West Point Market has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing in large part significant revenue loss caused by delays in opening an on-site bakery.
The specialty family-owned supermarket filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday morning, court documents show.
The store relocated in 2016 to a new building off Shiawassee Avenue in Fairlawn after decades of operation in Akron’s Wallhaven neighborhood.
The bankruptcy filing says the supermarket expects to continue to remain open while reorganizing and will come out of the process “as a strong and viable company.”
Owner Richard Vernon said he anticipates the court process should last no longer than six months.
“Our main goal is to keep operating and keep everybody employed,” he said.
Vernon also said that while a critical on-site bakery has been delayed, it could be up and running in perhaps three weeks pending permit approval and final inspection.
“All the equipment’s in and installed,” he said.
Customers should not notice any changes in the store while the Chapter 11 process is underway other than when the in-store bakery begins producing West Point Market’s signature breads, pies, brownies and other goods, Vernon said.
All of the store’s 25 employees have been told about the bankruptcy filing, Vernon said. They will continue to be paid and receive benefits, according to a court filing.
“They took it well. We’re a team here,” Vernon said. Some of the store employees have been with the business for 30 years, he said.
The supermarket is leasing about 10,000 square feet of space at its new location.
Delays hurt finances
According to the bankruptcy court documents, “the trigger towards bankruptcy for the debtor [West Point Market of Akron LLC] can best be described as a series of unfortunate events and delays beyond the debtor’s control.”
The early triggers included a contractor that left in July 2016 while construction was underway of the Fairlawn location, the court documents show. That delayed the opening of the full market by five months, past “the usually lucrative holiday season in 2016,” the filing said. In addition, West Point Market paid $120,000 to its employees over that period “without any revenue to support the cost.”
Most recently, West Point Market said it submitted plans for an on-site bakery in July 2017 to the Summit County health department and obtained loans for the project.
The county health department then said it needed new drawings showing additional work not in the original plans, resulting in permits not being issued until Dec. 27, 2017, the court filing says. (The county health department is a separate entity and not under the county executive.)
The court filing says the market is still waiting for bakery-related permits to be granted by the county.
“In the face of these many delays, the debtor’s revenues have suffered,” the court filing says. “The debtor estimates the lack of an on-site bakery is costing $10,000 to $15,000 in sales per week. Thus the debtor’s debt burden is unsustainable.”
Opening the bakery is the third of five phases in the market’s long-term business plan. The fourth step is the building of an on-site kitchen, with the fifth phase opening a second store.
West Point Market is leasing kitchen space from the Akron Women’s City Club to make its baked goods and ready-to-eat foods.
A court hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday in the Ralph Regula Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Canton, where the West Point Market will petition for permission to keep operating.
The bankruptcy petition estimates West Point Market has between 100 and 199 creditors. Filings show that liabilities exceed assets by slightly more than $540,000.
West Point Market of Akron is owned entirely by Vernon. He is the third-generation owner; the market was founded in 1936.
Vernon closed the long-standing Wallhaven store in December 2015. The Fairlawn site opened on a limited basis in December 2016.
The former West Point Market building was demolished to make room for a shopping plaza anchored by a Whole Foods 365 market.
SummaCare has completed its big move down East Market Street to a new headquarters in the former Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. headquarters.
The Akron-based health insurance plan, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, has moved from its home for the last 20 years at North Main and West Market streets.
SummaCare becomes the first office tenant — and the largest — in the renovated building that housed Goodyear until 2013, when the tire company built a new headquarters around the corner. A charter school, ICAN, also has been operating in the former headquarters.
The new SummaCare location also creates a “medical corridor” on Market Street with Summa’s Akron City Hospital campus nearby.
“We’re so excited to stay in Akron,” said Anne Armao, SummaCare vice president of marketing, Medicare and individual products. “We helped revitalize Main and Market. Just by moving a little farther east to East Market, we’re helping to revitalize [the] Middlebury [section of Akron], which the mayor is very interested in.”
Movers spent the last three weekends relocating groups of employees from the five-story building at 10 N. Main St. to the new location at 1200 E. Market St.
The previous location on the site of the former Portage Hotel served the insurer well, but was too big for its needs, said SummaCare President Dennis Pijor. The company is going from about 88,000 square feet to 65,000 square feet in The East End development.
“We are proud beyond words,” Pijor said of the company’s new home. “This is an incredible milestone for the company. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate SummaCare’s 25th anniversary than with our dedicated employees in a great new location in an area of town that is truly on an upswing.”
SummaCare celebrated the move with a ribbon-cutting event Wednesday morning, attended by executives from the insurance company, its parent Summa Health and city and county officials. SummaCare officials also unveiled a new logo for the wholly owned subsidiary, which complements a recently redesigned logo for Summa Health.
Carol Smith, senior vice president and director of development services for the East End’s developer, Industrial Realty Group, also known as IRG, said, “We are extremely grateful that a tenant with such a long standing history in Akron has chosen the East End Offices as their new home.”
Smith said there is about 400,000 square feet of space remaining in its East End office complex. “There are multiple other prospective tenants interested in the building. There have been over eight showings within the last two weeks,” she said.
The office complex also will have a cafe that will be available for the employees and their guests and a fitness facility available for office tenants’ use.
Across the street, the former Goodyear Hall has 105 apartment units, which are over 92 percent leased, and a theater with seating for 1,500 and a 20,000-square-foot gym that is being used by Rubber City Sports.
Smith said there also is a barbershop and “we are pursuing a micro brewery and other locally owned restaurants for our remaining space in the former Goodyear Hall complex.”
For SummaCare, going into a newly renovated space allowed the insurer to get all of its employees on one floor, instead of five, and group employees and departments that work together often near each other, Pijor said.
“Since we were just moving in, we put people close to their working relationships,” he said.
The company has 300 employees — about 250 are in the new headquarters and 40 customer service representatives work out of Summa Health’s Gorge Boulevard headquarters to combine operations with Summa’s call center. Additionally, during open enrollment season in the fall, when customers are signing up for their health-care benefits for the next year, SummaCare typically hires about 20 seasonal employees.
SummaCare serves about 73,000 members throughout Ohio, including 24,000 Medicare Advantage customers. The insurer has commercial plan members in about 20 counties in the state and 31 counties with Medicare.
The company is back on track to profitability for 2018 after some challenging years, said Pijor.
SummaCare was under sanctions in 2014 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for violations in the way it handled consumer appeals and grievances. The sanctions were lifted within six months, “but there have been some lingering effects of the sanctions,” Pijor said. The company was profitable in 2016, but in 2017 lost money because it still was paid as a 3.5 star-rated plan (out of 5) instead of a 4-star plan because Medicare reimbursements lag, he said.
The company is back to being a 4.5-star plan and has a strong balance sheet, he said.
“All of those things are behind us and we are looking forward to a real positive fall,” Pijor said.
Akron Public Schools purchased the former SummaCare building from owner Signet LLC and as part of a land swap between the city, the county and United Way of Summit County for several properties and parking downtown. The district will consolidate its two administrative buildings into the new location at Main and Market streets while keeping ownership of the administrative buildings.
SummaCare has been leasing the building from the schools since the purchase was completed in April and will completely vacate the property by the end of the month.
The school district plans to occupy its new home sometime between October and December after renovations are complete, said school spokesman Mark Williamson.
There are no plans yet for either of the school’s administrative buildings — the existing administration building, known as the Sylvester Small Administration Building at 70 N. Broadway, or the Conrad C. Ott Building at 65 Steiner Ave., Williamson said.
Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty
Lands’ End is looking to open retail stores throughout Ohio.
Cincinnati-based Anchor Associates and its affiliate Anchor Cleveland said it has been retained to help with the expansion in the Buckeye State.
The Dodgeville, Wisc.-based clothing retailer has announced plans to open 40 to 60 stores across the country in the next five years.
“While many retailers are closing brick-and-mortar stores and focusing on Internet sales, Lands’ End is expanding its customers’ options for in-person shopping experiences,” Greg Meyer of Anchor Associates said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to being part of this great retailer’s growth.”
The family leadership at Akron-based GOJO Industries is passing the mantle to the third generation and first female solo top leader.
On Wednesday, Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, a third-generation member of the Lippman-Kanfer family, became executive chair of the 72-year-old family business, maker and inventor of Purell. She has been vice chair since 2007 and has co-led the business with her father, Joe Kanfer and the GOJO leadership team.
In her new role, the 46-year-old Akron-area native and Revere High School graduate will focus on ensuring “that the conditions are in place for continued sustainable competitive advantage,” the company said in a prepared statement.
Joe Kanfer, 71, will move from CEO and board chair to the role of chair and venturer. In that role, “he will mentor, coach and help shape GOJO strategy in partnership with Kanfer Rolnick and other GOJO leaders,” the company said.
Mark Lerner, who has been with the company for 32 years, will remain president and chief operating officer in charge of the company’s day-to-day operations. There will be no CEO.
GOJO employs more than 2,500 employees worldwide, with more than 1,600 employees in Northeast Ohio.
Kanfer took over GOJO when he was 24 in the mid-1970s from his mentor and confidant, his late uncle Jerry Lippman.
Lippman started the company with his wife, Goldie, in 1946 after they invented a product to clean rubber factory workers’ hands.
In a phone interview, Kanfer Rolnick said she was “very honored, humbled and excited to take this mantle of responsibility.”
Joe Kanfer called the leadership change a “significant moment in GOJO history and for the Kanfer family.”
“I could not be more proud and excited to enter the next stage of our family’s leadership,” he said. “Just as I was a confidant and partner to my uncle Jerry Lippman, Marcella has been my confidant and partner for nearly her whole life. When she was a child, we talked business every evening around our family dinner table, and our partnership continued through daily phone calls when she was a student at Princeton University and later while earning an MBA at Stanford University. Over the last 10 years — in her expanded role as GOJO vice chair — Marcella has been my colleague and critical shaper of our strategic direction.”
Both Kanfer and Kanfer Rolnick said they believe GOJO has been gender blind for years and has emphasized employees’ abilities. “We’ve had female plant managers … including an LGBT woman who was our plant manager in the middle 1950s and not many can say that,” Kanfer said.
Still, Kanfer, who has touted the importance of Akron’s top leaders being diverse in gender and race, said having his daughter take over makes him proud.
“To have the next generation of family leadership be in the family and be a woman is absolutely great,” he said.
Kanfer Rolnick said “it’s exciting to be a female leader in our industry and it’s great to be a role model for other working moms.”
The mother of four said her 11-year-old son already has asked about the next generation of leadership. Her 13-year-old son regularly attends board and customer dinners.
Kanfer Rolnick is the eldest of Joe Kanfer’s four children. Her sister, Mamie Kanfer Stewart, along with running a consultancy business, regularly attends board meetings as a board observer. Other family members are involved in the Kanfer Family Enterprise and its businesses and philanthropies, of which GOJO is the largest piece.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan called Kanfer “a model CEO” and said the move “will enable Joe to continue to devote his significant talents to the causes and opportunities that are most meaningful to him and most impactful to the public.”
Horrigan also said: “I’m confident that Marcella has the skills, experience and vision to lead GOJO into its next chapter. She shares the values and vision of the family business to not only create products that serve the needs of the public, but to invest in GOJO’s workforce and brand in ways that strengthen and grow the organization. I look forward to working closely with Marcella as she assumes this new role and am thrilled that GOJO will be joining the ranks of other esteemed female-led organizations in Akron.”
GAR Foundation President Christine Mayer, who was in Kanfer Rolnick’s Leadership Akron class 10 years ago, said she was thrilled to hear the news.
“Marcella in my experience is truly one of the brightest leaders I’ve ever met,” Mayer said.
Virginia Addicott, president and CEO of FedEx Custom Critical, who has often found the landscape lonesome for fellow women in local corporate leadership over the years, also welcomed the announcement.
“I am thrilled to hear that Marcella will be taking the lead at GOJO,” she said. “I look forward to working with her in the Akron community and seeing her continue Joe’s legacy of innovation.
Kanfer Rolnick helped launch the company’s Purell Hand Sanitizer in the consumer market and then established the company’s initial e-business capability and digital strategy in the late 1990s. She also worked outside the family enterprise at a strategy consulting firm, multimedia publisher and boutique investment company before returning to GOJO to take on an expanded role. In addition to her role at GOJO, Marcella oversees Walnut Ridge, a holding company that manages the Kanfer Family investments and philanthropic interests.
While Kanfer Rolnick and her family live in Brooklyn, N.Y., she travels to Akron at least once a month, is active with GOJO on a daily basis and has said she feels very connected to her Akron community.
Bill Considine, CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital, said the choice of Kanfer Rolnick shows GOJO’s commitments to its roots.
“GOJO Industries is a local company that understands the importance of leadership and the value of engaging in the community,” said Bill Considine, “Joe Kanfer has led his Akron-based, family-owned company to world-class status. We wish him well as he transitions into his new role and look forward to working with Marcella Kanfer Rolnick as she takes the helm of GOJO as executive chair.”
For Kanfer, retirement has never been a word he used.
In a 2011 interview, Kanfer said he was beginning to move away from day-to-day operations and Kanfer Rolnick would eventually succeed him as board chair. But retirement “is not a word that is meaningful to me. What I want to do is coach and enrich and mentor people,” he said at the time.
Staff writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty
FirstEnergy Corp. is fighting back against fraudsters who pose as utility bill collectors in a short documentary that the Akron-based company has posted on YouTube.
The video, Hang Up, Don’t Pay Up: When a Scammer Calls, features two business owners contacted by phone scammers impersonating FirstEnergy electric company employees, and provides tips for avoiding scams.
The con artists claimed the businesses had unpaid electric bills and threatened to shut off power if an immediate payment was not made. In both cases, the perpetrators used a common scam called “spoofing” in which the scammer’s phone number was falsified so the caller ID appeared to be a legitimate call, complete with an automated voice menu that mimicked that of their electric company.
The video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO1Hwnig31Q.
Last year, the company said in a news release, FirstEnergy’s utilities received 959 reports of scams from customers — more than twice the number of reports received in 2016.
“Scammers can be very convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, like senior citizens or business owners who rely on electric service to run their business and make a living,” said Gary W. Grant, vice president of customer service for FirstEnergy Utilities. “We want others to hear directly from victims of attempted utility scams, in hopes they’ll learn how to spot a scam in the future. Most important, if you ever receive a call demanding immediate payment to your electric utility, hang up, don’t pay up.”
The actual number of scam attempts is likely much higher because most are only reported to law enforcement or go unreported.
FirstEnergy also provided guidance for how customers can expect the company to reach out in cases where it is legitimately seeking payment:
• Customers with past-due accounts will receive a written notice of their account status, with instructions on how to avoid disconnection of service.
• When making courtesy calls to customers with overdue balances, FirstEnergy representatives explain how a payment can be made using the established payment options and do not demand payment over the phone or at a particular physical location.
• FirstEnergy field collectors — carrying company-issued photo identification — will offer customers with past-due accounts the opportunity to pay their bill in person before shutting them off. (Except in Pennsylvania).
• The utility does not accept prepaid debit cards or wire transfers as payment, and its representatives will not demand bank or credit card information over the phone.
Customers who suspect a scam should hang up the phone or close the door, and call the local police, then FirstEnergy. They should never dial the phone number the scammers provide, FirstEnergy advises.
“We encourage customers to contact us directly using the phone number listed on our website and on their billing statement if they need to verify the status of their electric account or confirm the identity of a FirstEnergy employee,” said Grant. “When in doubt, always give us a call.”
FirstEnergy also warned that the return of warmer weather means residential and business customers should also be on alert for door-to-door visits from scammers who demand immediate payment to avoid service disconnection.
Although the scammers work year-round, they are most active in the winter and summer months, when people cannot go without heat or air conditioning.
When in doubt, customers should call FirstEnergy’s Contact Center at 800-633-4766 to verify the status of their account or to confirm the identity of employees.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. reported Wednesday that first-quarter net income fell by 55 percent compared to a year ago — even as sales rose.
The Akron tire maker said net income was $75 million, or 31 cents per share, down from $166 million, or 65 cents per share, a year ago. Adjusted net income was $122 million, or 50 cents per share, compared to $189 million, or 74 cents per share, last year.
The company reported operating income of $281 million in 2018, down from $390 million a year ago.
First-quarter sales rose 4 percent to $3.8 billion.
“We are pleased with our first-quarter results given higher raw material costs and weaker demand than we expected in the quarter,” Goodyear Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Richard J. Kramer said in a prepared statement. “These results were highlighted by our performance in the 17-inch-and-larger segment in consumer replacement, which delivered more than double the industry growth in the U.S. and Europe.”
Parking at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is about to get more expensive.
In a joint news release with the city of Cleveland, the airport announced that it will increase the fee for all of its non-valet parking rates by $2 beginning May 1.
Airport Director Robert Kennedy said the price adjustment will help to lower the facility’s overall operating costs, making it more attractive to new air carriers and for airlines considering expanding nonstop route options.
Curbside valet parking will continue to be offered for $25 per day.
Here are the rest of the new daily parking rates that go into effect next month:
• CLE Smart Parking Garage: $20.
• Red lot: $18.
• Blue lot: $16.
• Orange lot: $15
• Brown lot: $11.
NEW YORK: Starbucks, trying to tamp down a racially charged uproar over the arrest of two black men at one of its stores in Philadelphia, plans to close more than 8,000 U.S. stores for several hours next month to conduct racial-bias training for nearly 175,000 workers.
The announcement Tuesday comes after the arrests sparked protests and calls for a boycott on social media. A video shows police talking with two black men seated at a table. After a few minutes, officers handcuff the men and lead them outside as other customers say they weren’t doing anything wrong. Philadelphia-area media said the two were waiting for a friend.
Starbucks, which once urged its employees to start conversations about race with customers, found itself through the looking glass, under fire for its treatment of black people.
The company reacted from a high level: Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called the arrests “reprehensible” and said he wanted to apologize to the two men face to face. The company and a lawyer for the two men said they did meet, and Johnson delivered the apology. Starbucks also said the employee who called police no longer works at the store, but declined to give details.
Johnson had also promised to revamp store management training to include the “unconscious-bias” training. Starbucks said Tuesday the company-owned stores and corporate offices will be closed on the afternoon of May 29 for the training. In addition to the company-owned stores, Starbucks had as of January about 5,700 licensed stores in the United States, such as the ones inside Target and Barnes & Noble stores.
The company said the training is “designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”
The episode highlights the risks large corporations run when they tie their brands so closely to social messaging. In 2015, then-CEO Howard Schultz shrugged off the ridicule that the “Race Together” message drew and pressed on with his public efforts to engage in the debate over race in America. Johnson was scrambling to keep the Philadelphia incident from shattering the message that Starbucks is a corporation that stands for something beyond profit.
“The more your brand is trying to connect emotionally to people, the more hurt people feel when these kinds of things happen,” said Jacinta Gauda, the head of the Gauda Group, a New York strategic communications firm affiliated with the Grayling network. “They are breaking a promise. That’s what makes it hurt deeper.”
Beyond racial relations, Starbucks has staked much of its brand on its dual promise of providing good customer service and treating its employees well, said John Gordon, a restaurant industry analyst with Pacific Management Consulting Group. The Seattle-based company has a reputation for well-managed stores, “a point of difference that allows them to sell primarily drinks and coffees that have a higher cost,” he said.
But in a multinational company with more than 28,000 stores worldwide, there has “to be a situation every day where some human being handles things wrong. You can’t have that many employees and not have something stupid happen,” Gordon said. “Even with a huge operations manual that lays out what to say and what to do, you can’t cover everything.”
Still, Starbucks has set its own high bar.
Last month, the company claimed it had achieved 100 percent pay equity across gender and race for all its U.S. employees and committed to doing the same for its overseas operations, an initiative publicly backed by equality activist Billie Jean King. The company also touts the diversity of its workforce, saying minorities comprise more than 40 percent of its employees in the U.S.
In 2016, Starbucks promised to invest in 15 “underserved” communities across the country, trying to counter an image of a company catering to a mostly white clientele. One of those stores opened in Ferguson, Missouri, the scene of the 2014 protests that erupted following the police shooting of Michael Brown, one of several such killings that moved Schultz to launch the Race Together campaign.
Those efforts were in stark contrast to the video that went viral over the weekend. The hashtag (hash)BoycottStarbucks trended on Twitter, and protesters took over the Philadelphia shop, chanting slogans like, “A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black.”
“I watched the video, which was hard to watch,” Johnson said. “That is not what Starbucks is about. That is not representative of our mission, our values and our guiding principles.”
Gauda, who has developed workplace inclusion and diversity strategies for corporate clients, cautioned that any unconscious-bias training should not be treated as “special subject” but incorporated as a core part of its employee training. She warned Starbucks against treating Philadelphia as a one-off affair, urging the company to investigate whether there were any warning signs.
“I would suspect that this particular issue is something that has occurred before,” Gauda said. “The company is in crisis mode now, but they should not look at this as an isolated issue.”
Gauda and other corporate communications experts said they were impressed that Johnson immediately took a hands-on approach to addressing the crisis, saying his efforts would pay off in an age where corporations are under the glare of social media.
“I’m actually surprised he is handling it the way a CEO should be handling it. He went in head first and he took the blame for it,” said M.J. McCallum, vice president and creative director of Muse Communications, an advertising and communications agency with an African-American focus. “I definitely applaud that. Most people won’t jump on the bomb.”
“Starbucks has a great reputation. They stand for a better culture. They have stores in inner cities,” McCallum said. “I think he realizes what this one incident can do for his brand.”
In a pairing of two Akron-rooted rivals that would have been unthinkable in another era, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and Bridgestone Americas Inc. said Monday they are teaming up to form one of the largest tire distribution joint ventures in the country.
The companies said in a joint news release issued after the close of business Monday that the new TireHub LLC, based in Atlanta, will combine their respective U.S. wholesale tire distribution networks.
No cash will be exchanged in the deal, and the estimated “fair value” of the 50-50 joint venture is expected to be about $600 million, Goodyear said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The estimated startup cost of TireHub is about $40 million and will be shared equally by Akron-based Goodyear and Bridgestone, Goodyear said in the filing.
The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in June.
The transaction will allow Bridgestone, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., and Goodyear to grow their respective tire businesses and “capture enhanced value for their brands,” the companies said in the news release.
The companies noted that the joint venture will provide U.S. tire dealers and retailers with a range of passenger and light truck tires from two of the world’s leading tire companies.
TireHub will also have “an emphasis on satisfying rapidly growing demand for larger rim diameter premium tires,” the companies said in the news release.
TireHub will combine Goodyear’s company-owned wholesale distribution network with Bridgestone-owned Tire Wholesale Warehouse (TWW).
When it launches, TireHub will be able to reach the vast majority of retail locations in the United States daily.
TireHub initially will have more than 80 distribution centers and will be managed by an independent management team let by CEO Peter Gibbons, who has worked in senior leadership roles at Mattel and Starbucks.
While Bridgestone Americas is headquartered in Nashville, its roots are in Akron.
Bridgestone acquired Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in 1988. Firestone, founded in Akron in 1900, two years after Goodyear was started, moved its headquarters from Akron to Chicago in 1987.
In 1989, Bridgestone moved Firestone headquarters back to Akron and in 1992, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. moved its corporate headquarters from Akron to Nashville, Tenn.
Research and technical workers remained in South Akron, along with IndyCar racing tire manufacturing.
The new distribution company will complement both companies’ networks of existing third-party distributors and provide a “superior, fully integrated distribution, warehousing, sales and delivery solution immediately following completion of the transaction,” the companies said.
“It’s critical for U.S. tire dealers and retailers to be able to get the right tires on time to meet the needs and expectations of their customers,” said TJ Higgins, president of the integrated consumer tire group, U.S. and Canada, for Bridgestone Americas, in the news release.
“With the ability to deliver the full portfolio of Goodyear products and a dedicated focus on driving logistics and customer service excellence, TireHub creates a winning proposition” for Goodyear, its customers and its retail outlets and consumers, Steve McClellan, president of Goodyear Americas, said in the news release.
Goodyear said in the SEC filing the joint venture is expected to generate an incremental $80 million to $100 million in annual segment operating income in 2019 and 2020 versus 2018.
News of the joint venture comes after Michelin North America Inc. and Sumitomo Corp. of Americas revealed an agreement in January to combine their North American distribution operations in a similar joint venture.
The companies said at the time that their joint venture was the second-largest player in the wholesale tire market in the United States.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or [email protected].
U.S. News & World Report once again snubbed the Akron metropolitan area in its annual rankings of the Best Places to Live in the United States.
The report mashed Akron with Cleveland, as it did the previous two years.
The combined Cleveland-Akron was ranked 104th out of 125 areas this year. The Cleveland-Akron area tumbled from 84th the previous year.
“U.S. News created the Best Places to Live to highlight areas across the country that have the characteristics residents are looking for, including steady job growth and affordability,” U.S. News Executive Editor Kim Castro said in a prepared statement. “The top-ranked places are areas where citizens can feel the most fulfilled socially, physically and financially.”
U.S. News used a public survey, along with data from the U.S. Census Bureau, FBI and Bureau of Labor Statistics, and its own research to score communities on affordability, job prospects and quality of life.
The top five this year are:
• Austin, Texas.
• Colorado Springs, Colo.
• Des Moines, Iowa.
• Fayetteville, Ark.
In Ohio, Columbus was the top-rated community at 36th, followed by Cincinnati (49th), Dayton (82nd), Toledo (102nd), Cleveland and Youngstown (108th).
To see all the rankings, go online to: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/rankings/best-places-to-live
NEW YORK: Facebook said it would begin notifying users Monday if their data has been swept up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, although it appears to be taking its time.
The 87 million users who might have had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica were supposed to get a detailed message on their news feeds starting on Monday. Facebook says more than 70 million of the affected users are in the U.S., though there are over a million each in the Philippines, Indonesia and the U.K.
As of 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time, however, there were no signs that any users have yet received that notification or a more general one Facebook said it would direct to everyone on its service. Associated Press reporters around the world have been surveying users, none of whom have reported seeing anything from Facebook. There appear to be no social media reports of notifications, and Facebook had no immediate comment on the matter.
Reeling from its worst privacy crisis in history — allegations that this Trump-affiliated data mining firm may have used ill-gotten user data to try to influence elections — Facebook is in full damage-control mode. CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that he made a “huge mistake” in failing to take a broad enough view of what Facebook’s responsibility is in the world. He’s set to testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In prepared remarks released by a House committee, Zuckerberg said the company has notified all users affected in the scandal. Since the remarks are for Wednesday morning, this means everyone who was affected should see a message by then.
Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie previously estimated that more than 50 million people were compromised by a personality quiz that collected data from users and their friends. In an interview aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Wylie said the true number could be even larger than 87 million.
That Facebook app, called “This is Your Digital Life,” was a personality quiz created in 2014 by an academic researcher named Aleksander Kogan, who paid about 270,000 people to take it. The app vacuumed up not just the data of the people who took it, but also — thanks to Facebook’s loose restrictions — data from their friends, too, including details that they hadn’t intended to share publicly.
Facebook later limited the data apps can access, but it was too late in this case.
Zuckerberg said Facebook came up with the 87 million figure by calculating the maximum number of friends that users could have had while Kogan’s app was collecting data. The company doesn’t have logs going back that far, he said, so it can’t know exactly how many people may have been affected.
Cambridge Analytica said in a statement last Wednesday that it had data for only 30 million Facebook users.
Facebook has also suspended two more apps in recent days because they might have misused people’s data, adding to a growing list of firms being investigated by the social media company.
Facebook said CubeYou, a firm associated with the University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre, will be suspended after CNBC notified Facebook that CubeYou was collecting information about users through quizzes.
According to CNBC, CubeYou labeled its quizzes “for non-profit academic research” then shared user information with marketers. CNBC says CubeYou denies misusing data.
On Saturday, Facebook said it suspended AggregateIQ, a Canadian political consulting firm, amid media reports it had ties to Cambridge Analytica.
Work is underway this week on an $8.5 million project to improve the energy efficiency of the 23-story PNC Center in downtown Akron.
A 25,000-pound aging chiller is being removed by a massive crane and replaced with a more efficient unit to ease the building’s dependence on natural gas. After that, workers will do the same for two equally enormous boilers, also relics from 1968.
The project, which also includes new lighting and other energy-efficient upgrades, is the first of its kind for the way it is be funded.
The Development Finance Authority of Summit County (DFA), formerly known as the Summit County Port Authority, is issuing bonds with the blessing of state law and approval from locally elected leaders. The bond sales, which will cover the project, will then be repaid over the next 18 years at an average rate of about $477,000 annually attached to the skyscraper’s property tax bill.
It’s called property-assessed clean energy financing, and Ohio is one of 28 states to allow it. City and county officials worked with DFA to bring it to Summit County last year.
DETROIT: The U.S. government’s road safety agency says it has received allegations that defective Goodyear motor home tires caused crashes that killed or injured 95 people over a decade.
The allegations were revealed in an information-seeking letter sent to Goodyear by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Last year, the agency began investigating whether Goodyear’s G159 tires are unsafe. The probe began after a judge ordered the release of Goodyear data that had been sealed under court orders and settlement agreements.
Lawsuits and safety advocates allege the tires were designed for delivery trucks and not for recreational vehicles that travel at highway speeds.
Goodyear says it received the letter and will provide the requested information on the tires.
The investigation covers about 40,000 tires made from 1996 to 2003.
The J.M. Smucker Co. is spending nearly $2 billion to add Rachael Ray to its pet food holdings while also looking at divesting its U.S. baking business that includes Pillsbury, Hungry Jack and other brands.
The Orrville company on Wednesday said it has an agreement to buy Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, which makes the Rachael Ray Nutrish brand. Smucker said the cash deal is valued at $1.9 billion, with final costs at $1.7 billion after an estimated tax benefit of $200 million.
The Nutrish brand accounts for about two thirds of Ainsworth Pet Nutrition’s sales.
The announcement was made after the stock market closed. The deal, expected to close shortly after the company’s fiscal year begins May 1, adds to Smucker’s pet food holdings in what the company said is a $30 billion annual “center of the store” market.
J.M. Smucker’s other pet food brands include Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, Kibbles ‘n Bits, Natural Balance, and 9Lives. The company first added pet foods to its portfolio in a $5.8 billion deal in 2015 to buy Big Heart Pet Brands.
Smucker faced criticism earlier this year when it withdrew some shipments of dog food because they could contain traces of a drug, pentobarbital, used to euthanize animals.
Ainsworth is expected to add about $800 million in annual revenue and $110 million in annual earnings to J.M. Smucker in its first full year after the deal, the company said in its announcement.
“Ainsworth Pet Nutrition is an excellent strategic fit for our company, as the Rachael Ray Nutrish brand adds another high-growth, on-trend brand to our pet food portfolio,” Mark Smucker, chief executive officer, said in a news release.
Nutrish is one of the most recognizable premium pet food brands in the United States, Smucker said. Ray, 49, is a celebrity businesswoman, author, talk-show host and cook.
Ainsworth is a privately held company based in Pennsylvania with about 700 employees and manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania and Kansas.
Also Wednesday, J.M. Smucker said it is reviewing strategic options, “including a potential divestiture,” for its U.S. baking business, including its factory Toledo. The business accounts for about $370 million in annual revenue.
The review is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of the company’s 2019 fiscal year that starts May 1.
The U.S. baking brands include Pillsbury, Martha White, Hungry Jack, White Lily and Jim Dandy.
“Pillsbury, Hungry Jack, and Martha White remain iconic brands, and this well-run business has been a solid contributor to our financial performance over the years,” Smucker said. “However, our current strategic priorities include an increased emphasis and allocation of resources toward growing our coffee, pet, and snacking food businesses.”
Smucker’s Canada-based baking brands, including Carnation and Eagle Brand, are not part of the review.
Last month, J.M. Smucker called off its proposed $285 million purchase of the Wesson oils brand after the Federal Trade Commission said the purchase would create a monopoly. Smucker owns the Crisco oils brand.
Reporter Jim Mackinnon covers business and county government. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or [email protected].
An unknown number of job applicants to a division of Summa Health at the former Barberton Citizens Hospital are part of a national data breach of some sensitive personal information.
FastHealth Corporation, a Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based company which provides health care clients with operational and website services, has reported that an unauthorized third-party may have accessed or acquired information from FastHealth databases, including names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers.
FastHealth was a contracted vendor for a Summa Health division called LabCare Plus. In 2005, the then-Barberton Citizens Hospital had contracted with FastHealth to provide website services for the hospital relating to LabCare Plus job applications.
It is unclear how many potential local LabCare Plus job applicants’ data was breached. Summa spokesman Jim Gosky said since the breach is part of a “very large breach with multiple databases and multiple organizations impacted, we don’t have a specific number that we can give you with 100 percent certainty.”
Affected job applicants whose personal information was contained in the database should be notified by FastHealth and provided credit monitoring as a precaution, he said. No patient information was part of the breach, Gosky said.
Gosky referred questions seeking more details to FastHealth. Gosky said he could not disclose whether FastHealth is still a contractor for the health system.
Multiple calls to FastHealth’s corporate offices were not returned for more information.
Gosky said even though the data breach was for a time before Summa acquired the operations of LabCare Plus, “Summa Health takes the security and confidentiality of any personal data very seriously, and as such, we felt the notifications and credit monitoring were necessary.”
FastHealth can be reached at 833-215-3730 for more information on the breach.
John Simms of Akron received a letter about the breach. Simms, who does information technology work for the Beacon Journal, said he applied to LabCorp in 2006 before he was hired at the Beacon Journal.
When he phoned FastHealth about the breach, he was told 356 hospitals nationwide had their information compromised.
“I’m angry that they have my information from 12 years ago still in their server,” he said.
Simms is also unhappy that, according to the letter he received from FastHealth, the company was notified of the breach in November of last year. An investigation was complete by January and it still took two months for FastHealth to notify victims.
Simms said he was never called for an interview for the job.
Simms said he is leery of sharing his Social Security number to the company providing free credit monitoring.
He does not have a credit freeze, but said he would consider placing one with the major credit bureaus.
Medical writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected]. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or http://www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at http://www.ohio.com/betty
NEW YORK: Stocks tumbled Monday after China raised import duties on a number of U.S. exports, bringing the two economic giants closer to a full-on trade conflict. Big technology companies, long investor favorites, suffered heavy losses.
The deepening worries over newly protectionist U.S. trade policies combined with blowback toward technology companies, including Facebook’s ever-widening privacy scandal, have prompted investors to pull money out of the market. That has meant steep drops in former big winners including Netflix, Microsoft and Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Among other recent winners, Intel dove 6.1 percent following a report in Bloomberg News that Apple plans to start using its own chips in Mac computers, and Amazon sank following more broadsides from President Donald Trump on Twitter.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 758 points, although major indexes regained some of their losses later in the afternoon. The Dow lost 458.92 points, or 1.9 percent, to 23,644.19. The S&P 500 index gave up 58.99 points, or 2.2 percent, to 2,581.88.
The Nasdaq composite slumped 193.33 points, or 2.7 percent, to 6,870.12. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 36.90 points, or 2.4 percent, to 1,492.53.
Kate Warne, an investment strategist for Edward Jones, said the step by China is small but significant.
“The fact that a country has actually raised tariffs in retaliation is an important step in the wrong direction,” she said. “The tariffs imposed by China today lead to greater worries that we will see escalating tariffs and the possibility of a much bigger impact than investors were anticipating last week. And that could be true for Mexico as well as for China.”
Food maker Tyson dropped 6.2 percent after China raised import duties on a $3 billion list of U.S. goods in response to the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum Trump ordered last month.
Amazon fell another 5.2 percent. The online retailer has slumped with the market recently, although it’s still up about 17 percent in 2018. Trump has repeatedly criticized Amazon over issues including taxes and Amazon’s shipping deals with the U.S. Postal Service.
Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Cresset Wealth Advisors, said Amazon is the latest company to falter after it drew scrutiny from the government, as Facebook and Alphabet have slumped recently on data privacy concerns.
“It seems like the long arm of the government is interfering with investors’ expectations,” he said. “Investors are pricing in an escalating trade war and regulation of tech companies.”
Microsoft dropped 3 percent and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, shed 2.4 percent.
After a month of public negotiations between the U.S. and several other countries, Monday marked the first time another country has placed tariffs on U.S. goods in response to the Trump administration’s recent trade sanctions.
Ron Shea celebrated signing a lease for his new Akron production brewery, taproom and restaurant the way you would expect — he cracked open a beer and toasted the accomplishment.
Shea, the founder and brewer at the popular R. Shea Brewing Co. in the city’s Merriman Valley, on Thursday showed off his future home, a cavernous and industrial space that covers about 60,000 square feet inside downtown’s Canal Place complex.
He also signed his lease while surrounded by family, city leaders and others who helped him get to this point.
(Go to Ohio.com/beer to see a video of Shea discussing his plans.)
The $2 million project at 540 S. Main St. involves launching a 20-barrel production brewery and constructing an 8,000-square-foot tasting room and restaurant serving sandwiches, burgers and pizza.
The restaurant will feature a mezzanine overlooking the expansive production floor.
Shea hopes to open before the end of the year.
“We’re looking to create a destination brewery,” he said, his voice echoing inside the building, a setting that’s similar in size and character to Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati.
Canal Place once served as the home for tire-maker B.F. Goodrich and the complex of red brick buildings now houses a variety of businesses.
R. Shea’s building features a ceiling that rises up 30 to 35 feet over the production space, concrete floors and plenty of old manufacturing windows that let in sunlight.
Shea plans to keep the industrial atmosphere.
Canal Place likely will become a beer destination thanks to the fact that Missing Falls Brewing Co. also is opening a brewery inside the same building. R. Shea and Missing Falls will be a few steps from each other under the same roof.
Shea is encouraging other potential brewers to open there, as well.
He’s also excited to create an official, city-sanctioned “Brewery District” in the downtown area featuring his brewery, Missing Falls, Aqueduct, Thirsty Dog and two others that are opening: Akronym and Lock 15.
“It’s right in line with the mayor’s initiatives for downtown development … and making it a destination,” said Julie Pryseski, who works in the city’s Office of Integrated Development.
The Akron area has seen a slew of brewery openings over the last few years as craft beer has grown in popularity thanks in part to people wanting to eat and drink local products.
The Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colo.-based trade group, said this week that more than 6,300 breweries were operating last year throughout the U.S. and another 2,500 are in planning stages.
R. Shea Brewing — one of the few craft breweries in Ohio named after its founder — first opened its doors as a nanobrewery at 1662 Merriman Road in 2015 and quickly became a trendy hangout.
His popular beers include Orange Mango Citrus Shandy and Polymer Caramel Espresso Stout. Both have received the people’s choice award at the Akron Art Museum’s annual Art & Ale beer tasting.
But Shea hasn’t been able to distribute because he’s been too busy just keeping up with demand.
He first announced plans in late 2016 to open a production brewery.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he admitted.
The main focus at the outset for the new production brewery will be to serve the taproom and restaurant, but Shea plans to then self-distribute his beer on draft and in cans.
He noted that the Merriman Valley site will remain in operation as a research and development brewery, even after the new production location opens.
“It’ll be all experimental beers to feed Canal Place,” he said.
NEW YORK: The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook’s privacy practices following a week of privacy scandals including allegations a Trump-affiliated political consulting firm got data inappropriately from millions of Facebook users.
Facebook’s stock, which already took a big hit last week, plunged as a result.
Tom Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the probe would include whether the company engaged in “unfair acts” that cause “substantial injury” to consumers.
Facebook’s privacy practices have come under fire after revelations that Cambridge Analytica got data on Facebook users, including information on friends of people who had downloaded a psychological quiz app, even though those friends hadn’t given explicit consent to sharing. Facebook is also facing questions over reports that it collected had years of contact names, telephone numbers, call lengths and information about text messages from Android users.
Facebook said in a statement on Monday that the company remains “strongly committed” to protecting people’s information and that it welcomes the opportunity to answer the FTC’s questions. News outlets reported on the FTC investigation last week, but the FTC hadn’t confirmed it until Monday. Facebook reached a settlement with the FTC in 2011 offering privacy assurances.
Facebook said Sunday that this information is uploaded to secure servers and comes only from people who gave explicit consent to allow it. Officials say the data is not sold or shared with users’ friends or outside apps. They say the data is used “to improve people’s experience across Facebook” by helping to connect with others. But the company did not spell out exactly what it used the data for or why it needed it.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, believes Facebook was in violation of the 2011 settlement in letting Cambridge Analytica harvest data on friends of Facebook users.
“This is what Facebook was doing 10 years ago that people objected to, what the FTC should have stopped in 2011,” Rotenberg said. “It makes zero sense that when a person downloads their apps, they have the ability to transfer the data of their friends.”
Although Zuckerberg talked about changes in 2014 that would have prevented this, Rotenberg said it should have been banned already under the 2011 consent decree. He said the FTC had dropped the ball in failing to enforce that.
AP Technology Writer Anick Jesdanun contributed to this story.
STOW: Pneumatic Scale Angelus is jumping into the booming craft beer industry.
The company, which has facilities in Akron and Stow, has started producing high-speed canning lines for craft breweries — a logical move given the company’s lengthy history in the food and beverage packaging business.
“We’ve been doing it for over 100 years, and we’re the industry leader in seaming technology,” company salesman Kyle Kelleher said during a recent tour of the Stow plant on Allen Road. “We want to break into the market.”
The company has worked with industry heavyweights such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Kraft. It also has produced seaming equipment for craft brewers, but now it’s building full canning lines to take advantage of the industry growth.
The Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colo.-based trade group, has estimated there were more than 6,000 breweries operating in the United States last year. Five years earlier, there were just under 3,000.
Many of the new breweries are embracing aluminum cans over bottles, with up to 30 percent of the craft production now devoted to cans, the association estimated. Cans are seen as the better package because they keep two enemies of beer away from the liquid: Light and oxygen. They also cost less to ship.
Pneumatic Scale Angelus debuted its CB50 Filler and Seamer last year at the Craft Brewers Conference and has been hitting up craft beer events ever since. The machine — which goes for $120,000 — fills and seals up to 50 cans a minute.
The company also has built a machine that can produce up to 100 cans a minute. The first one will be installed next week at Heavy Seas Beer in Baltimore.
The company, which has 60 workers focused on the craft beer product line, has released a video of its canning line in action on YouTube.
“We really thought there needed to be a higher quality offering out there and we provided it,” Kelleher said. “It was something the industry was asking for.”
Pneumatic Scale Angelus already has its canning lines operating in many breweries around the country, including Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland, New Realm Brewing in Atlanta, Port Orleans Brewing in New Orleans and Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project in Denver.
Royal Docks Brewing Co. in Jackson Township also purchased a canning line from the company for its new production brewery that’s under construction.
Market Garden, which acted as a testing ground for Pneumatic Scale Angelus, recently released three new brands in cans using the line.
Brewmaster Andy Tveekrem admitted that he was hesitant at first to put his beer in cans based on previous experience, but warmed to the idea because of Pneumatic Scale Angelus’ reputation.
“It’s well-built, well-engineered,” he said about the canning line. “It puts beer in cans and does it well.”
Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday revised the University of Akron’s financial outlook to stable from negative.
Moody’s also affirmed the A1 ratings on outstanding debt.
The bond-rating company said in a statement issued Tuesday, “Revision of the outlook to stable from negative reflects [UA’s] demonstrated ability to strengthen fiscal operations by cutting expenses, contributing to improving cash flow margins and debt service coverage.”
The bond-rating company lowered the outlook in May 2016, citing multiyear enrollment declines and an expected smaller entering class in the fall.
The agency also noted in 2016 that the school has “a high debt and pension burden relative to balance sheet reserves and operations.”
At that time, Moody’s assigned an A1 rating to $82 million worth of refinanced debt.
Moody’s said Tuesday that “after years of softening student demand,” UA’s first-year enrollment “is showing signs of stabilizing.”
Moody’s said that “total wealth and liquidity” of the university remain strong and have “improved modestly” due to “higher retained cash flow and continued donor support.”
The stable outlook, Moody’s said, reflects the company’s expectations that the university will continue to produce “double-digit cash flow driven by an increase in tuition for incoming students beginning in fall 2018 and ongoing expense management.”
The stable outlook also incorporates the company’s expectation for relatively flat state support and “limited material debt issuance over the next year,” Moody’s said.
Former UA President Scott Scarborough, who was named to the top job in July 2014, inherited financial problems, due largely to a debt-financed building boom and enrollment declines.
Current UA President Matthew Wilson, who began leading the university in July 2016, has spearheaded the launch of various initiatives aimed at boosting enrollment. Also under Wilson, UA closed last fiscal year’s budget gap.
UA’s budget crunch continues, but expenses are being held down and the projected deficit for this fiscal year has shrunk considerably.
“We continue to navigate our challenges, and maintaining the university’s rating and improving its outlook to ‘stable’ is affirmation that we have managed our finances and balance sheet very well these past few years,” Nathan Mortimer, UA’s vice president of finance and administration/chief financial officer, said Tuesday in a prepared statement.