Civic leaders cheered by RadioShack’s renewed hometown spirit

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Tuesday’s gathering to formally open the RadioShack concept store in the new Commerce Building at Sundance Square Plaza had the feel of both a corporate reunion and homecoming celebration.

Civic leaders including Mayor Betsy Price and Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce President Bill Thornton were joined by former RadioShack executives including CEOs John Roach and Len Roberts to mark the opening of the store, which sports a retro design including historic products and old logos.

RadioShack, once one of the city’s leading corporate benefactors, has been noticeably absent from the civic scene for several years since the electronics retailer fell on hard times and started scaling back. But new CEO Joe Magnacca, who arrived in February, has made clear that he wants RadioShack to reconnect with its hometown.

That has longtime Fort Worth boosters smiling.

“He is somebody who wants to be part of the community,” said Roach, the longtime leader of Tandy Corp., as the company was formerly called. To turn its fortunes around, he said, the company needs to improve its relevance and appeal to a broad spectrum of customers. “I hope this is a good start,” Roach said.

Magnacca led a ceremony that dedicated the store to the late Lewis Kornfeld, RadioShack’s president from 1970 and 1981, who was known as a master merchandiser and father of the company’s first mass-market PC, the TRS-80. Kornfeld died in August.

Magnacca said met Kornfeld, who “schooled” him on advertising and marketing strategies and gave him a talking watch as a gift. When the new CEO asked where Kornfeld had found the gadget, Magnacca said he replied, “I bought it at your store last week!”

— Steve Kaskovich

Natural Gas Vehicle Consortium growing strong

Jon Coleman, Ford Motor Co.’s manager of fleet sustainability and technology, was preaching to the choir last week when he addressed the Natural Gas Vehicle Consortium. But it’s getting to be a pretty sizable choir.

In about six years the group, part of DFW Clean Cities, has grown to about 150 members, said Ken Morgan, director of the TCU Energy Institute. It’s a group of private and public fleet operators and others that support using natural gas as transportation fuel, offering “a good way for people of a like mind to exchange ideas,” Morgan said.

Coleman deals with alternative powertrains, including electric vehicles, as part of his job. Ford introduced an F-150 pickup, its top-selling vehicle, this year with an engine that’s hardened to endure the higher temperatures that come with burning natural gas instead of gasoline.

Ford has offered natural gas options on its heavy-duty F-250 and F-350 models, but “we realized we had to do it on this vehicle [the F-150] to be taken seriously,” he said. So-called gaseous prepped vehicles sold by Ford have gone from about 3,000 in 2010 to a forecast 15,000 this year, he said, and the automaker expects the growth to continue.

Wayne Corum, the city of Fort Worth’s director of equipment services, said the F-150 is the second-most-used vehicle in the city’s fleet, which has about 200 propane-fueled vehicles. Whereas the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, or the T, runs just about all its buses and vans on compressed natural gas, Corum said the city went with propane because it is so much cheaper to install a propane fueling station than a CNG station.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 sabaker@star-telegram.com Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552 jfuquay@star-telegram.com Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718 barry@star-telegram.com

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