Daily Briefs

By Published: January 31, 2019 3:30 PM CT
  • Report: Increase in Shelby County new business filings in '18
  • International Paper reports fourth-quarter earnings 
  • Mock search for Tony Allen replacement wins ad award
  • Flash Market settles Memphis sexual harassment lawsuit
  • Indigo Ag launches logistics platform for growers, shippers
  • Memphis digital marketers launch new agency
  • Amazon reopening fire-damaged center

Amazon reopening fire-damaged center

Amazon’s massive receive center in Memphis should return to full operations by Friday following a fire on Jan. 18.

“It’s going to be back to 100 percent on Friday. We’re very excited,” said Shavaun Brown, a spokeswoman for the online retailer.

The new, 615,440-square-foot building did not catch fire, but conveyor equipment burned. The fire apparently started by friction in the conveyor system.

Amazon has kept many of the receive center’s 600 employees home, with pay, until the conveyor system is repaired.

“It’s safety,’’ Brown said. “Everybody is really safety focused.” Company officials felt it would be safer for employees not to be walking around the ongoing repair activity.

“Really erring on the side of caution,” Brown said.

Amazon has continued paying the idled employees because, she said, “the fact we had to pause operations and really, really scale down is not their fault.”

The $70 million receive center opened last fall at 3292 E. Holmes. The operation on 83 acres receives and consolidates products from vendors, half of whom are big companies and half are small- to medium-size businesses. The re-packaged products are then shipped to Amazon fulfillment centers.

– Tom Bailey

Memphis digital marketers launch new agency

Two digital marketers in Memphis, Michael Newsome and Alan Hudgins, have combined their nearly 20 years of design, project management, sales and marketing experience to launch a new digital agency, Lab Digital Creative LLC.

Newsome, president of the new company, and Hudgins, creative director, launched Lab Digital Creative this year because they saw a need to fulfill small- to-medium-sized businesses’ design and marketing needs with affordable, customized website design and branding, according to a release.

“We’re excited to launch Lab Digital Creative and offer nimble, agile digital marketing services to clients in the Mid-South and beyond,” Newsome said in a release.

Newsome and Hudgins use a six-step process to help their clients reach their digital marketing goals — discover, define, design, develop, deploy and drive growth. The team designs and builds websites and helps drive traffic to the sites.

The team has worked with more than 100 clients and brands in all industries across the U.S., including Peachtree Heating and Air, Castleton Builders, SouthVault Smart Surveillance, Delcampo Family Dentistry, Carlyle & Madison Attorneys-at-Law, SimpleIT, Palladio Architecture and VereVert Lawncare.

“We’re passionate about using great design and clever marketing to help businesses achieve growth and success at the next level,” Hudgins said.

For more information on Lab Digital Creative, click here to visit their website.

– Natalie Martin

Indigo Ag launches logistics platform for growers, shippers

Indigo Ag has launched a new service to help farmers and related service suppliers better connect and manage their businesses.

Called Indigo Transport, the logistics platform is designed to eliminate supply chain inefficiencies from the growing of crops to the selling and transportation of the goods, according to a company release. The platform aims to help growers, shippers and carriers save money.

“Indigo Transport will be, for the most part, operating out of our office in Downtown Memphis,” company spokeswoman Allie Evarts told The Daily Memphian by email.

The Boston-based Indigo Ag announced in December that Memphis will become its commercial operations headquarters for North America.

The company will add 625 new employees and eventually claim most the space in Downtown’s eight-story Toyota Center, which will be renamed Indigo Plaza.

TOM BAILEY: Indigo Ag's average Memphis salary to be $92,383

The company said Indigo Transport will manage the pick-up, transportation and delivery of grain between shipper and buyer, cutting out the need to coordinate through brokers that can pocket up to 20 percent of transaction costs, according to the release.

Growers who are commercially licensed and own trucks can enroll as carriers on the platform, turning those assets into new sources of income.

And the platform provides digitized load-matching, allowing carriers to find backhauls and reduce the number of empty trucks on the road, helping the environment along with providing more efficiency.

Indigo Transport is integrated as the preferred logistics provider of Indigo Marketplace, an e-commerce platform that connects growers and buyers for a streamlined sale of grain.

Indigo Marketplace was launched in June, and more than $10 billion worth of grain inventory has been submitted since then.

“Every bushel of grain produced today moves by truck at least once before arriving at its destination,” David Perry, Indigo’s chief executive, said in the release. “This means grain transportation is crucial to the success of our food system. But inefficiencies in the overall process – including communication, reliability, and availability – are bad for growers, grain buyers, and the environment. Indigo Transport eliminates those inefficiencies by streamlining grain transport and creating a system that is transparent to not only growers and buyers, but ultimately to consumers.”

Carriers hauling through Indigo Transport use mobile apps on iOS or Android operating systems. They can identify and choose loads that best match their operation.

– Tom Bailey

Flash Market settles Memphis sexual harassment lawsuit

Flash Market Inc. has agreed to pay $100,000 and abide by a consent decree to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency has announced.

The EEOC’s Memphis District Office investigated a charge filed by a female cashier at a Memphis Flash Market and found that the company created a hostile work environment for the cashier and then fired her for complaining.

Based in West Memphis, Arkansas, Flash Market owns and operates convenience store gas stations in the Mid-South under the Citgo, Phillips, Conoco and Shell brands.

Specifically, the EEOC charged in its suit that the supervisor propositioned the cashier for sex, frequently made sexually explicit comments and subjected her to inappropriate touching on several occasions. The cashier later complained to her store manager about the area manager’s conduct, but the store manager told the cashier she could not help because she also was being sexually harassed by the area manager, according to a release from the EEOC Memphis District Office.

The area manager fired the cashier after she filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC, according to the release.

The alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation.

The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Memphis Division (EEOC v. Flash Market, Inc.), after first trying to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The lawsuit sought lost wages, compensatory damages and other affirmative relief for the former employee and injunctive relief prohibiting Flash Market from discriminating against female employees in the future.

Flash Market also entered into an 18-month consent decree requiring the company to train its Shelby County employees and managers on the requirements of Title VII and its prohibitions against sexual harassment in the workplace, according to the release. Flash Market agreed to conduct exit interviews with departing employees to determine if they were subjected to sex discrimination or retaliation during their employment. Flash Market will also post an anti-discrimination notice and permit the EEOC to monitor the company’s compliance with the consent decree.

Flash Market denied any liability or wrongdoing in the suit.

The company owns and operates more than 90 convenience store/gas stations in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee and employs about 700 people.

– Terry Hollahan

RedRover's airport ad wins international honor

RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy has won an international award for an advertisement depicting mock interviews for a Memphis International Airport celebrity spokesperson.

The Memphis-based agency made the ad after the airport’s official spokesman, basketball player Tony Allen, was released by the Memphis Grizzlies.

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The ad featured such personalities as former NBA great Penny Hardaway, weatherman Dave Brown, award-winning writer and musician David Porter, wrestler Jerry Lawler, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, then-Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and others.

It won a 2018 Platinum Summit Marketing Effectiveness Award in the Online Advertising and Marketing category.

RedRover said approximately 3 percent of nearly 1,500 entries in the competition received Platinum awards.

– Wayne Risher

International Paper reports fourth-quarter earnings

International Paper Company reported Thursday fourth-quarter earnings of $1.65 per share when adjusted for non-recurring costs, beating predictions of $1.61 per share.

The Memphis-based company posted revenues of $5.95 billion for the period ending Dec. 31, 2018, which also beat predictions; five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $5.86 billion.

"International Paper delivered very strong earnings and returns in the fourth quarter and full year 2018, driven by solid commercial and operational performance across our three businesses," said Mark Sutton, IP chairman and CEO. "We returned $1.5 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases, and we further strengthened our balance sheet.”

IP increased its quarterly cash dividend by 5.26 percent in 2018, from .475 cents per share to .50 cents per share compared to the same period ending Dec. 31, 2017; the company also saw the same increase from Q3 of 2018 to Q4 of 2018.

“As we enter 2019, we are confident in our ability to continue to generate strong returns and grow cash flow to create value for our shareholders, Sutton said.

International Paper shares have increased 17 percent since the beginning of 2019, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has risen almost 7 percent; the company’s stock has declined 26 percent over the past 12 months.

The company is the largest pulp and paper company in the world with 52,000 employees.

Christin Yates

New report shows increase in Shelby County new business filings in 2018 

Shelby County had the second largest number of new business filings in the 2018 fourth quarter with an increase of 12.2 percent, according to a new Tennessee Quarterly Business and Economic Indicators report.

The county, one among Tennessee's four largest counties, recorded 1,811 new business filings in the fourth quarter of 2018. Statewide, the Tennessee Quarterly Business and Economic Indicators report showed 9,837 new business filings recorded in the final quarter of 2018, a more than 10 percent increase over 2017, and a total of 42,914 new business filings for the year.

“Business is booming in Tennessee, and the momentum of the past year is expected to continue as we head into 2019,” Tre Hargett, Tennessee Secretary of State, said. “We have worked hard to create a business-friendly environment in Tennessee, where businesses can thrive and grow, and that is reflected in this data.”

In addition to new business filings, the report also showed an 8.8 percent increase in existing business filings in the fourth quarter of 2018, a 13.4 percent increase in new filings of domestic limited liability corporations (LLCs) and a 12.6 decrease in dissolution filings.

- Natalie Martin 


International Paper Indigo Ag Amazon Tony Allen Lab Digital Creative LLC Flash Market RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy

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