Home » Business Briefs — July 2012

Business Briefs — July 2012

By wmadministrator


• King’s Daughters Medical Center has laid off an unspecified number of employees, citing declining patient volumes, shrinking Medicare/Medicaid payments and other economic factors. In a statement released announcing the cutbacks, the hospital noted that the federal government’s approach to healthcare reform has generated multiple economic hardships that are expected to continue “well into the future.” The hospital is also closing one of its satellite centers and eliminating its valet parking service. The layoffs are the second time in two years that the hospital has downsized.


• American Fuji Seal is investing $10 million to expand its operations in Bardstown, where it prints and manufactures sleeve, molding and insulating labels for product packaging. The expansion will add 45 new jobs to the existing 460-member workforce. American Fuji Seal is part of Japan-based Fuji Seal International. The company’s North American corporate headquarters are located in Bardstown.

• Bardstown Warehousing is investing $2 million to build a new 100,000 s.f. facility on a tract of land it owns in the Bardstown Industrial Park. The new building will be used as a distribution, warehouse and logistics center with possible manufacturing or assembly capabilities and will create five to 10 new permanent jobs, according to Chris Monin, president of Bardstown Warehousing. Monin noted that the company has seen an increased demand for additional distribution and logistics facilities in the region.


• Commonwealth Health Corp. has begun construction on a new 73,471-s.f. facility that will house Western Kentucky University’s nursing and physical therapy programs in addition to providing educational space for the hospital. The $18.4 million facility, which will be named The Medical Center-WKU Health Sciences Complex, will be built on the hospital’s campus and is expected to be complete by the 2013 fall semester. The Medical Center is issuing bonds to pay for construction of the project and will then lease the space to WKU for 25 years.


• Astar USA, which provides air charter and freight services, has laid off more than 200 workers at its Florence facility as a result of its contract with DHL coming to an end. Astar said the company would continue to provide services to its other customers, including the United States Department of Defense.


• Georgetown College is one of 47 small colleges and universities across the United States to be selected as recipients of grants totaling more than $50 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The grants will enable the schools to work together to create more engaging science classes and increase the diversity of students who study science. HHMI Director David Asai said Georgetown was selected because of the number of first-generation college students it was attracting who had “terrific potential.” Georgetown was awarded a $1.3 million HHMI grant in 2008 and will receive $1.1 million this time.


• New York Blower Co. has announced plans to locate a new manufacturing facility in Grayson County, creating 125 new full-time jobs. The company, which has manufactured commercial fans since 1889, has purchased the former Trim Masters facility to house the new operations.


• United Airlines has increased the number flights it offers out of Cincinnati to both Newark, N.J., and Houston. The company has added two additional flights from CVG to Newark, bringing the total number of daily flights to six. One extra flight per day has been added to Houston, bringing the total number of daily flights to four.


• T.RAD North America Inc., a leading supplier of aluminum radiators and oil coolers to the motorcycle and ATV markets, is investing $10.8 million in production upgrades for its Hopkinsville operations, which consists of two plants: the aluminum division and copper/brass division. The project includes the purchase of new equipment to increase production capacity and meet the demand for lighter weight aluminum products. The expansion will also place all administrative staff from both the copper/brass and aluminum divisions in one location. T.RAD employs approximately 410 people at its Hopkinsville plants.


• Dart Container Corp. is adding 60 employees at its plant in Horse Cave, where it produces a variety of containers used by restaurants, healthcare facilities and the food packaging industry. The company currently employs approximately 1,300, making it Hart County’s largest employer.

• Sister Schubert’s Inc. is adding 80 new positions at its Horse Cave plant, where it makes yeast rolls and related products for the retail and food service markets. The company, which is a subsidiary of T. Marzetti Co., currently has approximately 210 employees at the Horse Cave plant.


• The Mountain Eagle reports that Baker Hughes Inc., formerly known as BJ Services, has laid off 62 workers from its natural gas well-servicing operation at the Gateway Industrial Business Park in Jenkins. The layoffs are being attributed to a glut in the supply of natural gas, which has resulted in natural gas prices hitting a 10-year low, and drastic changes in the U.S. energy market. Earlier this year EQT, the region’s largest natural gas producer, suspended drilling in Eastern Kentucky as a result of the oversupply.


• Cox Media Group Inc. has invested $11.7 million in iHigh, a Lexington-based company that broadcasts youth sports and other activities online. The investment, which gives Atlanta-based Cox a minority interest in the company, will fuel iHigh’s product development and corporate expansion to meet increasing demand for the company’s digital television platform and online network. Cox Media President Doug Franklin said, “We believe iHigh’s solutions – giving audiences the ability to watch any event live over desktops, tablets or smartphones – are uniquely designed to help organizations reach a devoted and distributed fan base, while giving advertisers a highly targeted and hyper-local approach to reaching their customers.”

• LM Communications, a Lexington-based radio broadcasting company, has announced plans to purchase WBKI, the CW television network affiliate in Louisville. LM President Lynn Martin owns 12 radio stations in Kentucky, West Virginia and South Carolina, and will serve as president of LM Communications Television. The acquisition of WBKI, which is pending approval by the Federal Communications Commission, will be the first television station for LM.

• Technology solutions reseller boice.net has opened a new office in Lexington and is actively recruiting network engineers in response to continued growth within their existing client base as well as increased demand for services.  The company is headquartered in New Albany, Ind.

• Frogdice, an online game developer, has expanded its headquarter operations in Lexington in response to increased demand for its products. The expansion will create seven full-time, high-tech jobs. The project was approved for funding up to $80,000 by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority through the Cabinet for Economic Development’s High-Tech Investment Pool, which is used to support technology-based companies and projects. Frogdice is using the funding for facility upgrades and to purchase equipment, software licenses and IP/patent protection.

• Fazoli’s has debuted its first travel plaza unit in a West Virginia travel plaza, marking a new direction for the Lexington-based quick-serve Italian restaurant chain. The franchisee, Par Mar Stores, has agreed to open two more Fazoli’s at travel plazas in West Virginia and Ohio within the next two years and is looking into the possibility of adding more units in some of the 50 travel centers it operates. Fazoli’s also has a three-unit development agreement with travel center operator CCreations, LLC of New Whiteland, Ind., which plans to open its first unit later this year in the Indianapolis area.


• Louisville-based insurance company Neace Lukens has continued to expand with the acquisition of three companies over the course of two weeks. The company has acquired Benefit Concepts Inc., an Indianapolis-based consulting firm that focuses on employee benefits; Morehead Insurance, a Scottsville, Ky.-based independent insurance agency; and First Carolina Risk Management Advisors, a Charleston, S.C.-based independent risk management and insurance broker. The acquisitions add 33 people to the Neace Lukens staff, which numbers more than 750 employees in 11 states.

• A new artisanal butcher shop is planned for the NuLu district in Louisville with the goal of connecting area consumers with high-quality food products sourced from local farmers. While the business will be primarily be targeted to retail and carryout customers, wholesale distribution to local restaurants is also planned. Farmers from Oldham, Mercer, Boyle, Shelby, Nelson, Henry, Garrard, and Spencer counties have already signed on to help develop the business. The project is expected to open in 2013.

• Southwest Airlines has announced plans for nonstop jet service between Louisville International Airport and Denver International Airport. The new flights will begin effective Nov. 4.

• Data solutions company Peak 10 Inc. has selected Louisville as the site of its fifth cloud cluster, an information technology infrastructure model used in hosting and storing business-critical applications and data. “In addition to its Louisville operation, Peak 10 operates nine other technology campuses in the United States, serving customers around the globe. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has approved the company for $250,000 in economic development incentives.

• The board of directors of Brown-Forman Corp. has approved a three-for-two stock split for its Class A and Class B common stock, to be paid in the form of a stock dividend. Paul Varga, CEO of the Louisville-based spirits company, said the split reflects the company’s confidence in its ability “to generate long-term growth in both earnings and cash flow.” Brown-Forman’s well-known brands include Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Southern Comfort, Finlandia and Woodford Reserve. The stock split marks the sixth split in the last 35 years.

• First Data, a company that provides secure payment transactions for merchants and financial institutions, has notified the state that it plans to lay off 344 employees at its credit card transaction processing facility in Louisville. The facility previously operated as a Bank of America operation until Atlanta-based First Data purchased Bank of America’s processing platform earlier this year. A company spokesperson told The (Louisville) Courier-Journal that the layoffs are reflective of First Data’s efforts to make its operations more efficient.

• Preston Farms Popcorn, a company that packs and sells microwaveable popcorn, has started operations in Louisville, creating 51 new jobs. In addition to producing popcorn for private labels, the company also makes customized popcorn for promotional purposes.

• The Curehouse has acquired a 46,500-s.f. facility in Louisville to process high-end cured meats from specialty-bred and fed animals. The company is initially hiring 10 employees but expects to eventually hire up to 35 people.

• Louisville-based Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, has signed an agreement with Chinese electronics retailer Suning Appliance Co. to open 150 restaurants in Suning stores over the next five years, according to a report by China Daily.  Suning is one of the largest electrical appliance retailers in China. The company operates more than 1,700 stores at home and abroad and is planning to open more than 400 outlets this year.


• Emerson Industrial Automation, a company that produces electric and mechanical systems for manufacturing plants, last month informed employees at its Power Transmission Solutions manufacturing plant that the facility will close by December 2013, according to a report by The (Maysville) Ledger-Independent. The shutdown is the second EIA plant closing in recent years: In January 2011, EIA announced that it would close a similar plant that it operated in Maysville. Jobs from both facilities will be moved to an EIA production plant in Monterrey, Mexico. The number of jobs affected by the most recent announcement has not yet been released. An EIA spokesman said that sales, marketing, IT and customer support workers will remain in Maysville.


• Black Mountain Door LLC has opened a 400,000-s.f. production facility in Mount Sterling, where it will utilize advanced metal forming processes and laser welding to produce hollow metal doors and frames for the commercial building market. Black Mountain is a newly formed company that has acquired the assets, technology, brands and intellectual property of Amweld International. The new company will create 60 full-time jobs.


• Newport-based Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals has sold the rights to Zipsor, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, to Depomed Inc. for approximately $26 million. Zipsor, which was introduced by Xanodyne in 2009, achieved approximately $19 million of net sales in the 12 months ended May 31, 2012.


• Alltech has introduced a natural line of poultry and beef that will be sold under the new Lyons Farm brand. The Lyons Farm brand products will be available this summer in restaurants and retailers in the central Kentucky area and through online ordering. The Lyons Farm line will also encompass the company’s all-natural beef, Alltech Angus, which is sold in Lexington, Louisville and Cincinnati.


• Duke Energy Kentucky has committed $250,000 over the next five years to the Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corp. (Tri-ED) to enhance existing business retention and expansion efforts in Kenton, Boone and Campbell counties, and $75,000 to the Northern Kentucky Area Development District (NKADD) in Pendleton, Grant and Gallatin counties. Tri-ED and NKADD will partner with local city and county economic development leaders, utilities and government officials to coordinate proactive visits with existing Northern Kentucky businesses to gather information to understand and recognize needs, challenges and barriers to growth.


• Construction began last month on Asahi Bluegrass Forge’s new 70,000-s.f. manufacturing plant, the company’s second facility in Richmond. The company is investing $20.3 million in the project and expects to add 50 full-time jobs as a result of the expansion. Asahi Bluegrass is part of Asahi Forge Corp., a Japanese company that specializes in producing automotive parts such as hub units, gears, transmission components, bearings and joints.

• Eastern Kentucky University plans to launch a doctoral degree program in occupational therapy beginning in spring 2013. The program will be EKU’s third doctoral program – the university currently offers doctoral degrees in educational leadership and policy studies and in nursing practice – and builds upon a master’s program in occupational therapy that was recently ranked 24th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.


• Chemway Holdings, a chemical packaging company, is investing nearly $1.2 million to move its operations to a larger facility in Franklin. The expansion will add 15 jobs to the company’s existing workforce of 15 employees. Formed in 2001 in Madison, Tenn., Chemway relocated to Franklin in 2006.


• Online shoe and apparel retailer Zappo’s is changing the name of its Kentucky operations to Amazon, which has been its parent company since 2009 when Amazon acquired Zappos for $1.2 billion. The Zappos.com website will continue to operate and Zappos will also continue to operate its 6pm.com outlet store in Shepherdsville. Company officials said none of the 3,000-plus Zappos employees in Shepherdsville would be laid off as a result of the changes.


• Corrections Corporation of America closed the Otter Creek Correctional Center at the end of June, leaving 170 people without jobs. The closing of the privately owned prison is a significant loss for the small town of Wheelwright, which has a population of approximately 700. CCA is currently trying to market the prison, according to The Floyd County Times.