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473 posts categorized "Austin news"

November 13, 2015

Rochester's Paper & Graphics has a new owner

A Rochester printing company has a new name on its letterhead, after being purchased by a national firm with deep roots in southeastern Minnesota.

Paper & Graphics, Inc., owned by Tim and Steve Fields, was acquired by St. Paul-based Smyth Cos. on Friday. The 29-year-old print shop owned by the Fields brothers is located at 1116 Ninth Street NE.

Smyth-logoAll seven employees will stay on in Rochester. The name is now Paper & Graphics, a division of Smyth Cos.

"Rochester is a vibrant and growing community and we saw this an opportunity to make some inroads into Rochester," said Smyth owner and director Bill Hickey.

Smyth is certainly familiar with this part of Minnesota. It has two facilities in Austin with about 60 employees. The 138-year-old firm has been printing in Austin, since 1971.

Hickey says the proximity of the Austin and Rochester operations opens up a lot of possibilities for Paper & Graphics.

"It will open up their playbook and add more more products that current customers can buy and attract new customers," he said.

Paper & Graphics will be able to offer multi-color products, packaging and a much larger printing capacity with a quicker turnaround.

It expanded in Austin in 2007, when it built a new 30,800-square-foot facility in the Cook Farm Industrial Park and expanded its other site there. Among other contracts, Smyth prints labels for Hormel Foods in Austin.

Smyth also has locations in Minneapolis, Virginia, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Colorado.

October 15, 2015

Is the Thickburger returning to Rochester?

It's been a long 14 years for Rochester fast food fans with a taste for Hardee's.

The restaurant known for its outlandish hamburger creations such as the Mile High Bacon Thickburger closed its doors in the Med City abruptly in 2001. Three Hardee's in Rochester and one in Stewartville closed their doors after franchisee Andris-Crawford Enterprises re-organized during bankruptcy. The four restaurants had 95 employees when they closed up shop.

HardeesADHowever, the over-the-top TV commercials still play locally, teasing people with gigantic mash-up burgers they can't have unless they drive to Winona or Austin.

And then the buzz started this summer that Hardee's and its smiley face star logo might be ready to make a comeback in Rochester.

Some calls to CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns St. Louis-based Hardee's and its California sibling Carl's Jr., eventually got a response in the form of a short email.

"We do have plans to open a Hardee’s in the Rochester area in the coming future, but at this time we cannot share any specifics on an opening date. We will keep you updated," wrote Melissa Penn of Hardee's.

So they are coming back to town … soonish. There's no word on where in Rochester or if there might more than one coming.

Whenever and wherever Hardee's opens, it will find a much more competitive Med City than when it left 14 years ago.

Many local spots in Rochester are well-known for their burgers such as hometown favorite Newt's, Wildwood Sports Bar, Fat Willy's and Rooster's Barn and Grill. The number of McDonald's, Burger Kings and Culver's locations have grown.

In 2009, Five Guys Burgers arrived and threw down the burger battle gauntlet. This summer, the trendy Smashburger chain also confirmed it has plans to be in Rochester sometime in 2016.

I guess we'll see just how big of an appetite Rochester has for fast food burgers. 

August 28, 2015

New business is sign of the times in Rochester

There are signs of a new business on the way for North Broadway.

Andy Anderson of Austin has a banner up for a new Fastsigns location coming soon at 200 N. Broadway in the Dison's Cleaners Center.

08272015fastsignsWhile the Fastsigns name is very familiar in the Twin Cities, this will be the Carrollton, Texas-based chain's first appearance in southeastern Minnesota.

"They have been looking to expand into Rochester. With Destination Medical Center, they anticipate growth here will be incredible," said Anderson, who is the co-owner and onsite operator. He's partnering with Gene Clement.

The plan is to start the build out of the location in September and hopefully open in the fall or early winter. He expects to start with three on staff, including himself.

That 1,500-square-foot space was last occupied by the women's clothing resale store called Nu On U, which closed in September. For Med City old timers, that's the spot that previously housed Wireless Toyz and Hobbit Travel back before that.

The real estate deal was handled by Al Watts of Wilson Watts Commercial Real Estate and Bucky Beeman of Realty Growth Inc. The center is owned by Tasos Psomas' Skiathos LLC.

Fastsigns is known for offering a wide array of printed products ranging from banners, signs, vehicle wraps down to flyers and business cards. It's main focus is business-to-business, though it can also handle typical consumer projects.

"We do can anything that a business might need," said Anderson. "Our big things are quality and a very quick turnaround time."


February 13, 2015

Reuters: Hormel's near big buy of organic hot dog, bacon maker

Reuters' Olivia Oran filed an interesting story Thursday about Austin's favorite Fortune 500 company.

363Hormel Foods reportedly is "in late-stage talks" to snap up Applegate Farms. Applegate is in the organic pork biz and makes organic hot dogs, bacon and sausage.

Here's a snippet from the Reuters' piece:

A deal for Applegate Farms could be announced as early as next week and value the Bridgewater, New Jersey-based company at between $600 million and $1 billion, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is confidential.Spamproducts

This would make a lot sense. Applegate is in Hormel's sweet spot.

It processes a lot of hogs. It would extend Hormel's geographic reach. Plus it would them more deeply into the trendy market of organic meat.

We'll have to see if Oran's insider is right and/or if Hormel can close the deal.


September 10, 2014

Workers at Lakeside Foods to lose jobs when Hormel ends contract

PLAINVIEW — About half of the year-round workers at Lakeside Foods workers learned last week that their jobs at Plainview's largest employer will be ending soon, as Austin's Hormel Foods pulls its contract with the plant.

4965162612_d023537c6b_oWhile the Manitowoc, Wis.-based Lakeside isn't releasing the number of jobs being cut, insiders are estimating that between 75 and 90 workers will lose their jobs when Hormel Foods pulls its production contract at the 650,000-square-foot plant.

Lakeside executives have previously said the Plainview plant employs about 80 full-time people, plus about 85 others that work solely on the Hormel contract. The Hormel contract with Lakeside to produce its Top Shelf products was a year-round contract.

Hormel says it plans to move that production to other facilities by late fall.

“This was a difficult decision to make, but moving the operations to other facilities within our company will provide greater production, purchasing and distribution efficiencies," said Donald J. Temperley, Hormel's vice president of Grocery Products operations, in a message this morning.

When the plant is packing seasonal vegetables, Lakeside's employment swells to a temporary peak of about 270 workers, who work 60 to 70 hours a week to get the fresh vegetables canned and frozen.

Plainview Economic Development Director Judith O. Jordan said when the community's largest employer loses such a major contract and needs to cut positions, it's a serious situation.

"We are all concerned about how this impacts Plainview. We hope Lakeside will be able to identify a new co-packer to work with to replace the Hormel production," she said.

The Lakeside Foods facility in Plainview is just one of eleven food processing plant in the Lakeside system. The Plainview facility is also one of six distribution facilities.

June 30, 2014

Hormel bulks up portfolio by buying maker of Muscle Milk

Austin-based Hormel Foods Corp. is bulking up its portfolio of companies by buying the maker of Muscle Milk protein drinks for $450 million.

UrlHormel, which produces Spam, Jennie-O Turkey and Skippy Peanut Butter among many other products, announced Monday evening that it had signed a deal to buy Benicia, Calif.-based CytoSport Holdings, Inc.

“Muscle Milk products will serve as a growth catalyst for our Specialty Foods segment, providing this division with a leading brand in the high-growth sports nutrition category,” stated Hormel CEO and President Jeffrey M. Ettinger in the press announcement. “The acquisition of CytoSport expands our offerings of portable, immediate, protein-rich foods, and broadens our appeal with younger consumers.”

Spammy2Muscle Milk power and drinks are used by many bodybuilders as muscle-building boost. It's considered the top brand in the ready-to-drink protein drink category. CytoSport launched Muscle Milk in 2000 and its grown to be its most popular brand. The company also makes other products like protein bars, oatmeal and ready-to-drink products.

Hormel anticipates CytoSport's total 2014 sales to hit an estimated $370 million. The deal is expected to officially close within 30 days.

CytoSport, which is owned by the Pickett family, first started talking to potential buyers in the fall of 2013. Hormel was considered a possible buyer from the start, along with Irish cheese maker Glanbia and Colorado-based butter and soy milk maker Whitewave Foods. The early pricing talk in 2013 was that CytoSport was looking for $500 million for the company.

Hormel already has a protein drink product line made by Hormel Health Labs, but HealthyShot drinks are aimed at medical patients and seniors who have trouble eating or swallowing.

This is acquisition follows another Hormel non-meat protein buy in 2013, when it bought Unilever's Skippy peanut-butter business for $700 million.

May 28, 2014

Analyst speculates that Hormel may be target of takeover bid

There's a lot of merger and acquistion activity cooking in the meatier aisles of the financial markets these days.

Spammy2The latest was Pilgrim Pride's surprise move to buy Hillshire Brands. Lots of investors with stock options profited from the $6.4 billion deal and that's leading to speculation about the next meat deal to hit the grill might be.

I spotted a very speculative column today on Barron's website by Scott H. Fullman of investment research firm, Increasing Alpha, on that topic. Fullman focused Austin's favorite Fortune 500 company and the creator of Spam, Hormel Foods, as a takeover candidate.

I have no idea if his theories make sense.

Here's some from Fullman's piece:

"Often when such an acquisition takes place, we look for other candidates. One stock seeing increased interest re Spamproductscently is Hormel Foods Corp, which rose back above its 100-day moving average Tuesday and was attempting to break above its 50-day moving average, but ended the day just below it. Momentum is rising sharply and volume is higher as well.

We are seeing a slight increase in implied volatility for Hormel, even as the shares jumped. The 30-day implied volatility is up more than 0.7% for calls, and down 0.8% for puts, indicating a sharp shift in bullish sentiment.

Despite the rise, those risk premiums are still close to their 52-week lows. Clearly, other traders are having the same thought as we are.

If you are looking for a low-cost, low-dollar-risk entry, consider purchasing the Hormel July $50 calls, which are offered at 40 cents. The delta on that option, which shows the current relationship between the movement of the stock and the option, is 23%, but it is expected to rise as the call becomes closer to being at-the-money, thereby increasing the leverage of the option. If the stock rises 10% from here to $52.58, the options will be worth $2.58, for a gain of $2.18 per share, or 545%. If the shares fail to rise, you will lose 40 cents per share, or 100% of your investment.

That compares, however, to a potential loss of $1.14 for those purchasing shares if the stock reverts to Friday's closing price.

Our suggestion is to purchase an equivalent number of calls to the amount of stock you can afford to buy, thereby keeping your risk in check.

April 28, 2014

Staples in Austin to close, but Rochester may stay open

While there's no official word, it appears Rochester's Staples office supply store is dodging the ax that the company is using to close 225 stores nationwide by 2015.

Store_1317_1However, the Staples store in Austin is not as lucky. That store at 1702 17th St. N.W. put up a "Store Closing" sign this week, though no one is saying exactly when the doors will shut for good.

The Rochester Staples staff also were busy last week.

Employees were out in full force working on "re-setting" the whole store at 3839 Marketplace Drive N.W. in the Rochester Marketplace shopping center, moving shelving and displays to update the look of the store.

While that is a not a certain signal that the Rochester store will not go the way of the Austin store and the others being closed, a store clerk casually chatting with customers at the cash register put the situation into perspective.

"It seems like a good sign, having us do all of this work," he commented. "At least we're not putting up closing signs."

The Massachusetts-based company has not replied to multiple requests for information during the past few weeks about the status of the local stores.

Staples has operated the 23,942-square-foot store in Rochester, since Twin Cities-based Ryan Cos. built it in 2002 as part of the Rochester Marketplace development. The shopping center now is owned by Inland Commercial Real Estate.

May 24, 2013

Hormel to Rev things up with new snack wrap

Here's some from a pice by Keith Nunes on (A website with protein. Heh.) about Austin's favorite Fortune 500 company, Hormel Foods.
The maker of Spam is rolling out a new snack wrap line called REV.
REV branded snack wraps are being shipped to retailers nationwide and the company plans an advertising campaign in July to promote the new product. The new line is viewed by the company as a way to improve sales and operating income within its Refrigerated Foods business segment.

Hand_product“We are excited about the potential growth that our new Hormel REV snack wraps will bring to our Refrigerated Foods sales,” said Jeff Ettinger, chairman, president and CEO in a conference call with financial analysts on May 23.

The REV line of products will feature eight varieties, including: pepperoni, ham and cheese, peppered turkey, Meat Lovers Pizza, Italian style ham, hot pepper ham, Italian style, and spicy Italian style. Each wrap features a combination of meats, mozzarella cheese and a flatbread wrap.

Each 3-oz serving features between 15 grams and 18 grams of protein, a nutrition component that is called out on the package.

“We believe the investment we are making in the REV snack wrap rollout will establish the foundation for a beneficial new product platform for the Refrigerated Foods group,” Ettinger said.

During the second quarter of fiscal 2013, ended April 28, Hormel’s Refrigerated Foods segment had operating profit of $54,680,000, up 3 percent from $53,009,000 during the same quarter of the previous year. The segment had sales of $1,011,370,000, down 2 percent from $1,031,975,000.

Ettinger said the decline in the business unit’s sales was attributable to the planned reduction of slaughter levels at its hog processing operation and from exiting a feed sales business.

January 24, 2013

FTC OKs 'early termination' of Hormel/ Skippy deal

It looks like the Hormel folks in Spamtown USA might be able start spreading the peanut butter goodness in the near future.

TerminationRemember the deal where Austin-based Hormel made a deal with Unilever to buy the Skippy peanut butter brand for $700 million?

Well, the Federal Trade Commission granted Hormel's request for "early termination" this week. In case, like myself, you aren't sure what 'early termination' means, here's what that means:

Any person filing an HSR form may request that the waiting period be terminated before the statutory period expires. Such a request for "early termination" will be granted only after compliance with the rules and if both the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Antitrust Division have completed their review and determined not to take any enforcement action during the waiting period. In some instances, after a Request for Additional Information and Documentary Material has been issued, the investigating agency will determine that no further action is necessary and terminate the waiting period before full compliance with the Second Request is made.

So it sounds like a good thing. The deal has been given the green light to speed ahead.

Can the new peanut butter favored Spam be far away? Heh.