Monday Business Briefing: PharMerica’s future bright; good news, bad news on nonstop flights; Ten Tables reprise; Modern hiatus; and more
Welcome to the Aug. 7 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
PharMerica suitor wants to boost the business
One of the companies that wants to buy Louisville-based PharMerica said that it expected to employ its expertise and resources to expand the business, which should benefit employees.
Jim Momtazee, head of global investment firm KKR’s health care investment team, told Insider via email that PharMerica, with its national footprint of pharmacy locations in 45 states and growing specialty pharmacy and home infusion businesses, is well-positioned to take advantage of expected growth in the U.S. health care sector.
Momtazee said that the sector “has consistently demonstrated strong fundamentals over time and through multiple cycles.”
The comments echoed those of PharMerica CEO Greg Weishar, who told investors last year that the company would benefit from demographic trends: He said at the time that the number of people in the U.S. aged 65 and older, at about 46 million now, will rise to about 70 million by 2030. And the number of new cancer cases, which was 1.5 million in 2013, will grow 50 percent by 2030.
PharMerica said Wednesday that it had agreed to be acquired for $1.4 billion by a newly formed company, controlled by KKR and, as a minority owner, Walgreens Boots Alliance. The Louisville-based company’s shares spiked after the announcement. KRR’s shares moved little. The deal still has to be approved by PharMerica’s shareholders. The parties expect the transaction, which envisions PharMerica to become a private company, to be completed early next year.
PharMerica provides pharmacy services, ranging from consulting to on-site medication cabinets, primarily to long-term care facilities, nursing homes and hospitals. Headquartered about a 20-minute drive east of downtown Louisville, the company operates nearly 120 pharmacies, dispenses 30 million prescriptions per year and employs 6,000.
Momtazee also said that for PharMerica employees “it will continue to be business as usual, but with the added support of KKR and a strong strategic partner in Walgreens.”
KKR, based in New York City, has $137.6 billion in assets under management as of March 31. Its portfolio includes 108 companies that generate more than $160 billion in annual revenue and employ about one million.
“This transaction is about facilitating the continued growth and success of the company,” Momtazee said. “We believe that KKR in partnership with Walgreens Boots Alliance can help PharMerica further expand its business. —Boris Ladwig
A local techie’s take on attracting new flights to Louisville
Can Louisville support a nonstop flight to Boston or Los Angeles? Local techie Garrett Bernard crunched the numbers for an article on Medium.
Bernard, who has worked in technology, manufacturing and transportation, analyzed numbers from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics that looked at how many people fly from Louisville International Airport to Boston Logan International Airport and from Louisville to Los Angeles International Airport or a nearby airport such as the Ontario International Airport.
He recognizes that the data available through the Bureau of Transportation Statistics is only 10 percent of the data collected, and he makes some assumptions, such as only one-third of business travelers switching to the newly offered nonstop flight.
Bernard estimated that only about 30 people a day would use a new nonstop flight to Boston. “With the reality that, only on the absolute best travel day, you might barely fill up the plane: a direct flight to Boston isn’t looking too feasible,” he wrote.
However, Los Angeles is a different story: Bernard reported that 142 people fly from Louisville to the Los Angeles area daily and an airline could expect to pick up 43 of those travelers.
A codeshare airline — in which airlines have partnerships that allow them to use their airline code and flight number on a flight operated by another airline — could make it work, he said. “A direct flight could absolutely be sustained.”
A coalition called Louisville Regional Airlift Development recently started work in Louisville to raise money that would be used to incentivize airlines that add new nonstop. Top of LRAD’s list is nonstop flights to Boston and Los Angeles. —Caitlin Bowling
Lottery-based dinner club returning
Ten Tables Louisville is making a comeback.
The dinner club started in 2014, when chefs Eric Morris, Griffin Paulin, Ethan Ray and Dustin Staggers would get together semi-regularly to cook curated dishes for guests who were lucky enough to get picked in a lottery system and could afford it.
Ten Tables had a successful run, but the group took a hiatus in January 2016. Morris was focused on opening Gospel Bird in New Albany, and now he’s preparing to open Hull or Highwater. Paulin has since opened the noodle restaurant Mirin, and Staggers got out of the restaurant business.
However, according to a post on the Ten Tables Louisville’s Facebook page, Paulin and Ray are making plans to revive the dinner club.
“If you remember the old Ten Tables, the menus were of worldly inspiration, free wheeling and fun. We plan to maintain that, conceptually, yet build on it by adding a more interactive aspect to each dinner, the details of which are being finalized as we speak,” the post states.
The revival of Ten Tables will feature eight-course meals with optional drink pairing created by Paulin, Ray, Fork and Barrel‘s Chip Hartley and Mirin’s Michael MacInnes. The dinners will cost $80 per person.
Morris and Staggers won’t be involved in Ten Tables, but the post states that they are welcome to make guest appearances at specialty dinners whenever they like.
Ten Tables will still work off a lottery system in which interested customers must submit their name, email address and ideal party size for consideration and then names are draw at random. The first dinner will be held sometime in September. —Caitlin Bowling
Brown-Forman employees volunteered 15,000 hours
More than 700 Brown-Forman employees volunteered for about 15,000 hours during the most recent fiscal year, and contributed a total of $10.8 million to causes in their communities, the distiller said in its latest sustainability report.
The company said the report highlights “stories of some of the many caring people inside Brown-Forman, those champions who reveal their best spirit, and together, make us better every day.”
In one of the highlighted projects, Brown-Forman said employees in Herradura tequila production worked for three years to perfect the use of a traditional oven, made from sand, bricks and stones, to use less steam without affecting the tequila’s flavor.
“We were able to reduce steam usage and the energy needed to cook the agave by 14 percent,” said Eduardo Lopez, production chief at Casa Herradura. “We are also saving money, and my co-workers are excited to see continuous improvement.”
The company said it expects the project to reduce water use by 950,000 gallons per year and cut 700 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
The company also said that it promotes employee well-being, in part by offering reimbursement of up to $200 per year for expenses such as exercise equipment and gym memberships. More than two-thirds of eligible employees participated.
And 55 percent of employees participated in a program in which they earn points and other awards by taking part in challenges or by tracking healthy activities. The company also promotes workplace comfort by encouraging “walking meetings” on trails, including in Lynchburg, Tenn., Windsor, Calif., and Louisville.
The company has identified four areas — good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, life on land — in which its CR strategy aligns with the United Nations sustainable development goals.
The distiller said, for example, that it continues to pursue its goal to reduce water use and wastewater generation by 30 percent in 2023, from a 2012 baseline, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2023 and recently began “incorporating sustainable agriculture practices into our supply chains … to support healthy ecosystems.” —Boris Ladwig
Evolve KY starts crowdfunding campaign for documentary
Kentucky’s electric vehicle group has started a crowdfunding campaign to pay for a documentary film about electric vehicles. The Indiegogo page advertises the project as an “inspiring film about the unique, grassroots effort to promote electric vehicles in Kentucky.”
“Louisville struggles with its air quality, and parts of Kentucky’s landscape and health have been decimated by the extraction of fossil fuels,” the campaign reads. “Cleaning up transportation and the energy production that accompanies it here in coal country has the potential to change hearts and minds, helping to break through the historic bottleneck in the adoption of clean energy and transportation nationally. The future is counting on us.”
Louisville filmmaker, Ben Evans, said he hoped “the film will shine a spotlight on the unique opportunities and challenges Kentucky faces when it comes to promoting cleaner personal transportation options.”
Evans, who owns an electric vehicle, has shot footage for about a year, according to a press release from EvolveKy. His award-winning “YERT: Your Environmental Road trip” was picked up by Netflix in 2012. His latest, “NERVE” deals with Goldman Prize winner Craig Williams and won the Grand Jury Prize at Yale University’s Environmental Film Festival last year.
EvolveKY President Stuart Ungar said that the film would showcase the EV industry’s progress and opportunities.
“I’ve come to realize that education is job Number 1,” Ungar said. “This includes driving someone in an EV for the first time or demonstrating EVs at a local middle school. It’s all valuable and demystifies electric vehicles.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the group had raised $9,370 from 44 backers, or about 37 percent of the goal of $25,00, which will pay for writing, directing, travel expenses, post production graphics and other expenses. Funders get some cool perks: For $25,000, you can have your name displayed in the film’s opening and closing credits, plus you’ll get a charging station named after you. For $2,500 you’ll be named a producer, for $250 you’ll get a 2018 Forecastle Festival pack, and for $10 you’ll get a heartfelt thanks and a digital hug.
KFC’s newest celebrity colonel is the original
For two years, KFC has rotated through a series of celebrities, including Norm MacDonald, Rob Lowe and Billy Zane, to promote various new products and deals, as well as generate buzz around the brand. Executives have pointed to the marketing campaign as a big driver of the brand’s sales turnaround.
Now, the fried chicken chain is going back to the original, the real Col. Harland Sanders. New advertisements that debuted last week mashup KFC advertisements from the 1960s and ’70s featuring Sanders and contemporary video.
“We’ve had some amazing celebrity Colonels over the past two years, and each of them has put their own twist on our original Colonel Harland Sanders,” George Felix, KFC U.S. director of advertising, said in a news release. “But no one can play the Colonel like the Colonel can play the Colonel. Unfortunately, our original Colonel stopped making ads in the 1970s, so we utilized technology to bring him into the 21st century to sell modern-day offers like our $5 Fill Up and $10 Chicken Share himself.”
Doc Crow’s changes up its menus
Main Street staple Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar has mixed up it food and cocktail menus to include more local fare.
The bourbon and barbecue will remain, but new are smoked shrimp with bourbon mignonette; tomato bisque; pimento beer cheese made with beer brewed by Apocalypse Brew Works; Derby Pie®; and half of a smoked chicken either roasted or fried.
New featured cocktails include Toes in the Sand with Old Forester 86, Kalani coconut liqueur, lemon juice, sea salt coconut syrup and Elemakule tiki bitters; and Grandma’s Swing with Rittenhouse rye, apple syrup, lemon juice and Peychaud’s bitters. —Caitlin Bowling
Red Pin Media puts Modern Louisville magazine on hold, lays off editor
On Wednesday, Modern Louisville editor Remy Sisk was let go from his position at the LGBTQ-centered magazine, which is owned by Red Pin Media, the local company that owns publications LEO Weekly and the Voice-Tribune, among others.
Publisher Laura Snyder tells Insider they are not shuttering the publication but are putting it on hold while they consider other formats and printing options. Since January, the content of Modern as been featured in LEO Weekly as well — both in the print edition and online.
She says a few options for the publication are on the table, including a digital-only format or a less frequent publication schedule. For now, it’ll continue to run in LEO.
“In the meantime, we will continue to provide robust editorial coverage of the LGBTQ community in the ‘Modern’ section of LEO Weekly in print and online at LEOWeekly.com,” says Snyder.
Sisk, who also is the artistic director of Acting Against Cancer, worked for Red Pin Media for two years. He tells Insider he’s proud of what he accomplished with Modern.
“For the last two years, I have worked tirelessly on Modern Louisville, and in the last year as editor of the publication, have been immensely proud of what it’s been able to bring to Louisville’s LGBTQ community,” he says. “The collaborations upon which I was able to embark through this magazine were more rewarding than I ever could have hoped for, and I am absolutely devastated to have to say goodbye to Modern.” —Sara Havens
Who’s been funded?
- Collabra Innovations: Provides tools to reinforce music lessons, $75,000 (Nucleus Grant)
- Credit Fair E: Online lending platform, $75,000 (Nucleus)
- PowerUp Labs: Software development, marketing, strategy, $75,000 (Nucleus)
- WeatherCheck: Monitors properties for severe weather to help with insurance claims, $75,000 (Nucleus)
- MailHaven: Smart mailbox that tracks and protects packages, $20,000 (Kentucky Enterprise Fund).
- Stinger Equipment: Makes a Honda-engine powered wheelbarrow, $130,000 (undisclosed).
- Revio: Makes power sports safety accessories, $300,000 (Kentucky Enterprise Fund, Winston Ventures and an angel investor).
- FreshFry: Makes a pod that replenishes and extends the life of frying oil, $350,000 (angel investors).
- Adaptive Technologies: Developer of MobileFit, which helps fitness facilities grow and retain membership, $1.5 million (undisclosed).
- Pyrochem Catalyst Company: Makes catalysts for industries including chemical manufacturing and oil refining, $1.7 million (angel investors). —Boris Ladwig