Monthly Archives: May 2013

PerBlue founders among Forward Under 40 honorees

Justin Beck (left) and Forrest Woolworth (right)

Justin Beck (left) and Forrest Woolworth (right)

Justin Beck ’09 and Forrest Woolworth ’09 (both computer engineering and computer sciences) are among the nine exceptional young University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni honored with the 2013 Forward under 40 awards, presented by the Wisconsin Alumni Association. All recipients are living examples of the Wisconsin Idea, the guiding philosophy upon which this award is based, and honorees were featured in the sixth edition of Forward under 40, a publication distributed in March 2013 to UW-Madison alumni and WAA members.

For those still stuck in the Pac Man era, video games may seem like nothing more than child’s play. But these days, video games are big business.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, computer and video game sales topped $16 billion in 2011. And thanks to Justin Beck and Forrest Woolworth, Wisconsin is a major player in the industry.

Their company, PerBlue — a mobile and social gaming company based in Madison — created Parallel Kingdom, the world’s first location-based role-playing game that uses GPS locations to place players in a virtual world on top of the real world. It now has more than 1 million registered accounts and helped PerBlue become the third-largest video game company in the state.

“We started small,” recalls Beck, “a team of six squeezed into every inch of my 700-square-foot apartment in downtown Madison. Today, three years after the founding of PerBlue, we now employ over 30 full-time employees.”

And while Parallel Kingdom remains PerBlue’s primary focus, in 2012, the company launched Parallel Mafia and Parallel Zombies, two more location-based games. PerBlue also ventured into casual games this past year with Bugduster, Bob vs. Bear, and Boardtastic.

For Beck and Woolworth, though, the game they’re really in to win is the entrepreneurial one. And both owe their business ambitions to UW-Madison. Read more about the duo here.

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Phillips Plastics co-founder Cervenka honored in U.S. House speech

On May 14, 2013, Congressman Sean P. Duffy of Wisconsin delivered a short talk before the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize alum Robert Cervenka (BSME ’58). Cervenka co-founded Phillips Plastics in 1964 and was its chairman and CEO until he and his wife, Debbie (the company executive vice president and a member of the board of directors), sold it in 2010.

Bob Cervenka recently earned a lifetime achievement award from the Price County (Wisconsin) Economic Development Association.

Following is a transcript of Duffy’s U.S. House speech:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the business accomplishments of Robert F. Cervenka of Phillips, Wisconsin, who has been presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Price County Economic Development Association.

Bob Cervenka was born and raised in the small town of Phillips, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After his graduation in 1958, Bob returned to the community that he loved to pursue his new business venture–the Phillips Plastics Corporation.

Phillips Plastics began operations on October 20, 1964, occupying an old creamery building in Phillips. In 1967, the company broke ground on a new 12,000 square foot custom plastic facility where they employed 30 skilled workers dedicated to crafting innovative control knobs for automobiles, dishwashers, fans, dehumidifiers, and dryers. In 1973, Phillips Plastics opened Precision Decorating in Medford, Wisconsin.

Shortly thereafter, the facility became known as Phillips Automotive, a full service design, manufacture, decoration, and assembly plant for high volume injection molded components. As industries from the Midwest moved to the south and offshore, Bob recognized that Wisconsin’s rural, small community workforce offered a unique competitive advantage. He developed additional plants in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, New Richmond, Hudson, and Prescott among others.

Capitalizing on the company’s success, Mr. Cervenka and co-founder Louie Vokurka established the independent philanthropic Ann Marie Foundation in 1974. Named after their mothers, the foundation worked to improve the quality of life within local communities that are home to Phillips Plastics facilities. Since its inception, the foundation has given over $8 million to schools and non-profit organizations.

Thanks to the business contributions of outstanding citizens like Robert F. Cervenka, Wisconsin’s economic future looks bright. I ask that my colleagues join me today to express our appreciation for Bob’s entrepreneurial spirit and our congratulations to him on receiving this well-deserved award.”

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Advanced manufacturing focus of June 10-14 conference

Featuring a broad swath of leading-edge research from around the world, an advanced manufacturing research conference June 10-14, 2013, will draw nearly 500 academic, industrial and governmental participants to the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison.

Hosted by UW-Madison, the event couples the 41st North American Manufacturing Research Conference, sponsored by the North American Manufacturing Research Institute within the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and the 2013 Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference, sponsored by ASME International.

“If you want ideas about things you might be able to implement or use in three to five years, this is a great place,” says Frank Pfefferkorn, a UW-Madison associate professor of mechanical engineering who is among the event organizers. “If you want to talk with the engineers developing these new ideas, then you definitely want to be at this conference.”

For more information, continue reading here. To register for the conference or workshops,  go to go.wisc.edu/namrc. Early registration for the conference ends May 10.

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