Thursday, August 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Archive: July, 2011

POSTED: Friday, July 29, 2011, 4:30 PM

Philadelphia owns the Liberty Bell. It used to ring as a pro-unity, anti-slavery, freedom symbol. But it busted, and now the city lets the Natioanl Park Service march tourists past it. Like it was a dead thing in a tomb.

The Bell that doesn’t ring shows what’s been wrong with Philadelphia since we buried Franklin, Congress moved to Washington, Jackson killed the Bank, the grain exchange lit out for Chicago, and Smith and Barney left Chestnut Street for Wall Street.

It’s time to fix the Bell. “You could gas-weld it,” says Doug Morris, whose B&B Foundry, Wissinoming, has shaped full-size Liberty Bell copies. “Heat it up. Do some chemistry. Add maybe 20-30 pounds of iron rods out of the same metal as the casting. You could melt that bell back together. You could ring that bell.”

POSTED: Friday, July 29, 2011, 11:53 AM

Ecospan, a California-based company that turns plant waste into clear BioFlow-brand plastics - the company says the stuff is "compostable," though not "biodegradable," under U.S. guidelines - has leased 20,000 sq ft at 753 Springdale Drive in Whitelands Park near Exton, for its East Coast operations center and research lab.

Broker Thomas O. Bailey closed the deal for Ecospan. He's first vice president on a CB Richard Ellis leasing team headed by Steve Italiano.

The site has been designated by the state as a Keystone Innovation Zone where employers are eligible for up to $100,000 a year in tax breaks and state subsidies.

POSTED: Friday, July 29, 2011, 10:59 AM

Merck boss Kenneth C. Frazier's promise to "reduce our combined workforce" of 91,000 "by an additional 13% by 2015" won't spare the company's research and development laboratories, he told investors under questioning at the company's quarterly conference call yesterday. 

"The latest announcements will affect R&D in the same way that it affects the rest of the company," Frazier said in response to a qustion by Merrill Lynch analyst Gregg Gilbert.

Merck R&D employs around 12,000 at the company's labs in West Point, Pa. The New Jersey-based drugmaker is one of the biggest corporate employers in the Philadelphia area. Merck statement here, PhillyInc here.

POSTED: Friday, July 29, 2011, 9:11 AM

A caller this morning wanted to know why his neighborhood outlets of the national Sonic Burger chain up in Bucks County are closed and the signs taken down. 

Bucks County Courier Times has already written this one. Looks like the franchisee fell behind on rent payments. The landlord got the cops to shut the works. C-T says the Oklahoma-based chain is hoping to place the workers at their surviving dozen or so stores in the area. 

That didn't take long: Here's an Inquirer story about the franchisee in happier times.

POSTED: Thursday, July 28, 2011, 5:10 PM

Enterprise Rent-A-Car officials have been talking to nonprofit PhillyCarShare about a possible combination, people familiar with the talks told me.

Enterprise spokeswoman Laura T. Bryant and PhillyCarShare executive director Gerald Furgione declined to comment today on the status of discussions. 

Car share is a digitally-enabled, decentralized form of car rental that avoids using fixed offices, stationing cars in rented parking lots. It's marketed to city people who don't need to use a car every day, and employers who don't like the hassle of managing company car fleets.

POSTED: Thursday, July 28, 2011, 4:37 PM
Damaged trees at the company-owned DuPont Country Club near the company's headquarters in Wilmington. (Photo by Joseph N. DiStefano)

As I first reported yesterday, evergreens at DuPont Country Club, near the chemical giant's Wilmington headquarters, show damage similar to the dead and twisted needles and branches associated with DuPont's new herbicide, Imprelis.

DuPont has now acknowledged the connection, and disclosed damage at a second company site in Delaware. The company's statement:

"Some of our customers have observed damage to sensitive trees associated with the use of our new herbicide Imprelis -- and so have we.

POSTED: Thursday, July 28, 2011, 11:54 AM

Shares AmerisourceBergen, the Chesterbrook-based drug wholesaler, rose this morning on a higher profit report, then plunged as chief executive Steve Collis warned of lower earnings to come.

In its quarterly report, Amerisource reported stronger sales of Gemzar, Taxoterse and generic oxaliplatin, showing its "favorable leverage to speciality and generics," wrote Raymond James analyst John W. Ransom in a morning note to clients.

But during the 11 a.m. conference call, "they dropped the growth guidance, from 15%, to %7 to 10%, and the stock sold off about 5%," said Sean Bonner, co-owner of Radnor-based Waterville Capital, whose portfolio includes healthcare stocks.

POSTED: Thursday, July 28, 2011, 10:45 AM

Ten Philly business owners tell what they and customers are saying and doing - stuffing extra cash into a "war chest," dumping bonds, looking for ways to exploit a weaker dollar, and sometimes "nothing" - to meet the threat of a default or downgrade, in a United States that can't agree how to pay its bills.

1) US vs UK: “We haven’t seen anything to indicate that our customers in the U.S. are expressing any concern or altering their buying patterns,” said Joseph Weiss, chairman of Electronic Ink, a Center City-based digital design firm. “I am more concerned about the U.K. I understand it is all over the news there and people are wondering how the U.S. government can be so dysfunctional.”

2) FROM FRANCE: “It's pathetic that the politicians on both sides have let it come to this,” said J. Scott Victor, investment banker at distressed-companies specialist SSG, of West Conshohocken, from his summer lair in Provence. Asked if the French were maybe enjoying America’s discomfort, he wrote back, “Oui.”

About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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