Local author highlights “golden age” of Brown County businesses in new book
By Victoria Wittenbrock
BROWN COUNTY – There is a lot of history behind the thousands of businesses that call Brown County home.
A new book from local author Phil Hauck takes a look at businesses whose names are part of the bedrock of the Greater Green Bay community – those that were on the cutting edge in their respective fields in the ’80s and ’90s (KI, Schreiber Foods, Fort Howard Corp., Schneider International and American Medical Security).
With the help of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) Teaching Press, Hauck published “The Golden Age of Brown County Enterprise.”
Hauck said he has authored books before, but this one in particular serves an important message to many members of the community – promoting the stories and successes of thriving businesses that have contributed to the legacy of the community.
Hauck said his background played a relevant role in inspiring the project.
At the start of his career, Hauck worked as a writer for the Wall Street Journal – a career he said eventually took him in a different direction when he began directing CEO Groups for The Executive Committee.
He blended these two facets when he started Wisconsin Small Business Counselor, a newspaper about business techniques.
Hauck said the innovation, work ethic and creativity of the entrepreneurs that he witnessed years ago was inspirational and revolutionary.
“These are extraordinary stories from 20 to 25 years ago that are getting lost now and still have lessons for today, and I wanted that documented,” Hauck said.
Hauck said his intent in writing “The Golden Age of Brown County Enterprise” was to raise awareness of the ways that innovation can improve and stimulate businesses.
“Northeast Wisconsin is really a neat place for the ability to execute on a continual basis, and for all of the bright ideas,” he said. “There are a lot of wonderful businesses up here.”
He said his intent with the book is to pay homage to the people who persevered to create a thriving business center in the Midwest years ago, while providing validation for people working to create a thriving business now.
“These extraordinary stories from the past still have lessons for the future,” Hauck said. “In publishing this book, I was able to tell the growth stories of different businesses and business owners and how that growth was sustained over a lengthy piece of time.”
UWGB Teaching Press
As Hauck was finishing up the crafting of the book, he said he began thinking about the next step – publication.
He said through a conversation with a friend of his, Tim Weyenberg, he found himself reaching out to the UWGB Teaching Press, which is housed in the Brown County STEM Innovation Center.
Hauck said Weyenberg had previously published works through the UWGB Teaching Press, and highly recommended Dr. Rebecca Meacham, founder and director of the press.
Meacham, a UWGB English professor, said the referral from one author to another was a very proud moment for the Teaching Press.
“It shows that there is community investment in our success and in student learning,” she said.
Meacham said the Teaching Press program began at UWGB in 2018, with the goal of allowing students access to hands-on experience in the field of bookmaking, editing and publishing.
She said students are involved in the entire process from start to finish.
Meacham said the students at the press were eager to take on Hauck’s project.
Sympathetic to the cost associated with self-publication and recognizing the financial constraints the Teaching Press faces in funding, Hauck said he worked to raise money for the program after the publication of his book.
“I took the first 60 copies, and 57 of them were given to the people that participated in the book,” he said. “I put a little note with it saying, ‘Would you contribute toward the Teaching Press?’ And we raised approximately $8,000 from 45 of those 57 people.”
Hauck said if there is anything he wants people to gain from his book, available at goldenagebce.com, it is “a validation of what business owners are doing today” and to learn how they can benefit from the stories of those before them.