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289 posts categorized "Breaking news"

October 29, 2014

New downtown Rochester fitness studio warming up for opening

A new fitness studio is gearing up to open in downtown Rochester before the holiday feasting begins.

Sarah Pacchetti's Studio on Third is all set to open on Monday at 18 Third Ave. S.W. in the basement of the Merchant Exchange Building.  The 1,000-square-foot fitness center is tucked in next to The Doggery cocktail bar.

10282014studioonthirdThe studio offers hip hop, Barre, Piloxing, Zumba and yoga classes for Rochester folks as well as visitors staying in downtown hotels.

"I've been playing with this idea for years. I wanted to open a place that would be fun and empower others," she said in July, when she announced her plans for the studio.

Pacchetti is a certified instructor previously taught classes at Mayo Clinic's Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center. She has a team of nine instructors or as she calls them "inspire-ers." That team includes a couple of names that are familiar to the Rochester business community, Jess Irhke and Sara Pennington.

Sarah, with her husband John Pacchetti, bought half ownership of the basement level of the Merchants Exchange Building in June. The Pacchettis co-own the space with Scott Hoss, who also handles the leasing as an agent of Rochester's Paramark Real Estate Services.

The Pacchettis also own the Rochester-based Home Instead senior care operation that serves southeastern Minnesota.

October 23, 2014

Former Flamingo roost to be razed

While Flamingo Bingo is rolling along in its new home in Rochester's Elks Lodge, it soon will be game over for its former home.

The empty building at 2828 U.S. 52 North is slated for demolition by its owner, the Twin Cities-based Luther Automotive Group. Luther filed for a demolition permit this week, though the company has no immediate plans for the property.

10232914flamingobingo"I'm simply taking it down because I just don't want to carry the building through the winter. The roof is compromised," said Linda McGinty, Luther's director of real estate and development. "We just don't have a use for it. When we do develop this site, that was a building that we weren't planning on reusing."

The car dealer bought the 42-year-old building for $950,000 back on Jan. 17. Soon after, McGinty said, "We're working on possible plans. We're just happy to be in Rochester. We're excited to be part of the vibrancy."

Luther also owns Park Place Motors, Rochester's BMW dealership. Since Park Place is nearby, Luther theoretically could use the ex-bingo property to expand Park Place or possibly to introduce a new dealership into the market.

Flamingo Bingo, which raises money for the Rochester Senior Center, moved out of the 2828 building in April and into the Elks Lodge 1091 at 1652 U.S. 52 North in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.

It had operated in that building since 2007. Prior to the creation of Flamingo Bingo, it was the home of Circus World Bingo, which raised funds for Rochester's Catholic schools.

October 20, 2014

Kahler's Grand Grill to get a facelift during closure

The Kahler Grand Hotel's Grand Grill has a grand makeover on a way, though it will mean being closed for construction over the holidays.

10202014grandgrilloutsideThe restaurant on the main level of the prominent downtown hotel expected to be closed to undergo an extensive $410,000 renovation on Dec. 19 through Jan. 4.

Cherylanne Thomas, Kahler Hospitality Group's managing director of marketing and sales, says the restaurant will get a major upgrade, inside and out.

"We chose to do it then, since that's our slowest time of the year," she said. 10202014grandgrillinside

While Grand Grill is closed, its 10 full-time and 24 part-time employees can choose to use their vacation time or apply for unemployment for that period.

Thomas also dismissed widespread local rumors that a more extensive holiday closure might be coming for the Kahler hotels.

"It will be business as usual at our hotels," she said.

The only other major project during the holidays will be what Thomas describes as "a deep cleaning" of the Kahler Inn & Suites, though that hotel and its restaurant, Crossings, will remain open.

The Kahler Hospitality Group owns the Kahler Grand Hotel, the Kahler Inn & Suites, the Marriott Rochester, the Residence Inn and the Textile Care Services industrial laundry. The group of investors bought the hotels for $230 million in 2012. Javon Bea, of Oronoco, is the well known public face of the organization.

Kahler Hospitality also recently signed an agreement to handle management of the Ramada Hotel & Conference Center at 1517 16th St. S.W. Dan and Terri Penz own that hotel.

October 16, 2014

Accused doctor 'disappointed' by Mayo Clinic lawsuit

A former executive accused of allegedly stealing trade secrets says he's "disappointed" in Mayo Clinic's lawsuit against him, in a statement released by his attorney.

Franklin-cockerillOn Tuesday, Mayo Clinic filed a lawsuit (The complaint is posted here) alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract against Dr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, who was president and CEO of the for-profit Mayo Medical Labs for eight years. Mayo Clinic released the lawsuit to the media of Wednesday.

"Dr. Cockerill is disappointed that the Mayo Clinic has made such allegations and publicized its unproven claims in the media," according to a statement released by Nancy Brostrom Vollertsen, a Minneapolis attorney with Lindquist & Vennum LLP, on Wednesday. "Dr. Cockerill holds a stellar reputation in the medical community and has devoted more than 30 years of his life to the Mayo Clinic and the Rochester Community."

The message from Vollertsen also stated that, "We will be filing responsive pleadings in this matter shortly."

The lawsuit alleges that Cockerill covertly accepted a job with a major competitor of Mayo Medical Labs in June, but he told Mayo Clinic that he was "retiring" at the end of September to help his 85-year-old mother run her fertilizer business in Nebraska.  From June to September, he continued to work at Mayo Medical Labs, attending confidential meetings and negotiating contracts.

On Oct. 1, he stepped into the position of vice president and chief laboratory officer with New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics Inc., a multibillion-dollar public company. The complaint filed by Mayo Clinic claims that Cockerill was in communication with Quest throughout his final months and he left with clinic-owned memory sticks with data downloaded from his workstation.

“By failing to disclose his conflict-of-interest, Dr. Cockerill’s actions were in violation of Mayo Clinic conflict-of-interest/compliance policies that all staff members agree to on an annual basis, and have put at risk the business strategy of Mayo Medical Laboratories," said a statement released by Mayo Clinic spokesman Bryan Anderson.

Vollertsen, a former partner with the Dunlap & Seeger law firm in Rochester, responded that there as nothing sinister about Cockerill's departure.

"He opted for early retirement at the Mayo Clinic's invitation and is not subject to any non-compete or other agreement that would limit his activities after leaving Mayo," she stated.

Cockerill was a high-profile leader at Mayo Clinic during his about 30 year career here. He was the chief of Mayo Medical Labs as well as the chairman of Mayo's Laboratory Medicine and Pathology department since 2006.

He managed more than 3,200 employees in that role, according to Quest. Mayo Medical Labs performs about 20 million tests for more than 4,000 hospitals annually.

Mayo Clinic paid him a total of $591,413 in 2012, according to the clinic's 990 form filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

In August, Cockerill officiated the ceremonial ground-breaking of an almost 70,000-square-foot expansion of its Superior Drive Support Center, where Mayo Medical Labs is based.

"His character and high level of integrity speak for themselves," stated Vollertsen.

October 15, 2014

Ex-Mayo exec accused of stealing trade secrets

A former top Mayo Clinic executive is being sued for allegedly hiding his hiring by a competitor of Mayo Medical Laboratories for months while he continued to work for Mayo and for stealing trade secrets.

Franklin-cockerillMayo Clinic filed a lawsuit alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract against Dr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, who was president and chief executive officer of the for-profit Mayo Medical Labs for eight years. The case was filed Tuesday in Olmsted County District Court. Mayo Clinic released the lawsuit to the media this morning.
 
A Mayo Clinic statement released by Bryan Anderson this morning said, “We do not take this action lightly. Dr. Cockerill was a valued Mayo Clinic clinician, leader and colleague.  We will vigorously defend and protect our intellectual property to ensure we can continue to meet our charitable mission,"

A call to Dr. Cockerill's southwest Rochester residence went unanswered this morning. Asked to comment, Quest Director of Media Relations Wendy Bost said the company received the complaint this morning and is reviewing it. "We do not comment on pending litigation," Bost said.

According to the complaint:

On July 17, an emotional Cockerill told his department that he was "retiring" to help his 85-year-old mother run her fertilizer business in Nebraska. Co-workers lauded his almost 30-year career with Mayo Clinic and gave him an appreciative send-off that built up to his final day of work on Sept. 30.

All of that changed on Oct. 1. Instead of retiring to Nebraska, Cockerill went to New Jersey to work for a major MML competitor, Quest Diagnostics Inc. He stepped into the position of vice president and chief laboratory officer for the multibillion public company.

Using emails as evidence, Mayo Clinic contends Cockerill had been talking to Quest about a job since February. He had a phone interview with Quest in March followed by a face-to-face interview in May, when Cockerill said he needed the time off to help his mother with a business problem. The lawsuit alleges he accepted the Quest position in June. Instead of informing Mayo Clinic, he continued to work at Mayo and attend confidential meetings, where issues were discussed that could cause irreparable damage to MML and Mayo Clinic in the hands of Quest.

Cockerill exchanged emails discussing business strategies with Quest CEO Stephen Rusckowski in August, according to Mayo's suit.

Mayo Clinic alleges Cockerill left with at least seven clinic-owned USB memory drives and that he used four of them to "download information from Dr. Cockerill's computer in the days before … (he) started working for Quest."

Mayo Medical Labs and Quest vie for millions in medical test contracts. Mayo Medical Labs performs about 20 million tests for more than 4,000 hospitals annually. Quest says it does 1.5 billion tests a year. Many of the clinical tests conducted by both MML and Quest are proprietary and generate millions in revenue.

The lawsuit also claims Cockerill attempted to recruit "at least one long-term key Mayo employee to consider retiring early to 'consult' with the lab industry," though he did not specifically mention Quest to the female executive.

October 13, 2014

New biotech office launches in Rochester

This one seems to have a lot of local momentum behind it.

--------

The health care technology arm of a Sri Lanka-based company is officially launching its Rochester office on Tuesday morning.

Brandix i310132014brandixoffice is hosting a grand opening in the morning of its 2,000-square-foot office on the skyway level of Minnesota BioBusiness Center at 221 First Ave. S.W.

The software development firm has been working out of a spot in the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, since early summer. The business accelerator is located on the same floor of the Biobusiness Center as Brandix's new office.

Aaron Epps, Brandix's associate vice president of health care, said earlier this year that office would launch with six employees, though he expects it to grow to 12 by the end of the year

"We want to be part of the Destination Medical Center project," he said. "We're looking to expand quickly. We're a start-up, but we're a start-up with the backing of a large 10132014brandixskywaysigncompany."

Brandix's focus is to work with its local partner, Rochester-based Ambient Clinical Analytics. Ambient makes "real-time decision support tools" for doctors and nurses working in the ICU, operating room or emergency departments.

Mayo Clinic launched Ambient in 2013, and it named Al Berning as CEO. Berning is known in Rochester as a former IBMer, a co-founder of Pemstar and former CEO of Hardcore Computers/LiquidCool Solutions. Ambient's management team includes other local business leaders, like former long-time IBM executives Drew Flaada and Deb Sutherland.

Brandix has a three-year lease with the City of Rochester. It pays $20 per rentable foot
is In addition to the leasing the 2,000-square-feet, Brandix's lease promises "first right of refusal" for the other 2,000 square feet of adjacent vacant space to the west.

The city gave Brandix "a one-time fit-up allowance" of $10 per square foot, or $20,000, to build out its offices.

October 10, 2014

Kane and Johnson Architects merges with WSN

Kane and Johnson Architects, a small firm with a 63-year history in Rochester and Austin, is joining forces with a larger Minnesota company.

The five-person office merged Oct. 1 with Crookston-based Widseth Smith Nolting, an engineering and planning company. The Kane and Johnson team has joined WSN's Rochester office at 6301 Bandel Road N.W.

"I selected the firm I most respect and feel will best serve my clients," said David Kane about the "evolution" of the business that his father Warren Kane founded in 1951 in Austin. "They have a very similar culture, which makes this a comfortable change."FrmReadMail_Attachment-1

WSN has been in discussions with Kane and Johnson about merging, since March.

The two firms have competed for as well as worked together on many Minnesota and Iowa projects over the years. Recently, they've been working on what they describe as "their signature collaboration," the seven-story Bridge Plaza in Mankato. Work is expected to start on that mixed-use complex in 2015.

WSN has seven offices and 195 employees in Minnesota and North Dakota. It has always specialized in working in the smaller, non-metro communities since it was founded in 1975, said Joe Breiter, WSN's director of business developmenFrmReadMail_Attachment-3t. It has long working relationships with companies like Brainerd-based Mills Fleet Farm and Bremer Bank.

“WSN recognizes Rochester as a market that continues to experience significant growth. Bringing in KJA adds dimension to our experience and deepens our capacity to serve both firms’ existing and prospective clients,” stated WSN president Kevin Donnay in the announcement of the merger.

The Crookston firm has been interested in Rochester for some time. It merged with QED Engineering, a 20-year-old Rochester firm, in 2009. Since then, its Med City office has grown steadily to a staff of about 20 with the addition of Kane and Johnson.

FrmReadMail_Attachment-2"Rochester is the largest community where we have an office. We're seeing a lot growth here," said Brian Carlson, who joined WSN's local office earlier this year. He added that WSN has many "significant" projects in the pipeline for the area.

Kane, who will remain on with WSN, said this deal made excellent sense as the next step for his evolving business that has adapted many times over the years.

He has led the firm since he was 24. Kane started working there in 1974 and then was forced to lead the business a year later when his father suddenly died. He expanded the practice into Rochester in 1988 by acquiring Pieper Richmond Architects. In 1993, Kane sold the Austin practice in 1993 to his partner.

Over the years, Kane's small firm has lead the way in many areas. It was one of the first firms to begin offering asbestos removal in Minnesota and handled many large abatement projects throughout the Midwest. It was also an early innovator in the area of handicapped accessibility dating back to 1976, well before the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The firm has worked on such high profile projects, such as Olmsted National Banks' headquarters at 975 34th Ave. N.W., Timothy Chapel at Rochester's Autumn Ridge Church, the Steele County History Center and renovation of the Winona County Courthouse.

"Now with the additional resources of WSN, we'll be able to do even more," said Kane. "The financial reality is that it's tough to compete as a small, private practice."

October 08, 2014

Mayo Clinic books sold to publisher in bankruptcy auction

A New York publisher now owns the rights to nine Mayo Clinic books, including the popular Mayo Clinic Diet book, after buying them and other assets for $1.57 million at a bankruptcy auction.

Skyhorse Publishing and The Perseus Books Group submitted the top bid to buy the assets of Good Books last week. Good Books, which had published the Mayo Clinic Diet book since 2010, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in December 2013.

Mayo-clinic-diet“The logistics of this deal were very challenging, and there were many twists and turns, but we found a way to bring the various groups together to make this work for all parties,” stated Skyhorse’s president and publisher Tony Lyons in the announcement of acquisition.

Some industry media reported that Mayo Clinic balked the deal at first. However, it moved ahead when Perseus agreed to pay Mayo Clinic $317,263 to cover past royalties that Good Books had not paid.

"We had a successful relationship with Good Books, as evidenced by the diet book hitting No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and the steady growth of the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy," said Mayo Clinic Spokesman Brian Kilen. "We are pleased to be expanding our relationship with Perseus, who is a major publisher with whom we expect to continue the tradition of publishing Mayo Clinic books that provide evidence-based health information to consumers."

The other Mayo Clinic titles that were part of the deal are, Mayo Clinic Diet Journal, The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby's First Year, The Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer Book,The Mayo Clinic Kids' Cookbook and the soon-to-be-published Mayo Clinic Guide to Fertility and Conception.

Perseus will publish the Mayo titles under its Da Capo Lifelong line of books, which already includes The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living and the upcoming Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness.

Mayo Clinic says the nine books in this deal represent about about one-third of its line of books. It also publishes titles like Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine with Time Home Entertainment as well as self-publishing disease- and condition-specific books on topics such as arthritis, diabetes and breast cancer.

Mayo Clinic declined to discuss how much revenue its books generate for the institution annually.

October 06, 2014

Mayo labs chief leaves to take top job at dianostics firm

A long-time Mayo Clinic executive has joined a New Jersey-based medical diagnostics firm.

Dr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, who recently retired as president and chief executive officer of Mayo Medical Labs, started work as vice president and chief laboratory officer for Quest Diagnostics Inc. on Oct. 1.

53f375aa6b834.imageQuest offers clinical testing services, such as routine testing, gene-based and esoteric testing, anatomic pathology services, and drugs-of-abuse testing, as well as related services. It also develops and makes diagnostic products, including Simplexa for testing infectious diseases,

Cockerill is replacing Dr. Stephen C. Suffin, who is retiring. Cockerill will oversee Quest's network of laboratories and "will play a major role in advancing Quest's medical affairs," according to the multi-billion dollar company. Quest has an office at 3100 40th St. N.W. in Rochester.

"At Mayo Medical Laboratories and Mayo Clinic, he led strategies that spurred remarkable accomplishments in diagnostic innovation, service and quality, generating meaningful benefits for patients as well as business growth," stated Quest CEO Steve H. Rusckowski in the announcement of Cockerill's hiring. "We will benefit greatly from his tremendous talents as we pursue our goals to build value, create an inspiring workplace and make this a healthier world."

Cockerill was a high-profile leader at Mayo Clinic in Rochester for many years. He was the chief of Mayo Medical Labs as well as the chairman of Mayo's Laboratory Medicine and Pathology department, since 2006.

He managed more than 3,200 employees in that role, according to Quest. Mayo Medical Labs performs about 20 million tests for more than 4,000 hospitals annually.

Mayo Clinic paid him a total of $591,413 in 2012, according to the clinic's 990 form filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

In August, Cockerill officiated the ceremonial ground-breaking of an an almost 70,000-square-foot expansion of its Superior Drive Support Center, where Mayo Medical Labs is based. The expansion will mean 150 to 170 Mayo employees will move out of downtown to join the more than 1,000 people already working at 3050 Superior Drive N.W.

September 18, 2014

Rochester shoe firm advances as a finalist in Martha Stewart competition

A Rochester couple hopes Martha Stewart finds their American-made shoes "a good thing" now that their Well Bred shoes is finalist in her annual competition.

Get_photoJorge Gomez and Krisa Ryan run Well Bred shoes from their home in Rochester. While working as a designer for a large company, he saw the terrible conditions in Chinese shoe factories. That inspired him to create his own company and contract small American firms to make his shoes with only materials from the U.S.

Well Bred took its first steps two years ago and the pair have been very busy designing and marketing their line of men's shoes. Their shoes are sold through a variety of specialty retailers, including the MartinPatrick3 men's store in Minneapolis. Well Bred shoes can also be purchased directly from their online shop. People attending the Rochester Art Center's upcoming Art Bash will see a pair of Well Bred shoes among the silent auction items.

At the urging of their customers and other companies with similar philosophies, they entered Martha Stewart's American Made Contest. The annual contest chooses the top company in four categories - Style, Food, Crafts and Design.

GlencoefrontThe couple say they are humbled to be chosen as a finalist in the Style category.

"The great thing about Martha Stewart's American Made contest is that it brings together a lot of people from the close knit group of makers," said Gomez. "A lot of the people in this we know from the trade shows."

Now it is up to online voters and the contest judges, the executive editorial team of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Nine winners will be chosen by the judges and online voting will decide the final winner.

The online voting runs through Oct. 13 on Martha Stewart's website. The winners will be announced on Oct. 17. Part of the prize package includes attending Stewart's American Made Summit on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8.

"The national exposure would be huge for a small company like us," said Ryan.