Welcome to the March 23 Monday Business Briefing.
This is your private business intelligence briefing, with Insider Louisville staff and contributors vetting tips collected during the past few days, hours and minutes before we post.
It’s a good news/bad news situation when a big local company sells to a national corporation, and the bad news — at least for corporate tax revenues in Louisville — is that it’s happened again. A major new Cherokee Triangle development is one step closer to breaking ground, while Gannett keeps up its streak of breaking The Courier-Journal. Elon Musk might be coming to town, but chances are he wouldn’t have stayed at the new hotel proposed for Preston Highway, anyway.
Meanwhile, it’s a good time to be Thorntons.
New headquarters in the works for Thorntons as expansion continues
Business is good at Thorntons. The Louisville-based fuel and convenience chain, which operates 180 stores nationwide and is about to open a new one in Tampa, has undergone a renaissance of sorts in recent years, rebranding its stores, investing in onsite kitchens at every local shop, and reaping the fruits of recent low gas prices (because your gulp gets bigger when gas is cheap).
So we weren’t exactly surprised when an insider tipped us — and additional sources confirmed — that the company was planning to build a new headquarters. We’re told the mothership will be built at the Blankenbaker Station business park, which is also home to a Norton Healthcare data center, Kelley Construction, Humana offices, Hoops, an FBI office and more.
The Hollenbach-Oakley park near J-town is booming lately, and Thorntons would be a big, glimmering jewel in the crown: local company, family-owned, highly identifiable brand, and so on. The company is also a major local philanthropist and partner in do-goodery, most recently via a partnership with Norton to provide free mammograms and raise awareness for breast cancer treatment.
Thorntons’ current corporate campus at 10101 Linn Station Road in J-town is owned by the family. One big upside of moving to Blankenbaker Station, at least from a corporation’s perspective: Those businesses don’t pay taxes in J-town. Specifically, that’s occupational and property taxes, which are obviously significant for a corporate HQ.
A Thorntons spokesperson wouldn’t confirm the plans, saying it’s not something they’re ready to discuss.
Another one bites the dust: Local biz Pegasus Transportation sells to out-of-towners
Another longstanding Louisville biz is local no longer. Pegasus Transportation was a somewhat under-the-radar, but still solid, pillar of the Louisville business community. It started in 1988 and was locally owned, locally operated. In early March it was sold to trucking mega-firm CRST International.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based CRST is one of the nation’s biggest privately held transportation firms. It announced the sale on March 2, offering only general reasons for the sale and no sale price.
Still, the company did shed a little light on why Pegasus joined CRST’s stable.
“The acquisition of Pegasus Transportation further compliments our service offering through high-value, high security transportation services,” Dave Rusch, CEO of CRST, said in a statement.
CRST has more than $1.5 billion in annual revenues and employs more than 7,000 company drivers. IL contacted Gary Hanke, president of Pegasus, for more information, but we didn’t hear back.
Of course, the sale means a good chunk of corporate taxes that used to stay in Louisville will now go to Cedar Rapids. That news might sound sadly familiar to close watchers of the Louisville biz scene. Last November, erstwhile Louisville firm K-I Building Materials sold to US LBM Holdings, located in Green Bay, Wisc. K-I was a stalwart of the Louisville biz community, founded in 1932. Now it, too, is local only in memory.