Summerfest Business Alliance Member Spotlight

Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown (GRGB) logo

1.) In one paragraph, tell us about your organization, your mission statement, how, when and why your organization was founded, and what you are best known for.

CSW was officially founded in 1947, but has roots going back to WW1.  Founder Cecil “Jack” Williams (CJ), a WWI veteran, emigrated from England to Canada in 1921 to work in the wheat fields. He relocated to Chicago, working in a trucking garage until the 1930s when he established his own trucking company: Hillside Garage and Transit, centered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As an outgrowth of grocery distribution and delivery services, CJ opened Central Storage and Warehouse as a produce terminal in Madison, Wisconsin in 1947. Currently, CSW provides dry, cold, and freezer storage at locations throughout the state. CSW is more than just a commercial endeavor, it’s an extended family. As our recent Wisconsin Family Business of the Year Award citation says, “For 70 years CSW’s success has come from incorporating family values into the best example of what a family business can be: innovative, caring, connected to community, inclusive, and empowering.”

2.) Tell us about your organization’s accomplishments and what you’re most proud of.

While we are truly most proud of the ongoing relationships we share within our community including with CSW employees (many have been with us 15-30 years) and clients (some of whom have been with CSW more than 30 years), we are also proud of our track record for innovation. CSW is serious about reducing energy dependence through lighting, technology, and efficient construction. The installation of roof-top solar arrays on three of our facilities speaks to our mission of being good stewards of the earth even as we focus upon providing the best customer service we possibly can. At the time of this writing, CSW generates more solar power than any other privately held organization in the state of Wisconsin. We understand that our essential business, cold storage, takes a lot of energy. By teaming up with SunPeak to install and implement large solar photovoltaic systems, we are able to greatly reduce our carbon footprint and increase sustainability.

3.) Why is it important to your organization to support Summerfest through the Summerfest Business Alliance and what are some of the unique ways in which you distribute your Summerfest tickets?

Summerfest is a jewel that our family and business have shared with friends, family, and clients for more than 30 years. CSW sponsored the construction of the Marcus Amphitheater, which was completed in 1987, by purchasing center, second row seats that had CSW brass plates affixed to them. This sponsorship provided support for the amphitheater, for Henry Maier Festival Park, as well as directly to Summerfest. Community is central to our business and what better way to support our community than sharing this most amazing summer event in Milwaukee Wisconsin with our valued employees, clients, friends, and family members?

4.) Favorite Summerfest Memories. When was the first time you attended Summerfest? What is your favorite Summerfest memory? Which artist would you love to see on a Summerfest stage?

Members of the Williams family first attended Summerfest in 1974. Shortly thereafter, CSW commenced with corporate sponsorship, sharing admission tickets and coupon packets for activities with both employees and clients. Across our CSW administrative team and family, are multiple positive memories of enjoyable days and evenings spent at Summerfest. It is very hard to come up with one favorite memory so here is a list of multiple favorites:

  • Dancing at the Jazz Oasis with newly made acquaintances and friends until closing.
  • Watching our children, grandchildren, and so many other kids enjoying the playground and observing their rapt attention to the First Stage children’s programming on warm summer days.
  • Being a kid and acting like one in the Carnival/Midway in years past and more recently enjoying wine & cheese, big chair photos, and JoJo’s martini bar on the old midway grounds.
  • Riding the Sky Glider, attaining a view of the enormity of this festival of festivals with stars above and smiles below.
  • Main stage/Amphitheater shows that would likely never have come to Milwaukee without a large venue like Summerfest. We distinctly remember the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra playing with select artists, such as the Moody Blues.
  • Favorite concerts include Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, Neil Diamond (in the rain), Bruno Mars, Nickelback, B-52s, and Hollywood Vampires.
  • Memorable moments abound, such as running through the grounds in the rain, people watching, loving the misting tents on hot days.
  • And all of us have fond memories of the food and beer, and food and beer, and food and beer…

The artists we would love to see greatly varies. We are of the opinion that the festival has done a great job of bringing in headliners over the years. Continuing to feature established as well as newer artists across different genres is highly encouraged. It might be fun to secure one of the new generation of rock bands such as “South of Eden” or “Black Stone Cherry” among the artists invited to play.

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