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VOL. 11 | NO. 18 | Saturday, May 5, 2018

Daily Digest

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Air Canada Adds Second Memphis-Toronto Flight

Air Canada has added a second nonstop flight between Memphis International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The new flight, announced Tuesday, May 1, will depart at 6 a.m. and arrive in Toronto at 9:25 a.m.

Since Toronto is a U.S. customs preclearance site, the expanded service offers greater one-stop access to more than 160 Canadian and other international destinations.

“Air Canada’s Memphis-Toronto service has been extremely well-received by our passengers,” Pace Cooper, chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority board of commissioners, said in a release. “This second frequency boldly shows that Air Canada is responding to the strong demand of the Memphis market, and more importantly, it opens up Toronto as a gateway city through which Memphis passengers will be able to achieve very convenient one-stop service to Asia, Europe and the Middle East.”

Tuesday’s announcement fell on the one-year anniversary of Air Canada’s return to Memphis International.

“There has been a strong response from Memphis and the surrounding community to Air Canada’s service and consequently we are pleased to expand it by adding a second flight,” said Lisa Pierce, Air Canada’s senior director of U.S. sales and market development. “Apart from visiting Canada, many customers are connecting onward through our Toronto global hub and the timing of this second flight starting this spring will make it even more convenient for people flying from Memphis to connect onward to our extensive Asian network.”

Air Canada’s Toronto-Memphis service will be operated using a 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200.

– Patrick Lantrip

South Korean Appliance Co. Opening Plant in West Tenn.

Dong-A Hwa Sung Co, a South Korean maker of home appliance and automotive parts, is opening its first U.S. plant in Martin, Tennessee.

Company executives and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced the location Tuesday, May 1.

The West Tennessee plant is a $13 million investment and is expected to create 220 jobs.

“South Korea continues to be a strong partner to Tennessee, with South Korean companies pledging to invest more than $1 billion in capital and create more than 4,000 jobs in our state since 2011,” said Bob Rolfe, Tennessee commissioner of economic and community development.

Dong-A Hwa Sung makes rubber and plastic components used in home appliances and auto building. Its automotive customers include Hyundai/Kia, Nissan and GM. The home appliance manufacturers it serves include LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics.

The announcement Tuesday did not include what, if any, state or local incentives are involved.

– Bill Dries

First Tennessee to Lay Off 58 in Greene County

First Tennessee Bank is laying off a few dozen employees in Greene County, Tennessee, a move that’s related to the bank’s merger with Capital Bank Financial Corp.

The layoffs come as First Tennessee has consolidated operations at the locations that remain in Greene County after First Tennessee and Capital Bank jointly agreed to divest two branches.

A WARN notice was filed with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development announcing 58 layoffs. Those come at 100 N. Main, which was a Capital Bank branch that’s being converted to a First Tennessee location.

The First Horizon merger with Capital Bank was finalized Nov. 30. It created the fourth-largest regional bank in the Southeast based on asset size, giving the combined entity $40 billion in assets, $32 billion in deposits, $27 billion in loans and more than 300 branches in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas and Virginia.

– Andy Meek

GPAC Renames Black Box Theater

Germantown Performing Arts Center has renamed its black box theater the Watkins Studio Theater to honor longtime supporters and Germantown residents Jeanette and William H. Watkins Jr.

William Watkins Jr. has served on the GPAC board, and together the couple and their family have supported GPAC and community arts education for more than 20 years.

Along with the name change, the facility’s lobby and entrance area will receive significant enhancements, with capital upgrades scheduled this summer, including modernized wall finishes, seating, restrooms and signage.

The Watkins Studio Theater, located in the northwest corner of the GPAC facility, will be the home of the Jazz in the Box series and GPAC’s education programs, including the music education program, the child-friendly Peanut Butter and Jam concert series, the GPAC Youth Symphony Program, pre-concert conversations with both the IRIS Orchestra and Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and other classes and events.

The 2018-19 Jazz in the Box series kicks off Sept. 21 with the Johnny O’Neal Trio.

– Daily News staff

Memphis Men’s Tennis Earns No. 2 Seed in NCAAs

Following a historic regular season, the No. 20 University of Memphis men’s tennis team will make its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in seven years.

The Tigers drew an at-large bid as a No. 2 seed and will travel to Starkville, Mississippi, to face South Alabama in the opening round May 11 at 10 a.m. The winner between the Tigers and Jaguars will play the winner between host Mississippi State and Tennessee Tech in the second round on May 12 at 1 p.m.

“We have some experience in the NCAA Tournament,” said head coach Paul Goebel. “So I’m excited to see how we can do.”

Memphis (18-5, 5-0) capped the regular season with 17 wins to tie the most regular-season victories since 2012. The 2012 team earned the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance, which was also in Starkville. Memphis made the Round of 16 in 2013 and advanced to the second round in 2014. After missing the 2015 NCAA Tournament, the Tigers returned to the field in 2016 and 2017.

The Tigers, who earned the highest ranking in program history at No. 16 earlier this season, went 10-4 against the nation’s current Top 50. Nine teams the Tigers saw on their regular season schedule also heard their names called Tuesday afternoon, including Oklahoma State and Dartmouth, who the Tigers defeated at home, and Harvard and San Diego, who the Tigers took down on neutral-site courts.

Memphis is 3-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and seeks its first tourney win since 2014. The Tigers hold a 5-4 advantage against South Alabama in the all-time series, with Memphis claiming victories in the last three meetings.

– Don Wade

FedEx Names New CEO Of FedEx Freight

Memphis-based FedEx Corp. has named John A. Smith the president and CEO of FedEx Freight, effective Aug. 16, the company announced Tuesday, May 1. He will take over for Michael L. Ducker, who announced his retirement plans in April.

Smith, 56, joined FedEx in 2000 and currently serves as FedEx Freight’s senior vice president. He will also serve on FedEx’s Strategic Management Committee.

FedEx also announced Matthew Thornton III, a 40-year FedEx employee, will take over as senior vice president of U.S. operations for FedEx Express and will become executive vice president and chief operating officer of FedEx Freight.

In this role, Thornton, 59, will be responsible for overseeing all operations for FedEx Freight.

“Given his deep experience in the transportation industry, unparalleled customer focus and trusted leadership, John Smith is a clear choice to lead the FedEx Freight organization into the future,” David J. Bronczek, president and chief operating officer of FedEx Corp., said in a release. “Matthew Thornton has proven himself time and again in his leadership at FedEx Express, and his thorough knowledge of all aspects of operations make him an excellent addition to the FedEx Freight leadership team.

“Both are examples of our strong promote-from-within philosophy at FedEx, and with these two leaders at the helm, the future for our FedEx Freight organization continues to look very bright.”

Smith and Thornton will begin transitioning into their new roles in mid-May.

– Patrick Lantrip

Faropoint Grows Portfolio By Nearly 1M Square Feet

Faropoint Ventures has purchased another batch of properties in the Memphis area, effectively increasing its local footprint by almost 1 million square feet.

NAI Saig Co. executive vice president Brian Califf represented Faropoint in the $21.8 million multiproperty deal.

The package includes the 217,000-square-foot former International Paper office at 4049 Willow Lake Blvd., 90,000 square feet at 10666 Ridge Wood in Olive Branch, Mississippi; 247,000 square feet across multiple address on Collins Street in Memphis; and 367,000 square feet at 4791 and 4721 Burbank Road. All of the properties are warehouses except for the former IP office, which will be converted to warehouse use.

Financing for these properties was provided by Nashville-based CapStar Bank.

This latest batch of properties brings Faropoint’s year-to-date local investment total to $37 million. According to Califf, the company has plans to acquire an additional $38 million in industrial properties by year’s end.

– Patrick Lantrip

Gibson Brands Files For Bankruptcy Protection

The maker of the Gibson guitar, omnipresent for decades on the American rock ‘n’ roll stage, is filing for bankruptcy protection after wrestling for years with debt.

Gibson guitars have been esteemed by generations of guitar legends. After Chuck Berry died, his beloved cherry-red Gibson guitar was bolted to the inside of his coffin lid. David Bowie favored the 1989 Gibson L4 when he fronted Tin Machine. Slash swears by them.

A prenegotiated reorganization plan filed Tuesday, May 1, will allow Gibson Brands Inc. to continue operations with $135 million in financing from lenders.

In an announcement about the bankruptcy protection, the company said the Chapter 11 filings will allow it to “continue to design, build, sell, and manufacture legendary Gibson and Epiphone guitars, as well as KRK and Cerwin Vega studio monitors and loud speakers, without interruption.”

Gibson was founded in 1894 and is based in Nashville, Tennessee. It also makes the Epiphone and Wurlitzer pianos.

The company has already sold off some noncore brands, acquisitions that contributed to its burdensome debt load.

It also unloaded its Downtown Memphis property in January, selling the Gibson Guitar Factory and Showroom at 145 Lt. George W. Lee Ave. to New York-based real estate investment firm Somera Road Inc. for $14.4 million. Gibson continues to lease the property from Somera.

Along with selling off noncore brands, the company said it plans to wind down its Gibson Innovations business, which was formed when Gibson acquired Philips’ audio and home entertainment business, Woox Innovations, in 2014. The division largely operates outside the U.S.

Henry Juszkiewicz, chairman and CEO of Gibson Brands, said the company has made “substantial strides” through an operational restructuring during the past year.

“The decision to re-focus on our core business, Musical Instruments, combined with the significant support from our noteholders, we believe will assure the company’s long-term stability and financial health,” Juszkiewicz said in a written statement. “Importantly, this process will be virtually invisible to customers, all of whom can continue to rely on Gibson to provide unparalleled products and customer service.”

– Daily News staff/The Associated Press

Haizlip Studio Sells Midtown Office

Architecture and design firm Haizlip Studio has sold its Midtown location near the corner of Central Avenue and Cooper Street.

Haizlip, doing business as Squirrel LLC, sold the 6,400-square-foot building to Sparky Memphis LLC for $681,000, according to an April 24 warranty deed filed with the Shelby County Register. Seldon P. Haizlip signed the warranty deed on behalf of the sellers.

In conjunction with the purchase, the buyers signed a $521,250 mortgage on April 25 with Renasant Bank that will mature on April 25, 2023. J. Kevin Adams, acting as chief manager, signed the deed of trust on behalf of Sparky Memphis LLC.

Calls to Haizlip and Adams were not returned.

– Patrick Lantrip

Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Grows Jackson, Tenn., Office

Crystal Barcello has joined the Jackson, Tennessee, office of Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc., the broker-dealer subsidiary of Stifel Financial Corp., as an associate vice president/investments.

Barcello has 25 years of experience in financial services, including the last five with Stifel’s office in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Her experience in the financial services industry and managing assets for clients nationally will add tremendous value and bring a broader perspective to our West Tennessee community,” Phillip Rogers, branch manager of Stifel’s Jackson office, said in an announcement.

St. Louis, Missouri-based Stifel Financial Corp. is a publicly traded financial services holding company that operates through several wholly owned subsidiaries. Its broker-dealer affiliates, including Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., provide securities brokerage, investment banking, trading, investment advisory and related financial services to individual investors, professional money managers, businesses and municipalities.

Stifel’s Jackson office, 773 N. Parkway, can be reached at 731-664-4435.

– Daily News staff

Fred’s CEO Resigns, Replaced By CFO

The CEO of Memphis-based discount retailer Fred’s Inc. has left the company, less than two years into his run as the top executive and on the heels of a particularly volatile period for Fred’s that has seen other management shuffles, an uncertain turnaround strategy and a plummeting stock price.

Michael Bloom resigned effective April 24, a week after Fred’s announced it was delaying its regular quarterly earnings presentation to analysts, which is now set for Friday, May 4. Bloom has also stepped down from the board.

Moving into the corner office for now is Fred’s chief financial officer Joseph Anto, who has been CFO for only a few months. He was tapped for that job in February, the second CFO change Fred’s had made in less than a year.

Fred’s didn’t have an immediate comment about what comes next, though the company stressed Bloom’s resignation was not the result of any disagreement. In a statement, board chairman Heath Freeman pointed to the inability by Fred’s to scoop up hundreds of Rite Aid stores as part of a Rite Aid-Walgreens merger and the end of the 2017 fiscal year as a motivation.

“The board is appreciative for Mike’s contributions, dedication and service,” Freeman said in a prepared statement. “Mike joined Fred’s with significant experience with retail drugstores. After the company was not able to purchase certain assets from the Rite Aid Corp. and following the end of the 2017 fiscal year, the timing was right, both for Mike and the company, for him to step down.”

Before coming to Fred’s, Anto served as senior vice president of strategy and mergers and acquisitions at MediaNews Group Inc., doing business as DigitalFirst Media, one of the largest newspaper companies in the U.S. That company is owned by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital, where Freeman is the president.

Fred’s postponed not only its earnings presentation in April but also the release of its annual report.

The company said at the time those were being pushed forward due to a decision Fred’s board made in the fourth quarter to put the company’s specialty pharmacy business up for sale, which will change how those assets will be accounted for.

– Andy Meek

Tigers’ Bowlan Sets Strikeout Record

University of Memphis pitcher Jonathan Bowlan went the distance for the first time in his career and struck out a school record 18 batters in an 8-2 Memphis win over No. 20 USF last weekend. Bowlan allowed just two runs on four hits and no walks in nine innings.

The 18 strikeouts set not only a Memphis record, but also an American Athletic Conference record. Bowlan’s 18 strikeouts are the most this season by a pitcher in Division I baseball.

Bowlan started the game last Saturday at USF Baseball Stadium by striking out five of the first six batters he faced. The only hiccup Bowlan had was in the third inning, allowing a pair of two-out runs.

After the third inning, he dominated the Bulls’ lineup and retired 18 straight batters until allowing a two-out single in the ninth. Bowlan struck out the side three times, in the second, fourth and sixth innings.

All 18 of his strikeouts were swinging, including the final out of the game to break the program record and secure the complete-game win. The complete-game performance is the first by a Memphis pitcher since Matt Ferguson against Tulane in 2016.

– Don Wade

Nine Redbirds’ Games To Air on WLMT CW30

Nine Memphis Redbirds home games this season will be televised live on WLMT CW30 in the Memphis market this season. The first game to be televised was scheduled for Sunday, April 29.

The longtime radio voice of the Redbirds, Steve Selby, will be calling the action each week.

Redbirds baseball now joins University of Memphis basketball and coaches shows, University of Tennessee and Ole Miss football shows, high school state football and basketball championships, the Liberty Bowl High School Football All-Star Game, and Tennessee Titans preseason football games,on the CW30 sports programming roster.

All televised Redbirds games will be Sunday at 2:05 p.m. played at AutoZone Park.

The remaining eight games and dates: May 13 vs. Nashville; June 10 vs. Reno; June 24 vs. New Orleans; July 8 vs. Omaha; July 22 vs. Colorado Springs; Aug. 5 vs. Fresno; Aug. 19 vs. Round Rock; and Aug. 26 vs. Nashville.

WLMT is a Nexstar Media Group station and a dual affiliate of Local 24. For a channel listing, visit www.localmemphis.com. For more information on single-game tickets and ticket mini-memberships, visit www.memphisredbirds.com/tickets.

– Don Wade

Marx-Bensdorf Realtors Named Top Power Broker

Memphis-based Marx-Bensdorf Realtors has been named a Top 1000 Power Broker in RISMedia’s 30th Annual Power Broker Report, a compilation of the top U.S. real estate firms ranked by sales volume.

"The firms represented are the nation's most elite brokerage firms serving literally millions of consumers with their real estate needs," said RISMedia president and CEO John Featherston. "Even up against extremely scarce supply, Power Brokers posted remarkable sales. With the economy expanding and home prices on a tear, they're charging forward and leveraging the opportunities. We applaud their commitment to homeownership and congratulate them on their Power Broker standing."

The 2018 Top 1,000 Power Brokers collectively closed more than 3.7 million transactions in 2017. To be eligible, brokerages must have completed a verified minimum of $150 million in residential sales volume in 2017.

“With 45 agents, we’re thrilled that the hard work and dedication our agents display each day earned us a spot among fellow powerhouse and independent firms across the nation,” said David Tester, co-owner at Marx-Bensdorf.

– Daily News staff

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 64 87 1,429
MORTGAGES 39 60 1,107
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 7 13 203
BUILDING PERMITS 92 209 3,265
BANKRUPTCIES 42 84 837
BUSINESS LICENSES 21 23 352
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0