A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 1 p.m.
KFC plans to more than double its presence in Germany over the next five years, to 300 restaurants from 140, according to Insa Klasing, head of the chicken giant’s German subsidiary. Where most locations were major city drive-ins, “today we are also on the market with smaller restaurants,” Klasing said. But even with 300 sites, KFC will still be overshadowed by the nation’s biggest fast-food chain: McDonald’s (Europe Online). And the addition of 160 restaurants would increase total KFCs by just over a 1% vs. the current 15,000 worldwide (KFC corporate website).
In India, KFC is re-emphasizing chicken at its approximately 300 restaurants, two years after a push to sell more vegetarian burgers. In the last six months, the Yum division has rolled out three campaigns for its new chicken items, including the Chizza fried chicken slathered with cheese. During the same period, it didn’t start any new ads for vegetarian meals. KFC won’t stop selling vegetarian meals or launch vegetarian options, which still account for 30% of its India menu. But it won’t invest significantly on it either, KFC India marketing chief Lluis Ruiz Ribot said in an interview: “While chicken has always been a large part of our menu, 2016 is the year that we have refocused on our core,” he said (Quartz).
BROWN-FORMAN: In Australia, Jack Daniel’s assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher will host a series of master classes and tastings in Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth, as part of the Brown-Forman brand’s 150th anniversary celebrations (Au Review). BF executives toured Ontario’s Collingwood, where it distills Collingwood Canadian Whiskey, and saw first-hand the impact of a $100,000 company donation to the YMCA and a community hospital. “We work from the corporate office and a lot of the things that we do, we only get to see on paper,” said BF civil engagement manager Karen Krinock. “We knew what the ask was, but to see both the YMCA and Collingwood General and Marine Hospital was really meaningful” (Enterprise Bulletin). Louisville-based BF employs 1,300 in the city, and another 3,300 worldwide.
HUMANA: The Justice Department’s lawsuit to block the $37 billion Humana-Aetna merger on antitrust grounds seeks, ironically, to prevent what Obamacare aimed to achieve: government-directed oligopolies, according to The Wall Street Journal editorial board. “The new regulations and mandates since the law passed in 2010 are designed to encourage consolidation,” the paper’s lead editorial says. “But now the trust busters are fretting that these giants will have less incentive to innovate to reduce costs and improve quality, and patients will have fewer choices” (WSJ). Humana employs 12,500 in its Louisville hometown, and a total 50,000 across the country.
PAPA JOHN’S: In the San Francisco Bay area, prospective managers who can communicate with customers in English are especially welcome, although bilingual skills are a plus, too, according to a new Craigslist helped-wanted ad for Papa John’s in Concord, Pleasant Hill and Martinez (Craigslist). In surrounding Contra Costa County, 24.4% of the population is Hispanic vs. 23.5% for the San Francisco Bay area; 37.6% for California, and 17.6% for the nation as a whole (Census).
TACO BELL: Language skills aren’t the hiring issue at Detroit area Taco Bells, but something much more basic: Applicants “must be able to come to work on time, show up for scheduled shifts, and be productive when at work.” Also: be happy (Craigslist). Meanwhile, on Craigslist’s Missed Connections section for the Seattle area, a man is looking for a woman he saw yesterday: “You were driving a white Chevy blazer came into tacobell at like 130 if you se this message me please” (Craigslist).
GE: Chinese investment in the U.S. reached a record $18.4 billion in the first half of 2016, with Haier’s $5.6 billion purchase of GE Appliances being the single biggest; that deal closed in June and included Louisville’s 6,000-employee Appliance Park. The increase was driven mostly by private-sector acquisitions — there were more than 55 deals — in services, technology and consumer-oriented companies (Forbes).
TEXAS ROADHOUSE: Yet more news coverage of the waitress fired late last week for fantasizing on Twitter about killing Mexicans because someone didn’t leave her a tip at a Texas Roadhouse in Greeley, Colo (Google News). The waitress, Megan Olson, later apologized, changed her Twitter account to @globalunity, then deleted it entirely. The incident was the latest example of a Louisville-based fast-food chain tamping down bad news on social media before it went viral.
FORD said today it’s adding Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software throughout its entire 2017 model-year U.S. cars, SUVs, light trucks and electrified vehicles. Escape, Fusion, Mustang and Explorer nameplates are already available as 2017 vehicles at dealerships and others like the F-150, Focus, Edge and all-new 2017 Super Duty will arrive later this year (press release). In Louisville, Ford employs nearly 10,000 workers at the Louisville Assembly Plant and the Kentucky Truck Factory, making Escapes, Lincoln MKCs, F-250 and F-550 Super Duty pickups, Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators.
Also, Ford and two other investors have pumped $25 million into Indian car rental company Zoom Car, the automaker’s first investment in an Indian startup (International Business Times). Former CEO Alan Mulally and consumer advocate Ralph Nader were inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Nader, whose 1965 book “Unsafe at Any Speed” is considered one of the most important pieces of public-advocacy journalism, is still an industry critic. He called today’s automobiles “essentially a super computer on wheels” that’s increasingly furnished for entertainment and office work even as drivers are gradually losing control. Also inducted: Roy C. Lunn, an engineer on historically important cars including the Ford GT40; and Bertha Benz, late wife and business partner of automobile inventor Carl Benz (Mlive).
Ford’s outgoing chief operating officer for the Europe market, Barb Samardzich, said she advocated for the now hugely successful EcoBoost engines over considerable in-house skepticism that consumers would embrace smaller, turbocharged engines. Today, 60% of F-150s are sold with an EcoBoost V-6, even with gasoline prices hovering around $2 a gallon.
“EcoBoost engines had every attribute I was looking for in a vehicle,” she said in an interview last week. “It did not matter to me how many cylinders there were, and I believed there were more people like me than not like me out there.” Samardzich, 57, is retiring Oct. 1 as Ford Europe COO, and will be succeeded by Steven Armstrong, president of Ford South America (Automotive News). In Louisville, Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant employs about 5,100 workers, producing F-250 and F-550 Super Duty pickups, plus Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators.
UPS: Proving once more we here at Boulevard brings you wall-to-wall news about 10 big Louisville employers, we’re delighted to report that UPS road supervisor James Rainey of Jacksonville, Fla., married Amanda Morgan on Saturday. The bride is a “reading interventionist” for Duval County Public Schools; they’re honeymooning in Hawaii (Florida Times Union). It’s not too late to buy them a gift, either; their Knot wedding registry includes a Batman-themed 16 oz. tumbler with lid.
In other news, as KFC refocuses on chicken in India (see story, above), Louisville’s Fresh Start Growers Supply at 1007 East Jefferson St. is benefiting from what The Courier-Journal says this morning is a new craze: residents keeping chickens in their backyard. “For every bag of rabbit food, we sell several tons of chicken feed,” said employee Matt Sargent. (Tons? Really?) They’ll quote prices for large orders of mealworms, too. “Dried meal worms are a great source of protein for poultry,” the retailer says on its website, “and man they love the treat. Use this high protein offering to train or treat your chickens; they will come running.”
If national figures are any indication, we’ll see more chickens in the city as urban farming spreads; nearly 4% of U.S. households plan to have chickens within the next five years, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department (Courier-Journal).
Finally, long-time Courier-Journal photography editor Larry Spitzer died early Friday at the Episcopal Church Home in Louisville; he was 81. Until his 1995 retirement, Spitzer covered news for 35 years, and was added to the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame (Courier-Journal).