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19 posts categorized "List mania"

March 06, 2015

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post. Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my sixth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More  than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to businesPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11s in southeastern Minnesota.

It'syou, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years. 

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post.Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my siPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11xth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to business in southeastern Minnesota.

It's you, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years.  

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.

November 08, 2014

Mayo Clinic docs make millions by consulting with drug/device companies

Here's some from the lead article in my package of stories about Mayo Clinic doctors and their financial relationships with drug/medical device companies in this weekend's Post-Bulletin.

FYI, the front page article is continued on page A2 and more articles and data are printed on page B4.

An unprecedented disclosure of payments from drug companies shows that $3.07 million for consulting was paid in 2,388 payments to Rochester-based Mayo Clinic researchers, doctors and hospitals during five months last year.

11082014drugmoneygraphicHowever, Mayo Clinic officials point out that they have a strict policy about such payments, which all must be approved by its Conflict of Interest Committee. Such policies, which many medical centers have, are a way of preventing medical professionals from being unduly influenced by money from drug companies in their decisions, such as what drugs they prescribe.

For the same period, Cleveland Clinic staff collected $4.3 million in private money for consulting, while Johns Hopkins Hospital employees took in a mere $4,627.

Dr. Richard Ehman, vice-chair of the Conflict of Interest Committee, said that Mayo Clinic's restrictive policies are unusual within the medical industry.

"We know all of the financial relationships of our staff. That's unheard of," said Ehman.

Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins urge their employees to disclose their private contracts, though they stop short of requiring it in every case, according to their policies posted on their websites. Mayo, Cleveland and Johns Hopkins all agree that a physician or scientist serving as primary leader of a research project are banned from having private contracts with the companies involved.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upHundreds of Mayo Clinic doctors are receiving millions from drug companies and medical device makers for private consulting every year, while many others are paid one-third of the royalties generated by their work.

Disclosing all of the financial contracts between private companies and doctors is the goal of the Open Payments website run by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It features a database of doctors and the money they receive from outside sources. It's now required by the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which was part of the Affordable Care Act health reform.

In late September, data from August to December 2013 was released on the site. This batch of records includes about 4.4 million payments made to about 550,000 doctors and 1,360 teaching hospitals. However, some of the information reported by private companies is incomplete, confusing and, in some cases, incorrect.

For Mayo Clinic doctors, 100 percent of the payments for private consulting go directly to them. Mayo began allowing such consulting contracts in 1999, when it changed the rule that required all consulting payments to go to the clinic.

The payments for those five months show all different types, including royalties, research money and royalties.

In addition to the consulting payments during those five months, a total of 68 payments totaling $3.01 million were made to Mayo Clinic for research, according to the database.

All research money, like grants, goes directly to Mayo Clinic.

However, physicians or researchers receive one-third of the amount of royalty payments received by the clinic from drug companies, according to clinic policy. During the five months of reports, Mayo Clinic received a total of $1.9 million in royalties.

Just one company -- DePuy Synthes Sales Inc., a subsidiary of heath care giant Johnson & Johnson, reported paying a total of more than $1.15 million to Mayo Clinic or its doctors in 278 payments from August to December.

In the wake of the recent federally-mandated deluge of information about the financial ties between doctors and private drug/medical device companies, Ehman explained that Mayo Clinic does allow its employees to personally profit from such agreements. However, every financial relationship must be approved by the Conflict of Interest Committee.

Mayo Clinic approved 1,003 consulting contracts for 308 doctors and researchers in 2013 to personally work with private companies on their own time. The Mayo Clinic committee, which meets every other week, approved 953 such agreements with 301 individuals in 2012 and 1,071 for 292 employees in 2011.

February 22, 2013

Highlights of Mayo Clinic's 2012 financials

Here are a few random, fun facts from Mayo Clinic's 2012 financials:

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800px-Gonda_building,_closer_up• Spent on charity care: $83.4 million, up from $61.8 million in 2011.

• Spent to support Medicaid: $321.7 million, up from $260.4 million in 2011.

• Revenue from retail pharmacy sales: $149 million, up from $134 million in 2011.

• Revenue from technology commercialization, health information and medical products: $34.1 million, down from $40.4 million in 2011.

• Revenue from cafeteria sales: $28.8 million, down from $30.3 million in 2011.

• Cash and cash equivalents: $59.6 million, down from $141.3 million in 2011

• Earned incentive from federal government for introducing electronic medical records: $44.7 million

August 28, 2012

Lunds/ Byerly's scouting state for new grocery locations

While Rochester has many grocery stores in the pipeline - Fareway, CostCo, People's Food Co-op and Hy-vee - there are a few chains, like Whole Foods, that local people seem to still want here.

Another grocery store chain that is often mentioned on local wish lists is Lunds/ Byerly's. It's a Minnesota company with 22 stores in the state, most in the Twin Cities area.

A recent posting on a national commercial real estate site could be good news for local fans of Lunds/Byerly's. The company is out and about shopping for new locations in Minnesota.

Lunds

In their own words, Lunds/Byerly's describes what they are doing:

"Growth opportunities are sought throughout the existing market during the coming 18 months."

Now that "existing market" phrase could mean they are just looking in the Twin Cities-Land area.

Back in 2008, Lunds/Byerly's went on a similar shopping spree and they obviously skipped over Rochester then.

Jennifer Kent of Lund Holdings told me this back then, “We do understand there is a lot of interest to for us to come down to the Rochester area, but we are not quite ready to move that far out … of the Twin Cities area."

Of course, things can change. Rochester is larger now and is pegged as a growing and vibrant community in constrast to many other Minnesota cities.

So who knows? Maybe they'll give the Med City a closer look this time around. I probably should give Jennifer another call to check in.

Here's the posting from the Dealmakers commercial real estate site:

Lund Food Holdings, Inc. trades as Byerly’s and Lunds at 22 locations throughout MN. Lunds prefers to occupy spaces of 40,000 sq.ft. and Byerly’s prefers to occupy spaces of 60,000 sq.ft. in freestanding locations, strip centers and urban/downtown areas.  Typical leases run 20 years with options.

June 19, 2012

Big Blue tops world's fastest computer list with Roch. systems

Here's a little from my two lengthy stories in today's paper about IBM's rocket ride back to the top of the world's fastest super computer list and Rochester fueled it.

This is mainly focused on the Blue Gene/Q systems. I have more focusing on the new warm-water cooled SuperMUC system in another piece in print.

Ibm_sequoia_llnlAfter a few years in the middle of the supercomputing pack, Big Blue rocketed to the top spot by running a world record-breaking speed of 16.3 petaflops and capturing five of the top 10 rankings in the latest international list of top supercomputers.

And Rochester is in the driver's seat for this IBM resurgence.

"It's the Academy Awards of what we do. This is the thing you go after," says Andy Schram, the proud project executive for Blue Gene supercomputers in Rochester. "But it's not a beauty contest. You actually have to perform. They have to deliver value to the client."

The Rochester-made Blue Gene family of machines and the new water-cooled SuperMUC machine certainly delivered.

IBM-SuperMUC-cropped-proto-custom_28When the twice-annual Top 500 supercomputer list was unveiled Monday, IBM's Sequoia Blue Gene/Q machine roared into the top spot, past Fujitsu’s K Computer, which had held that ranking on the last two lists in November and June 2011.

Mira, another Blue Gene/Q, took third place with 8.1 petaflops. Two other Blue Gene/Qs were at Nos. 7 and 8; while the SuperMUC system was No. 4.

In all, 15 Blue Gene/Qs were ranked in the top 100. They were all designed, manufactured and tested by several hundred staffers in Rochester. 

 

May 04, 2012

I want your IBM stories - past, present and even future

While I have written many, many things during my years at the Post-Bulletin, they have never been my stories.

Ibm-701-watsonThe columns, stories and even blog postings have always come from the people of Rochester and the surrounding areas.

Now I'm considering trying to tell a story that can only happen with your help.

IBM has long been a major part of Rochester. During its years here, Big Blue has gone through many changes, corporatewide as well as locally.

I'd like to map out the evolution of IBM during its almost 60 years in Rochester, mainly from the employee's perspective. And taking it a step beyond, I'm interested in local impressions of what IBM's future in Rochester might look like.
IBM-360-1964-2
I'd really like to speak to any past or current employees and contractors willing to share their memories and thoughts on local IBM culture changes from the Fortress Rochester days of the AS/400 to the dark days of the 1980s to the resurgence when the "elephant was taught to dance" on to the time of Blue Gene, Watson and the PureSystems.

To form a complete picture, the hope is to have a full discussion with many people with different experiences about IBM's successes and innovat58914-ibm-watsonions as well as about the tough times and the layoffs.

As a massive company that is an international technology leader, its evolution is a complex story.

I'd like to try tell as much of that story as possible through the words of the southeastern Minnesota people that have and are living it.

If you'd like to participate or to know more, contact me at 285-7798 or at jkiger@postbulletin.com.

April 09, 2012

Kiger's Notebook reborn

Sorry for disappearing for so long, but I'm back now.

Photo 45As the PB changed its online approach, I took some time off from the blog to consider its future and what it should look like. It was sort of like a strategic planning retreat without the big pads of paper or markers.

Actually, there wasn't much strategy either. Heh.

I didn't really come up with any great insights other than I missed writing Kiger's Notebook. This blog launched back in March 2005. For seven years, I've been posting bits and pieces of news and semi-humorous quips on here.

I think I'd like to keep doing that.

So to any readers left out there, I pose the question - What would you like to read on this blog? What kind of info will make it worth your time.

The bottom line is that I'm back and this blog is back in the game.

January 18, 2012

Old Country Buffet to close 81 restaurants, files bankruptcy

The corporate parent of Old Country Buffet announced today that it is going into bankruptcy for a second time and it will close 81 restaurants.

No word on what locations will be axed and pack up their sneeze guards.

Of course, Rochester has an OCB in the TJ Maxx Plaza & More Plaza. It lived through the last bankruptcy round of closings four years ago, so it probably has good odds this time.

Other media sources are reporting that the list of Buffets to close will possibly be released Thursday. So I'll keep an eye on that.

Here's a little from today's press release:

Buffets, Inc. announced today a restructuring agreement that it has reached with senior lenders holding 83% of its senior debt, which will recapitalize the Company while eliminating virtually all of the Company's approximately $245 million of outstanding debt. The recapitalization will provide the Company with resources to invest in its proven reconcepting program, as well as other restaurant and profitability improvement initiatives.

571f5c7c-b8d5-4cb4-a9c6-c16dbb173369------------

Under the proposed plan, the Company will eliminate its outstanding debt of approximately $245 million, as well as annual interest payments of more than $30 million. The pre-negotiated plan of reorganization anticipates the Company's existing lenders will receive 100 percent of the Company's new common stock upon emergence.

As part of the restructuring plan, the Company expects to promptly close 81 underperforming restaurants, representing approximately 16 percent of its nearly 500 restaurants nationally. "The decision to close these underperforming restaurants, though difficult, resulted from a comprehensive, store-by-store analysis of financial performance, occupancy costs, market conditions and the long-term strategy of our reorganized restaurant portfolio," commented Mike Andrews, Buffets CEO. In addition to the immediate restaurant closings, the Company is seeking more favorable lease arrangements with its landlords at other restaurant locations. To the extent those leases cannot be modified on acceptable terms, additional restaurant closings may be required.