Monthly Archives: June 2009

Coldwell Banker and the rumor mill

WICHITA – Wild stories are flying through the local real estate community about Plaza’s decision Friday to affiliate with Coldwell Banker after Stucky & Associates owner Frank Stucky said he dropped the flag, unable to pay its franchise fees.

There are enough of them, frankly, that we’re checking into them.

But I want to give you a little personal philosophy here: Stucky and Plaza president John McKenzie have never been anything less than truthful with me. I’ve known Stucky professionally for 20 years, and his credibility with me is top-notch. McKenzie has also been truthful with me, even at times when it wasn’t in his best business interests to do so.

The message is this: We hear the rumors and we’re listening. But as of today, I don’t expect that the REAL story is anything different than what you’ve read.

Saturn dealer Davies in Wall Street Journal

Scott Davies, owner of Saturn of Wichita, was one of three Saturn dealers featured by the Wall Street Journal in a story today.

A big part of the story is about dealers who are playing up Roger Penske’s plan to buy the brand, and General Motors gentle admonition to them not to so as to not take “the spotlight off the brand itself,” the article says.

You can read more about Davies and the story here.

A busy Friday for bank regulators

WICHITA — An auspicious record was set on Friday.

On that day, state and federal regulators closed five banks: two in California, two in Georgia and one in Minnesota.

Up until then, the most banks regulators had closed on any one Friday was four, on April 24.

To date, 45 banks have failed in 2009. That includes First National Bank of Anthony, which was closed by the Comptroller of the Currency June 19. Its deposits and branches were assumed by SNB Bank of Kansas.

Since the banking crisis began in 2008, 70 banks have failed.

Ethanol’s future

During my recently concluded vacation, the faithful Honda and I ventured deep into southwest Kansas.

It’s hard not to notice two major ethanol plants along the way – one just northeast of Pratt, the other near Liberal. About $300 million, I’d guess, in the latest alternative fuels technology.

And not a solitary thing going on at Pratt, where a motionless cache of tanker cars stands guard. The only thing missing was buzzards.

The Liberal plant’s operational, and it’s got that trademark weird smell that reminds me a little bit of roast beef.

Where do you think the ethanol industry is headed? Is it a viable alternative fuel? Or are the steep start up costs and oil’s volatility a recipe for bankruptcy?

If the phone line is busy . . .

Wednesday was the eighth day on the job for Kirk Schulz as Kansas State University’s new president.

How time flies when you’re busy dealing with the controversy over the contract of ex-KSU football coach Ron Prince and an audit released last week by the Kansas Board of Regents that revealed financial irregularities at K-State.

Schulz spent part of Wednesday speaking at the luncheon meeting of the Agri-Business Council of Wichita at the Hilton Wichita Airport.

“I hope my second week is nothing like my first week,” he said. “I’ve talked more to the media in the last 10 days than I have total in my first four years.”

Where is your favorite donut?

So we have this intern for the summer. Her name is Jessie Gorges. She just got back from lunch and was asked where she went.

“Maybe eating donuts for lunch wasn’t the best idea,” was her reply.

Don’t misunderstand. It’s not that she didn’t like what she had at the Donut Whole. She did. It’s just that, well, you know, donuts for lunch? Like I said, she’s an intern.

Anyway, the conversation quickly turned to where the best donuts are. I am a fan of Lamar’s. So is Carrie Rengers. Jerry Siebenmark swears by Krispy Kreme.

What about you? When it’s your turn to pick up donuts for the office, where do you stop?

Twitter (and other social networking) tips

Chances are if you’re reading this blog, you also spend time on Twitter or Facebook or some other social networking site. I got a press release from “business relationship and marketing expert” Drew Gerber, CEO of PitchRate.com, pointing out some common pitfalls people make in social networking.

I thought he made some good points, so I’m going to share:

1. Don’t be stingy. Be interested in what others are up to and share. Many people forget to share and only promote themselves. Take an interest in the person behind the code.

2. Share your toys. For every one tip you get; provide 12. Don’t worry, there’s more from where that came from. What goes around comes around.

3. Remember the Golden Rule. It’s easy to talk badly about someone online, but avoid it. Be kind and treat the person the same way as you would if they were in front of you.

4. Let everyone play. Often online can turn into a high school clique situation; the people who are most successful are those who are inclusive vs. exclusive.

5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten up. People gravitate toward humor.

6. Try something new. Everyone is bored of hearing/reading the same thing over and over again.

7. The biggest pitfall, Drew might add, is saying you are very busy in a business relationship and then you post nonsense time-wasters like “do you know me quizzes” or guess my favorite movie.

When E.F. Hutton talks

As sometimes happens here at Business Casual Central, a conversation got a little sidetracked. I’m not sure where it started, but it ended with me asking whatever happened to E.F. Hutton (apparently the company’s remains are now part of Citigroup).

Anyway, in my hunt to find out what happened to the company, I ran across this. Enjoy.

More on historic tax credits

The Kansas Legislature’s move to cap tax credits for historic building redevelopment at $3.75 million for 2010 and 2011 will roll the program back to 2004 levels, according to figures released this morning by Kansas Secretary of Revenue Joan Wagnon.

Here’s a breakdown of filers and credits allowed:

2007: 120 filers, $5.99 million allowed
2006: 102 filers, $4.03 million allowed
2005: 138 filers, $6.1 million allowed
2004: 128 filers, $3.44 million allowed
2003: 87 filers, $2.48 million allowed
2002: 36 filers, $943,852 allowed.

2001 figures are confidential, Wagnon’s office said, because there were fewer than five filers.

The cap imposed by the Kansas Legislature this year is the first one in the program’s history, as we’ve reported before. There was no limit on credit awards in any of the above years.

Twitter: All hype?

This piece quotes a Harvard study that seems to blow a significant hole in all the Twitter hype.
From a journalist’s perspective, I see some merit in it in the search for news and sources.
But beyond that, I have a hard time getting my arms around the idea that anyone really cares what I’m thinking at any particular minute in time. I’m not sure Twitter accomplishes anything that can’t be accomplished on Facebook.

Fast, slow roads to economic recovery

Interesting multi-media take from Forbes on the cities which will rebound quickly and slowly from the recession.
You’ll note that the latter category is essentially California.
Interesting information to contemplate with my colleague Dan Voorhis’ thoughts Sunday on the relatively slow pace of Wichita’s projected recovery.

Tough times trickle down

I post a link to this Reuters piece without comment.

Primarily because it speaks for itself.

Your thoughts?