Sonnax Industries,by Kevin Kelley Vermont Business Magazine The co-founder of one of Vermont’s fastest growing manufacturing companies has sold the business to its top two executives.Sonnax, a Bellow Falls automotive parts maker recently named Vermont’s Exporter of the Year, changed hands for an undisclosed sum in a deal announced last week. Neil Joseph, who founded the company with his father in 1978, made the sale along with minority shareholder David Landa.The new owners are Tommy Harmon and David Bedard, who had worked, respectively, as chief operating officer and vice president of sales and marketing. Harmon, who becomes president and CEO, had formed a 50-50 partnership with Bedard, now the company’s chief operating officer.”We really saw this as a great opportunity for my partner and me to continue growing the business,” Harmon said.Sonnax has recorded double-digit growth rates for each of the past few years. And Harmon says he expects expansion to continue at a 10-12 percent annual pace. With 165 employees in Bellows Falls and business operations in 60 countries, Sonnax has revenues of about $36 million a year.It is this performance that led the Vermont Business and Industry Expo to honor Sonnax in May as its Exporter of the Year.The company makes automatic transmission components, including a governing device that Joseph designed around the time that Sonnax was launched.Joseph was unavailable for comment this week, but in an interview in April he attributed the company’s success partly to its recruitment of a multilingual sales staff. “Being able to speak to customers in their own languages helps us greatly in the markets where we want to be,” Joseph said then.He added that Sonnax was committed to staying in Vermont despite the difficulty of hiring locally for some positions. State economic development officials awarded Sonnax $725,000 in tax credits over five years in a successful attempt to persuade the company to expand in Vermont rather than in Tennessee, as it had considered doing. In return, Sonnax said it plans to add 75 workers in the next few years.The new owners told The Rutland Herald that they intend to sustain the company’s policy of paying livable wages. Harmon said no full-time worker makes less than $10 an hour, while the average annual salary exceeds $30,000.Joseph, 48, will stay on as a consultant for the next three years. In a prepared statement, he expressed satisfaction at having sold the business to Harmon and Bedard, “who I believe have the ability to take this company to the next level.”
For the Week of 10/10/2009. There were 900 new regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance last week, an increase of 97 from the week before. Altogether 9,332 new and continuing claims were filed, the same as a week ago and 3,276 more than a year earlier. The Department also processed 4,661 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), 46 more than a week ago. In addition, there were 1,017 Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program, which is an increase of 52 from the week before. The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/(link is external). Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/lmipub.htm#uc(link is external)
The line of mountains that etches across the sky in northern Vermont forms some of the most iconic images of our state. Mount Mansfield is part of the Vermont crest and Camel’s Hump is featured on our state quarter. These mountains are more than a scenic backdrop. They are key to the character of Vermont and a mainstay for tourism, one of our largest industries. But what happens when buildings go up along scenic roadways that obscure these views for the general public? What can we do to protect these assets? Views to the Mountain: A Scenic Resource Manual, just published for the towns of Essex and Jericho by Smart Growth Vermont, details a scenic assessment process and provides solutions towns can adopt.The towns of Essex and Jericho joined forces to address these issues by performing a comprehensive scenic assessment of their roads. The Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission assisted with mapping and data analysis. Based on the information they gained, and recommendations for bylaw language and scenic overlay districts provided by Smart Growth Vermont, the towns have put the platform in place to protect their scenic views for future generations.‘This is groundbreaking work for the protection of scenic viewsheds in Essex and Jericho,’ said Essex Community Development Director Dana Farley. ‘The views to Mount Mansfield are emphasized in both towns, but the data collection and photo-inventory captured many features typical to roadside scenery across Vermont. The manual can be model for all our communities.’ The assessment, bylaw language and solutions for everything from parking to recommended siding and roof colors have been pulled together into which can be downloaded from the Smart Growth Vermont website.Smart Growth Vermont is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to forging growth and conservation solutions for Vermont communities and working rural lands. We work both on-the-ground in communities and at the state level to help develop and implement land use legislation designed to foster growth that works to strengthen our downtowns and village centers while conserving our working landscape and open areas. For more information, please visit Smart Growth Vermont’s website at www.smartgrowthvermont.org(link is external).###
RunVermont and KeyBank announced today that the bank will extend its 23-year sponsorship of the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon for an additional three years. KeyBank has been the title sponsor of the race since its inception in 1989. The relationship is the second longest marathon-corporate sponsorship arrangement in industry history, surpassed only by John Hancock’s 26-year sponsorship of the Boston Marathon.”We are tremendously proud to be part of the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon and Relay,’ said Scott Carpenter President of KeyBank’s Vermont District. ‘Nationally, the marathon has earned a high reputation among elite runners, yet the event maintains a community feel, engaging thousands of local runners, hundreds of volunteers and tens of thousands of spectators. We appreciate the national and local attention the marathon provides our company, as well as the excitement our employees feel participating in the event.”RunVermont Executive Director Peter Delaney said the staff and board of the organization have a deep appreciation for KeyBank’s long-standing partnership. ‘It is a privilege to be affiliated with a well known, community-focused company such as KeyBank,’ Delaney said. “They are a true partner and their consistent support assures we can continue to provide Vermont a great event for years to come.”‘There are very few sponsorships of this magnitude and this longevity in Vermont,’ said Tom Torti, President and Administrative Officer of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce. ‘KeyBank’s continuation of this sponsorship shows a real commitment, not only to the event, but to this community.’ The race is estimated to bring in over $3.5 million in economic impact for the northern Vermont area over Memorial Day Weekend each year.Registration for the May 29 race is on record pace and organizers have announced a cap of 8,000 runners, which includes 700 2-Person and 700 3-5 Person Relay Teams. The relay is sold out and the marathon is expected to fill before race day. Runners can register for the 2011 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon at www.vermontcitymarathon.org(link is external).About KeyBank:KeyBank N.A. is one of Vermont’s largest financial services companies. A strong proponent for local economic growth, Key companies provide investment management, retail and commercial banking, retirement, consumer finance, and investment banking products and services to individuals and companies throughout the United States and, for certain businesses, internationally. The company’s businesses deliver their products and services through branches and offices; a network of approximately 1,500 ATMs; telephone banking centers (1.800.KEY2YOU); and a Web site, Key.com, that provides account access and financial products 24 hours a day.About RunVermont:RunVermont is a not-for-profit business focused on the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. The organization offers competitive and educational programs for adults and children including the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon and Relay, the MVP Health Care YAM Scram , FirstRun, Ready, Set, Run! and the Half Unplugged. For more information, visit www.runvermont.org(link is external).
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 117,000 in July, and the unemploymentrate was little changed at 9.1 percent, down from 9.2 percent in June, the US Bureau of Labor Statisticsreported today. Job gains occurred in health care, retail trade, manufacturing,and mining. Government employment continued to trend down. The drop in the unemployment rate is attributed mostly to a reduction in the labor force, as fewer people were looking for work, but there was some modest gains in jobs.Household Survey DataThe number of unemployed persons (13.9 million) and the unemployment rate (9.1percent) changed little in July. Since April, the unemployment rate has shownlittle definitive movement. The labor force, at 153.2 million, was littlechanged in July, with a gain of 117,000.Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men(9.0 percent),adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (25.0 percent), whites (8.1 percent),blacks (15.9 percent), and Hispanics (11.3 percent) showed little or no changein July. The jobless rate for Asians was 7.7 percent, not seasonally adjusted.The number of persons unemployed for less than 5 weeks declined by 387,000 inJuly, mostly offsetting an increase in the prior month. The number of long-termunemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over), at 6.2 million, changed littleover the month and accounted for 44.4 percent of the unemployed.The civilian labor force participation rate edged down in July to 63.9 percent,and the employment-population ratio was little changed at 58.1 percent.The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referredto as involuntary part-time workers) was about unchanged in July at 8.4 million.These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut backor because they were unable to find a full-time job.In July, 2.8 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, littlechanged from a year earlier. (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Theseindividuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work,and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not countedas unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks precedingthe survey.Among the marginally attached, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers inJuly, about the same as a year earlier. (These data are not seasonallyadjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for workbecause they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.7 millionpersons marginally attached to the labor force in July had not searched forwork in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendanceor family responsibilities.Establishment Survey DataTotal nonfarm payroll employment increased by 117,000 in July, following littlegrowth over the prior 2 months. Total private employment rose by 154,000 overthe month, reflecting job gains in several major industries, including healthcare, retail trade, manufacturing, and mining. Government employment continuedto decline.Health care employment grew by 31,000 in July. Ambulatory health care servicesand hospitals each added 14,000 jobs over the month. Over the past 12 months,health care employment has grown by 299,000.Retail trade added 26,000 jobs in July. Employment in health and personal carestores rose by 9,000 over the month with small increases distributed amongseveral other retail industries. Employment in retail trade has increased by228,000 since a recent low in December 2009.Manufacturing employment increased in July (+24,000); nearly all of theincrease was in durable goods manufacturing. Within durable goods, the motorvehicles and parts industry had fewer seasonal layoffs than typical for July,contributing to a seasonally adjusted employment increase of 12,000.Manufacturing has added 289,000 jobs since its most recent trough in December2009, and durable goods manufacturing added 327,000 jobs during this period.In July, employment in mining rose by 9,000; virtually all of the gain (+8,000)occurred in support activities for mining. Employment in mining has increasedby 140,000 since a recent low in October 2009.Employment in professional and technical services continued to trend up in July(+18,000). This industry has added 246,000 jobs since a recent low in March2010. Employment in temporary help services changed little over the month andhas shown little movement on net so far this year.Elsewhere in the private sector, employment in construction, transportationand warehousing, information, financial activities, and leisure and hospitalitychanged little over the month.Government employment continued to trend down over the month (-37,000).Employment in state government decreased by 23,000, almost entirely due to apartial shutdown of the Minnesota state government. Employment in localgovernment continued to wane over the month.The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchangedover the month at 34.3 hours. The manufacturing workweek and factory overtimefor all employees also were unchanged at 40.3 hours and 3.1 hours, respectively.In July, the average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees onprivate nonfarm payrolls was 33.6 hours for the sixth consecutive month.In July, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrollsincreased by 10 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $23.13. Over the past 12 months,average hourly earnings have increased by 2.3 percent. In July, average hourlyearnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increasedby 8 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $19.52.The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for May was revised from +25,000to +53,000, and the change for June was revised from +18,000 to +46,000.US DOL. 8.5.2011