Jim Brush, Owner
Over fifty years ago, Empire began as a one-man operation. James A. Brush wanted the name of his new company to reflect the vision of what he wanted it to become, thus Empire Screen Printing, Inc. was born. Empire is now located on 170 acres in Onalaska, Wisconsin, and has over 200 employees. Check out our About Us page for more info on Empire's rich history.
John Freismuth, President
John Freismuth is the President of Empire Screen Printing. Since becoming President in 2009, John has dedicated his time to changing the company's culture and philosophy by implementing lean manufacturing. Through innovation and technology, John's main focus is providing the customer with products and services that produce sustainable results and business practices.
John started his career at Empire while in high school, "from the outside looking in," by mowing the lawns. Over the years, he moved up in ranks, performing odd jobs and maintenance around the plant. John spent several years as plant manager on 3rd shift, gaining hands-on experience and working to develop employees in every dimension of Empire's production process. In 2004, John was promoted to VP of operations, which he held until 2009. His only interruption in his tenure at Empire was four years of military service in the Navy. In more recent years, John has become Green Belt Certified and a TWI Trainer and is on the Board of Directors for GPI. In his free time, you can find John teeing off at his favorite golf course.
Doug , Billings VP of Marketing
Doug has been the VP of Sales & Marketing for Empire since 2004. He has a background in retail management, grocery, and hard-lines distribution, having worked for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. from 1988 until 1999. He is currently an instructor of marketing and supervisory management at Western Technical College and serves on the Marketing Advisory Committee. Doug also serves on the board of directors for the LaCrosse Children's Museum. Doug's goal is to listen to each customer and find solutions to problems or needs they may have and building life-long relationships. He believes in Sam Walton's quote; "There is only one boss: the customer, and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else."
Lee Vieth, Plant Manager
Lee began his career at Empire in 1991 as the art department coordinator. During that time, he implemented many improvements in computer graphics, digital, and film output that kept Empire on the leading edge of technology. In 2005, Lee was appointed as plant manager and became responsible for all areas of production and personnel. Lee holds an A.A.S. degree in printing and publishing from Western Technical College, as well as Rochester Institute of Technology 4-color certification/WEB training. During his 35 years in the industry, Lee has gained extensive knowledge about graphic arts, screen printing, offset and flexographic printing, small and large format digital printing, and numerous finishing methods. In 2009, he earned his Green Belt certification, focusing on supplier partnerships.
Jim Schwinefus, Vice President
Since 1971, Jim Schwinefus has done much to help grow this company into what you see today. Many of Jim's strengths and skills can be attributed to his 20 years of service in the National Guard. His guard and officer training demonstrated what discipline and hard work can accomplish, and he has accomplished a lot in his 40+ years here at Empire. Jim has helped oversee many expansions and advances in printing technology throughout his tenure here. In the 1980's, Jim's practical experience was augmented by management seminars at Michigan Technological University, where he learned to construct and implement master production schedules. In 2009, his education took a giant leap when he became Green Belt Certified in value stream management. He has also become a strong supporter of lean manufacturing. "You have to think all of the time about better ways to manufacture, always looking to eliminate inefficiency in the workflow."
Autum Jacobs, Assistant VP
Through high school and college, Autum worked at Empire part-time and learning the production side of things. Autum began working full-time for Empire after earning her Bachelor's degree in business and management from Winona State, in Minnesota. In 2008, she was appointed assistant vice president and became a member of the marketing committee. As part of lean manufacturing implementation at Empire, she received her Green Belt certification and was recently certified as a TWI trainer.
John Johnson, Operations Coordinator
John brought all of his practical knowledge and work experience from the Ettrick Live Stock Market and Northern Engraving to Empire Screen Printing. His hands-on experience and work ethic were an asset to Empire from the beginning. Working his way up through the ranks, John gained a practical body of knowledge, which earned him the position of operations coordinator. John excels in this position because he enjoys the responsibility and challenges of educating himself, as well as his fellow employees and Empire's customers, about new technology and how it affects the printing industry. As a result of John's continued willingness to learn, he became Green Belt Certified in January 2010. He underwent a six-month training program, in which he learned how to implement a “pull system” for screen printing. After 25 years at Empire, John proves you never stop learning how to better do your job.