Print | Email | Post a Comment »
IBM Corp. today said that it has signed a five-year agreement to provide technolgoy services to Applied Materials Inc., a maker of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Under the agreement, Armonk-based IBM will be responsible for software development, support and deployment. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Nutrition 21 Inc., a Purchase-based marketer of nutritional supplements, said that it is closer to selling a key product in Europe after a favorable ruling from regulators.The European Food Safety Authority released a safety assessment that supported the use of chromium picolinate in food supplements in the European Union. Chromax chromium picolinate is Nutrition 21’s top selling nutritional supplement ingredient in the United States. Approval of this ingredient in the Europe would allow Nutrition 21 to enter into the new markets. “This is an exciting development for our ingredients business,” said William J. Levi, vice president of ingredients for Nutrition 21. “Expansion into the European Union is an important component of our growth strategy.”
Car wash and auto lube operators in Westchester County and New York City have agreed to pay employees $3.4 million in back wages and damages to settle a U.S. Labor Department lawsuit.
The case was filed after federal investigators found that the businesses violated government rules covering minimum wage, overtime and employee recordkeeping, according to the labor department.
A total of 1,187 current and former employees of the car washes and auto lube businesses are eligible for payments under the settlement.“This case should be a loud wake up call to other employers of vulnerable workers that the U.S. Department of Labor will not hesitate to pursue them in federal court in order to compel them to pay employees properly for all hours worked,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a written statement. “Employers must be aware of their obligation to comply with all federal labor laws, and we are here to make sure that they do.”
Two Westchester companies will make payments under the settlement, according to the labor department—- 613 Car Wash Corp. of New Rochelle and Lage Management Corp. of Pelham Manor. Representaives of neither business could be reached for comment.
The other comanies listed in the settlement are Atlantic Auto Care Center Inc. of Brooklyn; 109th & First Avenue Corp. of Manhattan; 3808 Boston Road Car Wash Inc., 2434 CW Corp. and Boulevard Car Wash of N.Y. Inc., all of the Bronx; and Michael’s Car Wash Inc. and Howard Beach Car Wash Corp., both of Queens.
The labor department said that earlier judgements in the case resulted in the recovery of more than $1.3 million in back wages, damages and interest for more than 200 employees.
The Labor Department said it is trying to locate several workers who are no longer employed by the businesses to pay them the back wages that they are owed. Workers who believe they are due back wages as part of the settlement should contact the New York district office at 212-264-8185.
General Patent Corp., a Suffern-based company that focuses on patent licensing and enforcement, said that Jack Granowitz has joined its advisory board of directors. Granowitz was one of the founders of the technology transfer office at Columbia University and its executive director from 1988 until 2000.
Vision-Sciences Inc., an Orangeburg company that makes medical devices, reported a net loss of $2.55 million, or 7 cents a share, for its fiscal fourth quarter ending March 31.That compared to a net loss of $4.57 million, or 12 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenues of $3.24 million increased from $2.37 million a year earlier. Ron Hadani, president and chief executive officer, said that annual sales growth reflected the introduction of new videoscope products and substantial growth in sales of urology products.
In a seperate announcement, Vision-Sciences said that John J. Rydzewski has been selected to serve as a board member. Rydzewski is a managing director of Christofferson, Robb & Company LLC, a private investment firm.
Eileen Fisher, the clothing designer based in Irvington, has been named one of the top 25 medium-sized companies to work for in the nation.
The rankings of top small and medium-sized businesses were developed by Society for Human Resource Management and the Great Place to Work Institute Inc., an international research and consulting firm.
“Top companies know how critically important it is to have a culture that empowers and motivates employees, particularly in this tough economy,” Laurence O’Neil, the society’s president, said in a written statement. “Knowing how to align and engage your employees is an essential part of keeping productivity high and your organization open for business.”
The winners range in size from 50 to 999 workers. This year, more than 550 companies participated in the selection process that included a 57-question survey sent to each company’s workforce and a separate questionnaire for management. Judges also reviewed annual reports, employee handbooks and other materials.
Fisher started her business in 1984 in New York and relocated to Westchester in 1992. The privately held company had 40 stores across the country, more than 700 employees and annual sales of $273 million last year.
Marsha Rand, the chief executive officer and founder of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, recently was named 2009 Woman of the Year by the Rockland Business Women’s Network.
Rand, a former nurse, earned her real estate license in 1977 and launched her own firm in 1984. The company first earned the No. 1 market share in Rockland County in 1989, a position it still holds. Rand has partnered with her sons Greg, Matt and Joe to build a real estate firm with 20 offices in the Lower Hudson Valley.“Marsha Rand was (our group’s) unanimous choice for Woman of the Year,” said Judy Bachman, president of the Rockland Business Women’s Network. “She was selected not only for her remarkable business success but also for her deep connection to the community.”
Global Financial Credit LLC, a company that provides litigation financing services to plaintiffs, recently relocated from Bedford Hills to White Plains. The company, which was looking for a more centralized location in Westchester County, leased 3,000 square feet at 14 Mamaroneck Ave. in White Plains.
Kuri’s Ballpark Deli recently opened at 204 New Main Street in Yonkers. Owner Georges Kuri named the business Ballpark Deli in anticipation of a neighboring minor league baseball stadium that is undergoing the approval process in Yonkers.
Three new stores selling Verizon Wireless gear recently opened in Westchester County. The stores are Paging Concepts at the Jefferson Valley Mall in Yorktown Heights, Paging Concepts at the Galleria mall in White Plains and United Telecom at 302 Fifth Ave. in Pelham.
Mercury Solar Systems, a New Rochelle-based company that installs solar electrical systems, has expanded its presence in the region with the acquisition of K-Star Solar, a major residential solar installer on Long Island.
Mercury’s expansion comes at a time when solar energy companies are expected to benefit from the incentives for renewable energy development in the $787 billion economic stimulus legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama earlier this year.
Mercury, already a major player in the Northeast, has installed hundreds of solar systems in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.K-Star Solar will be renamed Mercury Solar Systems after the acquisition is completed. Kevin P. Harvey, K-Star’s president, will join Mercury’s Long Island team as its divisional president and focus on Mercury’s Long Island installations.
“With K-Star we have an instant footprint in this market and we believe together we can offer commercial and residential customers cutting edge, highly efficient solar solutions at affordable prices,” said Jared Haines, president of Mercury Solar Systems. “The federal and state incentives for solar systems have also never been better, but customers need a company with local knowledge to help them leverage the benefits of solar.”
Nationally, the solar energy industry has steadily grown during the past 10 years. The number of companies shipping solar thermal collectors climbed from 28 to 60 from 1998 to 2007, according to the Energy Information Administration. The number of units shipped rose from 7,756 to 15,153 over the same time period.
MBIA Inc., the Armonk-based bond insurer that suffered heavy losses stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis, had its credit rating lowered by Moody’s Investors Service.
MBIA’s rating was downgraded to Ba3 from Ba1, according to Moody’s. Both ratings are considered junk bond territory.
“These rating actions reflect further expected insured portfolio deterioration at MBIA Insurance Corp. and the uncertainty stemming from ongoing litigation challenging MBIAís recent restructuring,” Moodyís said in a written statement.
MBIA was hit hard last year, as the weakest housing market since the early 1970s resulted in large numbers of homebuyers defaulting or falling behind on their mortgage payments. As home foreclosures soared, MBIA took big write-downs on the mortgage bonds that it had insured.
Euro Group of Companies Inc., a Port Chester-based manufacturer of transportation products, announced an agreement to sell its Eurospeed gasoline scooters and motorcycles across much of Europe.Under a five-year distribution agreement, Parallel Intelligent Transportation LLC of Jericho has been granted rights for the marketing and sale of the Eurospeed products in Spain, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy. The agreement calls for a sales quota of at least 10,000 units sold in the European markets by the end of 2010 and at least 74,500 units over five years.
Reader’s Digest Association Inc. announced an agreement to sell an educational publishing business as the Chappaqua-based media company continues its restructuring in a challenging economy.
Gareth Stevens Inc., a unit of Reader’s Digest that publishes educational books for youths from pre-kindergarten through high school ages, will be sold to Roger Rosen, owner of Rosen Publishing, and Gary Spears, a co-founder of Gareth Stevens in 1984.
Reader’s Digest did not disclose terms of the sale. It has owned Gareth Stevens since a 2007 merger between Reader’s Digest and WRC Media.
Reader’s Digest said that it will continue to manage order processing and customer service for Gareth Stevens at offices in Strongsville, Ohio, until the transition to new ownership is completed in September.
Reader’s Digest, whose flagship magazine is the world’s largest with nearly 70 million readers in more than 60 countries, has been hurt by the global economic slowdown that has eroded advertising revenues and accelerated declining print subscriptions.In May, the privately held company reported a 17 percent drop in revenues and a net loss of $462 million during its fiscal third quarter ending March 31, much worse than the net loss of $53.6 million a year earlier.
In January, Reader’s Digest responded to the challenging economy with a restructuring program that included layoffs of about 280 employees, or 8 percent of its global work force of 3,500.
The restructuring also has included asset sales as Reader’s Digest repositions its businesses. Gareth Stevens, part of the company’s Weekly Reader Publishing Group, became a non-core business when Reader’s Digest executives opted to focus on the core Weekly Reader brand.
“Our expansion in New York City addresses the rising demand for affordable and stylish lodging in urban areas,” said Brian McGuinness, senior vice president of specialty select brands for Starwood.
Pepsi Bottling Group Inc., the largest distributor of Pepsi beverage products, said that it has signed an agreement to distribute Rockstar Energy Drink in Mexico starting in July. Somers-based Pepsi Bottling already distributes the drink in the United States and Canada. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
PepsiCo Inc., the Purchase-based food and beverage company, has formed an alliance with Japan’s largest snack company to expand its presence in the Japanese market.
PepsiCo’s agreement with Calbee Foods Co. calls for the companies to jointly manufacture and sell a variety of food products in Japan, including potato chips, vegetable snacks, cereal and crackers.
As a result of the complex deal, PepsiCo will will contribute its Frito-Lay Japan business and an undisclosed amount of cash to Calbee in exchange for PepsiCo taking a 20 percent stake in Calbee and gaining a seat on Calbee’s board. The combined PepsiCo and Calbee businesses generate annual sales of about $1.4 billion.
Two private equity firms have agreed to invest $1.5 million and gain board seats at AFP Imaging Corp., an Elmsford-based company that makes medical, dental and veterinary imaging products.
The investments by BioWave Innovations LLC and ComVest Capital LLC come at a time of widening losses for AFP and a sharp decline in its stock price.
With annual sales of about $30 million, the company said that its imaging equipment is installed in more than 100,000 dental and medical offices globally. But AFP, struggling to turn a profit in recent quarters, reported a loss of $1.98 million during its fiscal third quarter. The company’s stock is down 50 percent during the past year. News of the investment pushed the shares up 2 cents today to 5 cents.
The private equity firms will provide AFP with growth capital and debt restructuring.
“The added investment by BioWave Innovations and ComVest will immediately help stabilize and improve the company’s financial condition during this difficult economic climate so that AFP may continue to thrive and grow,” Chief Executive Officer David Vozick said in a written statement.
The private equity investors will assume two board seats at AFP in the aftermath of their investment. R. Scott Jones, managing director of BioWave Innovations, will become the chairman of AFP. Gary Jaggard, fund manager of ComVest Capital, will join the board. Jack Becker and Robert Blatt, current Board members of AFP, will retire. AFP founders Vozick and Donald Rabinovitch will stay on the board and remain as chief executive officer and president respectively.
“We expect to build on the company’s long history and solid reputation as a leader in its marketplace,” Jones said.
President Barack Obama’s goal to reduce U.S. dependance on foreign oil by developing alternative fuels and environmentally friendly technologies has gotten the attention of executives at ITT Corp.
The White Plains-based industrial company said that it has renewed its emphasis on developing advanced fuel technologies in response to projections of steadily rising petrouelm prices in the future.
“The need for greater energy efficiency is one that’s only going to grow more acute in the years to come,” said Jim Dauw, president of ITT’s control technologies business. “The current uncertainty of the global economy has resulted in wildly fluctuating energy prices, but long-term trends indicate these costs are definitely going to rise.”
ITT said one example of the company’s innovation in the fuel technologies field is a busines known as ITT Conoflow. The St. George, S.C.-based unit supplies bus, truck and auto manufacturers with compressed natural gas regulators. Vehicles can use the technology to operate exclusively on natural gas. Or the vehicles can use natural gas in combination with petroleum-based fuels.
An Australian company recently installed ITT’s compressed natural gas systems in fleets of refuse trucks and Mack concrete trucks, lowering energy costs and emissions of the greenhouse gases widely blamed for global warming. In addition, an Alabama company has used the technoology in redcuing the carbon footprint of mass transit buses.
“Long before energy efficiency was the issue it is today, we were leading the way in this field,” said Steve Piluk, product manager for alternative fuels at ITT Conoflow.