GE APPLIANCES and federal consumer products safety regulators have recalled 222,000 GE Profile high-efficiency top-loading clothes washers in three different models after the Louisville-based manufacturer received 71 reports of internal components burning or catching fire. In three incidents, fires resulted n about $129,000 in property damage. No injuries have been reported, however, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The machines made in South Korea and sold in the U.S. by Best Buy, Lowe’s, Sears, Home Depot and other stores nationwide from June 2003 through October 2011 for between $900 and $1,400 (press release). GE employs about 6,000 workers at Appliance Park in the south end.
YUM filled out the 10-member board of directors for the planned Yum China spinoff, identifying another eight of the members, including two former Yum executives. The Louisville-based fast-food giant had previously said the board would be led by non-executive chairman Fred Hu, chairman and founder of Primavera Capital Group, a China-based investment firm that’s agreed to buy a $464 million stake in the China business in advance of its planned spinoff next month (press release).
The last Tuesday in August 1956 was quite like today: A presidential race geared up for the final, post-Labor Day push, amid boiling Mideast tensions and questions about one candidate’s health. Hot and humid, Louisville distracted itself with celebrity news: a very rich New York socialite with a blue-chip name had just married husband No. 3; years later, her son would become a famous TV news anchor dubbed the “Silver Fox.” And contract talks between a major local manufacturer and thousands of employees were the business story of the day. These were the headlines on The Courier-Journal’s front page that Aug. 28, 1956.
An editor’s playful headline, “Sweat-ery,” summed up what readers should expect that day: temperatures in the 90s, news to make them wince when many employers still didn’t have air conditioning. But the workplace differed in far worse ways.
Companies openly discriminated on the basis of gender and race. The help-wanted classifieds section for women included Curl’s Tavern on Brook Street, offering $30 a week ($265 in today’s dollars) for short-order cooks; applicants had to be white. Kleins Restaurant on Broadway needed a cook, too — but “colored,” adding: “apply at rear.”
That summer’s presidential race was a rematch between the Republican incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower, 65, and the long-shot Democratic nominee he’d beaten four years before: Adlai Stevenson, 56, and a former Illinois governor. Their dueling campaigns argued over whether the economy was adding jobs fast enough. But the greater concern was the crisis in Egypt, where new President Gamal Abdel Nasser had just nationalized the Suez Canal.
Eisenhower, a retired five-star general, was heading back to Washington after a West Coast golfing vacation in Pebble Beach, Calif., with his wife Mamie; it was a pleasure trip, but also meant to project good health after a heart attack he’d suffered the year before.
The gossipy news? It was about Gloria Vanderbilt, born into one of the nation’s wealthiest families, and still known as the “poor little rich girl” because she’d been the subject of a high-profile custody battle between her mother and an aunt over a $4 million trust fund ($67 million in today’s dollars). She was 10 years old at the time.
In a photograph on the CJ’s front page, the 32-year-old socialite posed for photographers with her new husband, the director Sidney Lumet; they’d wed the previous day. The marriage lasted 11 years until they divorced, and she married husband No. 4 — her last: Wyatt Emory Cooper. They would have two sons. The second, born when she was 43, was named Anderson Hays Cooper. (Her first son, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, committed suicide at 23 by jumping from the ledge of the family’s 14th-floor apartment on Manhattan’s posh upper East Side, as Vanderbilt watched in horror, pleading for him to stop.)
KFC might want to get into the sunscreen business permanently. The chain offered another 3,000 free bottles of its fried chicken-scented Colonel Sanders Extra Crispy Sunscreen yesterday — and emptied its inventory immediately — after the marketing stunt succeeded far more than the fast-food chain expected when it launched Monday. The second round began yesterday for U.S. residents-only, but the order form is already gone, replaced with a notice saying “incredible free offer all gone.”
Initially, the Yum unit promised 3,000 bottles on a first-come, first-served basis. “But the Colonel forgot to hit the ‘off switch,'” the company said in a press release, “which resulted in more than 9,000 bottles requested in about two hours, with 5,000 of those requests in the final 10 minutes.”
The bottles were so popular, at least four are now being auctioned on eBay, with one seller in Birmingham, Ala., showing a current high bid of $202.50 — the highest of 55 so far; offers are being accepted through Monday. Bids on the other three bottles by different sellers now stand at $51 to $97.
Meanwhile today, KFC introduced a Snapchat lens that let’s fans “Colonel-ize” themselves — “glasses, bowtie, goatee, age spots and all” — in a campaign to duplicate the success sister chain Taco Bell had with a Cinco de Mayo promotion last spring.
The Snapchat lens capitalizes on the popularity of the chain’s series of TV commercials portraying resurrected versions of very long-dead KFC founder Harland Sanders — including the current version, famously suntanned actor George Hamilton, who plays the “Extra Crispy” one.
“Starring as the Colonel in our advertising may be an exclusive gig, but on Saturday, anyone can be the Colonel on Snapchat,” the company says.
For Boulevard readers over the age of, say, 14, here’s a more technical explanation, no doubt supplied by the mobile app company itself: “Sponsored lenses offer Snapchatters the ability to apply real-time visual effects and sounds to their selfies, allowing brands to take part in communication on the platform in the most interactive, fun, and personal way.”
KFC is aiming for the same result Taco Bell scored last spring, when its Cinco de Mayo lens smashed Snapchat records. That campaign turned consumers’ heads into a giant taco shell, resulting in 224 million views in one day, according to AdWeek.
GE: A former GE Appliances employee has sued General Electric, saying he was singled out, harassed and ultimately fired for being transgender. Mykel Mickens worked at Appliance Park from October 2014 to June of this year. He says co-workers turned on him when they discovered he once was a woman named Michelle. It appears his suit is against GE Appliances, rather than the parent company that owned the division until late June, when China-based Haier bought it for $5.6 billion. Last night, GE Appliances told WDRB that it doesn’t comment on matters in litigation, but said the company “embraces diversity and supports organizations like our LGBT group” (WDRB).
Former parent company GE’s gambit to morph into something akin to a Silicon Valley start-up began five years ago, when it quietly opened a software center in San Ramon, Calif., 24 miles east of San Francisco. The complex, home to GE Digital, now employs 1,400 people (New York Times).
GE said today it will outsource work at a warehouse and distribution operation at Appliance Park and also close a water-heater manufacturing line, displacing about 300 good-paying union jobs and another 20 salaried ones. Officials said they expect all the affected workers will be absorbed into current operations, a prediction union leaders worry still could cost jobs (Courier-Journal).
KFC: An Ashland KFC franchise owner is offering uniformed law enforcement officers free meals 24/7 at his restaurants in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, and a photo of a sign announcing the deal on the front door of one outlet is spreading across Facebook like wildfire. Doug Knipp’s KFCs in Kentucky include outlets in Pikeville, Ashland, Grayson, Hazard, Jackson, Prestonsburg, Morehead, Paintsville, and Louisa (WKYT). It’s unclear how long Knipp’s been making the offer, but it follows several high-profile cases where law enforcement officers have been treated poorly at Yum restaurants, most recently at a Taco Bell in Louisville last week; news of that incident continues to spread.
YUM: The activist investor and Yum director who drove last October’s agreement to spin off the China Division is at it again, this time at the Williams Cos. Keith Meister of Corvex Management, which holds a 4% stake in the energy giant, is using an unusual approach to run his own 10-member slate of nominees for the board of directors. Trying to meet a sudden deadline, he’s nominated 10 who will merely serve as placeholders until after the election. At that point, if he’s victorious, they would resign in favor of permanent ones. Meister favors a merger deal with a Williams competitor, but he’s been thwarted by the CEO and some board members (New York Times).
PAPA JOHN’S: A Memphis couple has been sentenced to a combined 30-plus years in federal prison for robbing a Papa John’s and multiple other businesses across Memphis in May and June last year (Fox 13 Memphis).
AMAZON: Three years after it started opening distribution centers in Texas as part of a settlement with the state over the collection of sales taxes, Amazon says it will open its eighth major shipping facility in the state. It will be in Coppell, 22 miles northwest of Dallas; an existing center there employs about 1,000 workers. Two more are under construction in San Marcos and Houston (Dallas Morning News and press release). The retailer employs 6,000 in the Louisville area at centers in Jeffersonville and Shepardsville; more about the company here.
Amazon is expanding its bricks-and-mortar footprint across the United States, undeterred by the fact many physical bookstores have been struggling for years. It’s adding stores in Chicago, San Diego, and Portland, Ore., after opening its first last year in its Seattle hometown. The Chicago store is to open next year (Financial Times).
TEXAS ROADHOUSE founder and CEO Kent Taylor sold $6.9 million of company stock at a hair more than $46 a share Tuesday through yesterday, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Taylor still owns 4.2 million shares worth $192 million at TXRH shares‘ closing price this afternoon of $45.47.
TACO BELL: In San Jose, Calif., a one-day-old baby boy was in critical condition at a South Bay hospital early this morning, after his 18-year-old mother died in a car accident Wednesday. Both the victim, Dulce Capetillo, and the infant’s father, her fiancé Pedro Cortes, were Taco Bell employees working the late shift. Capetillo’s brother was driving her to pick up Cortes at the Taco Bell where he worked. “I just can’t imagine the pain he is going through right now,” said Taco Bell area supervisor Jose Gonzalez. South Bay Taco Bells now have donation boxes in honor of Dulce; the company plans to match customer donations. And a GoFundMe page is also in place to help with funeral costs (ABC 7).
In Toledo, Ohio, a sheriff’s deputy has been fired after making what were considered inappropriate Facebook posts about Taco Bell employees he said had made vulgar remarks about him.
Deputy Thomas Hillenbrand, 57, a 19-year employee, was canned Wednesday. His Facebook post July 23 said a black employee and a co-worker inside the restaurant yelled “Black lives matter,” and laughed at him while he was in his car in the drive-thru. The deputy was in uniform at the time.
PIZZA HUT: Using Bluetooth to connect a computer or smartphone, the playable cardboard decks mix digital music using a special conductive ink design from printed electronics specialist Novalia, according to Digital Spy. (Watch DJ Vectra demo it in the video, above.) Starting today, the pizza maker is offering them in a promotion rolling out via the @PizzaHutUK Twitter feed, where it will announce which of only five restaurants will have one box each. The decks feature two turntables, a cross-fader, pitch volumes, cue buttons and the ability to rewind music, all like traditional mixers. What’s a deck?
Watch DJ Vectra demo it in the video, above; he’s playing “P Money 10/10,” according to music and media identification app Shazam.
Today’s promo will surely boost U.K.’s Twitter traffic. Right now, its feed has 53,700 followers. The U.S. site has far, far more: 1.46 million; how other companies’ Twitter count compares. Pizza Hut teased customers about the cardboard gadget via Twitter yesterday:
Can you guess what this is? Check back tomorrow for a chance to get your hands on this world exclusive 😉🍕🎶 pic.twitter.com/DxlflRugKG
HAIER, which bought GE Appliances in June, is pumping about $10 million into 9KaCha, a Chinese wine information app and e-commerce platform whose database and label recognition software will power its new smart wine cooler. It’s unclear whether the cooler will be offered in the U.S. (China Money Network and Decanter China).
HUMANA: Insurance companies “keep pretending” that participating in the Affordable Care Act exchanges is killing their business model, says Haider Javed Warraich, a cardiovascular disease fellow at Duke University’s Medical Center, in a Guardian newspaper column today. Humana merger partner Aetna was the latest, announcing late Monday it will withdraw from 70% of the Obamacare exchange markets where it operates by next year, including 10 Kentucky counties. Humana disclosed a similar pullback earlier this month. But, Warraich writes, “this corporate hardship story couldn’t be further from the truth. Aetna’s overall profits surged last year, and its share prices have risen consistently since the ACA passed in 2010” (Guardian).