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.
Seven Counties unveils new website as part of post-bankruptcy rebranding
Seven Counties Services wants to show it’s not only still open, but ready to move ahead, via a new marketing campaign spearheaded by Louisville firm Mightily. These moves come in the aftermath of a bankruptcy by the nonprofit, and after losing the state contract for one of its signature programs.
Seven Counties treats individuals struggling with mental illness, emotional/behavioral disorders, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and addiction.
A new website went live July 30 to kick off this rebranding, according to Gwen Cooper, VP of external affairs at Seven Counties. The image overhaul came about after the organization queried the public and learned that while it had name recognition among 90 percent of those asked, only 5 percent knew what it did.
“The whole idea is to introduce ourselves as an organization that serves people,” she said, adding that another goal is to make Seven Counties an organization the greater community wants to support.
Mightily co-founder Pip Pullen told IL his firm started working with Seven Counties six months ago and did a “total rethink” of how the site should work. “The original site was like every other public service site — there was so much information, you couldn’t manage it,” he said.
Mightily designed the new website with mobile devices in mind, Pullen said, as Seven Counties primarily serves a lower-income clientele, which relies heavily on smartphones to access to the Internet. The first thing you see on the mobile site are phone numbers, so people in crisis can immediately connect with help. The desktop version has a heavier focus on images and telling the story of Seven Counties.
Mightily also will design new brochures, signage and banners for Seven Counties. It did the work at a reduced rate, charging half its normal fee. The additional materials will be released over the next several weeks.
Seven Counties declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2013, amid a legal tussle with the state. The organization refused to pay into the depleted Kentucky Employees Retirement System (KERS), which Cooper said would have eaten 36 percent of their payroll budget, forcing Seven Counties to close or heavily curtail services. Seven Counties emerged from bankruptcy this past February, and has since set up its own 403(b) retirement system for employees.
Following these legal battles, Seven Counties lost its longstanding contract as a First Steps provider for the state, though Cooper said they still offer occupational therapy for children, which is similar to First Steps.
Moving ahead, Seven Counties will launch new signature events and programs as part of its rebranding, though many of these are still being worked out. However, one new event is happening today at Hotel Louisville: It’s a story slam for clients to relay how they overcame emotional, behavioral or addiction-related issues. —David Serchuk
Eagles Nest executive work space opens at Bowman Field
Sometimes the last place you can actually do any business is at an official place of business. To help give execs a break, a new executive work/retreat space has opened at historic Bowman Field. It’s called the Eagles Nest, no apostrophe, and it has softly opened over the course of the last month. The goal is to create a refreshing workspace for anywhere from four-to-eight execs at a time, and get them away from the typical distractions of the office.
The Eagles Nest is the brainchild of Rick Tabb, a Louisville-area freelance business consultant. Tabb, 56, said he chose to open this work getaway at the top two floors at Bowman Field because it’s such a charming, unique space. Even though it’s in the heart of the city it feels a bit remote, almost like a treehouse. “You get away from the real world,” he said. The Eagles Nest is pretty cozy at 500 square feet, but crammed with amenities, including espresso machines, white boards, a stocked fridge, and the like. Tabb also will make himself available to lead any sessions for execs who need help with strategic planning or consulting.
The Eagles Nest is designed for small teams to really get a lot done over the course of a few days. It’s not designed to take the place of an office, but to be a sort of retreat from work, while you’re still working.
Tabb leases the space from the Louisville Regional Airport Authority, and he’s already booked his first clients: GE Appliances. He said a GE exec attended his kickoff party, liked what she saw, and booked it.
Reed Weinberg, president of PRG Investments, said the Eagles Nest has a good location, and said it could succeed if it’s marketed the right way. He added it also plays into a modern dynamic where today’s highly mobile workforce might not need as much dedicated office space as in the past. —David Serchuk
Industrial company starting in Jeffersontown
A new glass tempering business is opening a facility in the Bluegrass Industrial Park in Jeffersontown.
310 Tempering is a startup that will create 30 jobs initially, with the goal of adding another 120 employees during the next 10 years. Greg Abrams and Chris Murphy, who both worked previously in the glass-making industry, own 310 Tempering.
The company will spend $6 million on startup costs, including purchasing high-end tempering equipment used to design and make custom glass pieces such as shower doors, glass railings and storefront entrances.
In a news release, Abrams said 310 Tempering will be one of only three tempering companies within 50 miles of Louisville and will specialize in custom orders. Because highly skilled employees are required for production, the owners are designing a training program for employees who have little or no glass experience.
New toy store headed to Eastgate
Linda Newhouse used to visit Learning Express Toys regularly when she lived in New Jersey, but when her husband’s job brought the family to Louisville, there wasn’t one to be found.
That is when Newhouse decided to become a franchisee and open a location here in town. After some trouble finding the right spot, Newhouse plans to open Learning Express Toys of Louisville on Friday, Sept. 11.
The Learning Express Toys will be located 12619 Shelbyville Road in Eastgate Shopping Center next to Kroger, Newhouse said. It will occupy 3,000 square feet of the former 8,000-square-foot Sam Kinnaird’s Flooring and Granite space.
Eastgate Shopping Center is owned and operated by Brixmor, which Newhouse said is covering most of the build-out costs.
IL’s local stock focus
1. Kindred (ticker: KND): Louisville health care giant Kindred has been stealthy hot recently, kind of like those librarians in hard rock videos that take off their glasses, and then it’s rawwwr time. Kindred just announced its most recent quarterly earnings, and it was close to a breakout quarter. Quarterly revenues for the second quarter of 2015 rose to $1.83 billion, versus $1.26 for the same time period year-over-year. Even better net income came in at $22.4 million, a huge bump from the prior year, when it saw a loss of $35.8 million. Investors got excited on the news, and Kindred’s stock went up like the mercury in our summertime thermometers, rising 8 percent on Aug. 6, the day these returns were announced. For 2015, KND is up 25.1 percent, while the markets are only up 2.6 percent. KND also pays a 2.1 percent annual dividend.
2. Yum Brands (ticker: YUM): As China’s economy continues to struggle, it’s put a bit of a chokehold on the share performance of Louisville’s Yum Brands. The food titan contains KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. And while many parts of the company are still doing well, its marquee Chinese operations are still in a bit of a freeze, which is not surprising given the huge tumult both in the Chinese economy and stock markets. According to Seeking Alpha, a third of all Chinese publicly traded firms have seen their shares frozen, thanks to too much volatility in the Chinese stock markets. Seeking Alpha also believes Yum’s problems now are more linked to the lagging Chinese economy than to any lingering fallout from its tainted meat scandal from last year.
Over the short term, all this has definitely played into how Yum’s shares have done. The stock is down close to 2 percent over the past three months, worse than the general markets. But Yum has proven to be a stronger stock over the long term. Over the past year, it’s up 25.2 percent, while the markets are up 8.6 percent. —David Serchuk
Anchal Project to unveil network of dye gardens
Anchal Project has turned a former vacant lot at 1657 Portland Ave. into a dye plant garden as part of Mayor Greg Fischer’s 2014 “Lots of Possibilities” competition.
The Louisville-based nonprofit that helps exploited women in India is now ready to unveil the garden, part of its dyeScape project. Anchal Project will host an event at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9, at the lot where people can view the garden and watch a natural dye demonstration.
The dyes will be used by Anchal Project’s clients, who earn money by making and selling scarves, tote bags, bandanas, quilts and pillows.
The Anchal Project plans to expand its dyeScape project and eventually own a series of gardens where it grows dye plants.
“We believe that dyeScape can begin to offset the damages of the industrialized textile system by transforming long neglected vacant lots into beautiful productive landscapes, regenerating lasting textile systems and educating the community of Louisville about the sustainable fashion,” Anchal Project co-founder, president and CEO Colleen Clines said in a press release. —Caitlin Bowling
Papa John’s settles delivery driver suit
In the lawsuit, which dates back to 2009, delivery drivers alleged the company did not reimburse its drivers for vehicle expenses and therefore was in violation of the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act. Without the reimbursement, they argued, drivers made less than minimum wage.
The suit included about 19,000 drivers, according to Papa John’s second quarter 2015 earnings report. And the company will pay out $12.3 million for a preliminary settlement, if it is approved by a judge.
The settlement will be paid out during the next 12 months, the earnings report noted.
Orphan Barrel releases 21-year Rhetoric straight bourbon
On Monday, an older, more mature Rhetoric bourbon was released to clamoring bourbon fanatics who scour liquor stores near and far for rare and unique bourbons such as this. Rhetoric is a product of Diageo’s Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company, which finds and then shares long forgotten barrels of bourbon and whiskey from around the world.
Rhetoric is a straight bourbon whiskey that was found at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, and it was distilled in 1993, long before the bourbon boom, at the Bernheim Distillery at 17th and Breckenridge when it was owned by United Distillers. In an experiment in maturation, Orphan Barrel is releasing Rhetoric each year so connoisseurs can explore and compare flavors as a bourbon ages from 20 to 25 years. The final Rhetoric release will be in 2019.
“The progressive aging experiment we’re employing with the Rhetoric series is incredibly unique,” said Ewan Morgan, master of whiskey for Diageo. “We’re going to be able to compare a line of bourbons side by side to see how aspects of the liquid — color, aroma, flavors and mouthfeel — are impacted by extra time spent in the barrel. Like many others, I’m looking forward to tasting what one extra year in the barrel does to these bourbons over the coming years.”
The 21-year Rhetoric is 90.2 proof and will be available nationwide for a suggested price of $100 for a 750 ml bottle. —Sara Havens