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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 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.

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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.

Mayo, Cardio3 sign deal to expand collaboration

Mayo Clinic has deepened its long-time relationship with Cardio3 Biosciences by giving the Belgium firm "preferred access" to new regenerative-medicine discoveries.

Having preferred access means staff from Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine meet with Cardio3 on a quarterly basis to discuss technologies and research that are in the "pipeline," according to Michael Pfenning, center administrator. This gives Cardio3 the first chance to ask to license, purchase or otherwise work with the center's regenerative-medicine research.

008661829The access began on Oct. 1 and runs to December 2017. It then could be extended, if both parties agree.

Mayo Clinic and Cardio3 have collaborated for many years on the cardiopoiesis technology the company uses to repair patients' hearts by re-programming their own stem cell to regenerate cardiac tissue. Cardiopoiesis is a process that "re-programs" stem cells taken from a patient's bone marrow from their hip. Those re-programmed cells then are injected back into the patient's heart to repair damaged tissue.

Cardio3 BioSciences has licensed Mayo Clinic's research in this area, since 2007. That research was led by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar. Dr. Terzic, who along with Mayo Clinic has a financial interest in Cardio3, also is the director of Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine.

Mayo Clinic is helping Cardio3 with its new phase III clinical trial of its regenerative therapy. The trial is approved to recruit up to 240 patients and it is expected to begin in January. Rochester Area Economic Development Inc., the City of Rochester and Mayo Clinic are establishing a 2,000-square-foot facility in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center to freeze and prepare patient samples for shipping to Belgium.

"We have a great relationship with them from a commercialization perspective," said Timothy Argo, a technology licensing manager of Mayo Clinic Ventures. "From our perspective, this is all about finding ways to get things from our labs to patients faster."

Cardio3 sees the new relationship as a win-win.

“Mayo will continue to invent new concepts, while Cardio3 will offer its development expertise to those technologies, as well as guidance in the early development phases to the Mayo research teams," stated Cardio3 CEO Dr. Christian Homsy in the announcement of the deal. "This agreement is in line with our business development strategy defined earlier this year, and enables our company to rapidly and significantly enlarge its product portfolio with high quality research programs across multiple therapeutic areas.”

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 07, 2014

OMC expanding its administration offices on Third Avenue

Olmsted Medical Center is expanding its footprint in a Third Avenue office building to house much of its administration staff.

Since 2013, OMC has been leasing 4,200 square feet of office space in the SEH-Yaggy building at 717 Third Ave. S.E., which is near its Southeast Clinic. About 20 senior administrators are based there, said Jeremy Salucka, OMC's communications coordinator.

SEH YaggyNow OMC has launched a construction project to expand its presence within that complex to about 15,000 square feet of office space.

"We're more than tripling the space we have there," said Salucka.

The plan is to eventually move administration staffers currently working in other leased offices into the Third Avenue building to consolidate many of OMC's non-clinical departments, he said. It will  also create much needed conference room space.

"This will help us reduce overhead and bring teams together under one roof," he said.

The exact number of workers that will join the 20 already in the building has not been determined yet. It could possibly double up to 40 people, according to rough ballpark estimate by Salucka.

The project is expected to be completed sometime in January.

CRW Architecture-Design Group moved its team of 10 people out of the building at the end of September. The firm had been based in there, since it spun off from what was previously known as Yaggy-Colby Associates in 2010.

CRW has a new office building plus four apartments under construction at 11th Avenue and Second St. N.W. It is hoped to be completed yet this fall.

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 23, 2014

Paint store, coffee/bagel shop may be coming to N.W. Rochester

If a few final details can be hammered out, a Sherwin-Williams paint store and combination Dunn Bros Coffee/Bruegger's Bagels shop could be coming for northwest Rochester.

TJL Development of St. Paul is planning to build a 4,000-square-foot building for Sherwin-Williams and a 2,500-square-foot building for the co-branded Dunn Bros/Bruegger's. They are slated for a parcel near Kwik Trip and Costco in the 108-acre commercial development at 19th Street and West Circle Drive. The development plans include other businesses, such as McDonald's, two hotels, an Aldi's grocery store and an Associated Bank branch.

This is not TJL's first foray into Rochester. It built a 4,000-square-foot paint store in 2013 for Sherwin-Williams in south Rochester, in front of the south ShopKo and Menards stores. That store replaced Sherwin-Williams' former south store, which was located in the defunct Rochester Market Square, which later became Rochester Public School's Alternative Learning Center.

If the northwest project moves ahead as planned, it is expected to replace Sherwin-Williams' current location at 19 Seventh St. N.E.

While TJL Principal Jim Lavalle says there are some aspects of the project that still need to be finalized, the company is moving ahead and has filed building plans with the City of Rochester.

"We're hopeful to start construction yet this fall," he said.

September 19, 2014

Rochester airport office complex sold for $1.6 million

The Affiliated Group has a new landlord following the $1.6 million sale of their leased office complex by the Rochester International Airport.

D5f521eaa63f4c98a62ea4f7564db20fWest Quad Capital LLC  bought the 12,000-square-foot building at 7381 Airport View Dr. S.W. from LNI Airport LLC on Aug. 29. Merl Groteboer of Re/Max Results handled the deal.

West Capital is owned by a Minneapolis family, who purchased the Rochester building as an investment. LNI Airport is one of the companies that long-time real estate investor Les Nelson of Clear Lake, Iowa uses to acquire properties.

The Affiliated Group, which moved its 100 employees into the office complex in July, has a long-term lease on the building. Affiliated is co-owned by Mark Neeb and Paul Skovbroten.

The 91-year-old debt collection company moved from the six-story building at 3055 41st St. N.W. that is part of what many call "The IBM White Buildings," though IBM no longer has any personnel in them.

The Rochester company moved to the 3055 building in 2006, when it sold its former downtown office at 316 First Ave. S.W. That downtown location was later demolished to make way for the 318 Commons student housing and University of Minnesota Rochester educational complex.