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.
After years of steady growth, Louisville software company cuts 60 jobs
Founded in 1999, with locations in Louisville, Chicago and Santa Monica, Calif., ZirMed develops, provides support for and sells software to help health care providers with billing and collection of money owed by insurers and patients.
CFO and General Counsel Jim Lacy told Insider that the company recently cut about 60 positions as it streamlined its operations, with fewer than half of the cuts occurring in Louisville. The company’s 670 employees are roughly divided into three groups: customer support, software engineers and sales/general administration. Cuts affected all areas.
In the last five years, the company has seen steady improvement in revenue and employment, he said, but growth in various business units — and consolidation in the health care industry — had resulted in some inefficiencies and duplication of tasks.
Lacy said the size of the company’s clients has changed dramatically in recent years because of health care industry consolidation.
Hospital systems and physician groups in the last few years have continued to merge and acquire competitors in part to put themselves in better negotiating positions as they’re fighting with insurance companies over how much they get paid for the services they provide. Health care provider industry consolidation, in turn, is one of the reasons for the continued consolidation pressures in the health insurance industry: Think Humana and Aetna.
A few years ago, ZirMed primarily served smaller physician and hospital groups, Lacy said, whereas today the company is more likely to land clients with dozens or even hundreds of physicians: While the number of ZirMed’s customers has increased about 40 percent in the last five years, to about 11,000, its revenue has more than doubled as the size of its clients has increased. —Boris Ladwig
Four Roses releases two new commemorative bottles
That sweet, delicious scent coming from the folks at Four Roses Bourbon is the smell of success — and milestones. Along with celebrating the recent accolades given to the bourbon’s Limited Edition Small Batch line by Whisky Magazine — which named it America’s Best Kentucky Bourbon last month — news came out this week that they’re introducing two special releases.
First up is the Kentucky Derby Festival Poster Selection Single Barrel Bourbon, which was hand-picked by the KDF crew as well as master distiller Brent Elliott in December. The bottle also features this year’s very cool KDF poster art by Ron Jasin, who some know from his Madpixel art shop and some from his creative director gig at Copper & Kings.
“To have my work featured on a bottle of bourbon isn’t something I ever thought would happen. It’s an honor I thought was so far out of the realm of possibilities, I never even daydreamed about it,” Jasin tells Insider. “Not to mention it’s a bottle of Four Roses bourbon — I mean, come on, does it get much better than that? As some of you may know, brandy is my No. 1 girl, but if I think she’d forgive me for cheating on her with a bottle of Four Roses …”
Four Roses also is celebrating one of its own with a tribute to brand ambassador and bourbon legend Al Young, who marks his 50th year with the company. In June, it will release a special 2017 Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon, which mingles bourbons aged from 23 to 12 years.
Both Young and Elliott worked “hard” selecting the perfect recipe.
“After he’s spent half a century handcrafting our product and guiding the Four Roses brand, Al’s 50th Anniversary Bourbon had to be as memorable as the man himself,” said Elliott in a press release. “He wanted to utilize an older bourbon, if possible. We tried different quantities of the 23-year-old, and the chosen 5 percent was just the right amount. It mingled with the other recipes perfectly for an incredible flavor.”
The bourbon will officially make its debut during Whisky Live Louisville on Saturday, June 10. —Sara Havens
Louisville Rescue Mission opens thrift store
Louisville Rescue Mission, a nonprofit Christian ministry serving the homeless and hurting, has opened Thrift ’n’ Thrive in the Bon Air neighborhood. Profits will directly support the mission’s services.
Members of the mission’s LifeChange program will help staff the store to help them develop their work ethic, accountability and life skills. LifeChange serves up to 40 men a day through an intensive residential recovery phase and transitional living.
The mission also offers an Emergency Day Shelter that provides laundry, showers, mailboxes, personal storage and meals to an average of 575 clients each month.
Store hours are Mondays through Fridays, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. All donations to Thrift ’n’ Thrive are tax-deductible and may be dropped off during regular store hours. The location is 2817 Del Rio Place.
Kentucky Center for the Arts kicks off a rebranding campaign
The Kentucky Center for the Arts hired Red7e to work on its new branding and ad campaign. This is part of the center’s multiyear rebranding effort, according to Kim Baker, the Kentucky Center president, during which they held focus groups and surveyed stakeholders.
The research was about finding “what the general public knew and didn’t know about the Kentucky Center,” Baker told IL. “Many folks just thought of us as a building.”
The center is a nonprofit organization that does statewide outreach. It is a $17 million organization with 92 full-time employees and hundreds of seasonal employees, part-time employees and volunteers.
“Arts are more than ever very important,” Baker said.
One ad, featuring a woman and a child learning to play guitar, states “Some of our most important performances happen in the classroom.” Another ad features a dancer, in mid-leap, with the tagline, “Zero Gravity.”
Humana to host shareholders in Louisville for first time since 2013
Humana said in its proxy filing that it would host shareholders at 9:30 a.m. April 20 at its corporate HQ, 500 W. Main St.
In the last three years, the company had held its meetings in Tampa, Atlanta and Chicago.
Shareholders will be able to vote on five proposals, including one by a group of stockholders who want to alter, among other things, who can nominate candidates for the board. The agenda also includes routine items — the election of board members and appointment of accountants — and two nonbinding advisory votes related to executive compensation, which doubled last year.
Shareholders can vote by internet, telephone or by returning their proxy card. Board Chairman Kurt J. Hilzinger and CEO Bruce Broussard told shareholders that they would receive proxy materials online to lower delivery costs and reduce the meeting’s environmental impact. —Boris Ladwig
Ford announces up to $9,000 in profit-sharing
Ford Motor Co. said it paid eligible hourly workers $9,000 in profit-sharing on Thursday based on its recently announced 2016 financial results, which included net income of $4.6 billion.
The automaker told Insider via email that it does not disclose how many of the 56,000 employees represented by the United Auto Workers union received the bonus. Ford employs 12,620 UAW workers at Kentucky Truck Plant and Louisville Assembly Plant. UAW Local 862, which represents the Louisville employees, could not be reached.
Ford told Insider that the bonus was the second-highest in company history, after the $9,300 it paid last year.
The company said that employees who work full time and for the whole year are eligible to receive profit-sharing amounts — “unless they have terminated their employment for a reason other than death, layoff or approved leave, retirement, or sale of the operation in which they were employed.” —Boris Ladwig
PharMerica stock slumps
PharMerica shares have steadily declined since the pharmaceutical services company announced in late February that fourth-quarter net income fell 62 percent despite higher revenue.
Shares on Thursday afternoon traded at about $23.10, down nearly 14 percent from Feb. 23. During the same span, the S.&P. 500 has remained essentially unchanged.
PharMerica provides drugs and drug management services to hospitals, skilled nursing and long-term care facilities and others. The Louisville-based company fills about 40 million prescriptions annually.
Chaffey Breeze reported this week that Zach’s Investment research on Tuesday downgraded the company’s stock to a “sell” rating. —Boris Ladwig
Local mortgage lending company buys new headquarters
Statewide Mortgage, a Louisville-based mortgage lender, is moving its headquarters to just down the street.
Cardinal Property Holdings, which is owned by Statewide Mortgage’s president, Keith Swisher, purchased 10140 Linn Station Road for $4.3 million. The 3.6-acres property includes a 52,264-square-foot building and sits just down Linn Station Road from its current offices.
Swisher bought the lot from LPC Ventures. The building was formerly occupied by home health care company ResCare, which also moved. It’s now located at 9901 Linn Station Road.
Metro Council considering ordinances about bicycling bar tours
Louisville Metro Council will consider two ordinances — one allowing quadricycles to operate in Louisville and another allowing alcohol consumption on them.
Quadricycles are the biking contraptions businesses like The Thirsty Pedaler use. In case you haven’t heard of it, The Thirsty Pedaler and similar companies allow groups to cycle from bar to bar in downtown Louisville and offer riders drink specials at different establishments.
Last year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a law that allowed riders to drink while on the quadricycle, which was previously forbidden. Companies are required to buy insurance in case of an accident, and while the customers are powering the quadricycle with their feet, there is an employee steering the quadricycle and an emergency brake built in.
In part, the proposed ordinances will simply bring city rules and regulations into compliance with state law, but they also will require quadricycle businesses to get city permits to operate if passed. They also will only be able to operate in certain places. (See the map above.)
Metro Council president David Yates, who introduced the ordinances, said he was approached by a quadricycle business operator to get something official in the city code.
“I’m always trying to make sure we back up businesses, especially those that make Louisville more fun,” Yates said. “There are other cities that have done that and it’s been positive, so we’re not reinventing the wheel here.” —Caitlin Bowling
Longtime Bardstown Road business is closing
As participants in the St. Patrick’s Parade this Saturday march down Bardstown Road, the Bardstown Road Bicycle Co. will be marking its final day in business.
Owner Carson Torpey told customers that the bike shop, located at 1051 Bardstown Road, will close at 5 p.m. Saturday as he plans to retire after 23 years.
According to a Facebook post, customers already have turned out to help Bardstown Road Bicycle Co. empty its shelves and say goodbye.
“WOW!” Torpey wrote. “Who would ever thought that our biggest month in our 23 years would be a February. Thank you everyone. And I hope you enjoy the bikes and accessories you purchased for a long time.”
The closure won’t leave the street without a bike shop for casual riders and enthusiasts. Parkside Bikes runs a store several blocks away —Caitlin Bowling