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B U S I N E S S P U L S E©

CEOs were asked to list the Six issues were seen as a Very
greatest challenges facing their Significant challenge for about a
organizations in ’08. As Yogi Berra quarter of the CEOs: Recruiting
said, “It’s deja vu all over again!” Quality Employees (28% Very
Significant), Improving Quality of
The Top Two Challenges for 2008
Marketing Efforts (26%), Developing
are exactly the same as last year:
New Products/Services (25%),
Increasing Sales and Handling Health
Retaining Quality Employees (23%),
Top 8 in ’08: Insurance Costs: Forty-seven percent
said Increasing Sales will be a Very
Developing a Cohesive Top
Management Team (23%) and
Significant challenge for their
The Challenge organization in 2008; 44% said
Handling Increasing Energy
Costs (21%).
Handling Health Insurance Costs
Ahead will be a Very Significant challenge.
The intensity level of each challenge
While Recruiting Quality Employees
continues to be a challenge in
is down slightly from last year when Northeastern Wisconsin, fewer
Increasing Sales and Handling Health CEOs view it as a Very Significant
Insurance Costs had 63% saying challenge for 2008. Over the past
Very Significant. year, unemployment has crept up
slightly and may have loosened the
While firms of all sizes indicate
job market - leading to a lessening
Increasing Sales will pose a significant
of some of the intensity with CEOs.
challenge in 2008, Handling Health
While unemployment is at about
Insurance Costs is a more significant
5.2% nationally, it is somewhat lower
challenge for firms with less than
in Northeastern Wisconsin. The
50 employees. More than half
Appleton MSA unemployment level
(51%) of employers with less than
was 4.3% in October; 4.5% in Green
50 employees termed the health
Bay. These rates are slightly higher
insurance challenge as Very
than ’07 when the Appleton had an
Significant; 39% of employers with
unemployment rate of 3.7% and
50-to-100 employees deemed the
Green Bay was at 3.9%.
challenge in the same light; 33% of
CEOs with more than 100 employees Improving the Quality of Marketing
see it as a Very Significant challenge. Efforts - while a less prominent
concern than Increasing Sales -
(When Nicolet Bank asked a similar
boasted 74% of CEOs indicating
question at the end of ‘05, Sales and
the challenge as Very Significant or
Market Growth was ‘Numero Uno!
Moderately Significant. Naturally,
Healthcare, surprisingly, showed up
marketing efforts are closely linked
only fourth!)
to sales outcomes.

Executive Summary:
End of the Third Quarter, 2007

“I’m not getting information; I'm not managing.”

John Torinus, President & CEO — Serigraph, Inc
Handling of Energy Costs had the as Very Significant ones. Three Nicolet Bank’s previous research
largest increase in the percent of surfaced as being a somewhat has indicated that CEOs see their
CEOs identifying it as a Very more significant challenge for businesses are performing relatively
Significant challenge with 21% 2008 than in 2007: Handling well in terms of net profits, gross
this year compared 13% last year. Energy Costs jumped from 13% revenues, hiring of employees and
last year to 21% this year; engaging in capital spending. So,
What challenges offered the least
Developing New Products/Services they do have confidence in what
concern to NEWi CEOs? Thirty-five
from 19% to 23%; Handling they are doing to meet these
percent indicate that Competing
Changing Rules of Immigration challenges. What really concerns
in an Era of Globalization is Not
from 1% to 5%. them is the environment in
A Significant challenge and 57%
which they have to operate their
say Handling Changing Rules of
businesses. CEOs are particularly
Immigration is Not a Significant
challenge. While only 5% say that Summary concerned about the overall
economic environment in the U.S.
the immigration issue is a Very The Top Challenges for 2008 are
2008 will offer many challenges
Significant challenge, it’s up from essentially the same we saw in
to NEWi CEOs, but the key
less than 1% last year. 2007. The key difference is that
ingredient to success may be how
there seems to be less intensity
When comparing these results the economy overall performs.
about the significance of these
from the same questions a year challenges. This may reflect the The next Nicolet Bank Business
ago, we see that CEOs generally view of CEOs they have made Pulse questionnaire will delve
rank the challenges about the progress in meeting these into some of the sales strategies
same. However, the primary challenges in 2007, or that they CEOs may engage in as they take
difference is that on most are confident that they can meet on the challenge of Increasing
challenges there are fewer CEOs the challenges ahead. Sales THIS year.
who are identifying the challenge

How the Study is conducted

The Nicolet Bank Business Pulse© is a Quarterly Study of CEOs in NE Wisconsin (Brown, Calumet,
Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Winnebago Counties) and
Menominee, Michigan. It is designed and implemented by IntellectualMarketing, LLC.
Participants include: 30% in manufacturing; 26% in services; 18% retail trade; 5% wholesale
trade; 6% finance, real estate, insurance; 6% in transportation, communications, utilities;
6% in construction; 4% in other industries. 6% have fewer than 6 employees; 36% have 6-25;
21% have 26-50; 11% 51-100; 9% 101-250; 3% 251-500; 4% 501-1,000; 1% have 1,001 or more.
QUESTIONS to Dr. David G. Wegge (920) 217-7738; david@intellectualmarketing.com