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COMMISSIONER’S CORNER BUSINESS BRIEFS VOCATION EDUCATION: IT’S THE ANSWER VITAL EXPANSION AT LAKE TECH MADE IN LAKE


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C O M M I S S I O N E R ’S

C O R N E R

TRAINING FOR A BETTER FUTURE Vocational training is a key ingredient to the growth of local Lake County economy. Efforts are underway to diversify our economy such as the opening of Lake Tech’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Eustis, the Health Sciences Collegiate Academy in Clermont, and other educational programs coordinated through Lake-Sumter State College and the University of Central Florida. I’ve found at least three reasons why vocational training is important to Lake County’s economy. First, it makes Lake County more marketable in the global economy. When a manufacturing company is expanding or relocating, the locational options are plentiful. These days, everybody is marketing to win manufacturing and technology business. Lake must have something better than houses to offer and a service sector employment base. Developing a skilled workforce or one that can become skilled quickly through educational programs won’t ensure we win every company, but it makes Lake more competitive and attractive compared to our competition. When a manufacturing company relocates to Lake or chooses to expand in Lake, average wages increase in our county thus expanding some measures of true prosperity. Second, vocational training improves business productivity. A well“ S TA R T B Y D O I N G W H A T ’ S trained worker reduces on-the-job training costs and money lost fixing mistakes. The savings in turn is reinvested in the business. Lake Tech is N E C E S S A R Y ; T H E N D O W H AT ’ S considering offering efficiency training courses such as Lean 6-Sigma. P O S S I B L E ; A N D S U D D E N LY Y O U Imagine the results if Lake County’s business culture became renowned A R E D O I N G T H E I M P O S S I B L E .” for both continuous process improvement and personal career growth. – S T. F R A N C I S A S S I S I . Finally, vocational training is inclusive. Sadly, we sometimes look down on those who are unemployed or considered the working poor. We may ask, “Why can’t they just help themselves?” Vocational training provides a path for anyone who is willing to receive relevant skill training in an emerging or growing Lake County industry such as machining, welding, or nursing. Traditional college isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK! Vocational training can be a path for anyone in Lake County to receive skills relevant in today’s market economy. That same person can go on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Lake-Sumter State College or UCF, and then move on to advanced degrees. And I would argue, that person might actually be more valuable in the work force than a person who traveled the traditional route. I am excited to see Lake Tech and Lake-Sumter State College working together to provide a clear path to prosperity for residents and future residents of Lake County. And whether that path ends with a good paying vocational career or leads to advanced degrees and larger salaries, our county is clearly better off.

SEAN PARKS, LAKE COUNTY COMMISSIONER 4 LAKE B US I N E SS MAGAZ I N E.COM


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B U S I N E S S

B R I E F S

HUNTT JOINS HOSPITAL TEAM L E E S B U R G / / After serving a long and successful career with Florida Musculoskeletal Institute, Dr. Andrew Huntt is now with Central Florida Health, serving the local hospital system’s new associate vice president of clinical effectiveness. In his new role, Dr. Huntt will provide a physician’s perspective and knowledge to the hospital’s administrative

team. He will also focus on evidence-based clinical practices and provide leadership in clinical quality improvements throughout the CFH system. “I’m confident that Dr. Huntt’s experience and expertise will be extremely valuable as we focus on patient outcomes, efficiency of care, and enhance the alignment between medical staff and the health system,” says

Saad Ehtisham, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Central Florida Health. Dr. Huntt graduated from the University of Miami School of Medicine. As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, he completed an internship at Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts and his residency at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in Texas.

BRADY TAPPED FOR VP LEESBURG // Claire

Brady has been named vice president of enrollment and student affairs at Lake-Sumter State College—the first appointment by President Stanley Sidor. “In my first two months at Lake-Sumter

State College, I came to the realization that the person we need in this position with creativity, knowledge, experience, and passion for the students and the college was already here,” says Dr. Sidor. Brady has been

at LSSC five years and will oversee admissions/records, advising, youth outreach, student development, career development services, Office for Students with Disabilities, and Student Life.

6 LAKE B US I N E SS MAGAZ I N E.COM


NEW PIO JOINS LEESBURG LEESBURG // Derek

Hudson is the new public information officer for Leesburg, esburg, and he brings more than a decade of experience to the job. He formerly served as public/media relations consultant and spokesman for Florida Department tment of Transportation improvement projects. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and former commissioned naval val officer, Hudson earned his MBA from the Crummer Graduate School off Business at Rollins College.

BUSINESSFRIENDLY CITY CLERMONT // Based on smallsized cities across the country, Clermont made the list as one of the “Best Cities in America to Start a Business.” Analysts from WalletHub, which offers financial advice, compared the business-friendliness of 1,268 small cities in the U.S. to identify the best overall for launching an enterprise. Clermont came in at No. 349.

PENNY TAX HELPS LIGHT UP PARKS SORRENTO// Lake

County Board of County Commissioners recently provided $247,000 from the Penny Sales Tax and impact fees to light two multi-purpose recreational fields

at East Lake Community Park, the home base for the Lake County Soccer Club, located at 24809 Wallick Road in Sorrento. The multi-purpose fields, along with two neighboring Little League fields, are part of the first phase of the Lake County Parks & Trails Division’s sports lighting projects. All four fields are now available for both practice and tournaments into the evening hours and can service up to 1,500 people.


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WELDING A FUTURE AND A CAREER S TO RY T H E R E S A CA M P B E L L / / / P H OTO G R A P H Y F R E D LO P E Z

Vocational education can be a blueprint to success. The potential is there for graduates in skilled trades to be recruited by companies nationwide offering top salaries—up to six figures.

However, is the competition hurting Lake County businesses who struggle to find sufficient skilled workers? “The opportunities are endless,” says Zack Thomas, 26, of Fruitland Park,

who graduated in 2009 from Lake Technical College. He has heard there are oil pipeline welding jobs in the Dakotas with earnings of $80,000 in six months, and the big bucks to be made

in Alaska or in Houston’s offshore oilrigs. “Being a welder or being a tradesman and knowing a skill or trade, you have the opportunity to do anything you want, not just in the 9

2016 TH I R D QUARTE R


United States, but in the world,” Thomas says. “If I wanted to right now, I could call my local business agent in the union and say, ‘Hey, I want to move to China,’ and he could get me a welding job in China right now. I have had opportunities to see and go anyplace I would want to go. It’s amazing.” Thomas worked in North Carolina after graduating from Lake Tech, and chose to return to Lake County to marry and start a family. He’s now employed at Walt Disney World Resort, where he does engineering maintenance in welding, air conditioning, and plumbing. “My personal feeling is more hands-on skills are taught at technical schools, and they are skills you’re going to know for the rest of your life. No one can take it from you,” says Thomas, who believes getting a “career in a year” beats being strapped with student loans. Companies beyond Lake

County are hiring students with technical training, according to Dr. Diane Culpepper, executive director of Lake Tech. “We had a Mississippi shipbuilder come test our students for contract work,” she says. “Of course we want our graduates to stay in Lake County, but there are opportunities all over the U.S.”

LOCAL EARNING POTENTIAL New welders staying in the region can earn $15 to $25 an hour, she says. After six years, welders and those in auto collision are making more than $80,000. “Folks who go into correction officer training, a 420-hour short program (15-weeks) get hired before they even complete it practically because there is such a need,” Culpepper says. “They make $35,000 with benefits right out the gate.” One challenge for Lake Tech is the number of employers who want to

hire students before they graduate. “It’s a hard call because it’s important to me that they finish their program, but if they have a job offer, it’s important to them that they get to work,” Culpepper says. The problem is many of the skilled workers today are Baby Boomers who are retiring, and employers are unable to fill these vacancies. This dilemma has almost reached crisis point. “Auto collision and welding are two that we can barely keep to the end of the program,” Culpepper says, while students in licensed programs of nursing, law enforcement, or cosmetology must finish their programs and go through state boards before they can work.

THE STRUGGLE TO FIND WORKERS David Macdonald, coowner of M&S Air Conditioning in Fruitland Park, says potential technicians

must pass drug screening, background checks, have a good driving record, and should have trade school training. “To try to get all of that to line up at the same time is very hard,” he says. “We’re a service-oriented country and those are the things that our young adults need to pick up on.” He strives to find potential employees with leadership qualities. “We try to recruit guys with a military background,” says Macdonald. “I am always accepting applications and always on the lookout for good people.” Joe Ciceri, owner of Electrical Works of Central Florida in Yalaha, needs qualified electricians. “It’s very hard to find trained guys for sure,” says Ciceri, who believes there should be more trade schools and more incentives for skilled trades training. “In the electrical trades, they no longer require

10 LAKE B US I N E SS MAGAZ I N E.COM


employees to be certified or to be licensed in any way,” Ciceri says. “They used to have a law for every eight employees you had on a job, you had one journeyman that had a journeyman’s license.” However, the electricians working for Ciceri do have journeymen’s licenses or work experience. “There are unlimited possibilities going into the electrical field,” he says. “There’s a lot of money; it’s a good career.”

PROMOTING CAREER OPPORTUNITIES Business, allied health, engineering, biomedical science, drafting, building construction, and culinary arts are among 72 career and professional academies in local middle and high schools, according to Julie Summerlin, director of career and technical education for Lake County Schools. “Thirty programs of study have an industry certification,” she says. In 2015, industry certifica-

tions were earned by 1,691 students, meaning these graduates went from high school into a career. “When culinary students earn their certification, we’ve been told most of them get a $1 raise immediately because it is a requirement that restaurants have staff members with that credential,” she says. Efforts are also made to expose younger students to workforce careers. Lake Tech takes a virtual auto paint stimulator into middle school classrooms for students to put on a mask and experience painting a car. The goal is to broaden students’ minds about more job possibilities, and Lake-Sumter State College recently spotlighted the daily work of electrical linemen to 100 high school students so they could learn about one of LSSC’s newest programs, Electrical Distribution Technology, taught at the college’s Sumterville campus. Duke Energy offered

13 LSSC’s engineering technology students externship opportunities for the summer. Some students are working with field journeyman relay technicians to learn about safety, construction, maintenance, and troubleshooting. Other students focus on project development, AutoCAD programs, and design, while some are learning about power grid engineering.

WORKFORCERELATED GRANTS The power company provided $110,000 in grants to support both the Engineering Technology and Electrical Distribution Technology programs at LSSC, and Duke donated a large power transformer to give students an opportunity to learn about transformer construction, maintenance, and testing in general. Duke also awarded $28,000 to the Education Foundation of Lake County, to be matched 100

percent for the state, to fund STEM (science, technology, engineering and manufacturing) initiatives. “Education is critical to the health and advancement of any community and we are proud to play a small role,” says Jerry Miller, government and community relations manager for Duke. In another partnership, Lake Tech practical nursing students now have access to nursing facilities at LSSC’s South Lake campus in Clermont. “This is just once facet of a collaborative effort between the two institutions to provide post-secondary education and workforce training in Lake County,” says Sasheika Tomlinson, director of marketing college relations at LSSC. Florida is recognized as one of the leaders in career and technical education in the U.S., according to Culpepper, who noted the state is “very forward thinking” in applying for grants and apprenticeship opportunities for students—all part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) legislation passed at the federal level. “It’s really trying to connect all of the pieces between training, and the Department of Labor and the Department of Education working together,” Culpepper says. “It’s at the top of our minds because it is very important legislation.” 11

2016 TH I R D QUARTE R


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THE NEW ERA OF MANUFACTURING EMPLOYEES

Game changer: Lake Tech prepares to impact manufacturing in Lake County S TO R Y T H E R E S A C A M P B E L L

/// P H O TO G R A P H Y F R E D L O P E Z

The Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) facility to be built on the Eustis campus of Lake Technical College is a $4.6 million project. It will allow more students to learn skilled trades to meet the growing workforce needs in Lake County. Groundbreaking is expected to take place in August or September.

Lake Tech’s director, Dr. Diane Culpepper, is ready for construction to begin. She is even more eager for the center’s opening, tentatively set for August 2017. “I can see how this is a game changer for our region and for Lake County in particular,” says Culpepper. “It will make a huge impact on not only our current manufacturers to be able

14 LAKE B US I N E SS MAGAZ I N E.COM


to expand and grow, but also for our county to be able to attract new manufacturing companies to Lake County.” Jack Miller, Lake Tech’s director of facilities and supervisor for welding, says CAM also addresses a national goal. “Everybody in the country is trying to bring manufacturing back to the United States,” he says. “And in Lake County, we have a lot of small manufacturing companies wanting employees who are well trained.” The 24,000-square-foot center will feature a combination of revitalized existing buildings joined with new construction. This expansion means Lake Tech can offer training in machining, welding, fabrication, and computer numeric control (CNC) programming, where specialized machinists are trained to use computerized control of lathes, mills, routers, and grinders. Culpepper says these manufacturing skills are required by many companies. Employers wanting to hire Lake Tech students for immediate jobs approach her routinely. “Metro Steel in Tavares was trying to hire 25 welders just like that,” she says. “We had about 10 we sent over there to interview who were getting ready to graduate, but we didn’t have 25, and that was just one company.” Welding is popular at Lake Tech with an average

of 40 students taught by two instructors. Twenty students take classes during the day, and 20 at night, yet there’s usually a waiting list with 30 more on it. “We run welding day and night because of the demand,” Culpepper says. The new CAM building will allow Lake Tech to double the size of its welding and fabrication shop, and also provide an advanced welding class for students to learn additional skills. Miller says there are benefits to students learning from both instructors, who now take turns sharing their knowledge. “It’s a performance-based program, so some students move faster than others, and it’s very detail oriented,” Miller says, adding welding

has been attracting female students, too. In addition to working for local companies, some Lake Tech welding graduates were hired at SpaceX and Westinghouse, on oil rigs in Houston, and even six-figure jobs in Alaska. Miller says Lake Tech is blessed to have instructors who gave up their wellpaying jobs to teach. “They love sharing their trade with other individuals,” says Miller, who is eager for Lake Tech take its manufacturing programs to the next level through CAM. Culpepper recalled the idea for CAM was introduced more than three years ago when local employers expressed a need for graduates trained in manufacturing.

“We run welding day and night because of the demand.” “I certainly credit the entire community for being behind this,” she says. Lake Tech received overwhelming support from the Lake County Board of Commissioners, which made the project their No. 1 priority for two years of the legislative session and provided economic development incentive funds. State legislators, Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla; Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha; Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Eustis; and Rep. Marlene O’Toole, R-The Villages also made CAM their top priority project, and Gov. Rick Scott recently approved $2.8 million in funding for CAM. “On top of that, many in our business community, the manufacturers—we 15

2016 TH I R D QUARTE R


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have about 300 in Lake County—have been intimately involved in this project from the beginning,” Culpepper says. Some employers worked with her to craft a plan and designed drawings for the facility; others helped with curriculum development. She also heard from employers willing to provide internships, donate equipment to the center, and Duke Energy recently installed a new transformer for CAM and donated a good portion of the cost. “I’m just tickled that everybody in our community pulled together for this, and even companies that are not manufacturers, but still very supportive,” Culpepper says. “There has been a variety of companies, cities, and chambers of commerce sending letters of support. It’s just like a Lake Tech love fest.” Culpepper calls CAM the highlight of her 29 years in career and technical education and a major part of her seven years at Lake Tech.

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S TO R Y T H E R E S A C A M P B E L L /// P H O TO G R A P H Y F R E D L O P E Z

Florida Farm Distillers’ Palm Ridge Reserve has been generating raves from worldwide visitors— and high praise from whiskey writer Jim Murray— for the micro-distillery’s distinctive, award-winning 90 proof, young Florida Bourbon-style whiskey. Owners Dick and Marti Waters operate their business (licensed in 2008) in a barn on a small cattle farm west of Umatilla at 23100 SE Highway 42. “We’re a very small outfit and a very small producer, and to get recognized the way we are is amazing,” says Dick, noting the distillery creates 500 cases per year. Palm Ridge Reserve doesn’t have regular business hours, but the couple opens their barn twice a

month for an open house and tours. “We have had people here from Germany, Denmark, and Taiwan,” says Dick. “We sometimes look at ourselves and say, ‘How did this happen?’” Their growing fan base happened by word-ofmouth praise and from the distillery winning numerous awards from side-byside comparisons to established premium brands. Among their awards: a gold medal at the Spirits of the Americas awards, and silver medals from the American Craft Distillers Association and the Washington Cup competition. The pair produces three varieties of whiskey: Palm Ridge Reserve, the Rye, and the Virgin, a white, pure version.

The Palm R Ridge Reserve idge id ge R Res eser erve ve received 97.5 po points score poin ints ts ssco core re on the esteemed Murmed me d “J “Jim im M Mur ur-ray’s Whiskey y Bible,” Bibl Bi ble, e,” ” 2015 2015 edition. The aauthor utho ut horr wrote: wrot wr ote: e: “This beautifully ull lly y crafted, craf cr afte ted, d, truly adorablee whiskey whi w hisk skey ey where fruit appears ppe pear arss to constantly have ve its its hand hand on the tiller. And And rather rrat athe herr than blast in like ike a hurhur h ur-ricane from the he se sea, a, iitt breezes gently y around aro a roun und d the the glass and palate ate with wit w ith h easy easy elegance.” Murray also rated o ra rate ted d Pa Palm lm Ridge Reservee wi with th 10 10 sweet words: ““Superstar Supe Su pers rsta tarr whiskies that give give us us all all a reason to live.” .” To learn more about oree ab or abou outt th thee monthly open n houses, hou h ouse ses, s, g go o to the “eventss section” ssec ecti tion on” ” of the company’ss we website: webs bsit ite: e: Whiskey@PalmRidgeRelmRi lm Ridg dgeR eReeserve.com. 19

2016 TH I R D QUARTE R


Fourth-generation citrus farmer ready to expand to H2O S TO R Y T H E R E S A C A M P B E L L

America’s No. 1 selling organic orange juice brand is rooted in Lake County, and Uncle Matt’s Organic is enjoying sweet success on the shelves of 5,000 Publix, Kroger, Whole Foods, Safeway, and natural food stores in all 50 states.

/// P H O TO G R A P H Y P R O V I D E D

“Our humble beginning is from here in Clermont,” says Matt McLean, owner and CEO of Uncle Matt’s Organic, which started in 1999. The company’s name pays tribute to Matt being uncle to 10 nieces and nephews.


He majored in business administration to get away from orange groves, but the University of Florida graduate found himself returning to what he loved. Matt takes pride in farming the way his greatgrandfather and grandfather grew citrus—before synthetic pesticides or fertilizers were invented in the late 1940s—and he believes organic farming is better for overall health, nutrition, and the environment. “One thing about us is we don’t add any flavor packets to our orange juice,” Matt says. “A lot of the other big brands have to add flavor to mask whatever they want to mask, and we don’t add flavor packets. We believe our juice gives you an

experience without heartburn or indigestion. A lot of orange juice drinkers who have heartburn or acid reflux say they can drink orange juice. Again, with our product, we get comments like, ‘Oh, my gosh! I haven’t had orange juice in 10 years, but I can drink yours and I love it.’” It’s not easy to farm organically, he says, so the company relies on natural fertilizers of feather meal, fish emulsion, seaweed, and compost in managing more than 1,100 acres of organic citrus. The fourth-generation farmer is now eager to grow the company with citrusinfused, probiotic water recently created from 21 clinical trials. The water will

be in stores this summer. “We are in the beverage business, and we are just following trends in the marketplace,” Matt says. “The water category is growing rapidly.” Uncle Matt’s bottled grapefruit water and orange water has 10 calories and 2 grams of sugar for an eightounce servings; the lemon water has zero calories and zero grams of sugar. “We added some natural-dried peel because citrus peel has a lot of antioxidants, and we used patented-probiotics proven for immune function and digestion,” Matt says. “People are excited about it,” he says. “I think a lot of people want something that has more functionality than plain water.”

“A lot of the other big brands have to add flavor to mask whatever they want to mask, and we don’t add flavor packets. We believe our juice gives you an experience without heartburn or indigestion. “


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Lake Business Magazine, 3rd Quarter 2016  

Lake Business Magazine is a niche publication with a heavy target market of business owners, CEOs, administrators, physicians, community lea...

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