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Industry Briefs are provided as a free service to our readers. Company news information may be sent to brice@slenterprise.com. The submission deadline is one week before publication.

CONTESTS

• The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge (UEC), Utah’s largest collegiate entrepreneur competition, has announced the top 20 teams for 2019. Hundreds of students from colleges across the state entered the business-model competition. The teams are competing for over $100,000 in cash and prizes, including a $40,000 grand prize. The winners will be determined at a final judging and awards event on March 30. The next step is online video voting, which is open to the public March 14-March 29 at https://lassonde.utah.edu/uec/vote2019/. The top 20 teams, listed in alphabetical order, are Beacon Sleep Solutions, University of Utah; Blue and White Collar, Utah Valley University; DeGraw Custom, Snow College; Desert Oak Phototherapy, Dixie State University; Follow-Up, Southern Utah University; Freyya, University of Utah; Grip’n’Strip, Salt Lake Community College; Guardian, Brigham Young University; Infuze Hydration, UofU; Insufflex, Weber State University; Lystant, UofU; NALZA, UofU; PreOv, UofU; Quantum Snow, UofU; Salt Table, Westminster College; SHERO, UofU; SmartBeat, Utah State University; Speedy Tuk Tuk, BYU; True Adherence, BYU; and Turbo Wills, BYU. The competition is managed by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, a division of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, and sponsored by Zions Bank.

DIRECT SALES

• Vasayo, a Pleasant Grove-based direct-sales company, has announced that Maria Fiorini Ramirez will be the first member of its board of directors. During her 10-year tenure with Merrill Lynch, she was named first vice president and senior money market economist and also served as senior vice president and senior money market economist at Becker Paribas. She was managing director and money market economist for Drexel Burnham Lambert before starting her own economic consulting firm in 1990. She has been a Wall Street Journal economist for the past 40 years, served on the boards of both public and private banks for the past 30 years, and is a contributor to various education initiatives. She is president and CEO of MFR Inc., an independent global economic and financial consulting firm. She was previously a member of the board of directors at MonaVie.

ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Summit County leads all Utah counties in a listing of places in Utah where homeowners can save the most by refinancing their mortgages. The list was compiled by SmartAsset. The study compared the total amount saved by refinancing to the number of refinanced loans in each county, determining the most refinance savings missed per loan. Summit was followed, in order, by Wasatch, Morgan, Grand, Washington, Utah, Tooele, Salt Lake, Davis and Rich counties. Details are at https://smartasset.com/refinance/refinance-mortgage-rates#utah/savings-per-loan.

Morgan County leads all Utah counties as a best place to save for retirement, according to a list compiled by SmartAsset. Its study took into account a paycheck-friendliness score, a 401(k) plan performance score, a public pension plan performance score and a score for the number of financial advisors per capita. Morgan was followed by, in order, Summit, Davis, Wasatch, Utah, Duchesne, Salt Lake, Uintah, Millard and Weber counties. Details are at https://smartadvisormatch.com/best-places-to-save-for-retirement/Utah.

St. George is ranked 28th and Salt Lake City is ranked 29th among 223 cities for costing the least to meet children’s college education needs. The list was compiled by SmartAsset. The study determined that Salt Lake City residents must save $542 every month — about 7.7 percent of their income — to retire on time and send two children to college. Tupelo, Mississippi, was the top-ranked place for monthly savings rate, at $411. Details are at https://smartasset.com/college-savings-plans/529-plans-by-state#map.

EXPANSIONS

Larry H. Miller Dealerships has acquired Berge Ford in Mesa, Arizona. The dealership group now has nine stores in the Phoenix metro area. Financial terms were not disclosed. The acquisition consists of a sales and service center, which will be renamed Larry H. Miller Ford Mesa; a collision center, Larry H. Miller Collision Center East Valley; a commercial vehicle center, Larry H. Miller Ford Mesa Commercial Vehicle Center; and an off-site quick lane, Larry H. Miller Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center. The Pit Stop, a café and coffee shop, is also located in the dealership. Larry H. Miller Dealerships will retain the existing employees at the dealership, bringing the total number of Arizona-based personnel to more than 1,500 at 13 dealership locations. It now operates 63 dealership locations under 20 different automotive brands in seven western states.

Nu Skin Enterprises Inc., Provo, has expanded its presence in Latin America by beginning operations in Peru. Nu Skin will offer a selection of its most popular personal care products, with plans to introduce additional products over the coming months.

ENVIRONMENT

DoTerra’s 2018 annual convention achieved an industry-leading 90 percent landfill diversion rate of materials redirected from landfill or incineration. The announcement was made by the Salt Palace Convention Center-led Green Team Committee, along with partners Visit Salt Lake, Utah Food Services and PSAV. DoTerra also participated in the Salt Palace’s energy offset program by purchasing 200 solar renewable energy credits, produced by the facility’s rooftop solar array, offsetting the estimated 200 megawatts of energy needed for the convention, one of the largest single-event needs of 2018. The Green Team Committee’s donation program sends leftover event material to a list of more than 100 Salt Lake community partners such as nonprofits, educational institutions, local arts and theater programs and faith-based organizations. More than 16,000 pounds of event material was donated: 28,000 pounds of material were recycled, 600 pounds of florals composted, and 400 vegan meals served to attendees, while 600 pounds of extra food from the event — equivalent to almost 500 meals — fed those in need throughout Salt Lake.

HEALTHCARE

Predictive Technology Group Inc., a Salt Lake City-based company focused on the use of data analytics for disease identification and subsequent therapeutic intervention through precision therapeutic treatments, has named Jay M. Moyes to the company’s board as an independent director. Moyes has more than 30 years of healthcare industry expertise in senior-level financial positions and has significant governance experience from board memberships at publicly traded healthcare companies. Moyes previously served as chief financial officer and director of Amedica Corp., now SINTX Technologies; and as CFO at CareDx. Prior to that, he held senior finance positions, including CFO, during his 14-year tenure at  Myriad Genetics. He also was vice president of finance and CFO of Genmark. He began his career in public accounting at KPMG. Moyes serves on the boards of sirectors of Achieve Life Sciences, BioCardia and Puma Biotechnologies. In addition to Amedica, he previously was a director and chairman of the audit committee of both Osiris Therapeutics and Integrated Diagnostics. He also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Utah Life Science Association. Moyes holds a B.A. in economics from Weber State University and an MBA from the University of Utah.

INVESTMENTS

Sorensen Ventures, with main offices in California and Salt Lake City, has closed its first fund with related investment entities totaling over $110 million, above its target of $100 million. Investors include foundations, endowments and an insurance company, as well as corporate, family office and individual investors. Sorenson Ventures is a dedicated fund focused on early-stage enterprise software and security investments. The fund leverages the analytic and operational capabilities of Sorenson Capital, a Salt Lake City-based growth equity and buyout firm founded in 2002, with more than $1 billion in capital under management. To date, the fund has invested in eight early-stage companies and plans to expand its portfolio to 15 to 20 total investments.

Emmersion Learning, a Lehi-based education technology company, has closed $2.4 million in equity funding led by Imagen Capital Partners, based in Seattle. The second round of funding will support the company’s plan to expand its existing language learning platform and to explore new offerings that cater to the academic and corporate markets. Emmersion also plans to use the funding to accelerate research and development hiring.

LAW

Graham Adair, a law firm specializing in business immigration services, has expanded to the Utah market by opening an office in Lehi. The firm also has offices in San Jose, Austin and Atlanta. Co-founder Chad Graham, who was working in the San Jose office, will lead the Lehi office. His practice encompasses all aspects of business immigration, including mergers and acquisitions, E-Verify compliance, non-immigrant visas, immigrant visas, I-9s and E-Verify, consular practice and naturalization. His education includes a bachelor of arts degree from Brigham Young University in 2002.

PHILANTHROPY

Mountain America Credit Union has partnered with BYU Athletics to donate $17,250 to the American Red Cross. The credit union committed to donate $50 for every three-point shot made by BYU’s men’s basketball and $500 for each field goal made by BYU football during the past season. The total included $11,250 for 225 three-point shots made and $6,000 for the football field goals.

REAL ESTATE

MedCore Partners, based in Dallas, along with SunTrust Bank and Trinity Private Equity Group, has closed on a 409-unit assisted living and memory care portfolio in four markets in Utah and Arizona. The group includes the 97-unit Summit Senior Living in Kearns. The total acquisition cost was about $98 million. Watermark Retirement Communities has taken over the management of each of the four properties. Watermark owns or operates 56 communities in 21 states. SunTrust Bank provided the senior loan for the acquisition.

RECOGNITIONS

Western Governors University, Salt Lake City, recently received the 2018 CIQG Quality Award, recognized for its “outstanding performance of higher education in meeting the CIQG International Quality principles.” The award was presented at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation/International Quality Group Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. The international organization recognized WGU, citing that “the university, which uses a competency-based learning model with students working online, monitors its performance in key areas and works for continuous improvements and adjustments to improve the quality of students’ educational experience.” WGU was one of two institutions to win the inaugural award, joining Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning located in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

Piano Gallery, Salt Lake City, recently was recognized as the northwest region keyboard division “Dealer of the Year” by Yamaha Corporation of America. The company, which serves the greater Salt Lake City Area and Utah’s southwest region with locations in Murray, Orem and St. George, was awarded for its sales and marketing success with Yamaha pianos and keyboards in a large market.

Nate Walkingshaw, chief experience officer at Pluralsight, Farmington, has been recognized as Innovator of the Year by Great Place to Work. Walkingshaw was honored at the second annual Great Place to Work For All Leadership Awards in San Francisco. Walkingshaw is one of the award recipients recognized by Great Place to Work for their contributions to their companies’ business that help it fully live its values in service to customers, employees and stakeholders.

SERVICES

Valvoline Inc., a Kentucky-based supplier of lubricants and automotive services, has announced that franchisee Superior Lube has acquired a new Valvoline Instant Oil Change service center at 1065 E. 9400 S., Sandy. It is Superior’s fourth service center in the Salt Lake area. The company’s network includes more than 1,300 company-owned and franchised quick-lube locations.

TECHNOLOGY/LIFE SCIENCES

EnviroLeach Technologies Inc., based in Vancouver, British Columbia, has announced that Mel S. Lavitt has been appointed to the company’s board of directors. He also will act as the board’s vice chairman. EnviroLeach Technologies is engaged in the development and commercialization of environmentally friendly technologies for the recovery of precious metals in the e-waste and mining sectors. Lavitt is a senior advisor to Needham & Co. and former director of Jabil Inc. He has more than 50 years of investment banking experience in emerging growth high-tech and middle-market companies. He began his Wall Street career in 1959 at Bear Stearns and then joined C.E. Unterberg, Towbin in 1962. In 1977, C.E. Unterberg, Towbin merged with L.F. Rothschild to form L.F. Rothschild, Unterberg, Towbin Inc. In 1992, he became a managing director for Unterberg, Harris, which, in 1997, became C.E. Unterberg, Towbin, where he served as vice chairman until the firm was purchased by Collins Stewart, LLC in 2007. Lavitt served as a director of Jabil from September 1991 to January 2016. Mr. Lavitt is on the advisory board of two private companies, TELUS International and Deserve Inc., and on the board of directors of Storage Engine. He also chairs the Incentives Committee for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, serves as a trustee for the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, and is a board member of Utah Capital Investment Corp.

Sarcos Robotics, a Salt Lake City-based producer of robots that augment humans to enhance productivity and safety, has appointed retired Admiral Michael S. Rogers, former director of the National Security Agency and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, to the Sarcos Strategic Advisory Board, and appointed retired Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, former Army I Corps commander, as senior vice president of defense. Before his retirement, Rogers oversaw the U.S. Cyber Command and was the 17th director of the National Security Agency. Rogers also served as intelligence director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pacific Command. Lanza, who also serves on Sarcos’ Strategic Advisory Board, previously held numerous senior command assignments, including I Corps commanding general and commander of the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Instasize, a Salt Lake City-based visual toolkit for social media content creators, has promoted Luca Meschiari to serve as the company’s first chief technology officer. Meschiari leads a team of 20 engineers who work remotely around the world — Meschiari in Miami and others in Utah, Arizona, California, Illinois, Romania and Poland. Meschiari was instrumental in the beginning stages of Instasize and was essential in building the first version of the app in 2014 as lead iOS developer and as the company’s first full-time employee. Since then, Meschiari has spearheaded all of the technological advancements within the app. For the past seven years, Meschiari has worked as a software engineer for companies such as Moroku and Achvr and as a freelance engineer. Instasize’s umbrella company, Munkee Apps, hired Meschiari four years ago, and he was instrumental in building Instasize and other apps owned by Munkee.