Ayres Associates starts up telecom division

Eau Claire-based engineering and architectural firm Ayres Associates has started up a new division intended to expand its customer base to the telecommunications, natural gas and cable TV sectors.

To lead the new telecommunications division, Ayres hired Cheri Grainger, who has about 20 years of professional experience leading fiber optic and communications organizations.

Grainger’s resume includes work at MCI Communications Corp., Time Warner Telecom of Wisconsin and Illinois and most recently as chief operating officer at Midwest Fiber Networks/CableCom in Glendale.

At Ayres, she will be responsible with starting up the new division by creating its organizational structure with an emphasis on new business development.

She will be based in Waukesha, but will also oversee staff in the company’s other Wisconsin offices as well as employees in Florida.

Heartland Express buys Millis Transfer

Black River Falls-based Millis Transfer is now part of one of North America’s largest trucking companies.

Heartland Express of North Liberty, Iowa, bought Millis for $150 million last week, according to a news release from the former.

“We expect Millis to contribute to our ongoing success immediately, and with opportunities for further improvement, get even better over the long term,” Michael Gerdin, chairman, president and CEO of Heartland said in the release.

Millis was founded in 1936 as a trucking company and it has terminals in Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, Illinois and Wisconsin. In 1989, the company also founded Millis Training Institute, which teaches commercial truck driving.

All of Millis’ 11 terminals and five truck driving training locations were included in the deal.

Chamber schedules second workforce summit

The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce will be holding its second annual Workforce Solutions Summit on Nov. 13 at the Pablo Center at the Confluence, 128 Graham Ave.

Slated for 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day, the event is intended to provide local employers with practical solutions to their immediate and long-term workforce challenges, according to an announcement for the summit.

Details on the program were still being finalized last week and registration was not yet available through the chamber’s website, eauclairechamber.org.

Short Takes

• Integrity Auto Care, 513 Oak Ave., Menomonie, has begun offering U-Haul rental trucks and other moving supplies.

From staff reports