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Business Awards

Columbus Business of the Year Awards were presented July 21. In the front row, from left are: Kara Clark, Hughes Equipment Co.; Wendy Simyab, Kindred Kids; Kathy Garwick and Jenny Achterberg, Governor Lewis Mansion; Angela Rose, Partners Dance Studio; and Mary and Jason Theilen, Cardinal Comics and Collectibles. In the back row are: Dave Carlson, Columbus Economic Development Director; John Swanson and Ross Lund, Hughes Equipment Co.; John Russell and Emily Dilley, Columbus Community Hospital; Julie and Todd Hornbacher, Julie's Java House; and Patrick Vander Sanden, Columbus City Administrator.   

Eight local businesses were honored with awards in six different categories at a Business Appreciation Luncheon at Kestrel Ridge July 21. The event was held by the city of Columbus, Economic Development.

Cardinal Comics

and Collectibles:

New Business

of the Year

When Jason Theilen was a kid, he dreamed of opening a comic book store. After substitute teaching in several area school districts and seeing children struggling with reading, he decided it was time to take a leap and open his dream business. Cardinal Comics and Collectibles opened its doors on Ludington Street, downtown, on July 1, 2015.

Jason’s store sells toys and comic books, non-sports cards and graphic novels. He also recently opened a gaming area at the store for Friday Night Magic and other character games. Last fall Cardinal Comics and Collectibles organized a Halloween Comic Fest at the fire station.

The business has also become active in a number of community events and organizations providing donations to the Columbus Girls Backcourt Club, the PTO, Columbus Archery, Relay for Life and the Waterloo Youth Sports Organization.

Julie’s Java House: Small Business

of the Year

Nov. 16 will mark 14 years of “caffeinating a community” for Julie’s. When Julie’s started up, they were selling products from Diane’s Confection Connection, Panera and Clasens. After a year, they started making their own products and they continue to do so today in their bakery/cafe across the track from the Amtrak Depot.

Fourteen years in a small town is a great accomplishment for a coffee shop. In the past few years, Julie’s has started offering cooking classes. They also now rent out their fireplace room for small parties and meetings, and they are the weekend host for Amtrak.

Julie’s donates to more than 50 local causes in the community each year and is actively involved with St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army and frequently provides for local sporting events and emergency responders.


Dance Studio:

Small Business

of the Year

Partners Dance Studio offers dance classes to students age 3 years old to 18 years old. Classes include tap, jazz, tumbling, ballet, pointe and hip hop. Dancers work for eight months tward a big production recital at Columbus High School. Partners opened its doors in 1992 under the ownership of Sue Ellen Reitzner. Genese Brisky had been her student since sixth grade when she opened, and she assisted after graduating college from UW in 2003. Genese bought out the business in 2013. This past year’s enrollment was 284 students from surrounding communities, including Columbus, Fall River, Rio, Lowell, Horicon, Marshall, Waterloo, Beaver Dam, Watertown and Sun Prairie. The past four years Partners has offered summer dance camp and those dancers have performed in the Columbus Fourth of July parade.

Community involvement includes being a Chamber member, a sponsor of the Columbus Color Run, Movie in the Park, United Fund of Columbus and Hanna’s Hope Run/Walk.

Components Plus:


of the Year

Components Plus moved operations to Columbus in 2012 after being located in Watertown for 10 years. components Plus is a manufacturer with 30+ years’ experience making heat-treated metal stampings for a multitude of industries. TracksPlus is the first-ever engineered steel track on the market. They are built with a heat-treated steel stamping that creates the hardest and strongest material in the industry. Their patented process allows them to produce a track that is 30 percent lighter and about half the cost of conventional cast or forged metal tracks, while still maintaining superior wear resistance. Excellent traction and flotation, running up to 2,000 hours, depending on application.

Components Plus started manufacturing a complete line of skid steer attachments in 2014 as well as having the capability to make a multitude of custom attachments to meet their customers’ needs. Since their move to Columbus, they have made some great additions such as a robotic welder, plasma table, press brake, shear, 110-ton punch press and a CNC milling machine. They are also in the process of installing heat-treating capabilities in our facility.

Owner Rick Welkie is active in working with area high schools and Madison College to educate and improve their manufacturing programs.

Hughes Equipment Co.:


of the Year

Hughes Equipment has been an established designer, manufacturer and international distributor of high quality food processing equipment since 1961. The experience enables Hughes to provide the best food processing machinery on the market to companies around the world. Hughes Co. manufactures and sells the following types of vegetable processing equipment: cleaning, cooking, conveying, husking, metering, peeling and snipping. In addition, the company selectively provides contract manufacturing services outside of core food markets.

Over the past several years, the following significant events have occurred:

The company was purchased by Ross Lund and a group of Midwestern investors in 2014.

The company has engaged a new sales team around the world, adding significant capacity to sales and marketing efforts.

New products in the fresh/organic vegetable markets are being introduced to capitalize on consumers’ desire for more fresh foods.

Continuous improvement processes are being implemented throughout the company.

Hughes’ involvement in the community is reflected in its efforts to feed individuals and families that are hungry. As a food processing equipment manufacturer, they strive to help people around the world have access to cost-effective and safely produced vegetables and fruit.


Lewis Mansion:

Tourism Contributor

Governor Lewis Mansion was built by Wisconsin ninth governor, James T. Lewis. Owners Mark and Kathy Garwick bought the home several years ago and invested thousands of dollars to renovate and restore the home. It is now open as an event venue available for weddings, receptions, bridal showers, baby showers and other events.

This year they began offering tours of the house with new displays. One of the new displays is an autograph book that was found in the barn that belonged to the daughter of early Columbus area pioneer Mary Ann Turner, a school teacher in Columbus in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Kathy and the crew at the Governor Lewis Mansion researched her as well as most of the 100 people who wrote in the autograph book and pieced together the stories of 25 of them. They are also working on an extensive collection of vintage pieces available for rentals.

Columbus is well known as a historical community, and the Governor Lewis Mansion is not only preserving and sharing a key piece of our history, they are also bringing many more people to our community and providing a spark to our growing tourist and visitor economy.

Kindred Kids:

Advocacy and Community

Resource Award

Kindred Kids opened its door in Columbus in January 2009 and is now settled in on West James Street, next to Dollar General. They are a 501c3 charity whose mission is to provide free equipment, advocacy and resource information for families of children with special needs. Their free lending library of specialized equipment for children with special needs is available to families regardless of income, disability or location. In addition to serving kids in our local area, they also serve other communities in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and beyond.

Kindred Kids is an affordable community resale shop and lending library so all children can have access to quality clothing, toys and gear. Anyone can shop there and become a member. Kidred Kids aslo has a priority on recycling and reusing toys and clothing.

All proceeds from sales of items fund the primary mission of Kindred Kids which is to serve children with special needs.

Kindred Kids works with the Columbus School District, several area daycares, the library, police department, churches and senior center as well as hundreds of families throughout the area.

Kindred Kids contributions to the community have been recognized with the business being presented with a Jefferson Award for Service and most recently the People Make a Difference Award from NBC 15 in Madison.

Columbus Community Hospital:

Expansion, Growth and Contributions to the Community

Cardinal Comics was recognized after celebrating one year in business. At the other end of the spectrum is Columbus Community Hospital, which has been a presence in our community for more than 100 years. We have an ongoing campaign in our community started by our library called Root for Columbus. No business has deeper roots and does a better job of “rooting” for Columbus than our own Columbus Community Hospital.

Founded in 1907 as a 15-bed facility on West James Street, the hospital was sold to the Sisters of Divine Savior in 1913 and operated as St. Mary’s Hospital. In 1970 the hospital was purchased by the community and and became known as Columbus Community Hospital. In 1979, the hospital moved to its current location at 1515 Park Ave.

Many communities, including a lot that are larger than Columbus, wish they had access to the kind of high quality medical care that we have riht down hte street. Access to good health care makes our community healthier, happier and more prosperous. The services at CCH are provided by a team of more than 300 employees, more than 100 active consulting and courtesy medical staff members, more than 100 volunteers and an active foundation to provide philanthropic support.

CCH is definitely a major driver of our local economy, not just for the jobs they provide, but also the recent expansions they have completed. $20 million has been spent on expansion in the past five years, the most notable project, the two-story, 35,000-square-foot surgical service center which was completed in 2015, is a testament to the ongoing commitment of Columbus Community Hospital to a healthy community.

But that commitment to a healthy community goes beyond the medical care they provide. Part of the CCH mission states that through “building caring relationships with those we serve, we guide the journey to health and wellness.”

CCH is involved in business and school wellness programs. They are also active players and participants in community groups including the Chamber, Rotary, Kiwanis, the new James Street Reconstruction Business group and the Aquatic Center Board. In addition, Columbus Community Hospital supports many community events, fundraisers and projects by providing sponsorships and volunteers.