Welcome to The Closing Bell. This is your last stop for biz scoops and big news before the weekend — a roundup of stories that can’t wait till Monday.
The Rush Inn may get new life as Mellwood Tavern
Longtime bar and grill The Rush Inn may finally have a buyer after years on the market.
Louisville residents Briana Clemerson, Scott Crowder and Patrick Gregory have filed a notice in The Courier-Journal that they plan to apply for a liquor license for a business called Mellwood Tavern, located at 1801 Brownsboro Road — the address of The Rush Inn.
Given the name, it seems that the property will continue to house a bar and restaurant.
IL reported more than two years ago that The Rush Inn owner Jeff Rand was looking to sell the 131-year-old building and the business. Back then, his asking price was $545,000.
Jim Harbolt, a Realtor with Gant Hill & Associates who is representing Rand, said the sale is still pending. The trio needs to complete a few stipulations before the sale can go through and is still finalizing financing, he said.
GE union plans to convene committee to avert warehouse outsourcing
Leaders of GE Appliances and a local union plan to get together to figure out how to improve the efficiency of a local warehouse, a union leader told IL. The company had said that it wants to outsource the work being done by the 217 local employees.
Dana Crittenden, president of the IUE-CWA Local 83761, said union officials have met to discuss their strategy and plan to convene a committee of hourly warehouse employees and company managers to identify areas that need to be improved.
The 47-acre warehouse handles finished appliances — made locally, elsewhere in the U.S. and internationally — before they are shipped to customers including retailers or to other distribution centers closer to customers.
GE had said that despite investments of $5 million, the operation continues to be less efficient than other similar distribution centers in the company’s network. However, Glenn Hagan, the union’s vice president, had told IL that the inefficiencies were a result of scheduling problems caused by a third party, error-prone software and the company’s slow response to employees’ improvement suggestions.
The union has an initial 60 days to offer a proposal to counter GE’s plans, but Crittenden said the period can be extended. He said the union wants the finger-pointing to stop and instead focus on addressing the issues that are hampering the warehouse operation’s efficiency.
“There could be issues on both sides,” he said.
Elasticity’s Louisville office doubles in size, seeks continued growth in Louisville
Anyone who knows Jason Falls knows that if he were writing this he’d have some snarky comment about “size.” And it is worth a chuckle because Elasticity “doubling in size” means there are now two people in the Louisville office of the St. Louis-based PR, social media and digital marketing firm. Louisville native Christine (Horn) Tarquinio has joined Falls as a senior account manager; Falls is the senior VP of digital strategy.
Tarquinio is a vet of Bandy Carroll Hellige, Red7e and the Cubero Group in Louisville. Tarquinio also spent time at IU Southeast as director of marketing and communications and as marketing director at Bullitt Ventures Inc.
“Christine’s marketing know-how and ability to manage multiple clients and projects at an extremely high level means our Louisville office now has the in-person organization and efficiency fitting for a growing firm,” said Elasticity managing partner Brian Cross. “She joins Jason Falls in leading a presence in Louisville we see continuing to grow at a fast pace. We’re thrilled to have someone with her acumen for leading client success in this role.”
On a national level, Elasticity has handled marketing efforts for H&R Block, Capital One, USA Today, Café Valet, eHarmony and the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce, among others. Elasticity’s Louisville office opened in September of 2014. Among its roster of clients, the firm also lists Fireball Whisky, CafePress, Red e App, Farm Credit Mid-America, and 55,000 Degrees as brands with Louisville headquarters or teams.
“There are agencies in Louisville who do pieces of the digital puzzle well, but few in my opinion that cover the gamut of a fully integrated digital approach in a level fitting medium- to large-brands,” said Falls. —Melissa Chipman
Imitation is the truest form of flattery … right VIA Studio?
Our friends over at VIA Studio took to the Chow Wagon last week to chat with people about Derby for their “news reporting arm” dubbed “Outsider Louisville.”
It really is pretty hilarious; if we add a person-on-the-street video column, should we reach out to you, Jason Clark?
Clark drops some serious dad jokes, tries to make “Werby” a thing, and is asked if “Ramsey’s Resignation” is a racehorse name.
Also in VIA news, the team just designed a new T-shirt for Waterfront Park:
It’s adorable. The shirts will be available at WFPK Waterfront Wednesdays (the next one is May 25). —Melissa Chipman
UPS Foundation partners with robotics firm to deliver medicine — via drones
The UPS Foundation has joined a robotics company and a nonprofit to deliver life-saving medicines in Rwanda — with drones.
The partners said they hope to “transform the way life-saving medicine like blood and vaccines are delivered across the world.”
“This public-private partnership combines a century of global logistics expertise, cold chain and healthcare delivery from UPS with Zipline’s national drone delivery network and Gavi’s experience in developing countries focused on saving lives and protecting health in the most remote places of the world,” the foundation said in a press release.
This year, the Rwandan government will start using drones to deliver blood to 21 facilities in western Rwanda, which has the planet’s highest rate of maternal death from postpartum hemorrhaging. The partners plan to expand the project to also deliver treatments for malaria, tuberculosis and other conditions.
“Rwanda’s drone delivery operation is expected to save thousands of lives over the next three years and could serve as a model for other countries,” the foundation said.
New fitness business kicks into high gear
Post-Derby Depression is real. After a week of consuming copious amounts of food and bourbon, it’s back to the grindstone and back to those neglected workouts.
With Derby just past the finish line and summer closing in, new Louisville business 502 FitPass is launching Saturday, May 14, to help residents battle the bulge. Insider Louisville wrote about 502 FitPass in March when it was starting a trial run, but as of Saturday, anyone can sign-up for the program.
The FitPass offers members access to 39 gyms, studios and fitness facilities around the city to take classes including yoga, barre, spinning and CrossFit. The cost is $119 a month for the opportunity to visit each facility three times each month, or $55 a month for the chance to visit five fitness facilities once each month.
The company also is launching FitPass Perks, which will give members five different deals each month. Partner businesses include LifeBar, Primp Style Lounge, Wild Dog Rose, I Love Juice Bar, Summer Shade Soap Co., YES Louisville and Ken Combs Running Store.
Couple plans to open Butchertown photography studio
A pair of Evansville, Ind. transplants are making themselves at home (and at work) in Butchertown.
Jesse and Gena Daniels have purchased a historic shotgun at 1419 Story Ave. and have hired Work Architecture + Design and Shine Contracting to renovate the home into a live/work space for their nearly decade-old photography business.
“We wanted to find a studio that we could sort of make our own,” Jesse Daniels said.
The studio, which will open in January 2017, will feature a small gallery where they will display other artists’ work, changing rooms, lounge, office and large studio space with an infinity wall. It will have a modern loft-type feel, Daniels said, but will retain the historic features on the exterior.
“I think (the design) is going to surprise people,” Daniels said. “We really want to have a gallery feel so we can open up to the community.”
The couple has traveled to Louisville to work in the past and has been wanting to move here for a few years.
“We love the Butchertown neighborhood. When we went on dates in Louisville, we would kind of end up there,” Daniels said.
With the studio will come a change in focus for the Daniels, who’ve mainly shot weddings and engagement photos. Last year, the couple shot 40 weddings, which involves a lot of traveling, but Daniels said he and his wife want to cut back and shift more toward headshots and brand, business and architectural photography — much of which they can do in-studio.
“We want to do other things and really just diversify what we offer,” Daniels said. Plus, they are having their first child this year. “The timing was just perfect.”
The couple won’t completely stop taking baby, wedding and engagement photos, though. They will continue those under the name Jesse & Gena Photography, while the commercial photography will operate as Neon Photo Co.
Notably, another live/work photography studio called First Light Image is set to open just down the street in the Butcherblock project. —Caitlin Bowling
Actors Theatre hires Kevin E. Moore as new managing director
In January, when Jennifer Bielstein stepped down from her position with Actors Theatre after 10 years, the company began a nationwide search for a new managing director. It was only the second time in their 53-year history they had to do so. With anticipation high, this week they announced Bielstein’s replacement: theater veteran Kevin E. Moore.
Moore comes to Louisville with 25 years of experience under his belt, most recently as managing director of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) in New York City. He is a major proponent of American theater and was responsible for all business functions of the national organization for nonprofit theaters in the country, including finances, research and collective action, human resources, fundraising and marketing. Prior to that job, he spent 10 years at the Arizona Theatre Company with various responsibilities.
“I’m thrilled Kevin E. Moore will be joining me and our dedicated team at Actors Theatre here in Louisville,” said Actors’ artistic director Les Waters in a press release. “Kevin not only has a passion for new plays but an understanding that theater needs to belong to the community in which it lives. During his time at TCG, Kevin gained a national perspective from theaters throughout the country. He will bring the best of those experiences here to Actors Theatre.”
PharMerica earnings slide on higher expenses
PharMerica’s first-quarter profit fell 57 percent, as the Louisville-based pharmacy services provider struggled with rising litigation and restructuring charges.
First-quarter net income was $4.1 million, down from $9.5 million in the first quarter of last year.
Revenues increased — but not as much as operating costs. Revenues, at $524.5 million, rose 2.5 percent, but the cost of goods sold jumped 4.6 percent, to $442.5 million.
Gross profit, at $82 million, fell more than 7 percent.
Operating income declined 53 percent, to $7.9 million, hampered by $3.1 million in settlement, litigation and related charges, which increased 35 percent, and $1.4 million in restructuring and impairment charges.
Nonetheless, CEO Greg Weishar said in a press release that results for the quarter ended March 31 exceeded the company’s expectations, in part because the number of dispensed prescriptions increased in each of the last two quarters and because of the company’s continued diversification.
Weishar said revenues from specialty home infusion, oncology and hospital pharmacy management rose 47 percent.
New Orleans mayor to speak at Leadership Louisville Luncheon
Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans, is the featured speaker at the annual Leadership Louisville Luncheon. This year’s theme is “Lead with Character.”
Landrieu is New Orleans royalty. His father, Moon Landrieu, is a former mayor of New Orleans (1970-78), former Secretary of HUD in the Carter Administration, and former Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals judge. His sister Mary is a former U.S. senator and previously served as state treasurer and in Louisiana’s House of Representatives.
Leadership Louisville had high praise for the featured speaker; from the new release: “Under Landrieu, New Orleans became one of the fastest growing major cities in America and added over 15,000 new jobs. Home values are up 50 percent, unemployment has remained below the national average and Landrieu initiated a blight reduction strategy that has reduced overall blight by more than 10,000 properties since 2010 – faster than any other city in the country. New retail is booming, and there’s been more than $6 billion in private development in the city since May 2010.”
The 2016 Leadership Louisville Luncheon will be held Aug. 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Louisville Marriott Downtown, 280 W. Jefferson St. For more information, go here. —Melissa Chipman
Architecture firm responsible for Waterfront Park wins prestigious design award
Hargreaves Associates, the landscape architecture firm whose vast projects include Louisville’s Waterfront Park, recently was bestowed the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum Award for landscape architecture. The award recognizes Hargreaves’ complete body of work and celebrates excellence and innovation.
The firm won for its “exceptional and exemplary work in urban planning” and is known for its ability to transform neglected urban sites (like our waterfront years ago) into beautiful and memorable places. Other projects have included University of Cincinnati’s University Commons and Campus Green, Houston’s Discover Green, and London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
And out of all those amazing feats, guess whose picture is prominently displayed on the awards’ announcement page? Our Waterfront Park, of course!
The Cooper Hewitt Awards were first launched at the White House in 2000 as an official project of the White House Millennium Council. They are widely viewed as one of the most prestigious design awards in the nation. —Sara Havens
GE Appliances extends deal with Texas homebuilder
GE Appliances will continue to serve as the exclusive supplier for Texas-based homebuilder Perry Homes.
The Louisville-based appliance business said this week that it has extended its agreement by three years to furnish the homes with Mongram, Cafe, Profile and GE brands.
Perry Homes, founded nearly 50 years ago, builds homes in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.
“Choosing to continue our partnership with GE Appliances was a simple decision for us, as they add to our mission to serve customers with exceptional products and dependable services,” said Austin Eaves, the homebuilding company’s vice president of purchasing and estimating.
GE Appliances employs 6,000 at Appliance Park in Louisville, where it makes products including refrigerators, dishwashers and water heaters. It is a division of General Electric, but has been sold to China-based Qingdao Haier. The deal is expected to be completed in June.
John Boyd, general manager for GE’s contract sales, said in a press release that GE is proud to partner with Perry Homes.
“The reputation Perry Homes has acquired for providing quality products and excellent service to homeowners is one that GE Appliances shares,” Boyd said..”We look forward to continuing that commitment in extending this partnership.”
GE had announced late last year that it had signed a similar agreement with Shea Homes and would replace Whirlpool as the builder’s exclusive partner. —Boris Ladwig
FiveThirtyEight delves into Derby food and beverages
Anna Maria Barry-Jester of the national data and polling blog FiveThirtyEight points out that no other sporting event is as synonymous with particular food items than the Derby is with mint juleps, Derby pie and burgoo.
The site looked at Google data and found that searches for a handful of traditional Kentucky foods spiked around — you guessed it — Derby Day.
Check out this nifty graph:
The post also looks at the history of those food items, dives deep into whether or not mint should be classified as a weed, and declares 12-year W.L. Weller the best bang for your bourbon buck.
Nate Silver founded FiveThirtyEight in 2008 as a political statistical analysis site. Now owned by ESPN (following a stint under the New York Times umbrella), it has expanded to cover sports, science, health and culture. —Melissa Chipman