Last week’s annual Door County Economic Development Corp. (DCEDC) awards luncheon fell just before our deadline for the last issue, so we were only able to run a photo of the two families who were winners. Here are the details.
The annual Door County Entrepreneur of the Year Award went to the Johnson family, owners of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik in Sister Bay.
Founded by family patriarch Al Johnson in 1949, Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant has been a mainstay of success. The entrepreneurial spirit that began with Al continues in his children, Lars, Rolf and Annika Johnson, who have been able to find the appropriate blend of innovation and historic nostalgia that represents Door County extremely well.
Al’s wife Ingert became a lifelong partner whose business and customer savvy matched Al’s. With a flair for style and tradition, plus deep roots in Scandinavian heritage, Ingert led the design and décor which is part of the company’s unmistakable and unique brand.
Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and Butik has firmly established itself as one of the most iconic and recognizable restaurants in Door County and Wisconsin. Al Johnson’s serves more than 3,000 people per day July through October.
Experiencing 25 percent sales growth in the past three years, Al’s now sells their famous lingonberries, pancake mix, cookies and more online, and are expanding that product line to grocery and retail shelf space across the Midwest. A new 5,000 square foot production and warehouse facility currently under construction will assist in expanding this part of their business. Their growth is also exhibited in a popular new outdoor serving space in a refurbished, authentic Scandinavian building.
“It is our extreme pleasure to recognize The Johnson Family with the Entrepreneur of the Year award,” said DCEDC Executive Director Caleb Frostman. “Al Johnson and his family have built an indelible and iconic business. Their brand is famous to most everyone that knows of or has ever visited Door County. It truly is a story of American innovation, entrepreneurship and achievement like few others. We are excited to watch their company’s growth and we wish them nothing but continued success.”
The Hurley family, owners of Pro Products, Inc. won the Door County Industry of the Year Award. The annual award recognizes a local construction, service or manufacturing business that has made a substantial impact on the community and enjoyed significant accomplishments during the past year.
Pro Products, Inc. was incorporated in the year 2000, making automotive aftermarket components. In 2006, they began manufacturing precision machined components for original equipment manufacturers. Today, the firm provides Computer Numerical Control machining, small fabrications and weldments, and part assembly services. Pro Products works with all types of steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, copper, plastics, castings and forgings.
This successful, family-run business – led by company directors Joseph Hurley, Sandy Hurley, Jonathan Hurley and Steven Hurley – have molded the company’s marketplace well beyond Wisconsin: in 2013, 80 percent of their business was Wisconsin based; in 2016, 80 percent of their business was nationwide. The company projects a significant portion of future sales will come from overseas markets.
Pro Products, Inc. has invested significant resources in Door County, most recently in 2015 with a new 40,000 square foot manufacturing facility in the Sturgeon Bay Industrial Park, easily accessible for incoming raw materials and outgoing shipments of completed machined parts. In 2016, they added an additional 6,000 square foot warehouse space. In the past five years, Pro Products has grown from 22 employees to more than 40.
“We are pleased to recognize Pro Products, Inc. as our industry of the year,” Frostman said. “Their continued growth and investment in our community are welcome indicators of optimism and excitement for a bright future. We hope that will continue for many years to come.”
This year marks the 44th year of the Door County Industry of the Year Award, first presented by the Door County Chamber of Commerce in 1973.