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BizTimes: Jim Kacmarcik Named Best in Business CEO of the Year

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Jim Kacmarcik, CEO and Chairman of Kapco Metal Stamping and Kacmarcik Enterprises was honored as BizTimes’ Best in Business CEO of the Year for 2022.

By Arthur Thomas, BizTimes

Like many manufacturers, Grafton-based Kapco Metal Stamping saw a surge in demand in recent years as consumers emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic ready and willing to spend their money. 

Increased demand and supply chain challenges across the country and around the world meant manufacturers found themselves constantly changing production and shipping plans. Lean manufacturing ideas went out the window and businesses scrambled to deliver on customer requests. 

It would be hard to fault any manufacturer for keeping their focus inside their own four walls during the chaos of recent years. But Jim Kacmarcik, chairman and chief executive officer of Kacmarcik Enterprises, a holding company that includes Kapco and several other businesses, has continued to embark on new initiatives and projects both inside and outside the company. 

Externally, Kacmarcik partnered with Kenosha-based Bear Development to announce plans for a $160 million mixed-use development near the Marquette Interchange in downtown Milwaukee. The project will be anchored by an 8,000-seat soccer stadium that will be home to a team in the USL Championship league. Kacmarcik is heading up the ownership group for the team, which is scheduled to begin play in 2025. 

The Iron District MKE development also includes plans for a full-service boutique hotel, a 3,500-capacity indoor concert venue operated by The Pabst Theater Group, a 140-unit residential development and retail space. 

“I didn’t quite imagine (the project) to be as potentially significant as it is, but now we feel totally that it is – I don’t want to say game changing – but it is a very significant piece of Milwaukee’s future,” Kacmarcik said in an October cover story in BizTimes Milwaukee.  

Within his own companies, Kacmarcik has continued to press ahead as well. In October, his team launched the Kacmarcik Center for Human Performance, a new entity within Kacmarcik Enterprises tasked with allowing people to flourish and reach their fullest potential. 

KCHP has three main areas of focus. It works on learning and development for employees within Kacmarcik Enterprises and also does social impact work, aiming to bring learning and development efforts to nonprofits and organizations that may not otherwise have access to similar services. Finally, the team will also be developing products and services related to KCHP’s work. The organization has a goal of impacting 1 million lives annually. 

“The work that a lot of teammates do in the factories is extremely difficult work, it’s hard work, I’ve done it. I’ve been there. Manipulating metal parts in machines and stuff like that is tiring, and they deserve a different kind of approach,” Kacmarcik said of why he chose to invest differently in the development of his employees. 

“Certainly, for us, this has been a time of great reflection and reimagining workers’ happiness and just what makes the difference,” he said.

For continuing to invest in the wellbeing and development of his employees while also seeking to improve and grow the greater Milwaukee region, Jim Kacmarcik is the BizTimes Milwaukee 2022 Best in Business CEO of the Year. 

Speaking at the 2022 BizTimes Nonprofit Excellence Awards program, Kacmarcik described why he wanted to take on a bigger mission with the Kacmarcik Center that goes beyond the learning development of his own employees.

“I’m a guy who believes that what our individual possibilities could be or what a business could be, that we somehow limit ourselves,” he said. “We think we can get to this peak, and that’s what we kind of feel like, ‘Wouldn’t that be something?’ With this team, we have no mountain peak, we can do so many things.”

Kacmarcik also described how he fostered philanthropic efforts at Kapco, a company that has been heavily involved in a number of charities and was the 2019 Corporate Citizen of the Year at the BizTimes Media Nonprofit Excellence Awards. 

“I began to be a little bit more purposeful as to the people I started to hire and surround myself with. Everybody’s got a different mission and a different approach. Inside our walls, we talked about it a lot. It’s part of our corporate metrics, the things that we do, and you can’t really push that on anybody, you’ve just got to lead and hope that more and more people follow,” Kacmarcik said. 

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