Everybody’s business

Lasers burn out
Back in February 1999 Spectra-Physics graced the cover of the Chico News & Review as a shining example of the high-tech headquarters Butte County could become.

Now, the Oroville plant is closing, with Irvine-based Newport Corporation, Spectra-Physics’ owner since July, relocating the telecommunications manufacturing plant activities to “other facilities” to save an estimated $10 million to $12 million a year when combined with a similar closure in Chandler, Ariz.

“It’s not totally unexpected,” said Bob Linscheid of the Butte County Economic Development Corporation. “We’ve seen them lose numbers of people over the last couple of years.”

Newport will continue to “consolidate positions”—industry-speak for more layoffs. Between Oroville and Chandler it expects to eliminate 75 to 100 jobs. Linscheid said he’s not sure how many people were working in Oroville—some saw the writing on the wall and left for other jobs—but, “when they were in their heyday there were 300 or 400 [workers].” The payroll back then was $6 million a year.

“Every person impacted will be assisted in their transition to other employment,” CEO Robert Deuster stated in a press release.

Into the hole
I guess I’ll join the rest of the media and turn on Krispy Kreme.

The nationally loved doughnut-makers have fallen from grace in the investment community, with the North Carolina-based corporation’s stock prices falling this week to one-third of what they were a year ago.

Industry-watchers say the 67-year-old chain just tried to grow too fast.

Since Golden Gate Donuts, the Northern California franchise, was bought out by the corporation earlier this year, the Chico store is at the mercy of Krispy Kreme brass back east.

Amy Hughes, spokesperson for Krispy Kreme, said no stores are slated to be closed, although the company is working on new, more-efficient equipment and countering a decline in same-store sales from quarter to quarter.

The slide, Hughes said, “is the coming together of four things—sort of this ‘perfect storm.’” Rising gas prices have affected both delivery drivers and consumers, the low-carb craze continues, and sales of boxed Krispy Kremes in Wal-Mart, which is taking a huge share of the grocery market, “is not making up for the business that our other grocery store partners are losing [to Wal-Mart].”

A low-sugar version is still in development and expected by the end of the year.

In Chico, I can’t help but notice that the Krispy Kreme parking lot doesn’t seem very full, even when the “hot light” is on.

Chuck’s bucks
The Butte County District Attorney’s Office has followed through on its threat to fine Chico car dealership Chuck Patterson for false advertising.

D.A. Mike Ramsey announced Aug. 23 that Chuck Patterson must pay the county a civil penalty of $7,500 and also refund the about-20 customers who bought cars over the weekend of the disputed sale a total of $8,400. Ramsey called the sales tactics a “bait and switch.”

James Berglund, the Oroville attorney representing Chuck Patterson, said in an interview at the time that, even though the questioned ads were very “technical in nature” and the customers seemingly didn’t rely on the ad when buying that weekend, Chuck Patterson won’t let it happen again.

The dealership pled guilty last spring to seven misdemeanor counts.