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67 posts categorized "Todd Schwarz, Rochester, Minn."

May 13, 2013

Private Wealth mag: "Mayo Clinic Targets Ultra-Wealthy"

Here's some from an interesting article headlined "Mayo Clinic Targets Ultra-Wealthy" posted a couple of weeks ago by Private Wealth magazine. The piece was written by Raymond Fazzi.

The Mayo Clinic, one of the nation’s most prominent hospitals, is starting to flex its muscle in the field of medical concierge services for the wealthy.

OB-KS600_NetJet_D_20101104082044The Rochester, Minn.-based hospital this year started to ramp up efforts to market its Preferred Response service—a membership program that provides medical transportation and emergency services all over the world—to business travelers, travel clubs for the wealthy and other segments of the ultra-affluent market. The expansion of Preferred Response comes three years after the hospital launched its Medallion program, a concierge medical service that devotes a team of doctors to its subscribers’ primary medical care needs.

The push comes at a time when some of the nation’s top hospitals are looking to the well-heeled to increase revenues and make greater use of their more expensive, high-tech medical capabilities. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, for example, has offered a similar concierge transportation service for years.

“Prominent hospitals are looking at any ways they can to leverage expertise to generate revenue streams,” said Dr. Clayton T. Cowl, Preferred Response medical director. “Access [to medical care] is going to be the key.”

The drive to market Mayo Clinic Preferred Response to the wealthy is based heavily on the public’s desire for medical access. The program has been part of the Mayo Clinic for more than a decade, originally as a service for dealing with in-flight medical emergencies. The program has since grown more expansive, with the ability to coordinate care and transportation when members are facing a medical emergency far from home.

“The idea is, we want to create a relationship—not just a doctor visit or two a year—no matter where you are in the world,” Cowl said.

Cutting The Line
As President Barack Obama’s health reforms start to kick in, bringing millions more people into the health system, increased waiting times for appointments and treatments are expected to become larger issues with patients.
The selling point for Preferred Response and other medical concierge services is that they allow those who can pay a premium to basically cut in line, according to industry experts.

“Ultimately, we’re in an era right now where lots more people are going to have insurance and the key I think is going to be access and connectivity,” Cowl said. “In a time of need, you don’t want to be fumbling around asking which of these 14 numbers I need to dial.”

The base membership fee for Preferred Response is $650 per year for individuals and $800 for families. The fee does not include hospital and doctors’ fees, according to a hospital spokesman.

With two around-the-clock medical teams, Preferred Response deals with emergencies throughout the world, ranging from instances where a subscriber fell down a flight of stairs in Turkey to another where a member suffered from a heart attack while vacationing in Cancun, Mexico. In one recent episode, a member suffered a punctured lung while on a bicycle tour in China. Preferred Response arranged for his treatment and transportation a few days later to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Cowl said. 


I remember when Mayo Clinic launched its relationship with NetJets back in 2003.

Mayo Clinic will now provide in-flight medical advice and assistance to people flying NetJets airlines.

The agreement, announced this week, gives NetJets employees and passengers access to Mayo Clinic support all day, every day. People on a NetJets flight can call a dedicated phone number to speak to a critical-care flight nurse or physician.

Additionally, all NetJets flight crews have received instruction in the use of special, Mayo Clinic-designed emergency medical supplies.

NetJets, based in New Jersey, is the largest provider of fractional aircraft ownership offerings in the world. NetJets currently manages 512 aircraft. This year, NetJets fractional aircraft owners will fly more than 250,000 flights to more than 140 different countries.

May 10, 2013

Collaboration rolling toward Rochester streets

While it isn't street-ready yet, several of Rochester's public transportation businesses are trying to put together an alliance to pool their resources and ultimately improve the experience getting from Point A to Point B in the Med City.

Details are still being hammered out and nothing is finalized yet, but it sounds like it will probably happen.

Roch streetsI chatted with someone involved with deal. He wasn't comfortable being identified yet, but he did offer a few insights of what might be coming down the road.

The businesses involved would retain their individual identities. However, they will join forces to handle needs they have in common, fleet maintenance in particular.

"The alliance wants to ensure a seamless experience for customers by providing a prompt, efficient and more consistent transportation service across all product lines," he said. "A world-class medical center deserves a world-class transportation system and we intend to deliver."

That sounds like a lofty goal that fits well with Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative.

One interesting element is that it involves many types of transportation as well as bringing direct competitors together under the alliance's umbrella.

While these local businesses might not make it all the way to their targeted destinations, the journey itself sounds like one that could improve what happens on Rochester's streets.

I'll keep tracking this one. Stay tuned.

May 09, 2013

Not Westminster, but CeleBARK promises fun for dogs, familes

When the contests include worst doggy breath and owner/pet lookalikes, you know it isn't the Westminster Dog Show.

50edebd513994.imageHowever, you can bet your last collar that Saturday's CeleBARK Your Dog Day in the "backyard" of Rochester's Eagle Club will be a lot more fun for both pets and their families.

Pam Miller, owner of the mobile Bone Appetit Canine Bakery Unleashed, is sponsoring the family-friendly event to honor beloved dogs of all kinds, even those that might have a bit of halitosis. People are encouraged to bring well-behaved dogs that are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

Look for local celebrity judges Marcia Fritzmeier and Dr. Vicki Hunt to brave the bad breath, measure the longest ears and select the most similar dog/owner pair.

Fritzmeier is the handler of Mayo Clinic's popular therapy dog, Dr. Jack. Likewise, Hunt works with the therapy dog, Hershey. Hershey is known "Mr. June" from his appearance in the Rescued Dogs Calendar put out by Paws and Claws.

To help mark the first anniversary of the mobile version of her gourmet dog treat business, Miller wanted to host a fun and different kind of bash.

"I'd like it to become kind of a signature event," she says.

For the humans, both young and old, there will be games, contests, demonstrations and food. There even will be a treasure hunt similar to the Rochesterfest Medallion Hunt.

While fun is a big part of the fest by Bear Creek, it also will be about helping dogs find homes with good families.

"Part of my passion is to try and help rescue groups with their mission," says Miller.

Six rescue groups from Southeastern Minnesota will show off dogs available for adoption, as well as raise money to support their organizations.

While Miller has been locally-known for her homemade, preservative-free dog treats, she began driving her canine bakery and dog accessories shop on wheels to Rochester dog parks last summer.

"We go where the dogs and their owners are," she said.

Miller prides herself on offering the most current and unique products for dogs and the people who love them.

She says CeleBARK is just another way to help her business stand out from the pack.


Tag: Columnist, blogger and reporter Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street.
Infobox headline: CeleBARK Your Dog Day
Infobox text: BACB Unleashed is sponsoring the free event. which is open to families and their well-behaved dogs.

• Saturday.

• From 11 a.m. to  2 p.m.

• Behind the Eagles Club at 917 15th Ave S.E. in Rochester.

For more information, go to

April 26, 2013

With weather warming, hot dog man to return to downtown

It feels as if the weather finally has taken a turn for the better and maybe, just maybe, the dogs of winter are leashed again for at least a few months.

That means it's time to start relishing the spring days in the Med City again.

6a00d83451cc8269e2017c328b3ea7970b-250wiAnd what better way to do that than with downtown Rochester's gem, Murph's Diamond Dogs. On Monday, Rick Murphy plans to roll out his cart and start serving hot dogs for the hungry packs hunting for a quick and tasty lunch.

Look for the genial Murphy with his ball cap and stainless steel cart at his usual spot in the Peace Plaza by O & B Shoes.

The Pine Island man and his cart have added flavor to downtown for eight years.

That means he has been around downtown longer than the University of Minnesota-Rochester, Sontes, Chester's, the Minnesota BioBusiness Center, 300 First, Social Ice, 318 Commons, Big Brad's, Hot Shots! and lots of other changes.

He was already selling dogs when people started saying "Rah-Rah" about Rochester.He was downtown long before it became "The Place To Be." He was here when DMC was just part of the name of an '80s rap group.

Quite simply, downtown is Murph's turf.

With sun shining and people buzzing around the plaza, it'll be good to have him back where he belongs.

April 25, 2013

Holiday to close the "runt" of SA C-store litter

It looks like the addition of Holiday gas stations to Rochester will mean the subtraction of a current station from the market.

The buzz going around South Broadway is that when Holiday takes ownership of the six SuperAmerica stations in Rochester on May 1, one of them will go dark.

ShowPhoto.aspxOfficials with Bloomington-based Holiday have not responded to inquiries about changes in the Med City. However, there is evidence to support this closing theory. Rochester building permits show that Holiday signs are going up at all of the Super America stations, except the one on South Broadway.

People in the neighborhood around the station say they are hearing the store is closing because it's the smallest in the batch. The 18-year-old Broadway station is 1,900 square feet. By comparison, SA's station on Second Street Southwest is about 1,500 square feet larger.

Of course, having a Kwik Trip station right next to the South Broadway SA probably didn't help its perceived viability.

If that station does go dark, it will be interesting to see what happens next. Holiday does have a history of selling its "surplus real estate," so there's a good chance that lot will go on the market.

For obvious reasons (see previous sentence about Kwik Trip), it will probably not become another gas station.

So what could go there? 

I'd say a coffee shop, small diner or even a fast food place (Dare I say… White Castle?) could be reasonable options for that high traffic area along South Broadway.

Even a bar might work there. Remember, Beer Bellyz is a converted Holiday gas station.

April 23, 2013

Tech columnist on Decline and Fall of IBM

I've pointed out the writings of well-known tech columnist Bob Cringely and his dire (and sometimes accurate) predictions about IBM.

As a long-time tech writer, he seems to have to pretty good grasp of how IBM has changed over the years. He has always been very critical of Big Blue's management, which he sees as creating profits at the expense of their employees instead creating of good technology.

CringleyCringely's latest prediction is that IBM will withdraw its 401K contributions for its employees. They have already made some significant changes in that area, from shifting from making 401k contributions in every paycheck to doing it just once a year.

I wonder what local IBMers think about that. Is it possible? Could that be in the works?

The Decline and Fall of IBM is the headline of Cringely's latest column as well as the title of an e-book that is releasing soon.

Here's an excerpt from the column:

IBM is in trouble, you see, serious trouble caused primarily by executive corrosion from within. Not only did Big Blue miss its earnings target last quarter for the first time in years, if the rumors I am hearing are correct the company’s primary response will be to screw U.S. employees even more than they have already.

The rumor I’ve heard is that IBM, which not long ago changed its 401k contribution policy to push what had been a biweekly payment into an annual one right at the end of the year, may have decided this year (and in the future?) not to make any 401K contribution at all. Since IBM’s U.S. employees can divert up to eight percent of their gross compensation into the 401K and IBM has traditionally made a comparable matching payment, this possible change in compensation policy could save the company close to $1 billion.

In one sense one might ask what’s wrong with that? Companies have to do what they have to do in this economy and workers sometimes suffer. But for IBM it indicates the company is getting near the bottom of its bag of tricks for maintaining earnings growth toward that ambitious 2015 goal of $20 per share. Management seem to be down to three ideas to improve the numbers: 1) savage the 401K plan; 2) sell the low-end server business to Lenovo for a reported $2.5 billion, and; 3) expect a miracle called PureSystems.




April 16, 2013

Appeals Court reverses ruling on Rochester Buffalo Wild Wings dispute

The owners of Rochester's Crossroads Shopping Center feel vindicated by a  Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling in their favor in a long-running battle over a proposed Buffalo Wild Wings.
Crossroadsbww"I've always said, 'If anyone in the courts follow the law, we'll win,'" says Bob Meek, who owns Crossroads with Vic Scott. "It gives me faith that the judicial system is functioning properly. I was starting to have my doubts."

After losing three battles at the planning commission, the Rochester City Council and then in Olmsted County District Court, Crossroads won the legal war in the end.

Monday's ruling reversed a June ruling by Olmsted County Judge Nancy Buytendorp that dismissed Crossroads' lawsuit against BWW owner Graf Enterprises and the city of Rochester.

The dispute was over the city's approval of  Rochester businessman Tom Graf's plan to build a 7,000-square-foot Buffalo Wild Wings in the lot in front of the Crossroads center. Graf introduced the development plan in 2011, when he purchased Pannekoeken Huis restaurant, demolished it and then filed to build his second Rochester BWW on the site.

"We are extremely disappointed in the appellate court ruling," Graf said Monday afternoon.

What does this mean for his plans to build a second Buffalo Wild Wings and his ownership of the land surrounded by Crossroads property?

"We are taking a look at our options," he said.

Parking is at the heart of this dispute . The city-approved plan called for 55 parking spaces — 35 on Graf's plot of land and 20 spaces in the surrounding Crossroads parking lot.

That calculation was made with the understanding that the proposed restaurant is part of the business center. Otherwise the proposed restaurant would require 88 parking spaces.

The Crossroads owners long have said that the city ordinances were not being followed and that the plan took their property away and gave it to Graf for his use.

"For a developer and a shopping center, excess parking is money in the bank," said Meek.

In the appeals court ruling, the judges sided with Crossroads' position, writing "Because Crossroads' protectable right to the parking spaces on its property is placed in jeopardy by the city's actions, Crossroads has standing, its claim is ripe and the district court erred by dismissing the claim on justiciability grounds."

The ruling stated that the city staff did not follow Rochester's own ordinances in regards to what is part of a business center and if Graf had enough control of the Crossroads' parking spaces to warrant allowing him to use 22 of them.

City Attorney Terry Adkins said that the ruling means that the city planning department will now need to "strictly" apply the ordinances.

For his part, Meek said he was relieved to have the case resolved after so long, though he still feels it should not have played out the way it did.

"I think it is terrible that a private party like us had to spend so much on a lengthy case just to prove the city wasn't following their own rules," he said.

Rochester's DMC tight rope walk - Looking for people for article

Last week I interviewed a few local leaders about the DMC tight rope walk, particularly after last week's political chatter about Rochester being boring.

WelcomeIt seems the path is between "Rochester needs money to be better" and "Rochester is a great city."

I'm looking for to interview folks who normally don't get quoted in the newspaper for feedback on if Rochester actually is dull? Dull or not, everyone seems to have ideas about what this city needs to improve the quality of life here plus add some zest to the community's personality.

Beside looking for the opinions of average people, I'd also like to chat with some young doctors as well as some patients visiting here for medical treatment.

If you are interested, please contact me at or 285-7798.

April 04, 2013

Plug pulled on IBM's record breaking computer Roadrunner

IBM's record-breaking Roadrunner supercomputer was the fastest computer in the world when introduced five years ago.
But this week, it was retired and soon will be dismantled, surpassed by other machines in the fast-evolving world of supercomputers.
The Roadrunner, which owed much of its hybrid design and manufacture to Big Blue's Rochester campus, was the first machine to break the computer industry's "sound barrier" in 2008 by clocking a petaflop or one quadrillion calculations per second.

Roadrunner_1“We just all looked around and said, ‘We made it,’” stated Peter Keller, who was part of the Rochester manufacturing team that recorded that historic milestone on May 25, 2008.

The plug was pulled on the $121 million supercomputer on Easter Sunday at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

"Roadrunner, while I would not define it as strictly obsolete, it has been surpassed by newer technology," said Kevin Roark, of Los Alamos. "It's perfectly normal. …This is the natural progression."

Roadrunner's duties are being shifted over to Los Alamos' Cielo supercomputer, which is made by Seattle-based Cray Inc. Two years younger than Roadrunner, Roark describes it as faster, smaller, less expensive and more energy-efficient than its IBM predecessor.

Until it was shut down, Roadrunner ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week since being delivered to the laboratory via 25 trucks.

While it now is being experimented on as it waits to be dismantled and shredded, Roadrunner took Los Alamos' work on the United States' nuclear weapons stockpile to a new level.

"It has performed remarkably well. It has really helped us solve some fundamental problems that were essentially unsolvable before a computer of its speed," Roark said.

It wasn't just its speed that made Roadrunner so groundbreaking. The revolutionary hybrid design that coordinated the use of different types of computer chips, including Cell chips originally designed in Rochester to be used in Sony's PlayStation 3 video game system.

"Roadrunner was a truly pioneering idea," said Gary Grider, of Los Alamos' High Performance Computing Division, in a statement. "Roadrunner got everyone thinking in new ways about how to build and use a supercomputer."

Los Alamos teamed up with IBM to build Roadrunner from commercially available parts. They ended up with 278 refrigerator-size racks filled with two different types of processors, all linked together by 55 miles of fiber optic cable.

The supercomputer has been used over the last five years to model viruses and unseen parts of the universe, to better understand lasers and for nuclear weapons work. That includes simulations aimed at ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation's aging arsenal.

Roadrunner was the world's fastest computer for 18 months. At its peak, it was two times faster than Blue Gene/L, which was IBM’s star machine and the fastest computer in the world in 2007.

Its historic speed kept Roadrunner on the Top 500 Fastest Computers list, despite being outdated. It still ranked as 22nd fastest machine in the world in November.

IBM had four of the top 10 fastest computers on that November list, and all had roots in Rochester. Sequoia, a BlueGene/ Q, took the No. 2 spot behind Cray's Titan. Other BlueGenes — Miram JUQUEEN and Fermi — locked up the fourth, fifth and ninth spots.

March 29, 2013

Paint business to build new store, add more color to S. Broadway

It looks like more color is in the pipeline for Rochester's South Broadway.

A Rochester paint business looking for a home has decided to build a new store.

29sherwinwilliamssiteSherwin-Williams plans to build a 4,000-square-foot paint store on a spot in the parking lot in front of the south ShopKo and Menards stores, just south of Culvers.

The hope is to get it built and open by October, says Nate Reit, manager of the south Rochester Sherwin-Williams store located in the former Rochester Market Square building. That former "home building mall" used to house a number of similar construction business tenants. However, that focus faded when the economy crashed and the building industry was gutted.

The 56,000-square-foot complex was purchased by the Rochester School District for $2.1 million last fall. It is being remodeled to house area learning programs.

With the building being "schooled," the one remaining tenant, Sherwin-Williams, needs to move out.
That's where the new store comes in. Reit says building will allow Sherwin-Williams to have "total control" of its future in south Rochester.

"I think our retail business will really thrive there, particularly being near Menards," he says. "We haven't been that accessible for the past six and half years we have been here (in Rochester Market Square)."

However, Sherwin-Williams does have a strong relationship with many of the area's contractors, and he believes that will continue in the new spot.

Right now, the south store has nine on staff.

"I think we'll probably need to add people at the new location, just to keep up with the additional retail business," Reit says.

In addition to the south location, Sherwin-Williams has a store on the north side of Rochester. Both stores are corporate-owned.