Phillips-Medisize honored by UW and UW-Stout with Regents Business Partnership Award

Global design, manufacturing firm with four regional facilities recognized for long-standing collaboration with university
The Regents Business Partnership Award presented to Phillips-Medisize.
March 5, 2024

For Phillips-Medisize, Feb. 27 was like many other days in its long relationship with University of Wisconsin-Stout: Company recruiters were on campus seeking students for full-time jobs and internships during the Spring Career Conference.

It also was a special day, however, as Phillips-Medisize was honored for the multiple ways it has worked with UW-Stout for decades. The company was recognized by the Universities of Wisconsin with the Regents Business Partnership Award.

UW President Jay Rothman, Board of Regents President Karen Walsh and UW-Stout Chancellor Katherine Frank presented the award, which was accepted by Dave Thoreson, Phillips-Medisize vice president of Global Operations.

The UW Regents Business Partnership Award presentation Feb. 27 at UW-Stout included, from left, UW President Jay Rothman, Phillips-Medisize Vice President of Global Operations Dave Thoreson, UW-Stout Chancellor Katherine Frank and Board of Regents President Karen Walsh.
From left, UW President Jay Rothman, Phillips-Medisize VP of Global Operations Dave Thoreson, Chancellor Katherine Frank and Board of Regents President Karen Walsh. / UW-Stout

“Working together, this partnership strengthens more than just Phillips-Medisize and UW-Stout; it benefits the entire region and Wisconsin’s economy,” Walsh said.

Phillips-Medisize is a global leader in the design, engineering and manufacturing of pharmaceutical drug delivery, invitro diagnostic and medical technology devices, as well as products for the consumer, automotive and defense industries. 

For example, the company produces more than 600 million insulin pens a year. “There are a lot of people who really count on us, just like we count on UW-Stout,” said Thoreson, a UW-Stout engineering alum who graduated in 1994 with a degree in manufacturing engineering.

Phillips-Medisize corporate headquarters are in Hudson. It also has Wisconsin facilities in Eau Claire, Menomonie and New Richmond.
Phillips-Medisize corporate headquarters are in Hudson. It also has Wisconsin facilities in Eau Claire, Menomonie and New Richmond. / Phillips-Medisize

“The connection is an example of how our role at the Universities of Wisconsin is to serve the state,” Rothman said. “This partnership has done such great things, and I’m excited to see what the future will bring.”

Industry collaborations are a cornerstone of UW-Stout’s polytechnic mission. Each year, the university works with more than 700 companies.

“Collaboration with industry is part of the work we do every day as Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University and is certainly evident today as we are hosting one of the largest career conferences in the Midwest, where we connect our industry partners with our students,” Frank said.

“These connections result in our students obtaining co-ops and internships, many securing a job before they have even graduated, and these connections also contribute to an employment rate that's been near perfect for as long as Phillips-Medisize has recruited at UW-Stout,” Frank said.

Dana Preece, left, of Phillips-Medisize, greets students during the Spring Career Conference at UW-Stout.
Dana Preece, left, of Phillips-Medisize, greets students during the Spring Career Conference at UW-Stout. / UW-Stout

A symbiotic relationship

Phillips-Medisize has attended the biannual career conferences for more than 15 years. It has hired more than 120 students as full-time employees in the last 20 years and 66 students as interns and in co-ops in the last 10 years. 

“We are incredibly grateful for our partnership with Phillips-Medisize and are looking forward to our continued collaboration,” Frank said.

The company also is represented on the plastics engineering program advisory committee, collaborated on curriculum for a quality management course, and was one of the first members of UW-Stout’s Career Services Partnership Program, which now has more than 15 companies.

UW-Stout faculty also have collaborated with Phillips-Medisize employees in manufacturing plants in China and Finland. “We really rely on UW-Stout. It’s a super critical partnership for us,” Thoreson said.

Members of the Phillips-Medisize team take part in the award presentation, including Dave Thoreson, center, and UW-Stout student intern Grace Thoreson, right.
Members of the Phillips-Medisize team take part in the award presentation, including Dave Thoreson, center, and UW-Stout student intern Grace Thoreson, right. / UW-Stout

Based in Hudson, Phillips-Medisize is the largest employer in St. Croix County, including a plant in New Richmond. They employ about 2,800 people across all locations in Wisconsin, with sites in Menomonie, in the Stout Technology and Business Park on the city’s east side, and Eau Claire.

Globally, the company employs about 6,300 people, including more than 700 engineers “of all different disciplines,” Thoreson said.

Along with Thoreson, five UW-Stout alumni who work for Phillips-Medisize attended the award presentation.

Also in attendance was Grace Thoreson, from Luck, Wis., a senior who is majoring in two engineering programs, mechanical and manufacturing. Grace Thoreson, no relation to Dave Thoreson, had an engineering internship at Phillips-Medisize in summer 2023 and will return for a second one this summer.

Phillips-Medisize was founded 60 years ago in Phillips, Wis., as Phillips Plastics. Thoreson worked for the founder, the late Bob Cervenka. A major donation by the Cervenka family helped create the Robert F. Cervenka School of Engineering at UW-Stout. 

Prior to the award presentation, Rothman, Walsh and Frank visited the career conference in the Memorial Student Center. The second day of the four-day event focused on employers and students in engineering. More than 320 employers and 2,000 students attended for the week.

The Regents Business Partnership Award, the first in 2024 presented by the Regents, began in 2023 at campuses across the Universities of Wisconsin. UW-Stout’s 2023 honoree was 3M, which has a production facility in Menomonie.

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