Region’s employers report bigger raises

A survey of wages from western and central Wisconsin employers showed higher raises are being given this year than 2018.

The average raise for most employees was 3.83%, according to the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce survey taken by 162 companies. Exempt employees — salaried workers usually in executive, professional and administrative jobs — saw a lower average raise of 3.52%.

The survey results were notably higher than 2018 average raises of 3.15% for most workers and 3.09% for exempt employees.

The average increase is an “indicator of positive wage growth and robust market conditions,” said Deborah Marshall, senior manager of HR consulting at Wipfli in Eau Claire and the lead technical advisor for the survey.

However, there were some who took the survey that aren’t giving raises this year or did not disclose how much.

Five employers reported 0% raises for employees and about 20 did not complete the portion of the survey on raises.

Manufacturers accounted for 49% of the employers who responded to the survey. Other sectors represented included health care, financial services, nonprofit organizations and other types of employers.

The 162 companies who took the survey this year was up from the 151 that participated in 2018.

Jamf acquires cybersecurity company

Jamf, a software company founded in Eau Claire, announced last week that it acquired a cybersecurity company that caters to the operating system used in Apple products.

Florida-based Digita Security develops software designed to protect macOS users from malware and other threats.

Details of how those security tools will be incorporated into Jamf’s software, which is used by 30,000 businesses, organizations and institutions worldwide to manage Apple devices, will be announced in the near future, according to a news release.

“By extending our existing suite of products with an endpoint protection solution built exclusively for Mac, we know we can further our mission to help organizations succeed with Apple by offering a complete set of capabilities required for Apple in the enterprise,” Jamf CEO Dean Hager said in the release.

This is Jamf’s third acquisition in 12 months. The company previously bought ZuluDesk and NoMAD.

Cray issues Q2 report, but no comments

Supercomputer company Cray, which has manufacturing facilities in Chippewa Falls, let its second-quarter financial figures speak for themselves while executives remain quiet during a pending merger.

Cray released its quarterly report Friday, but did not hold a conference call to expound upon the numbers as the company is in the midst of a $1.3 billion merger with Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

For the quarter that ended June 30, Cray’s revenue was down when compared to the same time last year while its expenses and net loss were both up.

The $69 million in revenues from the recent quarter were well below the $120 million that Cray brought in during the same quarter in 2018.

Operating expenses stood at $68 million for April through June, compared to $50 million in the same three months last year.

The company’s net loss was $43 million in the recent quarter versus $11 million a year ago.

Announced in mid-May, the merger is expected to close by the start of 2020, pending regulatory approvals.

Branch sale boosts CCF Bank’s figures

ALTOONA — Selling a CCF Bank branch gave a big boost to second quarter earnings of parent company Citizens Community Bancorp.

Shedding its last Michigan office brought in $2.3 million for the Altoona-based bank that has 28 branches in the Chippewa Valley and eastern Minnesota.

“We are pleased to have successfully consolidated our branch network to Wisconsin and Minnesota, with the sale of our sole Michigan office in Rochester Hills,” Stephen Bianchi, chairman, president and CEO said in a news release.

While the branch sale was partially offset by costs tied to recent acquisitions, it still helped boost net income to $4.11 million for the quarter that ended June 30. That compares to $953,000 in net income from the prior quarter that ended March 31.

With merger-related figures and other one-time items excluded, the bank still had profit growth. The net income as adjusted for last quarter was $2.6 million, compared to $1.7 million during the prior three months.

Law firm changes name for partner

A law firm with an office in Eau Claire changed its name last week in recognition of a partner and its statewide presence.

Formerly Gingras, Cates & Wachs, the firm announced Monday that it will now be known as Gingras, Thomasen & Wachs.

“The firm’s name change recognizes the firm’s reach and service to all parts of Wisconsin,” partner Robert Gingras said in a news release.

Mark Thomasen, a Milwaukee attorney and partner in the firm, was added to the firm’s title, accompanying Gingras of Madison and Dana Wachs of Eau Claire.

Among his current cases, Thomasen is representing Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown in his civil case against the City of Milwaukee for his January 2018 arrest in a parking lot. That lawsuit alleges the arrest was unlawful and officers used excessive force when they subdued and tased Brown in the incident that stemmed from him parking his car in a disabled spot — an offense warranting just a citation.

Merchants Bank posts solid growth figure

The parent company of Merchants Bank, which has an Eau Claire branch at 2728 Mall Drive, announced strong growth for the first half of 2019, but net income slightly behind the same time last year.

For the first six months of this year, Merchants Financial Group had net income of $8.93 million, compared to $9.15 million at the end of June 2018.

This year’s net income, which is still ahead of the company’s plan for 2019, was down in part to $543,000 added to its loan loss reserve to cushion against possible future loan stress, according to a company news release.

But year-over-year loan growth was up 8.2% and deposits were up 6.9%, which prompted president and CEO Gregory Evans to praise his staff.

“I’m tremendously proud of our entire banking team,” he said in a news release. “We continue to experience strong organic growth because of bankers who stand out as difference makers in a very competitive environment.”

Short Takes

• Eau Claire-based law firm Weld Riley recently announced the hiring of two attorneys. Samuel Bach has joined the firm’s municipal section, and Brian Oppeneer is focused on labor and employment law.

• Milwaukee-based law firm Crivello Carlson recently opened a new location at 323 E. Madison St. in downtown Eau Claire.

• Sterling Culligan Water promoted Ron Wampler to the position of area director for the company’s Wisconsin and Minnesota territories. Wampler replaces the retiring Darrell Sather.

• A refresher course for small businesses that use QuickBooks software will be from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday at Western Dairyland Economic Opportunity Council, 418 Wisconsin St. There is a $99 course fee, but scholarships are available to income-eligible participants. Register online at

From staff reports