Welcome to the March 28 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Despite offering buyouts to cut costs, Ford “hiring like crazy”

Black_Ford_Fiesta_X100_-_008Ford Motor Co. has added about 1,300 employees at Kentucky Truck Plant since December in preparation for the next-generation Ford Super Duty, a union official told IL.

The company also likely will lose some experienced employees soon, as about 120 local United Auto Workers members have agreed to take buyout offers worth $70,000 — though the company has yet to decide how many of those actually will get to take the offer.

Ford is offering the packages to provide a financial incentive to UAW members interested in retiring or leaving the company, Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker told IL via email.

“And it gives Ford the ability to improve labor costs,” she said.

While longtime employees can earn about $30 per hour, new workers generally start at $17 an hour, under a new four-year contract approved in November. For every experienced worker Ford can replace with a novice, the company saves about $27,000 in wages per year.

To be eligible to take the buyout and retain full retirement benefits and eligibility for profit sharing, employees had to meet certain criteria, such as 30 years of service or being 55 years old with 10 years of service. Employees hired before Nov. 19, 2007, with less than 30 years of service also are eligible — but without retirement or profit sharing.

uaw Ford-UAW5Rodney Janes, a member of the UAW bargaining committee for Local 862, said about 95 local production workers and 25 skilled trades members had agreed to take the offer. Given that companies including Ford are struggling to find and retain skilled trades workers, he said production workers would stand a much better chance to actually get the buyouts.

Janes also said that any local workers approved for the buyout would be replaced with new hires as the Kentucky Truck Plant is preparing for the production launch of the new Super Duty in July. The company had announced in December that it would invest $1.3 billion in the plant to gear up for the new vehicle.

Ford employs about 12,000 at the two Louisville-area plants.

Janes said the company has added workers in Louisville just about every week this year and has hired roughly 1,300 of the 2,000 employees the company said it planned to hire by the second quarter.

“We’re hiring like crazy for many areas,” Janes said. “We’ll be going through the hiring process for quite some time.”

Todd Dunn, president of United Auto Workers Local 862, said preparing for the launch of a new model is complicated, especially because of the additions of new paint and body shops — the new Super Duty has an aluminum-alloy body — and the hiring and training of hundreds of employees.

The Courier-Journal first reported on the buyout last week. —Boris Ladwig

New 424-unit, high-end apartment complex proposed

A high-end apartment development may soon fill a vacant 24.7-acre property along Taylorsville Road.

The proposed complex would feature a single-story clubhouse, pool, dog park, freestanding car garages, a gated security system and 424 apartments split among 22 two- and three-story buildings, according to plans submitted to Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 9.36.10 AMTen percent of the apartments will be one-bedroom; another 10 percent will be three-bedroom and the remainder will have two bedrooms, said Teri DelSignore, owner of Del Investments. She is developing the project with her husband and two children.

The property is located at 11312 Taylorsville Road past Jeffersontown near Saratoga Woods and must be rezoned from R-5 to R-6, a zoning classification that allows for a high-density of residents.

The development will cost between $23 million and $30 million to construct, DelSignore said. Pending zoning approvals, construction workers will break ground next year.

DelSignore expects many tenants of the new apartment complex will be employees at the Bluegrass Commerce Park, a more than 1,800-acre business park less than 2 miles away. Rent will start at $1,000 a month.

The project is the first multi-family residential development for Del Investments, which previously has built single-family homes.

“I’m up for the challenge,” DelSignore said. “I think the rewards in the end will be great.”

Del Investments is hosting a neighborhood meeting regarding the apartment development at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 11, in the Connect Room at Sojourn Community Church to provide nearby residents with an overview of the project and answer any questions. —Caitlin Bowling

Texas Roadhouse staying put on Dutchmans Lane

Texas Roadhouse LogoAt one time, Louisville-based steakhouse chain Texas Roadhouse was considering moving its headquarters from its longtime office at 6040 Dutchmans Lane, but any talk of a move is over.

Travis Doster, senior director of public relations at Texas Roadhouse, told IL the company decided to stay put and take over an additional floor at its current offices.

Previously, Texas Roadhouse was looking at building or buying a new headquarters to support the future growth of the company. The plan included multiple sites.

However, it couldn’t find any options it preferred to its current building. Its headquarters is centrally located, Doster said, and Texas Roadhouse executives did not like the terms tied to locating at the nearby airport business park. —Caitlin Bowling

METCO announces nine loans to five businesses

On Friday, the Louisville Metropolitan Business Development Corporation announced the approval of $715,000 for nine loans for five local businesses. The loans will leverage a total investment of $3.8 million.

METCO approved two loans for the former Indian Spring Golf Course clubhouse, which is being turned into a restaurant. The property is owned by MBJ Indian Springs, LLC. The $50,000 façade loan will be used to brick the entire building. More interesting, however, is the fact that the company also was granted a $100,000 business loan to launch a restaurant at the site. It’s estimated that these loans will help create 25-60 jobs.

Nathan Smith was granted a $35,000 facade for his architecture business, which will be located at 815 S. Sixth Street, just behind the Louisville Free Public Library downtown. The loan is for exterior improvements and additional renovations.

METCO approved three loans for CFG Holdings, LLC, located at 1202 S. Third Street. The Old Louisville property has been vacant for more than 10 years. CFG Holdings is a real estate and mortgage business currently located at S. Fourth Street.

  • $200,000 loan will be used for interior renovations.
  • $50,000 façade loan will be used for exterior improvements.
  • $15,000 accessibility loan will address accessibility issues.

The owners of the building housing the HVAC company Aire Serv were approved for two loans for improvements to 1301 W. Main St. in Portland. The$100,000 façade loan and $15,000 accessibility loan will allow the owners to build out handicap accessible restrooms, replace and repair windows, and improve the existing storefront.

Dr. Tiffany Smith was approved for a $150,000 business loan for Radiant Inc., located at 2301 Terra Crossing Blvd., Suites 103 and 104. Radiant Inc. will be a medical practice focused on “alternative forms of treatment, including healing, disease prevention and personalized health plans,” according to a news release. This project will create seven full-time jobs and one part-time position.

The next meeting of the METCO board will be Thursday, April 28, at 9 a.m. on the sixth floor of the Metro Development Center, 444 S. Fifth Street. For more information about the city’s small-business loan program, click here. —Melissa Chipman

Former Sears building in St. Matthews Pavilion gets new life


Former Sears Building on Shelbyville Road in St. Matthews | Photo via Google Maps

The old Sears building at 4121 Shelbyville Road is undergoing renovations to make way for a new tenant and the expansion of another at St. Matthews Pavilion.

The new tenant is a locally owned sleep clinic called Expert Sleep Medicine, which operates in multiple locations in Louisville. The clinic will take up 1,749 square feet and use the space for consultations only, according to a city building permit.

The space will include a exam rooms, an office and reception area. The clinic will not accommodate monitored overnight sleeping services there, the permit states.

In the same building, J. Michael Spa & Salon is expanding. The business is growing its nail salon, styling area and spa by 911 square feet, according to the permit.

The renovations will cost at least $47,000, according to the building permits. —Caitlin Bowling

Great exposure for Switcher Studio

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 12.35.00 PMOn Friday, TechCrunch featured a self-funded Louisville startup in the post “Switcher Studio turns your iPad into a live video editing studio.”

Switcher Studio is a mobile live video mixing and production suite that allows you to record HD video from the built-in camera on your iDevice, which can either be recorded and edited, or streamed live directly to sites like YouTube, Ustream and Twitch. It was founded in 2014, and its CEO is Nick Mattingly.

TechCrunch is the most popular business blog for tech and startups and is viewed by 6.5 million U.S. readers every month. They have 21 million page views a month and a social media outreach of 12 million. So yeah, this is a big deal for Switcher.

You’ve seen Switcher used around town, no doubt. We used it at Startup Weekend a few weeks ago to live broadcast the demo day. They’re manning the tech at Venture Connectors every month.

Director Mode in Switcher Studio allows you to mix video feeds from up to four different iDevices on a single device in real time, turning it into a multi-camera live production studio.

Switcher works over local Wi-Fi and charges $25 per month for the service; this includes access to the app and cloud platform (which lets users live stream to services like YouTube). — Melissa Chipman

Louisville’s weight problem

Louisville is the 27th fattest city in America, according to a study commissioned by WalletHub.

Among some regional cities we “beat” include poor Indy, which comes in at No. 3. The fattest city in America? Memphis. Knoxville is 12 and Nashville is 17. Lexington fairs far better than we do, coming in 38th on the list (that’s because we have better restaurants, naturally).

Obese adults and children are burdened with elevated health care costs compared to healthier individuals. According to WalletHub, Americans spend up to $315.8 billion annually on obesity-related medical treatment. Workplaces suffer, too: If current trends continue, obesity-related absences could lead to annual productivity losses up to $580 billion by 2030.

WalletHub ranked each city for fat prevalence, weight-related health problems and healthy environment. WalletHub’s analysts compared 100 of the most populated U.S. metro areas. —Melissa Chipman

Hospital magazine recognizes KentuckyOne Health leader

Dr. Damian P. "Pat" Alagia III

Dr. Damian P. “Pat” Alagia III

A KentuckyOne Health executive has been recognized by a leading hospital magazine.

Becker’s Hospital Review named KentuckyOne Chief Medical Officer Dr. Damian P. “Pat” Alagia III on its list of “100 Hospital and Health System CMOs to Know.”

The magazine said on its website that the list honors “physician leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to improving and innovating on patient safety and quality endeavors.”

Becker’s said it chose the leaders through an editorial review process.

“We are pleased that Dr. Alagia has been recognized on a national level for his commitment to excellence and strong leadership,” KentuckyOne Health President and CEO Ruth Brinkley said in a press release. “This is another recognition that demonstrates KentuckyOne Health’s commitment to lead the future of health care for Kentucky and beyond.”

Alagia has worked for KentuckyOne Health since 2013. In the early part of his career he was a solo practitioner with a focus on obstetrics and advanced laparoscopic surgery. He served as president of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia and co-founded the minimally invasive gynecologic surgery program at the Washington, D.C.-based George Washington University Hospital.—Boris Ladwig

Shark Tank winners in promo video

Two Louisville-area entrepreneurs who went on “Shark Tank” and received an investment from celebrity investor Robert Herjavec are currently featured in promotional videos for Deluxe’s social media and email marketing departments. The Natural Grip and Happy Feet are featured in slick case study ads that promote both the businesses and Deluxe’s services.

Deluxe is a weirdly jack-of-all-trades company out of St. Paul, Minn. You can order business checks from Deluxe. They can design your logo and register a domain name for you. And, as the videos show, they can kick your digital marketing up a notch.

But this is a nice chance to revisit our local winners.

In the videos, Herjavec talks with Deluxe’s Amanda Brinkman about the successes that each business has seen after using Deluxe’s services.

Pat Yates, owner and CEO of Happy Feet, had problems with email marketing even though his business had a customer database that went back to 2008. Happy Feet, the beefy slippers shaped like characters, shoes and animals, have become a multi-million dollar business.

But Yates grew up with a father who traveled for work, and he always planned on making his family his first priority. That’s why he started this business. Brinkman said email marketing is basically another sales person that you don’t have to pay (although I assume they paid Deluxe), and email campaigns could give Yates even more time to spend with his family.

“I stunk at it,” said Yates about email marketing. But two campaigns run by Deluxe brought in more than $10,000 in sales.

Ashley Drake’s company, The Natural Grip, is a little more grassroots. TNG is a hand guard marketed to people involved in high-intensity fitness and sports. They keep you from tearing up your hands as you work out.

Drake had done a reasonably solid job talking to certain segments of that fitness community, but Deluxe opened her business up to tangental communities that also participate in high-intensity fitness like the paleo diet community.

Final park in The Parklands of Floyds Fork system opening next month

The installation of the sign for the new Broad Run Park | Courtesy of The Parklands

The sign for the new Broad Run Park | Courtesy of The Parklands

The Parklands of Floyds Fork will open Broad Run Park, the fourth and final park in the system, on April 15.

Broad Run Park is 600 acres and spans from Broad Run Road near Turkey Run Park to Bardstown Road in Fern Creek. The park includes a playground, a sprayground, an open lawn, along with natural features such as cliffs, waterfalls, towering hardwood trees and fields of wildflowers.

“We set out five years ago to build upon our City of Parks and the Olmsted-inspired legacy of creating amazing green spaces for the public to enjoy,” Dan Jones, chairman and CEO of 21st Century Parks, said in a news release. “Paired with the support Louisville has shown us by quickly adopting The Parklands into their lifestyle, having this carefully-planned green infrastructure in place will ensure access to nature and outdoor recreation in our city for the next 100 years.”

The Parklands of Floyds Fork is a $125 million, 3,500-acre park system that also includes Beckley Creek Park, Pope Lick Park and Turkey Run Park. The parks are connected by 19 miles of the 100-mile Louisville Loop around the city and 20 miles of stream for paddlers.

To celebrate the opening, the park system is hosting multiple hikes and other events April 15-17. Check them out here. —Caitlin Bowling