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Tuesday | 10 March, 2009 | 5:10 am

Good guys finish first

March 2009 - Rick Piacenza, vice president of automation systems for Ncell Systems Inc., Minnetonka, Minn., has been in the metals industry for the past 20 years. From 1989 to 1999, he worked for a division of Emerson Electric Co., Vermont American, as a regional sales manager before being promoted to director of sales. From 1999 to 2002, he was a national sales manager for Pace American, an OEM that manufactured trailers. From 2002 to 2006, Piacenza separately held the positions of director of sales and director of marketing for CFM Companies, a division of Chicago Metallic Corp. While with CFM, he served on the Metals Service Center Institute's carbon flat rolled technical council.

Since 2006, he's worked for Vulcanium Corp., a metal fabrication job shop and Plataine Inc. Today, in addition to his position at Ncell, Piacenza serves on the industrial laser technical council for Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International.

But before he was a metals industry veteran, Piacenza played basketball at the University of Wisconsin. Recently, the university hosted its Men's Basketball Alumni Weekend, during which the University of Wisconsin played Ohio State University. In honor of Piacenza's friend Paul Morenz, a Wisconsin basketball and baseball alumnus who died of brain cancer in 1998 just a few months after that year's alumni weekend, Piacenza, in conjunction with the National W Club and Capital Candlelighters, brought 6-year-old Sam Osterhaus, a UW Children's Hospital cancer patient, to the game.

Sam, his sister Maggie and his father Paul met the Wisconsin basketball team Friday, Feb. 13. They watched practice, took a personal tour of the locker room with Head Coach Bo Ryan and received autographs from all the players.

On Saturday, Feb. 14, after Sam and Maggie joined the team on the court for the starting lineup introductions, the Osterhaus family and Piacenza cheered on the Badgers from the Kohl Center's Nicholas Suite. When Kari Osterhaus asked her son Sam how he and his sister were treated over the weekend, his response was, "Like rock stars!"

Visit Capital Candlelighters at www.capcan.org to learn more.

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