Blake Miller, Homebase founder and CEO | Courtesy of Miller

Missouri Minute: Startup Homebase plans to hire 300; restaurant closures hit KC



Good morning, MBA readers,

It’s Black Friday, and this year’s holiday shopping season is already abbreviated as is, so we’ll try to make this brief and let you get back to shopping. The big business story of the day — and, in all likelihood, the next several days — is holiday retail. Whether it’s big-box stores compensating for a shorter holiday shopping season (spoiler alert: consumers are still expected to spend plenty) or small businesses embracing the “shop local” ethos, retailers are looking to make a splash this weekend. Shoppers, meanwhile, may work up an appetite chasing down all those deals. Unfortunately for restaurant patrons in the Kansas City area, there suddenly are fewer dining options. May we recommend the leftover turkey instead?


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Stay alert

Tallgrass president takes on CEO role
The Leawood, Kansas-based energy infrastructure company has promoted Bill Moler, who has served as president since March, to succeed David Dehaemaers Jr. as CEO. Dehaemers said Moler has “played a vital role in our growth and success” since the company was founded in 2012. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Harbour Group acquires SpotSee
The St. Louis-based private equity firm has acquired Dallas-based SpotSee and its subsidiaries. SpotSee makes technology for monitoring inventory along the supply chain. (St. Louis Business Journal)

KC startup plans to add 300 new jobs
Homebase, which developed and sells smart building management software, plans to hire 300 new people over the next two to three years to fill customer service and software development roles. The company’s job growth is fueled in part by incentives through the Missouri Works program. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Creditor seeks to take control of St. Louis hospital, alleging Medicaid fraud
O’Fallon, Illinois-based Midwest Emergency Department Services has asked a city court to place St. Alexius Hospital in St. Louis into receivership and seize its reimbursements from Missouri’s Medicaid program. MEDS, a creditor of the hospital, alleges that the facility’s new owner has fraudulently diverted state Medicaid payments for personal gain. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Ozark Angels founder seeks successor
Founder Devin Dillon announced that he plans to move out of the state and is looking for someone to take over the 2-year-old investor group based in Springfield. (Springfield Business Journal)

Big Whiskey’s first franchisee plots expansion
Shane Miller, who opened the first Big Whiskey’s franchise location in Arkansas in 2017, has agreed to open three more restaurants in Northwest Arkansas. The Ozark-based restaurant chain currently has 11 locations, two of which are owned by franchisees. (Springfield Business Journal)

A-B InBev turns excess alcohol into soap
The brewer, which has its North American headquarters in St. Louis, has begun recycling the residual alcohol from making alcohol-free lagers. That alcohol is now being used as the active cleaning and preservative component of an environmentally friendly detergent. (Reuters)


Now hear this

For Small Business Saturday, retailers tout customer experience, community benefit
This year marks the 10th year of Small Business Saturday, a national effort encouraging consumers to support local small businesses in the midst of the holiday retail rush. As small retailers look to distinguish themselves from big-box retailers and ecommerce competition during the holidays, customer experience is key, according to Nickie Davis, executive director of The District in downtown Columbia. Hear more about Small Business Saturday and Missouri retailers’ strategy for the event in Davis’ recent interview with the Speaking Startup podcast.


Show me

It’s the day after Thanksgiving. You have leftover turkey; we have leftover turkey graphics. Today’s graphic takes one more look at American turkey production. Missouri ranks sixth in that department, producing about 19 million of the country’s 240 million turkeys.


Say that again

“There probably are too many restaurants out there. Expect to see additional closings. 2020 is going to be a tough year for restaurants.”

That’s R.J. Hottovy, senior retail and restaurant analyst for Morningstar, following a string of high-profile restaurant closings in the Kansas City area in recent weeks. The rough stretch for the local restaurant scene includes two bankruptcy filings: HRI Holding Corp., which owns Houlihan’s Restaurants, and Bread & Butter Concepts, owner of restaurants like Gram & Dun and Urban Table. Some observers blame the increasing costs of food and labor, The Kansas City Star reports. Others cite shifting consumer preference as a culprit. But local industry representatives say the high concentration of recent closures isn’t an indication of a downturn in the local restaurant market. Instead, they say, it may signal a trend toward higher churn.


Go figure

26

That’s the number of shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, compared to 32 last year. The short holiday shopping season isn’t expected to dampen sales for retailers, according to multiple projections. Deloitte forecasted sales growth of about 5% over last year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, and online sales had already eclipsed $2.1 billion by 4 p.m. Thursday, according to Adobe. Said St. Louis retail consultant Jason Long of the truncated time between Thanksgiving and Christmas: “People are still going to spend their money. But (retailers) do have a smaller margin for error.”


Hello, my name is

Tom Peterson

The Hostess Brands CFO and executive vice president is moving to a new role as part of a shakeup of the snack cake maker’s executive team. Peterson will become the Kansas City-based company’s new executive vice president of strategy and mergers and acquisitions, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. He will be replaced as CFO by Brian Purcell, who previously was CFO of Rawlings Sporting Goods.


It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning. Happy bargain hunting this holiday weekend.

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