CEO Richard Murphy of family-owned Murphy Warehouse Co. sold his 22-acre flagship campus to the just-across-the-railroad tracks University of Minnesota in southeast Minneapolis in late December.
However, Murphy said he’s not moving to a growing Kansas City base, first speculated in 2013 when his company was threatened by a warehouse tax that was killed before implementation by the Minnesota Legislature.
“This is home,” Murphy said. “We could buy a building down there or some other property, but we’re not moving [to Kansas City]. Things are positive here. We’re also looking to buy or build up here at our Fridley or Eagan campus. We’re doing pretty well around here.”
Murphy negotiated the deal for two years with the university, which already leased some storage space from Murphy Warehouse. The property sold for nearly $18 million, plus a $2 million donation of value by the Murphy family. That got the deal to the $20 million appraised value of the 22-acre parcel that contains 706,029 square feet of warehouse and office space.
Murphy, 63, the fourth generation of family to run the company, was trained as a landscape architect at the university. And he told university officials for years that they would be the buyers of the Minneapolis campus. The university wanted more space for storage and other uses. And Murphy Warehouse was the single-largest tract bordering the Minneapolis campus.
Murphy said the company’s offices will remain in leased space at the facility at 701 24th Ave. SE. Murphy Warehouse will slowly pull out of storage space as the university slowly takes more space over the next several years.
The Minneapolis site is the largest of Murphy’s storage locations in the Twin Cities and Kansas City, which total about 2.8 million square feet. There’s expansion space at the Fridley and Eagan campuses.
Murphy added that some of the Minneapolis buildings are unfit for today’s truck-and-storage requirements.
His father acquired the property for about $4 million in 1972, including several antiquated buildings still in use. Murphy said his 200-employee business is doing “pretty well,” growing up to 3 percent annually, generating revenue “north of $35 million.”
Murphy, also an adjunct professor at the U, has received national environmental accolades for installing solar panels on the three Twin Cities campuses, native plants sustained by stormwater runoff instead of lawns to mow, and other green innovations that also proved economical.
A crew removed the solar panels from roofs on the Minneapolis campus on Christmas Eve. They will be installed in Fridley.
Murphy said that campus soon will produce up to 40 percent of its own electricity.
“We’ll maintain the prairie and stormwater systems for the university as long as we are here in Minneapolis,” Murphy said. “Our two maintenance guys are based here.”
Famous Dave’s brass bet the wrong way on its own stock
Add this nugget to Famous Dave’s woe-filled 2015.
The restaurant chain was in the market buying back its own stock at lofty prices in the year’s first half — just before the shares tanked.
Minnetonka-based Dave’s approved a stock buyback program of 1 million shares back in May 2012. Through the end of 2013, Dave’s had repurchased 702,635 shares for an average price of $14.66, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Dave’s shares ran up big-time in 2014 and early 2015 after activist hedge funds jumped into the stock and a new CEO was hired.
So, when the company repurchased another 101,466 shares in 2014, the average share price was $25.72. In the first half of 2015, Dave’s completed the buyback, snapping up 195,899 more shares at an average price of $28.92.
Then the balloon burst. The new CEO exited ingloriously in June and the company’s earnings and sales tanked. Famous Dave’s stock was trading this week around $7, a low not seen in more than five years.
That cash spent on its own shares might come in handy now.
After Famous Dave’s violated debt covenants, Wells Fargo last month significantly cut the company’s credit line and limited its growth capital investments. Still, Famous Dave’s CEO Adam Wright said recently the company has ample liquidity.
MCCD recognized as national leader in small business lending
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has recognized the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD) for its role in providing critical capital to fledgling or expanding small businesses in the Twin Cities area who may not qualify for commercial credit, particularly in the years following the Great Recession.
In a recent report, Treasury ranked MCCD eighth nationwide in the number of small business loans provided by nonprofit lenders participating in Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative. The Northland Foundation, based in Duluth, ranked 11th.
MCCD, through the Treasury program, has provided $2.3 million in financing to 56 small business projects.
MCCD usually focuses on Main Street businesses in frayed-edged commercial nooks of older neighborhoods of Minneapolis, St. Paul and first-ring suburbs. The nonprofit business lender often works with local financial institutions and government to fill a financing gap.