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45 posts categorized "Job losses"

October 16, 2015

Rochester's ProBuild to pack up on Monday

A large building supplier in Rochester announced this week it is closing its doors on Monday.

The manager of ProBuild sent out letters to customers on Thursday saying the large construction operation along U.S. 14 West at 2953 Wilder Road N.W. is closing "effective Oct. 19."

No one at ProBuild or at its corporate office would confirm the closing on Thursday. The operation has an estimated 8 to 10 employees.

6a00d83451cc8269e2010535cefa84970b-320wiThe letter was sent by Dave Mills, ProBuild's area manager based in the Twin Cities.

Mills wrote that ProBuild made the decision to close "After careful review of the market conditions and our operational footprint in Rochester …"

The letter said ProBuild's sites in Mankato, Lakeville and Waseca will take over coverage of the Rochester market. ProBuild has about 30 locations in Minnesota.

The move comes just two months after Colorado-based ProBuild was acquired by rival Builders FirstSource for $1.6 billion. Builders FirstSource, headquartered in Dallas, said the combined company is expected to have annual revenues of about $6.1 billion.

Before it became part of a billion dollar deal, the Rochester construction supplier was a United Building Center. UBC was started in 1855 in Winona by three brothers,  William, Matthew and John Laird.

ProBuild acquired all of the UBC locations in 2006, and the ProBuild name went up on the Rochester site in 2008.

In July 2014, ProBuild closed its Austin lumber yard. It had eight on staff when it closed.


January 28, 2015

Talk of layoffs rattles IBM workers

Talk of massive layoffs at struggling tech giant IBM hit the halls of Big Blue in Rochester today.

Lee Conrad, national coordinator of the pro-union group Alliance@IBM, said this morning that layoffs were being reported on IBM's campuses in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. However, he had not heard of any in Rochester.

"It going to be a bad day for IBM employees and their families," Conrad said.

IBM buildinglogoWhile no layoffs could be confirmed on the Rochester campus, IBM did concede this week that "several thousand" job cuts were coming as it refuted a Forbes column claiming 26 percent of the firm's employees would be laid off.

"IBM does not comment on rumors, even ridiculous or baseless ones," said IBM spokesman Doug Shelton. "If anyone had checked information readily available from our public earnings statements, or had simply asked us, they would know that IBM has already announced the company has just taken a $600 million charge for workforce rebalancing. This equates to several thousand people, a small fraction of what's been reported."

Shelton's comments were in reaction to a Forbes article by tech columnist Robert X. Cringely. Cringely recently reported IBM planned to lay off 26 percent of its workforce, about 110,000 people, in an operation codenamed "Project Chrome."

"I’ve been hearing since before Christmas about Project Chrome, the code name for what has been touted to me as the biggest reorganization in IBM history. Well, Project Chrome is finally upon us, triggered I suppose by this week’s announcement of an 11th consecutive quarter of declining revenue for IBM. Project Chrome is bad news, not good. Customers and employees alike should expect the worst," he wrote.

Alliance@IBM, put out a statement that it did not believe the layoffs would be as extensive as Cringley is predicting.

"The Alliance has no information that this is true, and we are urging caution on reporting this number as fact. But as you all know, anything can happen at IBM anymore, and this is the time of year that IBM cuts jobs," Conrad wrote.

He followed that note with another one on Tuesday, which said inside sources were saying this round of layoffs would occur today and Thursday.

In recent years, IBM has dramatically reduced its presence in Rochester. Once topping out at more than 8,000 employees in the 1990s, an unofficial data "snapshot" calculated 2,300 full-time IBM employees working in Rochester today.

Since 2008, IBM has refused to release specific employee numbers at its campuses. However, it is still considered Rochester's second-largest private employer.

IBM Rochester has emptied several buildings on its campus and leased them to tenants such as Charter Communications and HGST.

January 02, 2015

Green Mill restaurant closes

About 40 people lost their jobs unexpectedly on New Year's Day when Rochester's Green Mill Restaurant closed after eight years of cooking on the northwest side.

02012015greenmillclosedThe staff reportedly was not given any notice of the closing until company executives showed up on Thursday. They posted letters on the restaurant's doors stating,"It saddens us to inform you that the Rochester Green Mill will be closing its doors January 1."

Calls to Paul Dzubnar, CEO of the St. Paul-based Green Mill, were not returned this morning.

Dzubnar personally owned the Rochester franchise under the corporate name of G M P Rochester LLC. Citing long interest from Rochester diners to have a Green Mill of their own, he built the 6,800-square-foot restaurant at 2723 Commerce Dr. N.W. in 2006. 

"It finally came together," said Dzubner, who was then a vice president of Green Mill.

The Rochester location seated 240 people and employed more than 100 staffers when it opened. It was built in a commercial development that was spearheaded by Merl and Dan Groteboer.

After the closing, Green Mill now has 27 locations in the Minnesota and Wisconsin region. The closest to Rochester is in Winona.

In 2011, Dzubnar launched a second line of restaurants called Crooked Pint Ale House. There now are locations in Apple Valley and Minneapolis. Twin Cities media has reported that deals to open more Crooked Pints in and outside of Minnesota are in the works.

December 04, 2014

Ex-Mayo exec resigns from Quest, but lawsuit continues

The doctor being sued by Mayo Clinic for allegedly stealing trade secrets has resigned from his job at Mayo competitor, Quest Diagnostics.

CockerillDr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, the former CEO of the for-profit Mayo Medical Labs, resigned from his position as vice president and chief laboratory officer with Quest on Wednesday, according to Nancy Brostrom Vollertsen, a Minneapolis attorney representing him.

His acceptance of that job on Oct. 1 spurred Mayo Clinic to file a lawsuit against Cockerill alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract. Cockerill officially worked at Quest only from Oct. 1 to Oct. 14. On Oct. 14, Olmsted County Judge Robert Birnbaum granted a temporary restraining order preventing him from working, because he could cause "irreparable harm" to Mayo Clinic.

Quest filed a motion to withdraw from the case on Tuesday, since it "…No longer has a 'substantial interest' in this litigation that justifies or requires its continued participation." Mayo Clinic issued a statement Thursday saying it had settled with Quest in the wake of Cockerill's resignation.

"Mayo is not pursuing any claims against Quest. We continue to pursue our remaining claims (against Cockerill) to protect our confidential trade secrets against improper disclosure," according to the statement released by Bryan Anderson.
08-18 Frank Cockerill 2 ols
While Quest is no longer a factor in the case, the Mayo Clinic's lawsuit again Cockerill continues to move forward. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 22 in Olmsted County Court.

The lawsuit alleges that Cockerill covertly accepted the job 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. The complaint filed by Mayo Clinic also 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 work station.

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.

Cockerill released a statement through his attorney in response to Mayo allegations that said, "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."

He filed an affidavit in November, which was later withdrawn, that stated that Cockerill was "confused and disappointed" by Mayo Clinic's legal action against him. It also stated that he did not tell Mayo Clinic leaders about his plans, because he "feared retribution against himself and his family."

Mayo Clinic responded that Cockerill's case was different than other executives who have left to work for competitors.

"… We understand that our staff members move to other organizations, and, when they do so in a transparent manner, we can manage any conflicts-of-interest during their transition, and we can protect our confidential information and trade secrets," stated Mayo's Anderson by email. "Dr. Cockerill was not transparent and did not report his conflict of interest."

November 18, 2014

Christian Book and Gift to close after 57 years

After 57 years on North Broadway, the family-owned Christian Book and Gift Shop announced Monday it will close its doors for good on Dec. 31.

264155_10150248194599430_474142_nIn a note to customers, owner/manager Karen Mulholland McKenzie and co-manager Judy Mulholland stated it was a heart-breaking decision to close the store at 815 N. Broadway.

Christian Book and Gift was launched by Karen's parents, Dennis and Elaine Mulholland, in 1957, when they purchased the Home Book Shop from Harry Boyer. They ran the store for many years out of the family’s nearby home on North Broadway, until expanding into the commercial store and growing it into one of the largest stores of its kind in the region.

“We’d ... like to express our deep sense of grief over no longer being able to provide this service to our customers and our community," they wrote. "There are myriad challenges in running a Christian retail business and independent bookstore — challenges that require youth and energy to stay in the game."

As the store has struggled, the Mulhollands have been talking to several Christian retailer chains looking for a buyer, but they were unable line up anyone to take over the store.

The store temporarily closed on Monday to prepare for a "Going Out of Business" sale and will re-open with marked down products on Thursday.

In their statement, the family voiced their appreciation for their "loyal customers" and their 11 employees, "many of whom have been with the bookstore through several building expansions and countless story times, summer tent sales and events with local and national Christian authors."

This announcement follows on the heels on the recent sale of the store, its parking lot and four houses to Samaritan Bethany. The senior living facility is just across Eighth Street from the book store, and its employee parking lot is adjacent to it. Samaritan Bethany closed on the purchase on Oct. 31.

"We have no current plans for the property," said Sue Knutson of Samaritan Bethany. "When we expanded the lot a while back, we let everyone in the neighborhood know that we'd be interested in buying property in the area. The siblings recently decided they were ready to sell."

Knutson said Samaritan Bethany had intended to lease the 7,500-square-foot store to the family, so they could keep the business running. Now that it's closing, she said they will look for a retailer to take over the space.

The Mulhollands also hope another business will step into the space.

"Our prayer is that a business person with a heart for this type of store will come to the area and open a great shop that will meet the changing needs in this community,” they wrote in their announcement.

August 08, 2014

Cherry Berry on Maine closed, but original Roch. shop still busy

It looks like the fro-yo is no longer a go in Rochester's Shoppes on Maine commercial enclave, though it's still flowing right along at Shoppes on Second.

07082014cherryberryonmaineThe doors at the Med City's second Cherry Berry frozen yogurt shop, which just opened last year, were locked up this week. A sign in the window of Suite 307 at 4662 Maine Ave. S.E. said, "CherryBerry on Maine has closed, Thank you all of our customers." No other details seem to be available about the closing.

Editor's Note: Thanks to Josh Banks of Banks Photos for snapping this pic and giving it to me.

This shop was owned by a separate franchisee and had no connection to Rochester's original and always busy Cherry Berry frozen yogurt shop at Second Street Southwest and U.S. 52. Joel Granberg and his wife opened that Cherry Berry in 2012. That shop is still open for business and serving up lots yogurt.

Of course, Pat Carroll, known for his iconic Carroll's Corn popcorn shop in downtown, was the first to really bring the most recent wave of frozen yogurt to the Med City in 2012.

Carroll's Cup is next to his popcorn shop in the subway under the Kahler Grand Hotel. He also has a Carroll's Cup in the food court of the Apache Mall.

August 05, 2014

European publisher closes Rochester office

An European publisher of auto repair manuals told local employees this week that its Rochester office is closing following the company's decision to back out of the U.S. market.

Maidenhead, England-based Autodata originally moved its U.S. headquarters to Rochester in 2005. The company, which focuses on providing technical information for mechanics, had 15 people working at its 4,000-square-foot office at 6301 Bandel Road N.W. until last summer. That's when it cut its staff in half.

Autodata online coverThere were six people working for Autodata in Rochester until the firm let four employees go this week. Two staffers will remain on Autodata's payroll to continue to support some large contracts from home, though the office is expected to be completely closed by mid-August.

"We've had to take the rather drastic decision to close office in Rochester. It's no reflection on the efforts of the staff, who did great job for us," said Autodata CEO Rod Williams, who flew to Rochester from England to deliver the news in person.

Autodata_logoAutodata takes a different approach than similar U.S. publishers. Instead of focusing on specific models, it creates manuals based on a subject like airbags or transmissions, and then includes information for all vehicle models, including those no longer being made. The information is constantly updated. It provides up-to-date technical information for about 17,000 vehicles made by more than 80 companies, though the bulk of the manufacturers are based in England, France and Germany.

Williams says the company, which remains successful in Europe and Australia, struggled to win over the U.S. market. It had some ups during its run here, he said. This office grew from four employees in 2005 to 16 by 2007.  In the end, it just wasn't enough to make the Rochester office sustainable.

While Autodata's long-time owners did sell the company to two investment firms in May, Williams says the change only hastened the closing of Rochester.

"Sooner or later, it was going to come, unfortunately," he said.

The rapidly changing world of publishing added more challenges to Autodata's push into the U.S. The first year that Autodata made more from electronic products over printed manuals was in 2007. Since then, the industry's move to away from print has rapidly picked up speed. Print manuals shifted into CDs, then DVDs and eventually online.

"The world has moved on from books," said Williams. "By the end of the year, we'll be wholly online in Europe. We've already been completely online in Australia for many years."

June 09, 2014

Mayo Clinic eliminates 14 nurse positions in Rochester

Mayo Clinic eliminated 14 discharge planning nurse positions in Rochester on June 2 in an effort to improve efficiency.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_up"To improve service to patients and eliminate duplication of effort, Mayo Clinic is shifting some of the discharge planning work to other resources," explained Spokesman Bryan L. Anderson of why the Rochester positions were cut.

Anderson said that all 14 nurses impacted by the change were "offered the opportunity to select other nursing roles at Mayo Clinic."

He added that, "Some opted to retire/leave Mayo."

Unlike last week's announcement about Mayo Clinic Health Systems eliminating 188 medical transcriptionist positions in Wisconsin by outsourcing with a Madison company, the planning nurse nurse duties will not move outside the clinic.

Anderson said the discharge planning work has been shifted to other "internal resources."

June 03, 2014

Mayo Clinic to cut 188 Wisconsin jobs

Mayo Clinic's cuts of medical transcriptionist jobs has spread into Wisconsin with 188 positions going away as part of an outsourcing contract to reduce costs.

Medical transcriptionists convert dictation from health care providers into written reports. They also review and edit medical documents created by speech recognition technology.

Mayo-1024x731Mayo Clinic Health System notified Wisconsin staff last week that it's contracting with Amphion Medical Solutions to handle all transcription services. The positions will be transitioned over the next few months and Mayo expects to completely shift the work to Madison, Wis.-based Amphion by Nov. 1.

The change will affect 51 transcriptionists from southwest Wisconsin where La Crosse serves as the hub and 137 from northwest and southwest Wisconsin where Eau Claire is the hub

Amphion has told Mayo Clinic that is would be willing to hire all of its outgoing transcriptionist, though it's unclear if that would require relocating to Madison-Wis. or how comparable the wages would be to what Mayo Clinic pays. The 13-year-old company is declining to discuss the issue citing Mayo Clinic Health System's request to field all questions.

Mayo Clinic also says the displaced workers can apply for other positions within the health system that might might fit their skills.

This shift will add up to 40 percent savings in transcription costs, according to Mayo Clinic.

An average medical transcriptionist salary in 2012 was $16.36 per hour or $34,020 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This shift in Wisconsin follows last year's cuts of 82 medical transcriptionist jobs throughout seven southeastern Minnesota communities where Mayo Clinic Health Systems operate. Those cuts included 26 in Albert Lea, 18 in Austin, 17 in Owatonna, 4 in Faribault, 4 in Cannon Falls, 8 in Lake City and 5 in Red Wing.

April 09, 2014

Allegiant Air pulling out of Rochester… again

Allegiant Air announced Tuesday that it's pulling out of the Rochester International Airport and will end its weekly nonstop flights to Arizona on May 14.

Allegiant"We are always disappointed to end service in a market," said Eric Fletcher, Allegiant's manager of airports. "We thank the Rochester International Airport for their partnership and apologize to any travelers who are inconvenienced by this decision."

Allegiant began offering offering two weekly nonstop flights to Mesa, Ariz., in November 2012, with an eye to serving as a connection between Rochester and Mayo Clinic's Phoenix campus. The 166 seats flights travel on Thursday and Sunday.

A recent study of the airport activity from July 2012 to June 2013 found that Phoenix/Mesa was the top destination from the airport. Allegiant in Rochester had 15,580 passengers during those 12 months. That accounts for 7.4 percent of the passengers in this market. For the same period, Delta accounted 44.7 percent of the airport's passengers, and American had 41.6 percent.

That same study found that Allegiant tallied about $1.4 million revenue during those 12 months.

This marks the Las Vegas-based airline's second failed attempt to serve the Rochester market. From 2008 to 2010, it offered bargain nonstop flights to Las Vegas. During 2008, 27,854 passengers flew out of Rochester to Las Vegas on Allegiant. Those flights ended in 2010 because of lack of demand.

When Allegiant returned to Rochester with a focus on Arizona, there was no concern about demand with the built-in Mayo Clinic traffic plus vacation trips.

“We’ve had good luck returning to markets that we’ve previously pulled out of. We feel good about coming back to Rochester,” said Allegiant's Fletcher in 2008.

Rochester's airport has long worked at attracting and keeping airlines, although it's hindered by lower cost flights from Minneapolis.

In August 2012, the Rochester International Airport was awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department Transportation to help attract airlines to provide direct flight service to more destinations. The Rochester City Council approved a local match of $225,000, for a total of $750,000.

The airport's application included a letter from Frontier Airlines, saying the Denver-based company would be interested in providing direct flights if Rochester could offer incentives. The airport has not added any new flights or airlines, since that grant was presented.

Mark Sixel, who did the recent study for the airport, concluded his report by saying Rochester has a large enough passenger market to support more flights. However, numbers alone may not be enough in this competitive environment.

"It is likely the Rochester International Airport will have to offer some some kind of risk mitigation program, including waivers, marketing and even ground handling to convince another airline to launch service," he wrote.

Most experts say the bottom line is that the airport likely will need to offer financial enticement of some sort to attract more service. After establishing the relationship, then the passenger numbers need to be there to keep the service.