A member of one of Wisconsin’s favorite beer families was named to the state’s top economic position Friday by the governor at a press conference at the Capitol.
Richard Leinenkugel, the current vice president of sales and marketing for the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in Chippewa Falls, was named secretary of the Department of Commerce by Gov. Jim Doyle. He will begin Sept. 29.
Calling Leinenkugel “the point person” for his cabinet, Doyle said he “comes from a family that has for generations run the kind of business we must have here in Wisconsin to grow our economy.”
“Dick himself is a great business leader who has had a variety of experiences from the United States Marine Corps to politics to all aspects of the beer business, and we are very, very fortunate to have him join our cabinet here today,” Doyle said.
Leinenkugel will step away later this month from the brewing company he has served for the past 21 years where his brother, Jake, serves as president.
He has also served as an officer in the Marine Corps as well as a member of the Waukesha County Board of Supervisors, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
“It really is an opportunity for me to give back to the state that has so richly blessed our family and me personally,” Leinenkugel said.
Leinenkugel will fill the void in the governor’s cabinet left by Jack Fischer, who resigned in July after reports of his extravagant spending during business trips were made public.
Addressing the issue of road trip spending Friday, Leinenkugel said he learned from his father to spend frugally when out on the road. He added the less you spend on yourself during trips, the more you can spend entertaining your customers.
Doyle also addressed the issue, saying while he appreciated Leinenkugel’s attitude about spending, he wants his commerce secretary to be able to do what is good for the state while he is out on the road.
The governor said road trips are expensive by nature but are necessary to the position, adding, “I want Dick Leinenkugel out telling the story of Wisconsin to the world.”
“If Wisconsin is going to be a bold, strong, growing state, we have to engage nationally and we have to engage internationally,” Doyle said.
The Department of Commerce assists in bringing business to the state and aiding companies with marketing, exporting and financing. It is also responsible for regulating construction safety, building codes and petroleum products.