Welcome to the Aug. 21 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Leadership Louisville Luncheon to feature the mayor of Dallas 

Mayor Rawlings | Official photo

The former CEO of Yum Brand and the Mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, will be the guest speaker at Leadership Louisville’s annual luncheon on Tuesday. The theme is “Big State. Big City. Big Solutions.”

According to a news release, “Rawlings will share how he’s applying lessons learned as a CEO to drive progress and growth in the public sector, leading to Dallas being one of the fastest-growing metros in the nation.”

The event, which will be packed with an estimated 1,000 business and civic leaders, will open with a performance by Jung Youth (Justin Donahue), a Louisville-born, St. X grad who will perform his song “Only One King,” which was selected by NFL for “Thursday Night Football” promotions.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will also be a featured speaker.

The event is at the Galt House and starts at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $75. —Melissa Chipman

New El Taco Luchador location opening this week

A trio of tacos from El Taco Luchador | Photo by Steve Coomes

St. Matthews residents and workers will soon get a taste of what they’ve been missing out on when El Taco Luchador opens its a new location at 112 Meridian Ave.

El Taco Luchador is fill the former Meridian Cafe space after that restaurant closed and rebranded in a site in Prospect.

The St. Matthew location is slated to open on Thursday, Aug. 24, for lunch and dinner. The restaurant is an Mexican eatery that serves tacos, tortas, maduros and more. Prices range from $3.25 to $10.25.

According to its Facebook page, the new store will offer some new menu items, including a “Mexican Crunchy Salad” with arugula, roasted tomatoes, beets, carrots, radish, red onions, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, queso fresco, avocado, pickled red cabbage, crispy tortilla chips and agave-lime dressing.

El Taco Luchador is one of Olé Restaurant Group’s six restaurant concepts and its only fast-casual restaurant. Martinez told Insider previously that El Taco Luchador is the future of the company and that he hoped to open more locations.—Caitlin Bowling

Four Louisville companies crack the Inc. 1000

Four Louisville companies made it into the top 1,000 companies in Inc. Magazines’s Inc. 5000, a list of the fastest-growing businesses in America. None of them cracked the top 100, but one, PAKmed, came close. The list also notes the company’s growth, revenue and inventory.

Let’s take a look at those companies and what they do.

No. 118: PAKmed — 3,414 percent, $11.6 million, health

PAKmed proves that focusing on baby boomers means booming business. PAKmed makes all kinds of orthotic braces — back braces, shoulder bases, wrist braces and the like. The company began as a family-run business in 2012, according to its website. PAKMed began manufacturing in the United States the next year.

No. 194: Ladder Now — 2,231 percent, $12.4 million, insurance

Ladder Now was also founded in 2012. This one is super specific: Ladder Now provides insurance carriers with an inspection service for high and steep roofs. The company promises its staff are “high quality, reliable and unfailingly on-time.” Indeed, the website says that the company’s inspectors are 98 percent on time.

Andy Estes | LinkedIn

No. 517: SkuVault — 861 percent, $34 million, software

Well, isn’t this the not-so-little-anymore scrappy startup that could? Guess what? It was also formed in 2012. Insider visited with co-founder Andy Eastes last year when he and his co-founders became Endeavor Entrepreneurs. SkuVault is a warehouse inventory tracking system. SkuVault tracks inventory from the moment it enters a warehouse until the moment it leaves. With the rocketing sales of e-commerce, it’s not hard to guess why this company is growing fast.

No. 702: SmartBox Web Marketing — 646 percent, $6 million, advertising and marketing

Insider talked to founder Colin Receveur this year about this marketing firm that caters to dentists. SmartBox offers its employees unlimited time off and other Silicon Valley-style benefits. It also has a program called “Smart Fit.” If the company decides that a new employee is not a smart fit, it gives them a month’s severance pay. This helps keep people from sticking around when they’re unhappy. It also lets SmartBox get back to searching for the right fit.

Bummer that SmartBox broke the trend… it was founded in 2014. But look! The No. 1 company on the list, San Francisco software company Skillz, was also founded in 2012. Melissa Chipman

See the hot spots for LouVelo bike share stations

While it’s too soon to talk about major enhancements to the LouVelo bike share system, Rolf Eisinger, Louisville Metro’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, provided a snapshot of the top 10 stations for the month of July (out of 27 stations across the city).

See if you notice a trend.

Courtesy of LouVelo

Fourth Street stations were the most popular that month, and the proximity to the tourist-friendly Fourth Street Live and hotels most likely played a role in the rankings.

But the top spot goes to the station near Slugger Field as baseball and soccer fans biked to and from those Louisville Bats games and LouCity matches.

Currently, pricing options include $3.50/30 minutes, pay as you go; $15/month for unlimited 60-minute rides; and an annual pass of $10/month for 60-minute rides.

According to Matthew Glaser, general manager, LouVelo will soon offer a “day pass” option, $7.50 for unlimited 60-minute rides. If the rider keeps the bike longer than an hour, it is $3.50 for each 30 minutes after, he says.

Meantime, this month the bike sharing system was looking for a full-time administrative and marketing assistant to get the word out and, based on updates on its Facebook page, had landed some news sponsors: Chase and the Eye Care Institute. —Mickey Meece

Texas Roadhouse expands its beekeeping operations

Texas Roadhouse employees planted a garden to feed the company’s bees. | Courtesy of Texas Roadhouse

Louisville steakhouse chain Texas Roadhouse is for the bees.

In March 2016, two beehives were set up at the company’s corporate headquarters off Dutchmans Lane as part of an effort to bring awareness to the declining bee population, Insider reported. Now, the company has added two more beehives and created a garden with bee-friendly plants, complete with a pot for Willie Nelson, who has an ownership stake in the company.

“We call it our Feed the Bee Team,” Texas Roadhouse spokesman Travis Doster said in an email.

The company also worked with the Oldham County Beekeepers Association to install hives at Masonic Homes of Kentucky at The Olmstead and is planning to place hives at 18th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard — the site of Chef Space — in the future as well.

As part of its bee education efforts, Texas Roadhouse also will organizing kid’s night activities where they will promote “feeding the bees” by planting of flowers that bees like, Doster said in the email. —Caitlin Bowling

Middle-market companies in Kentucky are ranked in Amex/Dun & Bradstreet index

Middle Market Power Index | American Express and Dun & Bradstreet

According to a recent index from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet, Kentucky has an estimated 2,177 middle-market companies — those with $10 million to $1 billion in annual revenue — which make up 1 percent of all companies in the state.

Kentucky ranks 16 out of all 50 states for growth in number of middle-market companies from 2011-2017.

Economic growth does not always come from the most expected places, says Brendan Walsh, executive vice president, American Express Global Commercial Payments. “It’s not just the small startups and large multinational companies that are hiring the most people and leading the way in revenue growth,” he said in a news release, “it is also midsized manufacturers and wholesalers in the heartland, which are becoming leaner and more globally competitive. Growth in these sectors, among other middle-market industries, is what is really moving the needle for the American economy.”

The latest Middle Market Power Index finds that while middle-market companies make up less than 1 percent of all U.S. businesses, they contribute about one in four dollars (27 percent) and employ a little more than a quarter of U.S. workers (27 percent) in the private sector. Overall, the report found, middle-market companies were also responsible for more than half (51.7 percent) of the 51.8 million new jobs that have been created in the U.S. since 2011.

“These companies are clearly growth-oriented and are indicative of where the economy may outperform in the years ahead,” said Nalanda Matia, lead economist at Dun & Bradstreet, in the release. —Mickey Meece

Taste of Louisville launches its first mobile application

Taste of Louisville logo | Courtesy of the Kentucky Restaurant Association

Mobile applications for events seem to be becoming a must-have.

The Kentucky State Fair this year introduced a mobile app, and now, the Louisville chapter of the Kentucky Restaurant Association has launched its own app for its annual Taste of Louisville event.

The organization worked with local company V-Soft Consulting to create the app, which allows event guests to vote for their favorite of the more than 50 participating restaurants, learn about the restaurants and receive special discounts.

Those who download the mobile app also can enter to win dinner each month for a year from participating restaurants.

Taste of Louisville is scheduled for Oct. 18 this year at Bowman Field. Tickets are $65, and the event benefits Home of the Innocents, Jill’s Wish and the restaurant association. Those with the app can get $10 off the ticket price. —Caitlin Bowling

Behold the Birthday Bourbon, which Old Forester promises will be more of this year

Happy Birthday! | Courtesy of Old Forester

It’s almost Birthday Bourbon time, and this year, Old Forester says there will be more of the limited-edition special release, especially for those of us in Kentucky. Does that mean you’ll see bottles on the shelves of liquor stores when you walk in? Well, it all depends on luck, since the release is always in such high demand.

If you’re not familiar, each September, Old Forester releases this special 12-year-old bourbon in honor of founder George Garvin Brown — whose huge mug is on the side of Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen.

This is the 17th year for the Birthday Bourbon, and is quite possibly the most unique. Why? Because there will actually be two different releases — one at 96 proof and one at 95.4.

The bourbon was drawn from different warehouses and floors in 2005, with 93 of the barrels maturing together on the fourth floor of the G warehouse, and the other 27 barrels hanging out on the fifth floor of K. The G guys yielded an extremely spice-forward taste, while the K barrels were sugary sweet.

But while some of the bourbon sat in a holding tank and was transferred to the bottling line, precious alcohol vapors were lost, causing the proof to come down to 95.4. So a majority will be 96 proof, but there will be a few 95.4 proof bottles out there, as noted on the front.

Florida and Georgia get the lower-proofed Birthday Bourbon, while the rest of the states get the 96-er. So what about us here in Bourbon Country? Well, we’re special — we get both, if we can find the on the shelf.

So how’s it taste? Jackie Zykan, Old Fo’s master taster, says the mix of the sugar and spice is quite nice.

“The common denominators in this year’s blend are chocolate and black pepper,” she says in a press release. “The finish is interesting, as it really ignites the perimeters of the palate and cascades off into a soft, dry floral bouquet.”

The 2017 Birthday Bourbon should hit shelves around Sept. 2, Brown’s official birthday. It retails for a suggested cost of $79.99. —Sara Havens

In Brief

IdeaFestival is taking nominations for the annual Orange Fork Awards, which are presented at the Taste (formerly Taste of Innovation) celebration during the festival. They are given in three possible categories, Health, Business and Community, the Orange Fork Award and celebrate “innovation, sustainability, inspiration and change initiation,” according to a news release. Nominations are due by Sep. 11 and may be emailed to [email protected]

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