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Friday, February 3, 2023

December / January 2012

Evansville Business

Plastics Powerhouse

Inside the newly renovated Berry Plastics headquarters is a Mini Cooper. The red convertible was lifted into the 90,000-square-foot building during the construction phase that finished in February 2011. The car has never been started. It doesn’t have gas in the tank. It doesn’t run. Its purpose for sitting two stories above the pavement inside the largest private company in Indiana: to serve as a prop in a faux garage. “Prop” seems appropriate.

Back Talk

Amy Harrelson

On New Year’s Eve 2006, officials from Casino Aztar ushered in a new resolution: to attract visitors to Le Merigot, their new boutique hotel. They wanted their second hotel to offer more than comfort to visitors. It was to inspire relaxation. Ninety-six rooms came stocked with amenities: Italian bed linens, goose-down duvets, thin-screen televisions (including one in the bathroom), and a shower with multiple body sprays and a rainforest showerhead. Advertisements for the ultramodern venture used phrases such as “lavish whisper” to describe the experience.

Business Front

Ten Years After

As I write this letter, or in this case, somewhat ashamedly dictate this letter as we roll through the Tennessee mountains, the last thing I want running through my head are thoughts of the November 2011 mayoral race. First of all, probably like you, I’m glad it’s over.

Man Cave

On the East Side, a onetime boiler room turned vacuum cleaner shop is now Cigar! Cigar!, a new humidor and lounge where leather is the preferred material for furniture. The revamped store, thanks to Hinderliter Construction, feels like a man cave, admits co-owner Tom Ashby. Men constitute a large portion of the cigar-smoking population (Ashby estimates 90 percent), and he caters to that crowd. Not that women won’t feel comfortable. Our photographer Natalie Greer immediately propped her feet up inside.

Proof Positive

The Sherman Minton double-deck arch bridge spanning the Ohio River via Interstate 64 still is closed, making travel to Louisville a bit taxing during peak drive times. Arrange for some time off at the world-renowned 21c Museum Hotel, just 99 miles down the road from Evansville, and you’ll be rewarded for your patience.

Internet Revived the TV Star

Nearly two decades ago, John D. Engelbrecht was in an East Coast hotel when he discovered a TV show promoting local restaurants. Engelbrecht, the president of Evansville’s South Central Communications, thought a version of this show would work for his city. When Engelbrecht returned from his trip, he contacted Jim Knauff, a friend and entrepreneur with marketing businesses. The two envisioned a Knauff-hosted Dining Discoveries, an hour-long program with restaurant discounts for viewers.

Lounging Around

Airport delays may seem inevitable. In May 2011, a regional unit of American Airlines, American Eagle, kept 608 passengers on board 15 different flights for more than three hours. Officials from the Department of Transportation fined the airline $900,000 in November for the lengthy nightmare.

Crystal Balls

Ever hear of Harry Dent? Thousands of investors have. They began following the Harvard Business School graduate and investment manager when he predicted a big fall in the Japanese economy in the late ’80s. He added more believers in the early ’90s when he saw a big rise coming in the U.S. stock market. Dent was spot-on both times.

The Comeback

The floor of the southwest corner of the former Whirlpool plant is uneven and cracked. The small, makeshift office near a retractable garage door is cold, cramped, and dusty. No heat, central air, or electricity exists in the room. Dan Oberle, whose company will one day fit inside this 45,000-square-foot space, spends most of his day in a Downtown office. He is one of two employees in the Evansville location of a Netherlands-based company, Global Blade Technology USA.

On the Move

Not even a minute into a mid-November hockey game at the new Ford Center and Terry Ficorelli’s cheeks already were damp. Adrenaline kept him on his feet. Ficorelli sat down only two times during the 20-minute breaks after the first and second periods. Even seated, Fic (as he is known) was moving. He rolled in his chair during the intermissions. Oblivious of his surroundings, he updated at-home listeners on the Evansville IceMen’s lead against the Dayton Gems.