Welcome to the Aug. 17 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Oohology loses creative director to Power Creative, four months after hiring him from Power Creative
Scott Schroeder must’ve gotten homesick for his old digs at Power Creative, because he’s back at the ad/marketing firm, just four months after leaving it for upstart Oohology. Schroeder officially joined Oohology in late April; both he and Glenn Goodman left Power to sign on as creative directors and partners at Oohology.
Schroeder had been an associate creative director at Power — where he’d worked since 2005 — before being hired away by Oohology.
Upon hiring Schroeder and Goodman, Oohology issued a news release touting the lead creative work they had done on accounts at Power, including GE Aviation, The Hartford, Phillips 66, and Olmsted Parks Conservancy. “Glenn and Scott create amazing work,” Mark Palmer, chief creative officer at Oohology, said in the release. “I can’t wait to see what these guys do in an environment that fosters innovation and is unlimited by imagination.”
IL spoke with Schroeder at Power. Other than confirming his name, and that he is now working there again, he declined additional comment. Ad industry insiders say Schroeder started work at Power within just the past week. IL has contacted Power Creative and Oohology for additional comment, but so far neither firm has responded.
Ad industry pros added some insights into why Schroeder may have made such an abrupt about face. “Schroeder and a couple others may have been brought in to help make good on Oohology’s claims of being a creative advertising firm,” said Dan Barbercheck, head of Louisville ad firm Red7e. “Perhaps his departure is due to frustration over the challenges of getting them there.”
Another industry insider said they too know people who have taken jobs at Oohology and are now trying to leave; this same insider said they believe Oohology could be being built to be sold. —David Serchuk
Bodega drops plans for Highlands (for now), settles in to Crescent Hill home
Everything is falling into place for a fall opening for Fond LLC, a small grocery, bakery and part-time restaurant at 2520 Frankfort Ave. in Crescent Hill.
Fond is the brainchild of personal chef Madeleine Dee. The store will sell mostly local products, including Bourbon Barrel Foods goods, chicken eggs, kimchi, surplus produce from chef Josh Moore’s farm, and Dee’s own jams and pickles.
She will have 10 to 15 vendors selling products there when Fond opens in October.
Dee also will sell coffee and tea — after all, it was formerly a teahouse — as well as muffins and cakes. With every purchase of $5 or more, customers will receive a free pumpkin chocolate chip muffin, Fond’s specialty.
Fond will serve a quiche brunch on Sundays, but since it won’t have a liquor license, customers will be encouraged to BYOB. The brunch will include bottomless orange juice for anyone who wants to bring champagne for mimosas.
The store also will allow her to host monthly cooking classes as well as five-course prix fixe dinners for 12 on Fridays and Saturdays. The dinners will be $75 per person, and people can take all 12 seats for a party or only a couple seats.
As IL reported in June, The plan originally was to open a store in the Highlands. But Dee said it wasn’t financially possible.
Base rent at the Highlands locations she looked at was $2,500 to $3,000 a month, she said, whereas the Crescent Hill store didn’t need to be built out and was considerably cheaper than the site she was seriously considering in the Highlands.
Dee said the Crescent Hill shop will allow her to build a strong foundation for Fond.
“I just love the atmosphere. I love how intimate it is,” she said. “I think Crescent Hill is an up-and-coming neighborhood.”
Eventually, Dee wants to open a second location in the Highlands and possibly a third in Southern Indiana.
Dee faced a few struggles on the way to opening the store. She tried to raise $30,000 on Indiegogo but only raised about $8,000 — $7,100 after the crowd-funding website took its cut. But Dee said she never expected to raise the full amount, which is why she decided to run a campaign that allowed her to keep whatever money she did raise no matter what.
She then tried to get a traditional bank loan, but since she was self-employed as a personal chef, she ultimately was denied. In the end, some silent investors gave money to her cause, and she was able to secure a $5,000 Kiva Zip loan.
“It was a blessing,” Dee said.
To check on the businesses progress, you can like Fond LLC on Facebook or follow @FondLouisville on Twitter. —Caitlin Bowling
In other Crescent Hill news: Block Party Boutique opens
Mary Levinsky’s Block Party Handmade Boutique on South Fourth Street has done so well that she’s opening a second location — a collaborative space for artists and entrepreneurs — at 2916 Frankfort Ave., near the corner of Frankfort and Stilz. Block Party operates on a micro rental space agreement, where artists own boutique space within the shop.
Levinsky says the new location will feature different artists and merchandise in a much smaller space. The downtown gallery features more than 60 artists, while the Crescent Hill shop will have about 35.
She tells Insider Crescent Hill is a perfect fit for her shop because of its location next to other local businesses, available parking and more foot traffic.
“I decided on Frankfort Avenue because I wanted a location that could be accessible to a wider local audience with easy, free parking, but that still had a unique storefront like the one we have downtown,” says Levinsky. “I wasn’t expecting to find anything right away, but I found a beautiful historic storefront with a private parking lot and decided to jump on it. I love the neighborhood and that there are many locally owned shops and restaurants nearby.”
She says her favorite part of running Block Party has been the relationships she’s forged with artists and customers. Some of the artists in her shop have been with her since before she opened the downtown location.
“My hope is to provide more opportunities and success for my team as well as for new artists with opening the second shop,” she says.
A grand opening celebration is planned for Saturday, Aug. 22, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the new location, 2916 Frankfort Ave. There will be crafts, cotton candy, raffles — even the mayor will be there to cut the ribbon at 12:30 p.m. Stay tuned to the Facebook page for more details. —Sara Havens
CafePress quarterly earnings show the firm is still a long way from profitable
Louisville’s bespoke printing firm CafePress just issued its most recent quarterly earnings. This financial news shows the firm is working toward becoming a more focused, slimmed-down company, but one that is still far from profitable.
The earnings were reported on Aug. 14. CafePress had revenues of $21.8 million for the most recent quarter, down year-over-year from its prior comparison quarter’s $29.1 million. But this thinner revenue stream comes courtesy of CafePress selling a number of business over the past several months. The goal: focus the firm more on promoting and concentrating on a few, highly profitable businesses.
CafePress’ net income showed a loss of $8.8 million for the quarter, versus a loss of $4.3 million the year before.
Yet CEO Fred Durham said there was good news lurking inside these figures. The firm’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, aka EBITDA, showed it eking out a profit of $700,000 for the quarter. Durham said this was the firm’s first non-holiday quarter with positive EBITDA in over two years. Last year the firm’s EBITDA came in negative $1.8 million for the same quarter.
Some critics of EBITDA say it is not a completely reliable way to measure a firm’s financial health, as it factors out a bunch of measures that meaningfully impact a firm’s actual health, such as taxes. As such, even unprofitable firms can look healthier than they may be, based on EBITDA numbers alone.
In a conference call with analysts, Durham added CafePress is getting ready to divest its last major non-core holding, EZ Prints, which he described as a “white label photo and fulfillment business.” EZ Prints had about $20 million in annual revenues, but Durham said little of this accrued to the firm’s bottom line. —David Serchuk
Medical office, coffee shop coming to River Ridge
River Ridge Commerce Center isn’t all about industrial companies: A tiny portion of the 6,000-acre business park is now a retail center with four open businesses and another two on the way.
Centra Credit Union, New Washington State Bank, Subway and an outpatient office for Southern Indiana Rehab Hospital already are operating at the center, located at 400 Patrol Road in Jeffersonville.
Optometrist office D’Sol Optical is expected to open any day now at River Ridge, according to its Facebook page. The office is relocating from its current space in Charlestown, Ind.
The final business rounding out the center is a Southern Indiana favorite — Coffee Crossing. The popular coffee shop has one location on Charlestown Road.
Coffee Crossing started hiring for the new location this month. However, owner Allan Butts didn’t return calls for comment, so we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to find out when it will open.
The center is River Ridge’s first foray into retail.
Jerry Acy, executive director of the River Ridge Development Authority, said a couple small retail centers will be developed at River Ridge to cater to workers at the business park.
For the most part, however, the authority expects that retail developments will crop up just outside of River Ridge as more businesses and workers locate there. A couple are already in the works along Indiana State Highway 62, but no ground has been broken. —Caitlin Bowling
Old Bristol Catering building on East Market sells
A long-vacant NuLu storefront finally has sold, but its future remains uncertain.
Chad Givens bought the 8,128-square-foot building at 632 E. Market St. for $500,000 in late June from PBI Bank. Givens and business partner Robert Gauthier are the Louisville franchisees for BC Roosters wings restaurant.
Details about what will happen to the building are few and far between. Givens was out of the country and could not be reached for comment, but talk at last week’s NuLu Business Association meeting indicated he may look to renovate the space and lease it to a business, rather than open his own venture.
Lawsuit: Plumbing supply co. poached Louisville division from rival, stole trade secrets
Two national plumbing supply firms are having it out in court, with one claiming the other not only poached an entire Louisville division, but also stole trade secrets and confidential business information. And there’s some cloak and dagger allegations thrown in by the plaintiffs, too.
The suit — Ferguson Enterprises Inc. v. Lockwood International Inc. — was filed in Louisville Aug. 7.
Ferguson is alleging that over a few weeks this past July, Lockwood poached over a dozen Ferguson employees, including Ferguson’s entire industrial division in Louisville, where Lockwood previously didn’t have any presence. This not only caused Ferguson to lose its industrial division, but one outgoing employee allegedly reached out to some of Ferguson’s biggest Ohio Valley customers before he departed, locking them up for Lockwood. Then the new employees set up camp across the river in Jeffersonville.
The suit claims another employee also stole a box of company files before jumping ship for Lockwood. It alleges he created a Dropbox account to siphon company documents to an external computer, and “many of the documents found within the Dropbox folder contain Ferguson confidential information,” including detailed customer information.
In its suit, Ferguson also alleges that on Saturday, July 18, security cameras caught the aforementioned employee “acting suspiciously” and stealing sensitive business information from Ferguson’s offices. Ferguson also claims that on July 21, its security cams caught a group of employees leaving the Louisville facility with boxes of sensitive information.
Ferguson claims these actions breach their confidentiality agreements and ethics code. The defendants also are accused of conspiracy to acquire Ferguson’s trade secrets.
Schy still shy about gaming venue details
Tony Schy, former director of Velocity, agreed to give us an enthusiastic detailed overview of his newest venture, for which he is hiring … but we had to agree to keep those details under wraps for now. Frustrating, especially since he’s been working on this for upwards of 18 months, and actively for around half a year.
Here’s what we can tell you: It’s going to be a premium gaming venue for both people who take gaming seriously and for people who just want to have fun. He’s actively hiring a manager, who should have some background in management, gaming and retail, as well as an assistant manager. He imagines that when the venue kicks off, he will have around 15 people employed, some of them part time, many of them very tech- and gaming-focused.
The facility is in the process of being built out. Schy and his partner have built two MVPs of key elements of the facility and tested them out to enthusiastic response.
U of L’s Inscope Medical Solutions to ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ today
Global Venture Labs Investment Competition winner University of Louisville’s Inscope Medical Solutions will ring the closing bell at the NASDAQ this afternoon with Rob Adams from Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs. You can watch it live at 3:50 p.m. here.
IMS has created the OneScope, which is a wifi-enabled, disposable laryngoscope, and have toured the world, winning business plan competitions time and again. This is part of their “victory lap” after winning the Global Venture Labs contest, which is pretty much the Super Bowl of business plan competitions. —Melissa Chipman
Correction: The original version of the CafePress story mischaracterized the use of EBITDA in measuring a firm’s financial health. The story has been updated with the correct information.