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465 posts categorized "Austin news"

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.

January 10, 2013

S.E. Minn. is a pretty inventive area

Wrote the latest version of the annual IBM leads all other companies with U.S. patents story for today's paper.

I always enjoy the change to chat with some of IBM's master inventors and look at their patents. I often don't understand much, but I enjoy it. Heh.

This year I decided to see how many patents issued in 2012 included residents from area cities. I found some interesting stuff, including the fact a group of guys from Hormel in Austin were issued a new patent on a bacon bits making process on Christmas Day.

I hadn't look at these community numbers, since I wrote a big package in early 2010, where I determined that Rochester was the most inventive city inMinnesota and probably the U.S. (per 100,000 residents).

It is interesting to note that Rochester people had 488 patents issued to them in 2009, so the numbers have gone up considerably since then. I may need to take a run at this story again.


This is a breakdown of how many patents issued in 2012 included at least one inventor from these southeastern Minnesota cities:

• Rochester — 652 patents

• Byron — 42 patents.
• Stewartville — 10 patents

• Austin — 75 patents

• Mantorville — 27 patents

• Zumbrota — 12 patents

• Pine Island — 36 patents

• Dodge Center — 10 patents

• Lewiston — 14 patents

• Oronoco — 38 patents

August 25, 2012

New owner to take over, expand Med City liquor store

A Med City liquor store is about to go through the blender, but it's expected to have a familiar flavor when the new version is poured back into the mix.

Apollo Liquors is leaving its store at 3514 55th St. N.W. at the end of the month, when its lease ends.

However, a new owner is stepping into the spot to keep it going as Northwest Liquors, which is what it has been called for the past 10 years in the space next to Gander Mountain.

Irv Keefe plans to take over as the owner and re-open the store under the same name of Northwest Liquors. He has already hired most of the current staff and the manager to stay on there.

"Customers will still see the same faces, when they come in," he says.
Construction is under way to expand the store to 6,200 square feet from its current 4,500 square feet. Look for that work to speed up after Friday, when Apollo leaves.

Keefe hopes to re-open the new version of the store by mid- to late September.

He plans to use the additional space to bring in a 60-foot, state-of-the-art cooler to expand the store's micro beer offerings. He also will add more varieties of other products and a new wine tasting area to the store.

Meanwhile, Ari Kolas has his own project in the works. He is still putting the finishing touches on the deal, so watch this column for more details in the near future.

Once Northwest Liquors closes, Apollo will have four stores in Rochester. It also has a store in Austin, where the chain was originally founded by Nick Kolas.

Keefe says while he has long worked as a distributor in the alcohol business, this is his first step into the retail side of things.

"It is something I've always wanted to do," he says. "It is a challenge. I've always liked a challenge."

With the idea of eventually opening a store somewhere, he acquired an off-sale liquor license from the city of Rochester back in March.

"There were only so many of them," Keefe explains. "So I decided to grab one while I could."

Some buzz has been going around that this new store will be linked to Rochester's Chafoulias family. They own Apollo's prime competitor, Andy's Liquor.

Not so, says Keefe. He explains that he is the owner, not the Chafoulias family.

The only connection to the Chafoulias family is that he does work for their company, Titan Development Group.

August 23, 2012

Tire centers change ownership

To give his tire business more traction in this region, Jerry Bauer of Bauer Built Inc. bought two Hanson Tire Service centers this week.

On Monday, the Durand, Wis.-based Bauer Built took over Hanson Tire's original headquarters in LeRoy along with a location in Preston. While the center will eventually change names, they will remain under the Hanson Tire name for now.

03bauer1"Our normal trend is to transition places we acquire over to the Bauer Built name sooner than later, but we're keeping these as Hanson Tire for a while," Bauer says. "They've been a very successful business, since 1953."

Almost all of Hanson's 20 employees are staying on under the new owner. Former owners Randy Eastvold and Greg Rollins, along with Ron Eastvold, are helping with the transition.

Bauer declined to discuss the financial terms of the acquisition.

These additions bring the tally of Bauer Built tire centers to 31, including ones in Rochester, Red Wing and Albert Lea. They also have seven Michelin retread plants, three wheel refinishing facilities and a bulk petroleum operation.

A second generation, family-owned business, Bauer Built was  founded by Sam Bauer in 1944.

Why add the LeRoy and Preston centers to the company's extension portfolio of facilities?

"We are always looking for going concerns that are profitable. They have many comparable products and they are very strong in agriculture," he says. "They will help us grow in that area."

Another reason is obvious from a quick look at the map. Bauer has locations surrounding the new additions.

"Geographically, they will fit in well and fill in some voids for us," he says.

This deal does not have any links to Hanson Tire of Austin, which has a different owner. The same is true of the Hanson Tire in Albert Lea, which has another owner.

Hanson Tire, started by Don and Donna Hanson in 1958, grew to 11 stores at one point. It was then recognized as the largest tractor and truck dealer in the nation.

There was once a Hanson Tire location in Rochester, but no longer.

July 11, 2012

75-year-old Spam rings a bell

Spam and the Big Apple = a tasty combo?

Hormel Foods CEO Jeffrey Ettinger made the trip from Austin to New York City Tuesday to mark the 75th anniversary bring ringing the closing bell for the New York Stock Exchange.


Here's a quick vid from CNN chatting with Ettinger. He dodges the question Hillshire Farms pretty smoothly and gives a shout out for Austin, "the town that Spam built."   6a00d83451cc8269e20176165b9d12970c-250wi

 And here's a pic of the Spam-flavored lip balm...just because that product still amuses me. Heh.

February 06, 2012

Hormel Institute, U of M makes stem cell breakthrough

Here's a little from an interesting press release from Austin's Hormel Institute.

This looks like a good fit for regenerative medicine push underway in Rochester and Mayo Clinic at the Minnesota BioBusiness Center.

This research seems to fit with Cardio3's work, though this is embryonic stem cells and Cardio3 works with stem cells from a patients' bone marrow.

A University of Minnesota-led research team has proposed a mechanism for the control of whether embryonic stem cells continue to proliferate and stay stem cells, or differentiate into adult cells like brain, liver or skin.

Hormel_2The work has implications in two areas. In cancer treatment, it is desirable to inhibit cell proliferation. But to grow adult stem cells for transplantation to victims of injury or disease, it would be desirable to sustain proliferation until a sufficient number of cells have been produced to make a usable organ or tissue.

The study gives researchers a handle on how those two competing processes might be controlled. It was performed at the university's Hormel Institute in Austin, Minn., using mouse stem cells. The researchers, led by Hormel Institute Executive Director Zigang Dong and Associate Director Ann M. Bode, have published a report in the journal Nature: Structure and Molecular Biology.

"This is breakthrough research and provides the molecular basis for development of regenerative medicine," said Dong. "This research will aid in the development of the next generation of drugs that make repairs and regeneration within the body possible following damage by such factors as cancer, aging, heart disease, diabetes, or paralysis caused by traumatic injury."

November 22, 2011

Hormel's earnings and profit drop in 4Q

Wrapping up a year where it raised prices on many of its products, Hormel Foods Corp. showed a drop in earnings and profit for its fourth quarter, though its sales inched up and it exceeded market estimates.

Spam-spam-spamIn its earnings released this morning, the Austin-based Hormel reported an earnings decline of 3 percent to $117.3 million compared to $121 million in the same quarter in 2010.

"Our tonnage was down in comparison with the 14-week quarter last year, but we held our own on volumes in the face of significant pricing actions," said Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Ettinger. "We are looking for our grocery products, specialty foods and all other (international) units to drive profit growth in fiscal 2012, as our refrigerated foods and Jennie-O Turkey Store segments maintain their position against historically high results."

Despite the poor economy boosting the popularity of its inexpensive Spam and Dinty Moore lines, Hormel was hit with higher costs for pork and other commodities. It passed those costs on supermarket shoppers.

Refrigerated Foods, Hormel's division that represents 36 percent of itsJeff-ettinger operating profit, was down 19 percent in profit compared to last year's fourth quarter. Division includes Hormel's lines of bacon, ham and deli meats. Its volume of sales went down by 8 percent, though its sales in dollars was up by 1 percent.

Its Grocery Products segment, which sells the Spam family of products, marked a 19 percent increase in net profit. However, its volume of sales was down 6 percent and its sales in dollars dropped by 2 percent. This division accounts for 23 percent of the company's operating profit.

Grocery Products' profit was given a boost by Hormel's acquisition of a Fort Worth, Texas-based guacamole maker, Fresherized Foods. That purchase in August was done through MegaMex Foods, a joint venture of Hormel and Herdez Del Fuerte.

The Jennie-O Turkey Store was the standout among the divisions for the quarter with a solid showing with profit climbing by 4 percent and sales going up by 2 percent. Jennie-O accounts for 25 percent of Hormel's operating profit.

For the overall year, the picture looked better than for the quarter. Hormel tallied a 16 percent increase in net earnings to $474.2 million compared to $409 million for 2010.

November 03, 2011

Canned meat battle Spam vs Prem ends in a tie

Here's some from an article by the PB's legal eye Matt Russell about the resolution of Hormel Foods tussle with Netherlands-based Zwanenberg Food Group.

More of the article can be found here.


A trademark infringement case involving the iconic yellow and blue packaging of Spam food products has been dismissed in federal court.

PremA settlement between Austin-based Hormel Foods and Zwanenberg Food Group led to the dismissal of the suit by Judge David Doty Tuesday in U.S. District Court, with both parties agreeing to dismiss all claims and counterclaims.Spam_hormel_prem_Zwanenberg

Hormel filed the suit in March, alleging that Zwanenberg used packaging starting in 2010 on a competing product, Prem, that was "confusingly similar" to Spam.

While Zwanenberg altered the label design at Prem-12ozHormel's request, Hormel maintained that the new label still created confusion because it still used a yellow-on-blue color scheme. The products were sold in Japan and the Philippines, according to the complaint.

Zwanenberg responded that its packaging was unlikely to cause confusion with Hormel's packaging, adding that Spam's yellow lettering on a blue background "is generic and/or otherwise unprotectable as a matter of law."

October 24, 2011

Austin author phenom signs comic book deal

Here's an interesting tidbit for comics fans out there. Total disclosure - I'm a complete comics/fantasy/sci fi  fan boy.

6a00d83451cc8269e2014e89459ec4970d-250wiLocal writer Amanda Hocking has signed a deal with Dynamite comics to publish a comic series based on her Hollowland novels. Dynamite is a cool and very edgy publisher.

Amanda Hocking is Austin's literary phenom who exploded on the Internet by self-publishing her novels in 2010 leading up St. Martin's Press signing a mult-book deal with the young woman.

The multi-million dollar writer has been profiled by the New York Times Magazine and was selling an average of 9,000 e-book A DAY, earlier this year.

Her rocket ride from hobbyist writer to best-selling author launched back in February when the Post-Bulletin's very own Matt Stolle profiled Hocking.

Here's some from Dynamite's announcement of the Hocking/Hollowlands project:


Dynamite is proud to announce that we have reached an agreement with Amanda Hocking and will publish Hollowland comic books in 2012!


HollowlandIn Hollowland, Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way - not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

"It's always been a dream of mine to bring the world of The Hollows to graphic novels," says acclaimed author Amanda Hocking. "I'm so fortunate to be able to partner with an amazing publisher like Dynamite to bring this dream to life."

"It is such a pleasure for Dynamite to be working with Amanda as she knows the world of comics," says Dynamite President and Publisher Nick Barrucci. "Amanda's success shows that hard work and passion pays off and we can't wait to see her incredible energy translated to comics!"