Monday Business Briefing: Main St. buildings for sale; GE Appliances and union talk; Zeggz grows; Tuesday Morning adds store; and more

Welcome to the Dec. 5 Monday Business Briefing, your private business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

K. Norman Berry moving headquarters, building price lowered

609 and 611 W. Main St. are for sale. | Courtesy of CBRE

609 and 611 W. Main St. are for sale. | Courtesy of CBRE

Louisville architectural firm K. Norman Berry Associates announced that it would move into new offices in the Glassworks building, 815 W. Market St., Suite 502.

K. Norman Berry spent 40 years on Main Street but will move out of its headquarters at 611 W. Main St. on Dec. 16, the company stated in the announcement. “In 2017, a new chapter begins in a new location, providing a work environment that encourages collaboration, harnesses technology and expands the vision of the firm with our staff, consultants and clients.”

The company’s Main Street office building is on the market. Marc Barlow, a vice president at CBRE in Louisville, has the property listed for lease or for sale, along with 609 W. Main St.

The more than 140-year-old buildings were listed previously as a package deal, but the owners are willing to sell them separately, Barlow told Insider Louisville.

There’s “a lot of flexibility there for a potential owner,” he said. “We’ve had good interest in the buildings since the price reduction.”

The 16,123-square-foot building at 609 W. Main St. is listed for $995,000, and 611 W. Main St., which is 15,801 square feet, is on the market for $775,000, Barlow said. They were originally listed at $1.5 million each.

CBRE is marketing the property to investment firms, developers and owner occupiers.

“We are trying to cast a pretty broad net,” he said.

Insider Louisville reached out to K. Norman Berry principal Steve Eggers for additional comment about the move but did not immediately hear back.

Downtown Louisville continues to see a construction boom, and developers and investors seem to be snatching up many of the historic buildings on downtown’s main streets. Just down the block, 601 W. Main St. sold to a Tennessee developer in September for $3.5 million; the company plans to turn the 29,865-square-foot building into a boutique hotel. —Caitlin Bowling

Giddy up! Kentucky Derby Museum shows off new logo

derbymuseum-x650xThe Kentucky Derby Museum is rocking a brand new logo and color scheme, thanks to Doe-Anderson Advertising and Public Relations. It’s the museum’s first major brand update in eight years, and the fresh, new image of a race horse in motion with a jockey in the saddle is simple yet appealing.

“My goal was to design a logo as timeless as the Kentucky Derby itself — simple, iconic, while evoking all the color and energy of the race and the event,” said Doe-Anderson creative director Bill Connelly in a press release.

To celebrate, the museum will host “Sunday Fundays” through January, where guests receive one free child’s admission with the purchase of an adult ticket ($8). —Sara Havens

GE Appliances, union renew contract talks

GE Appliances will launch new dishwashers next month that come with dedicated silverware jets. | Courtesy of GE.

GE Appliances dishwasher with dedicated silverware jets. | Courtesy of GE.

GE Appliances and the union have agreed to meet following the workers’ rejection of a four-year contract proposal — but the company said the ball really is in the union’s court.

“It is up to the union to bring us a proposal,” Kim Freeman, the company’s spokeswoman, told IL.

Dana Crittendon, president of the IUE-CWA 83761, told IL Friday afternoon that he was in negotiations and could not say much as a result.

The two parties had kept a tight lid on negotiations before announcing a tentative agreement that hourly workers rejected Nov. 22 over concerns about frozen wages, lower starting pay for incoming employees and changing work practices that disadvantage older workers. Of about 3,600 members of the IUE-CWA 83761 who voted, about 2,600, more than 72 percent, voted against the offer.

The proposal called for current employees to retain their wages, seniority and vacation benefits. They also would have received $5,500 combined in January of each of the next three years. Starting wages for new employees would drop to $12, from $15.52. Employees also would see higher shares of health care costs.

Appliance Park employs about 6,000, including 4,000 union members, who make dishwashers, air conditioners and other appliances. General Electric sold the park to China-based appliance maker Qingdao Haier in June for $5.4 billion.

Company leaders have said Appliance Park is the only one of GEA’s four locations that does not produce a profit. And without the support of GE’s higher margin businesses, the appliances unit has to align its cost structure — including wages — with the rest of the appliance industry.

However, union members have said they have not seen a raise in years and that a lot of the problems that make production at Appliance Park inefficient have nothing to do with the performance of the hourly workers.

Freeman told IL via email on Thursday that upon a request by the union, the company has agreed to meet because “a ratified contract is in the best interest of both parties.”

Nonetheless, she said, GEA “is unwavering in its objective to reach an agreement that best positions Appliance Park for future success by reducing costs and improving flexibility.

“We look forward to receiving the union’s proposal for adjustments to the contract offer,” she said. “That is the best way to make progress.” Boris Ladwig

Court: Race/sex discrimination suit against GE Appliances can proceed


Mykel Mickens

A race and sex discrimination lawsuit against GE Appliances by a fired transgender worker can move forward, a federal court in Kentucky has ruled.

In the suit, Mykel Mickens asserted that while employed at GE, between October 2014 and June 2016, he was harassed and treated differently because he is a transgender black man.

According to the court documents, Mickens was fired June 27 for what the company said were attendance issues.

The company had sought to dismiss the suit, but Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr., chief judge of the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Kentucky, said last week that Mickens’s suit could proceed.

“Notwithstanding, at this stage of the litigation, what is clear is that the plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently alleges facts to support discrimination or disparate treatment claims based upon race and gender nonconformity or sex stereotyping,” the judge wrote.

The judge dismissed Mickens’s claims for violation of the Louisville Metro Government fairness ordinance and the Occupational Safety and Health Act, but said he could sue under the federal and state Civil Rights acts.

GEA spokeswoman Kim Freeman said that while the company does not comment on employee matters or pending litigation, it “embraces diversity and supports organizations like our LGBT group.”

“We are committed to creating, managing and valuing diversity in our workforce,” Freeman said. “This means we do not make employment-related decisions based on a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, veteran’s status, other characteristics protected by applicable law, and physical or mental disability, where we make reasonable accommodations when appropriate.” Boris Ladwig

Zeggz Amazing Eggs adds catering, mobile ordering application

Zeggz logoLouisville-based breakfast and lunch restaurant Zeggz Amazing Eggs continues to grow.

The company opened its second and third Louisville locations this year, and now it has started a catering arm and debuted an online and mobile ordering system called Zeggz Go.

Its catering service, which provides breakfast or lunch for various meetings or events, is fully starting this week, while the online and mobile ordering system began quietly about four months ago.

Ashton Lockhart, president for Zeggz, said the company hopes adding catering will boost sales the same way online to-go ordering has.

“We have noticed a big upward trend in our sales,” he said, adding that sales rose 5 to 10 percent.

Its newest location on Lime Kiln Lane will serve as the hub of its catering operations.

Adding the new services is part of the Zeggz’s broader growth plan, which could include franchising in the future.

“We are looking at other locations. We have looked at other cities,” Lockhart said. “We are setting ourselves up for success for that.” —Caitlin Bowling

Discount retailer opening new location in Louisville

National retail company Tuesday Morning is coming to the Town Fair Center.

The shopping center’s owner has received a permit from the city to renovate a space for Tuesday Morning. The 11,178-square-foot storefront is at 1959 S. Hurstbourne Parkway.

When it opens, it will be the Tuesday Morning’s fourth Louisville store, according to its website; it closed a previous location on Bardstown Road near Woodbourne Avenue in 2013. That site is now a CVS Pharmacy.

Tuesday Morning is a discount retailer that sells a wide variety of items, including bath products, gifts, kitchen wares and craft supplies. Its regular hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. —Caitlin Bowling

Self-storage site proposed along Broadway near Baxter Avenue

The medical office building could become a self-storage facility. | Courtesy of Google Maps

The medical office building could become a self-storage facility. | Courtesy of Google Maps

Attorney Bill Bardenwerper has filed a formal application on behalf of his clients to turn a four-story medical office into a climate-controlled self-storage facility.

The office sits at 1170 E. Broadway next to Kindred Hospital and the former site of Mercy Academy school, which was torn down to make way for a 195-unit apartment project. The property is owned by Edwards Cos., the Columbus, Ohio-based company developing the apartments; and Louisville-based companies MRI Holdings and Eagle Properties.

“The hospital and apartment community in particular will be able to benefit from their utilization of the proposed new storage facility because businesses and residents need storage, especially residents who live in places without storage, notably apartment buildings,” Bardenwerper wrote in the application. “By locating in an underutilized old office building, this facility promotes an efficient use of land and investment in existing infrastructure.”

The existing 18,760-square-foot office building will remain and be renovated to accommodate the new use, according to the plans filed. To move forward with the renovations, however, the property must be rezoned to “traditional marketplace” from an office residential zoning.

The relatively recession-proof industry has gained momentum as baby boomers downsize and need a place to store extra items, Forbes reported earlier this year.

According to research group IBISWorld, the U.S. self-storage industry’s annual revenue is $33 billion, up 50 percent in six years. —Caitlin Bowling

UofL research provides lessons for entrepreneurs and investors

UofL researchers have found that weak presentation skills often undermine entrepreneurial success and that strong presentation skills often fool investors.

The researchers showed 40 videotaped business pitches from student entrepreneurs to 16 investors and asked them to rate the entrepreneurs’ passion.

“We revealed a large misalignment between entrepreneurs’ personal passion and investors’ perceived passion,” the researchers said. “Our critical case analysis demonstrated that entrepreneurs’ weak or strong presentation skills led investors either to underestimate or overestimate, respectively, perceptions of entrepreneurs’ passion.”

The researchers suggested that entrepreneurs develop presentation skills “and rhetorical strategies for displaying their passion” and warned investors to be wary about drawing conclusions about an entrepreneur’s passion based on presentation skills.

“Investors may miss investment opportunities with passionate entrepreneurs who are simply struggling with presentation skills, or make less than optimal investments in entrepreneurs who are projecting a passionate image but do not have the ‘fire in the belly’ to back up their message,” the researchers said.

The UofL researchers are Kristen Lucas, associate professor in the College of Business; Sharon A. Kerrick, formerly of UofL and now interim business school dean at Bellarmine University; Jenna Haugen, assistant professor in the College of Business; and Cole J. Crider, a doctoral student in the College of Business.

UofL said the study will be published this month in the journal IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, “a peer-reviewed journal devoted to applied research on professional communication.” It is published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Boris Ladwig

Fed: Regional economy improves; weakness in retail, real estate sectors

Federal Reserve LogoThe economy improved modestly in October in the Federal Reserve’s Eighth District, which includes Louisville, though the retail and real estate markets recorded some weaknesses.

“Employers reported continued tight labor market conditions, moderate hiring, and moderate wage pressures,” the Fed said in its monthly report.

While home sales fell slightly in October in St. Louis, Memphis and Louisville, home sales through the first 10 months of the year were up at least 5 percent in all three cities, the central bank said.

Data on consumer spending was mixed, the Fed said: Retailers in Louisville and Memphis said sales fell compared to September, and auto dealers across the district also reported a slowdown, possibly related to uncertainty caused by the presidential election.

“Most dealers expect an increase in sales and inventory in the next quarter,” the central bank said. “In addition, several dealers also noted a shift in demand toward used vehicles.”

A survey of businesses indicated that consumer prices increased modestly.

“Several contacts in the construction industry reported higher material costs in Louisville, while a manufacturing contact in St. Louis reported raw material pricing remained low,” the Fed said.

While loan demand continued to grow, and bankers generally expect continued strong demand for mortgages, commercial and industrial loans in 2017, some contacts predicted that the demand for mortgage and auto loans would decline slightly next year. Boris Ladwig