Wednesday, March 26, 2003

What's the Buzz?

Clovernook gets plenty of war biz


The war in Iraq has meant a lot more activity at the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

The agency, based in North College Hill with offices in Dayton, Ohio, and Memphis, Tenn., makes biodegradable paper cups for the U.S. Navy. It usually makes up to 1.5 million a month but has received orders for 6 million since the beginning of February, said Jay Longworth, vice president of business operations.

Clovernook hopes to stem its annual losses and reach the break-even point by 2004. The increased military orders should help, Longworth said.

"It's our goal to expand services; but right now, we're trying to make sure we're on a businesslike footing," he said.

The agency operates with a budget of about $10 million. It provides rehabilitation services for about 1,000 people a year.

A production division employs about 144 - 90 of them visually impaired - making books and magazines and about 20 million file folders a year.

Clovernook started making paper cups for the Navy in 1999 at its Memphis plant. Because the cups are biodegradable, they can be tossed overboard, Longworth said.

Once and for all

As Reds players reported to spring training this year, Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden and his wife, Amy, quietly settled their contentious divorce.

The case had lasted for almost two years and was close to a trial last month before a settlement was reached on property division. The final order came Feb. 19 from Judge Susan Laker Tolbert.

The case threatened at several points to involve the Reds, including travel records from the team. And Amy Bowden is dating Reds minority owner Bill Reik.

Moving up

Already one of the nation's top 10 salons and spas, Mitchell's Salon & Day Spa hopes to break past $20 million in annual sales next year after the opening of its sixth location, in West Chester.

Mitchell's, which runs four stores under that name and Pump Salon at Rookwood Commons in Norwood, will post sales in the "high teens" (of millions) this year, owner Deborah Schmidt said. The new store, a 20,000-square-foot stand-alone building off Cox Road, will open May 1.

"We're actually one of the few businesses that is pretty recession-proof," Schmidt said. "When people stay home more, it helps our business."

Schmidt started the company in 1983 and has been profitable since. About half of its business is in hair care, about one-third in spa services and the rest in retail products.

Schmidt said her industry is watching closely for effects of Procter & Gamble Co.'s acquisition of German hair-care giant Wella AG, which gets almost half of its business from selling to salons.

"Clairol lost their popularity with salons when their name was all over the drugstores," she said.


Real estate fades in February
DHL buys Airborne for $1.05B
Fate of DHL Airways up in the air
5/3 chief fields tough questions
CG&E natural gas rates to rise 7%
Rising unemployment affects even tech sector
NYSE decision to boot Arab network criticized
Consumer confidence at lowest since 1993
AK wins time to deal, but stock loses value
PEALE: What's the Buzz?
Industry notes: Banking
Tristate summary
Business digest
Morning memo