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What is the Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin?

By Portage County Business Council
WMC and Johnson Financial Group Launch 5th Annual Contest

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) and Johnson Financial Group announced on Thursday that the Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin contest will be back for a fifth straight year. The annual competition aims to highlight the state’s manufacturing industry – which employs one in six Wisconsinites – and ultimately determine the Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin’s manufacturers have shown resiliency and determination in the face of COVID-19,” said WMC President & CEO Kurt Bauer. “As we approach Manufacturing Month in October, we hope this contest will showcase the spirit and tenacity of the state’s largest industry and its hundreds of thousands of dedicated workers.”

Any product that is manufactured in Wisconsin qualifies for the contest, and nominations will be accepted starting on Aug. 17 at

The Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin contest is quite simple. Here are the rules:

  • The product must be manufactured in Wisconsin.
  • The company headquarters does not need to be in Wisconsin, but the product must be manufactured in a Wisconsin-based facility.
  • The product must be made using a manufacturing process. For example, a restaurant that makes “made to order” pizzas would not qualify but a food manufacturer that mass-produces frozen pizzas would. Not sure if your product qualifies? Contact us.
  • Companies may only have one product featured in the Top 16, so only one product nomination per company is encouraged.
  • Winning companies are prohibited from participating in the contest for one year, while each winning product is indefinitely prohibited from being nominated again.
  • Voting is open to the public and each person must register with their email address and can cast one vote per day when voting is open.

WMC and Johnson Financial Group have partnered together for this contest since 2016, and Wisconsinites have cast over 650,000 votes since its inception. Last year alone, roughly 150 products were nominated and nearly 250,000 votes were cast to determine the Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin. Products have ranged from motorcycles, military vehicles, cheese products, boats, generators, food carts, iron castings, beer, rifles, all-terrain vehicles, outboard motors, snow blowers and much, much more. The past four winners were:

  • Big Boy All-Weather Rifle – Henry Repeating Arms.
  • Sea Salt Caramel Pecan Kringle – Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe.
  • Joint Light Tactical Vehicle – Oshkosh Corporation.
  • Milwaukee Eight Engine – Harley-Davidson.

“We are proud to once again join WMC in sponsoring such an energized contest,” said Johnson Financial Group CEO Jim Popp. “Wisconsin’s manufacturers make some of the coolest products in the world, and we are eager to find out what will be named the Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin this year.”

Nominations will be accepted from Aug. 17 through Sept. 4. Following the nomination period, a popular vote September 14-20 will determine the Top 16 products that will be placed in a bracket-style tournament called Manufacturing Madness. Products will compete against one another in head-to-head match-ups, and the products that receive the highest votes in each match-up will advance to the next round.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Aug. 17-Sept. 4:  Nominations Accepted
  • Sept. 14-Sept. 20:  Popular Vote to Determine the Field of 16
  • Sept. 21:  Announce the Top 16
  • Sept. 22-Sept. 27:  1st Round of the Bracket
  • Sept. 28:  Announce the Top 8
  • Sept. 29-Oct. 4:  2nd Round of the Bracket
  • Oct. 5:  Announce Top 4
  • Oct. 6-Oct. 14:  Final Round
  • Oct. 14:  Winner Announced

Products that move onto the next rounds will be announced via a livestream video. The winner will be announced at WMC Foundation’s Made in Wisconsin Luncheon, which will be held virtually on Oct. 14.

Please visit for more information on the contest and to begin nominating a product on Aug. 17.


Some information provided by a News Release from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC). Additional information from,

For more information, contact
Nick Novak, 608.258.3400