March 21, 2023

Frequent Flier: Training the Dirty Harry Stare on an Unruly Flight Mate

After that, I knew I wanted to see the world. But I never thought I would be a member of the million-mile club. There was a time early in my career, and I’ve been with the Gerber Group for about 20 years, where I was one of those passengers who would listen for every noise and hang on to my armrests, and hated turbulence because I figured the plane was going to drop out of the sky or something.

Now, that kind of stuff doesn’t even bother me, but I still really don’t like heights.

Being in the food and beverage hospitality business, I can’t help noticing how companies treat people. It’s no secret that air travel has lost its luster. There’s a lot less of “thanks for flying with us,” and too much of “aren’t you lucky to fly with us.”

I have hope, though. On some recent flights, I’ve seen changes like seats being taken out so there’s more legroom, updated onboard entertainment, even a gratis snack. So maybe things are changing and who knows? Maybe on my next flight I’ll get a cookie.

But no matter how dismal things are, there’s no excuse for rude behavior. It’s amazing to me how crazy people can get.

I was flying from Los Angeles to Chicago, and the plane was absolutely packed. A man came on at the last minute. His seat was right behind mine. When he approached my row, he looked like he was going to blow a gasket. He got to his row and opened a bin and saw there was no room. He opened another, and that apparently was filled, too. Of course, he opened one more. Same thing. At this point, his skin tone turned what I would call a lovely shade of fuchsia.

Instead of asking for assistance, he decided to curse at what was now his in-flight audience and began throwing out bags from one of the bins. He threw one bag so hard it went about 10 rows up the aisle.

A crew member tried to help, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with her. He placed his bag in the now-open bin, slammed it shut and sat in his seat, still cursing and now looking like a beet. The crew member picked up the bags in the immediate area and found room for them. When I poked my head into the aisle to see what happened to the bag thrown up the aisle, I saw it was still there. It was mine.

So I stood up, got my bag, brought it back to the row, opened up the bin that had his bag in it and placed mine right next to his. There was room.

It was kind of funny because he kept looking at me like I was going to do something to him. I am so not that guy. But I kept looking back at him with my best Dirty Harry stare, which apparently worked. He stopped cursing and talking to himself and kept quiet the rest of the flight. That was great because it was Christmas Eve and no one wanted to deal with Scrooge.

By Oliver Kroll, as told to Joan Raymond. E-mail:

Article source:

Higher Prices Hurt Campbell Soup Sales

Profit was better than expected, mainly as a result of lower spending on advertising and fewer shares outstanding. But revenue missed expectations as volume declined on higher prices. The company, like other food makers, has raised prices to offset higher costs for ingredients and other materials.

“Consumers continued to be impacted by the challenges in the global economy” during the quarter, Denise M. Morrison, its chief, said in a call with analysts. “There’s little doubt that the pronounced caution and restraint that have characterized consumer behavior since the onset of the financial crisis are now the ‘new norm’ for the food and beverage sector.”

The company is trying to regain lost ground after several years of declining soup sales. Soup sales in the United States fell 4 percent during the quarter as higher prices hurt volume. Shoppers have curbed their soup consumption, stopped stocking pantries or shifted to competitors’ brands. Campbell is in the early stages of a turnaround plan that includes adding high-end soups and broadening offerings in its snack, beverage and other categories.

The company lowered prices on soup last year in promotions, causing tough comparisons for this year. Campbell Soup also cut its advertising spending, shifting ad dollars to later in the quarter to more closely correspond with soup season.

Despite higher prices, Ms. Morrison said the sales decline was not as pronounced as expected, helping profitability. She said that Campbell was aiming to stabilize the soup division’s profitability and would then try to drive revenue growth.

Sales were weak in other categories as well. Beverages sales slipped 3 percent as the company’s V-8 brand was hurt by higher prices for juice concentrate and packaging and increased competition in the vegetable juice sector.

Sales volumes dropped for the Australian Arnott’s biscuit brand, and sales of the soup, sauce and beverage division declined in Europe.

Some bright spots were the company’s Goldfish crackers, Pepperidge Farm’s Milano Melts and new Cracker Chips. Sales in the global baking and snacking unit rose 4 percent, to $568 million.

Over all, net income fell to $265 million, or 82 cents a share, in the quarter ended Oct. 30, from net income of $279 million, or 82 cents a share, in the same period last year. Analysts polled by FactSet expected 79 cents a share.

There were about 5 percent fewer shares outstanding at quarter’s end than a year ago.

Revenue fell less than 1 percent, to $2.16 billion from $2.17 billion. Analysts expected revenue of $2.21 billion.

Campbell affirmed its guidance for fiscal 2012. It expects revenue to be flat to up 2 percent, which translates to revenue of $7.72 billion to about $7.87 billion. It predicted adjusted earnings of $2.35 to $2.42 a share.

Analysts expect net income of $2.38 a share on revenue of $7.83 billion.

Shares fell $1.77, or more than 5 percent, to $31.84.

Article source:

Microlender Focuses on Hospitality Businesses

Now, Mr. Romero, a former truffle salesman, is expanding the cafe into a space next door with a second loan provided through Acción, bringing him one step closer to his dream of dotting the country with Arepas Cafes.

But this time, the $10,000 loan came with an unusual pedigree: a program — reserved for food, beverage and hospitality businesses — started by the Boston Beer Company, which makes Samuel Adams. It is almost like a special bank for artisanal pickles and beer, courtesy of a town New Yorkers love to hate.

“We’re not going to do any microlending to the New York Yankees, so that’s O.K.,” Jim Koch, the company’s brewer and founder, said, laughing. And helping other small businesses — even other craft brewers — keeps his company in the mind-set of a start-up and close to its entrepreneurial roots, he said.

Although microlending is a well-established practice, focusing on hospitality alone is unusual. But the need is great: food and beverage ventures can have trouble finding financing from conventional banks because they are risky, and aspiring owners often lack collateral.

Acción, said the chief executive, Paul Quintero, considers factors like projected cash flow and how applicants have handled credit in the past — both the highs and lows — but not collateral. And in working with Boston Beer, the lender hopes to double the proportion of its loans that go to the hospitality sector, to 30 percent from 15 percent.

The program, called Brewing the American Dream and started in New England in 2008, is now expanding to New York City, as well as to Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Thus far, 53 businesses have received a total of $540,000, and officials hope to lend at least $250,000 throughout the five boroughs by the end of this year. The loans generally range from $700 to $25,000, and are to be paid back between seven months and five years at an interest rate of 8.99 to 15.99 percent.

“In today’s world, people know one thing about banks: They say, O.K., they’re not lending, so they assume that no one’s lending, and that’s false,” Mr. Quintero said. “What’s coming to New York is a program that we know has been effective, it’s had success, it resonates with entrepreneurs, and we’d like to have the New York City entrepreneurs be as competitive and have just the same access to capital as what we’ve been doing in New England.”

Mr. Koch was inspired both by his difficulties raising capital for a craft beer company 27 years ago — back when the idea of a microbrewery “was a little bit crazy, and you just could not get a loan” — and his frustration with standard corporate philanthropic activities, like spending a day painting a community center near his offices.

Given the expenditure of resources, he said — maybe $1,000 worth of painting and $5,000 worth of time and expertise — the result did not seem worth it.

“I’m supposed to be creating value,” he said. “I’m a business, I’m supposed to make two and two equal eight, not two and two equal one.”

So in addition to lending money, the program offers seminars that are open to recipients as well as other small businesses needing advice on the nuts and bolts of operating their companies, like where to find specialty grains or how to develop a marketing plan. Staff members from Boston Beer, including Mr. Koch, plan to begin holding the “speed-coaching” sessions in June.

In the meantime, Mr. Romero, the first business owner in New York to receive a loan under the program, has big plans.

He celebrated the grand opening of his new Arepas Cafe space on Friday, which will add 15 or 20 seats to the 35 he already has. He hopes that will increase his revenue by 40 percent and allow him to open a cafe in Manhattan.

The loans are important, Mr. Romero said, but so is the coaching and advice that come along with them.

“I didn’t know exactly how to put the money or where to put the money correctly,” he said of when he started out. “But now I feel more comfortable putting the money in expansion and making a better place for my customers.”

Article source: