I Don't Make This Stuff Up, I Just Sorta Sniff It Out....
Honest, I did not make this story up....
Company Eyes Toilet Paper of the Future
By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press Writer
LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) -- Giant rolls of toilet paper big enough for Paul Bunyan are spun 24 hours a day at this sprawling factory along the Clearwater River.
In its 100th year of existence, Potlatch Corp. is a leading bathroom tissue producer in the West and is making inroads in the East and Midwest in a quest for greater market share. Its goal is to put a not-so-soft squeeze on sales of industry leader Charmin, made by Procter & Gamble.
But Spokane, Wash.-based Potlatch does not produce its own brand of paper. Rather, it makes the house brands for Albertson's, Safeway, Fred Meyer, Vons, Jewel and many other grocery store chains. As those chains have swallowed up competitors across the country, they have carried Potlatch products into new markets.
Today, Potlatch products are in Dominick's stores in the Chicago area; in Kroger, Genuardi's and Acme in the East; Randalls in the South and Smith's in the Rocky Mountain states.
Potlatch has carved a niche by trying to match the quality of top brands while remaining cheaper.
"Our growth has been to keep up with the brands," said Bob DeVlemming, vice president of sales. "It allows stores to be proud of the quality they put their name on."
Potlatch is No. 1 in private label grocery production in the United States, but holds only about 2 percent to 3 percent of the overall paper products market. P&G, Kimberly-Clark and Georgia-Pacific dominate, with name-brand products like Northern, Kleenex, Cottonelle and Charmin accounting for 80 percent to 85 percent of sales.
The industry is a tough one, however, with cost-cutting common and profits slim. Potlatch made just $100,000 in profits on its consumer paper products division in the most recent quarter, after losing $5 million on that sector in the second quarter.
The company's overall third quarter performance was much better, with profits of $22.2 million, because of a strong performance by its bigger, more lucrative timber products business. In the first nine months of 2003, Potlatch reported profits of $20 million, compared to a loss of $31.9 million a year earlier.
The company's stock has been selling in the $32 range, recovering from a low of $18 earlier this year. In 1998, it was trading at $40.
"They've had a good run," said Steve Chercover, an analyst for D.A. Davidson & Co. in Portland, Ore., on the recent stock rise.
Potlatch's strategy of growing with its existing clients and adding consumer paper products in higher-profit categories is solid, Chercover believes, although he rates the stock neutral at this point.
"They might still need additional (manufacturing) capacity to take on new clients," he said.
He noted that with stiffer price competition in the paper industry, much of Potlatch's good recent performance hinges on rising prices for oriented strand board, a substitute for plywood used in the construction industry, rather than its tissue business.
Still, Potlatch makes 92 percent of the private label bathroom tissue sold in grocery stores in the West, and one-third of all the bathroom tissue sold in grocery stores in the West, according to the company.
In toilet paper, the top name brands are marketed with the promise of elegant softness. Then come the higher-end store brands, followed by the cheaper store brands sold strictly by price. At the bottom are institutional products intended for public places like stadiums, airports and shopping malls.
Potlatch ignores that low-end market. It believes there are plenty of customers for its better-quality private label tissue. In particular, the company is interested in offering its products at wholesale club stores like Costco, which account for a growing part of the retail business.
It was consumer research in the early 1990s that convinced Potlatch that shoppers were willing to spend a little more for softer store brands of bathroom tissue, company spokesman Mike Sullivan said. At the time, store brands were primarily a rougher, lower quality product at much lower prices.
In 1992, the company retooled its paper machines at its Lewiston factory to make the softer paper, spending $110 million on a new machine which produces nearly a mile of tissue per minute.
Next year, Potlatch will activate a new $66 million paper towel machine in Las Vegas that will produce its first direct competition to Bounty, the leading seller among top-quality paper towels.
"That's a big deal to us," DeVlemming said.
The company already has a plant in Benton Harbor, Mich., that converts the giant rolls of toilet paper into consumer-sized rolls. It is searching for a second plant in the Midwest to serve its customers east of the Mississippi River, officials said.
In the meantime, Potlatch is contending with some shareholder criticism. Earlier this year, 18 percent of shareholders voted in favor of a proposal to study the company's dividend payments.
About half of Potlatch shares are held by members of the Weyerhaeuser family, who are big investors in the timber industry, and some shareholders have claimed the family is taking too much money out of the company in dividends. In 2001, Potlatch lost nearly $80 million, but still issued dividends of $1.17 per share.
It was the second consecutive year the proposal from John Osborn, a Spokane environmentalist and stockholder, was rejected. Osborn has also been a critic of Potlatch's environmental practices, and would like the company to spend more reducing pollution.
Sullivan said the dividend study proposal was considered redundant because Potlatch regularly reviews its dividend policy.
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Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. http://customwire.ap.org/dynamic/sto...MPLATE=DEFAULT
I HAD NO IDEA THERE WAS SUCH A PLACE IN CANADA
Steinbach, Man., holds fifth referendum on decades-old ban on alcohol sales
STEVE LAMBERT Canadian Press Thursday, October 23, 2003
STEINBACH, Man. (CP) - Voters in this dry community voted to go wet Wednesday by the narrowest of margins.
A slight majority of 50.9 per cent of Steinbach voters decided they wanted to be able to order alcohol in restaurants - just barely enough to pop the cork. "The people of our city have spoken," said Mayor Les Magnusson. "What they've saying is 'Yes, we want to have a glass of wine with our meal.' "I guess you can say we'll become wet." The referendum in Steinbach, a city of 9,000 about a half-hour drive from Winnipeg, stirred emotions on both sides of the issue. Most of the 6,300 eligible voters felt they should have the right to drink in restaurants, but others fear alcohol will threaten the community's reputation as a safe and prosperous place.
Magnusson, who credited the no-booze policy for Steinbach's low crime rate, was among the latter. After the vote, he was willing to concede to the majority - although he said the issue isn't over yet.
"I'm sure that somewhere down the road, we'll get some corporation that comes in and wants to have a bar and maybe a pizza place, and there will be other referendums," he said. "I expect that within the next year or so."
City councillor David Banman, who called for the referendum, said Magnusson's crime concerns are unwarranted.
"Our crime rates are low because we've got good people here," he said.
"That is not going to change. We won't see an increase in crime, I don't believe."
Restaurant owner Peter Verstoep welcomed Wednesday's result.
"We were losing business. A lot of people would comment that 'Oh, we went to Winnipeg because we would like a glass of wine or so with (the meal).' "
The Steinbach Chamber of Commerce supported selling liquor.
"We live in a global environment and must begin to think outside our current boundaries," the chamber's statement said. "People have the right to make their own personal choice on this matter."
In the last referendum eight years ago, residents voted 56 per cent in favour of keeping the ban versus 44 per cent who wanted to lift it.
Statistics from the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission show the city is already somewhat "wet." About 150 occasional liquor permits are issued each year to golf and curling clubs and banquet halls.
It's the fifth time in 30 years that people have voted on the ban.
The latest referendum was called a couple of months ago after a municipal councillor moved to have the question considered.
© Copyright 2003 The Canadian Press
**Steinbach is about 30 miles SE of Winnipeg.
SINGING "DARWIN SITT'N ON MY SHOULDER"
Some people have all the luck, while others have none....
Oct 23, 12:08 PM EDT Niagara Survivor Ordered Out of Canada By CAROLYN THOMPSON Associated Press Writer
ST. CATHARINES, Ontario (AP) -- A Canadian judge on Thursday agreed to release a U.S. citizen who survived a plunge over Niagara Falls and ordered him to stay out of Canada except for court appearances.
Kirk Jones, 40, spoke little during his brief appearance in a provincial court room except to say he understood the charges against him. He is charged with mischief and unlawfully performing a stunt.
Jones and a friend had been drinking vodka and Coke before heading to the falls, where Jones climbed a protective railing into the Niagara River on Monday and floated feet first over the falls, prosecutors told the court.
The Canton, Mich., man is the only person known to have survived a plunge over the falls without a safety device.
Inspector Paul Forcier said police were reviewing a videotape made by Jones' friend, who has not been charged.
"Well, you're lucky to be standing here," the judge told Jones. He set bail at $1,000 Canadian ($760 U.S.).
Jones' brother, Keith Jones, was in court and said he would post the bail. He said he believes his brother was despondent.
"I believe it was more reaching out for attention," he said, noting that his brother is unemployed and not married. "He didn't really have a lot going for him."
After Jones was released from a hospital Wednesday and arrested, he told reporters that he had been suicidal but that the experience made him want to live. Authorities had suggested he was simply a daredevil - the latest in a long line who have sought to conquer Niagara Falls over the last century.
"It's an embarrassing thing to say now, but depression caused me to do what I think untold numbers have done in Niagara Falls," Jones said Wednesday night. "I can't ask you why God saw me fit to live at this time, but I'm happy to be alive."
His father, Raymond Jones of Keizer, Ore., said his son sounded cheerful Wednesday in a phone call from the psychiatric unit at Greater Niagara General Hospital.
"He fully expected to die," the 80-year-old father said. "He was near death. He knew it. He thinks he was saved for a reason."
Family and friends have said Jones had been considering the jump for years. Eric Fronek, 21, told ABC that his friend had discussed it in the past, but was driven to act by depression.
Jones recently lost his sales job when his parents shut down the family business, which made measuring tools for auto parts manufacturers. His father said he closed the business because of the slow auto economy.
"I think he just reached the point where whatever happened was the best plan for him," Fronek said. "If he made it, he might benefit with money. If he died, so be it."
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
FIRST WE HAD HOT MONKEY CHICKS WEARING THEM AND NOW...
We have horses wearing them...
Oct 24, 10:15 AM EDT Town Passes Diapers for Horses Law
LUCEDALE, Miss. (AP) -- If a horse wants to gallop into this town, it's going to have to diaper up, and not horse around.
Unbeknownst to horse lovers, the city of Lucedale approved a new ordinance earlier this month that requires horses to wear diapers when in town.
The ordinance requires all livestock - horses, cattle, sheep, mules and others - to be diapered.
Some horse riders now may boycott the city's annual Christmas parade.
Last year, the parade drew 250 riders. The law will take effect Nov. 7.
It was the number of riders that was part of the problem, said Lucedale Alderwoman Gladys Hobdy.
"With that many horses, there wasn't no place, you know?" Hobdy said. "There were some pretty horses. They left us with a pretty mess."
At Lucedale Livestock, employee Shannon George wasn't sure what sort of device would do the job. But she knew she couldn't fit a diaper on a horse.
"I wouldn't even try," George said. "Maybe a little monkey, but not no horse or something like that."
Rotary Club President Jim Young said the organization, which backed the ordinance, will meet with horse owners and may present aldermen with a compromise.
As it stands, the city has said it will not enforce the ordinance during the parade, Young said.
Billy Rogers, a member of the George County Team Penning Association and parade regular, said he's not even sure if a saddle horse can be "bagged."
"To be honest with you, if I tried to put a bag on her I'd probably get my brains kicked out," he said. "We want to make sure we can ride our horses. And we don't want to bag 'em."
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
BIO-CHEM DETECTOR OR TRICKED OUT FILING CABINET?
Remember the thread on "Have you Ever Bought Anything on the Internet?" Hmm these guys even fooled the Stock Exchange.
New Jersey con artists' anti-terrorist device was filing cabinet: FBI
Canadian Press Friday, October 24, 2003
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A husband and wife have been charged in a scheme to promote a device after Sept. 11, 2001 that was supposed to protect people against terrorist attacks but was actually a yellow filing cabinet with flashing lights and a siren on top, officials said.
The device led to a fourfold increase in the stock price of the couple's small company - and allowed defendant Stewart Kaiser to sell shares that were in his mother's name at a substantial profit, said the FBI complaint.
Kaiser is charged with stock fraud and misleading investors in the company he founded, R-Tec Technologies. Both he and his wife, Nancy Vitolo, are charged with making false statements to investigators.
A message left at a listing for Kaiser was not immediately returned Friday. It was unclear if the couple have lawyers.
The complaints were filed Wednesday and delivered to the defendants Thursday, the U.S. attorney's office said. They were not arrested but have a Nov. 12 bail hearing.
The complaints outline alleged stock fraud that began when Kaiser solicited investors in January 1998 and ended soon after his news release of Sept. 24, 2001, promoting a device called the C-BAND, for Chemical & Biological Alarm and Neutralization Defense System.
A 1998 letter from Kaiser to potential investors said "there is no risk to you or your funds."
Investors sending cheques, including one for $100,000, were told to make them payable to Vitolo, who eventually received more than $400,000, the complaints said.
Kaiser was listed as the contact on the C-BAND news release, which touted the device as a self-contained unit that would alert people when it detects a "harmful bio or chem-agent" and that could be installed in airports, malls and sports arenas. It would also "isolate and neutralize the harmful agents" by "using a series of high electromagnetic frequency signals."
In November 2001, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ordered R-Tec to stop publicizing the device. The stock regulators determined the company had no plans to produce the device and lied about having patents on it.
Kaiser was expected to plead last month to two stock-fraud charges and Vitolo to making false statements but the deal fell apart.
That day, Kaiser said the filing cabinet was merely a "visual display" to show the SEC.
If they had pleaded to the charges, Kaiser, 37, could have faced up to 10 years in prison and a $1-million fine. Vitolo, 40, could have faced up to five years and a $250,000 fine.
© Copyright 2003 The Canadian Press
"Don't ever site your privy under an apple tree,
Oct 27, 1:46 PM EST
Outhouse Expert Studies Passing Trend
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- Few people enjoy bathroom humor as much as Mary Frazier Long. In fact, the 71-year-old retired schoolteacher often gets phone calls from strangers, looking to share a few dirty jokes of their own.
As Georgia's only registered priviologist, Long has spent almost 20 years collecting photos, stories, jokes and interesting information about outhouses.
Privies are fast becoming a thing of the past, she said.
"The first thing people tear down when they're moving up is the privy. By the 1990s, there were few left in Gwinnett County."
In 1984, Long and her husband, Dean, published a book called "Old Georgia Privies," which contains photographs of outhouses from throughout the state, accompanied by pertinent poems and sayings.
When she retired a decade later, the Lawrenceville resident funneled her research into a talk titled Privial Pursuits and started lecturing around the state, mainly to civic clubs and church groups. She now lectures about 100 times a year donates speaking fees and profits from book sales to scholarship funds.
Long said her fascination with outhouses began in 1978, when she started photographing old farm buildings in Milledgeville, where she and her husband lived. She snapped pictures of sheds used for dressing hogs, barns for storing hay, smokehouses for curing meat and, of course, a few outhouses.
"I realized that things were changing really quickly and that all of these buildings would soon be gone," Long said.
A friend who worked for a publishing company looked at her photos and advised her to concentrate on the shanties. She did and learned to scan rural areas for the small wooden buildings, often tucked behind old churches.
When she had collected enough photographs, she and Dean had the book printed.
Since then, people have been calling and sending her privy jokes, along with items such as salt and pepper shakers shaped like tiny outhouses, an outhouse lamp, and all sorts and sizes of shanty models.
Long's documented presidential privies, historic privies and even ancient privies, widening her research into all buildings scatological to America and Europe.
At a German castle, she learned that the outhouse opened onto a moat below, "making moats more dangerous than we ever thought," she said.
Long said she's learned more about outhouses than she ever wanted to know and offers this sage advice: "Don't ever site your privy under an apple tree, because all those apples dropping on you will break your concentration."
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
JUST REMEMBER: I am the Pipeline. NOT The Source
Target dubs its retailing plan for Zellers in Canada 'Project Bacon'
Glenda Luymes , The Province January 6, 2013
The plan was code-named Project Bacon, and as it sizzles toward completion next year, it is changing the Canadian retail landscape forever.
On storefronts across the country, the red bull’s eye will soon replace the red “Z.” Thousands of cashiers will lose their jobs. And the Canadian public will have a new place to shop for “cheap chic” goods.
Project Bacon is the tongue-in-cheek name given to U.S. retail giant Target’s plan to break into the Canadian market — one of several revelations contained in a recent B.C. Labour Relations Board decision that also details the fate and value of Zellers’ pharmacy files and prescription information about thousands of customers.
The LRB decision denies a union bid to have the collective agreement at the Zellers at Brentwood Mall in Burnaby — the only unionized Zellers in B.C. — to apply to employees at the new Target store eventually planned for the mall.
It is estimated about 27,000 Zellers employees across the country will lose their jobs as a result of the deal between Target and HBC, which will see about 125 Zellers stores closed and the space used for new Target stores.
In addition to considering the Brentwood collective agreement, the LRB decision outlines Target’s plan to establish itself north of the border, where executives believe consumers are “highly aware” of the store and its “perceived good value and shopping atmosphere.”
Target eventually purchased more than 180 Zellers leaseholds for about $1.8 billion, including Zellers’ pharmacy files that were valued at $10 million.
According to the LRB decision, Target later learned it could not legally hold the prescription information because it was not actually operating a pharmacy at the time.
The records were then sold back to Zellers, which resold the majority of them to Loblaws for $35 million, while the B.C. and Alberta records went to a “different entity, for an unknown amount.”
The LRB decision also sheds light on the perceived differences between Zellers and Target, citing an expert witness called by Target who visited six Zellers stores, five Target stores and two Walmarts.
Stephen Hoch concluded that while “Zellers’ stores typically were very crowded, had bad sight lines and the shelves were piled high with junk,” Target, among other things, had “sparkly clean floors,” according to the LRB decision.
“The classy design esthetic associated with Target does not exist at Zellers and never has existed," said Hoch's report.
“Given Zellers shabby experience, many more-affluent consumers are less likely to visit than will be the case with Target.”
The LRB decision sums up Hoch’s comments, saying that “while Zellers is cheap, it is not cheap chic like Target.”
Target Canada spokeswoman Lisa Gibson said she was not familiar with the name Project Bacon but confirmed the first B.C. Target stores will be opening this spring.
The company will hire about 150 to 200 staff per store, and while former Zellars employees are guaranteed an initial interview, “we need the flexibility to hire the best talent.”
Asked about the differences between Zellers and Target, Gibson said “Target stores are clean, clutter-free and easy to navigate,” and the majority of Canadian stores will include a Starbucks and Target pharmacy.
Outside the Brentwood Zellers Saturday, shoppers said they were concerned about the number of American-owned companies in Canada but that wouldn’t prevent them from shopping at Target.
“I’ll shop at Target for sure, but at the same time I worry about too many United States stores coming here,” said Tracy Pasztor. “But Target’s a nice store.”
Athena Boyd said she was disappointed with the selection at Zellers, especially for her needlework.
“It is sadly lacking here,” she said.
Walter Nikolychuk said he misses the Zellers pharmacy, which has already closed, but he’s found a new place to get prescriptions filled.
According to the Target Canada website, there will be more than 15 Target stores in B.C.
By 2014, Project Bacon will be realized with about 125 Target stores open across the country.
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