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.

GLI management team sheds another senior veep … will this one be replaced?

Footer_GLIEarlier this week, Greater Louisville Inc. announced the departure of Carlos Phillips, the chamber’s senior vice president of operations and membership, who has accepted a position as CEO of the Greenville (S.C.) Chamber of Commerce.

He is the most recent of a smattering of GLI leadership who have been “moving on up” and taking better jobs elsewhere.

When IL asked if Phillips would be replaced, we received this statement: “In terms of next steps, there is an organizational plan in place for after his departure, but I do not have any information about when or if that role will be filled.”

The word “if” suggests a pattern might be in play at GLI.

Last summer, GLI CEO Kent Oyler had six “key members” on his leadership team, including himself; four of those six have since departed — James Reddish, Susan Overton, Terry Gill and now Phillips.

Reddish, who moved to Chicago so his wife could take a job, was vice president of economic development. He was replaced by Deana Epperly Karem.

The remaining “key” players, however, have not been directly replaced.

Overton was vice president of strategic initiatives, which meant she oversaw PR and media relations, among other things. When she departed for a new gig in October, her duties were largely absorbed by Sarah Davasher Wisdom, who is senior vice president of strategy and public affairs.

Gill, who was the director of EnterpriseCorp, left last August to be president of the east division of OneTouchPoint in Cincinnati; he has not been replaced with a new VP. Instead, Director of Kentucky Innovation Network Lisa Bajorinas took over as the leader of EnterpriseCorp, GLI’s entrepreneurial arm.

Given GLI won’t say “when or if” Phillips will be replaced, GLI likely will be down to three VPs for the foreseeable future, which begs the questions: Was GLI top heavy when it had six or seven veeps? Is losing and not replacing these high-level execs an example of GLI “rightsizing?”

We touched base with Oyler to try to figure out whether GLI is shrinking its leadership on purpose, but he’s not ready to talk. He said, “I’m sure that you understand that I won’t talk publicly about our post-Carlos organizational chart before we have it fully settled internally. Carlos’s last official day with GLI is still out there at March 18 so I have plenty of time to make adjustments.”

Oyler did point out that GLI is growing its overall staff, saying, “We are very focused on closely aligning our staff with our five 2016 strategic objectives.”

Currently, the organization has four full-time job openings posted: director of creative services; manager of economic development; manager of talent development, attraction and retention; and an operations assistant. Here are the listings. —Melissa Chipman

Downtrodden Bardstown Road apartment complex for sale

The apartment building is for sale. | Courtesy of Jefferson PVA

The apartment building is for sale. | Courtesy of Jefferson PVA

A decrepit 33-unit apartment complex next to Big Bar in the Highlands is under contract to be sold, according to the building’s operations manager.

Bailey Property Management has owned the complex, located at 1204 Bardstown Road, since the 1990s. Now, the owners are waiting for tenants’ leases to expire before officially selling the property, said operations manager Tim Powers.

The apartments are in need of serious upgrades, but Powers said the current owners don’t want to invest money in the property.

“Somebody is going to renovate it, just probably not us,” he said, adding: “It’s a really good piece of property.”

The apartment building is located in a prime location in the Highlands where it can be difficult to find housing. But it hasn’t attracted the best renters.

Let’s just hope the new owners invest some serious cash into — at the very least — sprucing up the complex. —Caitlin Bowling

Papa John’s renewing its contract as NFL sponsor

NFL Quarterback Peyton Manning and sports commentator Jim Nantz with Papa John's founder John Schnatter | Courtesy of Papa John's

NFL Quarterback Peyton Manning and sports commentator Jim Nantz with Papa John’s founder John Schnatter | Courtesy of Papa John’s

When asked recently about the company’s sales surrounding the Super Bowl, Papa John’s International founder and CEO John Schnatter was quick to praise the NFL and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

Manning is a brand spokesman and Papa John’s franchisee.

“The NFL has been a great partner. Peyton’s been a great partner,” Schnatter said on a conference call with market analysts.

The Louisville-based pizza company is finishing up negotiations to renew its contract as the official pizza sponsor of the NFL, he added.

Schnatter also put in a plug for another Papa John’s spokesman, Houston Texan defensive player J.J. Watt, who this month was named Defensive Player of the Year for the third time.

“We’ve been really good about picking the winners and just really happy for the Broncos and happy for Peyton and the family,” Schnatter said.

During the call, Schnatter wasn’t asked and made no mention about recent controversy surrounding Manning, including the fact that he is being investigated by the NFL for doping allegations. —Caitlin Bowling

PriceWeber rebrands itself as the ‘Common Man’s ad agency’

priceweberApparently 2016 is still the year of authenticity, again.

PriceWeber’s new website and branding are all “Garden and Guns-y” with mason jar aesthetics and a lot of tinted filters. It was a style that was so cool and refreshing a few years ago, like a backlash against “Jersey Shore” and the Kardashians.

Call me cynical, but the more you sell yourself as the “Common Man” or “everyday people” or “down-to-earth”… it gets harder and harder to believe. And let’s face it, it’s kind of a disservice to the company. They’re a really popular, lucrative agency with a lot of smart people involved. It’s stood the test of time– it’s approaching the 50-year mark.

Clients for the digital and full-service creative ad agency include: Hershey, Korbel California Champagne, Early Times, Cummins and Long John Silver’s.

The announcement said, “We serve these brands, and many more, by seeking to create authentic, uncommon brand experiences for the common man and woman.”

The website’s “About Us” page reads: “PriceWeber is made up of smart, everyday people who are allergic to buzzwords and B.S.”

PriceWeber had an extraordinary year last year. According to the announcement:

In 2015, PriceWeber was included on Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America, recognized as one of the of top 50 fastest growing companies in Louisville by Business First, and was the most-awarded agency in the annual Beverage Dynamics Awards. That same year, PriceWeber actively sought to give back to our local community, providing donated services valued at $437,508 to eight nonprofit organizations.

Check out the new site here. —Melissa Chipman

Brown-Forman execs in spotlight at NAWBO awards banquet

NAWBO Epic 2016Two Brown-Forman executives will play key roles at next week’s meeting of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

The event — at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mellwood Arts Center — will include the presentation of NAWBO’s EPIC awards, which recognize excellence among women business owners.

Heather Howell, Brown-Forman’s director of innovation, will give the keynote address. Howell — formerly CEO of the successful Rooibee Red Tea — will talk about how innovation has played a role in her life.

Tim Laird, Brown-Forman’s chief entertaining officer, will emcee the festivities and has created for the event a signature cocktail, called The Epic Tale.

The recipe:

  • 1.5 ounces Old Forester Bourbon
  • 2 ounces lemonade
  • 1 ounce cranberry juice
  • Serve over ice with a lemon twist or wedge

The 2016 EPIC award finalists:

  • Summer Auerbach, owner, Rainbow Blossom
  • Pamela Fulton Broadus , president & CEO, Splendid Events
  • Tricia Burke, president, Office Environment Company
  • Stacie Grossfeld, owner, Orthopaedic Specialists
  • Susan Hershberg, owner, Wiltshire Pantry
  • Steph Horne, owner/attorney, Horne Title Services
  • Mo McKnight Howe, owner, Revelry Boutique
  • Raquel Koff, president, Rodeo Drive
  • Amy Letke, founder & CEO, Integrity HR
  • Kayla Mount, co-founder & COO, SuperFanU
  • Jesika Young, VP, US Bank
  • Leigh Pittman, director of Global Program Management & Strategic IT Sourcing, Brown-Forman

Tickets for the event, which cost $125 per person, or $1,000 per table, are available here.—Boris Ladwig

Money Flowing in to Kickstarter for LED hula hoops

Add to the list of things that I am too old/unhip to understand: Flow.

Pretty much all I knew about Flow before writing this was that a former student of mine who posts prodigiously on Facebook and apparently never wears a shirt talks about it a lot. He’s also a yogi.

And something something Burning Man.

If you’ve ever been to Waterfront Wednesday and seen people with lighted hula hoops spinning them to create cool lighting effects: that’s Flow. And Flow is big bucks. Some of those hoops run upwards of $400.

A local Kickstarter who creates LED-lit hoops for Flow has blown past its $10,000 and has raised close to $70,000 and still has two weeks left on the campaign.

Jonathan Clark, creator of Prodigy Hoops, describes Flow Arts as “a fast-growing fitness and meditation practice that blends play, exercise, and dance into a fun and healthful activity that moves the body, stills the mind, and uplifts the spirit. It’s a physical workout that is also a brain booster, a relaxing way to chill out, and a compelling performance art. The concept of Flow Arts is simple: learn to move in harmony with an inanimate object so that it becomes an animated extension of your body, then flow with it in ways that look and feel totally awesome.”

Clark’s hoops have more and faster LED than his competitors. The hoops have motion detectors, and they change their lighting pattern depending on your motions. The detector also allows users to tap the hoop in certain ways to “scroll” through a series of lighting patterns and colors.

The Prodigy Hoop is 100 percent open source and programmable with an Arduino. You can twirl it certain ways to make patterns like stars and hearts and pizza. Mind. Blown.

In short, this thing is ridiculous. In all senses of the word. –Melissa Chipman

Portland neighborhood association launches new website

Portland website

The website acts as a new face for the neighborhood. | Courtesy of Portland NOW

A new website promoting both new and longtime businesses in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood recently launched.

The neighborhood association Portland NOW runs the website PortlandLouisville.com, which includes information about where to eat, what attractions to visit and available community resources. Eventually, it also will include a blog and events calendar.

Previously, Portland has had a limited online presence, but the new website acts as the face of the neighborhood, which has suffered from a lack of businesses and a large number of vacant and abandoned homes.

However, Portland is in the midst of a revitalization effort led by developer and filmmaker Gill Holland. Holland’s Portland Investment Initiative is a $24 million project aimed at renovating dilapidated homes, attracting news businesses to the neighborhood and creating a haven for artists.

Last month, Holland updated attendees at a Venture Connectors luncheon on the initiative’s progress. —Caitlin Bowling

Churchill Downs signs deal with merchandise retailer

churchill downsChurchill Downs Racetrack has signed a multi-year deal with Fanatics Inc. to handle merchandise sales for the Kentucky Derby.

Beginning with this year’s Derby, Fanatics will “drastically expand the merchandise selection” and provide more spots around the track where the hundreds of thousands of Derby visitors can buy apparel, collectibles and autographed memorabilia.

Kristin Warfield, Chuchill Downs’ vice president of partnerships, said in a news release that the company chose Fanatics because of its diverse product offerings and shopper-friendly focus.

“We believe our fans will truly benefit from Fanatics’ seamless online purchasing technology and their fresh perspective to enhancing our on-site sales over Kentucky Derby Week,” she said.

Fanatics, based in Jacksonville, Fla., operates more than 300 online and offline stores, selling apparel and other merchandise for professional sports teams and leagues including the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

While the company has focused on North American leagues, it is trying to diversify: It bought United Kingdom-based ecommerce company Kitbag this month to break into the European markets for tennis, Formula 1 racing and soccer.

Brian Swallow, senior VP for strategy and business development at Fanatics, said the company is “thrilled” to provide services at an event as prestigious as the Derby.

“Our tech and manufacturing expertise makes us uniquely qualified to create an enhanced, omnichannel retail experience for Kentucky Derby fans whether at home, on the go or at the track during the first weekend in May,” he said.—Boris Ladwig

Barton 1792 Distillery releases new Single Barrel; debuts at tonight’s Bourbon Classic

Welcome the Barton 1792 Single Barrel. | Photo by Sara Havens

Welcome the Barton 1792 Single Barrel. | Photo by Sara Havens

During a Bourbon Classic media tour of the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Ky., on Wednesday, visitor center manager Josh Hollifield revealed a new expression: a Single Barrel bourbon. Bottled at 98.6 proof — that’s right, your body temperature — the bourbon was distilled and aged at the historic distillery and selected by master distiller Ken Pierce for its phenomenal taste profile.

In a press release, Pierce describes the bourbon as having “the flavors of butterscotch and caramel notes, delicately balanced with hints of fruit and toffee,” he says. “The body is rich and lingers on the tongue for a delicate and pleasant finish.”

The Single Barrel is only the third expression of the 1792 line and should be available at the distillery’s visitor’s center any day now. In fact, Barton is debuting it tonight for the folks attending the Bourbon Classic at the Kentucky Center. We hear tickets are still available. —Sara Havens

Derby Festival promotes and adds staffers; enters its 60th year with 23 full-time employees

The Kentucky Derby Festival staff includes 23 full-time employees. | Courtesy of KDF

The Kentucky Derby Festival staff includes 23 full-time employees. | Courtesy of KDF

Only 72 days remain until Derby, and as March nears, it’s never too early to start planning. The folks over at the Kentucky Derby Festival have been doing a little restructuring recently, and now tout a staff of 23 full-time employees. Some new hires were brought on, and other veteran staffers were promoted. And Mike Berry, president and CEO, enters his 18th year as the leader and his 30th with the company.

“I am truly thankful to be a part of an organization that provides so much enjoyment to our community and brings together such a dedicated group of supporters,” said Berry in a press release. “One of the greatest joys of leading the festival operations is having the pleasure of working with such a great group of professionals. The staff is simply the best in the business, and I offer my appreciation to them for their talents and passion.”

Six current staff members have been promoted to new roles, including Stacey Robinson, Jeff English, Matt Gibson, April Zik, Dodie Howlett and Cynthia Jackson. And two people have been added: Jayme Perez as sponsorship sales manager and Shaina Wagner as tickets and promotions manager.

There’s no doubt it takes dedicated and focused staff to put on a festival of that size and scope. The first big event for the team is Thunder Over Louisville on Saturday, April 23. —Sara Havens

Papa John’s hires chief ingredient officer

Sean Muldoon

Sean Muldoon

Sean A. Muldoon, whose worked for Papa John’s International since 1999, recently was named the pizza company’s chief ingredient officer.

“Under Sean’s leadership, we have developed the Gold Standard for ingredients as well as one of the ‘cleanest’ pizza ingredient labels among top national pizza chains,” Steve Ritchie, Papa John’s president and chief operating officer, said in a news release. “His efforts exemplify Papa John’s continued efforts to deliver high quality ingredients sourced from ethical, dedicated suppliers.”

Muldoon previously served as senior vice president of research and development, quality assurance and supply chain, according to the release. In his new role, he will perform similar duties, in addition to expanding Papa John’s Gold Standard ingredient specifications and its Clean Label Initiative.

Papa John’s already has eliminated artificial flavors, synthetic colors, MSG, BHA, BHT, cellulose and partially hydrogenated oils from its foods. By summer, it plans to buy only poultry raised without human and animal antibiotics and feed a 100 percent vegetarian diet, the release states. —Caitlin Bowling