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(Photo courtesy of Twin Disc)Twin Disc Inc. Board of directors Michael Batten, 75, died in his sleep at his home in Racine on Wednesday, May 6.

Known as “a thoughtful man” by many, Batten believed in supporting the community.

Twin Disc released the following statement:

“Since June 1, 1970, Mr. Batten worked at Twin Disc and was fully devoted to the company and his family. His positive impression on the countless coworkers he worked with in his over four decades of service at Twin Disc, as well as the greater community of his lifelong home of Racine, Wisconsin, will not be forgotten. Mr. Batten will always be remembered for his hard work, dedication, intelligence, honesty and fairness. He will be forever missed.”

Batten served as a financial analyst with Racine-based Twin Disc in 1970, which was started in 1918 by his grandfather PH Batten by offering the first “twin disc” clutch for farm tractors and construction equipment. Michael served as president and chief executive officer of Twin Disc, until his son John Batten took over in 2013.

Twin Disc makes power transmission products.

Michael graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor’s Degree in history and had a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

David Rayburn was appointed Thursday, May 7 to become the chairman of Twin Disc.

Jim Ladwig, president of the Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce and former Racine County Executive, said Mike was a great business man and an even better person.
“Losing Mike is going to be a tremendous loss for our community and me personally,” Ladwig said. “Mike was a mentor and a friend. “Batten served as a member of the board for the Racine County Workforce Development Board and helped spearhead Higher Expectations, a workforce planning initiative.

Batten gave a significant amount of funding to help run the Higher Expectations initiative, just funded scholarships for students at Prairie School, was generous with RAMAC, and the United Way, Ladwig said.

“He always put his money where his mouth was and was willing to back up what he believed in,” Ladwig said.

Jeff Neubauer, chief executive officer and owner of Kranz Inc., also worked with Batten in forming the Higher Expectations program.

“I loved that guy,” Neubauer said. “To me he was the quintessential public-spirited citizen and community leader.”

Neubauer pointed to how Batten led Twin Disc through difficult financial times and helped it thrive at a time when many manufacturers did not thrive. He helped expand the business, but he also didn’t just see successes in the company. He was also proud that his son John took over the company.

“He was great husband and father,” Neubauer said. “Last week, he and I were walking out of Modine where we had a meeting and we were talking about John taking over the leadership of the company. “

Batten explained that it was his lifelong goal to have John takeover.

“I said, mission accomplished, and he said, ‘Absolutely, and nothing could make me happier.’ He beamed with pride,” Neubauer said.


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.