Central Florida Roundup
Unlocking a new market
Voxx and UniKey team up on keyless tech for the auto industry.
Orlando-based Voxx Automotive and UniKey Technologies are teaming up.
The two companies are developing a keyless system for an electric vehicle through a contract awarded to Voxx. They are also working on family key-sharing and car-sharing systems for consumers, as well as similar systems for car-rental companies and auto fleet operators.
Voxx Automotive is a unit of publicly traded Voxx International that makes rear-seat entertainment devices and remote-start systems. UniKey Technologies makes mobile access controls best known for hotel room doors that can be unlocked with a smart phone.
"The relationship with UniKey allows Voxx Automotive to further accelerate our drive to eliminate the need for consumers to carry their car keys or fobs," says Michael Schroeder, a Voxx senior vice president. "More importantly, it represents yet another way Voxx allows OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to differentiate themselves from other marques in the global automotive market. In UniKey, we have a partner who shares our efob phone-as-a-key vision."
The deal is UniKey’s first venture into the automotive sector. The company’s remote-locking technology is used in residential and commercial markets.
"Our vision is to let consumers effortlessly access their homes, offices and automobiles, while increasing security, visibility and control," says Phil Dumas, UniKey's founder and CEO.
"As car-sharing, ride-sharing and fleet management markets rapidly advance, the opportunity to create competitive advantages from the products we will jointly develop with Voxx Automotive is massive."
Business Briefs for Central Florida
- Altamonte Springs-based Adventist Health System will rebrand its facilities, including the entire Florida Hospital network and Centra Care urgent center, under the name AdventHealth.
- The 240-bed Florida Hospital Celebration broke ground on a five-story tower. It is expected to open by January 2020 with 76 beds and enough unfinished space for 84 more beds.
- Harriet Lake, one of the region’s leading arts supporters and most generous philanthropists, died at age 96.
- NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France has taken an indefinite leave of absence after he was arrested in New York, where authorities said he was driving drunk and carrying oxycodone pills. NASCAR named Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Jim France interim chairman and CEO.
- Orlando Health plans to build a 100- bed hospital in Lake Mary.
- Curaleaf became the fourth medical marijuana firm to open a dispensary in Orlando.
- Atlanta-based law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough will merge with Orlando-based Broad and Cassel. The new firm, Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel, will be led by Nelson Mullins Managing Partner Jim Lehman, while Broad and Cassel Chairman C. David Brown III will become a voting member of the new firm’s executive committee.
- The head of Orlando-based boat builder Correct Craft warned that the company could eventually have to eliminate as many as 200 jobs if the United States and other countries continue to raise tariffs on each other.
- Praising new U.S. government tariffs on imported aluminum, Benada Aluminum will open a new production line and add 35 jobs, boosting its total workforce to 250.
- Orlando will prohibit its employees -- including police officers from asking people who haven’t committed a crime about their immigration status.
- Orlando will build an all-user restroom in City Hall. The restroom will have a common area with sinks and a changing station, two single stalls and a third handicapped-accessible stall.
- The metro Orlando area will get a new area code -- 689 ==because population growth is likely to exhaust all 407 phone numbers by next year.
- Darden Restaurants removed the presidents of two of its restaurant chains, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen and Seasons 52, amid declining sales. Same-restaurants sales fell 2% in 2018 at Cheddar’s and 0.6% at Seasons 52, while rising at all of Darden’s other brands, which include Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Capital Grille, among others.
- Fintech company Fattmerchant closed on $10.5 million in financing from Atlanta-based Fulcrum Equity Partners.
- Comcast, the parent company of Universal Orlando, is evaluating plans for a fourth attraction. Universal Orlando currently has two theme parks and a water park.
- Livonia, Mich.-based engineering company Roush Industries will open an Orlando office for its Roush Entertainment Systems division, which makes ride vehicles, robotics and other equipment for the theme park industry.
- SeaWorld Entertainment reached a tentative $4-million settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after an investigation into comments company executives made about the financial impact of the anti-captivity documentary Blackfish. Separately, the company cut another 125 jobs.
- The private consortium overseeing the nearly seven-year, $2 billion-plus overhaul of I-4 through Orlando known as I-4 Ultimate has asked for another eight months and $100 million to complete the work.
- After the Florida Legislature nearly wiped out state funding for arts programs, Orange County commissioners agreed to increase spending on arts and cultural programs by nearly 80%.
- The developer of the large master-planned community Avalon Park in east Orange County is adding a 94-unit apartment building and a four-story, 40,000-sq.- ft. retail and office building.
- Commissioners rejected a nearly 300-acre mixed-use development planned for a rural area east of the Econlockhatchee River whose backers included former state Rep. Chris Dorworth.
- Orange County hotel tax collections rose 9.6% through the first nine months of the fiscal year, to $216.7 million.
- SunRail, the region’s commuter-rail system, began service in Osceola County, part of an expansion that has increased the system from 12 stations over 32 miles to 16 stations over 49 miles.
- University of Central Florida President Dale Whittaker promoted Thad Seymour Jr. to the new position of chief innovation officer and vice president for partnerships. Seymour, previously vice provost responsible for UCF’s under-construction campus in downtown Orlando, will continue to oversee UCF Downtown, as well as strategic planning, partnerships, economic development and commercialization and innovation programs.
- Goodwill Industries of Central Florida named Nima Hodaei president and CEO. Hodaei, previously vice president for donated goods retail for Goodwill of Delaware, replaces Bill Oakley, who retired.
- Summit Hospitality Management Group appointed Androse Bell general manager of the new Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach. Bell had been at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in Melbourne Beach.
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