His father launched Ad Age during the Great Depression. "When Dad would go out on sales calls, he would talk about the great reaction Ad Age was having with readers, and the clients would say, ‘You really believe all this stuff, don’t you?’ And my Dad would say, ‘Yeah, it’s great.’ They told him they didn’t have any money at the time for promotion, but when they did, they’d be with us. And they were," Crain said.
  4. Be lucky. "Or at least think you’re lucky," Crain said.
  5. Be confident in your own ideas. Crain’s self-confidence led to the founding of his Chicago business publication.
  6. Treat your people with respect. "Nobody has the right to make people feel bad about themselves," Crain said.
  7. Be o…