Day: May 20, 2016

In Yum’s history, 11 herbs and spices became a recipe for a fast-food giant

Boulevard focuses on news about some of Louisville’s biggest employers, nonprofits, and cultural institutions. This is one in an occasional series about them.

Harland Sanders

Louisville-based Yum Brands traces its corporate roots to one of the most-recognized entrepreneurs — and cooks — in the world: Col. Harland Sanders. He launched his iconic Kentucky Fried Chicken chain in 1930 from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Ky., during the Great Depression.

It grew into a business giant based on his secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. In 1964, at age 73, Sanders sold the chain for $2 million ($15 million in 2016 dollars) to a partnership led by Kentucky businessman John Y. Brown Jr. (a lawyer and future governor of the state) and Jack C. Massey, a venture capitalist.

In the 1970s and 80s, KFC passed through a series of owners, ultimately getting acquired by PepsiCo.

The beverage giant added Pizza Hut in 1977, and Mexican fast-food chain Taco Bell in 1978 — and then it spun off all three into Tricon Global Restaurants in 1997. Tricon made Louisville its corporate headquarters, and then adopted the name Yum! Brands. (Boulevard doesn’t use the exclamation mark because it looks like a typo to readers who aren’t familiar with the brand!)

With nearly 43,000 restaurants in more than 130 countries and territories, Yum is now one of the biggest restaurant chains in the world. Its marquee brands — KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell — are one of the biggest private employers, with a combined 505,000 employees; a majority of them work part-time. Revenues in 2015 exceeded $13 billion. It ranked No 218 in the Fortune 500 in June 2016.

Greg Creed

In Louisville, Yum employs 1,000 at the corporate headquarters as well as KFC’s U.S. division offices. In early 2016, however, CEO Greg Creed and the four other top executives shifted to Plano north of Dallas, where the company’s biggest two divisions, KFC Global and Pizza Hut, are headquartered. Allaying concerns that Yum’s corporate headquarters might move, too, a spokesman told WDRB in February 2016 the executives would work from Louisville one or two weeks per month. Taco Bell is based in southern California’s Irvine.

Sanders’ affiliation with KFC hasn’t entirely ended. He continued as a spokesman for many years after he sold the chain to Brown and Massey. He died in 1980 at Jewish Hospital and was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery before a monument designed to look like the KFC-Yum headquarters, at 1441 Gardiner Lane. For many years, his grave has been the most-visited there.

Last year, Yum resurrected the colonel — actually, former Saturday Night Live comedian Darrell Hammond — to boost sales. But the new series of commercials that followed have gotten mixed reviews. Here’s one:

62 years ago: Miami-bound in airborne ‘living-room comfort’

Eastern Air Lines ad

Who wouldn’t want sunny Miami on a chilly late-winter day in 1954, when Eastern Air Lines advertised non-stop flights from Louisville — especially with the promise of both air-conditioned cabins and “luxurious living-room comfort”? And all for just $38.20, plus tax — a sum equivalent to $340 in today’s dollars. But was that a round-trip fare? This ad from the March 5, 1954, Courier-Journal doesn’t say.

Eastern Air Lines, which traced its beginnings to the 1920s, is long gone. Weakened by a strike, higher fuel costs, and unable to compete in a post-deregulated market, the company entered bankruptcy protection in 1989, eventually shutting down at midnight Jan. 19, 1991.

American Airlines is the only carrier currently offering non-stop service to Miami from Louisville. It recently advertised roundtrip tickets for $423.

Related: For those who noticed Eastern’s phone number back then — JACKSON 4131 — here’s a history of telephone exchange names.

Texas Roadhouse stockholders warm (a bit) to top exec pay

The fast-casual restaurant chain’s Securities and Exchange Commission filing this morning shows stockholders grew slightly more happy with last year’s executive compensation vs. the prior year. The breakdown of the advisory vote at yesterday’s annual meeting vs. last year’s meeting:

Texas Roadhouse advisory vote

Kent Taylor

Chairman and CEO Kent Taylor got paid $8.6 million last year, according to Boulevard’s executive compensation survey. That was way up from 2014, when he got $1.1 million, because of a huge $7.4 million stock grant.

Here’s the year-ago SEC filing on the vote.

The tweet sent before yesterday’s annual meeting; more company tweets:

Aetna chief doesn’t rule out HQ move; CJ owner Gannett now looks like a takeover target, too

A news summary focused on big employers; updated 3:53 p.m.

Aetna’s headquarters in Hartford, where it was founded in 1853.

HUMANA: Aetna’s CEO did little today to allay concerns the insurance giant might leave its historic Hartford home after its workforce doubles to 110,000 with the pending Humana merger. Mark Bertolini told the annual stockholders meeting that Aetna was required to establish a Kentucky presence when it sought to buy Humana. “Having said that,” he told shareholders, “the rest of all of our real estate is under review.” He expects the $37 billion deal to close in the second half of the year. (Hartford Courant). Humana’s stock closed at $169.60 a share, up less than 1%, but enough to make it the best-performing stock this week among Boulevard’s portfolio of big local employers.

GANNETT: Tribune Publishing is reportedly turning the tables on Gannett by planning a hostile offer to buy the owner of The Courier-Journal, USA Today and more than 100 other dailies. “I am going to bid on Gannett,” CEO Michael Ferro told five dozen Los Angeles Times staffers, according to a confidential source. “I have lawyers working on it.” That would counter Gannett’s sweetened all-cash offer this week, to $15 a share, or about $475 million, excluding  $385 million of outstanding debt (Politico Media).

UPS CEO David Abney doubts package delivery by drone will be as ubiquitous as some forecast. Speaking to a Boston business conference, he said: “I don’t believe there are going to be 10,000 to 20,000 of these flying over metro Boston delivering dog food and toothbrushes. I just don’t believe the economics of those work out” (Boston Business First).

AMAZON, which is developing Prime Air to transport packages to customers within 30 minutes via drone, could learn something from DHL’s drone delivery program (Business Insider).

PAPA JOHN’S: Baseball-related pizza promotions are now so pervasive, they extend to the local level, thanks to Papa John’s status as the “official pizza” of 22 big league clubs (538).

BROWN-FORMAN is now offering pregnant employees 12 weeks’ paid leave, about twice as much as the most generous maternity leave plans of the area’s 10 biggest employers (Insider Louisville).

CHURCHILL DOWNS: Which horses stand the best chances at tomorrow’s 141st Preakness Stakes (New York Times).

Donald Trump

In other news, presumptive GOP White House nominee Donald Trump addresses the 70,000-member NRA annual meeting today at the Kentucky Exposition Center (NBC).

This just in: