One Company’s Layoffs Is Another Company’s Hires

Chicago skyline seen from Cortland Street Drawbridge. Photo courtesy of John G. Suhayda.

Computer hardware engineers who got the axe last September during a massive downsizing at Motorola’s Chicago headquarters soon found that they were in demand by some of the country’s most successful high tech companies.

It was only a matter of weeks before these newly unemployed engineers were fielding job offers from company’s like Google, Facebook and Apple, who held recruiting events. Amazon also made offers to several of the engineers.

What were these computer-high tech giants hoping for? Mostly to bring these highly skilled workers back home to Silicon Valley. In the case of Google, however, their goal was a bit different, and unique. The search engine giant used the Motorola layoffs to recruit hardware engineers, for the first time, to work in their Chicago office. Until this time Google’s only Chicago hires had been for jobs in software development.

Some of the former Motorola engineers who were at the meeting said that Google had organized a gathering within two weeks of being fired. There were at least 200 hardware engineers in attendance, all of which had been fired by Motorola. During an information session the Google reps demonstrated some of its new hardware products and then discussed bringing jobs in computer hardware development to their Chicago office for the first time.

Craftsman Sold to Black & Decker for Almost $1 Billion

A screwdriver-handled bottle opener, made by Western Forge for the Craftsman brand. Photo credit to J.C. Fields.

A complex deal has been struck between Sears and Stanley Black & Decker, for the purchase of Sears’ iconic Craftsman brand of tools.

Illinois-based Sears has agree to see the 89-year-old brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $525 million in cash and an additional $250 million by the end of the third year after the sale. In addition, there will be payments for up to 15 years as a variable percentage of sales. The approximate total value of the deal is $900 million, according to Sears.

The deal will allow the Connecticut-based Stanley Black & Decker the right to produce and sell Craftsman-branded tools in non-Sears stores in the US and internationally. Sears will also be able to sell Craftsman in its own stores through a perpetual license issued by Stanley Black & Decker. Stanley Black & Decker will receive royalties from Sears after a 15-year grace period.

“We intend to invest in the brand and rapidly increase sales through these new channels, including retail, industrial, mobile and online,” said Stanley Black & Decker CEO James Loree. “To accommodate the future growth of Craftsman, we intend to expand our manufacturing footprint in the U.S. This will add jobs in the U.S., where we have increased our manufacturing headcount by 40 percent in the past three years.”

The deal stipulates that Sears will receive annual payments from new sales from Stanley Black & Decker Craftsman during a 15-year period. Between now and 2020 Sears will get 2.5 percent of sales; from 2020 until 2023 3.0 percent; and for the remaining time, 3.5 percent.

Lurie Children’s Planning Expansion

An exterior image of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Photo courtesy of Ala1188.

The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has plans to expand the highly in-demand hospital’s capacity with a $51 million infusion of funding. The Streeterville building, in the midst of the Mag Mile, is seriously overcrowded, and can use the extra beds under consideration.

The plan proposes to add 44 beds to the already 92 that serve the intensive-care unit. The hospital would also like to add four more beds to the neonatal intensive-care division to 60 NICU beds that are there now. The total number of beds in this specialty hospital, which treats the area’s most ill children, would rise to 336.

The application Lurie filed last month with state regulators said that the hospital, which partners with many community hospitals, has been fielding an increase in children referred by health care providers is northeast Illinois to the point where they have been forced to refuse transfers.

The hospital wants to add beds at a moment in history when other hospitals are downsizing their pediatric departments, if not eliminating them altogether. Because the Affordable Care Act puts more of an emphasis on prevention, many hospital beds are empty, while there has been a growth in the number of outpatient clinics and same-day surgery facilities.

Lurie hospital says that demand for its services has climbed because of its partnerships with over a dozen community hospitals. If the patients can be kept in those local community hospitals, they are. But if they need more sophisticated or intense care, they are then sent to the downtown hospital.

In 2014 Lurie switched 20 medical-surgical beds, the most common type of hospital bed, to ICU beds. In 2016 Lurie had to turn away 112 requests for patient transports because of lack of beds.

The additional beds will be added by renovating existing hospital space, with completion of the projected expected to be by January 31, 2019.

Aldi Grocery Closing: Activists Protest

Official portrait of Danny K. Davis, for the 113th Congress.

Asserting that Maywood branch of Aldi’s grocery store is the only grocery in the community, a group of politicians and community activists gathered to try and prevent the closing of the store, scheduled for Christmas Day.

Democratic Representative of the 7th District, Danny K. Davis was still hopeful two days before the scheduled closure that something could be done to prevent the loss of the business to the community. The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., was also there, explaining that the closure will just make the present “food desert” even drier, mentioning that this is an especially vital issue for the black community.

The gathering was organized by Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, who called for a press conference outside the store. In addition to Davis, the mayor of Maywood Edweena Perkins, Reverend Marvin Wiley, Bill Hampton, brother of dead Black Panther leader Fred Hampton), and community residents were also on hand.

“I understand based on the meetings we had with Aldi, why they are closing,” said Boykin.
Jackson said, “It appears that Aldi’s is expanding stores, but stores in Maywood, on 87th Street in Chicago, and one in Peoria, IL are closing. These stores are in the neediest communities, in Black communities. It’s adding to the food desert.”

“We’re trying to keep money flowing into communities that are hard-pressed and in great need of economic development. Any time something leaves is a difference than something coming. We know that there are individuals who are hard pressed in communities all over the country, and we have to use every bit of creativity and ingenuity we can come up with to try and keep hope alive and keep the money circulating so that money becomes a part of the economy and tax base,” Davis said

Boykin explained that Aldi’s decided to close because shoppers were hardly coming to the store. For the last ten years, this store had the lowest shopper rate per day than any of its other stores in Cook County. Add the 80 percent rise in property taxes over the past six years, and its easy to understand the company’s decision.

“I did get a commitment from them to provide a transportation shuttle from the Village of Maywood to Aldi’s other three stores located in Broadview, Melrose Park, and Bellwood beginning on December 26th,” said Boykin.

The shuttle will be available to take shoppers to one of the other three stores in the area on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.

Tiger Woods to Help Design PGA-Level Links in Chicago

AT&T National tournament host Tiger Woods, the top-ranked golfer in the world with 14 major victories on his resume, competes in the third annual Earl Woods Memorial Pro-Am on July 1 at Congressional Country Club. He dedicates the tournament to the men and women of the U.S. military. (Photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs)

Two less-then-stellar golf courses on the South Side of Chicago are queued for a serious face-lift, and one of golf’s most shining stars is pitching in.

Tiger Woods has promised to bring his unique expertise to bare on the planned renovation of the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses; an overhaul with a projected $30 million price tag.

The project is being sponsored by the Western Golf Association in partnership with a non-profit group, the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance (CPGA). The goal is to transform the two courses into one championship-level beauty nestled along the lakeshore with aspirations to one day host a PGA tour event, perhaps the BMW Championship.

“This project can create incredible possibilities for the community on the South Side,” Woods said. “We want to design a course that everyone will enjoy.”

Woods heads a design firm, TGR Design.

The changes to the courses are expected to be initiated this coming spring, with hopes that the championship course can open by 2020. There are also hopes to open a short course or a par-3 course, also to open in 2020.

New CEO of MillerCoors Hoping to Turn Around Company

MillersCoors, the Chicago-headquartered brewery has been on the decline for several years, losing about 1 million barrels of beer each year in market share.

Last year native of Zambia Gavin Hattersley was brought in to create a plan to stop the decline in sales.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out if you continue to lose 10 million barrels every eight years, you’re not going to be around for much longer,” Hattersley said.

The 54-year-old CEO encouraged the company’s employees to adhere to a plan which will stop the loss in sales before 2018 rolls around, and start real growth by 2019. The company has already caught a whiff of small success as market share has slightly climbed for the flagship brands Miller Lite and Coors Light. Just this past year MillersCoor also bought into four boutique breweries: Revolver Brewing, in Texas; Terrapin Beer Co., from Georgia; Hop Valley Brewing Co., located in Oregon; and Saint Archer Brewery, headquartered in California.

Another relatively new CEO – Glen R. Wakeman – of LaunchPad Holdings LLC is also hoping to take some truly transformative actions in his position as well.

Hattersley, from Zambia, studied accounting in South Africa. He began his journey with beer in 1997 at the South African Breweries. Before joining MillerCoors he was the chief financial officer for the parent company of MillerCoors, Molson Coors, based in Denver. Hattersley lives in Lakeshore East with Terry, his wife.

Let’s Look at What They’re Buying in Chicago

Now with so much shopping done online, following consumer’s shopping patterns is just a click away. Combine that with this year’s holiday shopping season upon us, and we have a great combination to further understand the mind of the quintessential Chicago shopper.

Between November 1st and 30th Slice Intelligence focused their cyber-microscopes on the online shopping public. This is what they found:

•    It’s all about the clothing. About 22% of total spending, on average, was spent on apparel and accessories. In second place was electronics, coming out to around $23.98 and $22.96, respectively.
•    This year’s shopping advanced by about 18% over last year. Don’t be fooled by the big-sounding number. In other towns, like Miami and St. Louis, those folks really shopped till they dropped, posting an increase of 27% over last year.
•    The only category of goods Chicagoans did not spend more online this year over last year was on automotive products. In that category, online spending went down by about 15%.
•    Yea, we all like to buy our clothing online, but what about watches, jewelry and sports/outdoor products? Those items seem to be catching on fire for online sales. Watches and jewelry purchases were up online by 86%, sports and outdoor items, up by 70%, appliances saw a 58% rise, and pet supplies grew by 53%.

High-End Real Estate Doing Well in Wisconsin

A new record was set in the top-priced, second-home market in November in Wisconsin. Lake Geneva saw three homes sell for at least $5 million. Lake Geneva is 80 miles north of Chicago. Here in Chicago, during the same month only one home sold in that price range, a Glencoe estate bringing in a cool $8.5 million.

If you add in the sale in September of the Lake Geneva estate which went for $9.55 million, it would not be an exaggeration to say “we’ve had a good season of top-of-the-market activity here,” as David Curry, a Geneva Lakefront Realty broker said.

Those four sales alone have already surpassed 2015. Last year Walworth County had just three homes that sold in this super-price range.

In the 15 years prior to that there had never been more than one sale per year in that price range.

Curry added that “If we had five more $5 million listings, I could sell them this year. People are knocking on doors.”

O’Hare Airport Workers Threatening Thanksgiving Strike

Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Photo Courtesy of Nicola at Flickr.
Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Photo Courtesy of Nicola at Flickr.

In order to maximize attention to their working conditions and wages, employees at O’Hare International Airport are threatening to strike during the busier than usual Thanksgiving weekend.

The workers are not in a union, but are being organized by the Service Employees International Union Local 1. Airplane cabin cleaners, baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants and janitors voted on whether to strike over a two-day period. In an all-but unanimous decision of 499-1, the workers voted to strike, according to union spokesperson Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich. There are an additional 1500 workers at the airport who did not participate in the vote.

The workers are not threatening to close the airport. They intend to picket outside O’Hare and walk through the airport terminals with placards voicing their complaints. President of SEIU Local 1, Tom Balanoff, said that the strike, “will cause some disruption, no doubt.”

“Workers are really frustrated because they’ve been fighting and they’ve been trying to get the powers to be to hear their voice,” Balanoff said. “So they’re hoping that with this strike, the powers that be — the city, the Department of Aviation, American, United and other airlines — that they’ll listen and come to a rational way so that these workers have the right to be recognized, and they have a right to bargain over their working conditions.”

SF Fashion Designer Cuyana Pops Up in Chicago

Just in time for the frenzied holiday shopping season, followers of exclusive fashion designer Cuyana can now head over to 840 West Armitage and browse in their well-heeled pop-up shop there.

The store, which will offer “fewer, better” women’s clothes and accessories, will remain open until Christmas Eve. The brand is known for its special feminine look which is classic and exclusive.

“We want to bring our retail experience to as many of our customers as possible and continue growing our presence in cities around the country, and eventually the world,” said Karla Gallardo, CEO and co-founder of Cuyana.

Gallardo grew up in Ecuador where the native language is Quechua and cuyana translates to mean “to love.”

“Our Chicago pop-up is designed to reflect the same level of detail that makes up our product designs,” Karla added. “The space embodies our fewer, better philosophy with a clean aesthetic filled with curated corners and beautiful product moments.”

The brand sells their product directly to the consumer rather than through traditional retailers. The pop-up will be furnished tastefully, with custom-designed furniture with classy brass and marble trimmings. The shop will also have on display “fresh finds” from all over the globe. A special treat will be live monogramming every day at the West Armitage store.

Earlier this year Cuyana hosted a three-day pop-up at Interior Define in Chicago, a customer furniture designer. This November-December pop-up will be Cuyana’s first freestanding in Chicago.