Huffy bike maker growing: Dayton CEO shares future e-commerce plans

Published: Friday, October 13, 2017 @ 10:10 AM


            Huffy CEO Bill Smith addresses a group at a Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce event on the history of the company and where it is headed in the current retail environment. KAITLIN SCHROEDER/STAFF
Huffy CEO Bill Smith addresses a group at a Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce event on the history of the company and where it is headed in the current retail environment. KAITLIN SCHROEDER/STAFF

Huffy Corp.’s CEO says the company is evolving to stay ahead in an e-commerce world, whether that’s starting to sell on Ebay or launching a self-assemble bike that can be ordered online.

The key to Huffy’s success has been its willingness to adapt to change, whether its the decline of the sewing machine or the rise of e-commerce, said Bill Smith, the chief executive of the locally-based bike brand, speaking at a Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce event this morning.

Huffy, now based in Centerville, has been in the area for 125 years and is preparing to move to a larger headquarters in Miami Township that will give the company 40 percent more space to design and showcase its sample bikes.

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Smith said it doesn’t mean the company is less focused on bricks-and-mortar retail, it just means the company is expanding so its selling bikes all the ways people want to buy bikes.

“We are fast and aggressively moving into this new distribution channel and we will be available where consumers want to shop,” Smith said.

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Smith outlined some of the ways the company is adapting to the current retail environment and the demands of online shopping, including:
  • Next year, Huffy plans to launch an easy-to-assemble bike line that requires no tools for the consumer to put it together.
  • The self-assembly is good for stores but even better for selling online, Smith said. “Everything literally snaps into place,” he said.
  • The company just launched an e-commerce initiative so it can become a bicycle supplier in China, where most of its products are manufactured. “So we will use e-commerce as a new marketing vehicle to enter markets where we didn’t have a presence,” Smith said.
  • He said they are looking at ways to work with mom-and-pop bike dealers, which have the potential to become service shops and distribution centers for all of its e-commerce business. “Where if you wanted to buy a bike online, but you didn’t want it delivered to the house, you could have it shipped to your local dealer. They could assemble it. And they could deliver it to you on Saturday when your home,” Smith said.
  • Huffy also just opened a store on Ebay last week.
  • Smith also predicted the U.S. will see electric bikes become popular in the next decade. “They are very popular in Europe and they are very popular in China but have not really made it to the U.S. but when they do we will be in the forefront,” Smith said.

State lawmakers pick sides on UAW efforts at Fuyao

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 1:57 PM
Updated: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 4:45 PM

Fuyao Glass America workers Dustin Sparkman, left, and Deraesha Stewart work as a team to clean and quality check windshields in the Moraine plant in this 2016 photo. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Fuyao Glass America workers Dustin Sparkman, left, and Deraesha Stewart work as a team to clean and quality check windshields in the Moraine plant in this 2016 photo. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Public officials are choosing sides in the United Auto Workers’ efforts to unionize the Fuyao Glass America Plant in Moraine.

Letters from officials and lawmakers in both parties are circulating, urging the company to accept unionization efforts or, alternatively, advising workers not to embrace “outside forces.”

In an “open letter” released Monday, 15 Republican lawmakers said in part:

“Unfortunately, we understand that there are outside forces trying to come into Fuyao. We are confident in Fuyao’s leadership in being able to work out all issues with you internally and quickly. This choice is up to you as employees to make. As those who represent you every day and fight for you, we urge you to reject these outside forces.”

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“We will stand with you and Fuyao as the company continues to grow and develop,” the letter adds. “Please do not hesitate to reach out to us.”

The letter appears over the signatures of Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miami Twp.), Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City), Bill Dean (R-Xenia) and 11 other members of the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate. 

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But an earlier letter from Democrats and union supporters, dated Oct. 16, was sent to Jeff Liu, president of Fuyao Glass America.

“We believe that Fuyao has an obligation to pay fair wages, ensure a safe workplace, comply with all applicable laws, and respect workers’ right to form a union and collectively bargain, if that is what they choose,” said that letter, signed by State Rep. and Ohio House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn and 31 others, including Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland.

“We stand with the workers at Fuyao Glass, and are prepared to stand with them every step of the way as they join together to make positive changes at the plant,” that letter added.

As this news outlet first reported last week, workers at Fuyao’s Moraine plant filed with the National Labor Relations Board for a vote on whether to accept representation by the UAW.

Some workers have said the company’s management and disciplinary policies are arbitrary and unpredictable while other workers have pointed to what they say are safety problems at the plant.

Fuyao has about 2,000 workers at the the West Stroop Road plant, which the company says is the world’s largest automotive glass production operation.

In an interview Monday, Antani said he wrote the letter, which springs from “conversations we’ve had with Fuyao’s leadership regarding the situation.”

Beyond that, it’s up to workers whether to accept or reject the union, Antani said.

“Our job here is not to be directly involved with the election,” he said. “It is the workers’ choice.”

He recalled that at the plant’s groundbreaking ceremony last October, Sen. Sherrod Brown in public remarks endorsed efforts to unionize the plant. Antani said he felt that was inappropriate.

“Democrats came out with this first,” Antani said. “We’re being much more light-handed.”

Messages seeking comment were left for Brown’s office and Fuyao management. 

PUCO: New DP&L plan raises rates

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 10:38 AM
Updated: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 2:46 PM

Plant worker shares scenes of explosion on Facebook Live. This power plant is in Aberdeen, Ohio along the Ohio River.

With Dayton Power & Light arguing that its “financial integrity” is at stake, a state regulatory agency has approved new charges and a new “electric security plan” for DP&L customers.

The plan means higher electric bills for some DP&L customers, but a decrease for others, according to the utility.

A state consumer group said the plan’s new charges — or “rider” — for DP&L would be harmful to residential customers, with the “average residential ratepayer” paying $9 a month, or $107 a year, according to its filing outlining the decision on the case.

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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio said in a release its approval means that DP&L will end the collection of its annual $73 million retail stability charge.“ Instead, a residential customer using 750 kilowatt hours per month will see a monthly bill increase of $2.92 during the term of the” new charge, the PUCO said.

A DP&L spokeswoman concurred that the PUCO’s estimate and disagreed with the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel in its $9 a month estimate.

City to vote on contracts worth millions for Dayton airport work

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 3:31 PM


            FILE
FILE

Dayton City Commission will vote Wednesday to approve two contracts worth millions of dollars for major renovations at the Dayton International Airport.

The Department of Aviation is requesting permission for a contract with Messer Construction Co., which will not exceed $3.8 million. The contract is for work during Phase 1 of the Airport Terminal Modernization Program. This work includes renovation of the pre-security restrooms, moving the United Services Organization from its current location to next to the security checkpoint, and HVAC and lighting upgrades.

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Five bids were also received for the Dayton International Airport Terminal Apron Reconstruction, Phase 2 project, for the demolition and reconstruction of part of the terminal concrete apron. Other aspects of the project include replacement of the existing edge lighting fixtures, replacement of underground conduits, cables and light bases and new pavement markings. The project also includes water main replacement.

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The Department of Aviation is recommending the city approve the lowest bid, which was received by Anthony Allega Cement Contractor Inc. The total contract amount is $11.2 million, including a base bid of $7.4 million. The time of completion for the project is 200 days and the contract would close on Dec. 31, 2019.

The Dayton airport will need to spend $130 million in infrastructure improvements in coming years, an investment that could lure in passengers and airlines. Airports across the U.S. will need an infusion of nearly $100 billion in the next five years to accommodate passenger and cargo growth, and to rehabilitate aging hubs, according to a 2017 report from the Airports Council International - North America.

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Kroger announces executive leadership changes

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 1:57 PM

FILE
FILE

Kroger Co. announced new leadership changes within its executive leadership branch.

The Cincinnati-headquartered grocery chain announced the retirement of Central division President Katie Wolfram and the promotion of Pam Matthews, currently the QFC division president, to succeed her. Suzy Monford will join the company to serve as the president of the QFC division.

“Both leaders bring successful and distinguished retail experience to the roles and will help with the execution of the Restock Kroger Plan that will bring valuable changes to our customers, associates, communities and shareholders,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO.

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Wolfram will retire from the company after 38 years of distinguished service, effective on Nov. 4. Wolfram was named to her current role in 2016 and has been spearheading an “aggressive growth strategy in the Central division since joining the region as the vice president of merchandising in 2014,” Kroger said in statement.

In the last two years, the company has invested nearly $329 million in the central Indiana market, adding five new Marketplace stores and 12 new gas stations, remodeling and/or expanding 14 existing stores, building a regional training center and adding more than 1,400 new jobs to the region.

The Central division operates 138 stores with more than 19,500 associates.

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