Day: June 17, 2016

Better than money-laundering: GE Appliances’ new owner says hello to in-house innovation

A slowdown in its mainline white goods business has the new owner of GE Appliances, Haier Group, looking for fresh paths to growth.

“At the core of its revitalization push is a program to create in-house venture businesses that take advantage of talent and ideas that otherwise might not have seen the light of day,” says Nikkei Asia Review.

China’s biggest consumer electronics and home appliance company has established 180 such ventures over the past three years, the Review says. One of those ventures created through Haier’s incubation program makes Hello Kitty-themed washing machines.

Haier completed its $5.6 billion purchase of Louisville-based GE Appliances last week. The deal included 6,000-employee Appliance Park in the city’s South End. Another 6,000 work at other worksites.

Related: Japan’s Sanrio produces and licenses all things Hello Kitty. There are numerous blogs about Hello Kitty, some less reverential than others: Kitty Hell. And counterintuitively, she’s not a cat.

Photo, top: Hello Kitty Junkie.

Bevin deflects question on whether he asked Ramsey to quit; calls UofL board ‘dysfunctional’

Matt Bevin
Bevin

Gov. Matt Bevin, asked if he sought James Ramsey’s resignation, said he’d spoken to many people, including the embattled University of Louisville president himself, and the “culmination of all the conversations I’ve had with everybody on all fronts is what I just announced to you,” the Lexington Herald Leader says.

Bevin said today those conversations also included leaders in the higher-education community,” and there is pretty much uniform agreement . . . (that) the board as it exists right now is not particularly functional. Its dysfunction has precluded it from doing what its responsibility is, and that is to be effective fiduciary leaders of the university,” according to The Courier-Journal.

Ramsey, 67, has been president since 2002. He offered his resignation, but it hasn’t been formally accepted, because a new board of trustees hasn’t been formed to replace the one Bevin dismissed today, according to multiple media accounts. The governor said Ramsey’s exit could come in the next two weeks. But state Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Louisville Democrat, said Bevin’s firing the board is illegal, the Courier-Journal says.

James Ramsey
Ramsey

Bevin issued an executive order this morning that scolded the 20-member board for its “lack of transparency and professionalism” and described the relationship between the U of L administration and trustees as “operationally dysfunctional,” according to WDRB.

The governor appointed a temporary three-person board until a permanent one can be assembled: Junior Bridgeman, a businessman and former U of L basketball player; Bonita Black, a Louisville attorney, and Dr. Ron Wright, said WAVE.

Larry Benz
Benz

The board chairman is Larry Benz, a healthcare business owner. He’s been a trustee since July 2011.

Trustee Robert Hughes, the Murray physician who has supported Ramsey, said he learned about Bevin’s plans via social media — echoing statements by other trustees about being in the dark, the Courier-Journal reported).

According to Ramsey’s contract, if he resigns at the request of the board of trustees, he can keep a tenured professor position — for 75% of his most recent base pay as president, which is $350,000, according to WFPL.

Ramsey has been under fire for numerous scandals over the past several years, said WFPL. The NCAA is investigating the basketball program after a former escort alleged an ex-coach paid for strippers and sex for players and recruits. Last October, Ramsey apologized after he and his senior staff posed for a photograph at a university Halloween party wearing stereotypical Mexican garb, the radio station said.

One of the university’s most influential and wealthiest graduates is Humana co-founder David A. Jones Sr., who received a bachelor’s degree in business there in 1954.

BULLETIN: BEVIN SEIZES CONTROL OF UofL; RAMSEY IS OUT

Gov. Matt Bevin announced today that University of Louisville President James Ramsey is stepping down and that he is reorganizing the Board of Trustees, according to The Courier Journal.

Bevin said he is appointing an interim board that will serve for the next two weeks. Ramsey is willing to step down immediately, Bevin said, but he could remain as president for as long as two weeks.

Bevin, a Republican elected in November, said it has been evident that changes in the oversight at U of L has been needed for some time. He said his intent is to “give a fresh start” to the university, according to the newspaper.

It is unclear whether there is a precedent for Bevin’s stunning move this morning. But it follows other aggressive steps he’s taken to reshape state government, moves that have roiled higher education and entrenched power players in Frankfort.

The governor’s decision is at least a tacit rebuke of Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat on whose watch Ramsey became a lightning rod for criticism over his seven-figure pay checks and bonuses as well as other administrative problems.

The two men have been engaged in an increasingly nasty war of words, virtually since the first day Bevin took office.

This story is still developing; updates coming. (Boulevard is hamstrung in our reporting because we’re working on a travel story here at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. And we’re working off our iPhone.)

Jury sides with Kindred in N.H. man’s death; Ford Europe focuses on subcompacts for 6-8% margins, and Texas man gets life for killing Papa John’s driver

A news summary, focused on 10 big employers; updated 8:27 a.m.

KINDRED: A jury in Nashua, N.H., yesterday cleared Kindred Healthcare and Greenbriar Terrace nursing home in the death of a Nashua man more than five years ago. Byam “Bing” Whitney Jr. died in 2011 after developing pneumonia and then bedsores that led to sepsis and his death at the age of 84 (Union Leader).

FORD:  In a radical shift, Ford is repositioning itself in Europe’s small-car market by abandoning the minicar and focusing on subcompact buyers with a larger Ka and a more upscale Fiesta. The change highlights the automaker’s strategy of picking battles to win 6% to 8% profit margins for its European business (Automotive News).

Ruimin
Ruimin

GE: Haier Group CEO Zhang Ruimin was awarded the Legend In Leadership Award at the Yale University Chief Executive Leadership Institute Summit in New York City. The conference is organized by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the prominent senior associate dean for Leadership Studies at Yale’s School of Management; he is a much sought-after commentator on management issues (press release). Haier bought GE Appliances and 6,000-employee Appliance Park for $5.6 billion in a deal completed last week.

Delcid
Delcid

PAPA JOHN’S: A 38-year-old San Antonio man was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison yesterday for killing a Papa John’s delivery driver in 2014. William “Jimmy” O’Neill, 46, had been delivering at an apartment complex when Robert Carlos Delcid stole his car and ran over him as he tried to stop the theft. O’Neil’s 86-year-old mother Edna O’Neill told the jury: “He was a good kid” who called her nearly every day, always ending the conversation saying, “I love you” (Express News).

PIZZA HUT: In Odessa, Texas, a gunman robbed a Pizza Hut Wednesday night, demanded money and fled; no injuries were reported (American).

James Ramsey
Ramsey

In other news, University of Louisville Foundation vice chair Joyce Hagen paid virtually all the cost of a full-page Courier-Journal ad in April that lauded embattled school President James Ramsey, and blasted his critics on the board of trustees (Insider Louisville). Enormous craft beer restaurant HopCat expects to open in five weeks, assuming construction is done at its Grinstead and Bardstown roads location; it’s now hiring some 200 employees to handle the 132 varieties of beer (WDRB). And the news drought continues about Louisville native and Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence :(.