August 2015
Executive Director Update


5 Observations from the road.....

I recently completed my first RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). It was quite impossible to not notice a few things over 500+ miles, perched on a bike seat for an average of 77 miles per day over 7 days. There are many analogies between 10-20,000 bikes traveling together and our Chamber, but I'll only share 5 reasonably pertinent thoughts.


1. Preparation. It was suggested that participants prepare for the ride with at least 500 miles of riding and some 70 mile rides. I failed - it's summer, there's only so much time to play. But I was comfortable with what I did do and it ended up being enough to enjoy the ride - I'm sure the feeling in my legs will return some day. Seriously, we can't expect to perform well in any capacity without some work, practice, role plays, etc. And the more we can do, the better the results we can expect.


2. Communication. All riders were required to watch a short video to understand basic rules of the road and how to communicate in close quarters on open roads. Where one inattentive rider can take down a dozen+ others, every gesture and word has importance for riders to stay out of an ambulance. At one point early on, over 500 bikers crashed on the same railroad tracks - a combination of blast and one-on-one communication alleviated what could've been a bigger mess.


3. Collaboration. This was not Tour de France, but there were numerous groups of fast bikers in draft lines, working together for maximum speed and efficiency (on the left side of the road). On the other side of the road, the slowest bikers encouraged each other in a slightly different way, "we're almost to the top", or "there'll be more port-a-pots in the next town". Regardless of individual performance levels, people collaborated, worked together. The flying V that geese use was alive and well on the road.


4. Infrastructure. RAGBRAI is like Madison's Ride the Drive, except it covers an entire state, from the Missouri River to the Mississippi! No small task to coordinate law enforcement, road closures, campgrounds, water and toilets, emergency services, etc. The individual communities that are designated as pass-through towns, some as small 249 residents, provide food and beverage services (beer tent opens at 6am!). Each community spent what it could afford to create an inviting atmosphere for commerce. Imagine your service club with a shot at 15,000 people walking their bikes past your Gatorade/brat/chocolate covered bacon-on-a-stick/beer stand? Would you invest to enhance the ROI?


5. Quality & History. 43 years ago Donald Kaul and John Karras biked across Iowa with maybe 100 people, to write articles on rural Iowa. Today, registration for the week is capped at 10,000, but day riders can easily double that number. This quality event is healthy fun (and I'm not a cyclist); there's pie, beer, pie, pork, pie, beer and pie; it's beautiful (if you like tall, green fields); there's camping; and there's a tangible spirit of adventure, pride and caring that permeates everything. And it keeps growing, building on each years' success.


I couldn't help but consider this Chamber and its members at every turn, hilltop and evening recap session. Great people living an adventure, helping each other succeed and smiling along the way.


Enjoy the rest of summer!  

- Van 

Upcoming Chamber Events

August 6 7:30am
Get Moving Middleton ( Register)
Hilton Garden Inn

August 10, 11:30am
Ambassador Committee
Globe University

August 18, 5-7pm
Business Social Hour ( Register)
Bonefish Grill

August 19, 8am (7:45 Registration)
Ask the Expert: 5 Questions That Will Transform Your Marketing Approach  ( Register)
Edgewood College - Deming Way

August 19, 12pm

Economic Development Briefing ( Register)
Wisconsin Bank & Trust

View the Calendar
New Members

Community Pharmacy
6333 University Ave, Ste 103
(608) 251-3242


Farmers Insurance
258 Corporate Dr., Suite 205
(608) 807-4066


Orchid Knoll Apartments
5311 S Ridge Way
(608) 831-0835


Parmenter Circle Apartments

2400 Parmenter Street
(608) 203-1000


Printed Promotions, Inc

dba Our Direct Mail Works
6441 Enterprise Lane, Ste 213   
(608) 271-5844


REMAX Preferred -
Brooke Keeling Real Estate Advisors

610 Junction Rd, Suite 205
(608) 616-0095


Rockwell Automation

8155 Forsythia Street
(608) 662-7200

Rotary Club of Madison Breakfast
(608) 220-2949


Ten Forward Consulting, Inc.

505 S. Rosa Road Suite 225
(608) 620-4104


Members on the Move
Announcements|Awards|Hires & Promotions
ALTUS Announces July Leases,  ALTUS Commercial Real Estate, Inc. is pleased to announce leases and sales.

T5 Acquires MCD Facility,  At T5 Real Estate Solutions, creativity and flexibility are essential elements to our investment strategy.  Our recent sale-leaseback collaboration with MCD illustrates the benefits arising when these factors are in play.

Coldwell Announces June Stats, Coldwell Banker Success has released their June School District Statistics.

Middleton Community Bank Announces New Hires, Middleton Community Bank is pleased to announce the following additions to our staff:  Casey Koenig and Peyron Pieters.

Kunkel Announces Promotion, Kunkel & Associates is pleased to announce that Abby Zahorik has been promoted to Senior Vice President. 

Gregg Receives President's Award,
Bob Gregg, attorney at Boardman & Clark LLP, was granted the American Association For Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED) President's Award for exceptional service and professional achievement.

Lucille Taylor to Win Statewide Award,
More than 500 recreation, park and therapeutic recreation professionals and advocates from throughout Wisconsin gathered at the Kalahari Convention Center for the Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association's 50th Annual Conference & Expo.   

Member Events

National Mustard Day, National Mustard Museum

Asbury Fest, Asbury United Methodist Church

5th Anniversary Party, Be Inspired Salon

Gilda's Day at the Mallards, Gilda's Club of Madison

National Night Out, Lakeview Park

QuickBooks Seminar Series, Broyles & Company

Battle of the Badges, Middleton Police, Fire & EMS
More Info

Just Married! Webinar, Hemb Insurance Group

Wake Up with Wegner

Open House, DC Interiors & Renovations

Global White Wine Lunch, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse
More Info

Lunchbox Live, Thompson Investment Management

Clean-Up Middleton, PPD, Inc.
More Info

Kickin' It for Kids, REACH a Child!
8/28 - 8/30

Middleton Good Neighbor Festival, Firemans Park

How Did You Get From There to Here?
Profiles on the vocational journey

Interview by Linda Abbott

Linda, owner of Never Forget Legacies & Tributes, creates heirloom-quality legacy books for individuals and families to preserve cherished memories and life stories. An award-winning journalist, author and public relations professional, Linda lives in Middleton with her husband Paul.




Meet: Steve Knoche
Owner, Knoche's Food Center & Old Fashioned But cher Shop

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

I always knew I would work in the family business. I started when I was ten years old stocking shelves for Dad.  


I grew up in Madison and graduated from Madison Memorial High School. I started working here fulltime when I was seventeen and I've been here ever since.



Knoche's has been in business seventy-seven years. Tell me a little about how it got started.

My grandparents, Nancy and George Knoche, started the business in 1938. For many years we were a very popular ma and pa grocery store.


Later on, my dad and his two brothers ran the business, and then my wife and I bought the business in 1998. We had a very good grocery business for many years, but over time it's become much harder for "little guys" like us to compete with the big chains.



Tell me about Knoche's today.

We're best known for our meats. People know our name and they know our quality.


Our ground beef is the biggest draw. We have such a great burger because of the way we grind. We use a custom blend that nobody else grinds because it's too expensive. Our burgers are about 87 percent lean.


We sell wholesale to about sixty restaurants and bars in Madison and the surrounding areas, including several golf courses. We have a list of those establishments on our website,


Today we're still a family business. We carry a full line of grocery items and wine, beer and liquor.

My sister Nancy is our general manager; she's been working here for forty years. My wife works at Summit Credit Union and takes care of the books, which is a big job. We have eight employees.



What is your competitive advantage?

Our customer service. We're super friendly, we smile and say hi, we really try to make sure everybody feels welcome and has a good shopping experience. We're on a first-name basis with many of our customers.


Another is quality. Out meat is about 80 percent of our business. I have people who live in Minocqua, Janesville . . . I ship meat to customers who spend the winter in Arizona and Florida.



What is the favorite part of your job?

I like talking to the customers - always have. I'm rarely back here in the office; I'm usually in the store making sure everything is running smoothly. I really enjoy handling the meat part of the business. We grind everything for our customers in the morning, so it's really fresh. That's rare in our business, but I think it's important.



What are the biggest challenges you face as a small business?

Probably the cost of everything, our gas and electric bills, taxes, license fees, healthcare - over the past ten years the cost of operating the business has gone up tremendously. I pay 100 percent of the healthcare costs for my full-time employees and that costs a lot of money.


The cost of beef has risen. I used to be able to make a decent margin on the beef, now I'm doing twice the business with half of the profit. We're selling a lot more but we aren't making any money! (laughter).


State and city regulations are a huge burden on us because we're a small business. We don't have the staff that larger companies have to handle this stuff. I've got a binder that is six inches high with all the processes we have to document for the state to sell wholesale.



How has your business evolved over the years?

We've had a lot of changes over the years. We remodeled the store about eight years ago to give it a fresh look, and cut back on the number of grocery items to respond to customer demand. Another change is that we've cut back on our home deliveries. Early on we were the only grocery store in Madison that offered that service - it was really a nice thing for us - but over the years our customers have gotten older and it's hard for us to compete with our large-scale competitors who have several vans a week going all over the city.



You've been running the business for seventeen years now, what is the biggest lesson you've learned?

Be good to your customers. Treat them well. And don't get in the small mom and pop family business. Just kiddin'! I love what I do. But sometimes I do think about the fact that if I would have taken a job with the Madison parks crew or fire department I would have been retired years ago with a good pension. And retirement doesn't sound too bad right now.  



What do you do for fun? Do you have a family? Favorite vacation spot?

I live with my wife in Middleton, we have two children and four grandchildren. When I can get some time I like to golf and ride my Harley. For vacation we go out to San Diego every year to see my daughter and her family, our two grandchildren, really look forward to getting away.



July Renewals

ANiU Salon Spa


Automation Components Inc.






CCL Management,
Div. of Liberty Real Estate


FedEx Office - Middleton


Gammex Inc.   


Hellenbrand Electric   


Home Works Remodeling   


J.P. Cullen & Sons, Inc. 


Knoche's Food Center

Meriter Medical Clinic   


Merrill Lynch
Wealth Management   


MW Accounting & Tax LLC   


My Fleet Center   


OPN Architects   


Restoring Hope
Transplant House   


Rick Vanden Heuvel CPA, S.C.  


Ruffin' It Resort   


Sam Simon Real Estate - Pertzborn



Select One Mortgage

Settlers Bank    


Smith & Gesteland LLP     


Special Olympics Wisconsin    


Starion Financial  


The Free House Pub   


Viking Cue Manufacturing, LLC   


Villa Dolce   


WBUW CW57   


Windogs Pet Lodge   


Wisconsin Merchant Services  




Celebrating Middleton Chamber Anniversaries
5 Years
Automation Components
Be Inspired Salon
Creative Marketing Specialists
Hellenbrand Electric
My Fleet Center
Sam Simon Real Estate - Larissa Pertzborn 

10 Years
MW Accounting & Tax
Rick Vanden Heuvel CPA

35 Years

Thank You for your continued support!