Welcome to the Feb. 29 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.
Eyedia, Design It Again gets new owners and new home
A bigger story lies behind the move of household consignment store Eyedia, Design It Again.
When founders and co-owners Martha Neal Cooke and Diane Stege got an offer from Mint Julep Tours to buy their building at 1631 Mellwood Ave., the pair decided it was time to consign their day jobs. The buyers: employees Misha Meinhold and Connie Roitman.
“It was the natural progression because of where they are and what they want to accomplish,” Meinhold told Insider Louisville, adding that Cooke wants to travel and Stege recently became a grandmother.
Mienhold worked at Eyedia for a year before it temporarily closed, but Roitman has been with the business for eight years.
“It’s already a big part of my life, and I know the business so well, and I love the business, and I have enjoyed it so much,” Roitman said. “It just seemed a natural transition.”
So rather than Cooke and Steve, it will be Meinhold and Roitman moving Eyedia into its new home at 926 Baxter Ave. in late spring.
“The location is fantastic. We are excited about the walking traffic and the ease of accessibility,” Roitman said. It also has about 25 parking spaces behind the building.
The pair snagged the prime Highlands real estate and former Isco Industries office with the help of Realtors Gant Hill and Scott Howe of Gant Hill & Associates. Isco Industries moved to a new headquarters downtown late last year. CBRE Louisville represented that the property owner T.J. Mark LLC, which is run by the heads of Isco Industries, in leasing a portion of the space to Eyedia.
Eyedia will start taking consignment items on March 14 by appointment-only until it opens. No open date has been set yet, but Meinhold promised: “We are working really hard.”
Meinhold noted that they receive about 20 phone calls a day from people asking when and where it will reopen.
The Baxter Avenue space is larger than the Mellwood location, which will allow them to showcase more goods, the pair said, adding that they hope to showcase work by local artisans at the new store as well.
Eyedia also will make a more concerted effort to work with people who stage homes to show off the business’s inventory and with people looking to downsize to increase its offerings, Roitman said. Its biggest sellers are lamps, “really nice upholstery” and bookcases.
New coffee shop opened this weekend on Frankfort Avenue
Caffeine and cookie addicts alike can finally get their fix at Please and Thank You on Frankfort Avenue.
Nestled between Con Huevos and El Mundo, Please and Thank You on the Avenue opened for business Friday, according to the business’s Facebook page.
It was originally expected to open before Christmas, but owner Brooke Vaughn told IL in November that foundation problems and multiple design re-drawings delayed the project into 2016.
Please and Thank You got its start in the NuLu neighborhood and last year opened a Portland location called Hot Coffee, which sells coffee and goodies out of a window but mostly serves as a commissary.
Notably, the coffee shop buys its coffee beans from Louisville-based Good Folks Coffee Co., formerly Argo Sons Coffee, which just underwent a rebranding. —Caitlin Bowling
Ford to invest additional $600m in local plants
Ford Motor Co. said it is increasing a previously announced $1.8 billion investment into its Louisville plants by $600 million.
The auto maker also said it expects to employ 11,200 by the end of the year, up from its previous estimate of 8,700 — though that stems from a project for which the company received state incentives in 2007.
In its filing with the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority released Thursday, Ford said it was seeking approval to amend its Kentucky Jobs Retention Act (KJRA) agreement “to include a supplemental project in connection with its existing Kentucky Truck Plant and Louisville Assembly Plant.”
Ford said the “additional investments will focus primarily on upgrading the Kentucky Truck Plant to continue production of the Ford Super Duty trucks, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.”
The company said it would invest in “technology upgrades” in the body shop, paint shop and final assembly areas and “equipment and facility upgrades.”
But Ford was reluctant to provide more information, telling IL via email that “we will announce additional product investment details at a future date.”
Ford declined to say how the revised project information and jobs numbers fit in with other recently announced investments. In December, the company said it would infuse the KTP with $1.3 billion, which was to create 2,000 additional jobs by this year’s second quarter. A new contract approved by United Auto Workers union members in November included a $1.3 billion pledge of investments into the Louisville plants.
According to the updated filing, Ford employs 9,300 in the Louisville area, though union officials have told IL that employment was near 10,000 late last year. Ford said the new employees would earn an average of $25 per hour, or about $52,000 a year for a 40-hour work week.
Industry group: auto manufacturing jobs grew 5 percent in 2015
Speaking of auto-related investments: Employment in Kentucky’s auto industry grew by about 5 percent last year to nearly 90,000, while passenger vehicle production improved 2.4 percent, to about 1.3 million, an industry group said.
The industry in 2015 also announced 79 new projects with a total investment of $2.8 billion, according to the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association. That includes more than $900 million that General Motors pledged for its Corvette plant in Bowling Green, a $261 million expansion by Bowling Green Metalforming, and Ford Motor Co.’s $1.3 billion upgrade for the Kentucky Truck Plant to support the next-generation F-Series Super Duty.
If all the vehicles produced in Kentucky last year were lined up bumper to bumper, the line would nearly reach from Frankfort to Frankfurt, Germany.
“The automotive industry is vital to the state, both economically and culturally,” KAIA Executive Director Dave Tatman said in a press release. “These are products that are made here and shipped all over the world, showcasing Kentucky workmanship to a global audience.”
The association said the auto industry contributes more than $14 billion to Kentucky’s gross state product and supports, directly or indirectly, one out of every 18 jobs in the commonwealth.
KAIA recently presented the stats to Gov. Matt Bevin and the new Kentucky Automotive Caucus.
“No matter on which side of the political aisle you sit, or whether you drive a Toyota Camry or a Ford F-Series Super Duty truck,” Tatman said, “a thriving, growing automotive industry is good for the state and good for the families it employs.” —Boris Ladwig
Mercy Academy officially sells Broadway property
The sale of former Our Lady of Mercy Academy building, located at 1176 East Broadway, closed Thursday, according to the high school’s monthly e-newsletter to alumnae.
“We would like to let you know that we officially closed on the Broadway building yesterday,” the newsletter said. “We are so thankful for all those who helped us get to this point and are thrilled to continue the legacy and excellence of Mercy here on Fegenbush.”
Edward Cos., the Columbus-based apartment development and management company that purchased the property, declined to comment via email.
Mercy president Mike Johnson told IL that the school received $1.4 million for the property and plans to use it to pay off loans related to the construction of its Fegenbush campus, which opened in fall 2007. The money from the sale had been factored into the construction costs from the beginning.
“We just thought we’d be doing it nine years ago,” he said. “It’s been a long journey.”
The company’s subsidiary Edwards Communities Development Co. is planning demolish the school and build a $30 million, 195-unit apartment complex. The apartments will be a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Rent will likely start around $1,000 a month, IL previously reported.
The Louisville Board of Zoning Adjustment in October approved a conditional use permit for the project under the condition that Edwards Communities submit a landscaping plan and that its final design include balconies, façade undulations and other architectural features “in keeping with the character” of the surrounding buildings, according to the meeting minutes.
Falls City announces new product launch
Falls City Beer will host a press conference on Tuesday at its location on 10th Street to announce a new product launch it is billing as the “largest product-line expansion in the brand’s storied history.”
A press release indicates that at least two new products will launch, including a beer “tied to Louisville’s pre-Prohibition bourbon industry,” which alludes to Falls City’s version of Kentucky Common, a beer that was widely consumed in Louisville prior to Prohibition. More bottle beer releases are expected later in 2016 as well.
In addition, Mayor Greg Fischer will be on hand for the 1 p.m. press conference to proclaim it Falls City Beer Day in Louisville; samples will be available for the media. A public launch party will then happen at 3 p.m. at Over the 9, which is part of the Falls City and 502 Winery headquarters at 120 S. 10th. Brewer Dylan Greenwood will be on hand to talk with attendees about the new beers.
Deal of the Year winner to be named March 8
Two health care transactions and a distillery acquisition are competing to be named the Kentucky Association for Corporate Growth’s Deal of the Year award.
The winner will be announced at an awards breakfast at 7:30 a.m. March 8 at the PNC building, 500 W. Jefferson St. Attendance is free for ACG members, and costs $60 for others. You can register here.
Finalists for the Deal of the Year:
- Angel’s Envy: Hamilton, Bermuda-based Bacardi Limited acquired Louisville-based Angel’s Envy in March of last year. Angel’s Envy’s new distillery and brand experience in downtown Louisville are scheduled to open this year.
- Kindred Healthcare: Louisville-based Kindred in January of last year completed the $195 million acquisition of Centerre Healthcare Corp., which operates 11 rehabilitation hospitals.
- Trilogy Health Services: Griffin-American Healthcare REIT III in a joint venture with NorthStar Healthcare Income, bought 96 percent of Trilogy Investors LLC, the parent company of Louisville-based Trilogy Health Services in a transaction valued at $1.25 billion.
According to its website, the ACG was formed in 2008 “to promote middle-market business growth by attracting private equity capital sources to the region and facilitating active merger and acquisition deal making.” Members include senior leaders of private equity firms, investment and commercial banks and other businesses. —Boris Ladwig
West End church investing $2.8 million in new facility
Apparently, running a church can generate enough funds to invest in fancy new digs.
That is not always the case of course, but after reporting on Southeast Christian Church’s plans to construct a new nearly 40,000-square-foot chapel, Insider Louisville came across a second theological institution looking to invest millions in upgrades as well.
Christ Temple Christian Life Center, located at 723 S. 45th St., received a permit from the city to build a nearly 20,000-square-foot activities center that can hold 725. The project will cost $2.8 million, according to the building permit.
Run by Bishop Michael Eugene Ford Sr., the Pentecostal church has operated in west Louisville since 1948, according to its website. It also serves as the headquarters for the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith International. —Caitlin Bowling
S. Indiana business owner charged in attempted murder of her ex-husband
In this week’s edition of “OMG what happened?!” news, the Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee reported that 29-year-old Laura Buckingham, owner of the popular Bread and Breakfast eatery in New Albany, allegedly tried to hire someone to murder her ex-husband.
Little did Buckingham know that the person she allegedly paid to off her ex-husband was an undercover agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, according to the report.
The News Sentinel reported that Buckingham allegedly asked her boyfriend Joseph Chamblin (a.k.a. one of the Marines who was filmed peeing on dead Taliban soldiers in 2011) to find someone to murder her ex-husband for her. Chamblin then reportedly recorded conversations with Buckingham and contacted authorities who set up a sting operation.
Law enforcement said they believe the attempt was the result of a bitter custody battle over Buckingham and her ex-husband’s 3-year-old son.
Last IL heard from Buckingham, she was taking a break after closing Bread and Breakfast’s Main Street storefront and searching for a new location. If the police accounts are true (innocent until proven guilty, America), she’s been up to a lot more during her hiatus than originally known. —Caitlin Bowling
Medical equipment company relocating warehouse from Florida to Louisville
Medical equipment company New Source Medical plans to invest $3 million in a warehouse and distribution operation in Louisville, according to documents filed with the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.
New Source Medical recently acquired the durable medical equipment division of a Florida company and is moving the operation to Louisville. The company will operate at multiple sites in Louisville, but the documents did not indicate where. It also will create 50 jobs, which pay an average of $25 an hour.
The KEDFA board preliminarily approve $800,000 in state tax incentives for the project.
New Source Medical products include pressure-reduction mattresses, specialty beds and other items that are used in nursing homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities, according to the documents. —Caitlin Bowling
Local gender neutral clothing company opening its first storefront
At BLōFISH Clothing Co., there is no men’s or women’s section; there are just clothes.
The Louisville-based non-gender-specific clothing company is opening a storefront at 714 E. Market St. in NuLu come March 19. The shop was formerly home to men’s clothing store Ethyl 3.9, which moved down the street.
Hours of operation will be noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
The idea for BLōFISH came while owner Logan Manford was on a cruise in the Bahamas with friends. A female friend complained that she could not find a men’s shirt she liked in a size that fit her, and there was nothing similar for women.
“We decided it was a problem, so we were gonna fix it,” Manford said.
BLōFISH started in March 2015. The company’s been selling hats, sunglasses and T-shirts online and donates 10 percent of its sales to charity, a tradition that the company plans to carry over to the store as well.
To make sure customers find the right fit, BLōFISH products are numbered one through five. Size 1 is a men’s extra small and a women’s small, and so on.
Eventually, BLōFISH will sell a variety of shirts, head wear, underwear and pants. But Manford said he found a storefront earlier than he thought and couldn’t pass up the prime real estate.
“The location is perfect so we jumped on it,” he said.
Creating gender neutral clothes can also be tricky, so the company is taking its time to make sure items look good on multiple body types.
Best of Leadership Summit
The Leadership Louisville Center’s “Best of Leadership Summit” is coming up on March 3. The event is 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. at The Kentucky Center, closing with a cocktail and networking reception.
There are three learning tracks to choose from: Develop Yourself, Build Your Team, and Lead Your Community.
Keynote speakers are Luke Williams, a globally recognized authority on innovation leadership, and best-selling author of “The Warmth of Other Suns,” Isabel Wilkerson.
During lunch there will be a program about the Kentucky film industry and clips of a documentary on Wendell Berry that will premiere at this year’s SXSW.
Breakout session speakers include:
- Carey Smith, CEO of Big Ass Fans
- Aidan Connolly, Chief Innovation Officer for Alltech
- Susan Pittman, Vice President of Talent & Organization Development for Luckett & Farley
- Richard Sisto, jazz musician and mindfulness trainer
- John Marshall, Chief Equity Officer for Jefferson County Public Schools
- Enid Trucios-Haynes, Professor of Law at University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law
- Sadiqa Reynolds, President and CEO of Louisville Urban League
Tickets are $350 and available here. —Melissa Chipman