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David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Alicia Cervera Tate David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Burton Landy David Lawrence Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burto David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Burton Landy David Lawrence Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Tate Burton Landy David 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Sales by RELATED REALTY in collaboration with FORTUNE DEVELOPMENT SALES OBTAIN THE PROPERTY REPORT REQUIRED BY FEDERAL LAW AND READ IT BEFORE SIGNING ANYTHING. NO FEDERAL AGENCY HAS JUDGED THE MERITS OR VALUE, IF ANY, OF THIS PROPERTY. ORAL REPRESENTATIONS CANNOT BE RELIED UPON AS CORRECTLY STATING THE REPRESENTATIONS OF THE DEVELOPER. FOR CORRECT REPRESENTATIONS, MAKE REFERENCE TO THIS BROCHURE AND TO THE DOCUMENTS REQUIRED BY SECTION 718.503, FLORIDA STATUTES, TO BE FURNISHED BY A DEVELOPER TO A BUYER OR LESSEE. This is not intended to be an offer to sell, or solicitation of an offer to buy, condominium units to residents of CT, ID, NY, NJ and OR, unless registered or exemptions are available, or in any other jurisdiction where prohibited by law, and your eligibility for purchase will depend upon your state of residency. This offering is made only by the Prospectus for the condominium. The plans, specifications, designs, amenities, recreational facilities, managing entities, hotel operators, and restaurant operations, (if any) referred to are accurate as of this publication; however, the Developer reserves the right in its sole discretion to change any of these. This condominium is being developed by FOUR PARAISO, LLC which has a limited right to use the trade names, logos, images, and trademarks depicted pursuant to license agreements. The Related Group is not the Developer.



Obtain the property report required by the federal law and read it before signing anything. No federal agency has judged the merits or value, if any, of this property. Oral representations cannot be relied upon as correctly stating the representations of the developer. For correct representations, make reference to this brochure and to the documents required by section 718.503, Florida statutes, to be furnished by a developer to a buyer or lessee.



This is not intended to be an offer to sell, or solicitation of an offer to buy, condominium units to residents of CT, ID, NY, NJ and OR, unless registered or exemptions are available, or in any other jurisdiction where prohibited by law, and your eligibility for purchase will depend upon your state of residency. This offering is made only by the Prospectus for the condominium only. The plans, specifications, design, amenities, managing entities, hotel operators, restaurants operations, and resort style services (if any) referred to are accurate as of this publication; however, the Developer reserves the right to change any of these, as the Developer deems best it’s sole and absolute discretion. This condominium is being developed by AMCO PRH 801 SOUTH MIAMI AVENUE, LLC which has a limited right to use the trade names, logos, images, and trademarks depicted pursuant to license agreements. The Related Group, SBE Hotels, LLC, The Allen Morris Company and Yabu Pushelberg are not the Developer. © 2014 AMCO PRH 801 South Miami Avenue, LLC. All rights reserved unless otherwise credited to another.



UNPARALLELED. 45 years of transforming the Miami skyline. By combining unparalleled local knowledge with an established international clientele, we’ve been South Florida’s most trusted luxury real estate firm since 1969 – achieving unrivaled results for thousands of buyers and sellers. We’ve created more markets, driven more demand and moved more condominiums in Miami than any other real estate company international or otherwise. That’s the power of expertise. With an array of real estate services and exclusive representation of over $2 billion of current luxury inventory in Miami’s hottest neighborhoods, choose Cervera when the time comes to sell, buy, lease or manage your property.

BUY | SELL | LEASE | MANAGE Cervera Real Estate Inc. l Licensed Real Estate Broker 1492 South Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33130 l 20 Dynamic Office Locations l 305.374.3434 l l

FROM THE PUBLISHER David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Alicia Cervera Tate David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Burton Landy David Lawrence Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burto David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty SEPTEMBER 2014 •Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate1 Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Alicia Cervera Sr. Ron Bergeron Monty Trainer Stanley Tate Burton Landy ESF-Cover.indd 8/28/14 10:15 AM


hen we set out to select the individuals to honor in our annual Legends issue, we knew it wasn’t enough to just choose people for their longevity in the business community or civic and philanthropic endeavors; we understood it was important to find those individuals who possess an intense desire to not only be successful, but also to inspire those around them to do the same. A legend is not someone who is born into greatness, but someone who achieves it through hard work, philanthropy, and a dedication to family. Our 2014 Legends are six individuals who have taken different paths in their lives, but all have made an impact in business, their communities, and the lives of others. We are proud to honor: Ron Bergeron, a fifth generation Floridian, who, starting with a single tractor, built a business empire that stretches across the state. Alicia Cervera Sr. who has grown her real estate firm to more than $3 billion in transactions. Burton Landy, who in more than 60 years of practicing law, has helped to make Miami one of the world’s most important centers for international commerce and trade. David Lawrence Jr., who as a champion for child advocacy programs, has made Tallahassee lawmakers refocus priorities. Stanley Tate, who in addition to advising several US presidents on banking regulations, was instrumental in creating the Florida Prepaid College plan. Monty Trainer, who after selling his namesake restaurant, helped to push the Coconut Grove Arts Festival to national prominence. By honoring these six individuals, we not only show the path that brought them to our attention, but also the profound impact they have had on those around them. Their legacy lives on through the companies they created, the charities they support, and the individuals they have inspired.

Ron Mann 6



PROJECT LOCATION 601 NE 27 Street Miami, FL 33137 th

SALES CENTER 2742 Biscayne Boulevard Miami, FL 33137


SEPTEMBER 2014 Volume 1 Number 3 PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER Ron Mann EDITOR Sara Fiedelholtz




LEGENDS 11 RON BERGERON Serves as a respected developer and generous supporter of environmental issues

47 DAVID LAWRENCE JR Devotes his energy to early educational development of Florida’s children





Heads one of the area’s most successful real estate firms

Promotes economic development and the international business sector

Continues to work as a relentless advocate for political and educational issues

Serves as an influential leader in Miami’s cultural arts community

ART DIRECTOR Lourdes Guerra PRODUCTION MANAGER Mariu Saralegui CONTRIBUTING WRITERS David Lyons Milagros Rousseau Mike Seemuth Richard Westlund Jeff Zbar CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jorge Parra Donna Victor Isaac Zapata OFFICE MANAGER Ludmila Leonova Copy Editor Rochelle Broder-Singer COVER DESIGN: Lourdes Guerra ©2014 EXECUTIVE South Florida magazine is published 12 times per year by South Florida Executive LLC, 536 Biltmore Way, Second Floor, Coral Gables, FL 33134. All rights reserved. The entire content of EXECUTIVE South Florida may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the publisher. EXECUTIVE South Florida accepts no responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts and/or photographs, and assumes no liability for products and services advertised herein. EXECUTIVE South Florida reserves the right to edit, rewrite, or refuse material. To order a subscription, please call 305.735.2873. For more information, please contact: To distribute EXECUTIVE South Florida, please email:

47 8



71 536 Biltmore Way, 2nd Floor, Coral Gables, FL 33134 305.433.6963


UNITYJETS.COM OR 888.758.JETS (5387)


Ron Bergeron ‘Alligator’ Ron Bergeron rode humble upbringings, his cowboy culture and an occasional alligator to become one of Broward’s most respected and generous native sons, without ever losing sight of his cowboy roots.

By Jeff Zbar | Portrait Photos by Donna Victor



Ron Bergeron Ron Begeron on his horse Chocolate.


lligator” Ron Bergeron’s office is a busy place. Papers, a few folders and a tin of Mountain Man tobacco snuff sit on his desk. The walls are cluttered with artifacts of the life of a man born, raised, and made successful in what once were remote stretches of Broward County, but now are the cities of Davie, Weston, and Pembroke Pines. Like many of the rooms in Bergeron Land Development’s headquarters, his office is a museum of sorts. There’s a gator skull, newspaper articles about his work, even a poster from the documentary, Florida Crackers, The Cattlemen and Cowboys of Florida. The building’s foyer has a large photo of Bergeron on his rodeo roping horse. Sitting at his large wooden desk, Bergeron’s black cowboy hat hangs behind him. His black western shirt is sharp and pressed. A black scarf is tied around his neck. Atop his denim jeans is one of his silver rodeo championship belt buckles. Over the years, he said, he’s earned too many to count. Bergeron’s talking about his life as a pioneering Gladesman, the grandson of an Everglades game warden, a commissioner with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a philanthropist, and though he’ll never say as much, one of South Florida’s early and most successful land developers. The flip phone on his desk rings. For this man who doesn’t text or email, his phone is as much a throwback in 2014 as its owner’s 12


homage to the historic cowboy ways. Still, somehow it’s not surprising that his custom ringtone is the theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. “This is Alligator Ron,” he answered. A moment passed. “How you doin’?” asked Bergeron. Another moment passed. Bergeron continued, “I’m doing OK,” he offered, “just busy as hell—like a one-legged cowboy at an asskickin’ contest.” You can’t hear details, but you quickly gather Bergeron’s negotiating style. Continuing on his call, “I think me and you need to sit down and talk some numbers,” said Bergeron. “Why don’t you come on in here let’s me and you talk face to face and see what we can come up with.” Bergeron, born in 1943 is a fifth-generation Floridian, in what was then a town of 300 people and who had bootstrapped his way up. In fact, in 2015 his company will celebrate 50 years in business.

Bergeron as a young child on lap of father Percy Bergeron, his older brother Lonnie Bergeron and his mother Dorothy Bergeron.

Today, his family’s name is on trailers and heavy equipment at jobsites from Broward highways south to Alton Road in Miami Beach. Bergeron’s rock quarries in West Palm Beach and Miami-Dade County were the source of the fill used to build Interstates 75 and 595 and the Sawgrass Expressway. His name is also associated with more than 200 area charities Bergeron has helped along the way. Bergeron Land Development is a family business. Although none of his four daughters, who include a missionary, a nursing student, and an aspiring country star in Nashville, are in the business, his two boys are heavily involved. Ron Jr. “J.R.,” runs several of the family’s companies, including Bergeron Land Development, an underground utility company in Orlando, and Bergeron Emergency Services, which dispatches heavy equipment to natural disasters nationwide. His other son, Lonnie, named for Ron’s grandfather, oversees real estate leasing and various income-producing properties. The Bergerons’ holdings include the 380acre industrial park where the corporate office is located, 500 acres in Ocala, and properties in Michigan and Kentucky. Most were purchased in the 1970s. Bergeron, 71, started simple enough as an 18-year-old cowboy looking for work. He moved out of his parents’ house with a couple hundred dollars in his pocket and took a job pumping gas at a local service station; he lived in a room in the back. Hully Stirling, Bergeron’s old scoutmaster and part of another pioneering Davie family, made Bergeron an offer. He had an old house on his coconut plantation off the south fork of the New River—Bergeron could tend the trees and live there free. Bergeron took the offer. Soon, a neighbor asked Bergeron to mow his pasture and tend to his orange grove. He borrowed Stirling’s old Ford tractor, and in time more work came. Bergeron mowed pastures, baled hay, and harvested fruit late into the night. “A lot of times, I’d work 18 to 20 hour days, and sleep under that tractor,” recalled Bergeron. Flooded with work, Bergeron approached Stirling with an offer: “Let’s buy some tractors and grow this business. You invest the money, I’ll do the work.” Stirling agreed. It was 1963, and Bergeron had his first real company. The arrangement went on like that for several years, yet Bergeron couldn’t help but notice the Stirling family members were wealthy landowners. So was Henry Perry, whose hay Bergeron was bailing, and who owned Perry’s Dairy and the 640 acres that would become North Perry Airport in Hollywood.

The early years of Bergeron Land Development. “I looked at all the successful people and realized they owned land,” said Bergeron. “I knew right away with every damn penny I got I had to buy land.” With his sights set beyond hayfields and orange groves, Bergeron bought out Stirling in 1965 and created his first solo company, Bergeron Land Development. Then, parcel by parcel, he started buying land. One piece was on Southwest 100th Avenue, another was a seemingly remote parcel on State Road 84, miles from where any city folk ever ventured. His big purchase was 30 acres in Davie for $1,000 an acre. Bergeron sensed the piece would fetch a fortune one day. He hired a pilot to take him up to view the parcel and could see that University Drive would line up right along his frontage. He soon bought another 20 contiguous acres. Between taxes and maintenance, holding land was expensive. Bergeron needed to expand his development business and

resources to compete with the two other big landowners and developers—the Griffins and the Sessas. Broward was in a building boom. With all the construction, developers needed fill for communities and roads. Bergeron went to a local landowner and made him an offer: I’ll dredge your land, sell the fill and pay you a royalty. Bergeron promised the man lakefront property, and a return five times greater than the value of the idle land. Between two guys and a piece of paper the deal was done. Were any lawyers involved? “Aw, naw. You gotta realize that in Davie you lived by the 10 Commandments of the Cowboy,” said Bergeron. “You’ve got to be able to shake a man’s hand.” Mort Kalin first shook Bergeron’s hand in 1972. Kalin was laying the infrastructure for Pembroke Lakes. Bergeron caught wind that some 2,100 acres needed to be prepped. One day, Bergeron walked into Kalin’s office. He had no appointment and no personal SEPTEMBER 2014


Ron Bergeron

Success is in the opportunity, and learning how to do something a little better than your competition — Ron Bergeron

Bergeron and Brian Quail, president/chief executive officer of Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward 2014 Boys & Girls Club Annual Ranch Roam at Bergeron’s Green Glades Ranch. County at Ranch Roam. introduction.“It was just a cold call,” said Kalin. “This young fella walks in, a farm-type kid who wanted work. I asked him what type of equipment he had. He said a five-yard dump truck and a backhoe back on the farm.” Kalin was impressed with Bergeron’s spirit, but told the kid he needed big equipment. But as Bergeron was walking out, Kalin, a fellow horseman and former member of the US Calvary in World War II, noticed Bergeron’s championship belt buckle. The two got to talking. By the time they were done, Bergeron had the job. He ended up renting the draglines and bulldozers to eventually move 7 million tons of muck and material. “Let me tell you, Ronnie Bergeron wasn’t the average farm boy,” recalled Kalin. “He was aggressive and knowledgeable.” To Bergeron, opportunities came fast, like the chance to get Kalin’s work. “Don’t jump or someone else will; just be smart about it,” he said. Burned by the 1973 oil embargo and 14


recession, Bergeron has learned not to over leverage. Even though he made his first million and employed more than 150 workers by the time he was 25, Bergeron was always frugal. He lived and raised some of his six children in house trailers on his various properties until he was in his 40s. He didn’t build his current home on his 80-acre Green Glades East ranch on US 27 until the 1980s. “God gave me opportunities that I worked very hard at,” he said. “Success is in the opportunity, and learning how to do something a little better than your competition, and then living within your means until you can live anyway you want.” It’s safe to say Bergeron is successful enough to live anyway he wants. But he hasn’t ventured far from his cowboy roots. On his ranch, where a dozen horses graze on open pastures, Bergeron has his private residence, a guesthouse, and a large stable. The spread

might be best known for Alligator Ron’s Saloon, a 6,000-square-foot bar and entertainment hall Bergeron uses for parties and charity events. One event, Ranch Roam, the annual event for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, attracts 1,000 people and has raised more than $12 million to date. There’s even a 20-acre lake Bergeron dredged. Always an opportunist, he sold the fill to create US 27. Bergeron is deeply connected in Tallahassee and Washington, often with the purpose of saving the Everglades, where his grandfather, Lonnie P. Harvey, would take him exploring on his airboat in the 1940s and 1950s. The family still has Lonnie’s hunting cabin 20 miles off Alligator Alley. Bergeron’s pride is Green Glades West, his 8,000-acre getaway deep in the cypress swamps, where deer, bears, and Florida panthers are common sights. So when Everglades remediation needed a first-hand look from the politicians holding the


Bergeron’s grandfather LP Harvey, He was a game warden and introduced him to the Florida Everglades.

Bergeron in the Everglades. votes and purse strings, Bergeron personally arranged for airboat rides for governors, US senators, interior secretaries, state representatives, and even Vice President Joe Biden. Bergeron has waded in chest-high Everglades’ waters that shouldn’t have touched his knees for television cameras, to show how poor

water planning is drowning native species. He’s hunted pythons to highlight the invasive threat in the Everglades, which he calls “one of the natural wonders of the world.” “He’s done it all on his dime and his time,” said Rodney Barreto, Chairman of Florida Partners and former chairman of the Florida Fish


J.R. and Lonnie Bergeron

s far back as brothers J.R. and Lonnie Bergeron can remember, their father’s business and life lessons have been part of their upbringing and education. Maybe it was the kid-sized desk that sat beside Ron Bergeron’s own desk, or riding shotgun with their dad to job sites, or the summers spent working for Bergeron Land Development. They cleaned horse stalls at the family ranch every day after school, and ran tractors as they got older. “My first job was cleaning survey stakes around construction sites,” recalled Lonnie Bergeron, 43. “He always wanted us to work really hard for our money. There were no free rides and he wanted us to understand how the business world works.” Three decades later, the boys help run the 54 businesses that are part of the Bergeron family of companies. Like their father, neither was much for college. Lonnie attended Broward College before coming back to the family business. J.R. finished his formal education with his high school diploma. Both attended what J.R. called Bergeron University. There they learned about life, business, and giving back. The boys have picked up a few of their father’s business traits. They know how to tackle a task, “to get it off your plate, get it done right, and move on to the next thing,” said J.R. They also learned to stick to what they do best. Lonnie is more suited to contracts, accounting and legal work, akin to his first job as project manager at 19. J.R. builds businesses. “Our skill sets were naturally on those two different career paths,” said Lonnie. Bergeron also taught his sons the formula for success. Don’t dally in someone else’s business, just focus on what you know, and learn from your mistakes, recalled Lonnie. “Do what you do well, do it a little better and you’ll be more successful than everybody else,” he summed up E SEPTEMBER 2014


and Wildlife Conservation Commission. While chair, Barreto appointed Bergeron point commissioner for Everglades preservation. “Ronnie is one of the best ambassadors for the Everglades I know,” he said. US Senator Bill Nelson has been on those airboats with Bergeron. They caught a 10foot python in the Everglades. When Nelson wanted to bring heavy hitters like Sen. Barbara Boxer and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to tour the Everglades, he called Bergeron to line up the tours. “Ronnie is very flamboyant in his dress,” said the Senator, but “he’s the real deal when it comes to outdoors, nature, and specifically the Everglades.” Meanwhile, Bergeron continues to take on new work. His company won part of the $400 million project to lay new sewer pipes along Alton Road and install new pumps and valves in Miami Beach’s effort to stave off rising waters. Bergeron has spent hours on the jobsite with Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, discussing the intricacies of the project and devising the US Senator Bill Nelson. Ron Begeron at the rodeo.




Ron Bergeron


Victor Giannoble ictor Giannoble was in his early 60s but not quite ready to settle down when he first started working for Ron Bergeron. For the next 17 years, the lifelong horseman from Chicago worked around Bergeron’s ranch and office, helping with horses, the business, or just odd jobs. Along the way, he learned a few lessons about life and business. Giannoble and Bergeron first met when Giannoble moved to Davie in the 1970s. Though he had a family business at Port Everglades, Giannoble’s passion was rodeo. He became involved in the Davie Rodeo Association and served a stint on its board with Bergeron. The two got to talking. Giannoble’s grandfather had sold mules to Bergeron’s grandfather around Hammond, Louisiana. Their fathers were close. Giannoble knew Bergeron’s older brother, Lonnie, from the rodeo circuit. Somehow, the two never really knew each other, until they served on the rodeo board. “Something clicked between us and we became friends,” said Giannoble, who retired a few years back to a 10-acre spread in Live Oak in North Florida. During his time with Bergeron, Giannoble discovered a man unchanged by his success. When Davie’s rodeo arena was falling apart, Bergeron rallied support to save the grounds and to help with the rebuilding effort. “When there’s something to be done, he’s the first to jump up,” said Giannoble. E

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remedies. It helps that Bergeron is an environmentalist at heart. “He has an instinctual sense and perception of his environment,” said Levine. “Ronnie’s an adaptive guy who understands problems and devises solutions. Entrepreneurs don’t think about challenges. They think about solutions.” Most recently, Bergeron became a partner in Sun Bergeron, a start-up project between Bergeron and Southern Waste Systems. Southern sought to dethrone Waste Management from its decades-long waste disposal contract in Broward County. After years of getting nowhere in his efforts, Southern Chairman and Co-founder Anthony Lomangino in 2010 approached Bergeron, a long-time friend, with a business opportunity. If Bergeron’s negotiations landed the contracts, Lomangino would run the business. Last year, the joint venture won the contracts for 18 municipalities countywide. “This is his backyard,” said Lomangino, also a fellow horseman. “No one knows the political landscape in Broward better than Ronnie.” “Ronnie Bergeron represents more than a successful entrepreneur. He’s the embodiment

of the Florida cracker and cowboy creed that crosses paths with the American dream,” said Dan Weekley, president of Weekley Asphalt Paving, another successful business from an old Davie family. He and Bergeron have worked together since the 1960s, and their kids have ridden rodeo together for almost as long as they have worked together to preserve the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds. “The handshake was the way it was done in our generation,” said Weekley. “You don’t have a relationship that long in business with people if they can’t trust your word.” Handshakes aren’t taught in business school. Though Bergeron’s highest formal education was a diploma from Fort Lauderdale’s Stranahan High School, don’t underestimate Bergeron’s business skills, said Joseph Pineda, an assistant dean at the Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University. In 2000, Bergeron was named to the school’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame with such local luminaries as residential developer Joel Altman, car magnate Rick Case, and Citrix founder Ed Iacobucci.

Bergeron on his horse Chocolate, at the Davie Rodeo Association Jackpot, held every Wednesday night at the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds.




Ron Bergeron


Billy Culligan

n a balmy Wednesday night in July, Billy Culligan took off on horseback after a steer in the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds arena in Davie. Culligan quickly chased down the animal, let loose his lasso and roped the steer around the horns. Beside him, Ron Bergeron, the team’s heeler, released his rope and lassoed the steer’s rear feet. The duo did more than bring a 500-pound steer to the dirt. They won the series team roping championship at the Davie Rodeo Association. “We’ve won a bunch of ’em,” said Culligan, Bergeron’s long-time roping partner and field supervisor for Bergeron Properties. Culligan was nine years old and riding motorcycles around one of Bergeron’s Davie rock pits when the two first met. By the time he was 13, Culligan was on Bergeron’s payroll. By high school, they were roping partners and soon were competing on the pro circuit. Culligan went off to study animal science and agriculture at the University of Tennessee, and returned to Davie to work with Bergeron. “I’ve never had another job,” said Culligan, 52, who works Bergeron job sites, the Davie ranch, and hunts with Bergeron on his 8,000-acre spread in the Everglades. Along the way, Culligan’s learned a thing or two from his friend. “He’s still just a regular guy. He hasn’t got too caught up in the big business. He sticks to his roots. That’s something we all can learn from,” said Culligan. E

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“Ron’s a world-class entrepreneur,” said Pineda. “People like Ronnie and Wayne Huizenga and (Wendy’s founder) Dave Thomas were founding fathers to the area, successful, and philanthropic.” “Bergeron’s old-school business style doesn’t go looking for spotlight or praise, and Bergeron doesn’t drop names,” said Happy Alter, owner and CEO of Bob’s Barricades, whose traffic cones and markers have been lining Bergeron’s road construction projects for more than 40 years. It is common to find Bergeron on the job

he always does, up before dawn with no alarm clock. He did 500 crunches followed by an hour on the stair stepper before he headed into the office around 8:30am, he said. Being in shape has kept Bergeron sharp in business, on his roping horse every Wednesday, and when wrasslin’ gators out at Green Glades West. Sure, Bergeron’s had a few close calls. He lost part of a finger when a rope cinched it right off; several have been sewn back on from other rodeo mishaps. A highly publicized

Bergeron and Channing Crowder, Miami Dolphins linebacker site or at the table with his engineers or estimators, whose tasks he learned himself decades ago by just doing the work. “In other companies, the owner is in some ivory tower somewhere,” said Alter. “He’s really a throwback. He’s on the jobsite. He’s determined and he does what he thinks is right. But if someone steps in his way, they’d have to go to the mat with him.” Back in his office, Bergeron is reflecting on his day and his career. He started the day as 20


run-in with an eight-foot gator in 2006 left Bergeron with 143 stitches in his hand. But to Bergeron, they’re just stories from a life well lived. In fact, when he tells those tales, Bergeron’s face lights right up. “I go to work with every cell in my body to be the best businessman, go home to be a good dad, and go to the rodeo to kick your ass. Then I leave every Friday to be in the swamps,” said Bergeron, “and nothing will interfere with that.” E


Ron Bergeron


hanning Crowder recalled the day he first met Ron Bergeron. The former Miami Dolphins linebacker was looking for a facility to host the weigh-in for his charity bass fishing tournament. One call, followed by one meeting, and Bergeron was hooked, said Crowder. “On the spot he said, ‘Sounds good.’ That was the business deal,” recalled Crowder. A few months later, 300 amateur and professional fishermen met at Alligator Ron’s Saloon on his West Broward ranch. The event raised $70,000. Bergeron has made millions helping develop South Florida. And he’s helped return millions to the community through philanthropy. A page in the back of the Bergeron Companies corporate calendar lists only some of the groups he supports. Even in small letters, the names of more than 200 groups fill the page. For Bergeron, philanthropy gives him a reason to throw a party. But his parents always told him “being kind is free.” “You can be the most successful person in the world,” he said. “What else are you going to do with it?” There’s a deeper reason. Bergeron is intensely proud of his cowboy upbringing; his events give him a chance to introduce others to the cowboy way of life showcased in no small part within his 6,000-squarefoot saloon. Rick Case has worked on Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County’s Ranch Roam with Bergeron for the better part of two decades. An original founder of Florida West Fair, the event that preceded Ranch Roam, Case knew the group needed a bigger home. Bergeron offered up his homestead. “He’s got a big heart,” said Case, CEO of Rick Case Automotive Group. “He lives and breathes saving the Everglades. There’s no person who has done more and cares more for the Everglades than Ron Bergeron,” said Case. E

Alicia Cervera Sr Alicia Cervera, Sr. overcame early obstacles and went on to build one of South Florida’s most successful real estate companies.

By Millie Acebal Rousseaur | Portrait Photos by Donna Victor



Alicia Cervera Sr


he office was abuzz as final preparations were being made for a big celebration. Alicia Cervera, Sr. and her husband Javier were about to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary with a party hosted by their daughter Veronica. At 84, Cervera, the powerhouse real estate broker, is well dressed and does not look, or act, her age. In fact, speaking with her is like having a conversation with a close friend as she shares tidbits about herself—she doesn’t like coffee or chocolate. 24


When you accept things, you see things differently. — Alicia Cervera Sr

Small talk aside, Cervera comes across as grounded and humble, but make no mistake, the woman means business. In the last three years, her company, Cervera Real Estate has sold (and closed on) $3.2 billion in real estate transactions. And, she has no plans to slow down as matriarch of the family-run business. On this day, she’s content to open up and talk about how she met Javier in Havana, and how they lost everything after the Cuban Revolution. Cervera, the daughter of an ambassador, met her husband while her father was assigned to Cuba. Her sister, on summer vacation from Barnard College, came to visit and brought along some American friends

who wanted to try fried plantains. Somehow, the group, including Cervera, ended up at a Chinese restaurant. “The waiter said, ‘We have fried rice, but no fried bananas,’ ” recalled Cervera. They stayed at the restaurant’s lounge, and when friends pointed to a handsome guy, Alicia replied, “That skinny guy?” “It was love at first sight,” said Javier Cervera. “A couple of days after meeting her, I told her I was going to marry her. Here I am 60 years later. The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting her.” It’s an enduring love. “My parents make a good team. They work well together because my dad finds her an incredibly interesting

SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE LEFT: Alicia and Javier Cervera on their wedding day

Alicia and Javier Cervera with newborn daughter Alicia Jr.

woman, and my mom finds him the sexiest man alive,” said daughter Veronica Cervera Goeseke, CEO of Cervera Real Estate. During the Bay of Pigs invasion, their young love was put to the test. “One of my most painful memories was when I realized there was going to be an invasion, and my two brothers-in-law would be involved,” said Cervera. She recalled that when she was a child, her father was exiled from Peru due to political turmoil, making the impending situation all the more difficult as it resurfaced old memories. What ensued after the invasion could be an excerpt from a suspense novel, with Cervera deciding to stay behind with her husband, and placing her two young daughters on an escape flight by themselves. “I was not able to deliver my children to somebody. I had to watch from behind the glass, the girls were alone. It was a horrible experience.” The girls, ages six and three, arrived safely in Miami where their nanny and grandparents awaited them. Then, the couple had to find a way to flee. Since Javier was also involved in the invasion, Fidel Castro’s military police were looking for him and he could not return home. Guards waited at their house, and when Javier called to check in, their butler, Antonio, used a code


Sildy Cervera

s a teen, Sildy Cervera spent time living in northern Spain with her grandparents, but the cold weather sent her packing and back to Miami, where Alicia Cervera, Sr. welcomed her with open arms. “My grandfather decided I needed some sunshine, and sent me to Alicia.” Sildy, Cervera’s niece and Cervera Real Estate’s director of sales, ended up living with her aunt for about two years, a time she recalled with great fondness. Sildy Cervera said Cervera embraced her as part of the household, and treated her as one of her own daughters. “She’s always had the door open to me, and has always been available,” she said. On the professional side, Cervera has also made a meaningful impact on Sildy Cervera, who has been selling luxury properties in Miami Beach’s exclusive South of Fifth street (SOFI) neighborhood for the past 15 years, after traveling the world to places like Italy and Japan. The number one lesson Cervera taught Sildy Cervera: “Know your numbers. She has them in her head; I always have a calculator close by.” But, it wasn’t just numbers and figures that Sildy Cervera learned from her aunt. There were other invaluable lessons like patience and that everything has its moment—all learned through example and Cervera’s gentle demeanor. “She has a calm, collected way of being; she doesn’t get frazzled. I learned from watching that.” For Sildy Cervera, Cervera’s influence was planted in childhood, and blossomed throughout her career. “Alicia is a special human being. I don’t think there’s anyone you could talk to that wouldn’t tell you the same thing.” E



to warn him. Upon hearing the code, Javier went to the home of a friend, a Mexican diplomat who, in time, safely got him to the Mexican embassy. “He didn’t want political asylum; he didn’t want to leave his country that way,” said Cervera. But leave they would, but first, a tense standoff at the airport. The Mexican diplomat had arranged to get the couple aboard a plane that the Mexican ambassador was traveling to Mexico on. Javier Cervera was onboard the plane, but as Alicia Cervera made her way towards the aircraft, a guard tapped her on the shoulder

plane].” Javier Cervera stayed put, and the guard eventually let Alicia Cervera go. The couple flew to México and a few days later arrived in Miami, where they were reunited with their daughters. After some time in Washington, D.C., the family returned to the Magic City for good. It was time to build a new life, and Cervera got to work, except work was hard to come by. She applied for a job at Sears on Coral Way, but was turned down because she didn’t know how to fill out the application, since she had never had to work before. But things were

“She built 21 houses in Peru; she’d hire young architects to get them built, and would sell them. I was accustomed to seeing floor plans since I was a little girl.” That early insight made a lifelong impact. In 1967, Alicia read in the newspaper that zoning for Brickell had been changed to multifamily. When asked what sparked her interest in the area, she replied, “Brickell Avenue is Park Avenue with a bay.” Foresight is still one of Cervera’s strengths. “Cervera has an ability to effect change by seeing into the future,” said Jesse D. Ottley, president of development sales

FRONT: Jace Cervera (seated on Javier Cervera), Jenna Cervera (Seated on Alicia Cervera Sr) MIDDLE: Javier Cervera III, Caroline Goeseke BACK: Alicia Lamadrid, Alberto Lamadrid, Nickel Goeseke, Alexandra Goeseke. and retained her. It was a tactic to get Javier Cervera off the plane, which would put him on Cuban soil and allow for his arrest. The Mexican ambassador gave Javier Cervera a stern warning: “This plane doesn’t leave without the daughter of the ambassador; you are Cuban, I can not help [if you get off the 26


different now, and work was a necessity. While walking down Miracle Mile across from Sears, she ran into a friend who had married a real estate broker. That friend advised her to get her real estate license, and she did. It was a natural fit for her. “My mom was a frustrated architect,” said Cervera Goeseke.

for Cervera Real Estate. “She has a very good sense of what is trending, and what will work.” An eye for trends led Cervera and her husband to purchase their first property on Brickell. Cervera found a lot for $95,000, but with $500 in her bank account, couldn’t find a bank to give them a loan. They had to

Photo by Alan Phillip

Alicia Cervera Sr


Alicia Cervera Sr raise 20 percent—about $19,000. Cervera pawned her jewelry, including her wedding ring. It still wasn’t enough. A good friend put in a good word at the bank, and the property was almost hers, but not before the nanny, Lala, pitched in, contributing $600 for closing costs. “I knew it would [eventually] cost millions more. I had the goal of selling it, or someone to put in capital and construct with me.” But then, life happened. Cervera, pregnant with son Javier, still had monthly payments on the property and year-end taxes to think about. It was too much. Javier Cervera eventually accepted an offer on the property, which she signed at the hospital with her newborn son who had just arrived. Even though it sold for more than double what the couple paid, she

remembers many tears, because she knew the property had major potential. “It was our first shot to come out of poverty,” she said. “That property, years later, sold for $18 million.” Not one to give up easily, Cervera worked hard, and looked for the next big opportunity, which came in 1979. While reading the newspaper, again, Cervera learned New York real estate mogul Harry Helmsley, was developing The Palace Condominium on Brickell. She wrote him a letter explaining that Brickell was an important market to Latin Americans, and she had the contacts, and would love to represent him. He called her. “I thought it was a prank call,” recalled Cervera. “He said, ‘I’m going to fly with my wife to Palm Beach. I’ll see you on Saturday at my penthouse.’”


Barbara Salk

eal estate development has traditionally been a maledominated industry in Miami, but Barbara Salk, a principal with SAKOR Development LLC, is hoping to change that as one of the few women developing condominium high-rises. “Jorge Pérez moved me to Miami to work with the Related Group in 1999; that’s when I first met Alicia and the entire Cervera family. I’ve known them for 15 years, and they’ve been a very important part of my personal, and professional, life,” said Salk. Salk added that Cervera and relatives were part of her welcoming committee, and even became a part of her family. “She invited me to family events, helped me find an apartment, get settled, and showed me around Miami,” she said. In business, Cervera has also played an integral role for Salk. “She’s taught me to look at past things that have worked and how to change the context into the present tense,” said Salk. For instance, Cervera recently reviewed floor plans for an upcoming Sakor Development project and provided feedback on how the units related to the amenities. “She’s amazing on floor plans, and always has a fresh perspective, even though she’s seen how many floor plans in the course of her career?” Salk credited Cervera with providing great advice on starting her own business, and how to work with sales agents. “She’s given me the benefit of three generationsof real estate expertise,” she added referring to the Cervera family. E



Photo by Alan Phillip


Alicia Cervera Sr

Alicia Cervera Sr Cervera met with Helmsley and his notorious wife Leona and made her case. Helmsley said he’d give her an answer within a week. That’s when Leona took her aside and said, “You’re going to get the job. I like you. You seem to work hard, you’re intelligent and you need the money.” A week later, as promised, she had to return to the penthouse for a decision. “He made me an offer, but what I was asking, he reduced to half,” said Cervera. “He told me, ‘This is the first lesson I’m going to give; ask for double because people will offer you half.’ ”Cervera became the exclusive agent, and sold out the building. It was an opportunity that changed everything for her. Cervera remains very grateful to Helmsley, who she said was a real estate genius. Cervera Real Estate, which started as a one-woman shop 45 years ago, grew to be one of the most successful firms in Miami 28


with Cervera at the helm. While the company does not disclose annual revenues, talking with Miami’s leading developers provides insight on the company’s success. Ugo Colombo, president of CMC Group, first met Cervera while he was in college. “Alicia sold my father an apartment in the late 1970s, before I was in real estate. Then, she held my hand in the beginning when I started my first venture in real estate,” said Colombo. The pioneer developer said Cervera is one of the most respected agents in Miami due to her business savvy, experience, knowledge of the market, and her integrity. “She always puts my interests ahead … she gives me good advice; prices always been very protective of being sure everything was priced fairly.” It’s a sentiment shared by David Martin, president and co-owner of Terra Group. “Alicia is someone who puts her clients and


Victoria Corrigan Fine ictoria Corrigan Fine has had the pleasure of knowing the Cervera family since she was a teen growing up in Miami. Corrigan Fine, an international financial advisor for Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, attended high school with Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, one of Cervera Sr.’s daughters. “They are a very united family; they were always doing something and entertained a lot.” Corrigan Fine credited Cervera with having a profound influence on her career, “She’s impacted my life as a role model for a woman in business, because even in my field, I am one of the very first woman advisors.” Corrigan Fine, mother of three, remembers in the early days, when she had her first child, there was no maternity leave policy at her company. “I did not have in my life women who worked full time in the corporate world. To see a woman—a generation ahead of me—in business as a leader of a company she founded and built—and then with the support of her children who have aided it—to still be a manager and making decisions, is very inspiring to me.” Cervera, a working octogenarian, continued to inspire Corrigan Fine. “I’ve learned working through the decades, that to bring a lot of value to your life, you don’t necessarily have to retire when you’re 62. By being active, you can have a more vibrant, exciting, and interesting life.” Corrigan Fine, who referred to her role model as gracious, elegant, and beautiful on the inside and out. “She’s very down to earth, and it’s very impressive for someone who’s achieved so much.” E

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Alicia Cervera Sr.

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Founder, Bergeron Land Development

President, The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation

Founder, Cervera Real Estate

Chairman, Tate Capital

Partner, Akerman LLP

President, Coconut Grove Arts Festival

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Alicia Cervera Sr

Brickell buildings: Imperial at Brickell, Villa Regina, and The Palace (all represented by Cervera). her developers first,” he said. To this day, he still sees her preparing before meetings, and described her as results-oriented, giving, charismatic, and innovative. He added she’s someone who understands cultures and is very in tune with people and trends. “Alicia gives us the understanding of what exactly is the way you can enhance people’s lives,” said Martin. “My routine is to call her every morning. I only say, ‘Hi Alicia,’ and she knows my mood. She’s uncanny … she has a sixth sense … with her, you feel all your problems will be solved because she has inner knowledge about how to handle things,” said Lizzie Giuffra, COO of Cervera Real Estate, who’s been working with Cervera since 1980. Anuca Valverde, Cervera Real Estate president of marketing calls her a visionary. “She listens and gives the opportunity to express your knowledge and opinion. She’ll challenge if she doesn’t agree. If you give a good rationale for your difference of opinion, she will come around. She’s not stuck in her ways. She has some old traditions, but is very young in her thinking.” That flexibility may be what allows Cervera Real Estate to be a family-run enterprise that extends three generations. Alicia Cervera Sr. serves as chairman, and husband Javier Cervera as principal. Their daughters hold top management roles—Veronica Cervera Goeseke is CEO and Alicia Cervera Lamadrid 30


is managing partner. Two of Cervera’s granddaughters work at the company. And while son Javier does not work for his mom, he credits her with instilling the knowledge to launch his own business. “I remember as a little kid going to my mother’s apartment buildings and collecting rents,” said Javier Cervera, president of Cervera R.E. Ventures. “I learned my business through my mom.” Cervera acknowledged working with family can be challenging sometimes. “What maintains the balance is the love and appreciation for each other,” she said. “If not, I would have to close the company,” she joked. Alicia Cervera Lamadrid said working with her mom is easy because they think similarly. “Even when we agree to disagree, I understand the way she processes information, and there’s always value in her thought process. She’s bright, progressive, and thinks out of the box. I’m constantly learning from her.” She added her mother is not limited by parameters, providing this metaphor: “If you can’t get into a house because the door is locked, for her it’s obvious that there are four windows.” It’s this type of knowledge that Cervera’s granddaughter—Alicia Lamadrid hopes to access while working as an account manager at the company. “Some people talk about how school is going, relationships. I’ll talk to my grandmother about how work is going, and


Bernardo Fort-Brescia mart, reliable and a good person—those are the words Bernardo Fort-Brescia, FAIA used to describe his close friend, Alicia Cervera Sr. Fort-Brescia, a founding principal of Arquitectonica has known Cervera since arriving in Miami, straight out of Harvard in the mid-70s. While the two knew each other socially, they grew close while working together on real estate mogul Harry Helmsley’s Palace Condominiums on Brickell, which was designed by Arquitectonica. Cervera was the broker on the project. “It was the beginning of the transformation of Miami from a resort town into an international market for real estate,” explained Fort-Brescia. “Both of us had a role in its transformation from the beginning to today.” Fort-Brescia, who studied architecture and urban planning at Princeton University and earned his master’s in architecture from Harvard, referred to Cervera as a “real estate psychoanalyst.” “There are very few people out there who have an understanding of space; she has a sixth sense, a feeling of where society is evolving and what buyers are going to look for, how they’re going to live, and what are the amenities and lifestyle the building should convey. She has that amazing touch of really capturing that.” He added that as an architect, he loves this type of input because it’s all about the end user, “We build buildings for people,” he said. Trust is also a factor. “I’ve never seen Alicia say something she doesn’t believe in.” She’ll tell you what she thinks about the building, the market, and she’ll do it with conviction, added Fort-Brescia. E


Alicia Cervera Sr

Javier and Alicia Cervera I’ll get wonderful feedback and insight,” said Alicia Lamadrid, who shares the same first name as her mother and grandmother. Alexandra Goeseke, another granddaughter, joked that she grew up with diapers that had Cervera written on the back, and recalled her grandmother’s influence since childhood. “She’d take me to architect meetings when I was 15, and give me homework assignments.” Today, she works as a broker/ associate with Cervera Real Estate. “She has such a passion and vision for everything. It’s her unique skill set,” said Goeseke. Cervera has also seen tough times, and she’s enjoyed good times. Long-term vision has helped her navigate the challenges, from fleeing Cuba to managing her business. 32


During the market downturn, Cervera not only stayed afloat, she’s happy to report not one foreclosure, which she accomplished by foreseeing trouble. “I knew a crisis was coming.” In anticipation, she worked extra hard—and asked the same of her developers—to close on units ahead of the downturn. And, what does the trendsetter predict as the future of real estate in Miami? A very bright one. “In Miami, the average price will be $10-$15 million for an apartment,” she said. If Cervera’s past success at trend spotting is any indicator, you could probably take that to the bank. Fellow professionals in the real estate community not only believe in Cervera, they celebrate her. She’s a true icon. E


ervera helped to establish, and serves as president of Amigos de Hogar Clínica San Juan de Dios, a committee that holds an annual fundraiser to benefit Hogar Clínica San Juan de Dios, a hospital in her native Peru. The hospital provides the committee with a wish list of items and 100 percent of the proceeds from the fundraiser go towards finding, purchasing, and refurbishing the wish list of medical equipment in the US, and then send it to the hospital housed in a remote part of Lima. So far, the hospital has received such items as hospital beds; blood pressure machines; aspirators; incubators for preemies; and neonatal monitors and ventilators. Initially, the hospital only saw trauma and orthopedic pediatric cases, but thanks in part to Cervera’s efforts, it has been able to expand, and has built a maternity ward that has delivered 150 babies during the past four years. “She is a person that values family and children, and she has the idea that she is doing something for others,” said Lucrecia Loumiet, Hogar Clínica San Juan de Dios committee treasurer. “We wouldn’t be where we are without Alicia. It’s a way of giving back to the land of her birth.” Cervera has been involved with San Juan de Dios for 35 years, after a Brother of the church, who was an administrator at the hospital, came to Miami to be treated for vision problems at Bascom Palmer. Through mutual friends, he met her while here. Cervera, a devout Catholic, felt a calling to get involved when a member of the clergy spoke to her. “He said to me, ‘The Holy Spirit told me to pick you.’ Very few people are devoted to the Holy Spirit; I’m very devoted, so how could I say no,” she recalled. One of the most significant donations to date, said Loumiet, was a blood bank refrigerator to keep blood donations at the right temperature. Another cause dear to Cervera is the American Red Cross, which she has been donating to for the past 28 years. “The American Red Cross is an organization with incredible merit; with any catastrophe, they’re always available to help, and they reach so many people,” she said. E

Powered by Philanthropy The strong engagement of our South Florida leaders and community has helped shape today’s University of Miami—a transformative institution that is ranked among the top 50 universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The University’s progress is fueled by distinguished faculty, talented students, dedicated staff, successful alumni, and a community that embraces its mission of discovery, knowledge, and service.

Achievements of Distinction We are grateful for the generous support that is making an extraordinary difference each and every day. More than 140,000 donors have made gifts totaling over $1.3 billion to the University’s $1.6 billion Momentum2 campaign, which enables us to advance excellence and innovation in educational programs, research, and patient care, thereby enhancing the quality of life in our region and beyond.

For more information about Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami, visit

Burton Landy Attorney Burton Landy arguably has done more than anyone else in the local legal profession to promote the economic development of South Florida, especially the international business sector of the area’s economy.

By Mike Seemuth | Portrait Photos by Donna Victor



Burton Landy


urton Landy is co-founder of the predecessor to World Trade Center Miami, an organization that promotes two-way trade in Miami, and has traveled on multiple trade missions abroad to pitch the city’s international business sector. He is the founding general counsel of the Miami-based Florida International Bankers Association (FIBA), and convinced skeptical domestic bankers to support it. 36


Prepare, prepare, prepare. — Burton Landy

In 1992, he served as chairman of the Beacon Council, the economic development agency of Miami-Dade County, and led a successful lending program to preserve small businesses battered by Hurricane Andrew. Landy also serves as chairman of the Miami International Arbitration Society (MIAS), which has more than 70 members, including large law firms, small ones, and sole practitioners. MIAS has made big strides in promoting Miami as a neutral venue for international arbitration proceedings to resolve contractual disputes between foreign companies in different countries.

“If there’s a commercial dispute between companies from different countries, neither party wants to go litigate in the courts of the adversary,” said Landy. “They are always concerned: Will it be fair? Will they get fair treatment?” Foreign companies traditionally have made New York City or Paris their venue of choice to arbitrate disputes. But Miami has emerged in recent years as a popular arbitration center, too. To build on that momentum, in 2011 Landy led a small delegation of MIAS members to Geneva, Switzerland, to attend a conference staged by the International Council for Commercial

Arbitration (ICCA). The goal of the Landy-led delegation was to convince ICCA officials to bring its big biannual conference to Miami. Landy carefully orchestrated the pitch. “We did a lot of lobbying. We did it methodically. We had assignments. It was like [bidding for] the Super Bowl or the Olympics,” said Landy. Rather than compete with Miami and other contending venues, many cities around the world dropped out of the bidding for the conference, the biggest global gathering of its kind in the obscure world of international arbitration. “Some of the cities bowed out, and it turned out our big competitor was Mauritius,” said Landy. “It’s a small country between India and Africa ... It’s like an offshore financial center for India.” But Mauritius failed to match the appeal of Miami. This past April, Miami became the first US city in decades to host the biannual ICCA conference, which was held downtown at the InterContinental Miami hotel and attracted more than 1,000 arbitration experts and practitioners from around the world. The international conference “has only come to the United States one other time, and that was New York about 28 years ago,” said Landy. As a partner in the law firm Akerman Senterfitt, Landy practices a wide range of law and describes himself as an “international generalist” in the legal profession. He spends about half his time working as an arbitrator in cross-border commercial disputes and the other half counseling Latin American clients who want to make investments in Miami. “I started out mostly as a litigator and made the transition to a transactional lawyer,” said Landy, and both experiences have prepared him for his work as an arbitrator. It is intellectually demanding work because arbitrators must become familiar with laws in so many different states and countries, said Professor Jan Paulsson, who teaches an introductory course at the University of Miami School of Law on resolving international commercial disputes via arbitration. Landy’s career path began in the Hyde Park section of Chicago, his hometown, where he and his older brother Jerome excelled as students. “I went through school fast. I ended up graduating [high school] when I was 16. I skipped a grade or two,” said Landy. “My parents really stressed education. Neither of them really went beyond high school.” Landy’s late brother was also a gifted student, and enrolled in medical school by the age of 18. Landy enrolled at the University of Illinois in Champaign, and tried to follow in his older brother’s vocational footsteps, but when Landy took a university course called Comparative Anatomy, it ended his march

Landy, chairman of the host committee, addressing the XXII International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) in 2014.

Landy at his Quonset hut office K-47 Air Force Base, South Korea, 1953.

into the field of medicine. “I had to keep a dead cat laced with smelly formaldehyde,” he said. “I found out that was not for me.” Landy decided instead to put his love of languages to work. In high school, he had studied both Latin and German for two years. He studied Spanish for a year at the University of Illinois to prepare to attend the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and to live

with a Mexican family in the summer of 1948. Landy embraced Latin American culture with gusto, a pivotal experience that guided him on his career path to international legal work. After three years at the University of Illinois, Landy began attending law school at Northwestern University. But he eventually transferred to the University of Miami to get closer to Latin America, and soon got another SEPTEMBER 2014


Burton Landy opportunity to spend a summer studying in the region. Landy landed a scholarship to study law at the University of Havana in pre-revolution Cuba. Landy never met Fidel Castro, but said he and the future dictator of Cuba were both law students at the University of Havana in the summer of 1951. “I was making love and he was making revolution,” said Landy. When Landy graduated from law school in 1952, he started his legal career as a military lawyer in South Korea during the Korean War. Undrafted for the war, Landy got a direct

War is hell, of course, but Landy had one heavenly experience at K-47, which was one of the stops for a touring entertainment show sponsored by the congressionally chartered nonprofit United Service Organizations (USO), which conducts programs to support soldiers on active duty. Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe was the featured entertainer in the touring USO show, which was presented on a stage erected in an open-air hangar on a cold winter day in 1953. Prior to the show, “Somehow or other, I got the chore of escorting Marilyn around the

moved on to start his own law firm in the mid-1950s, called Paul Landy Beiley & Harper, specializing in international law. Landy wasted little time turning his Spanish language skills and his knowledge of Latin American culture into professional advantages. As a young lawyer, he successfully ran for president of the Inter-American Bar Association (IABA), which has a large number of Latin American lawyers among its members. “It was an unlikely victory,” said Landy. “Becausein its whole history, I was probably only the second gringo to become president of the IABA.”

Landy went on a date with Marilyn Monroe when she visited K-47 Air Force Base, South Korea, November 1953.

From 1952-1954, Landy was 1st LT. USAF JAG Corps.

commission in the Air Force JAG (Judge Advocate General) and was stationed at an Air Force base called K-47 near the 38th Parallel. Landy said the job description the colonel gave him was succinct: “Landy, I expect you to keep me out of trouble.” It turned out there was plenty of trouble to deal with. In two years of active duty, Landy said he got involved in about 100 court martial cases, and “developed some litigation skills.” 38


Landy’s home, from 1953-1954, was K-47 Air Force Base, Chuncheon, South Korea.

base” said Landy. “She was great, really easy to talk to. She got one of those Air Force jackets and put it on. And underneath, she had a strapless slinky gown. So she wore that out on the stage, then took off the jacket. The troops went wild.” After his tour of duty in Korea, Landy returned to Miami and took a job for $25 a week with a local lawyer who later made Landy a partner in his firm. But Landy soon

He also got involved with Miami organizations that promote local business growth. Landy’s voluntarism at one organization would lead to wedding vows. He was among the members of the Miami arm of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce, or Jaycees. The Miami Jayceees organized an annual beauty contest called the Miss Miami Pageant. When Landy got an assignment to serve as one of the pageant

judges, he fell in love with a contestant named Elie—and started worrying that he would never see her again if she won the pageant. Elie had to win the first round of voting by the judges to proceed to the final round. Landy made sure that she would be eliminated. “Along the way,” he said, “I got very interested in Elie and I told my fellow judges: ‘Don’t vote for her,’ because I was worried she would win the Miss Miami contest, and then she was going to forget about this struggling lawyer in Miami.” At the time, Elie was a commercial artist working as an assistant art director at

The “International Days” Proclamation with Florida Governor Bob Martinez in 1987.

In 1984, at the Panama XXIV Conference of the Inter-American Bar Association. Landy was president. the ad agency McCann Erikson, making more money than Landy. Landy long ago admitted to Elie that he torpedoed her bid to become Miss Miami. The real prize turned out to be an enduring marriage: Burt and Elie Landy celebrated their 57 th wedding anniversary on August 4. The couple have two adult children and three grandchildren. Their son Mike Landy, 54, lives in Boca Raton

and works in commercial real estate. Their daughter Lisa Landy, 51, is a lawyer in Miami who serves as general counsel for a seafood producer and distributor called Pescanova USA. She began her career by working with her father for five years at Paul Landy Beiley & Harper. “It was his idea that I get experience in a lot of different areas,” said Lisa Landy, “so I had the luxury of doing that at his firm. He basically guided everything I worked on. I constantly used him as a sounding board, and still do.”

Awarded the Order of Diplomatic Service Merit for outstanding service rendered to the Republic of Korea.

But at first not all of the international business initiatives he supported got a warm reception. For example, many domestic banks in Miami were unhappy when a trade group called the Florida International Bankers Association (FIBA) was formed in 1979. However, Landy, the founding general counsel of FIBA, allayed the fears of many domestic bankers who suspected that foreign banks would take business away from them with FIBA’s help. FIBA President David Schwartz said Landy successfully argued that the banking trade group would help to expand international

In 1977, receiving a plaque from Gov. Reubin Askew.

In 1982, opening of the Republic of Korea Honorary Consulate. Left to Right: Mayor Maurice Ferré, the Counsul General of South Korea, wife Elie, Landy, and son Michael. She said her father is “knowledgeable in a lot of different areas because when he started [in the law profession] everything wasn’t so specialized. He had to be kind of a general practitioner and do a little bit of a lot of things. He stayed that way and guided my development that way.” Landy also has helped to guide the economic development of South Florida by alerting Miami companies to business opportunities in foreign countries.

business opportunities, to the benefit of foreign banks as well as domestic banks, which now account for a large share of FIBA’s membership. FIBA inducted Landy into its Hall of Fame this year. Landy also co-founded a nonprofit called the International Center for Florida and served as its chairman in 1981 and 1982. The center’s mission is to promote the growth of Miami’s international business sector, the SEPTEMBER 2014


Burton Landy

With Governor Bob Graham and the visiting delegation from Asia.

In 1982, with wife Elie and Juan Yanes, Landy was outgoing chairman at International Center of Florida now World Trade Center. 40


same civic mission Landy has pursued during most of his 60-year career as an attorney. “I remember when I was chairman of the International Center, I used to say, ‘We were international before international was cool,” said Landy. In 1985, the International Center for Florida morphed into the World Trade Center Miami, one of 300 organizations in 91 countries that are members of the World Trade Centers Association, which promotes two-way trade, both exports and imports, around the world. Before the International Center for Florida acquired the right to operate as the World Trade Center Miami, its board members included a US diplomatic consul of the Republic of Korea. “He learned that I was a veteran,” said Landy, “and he arranged for me and my wife to visit Korea.” It was an eye-opening trip for Landy. He said the South Korean capital city of Seoul had undergone a dramatic transformation in the post-war era, becoming a high-rise metropolis: “When I left Korea in 1954, the tallest building in Seoul was the railroad station.” Landy apparently made a good impression on his acquaintances in the South Korean government. When the government closed its consulate in Miami, it appointed Landy as its honorary consul general in South Florida, a position he has held since 1983. “The honorary part of it is good because if anything serious happens,” he said, “I can refer that to Atlanta,” where the Republic of Korea has an office staffed by career diplomats. “It’s not a super-busy job.” Even while running Paul Landy Beiley & Harper, Landy made time to help the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce conduct trade missions beyond Latin America to markets with cultural and commercial links to South Florida. When the chamber began planning a series of trade missions collectively called the South Florida Initiative, Landy helped convince the chamber to explore business opportunities in Asia. The first trade mission to Asia included stops in Korea and Hong Kong. A subsequent chamber trade mission to Asia added a stop in Japan. His efforts to promote trade ties between Florida and Asia also encompassed his volunteer work for Florida/Korea Cooperation Committee Inc., a statewide public-private partnership launched in 1982 to forge links between the Sunshine State and the Republic of Korea in trade, investment, education, and tourism. Landy also became active in the Beacon Council, the economic development agency of Miami-Dade County. He has participated in the agency’s One Community, One Goal initiative, which periodically updates a list of key industries

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that the agency targets for business recruitment and retention. Landy eventually rose to chairman of the Beacon Council, a position he held for a memorable one-year term. His ascent at the Beacon Council came as no surprise to Dennis Nason, CEO of the executive search firm Nason & Nason in Coral Gables, who has served as a volunteer with Landy in multiple nonprofit community service organizations. Nason said Landy’s rise to chairman of the Beacon Council was typical of his rise to leadership positions at other organizations, “Every organization he joins, he is selected to lead it,” said Nason. Landy’s year as chairman of the economic development partnership was a challenging one. “I was chairman of the Beacon Council right after Jeb Bush and just in time for Hurricane Andrew,” he said. Two days after the Category 5 hurricane crushed southern Miami-Dade County, “We had an emergency meeting at the home of one of the staff members who had a working telephone,” said Landy. He and his Beacon Council team called the governor. “We made a call to Gov. Chiles and convinced him to approve and rapidly implement a bridge loan program with $10 million of state funding to make loans to small businesses. We arranged to make no-interest loans up to $25,000, payable in six months.”

Landy said a group of bankers helped the Beacon Council draft a simple one-page application for the state-funded bridge loans to keep small businesses financially afloat during the recovery from Hurricane Andrew. “We got our first loan out in 10 days,” he said, and ultimately more than 90 percent of the loans were repaid. Landy said publicity about the bridge loan program prompted inquiries to the Beacon Council from other disaster-prone cities, including New Orleans and San Francisco. The Beacon Council’s bridge loan program targeted small businesses, Landy said, because “the larger ones have more resources.” That was true of large law firms, too. Though Landy’s leadership at the Beacon Council helped to keep small businesses alive after Andrew hit South Florida in 1992, he was unable to prevent the closure of his midsized law firm two years later amid a surge of mergers in the legal services industry. When Paul Landy Beiley & Harper went out of business in 1994, it was a sizable firm with about 45 lawyers, but it was competing as a full-service firm against bigger rivals, many of them enlarged by mergers and armed with hundreds of lawyers. Asked if Paul Landy Beiley & Harper could have found a merger partner, Landy said, “There were some discussions, but we were too late to recognize the difficulty of competing as a full-service law firm covering

In 1991, Landy with President George H.W. Bush at a Beacon Council annual meeting.




Burton Landy


Dennis Nason

ttorney Burton Landy’s style of civic leadership has had a big influence on Dennis Nason, CEO the Coral Gables-based executive search firm Nason & Nason. “I would say if I have a mentor, it’s Burt,” said Nason, who has served as a volunteer with Landy in a number of community-service organizations and economic development initiatives. “His style is something I’ve tried to adopt ... Burt is the sort of person I try to emulate.” Nason worked on a volunteer basis along with Landy on the board of the old International Center of Florida, the predecessor organization of the World Trade Center Miami. They also worked together on the One Community, One Goal initiative, which produced a list of community priorities for the Beacon Council, the economic development agency of Miami-Dade County. Landy and Nason also worked together on the South Florida Initiative, an economic development program of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. “Just about anything that had to do with international [commerce] during the 1980s and 1990s, Burt was involved,” said Nason. “One of the many things that I think is unique about Burt is that every organization he joins, he is selected to lead it.” Landy has a “unique style in getting people to agree and coalesce,” Nason said it’s a style that often puts the Akerman attorney in community leadership positions, said Nason. “He has a way of assuming control, without being offensive. In every organization I’ve been in with him, his style is one of seeking solutions ... Everybody turns to Burt for his take and his thoughts,” said Nason. E

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Burton Landy

2013, annual family cruise. Left to Right: grandaughter Nicole, Landy, wife Elie, grandson Jarrett, grandaughter Gwen. BACK Left to Right: son Michael, daughter-in-law Regina and daughter Lisa all legal specialties while large competitors were getting larger via mergers.” “If we had continued to be a boutique international firm, it would have been better,” said Landy, in hindsight. He and his partners chose to simply close rather than merge with another firm. “I certainly regret it,” said Landy. “We actually just closed it down. That way we could place everybody [in new jobs], pay all our creditors, and end with dignity.” Landy went on to work for the old Steel Hector & Davis law firm, which merged in 2005 with Squire Sanders, a legal institution founded in the late 19th century. Long before that merger though, Landy and his daughter Lisa, who had worked together departed Steel Hector together. They left in the summer of 1997 to go to work for Akerman Senterfitt. Lisa spent three years with Akerman before moving in 2011 to her current position as general counsel for Pescanova. Her father is still a partner of Akerman and his titles there include chairman, sole arbitrator, or co-arbitrator in international arbitration cases, and chairman emeritus of the law firm’s global practice, advising foreign clients on how to structure investments in the United States and US clients on the structure of their investments in foreign countries. 44


In addition to his duties at Akerman, Landy remains active in the international economic development. He’s still busy as chairman of the Miami International Arbitration Society. Among other accomplishments under his leadership, MIAS members and other supporters helped convince the Miami-Dade Circuit Court to create a special court that handles only international arbitration cases. MIAS also supported the creation of the International Arbitration Institute under the direction of Professor Jan Paulsson at University of Miami School of Law. Landy is especially proud of the successful campaign by the delegation of MIAS members he led to Geneva in 2011 to bring the biannual conference of the ICCA to Miami. After landing the conference, Landy said he tried to ensure that ICCA officials would see both the beauty and the business potential of Miami. That’s why the gala dinner held in April during the ICCA conference was at PortMiami’s Terminal J. “One of the verandas faces the Miami skyline, which is beautiful,” said Landy. “And what I think is more beautiful is, you go to the back, and you see rows of [cargo] containers ... That’s Miami.” E


aul Woehrle, vice president of development of the New World Symphony, said few South Floridians have done more than Burton Landy and his wife Elie to support the orchestral academy. Based in Miami Beach, the New World Symphony was founded in 1987 by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the late Ted Arison, founder of Carnival Cruiselines. Graduates of the New World Symphony fellowship program have gone on to become musicians in the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and other professional orchestras. The New World Symphony has performed in such prestigious venues as the Barbican Centre in London, the Bastille Opera in Paris and Carnegie Hall in New York. The Landys “have been subscribers since the earliest days of the organization. They have always been donors with increasing generosity as he has been more successful in his [legal] career,” said Woehrle. “Equally important, they have been ambassadors for us,” said Woehrle, “They take extra tickets and bring other people who might not otherwise have found their way to the New World Symphony to show them what’s going on here and hopefully build that sense of enthusiasm we need to succeed and thrive.” For example, Landy has made Dennis Nason, CEO of executive search firm Nason & Nason in Coral Gables, a big fan of the New World Symphony by giving him some of their extra tickets to the symphony’s performances. Woehrle described Burt and Elie Landy as “very low-key people” who are modest about their substantial philanthropic support of the New World Symphony. But Woehrle also said Elie Landy, who has a background in classical music, is anything but low-key when she gets a chance to talk to the New World Symphony’s young musicians about their craft: “She is a very discerning musical patron,” he said. E

We congratulate the 2014 Business Legends Ron Bergeron Alicia Cervera Sr. Burton Landy David Lawrence Jr. Stanley Tate Monty Trainer For their dedication to building a better community and entrepreneurial spirit. Your friends at

David Lawrence JR David Lawrence Jr. left the newspaper business to devote his life’s energy to the early educational development and well-being of Florida’s children. As a relentless advocate and consensus builder, he has shifted the paradigm of child advocacy.

By David Lyons | Portrait Photos by Donna Victor




he summer of 1998 was a painful time for David Lawrence Jr., publisher of the Miami Herald. The newspaper’s publicly traded parent, Knight Ridder Inc., “wanted to increase the operating margins significantly,” he recalled. That meant another round of layoffs and other expense reduction measures that had been implemented frequently during the 1990s to help keep corporate earnings aloft. 48


Photo by Jorge Parra

David Lawrence Jr

“I just wasn’t in the mood to lay off anybody else,” he said. “The only way to escape this mission was to retire.” When Lawrence announced his retirement, he lacked an immediate plan for doing anything else. Earlier in the year, he had quickly declined an invitation from a group of state Democrats to run as the party’s candidate for governor of Florida. Now, the possibility that Lawrence might leave South Florida became a point of concern for business and civic leaders who regarded him as one of the area’s most dynamic executives and community organizers. Lawrence took calls from a number of people who said, “We don’t want you to leave

Miami.” They encouraged him to pursue his interest in working on behalf of children. In 1996, he had worked on a bipartisan task force assembled by Gov. Lawton Chiles to explore how the educational system might look in the new millennium. Lawrence chaired a group concerning school readiness. Shortly after a front page Herald article appeared about Lawrence’s retirement, he took a call from veteran banker Jerry Katcher whose wife, Jane, was a pediatric radiologist. Gerald Katcher said, “We don’t want to lose you from Miami and if you want to stay in Miami we’ll set up a foundation.” They made good on that promise, establishing the Miami-based Early Childhood Initiative

The K-8 Miami-Dade public school named after David Lawrence Jr located at 15000 Bay Vista Blvd, MIami. Foundation. Lawrence became the president. It became a starting point from which Lawrence has spent the last 15 years campaigning on behalf of children’s education and prevention services all around the state. “Without them, it would not have happened,” said Lawrence. “It has given me the wherewithal to spend much of my energy in building a movement for ‘school readiness.’” Since then, Lawrence has sought out a wide array of ideas to foster early educational development in children, generate new financial resources that didn’t exist before, and create a general awareness among the state’s population that Florida needs to take better care of nurturing its children.

“To my mind because of two things, really three, Dave shifted the paradigm of how we best try to improve the community through services to children and families,” said Charles Auslander, CEO of The Children’s Trust in Miami-Dade County. Those areas include an emphasis on early childhood education and the pursuit of quality in the field; prevention services for children and families; and dedicated funding is required to provide services locally. While serving as the Miami area district administrator for the state Department of Children and Families, Auslander recalled, the task at hand “was all about intervention and all about triage and putting up eligibility

requirements because there were not enough resources to intervene.” Lawrence changed that line of thinking, Auslander said, by forcefully arguing to the public and politicians that an umbrella of education and prevention should be opened on behalf of all the state’s children. Lawrence has done this from several platforms: as president of the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, as chair of the nonpartisan Children’s Movement of Florida, and as a leading figure in the passage of a state constitutional amendment to serve up a prekindergarten program for all four-year-olds. He also led a public campaign to establish The Children’s Trust, a dedicated funding SEPTEMBER 2014


David Lawrence Jr source for early intervention and prevention in Miami-Dade County. “His contributions to early childhood in Florida are unmatched,” said Vance Aloupis, state director of The Children’s Movement of Florida. “David was responsible for the passage of The Children’s Trust. He was critical in the passage of the 2002 constitutional amendment for the universal pre-K program.” A look at the Movement’s agenda is enough to make bystanders blanch. Outlining the reasons for its own existence, the organization’s fact sheet cites a number of examples:

Perhaps 436,000 children in Florida are not covered by health insurance. The state pre-K program serving 170,000 four-year-olds does not meet most national standards. Early screening and treatment programs for children with special needs are poorly coordinated. Only three percent of Florida’s budget is spent on programs that benefit children in the early years.

At stake, the Movement notes, is “nothing less than the economic future of our state and the stability, safety, and security of the communities in which we live.” Lawrence’s decision to drop newspapering in favor of advocating for children didn’t come easy. “I was handsomely compensated at the Herald. People treated me decently and I didn’t have any complaints except they wanted me to lay off more people,” he recalled. “I was exhausted.” To escape yet another grim task of axwielding Lawrence decided to retire. “I had five children, a marriage and a home,” he said. “It wasn’t exactly the greatest financial decision I ever made. Then it turned out to be exactly the right decision. The decision effectively ended 35 years in newspaper publishing. Lawrence’s start came when he worked in the backshop of the now-defunct Sarasota News at age 15. He wrote stories for The St. Petersburg Times and Washington Post before becoming the managing editor of the Palm Beach Post at 27, moved on to the then Philadelphia Daily News, served as executive editor of the Charlotte Observer and then as editor and publisher of the Detroit Free Press before arriving in Miami in 1989 to take over 50


Charlotte Observer editor David Lawrence Jr at a press conference at the end of a libel case against the paper; The Observer prevailed.

You can do anything if you set your mind to it … and have enough chutzpah to do it.

— David Lawrence Jr

The three youngest Lawrence children—John, Dana, and Amanda—with their father in the late 1980s.

as publisher of the Herald. At 47, he had to figure out how to read a Spanish-language newspaper, since he was responsible for both the English and Spanish editions of the Herald. He hired a tutor. Lawrence entered the business largely at the encouraging of his father, who had worked for the old New York Sun and served as a managing editor at the Sarasota News in Florida.

Asked why he opted for management as opposed to reporting, replied Lawrence, “I either wanted to be a United States senator or a journalist, and my father always said, ‘It’s more fun to be in charge.’” Lawrence was born in New York at a Park Avenue address across from the Waldorf Astoria. His father was from a New York real estate family; his mother from a New York Social Register family.

SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE Honored in 1989 at a dinner in Detroit where 900 attended with the Rev. Billy Graham. Others in the picture are Roberta Lawrence and Federal Judge Damon Keith. “My parents were romantics,” he said. They thought the best place to raise children was on a farm. His father envisioned life toiling for a weekly newspaper and on a farm, so they migrated to the snow belt of upstate New York. “We ended up on a poultry farm,” recalled Lawrence. “So I know more about eviscerating chickens than most people.” The region was rural and poor. “Ultimately the farm didn’t work. I was 14. My parents had to start over. Where to go to start over again? How about Florida? Land of opportunity.” In 1956, the family of nine children ended up on the Gulf Coast, where his father started to sell real estate but returned to the newspaper business by taking the management job in Sarasota. Lawrence attended high school in Bradenton. “We were the kind of family that you expected to reach out,” he said. In 1960, toward the end of his senior year at Manatee High School, he sent graduation invitations to the two men running for the White House, John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon.

Vice President Nixon wrote back, saying he was “very pleased to receive the announcement” of the impending graduation. Sen. Kennedy also responded. He sent a letter accompanied by an autographed copy of his book, Profiles in Courage. The experience helped hone a credo Lawrence lives by today. “So you can do almost anything in the world if you work at it, right?” said Lawrence. “These people didn’t know me. You can do anything if you set your mind to it … and have enough chutzpah to do it.” Lawrence went on to graduate from the University of Florida, where he received the annual Outstanding Journalism Graduate Award. “All nine of us graduated from either Florida or Florida State,” he said of his siblings. All six of his sisters were trained as teachers, one of his two brothers became a lawyer, while the other advanced the family legacy in the poultry business. Pelham Lawrence became president of Perdue Farm, Inc., the fourthlargest poultry producer in the US. In 1993, he died of a coronary at age 47.

Charles Auslander


harles Auslander, CEO of The Children’s Trust, breakfasts frequently with David Lawrence, discussing a wide variety of issues. That’s critical to Auslander, a lawyer by training who formerly served as district administrator for the state Department of Children and Families in Miami. The job of managing a 6,000-employee district was akin to firefighting. He said, for instance, intervention and triage were frequently the order of the day. Resources were so thin for a child care subsidy program that the agency started to erect eligibility requirements. Lawrence’s approach to children’s issues changed the thinking among bureaucrats, politicians, and others with a stake in the field, said Auslander. In effect, Lawrence made the job of children’s support and advocacy an easier proposition. ”Dave really has steered a pretty darn good course of making children’s issues nonpartisan issues,” said Auslander. “He’s taken a non-voting bloc that nobody emphasized by really charting an effective bipartisan course. He really got a lot of support for children’s issues and that to me borders on astonishing because I used to go to Tallahassee all the time and all I ever heard from the sitting staffers was my first concern wasn’t the quality of your programming, but to reduce it.” On a personal level, Auslander said he appreciates Lawrence’s ability to listen and remain open “to really pay attention about what you think.” “He has a great way of bringing you into networks so you can advance not only your career but also to have an understanding of what you’re dealing with in your job,” said Auslander. E




David Lawrence Jr

Introducing President George H.W. Bush at the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention in 1992. “You were always expected to make something of yourself,” said Lawrence. “We were expected to make a difference in someone’s life.” By the time he returned to Florida from Detroit for the Miami job, he had already built an enviable resume. His farewell party in Detroit was held in Tiger Stadium. In the decade that followed in Miami, he faced new challenges—in multiples. Besides the economic and financial hurdles facing the business, he took heat from hostile factions of the Cuban exile community that insisted 52


the paper’s coverage supported the Communist island’s dictator, Fidel Castro. Protesters demonstrated outside the Herald headquarters and urged a boycott of the paper. Paid ads appeared on the sides of county buses reading: “No creo en El Miami Herald, (I don’t believe in the Miami Herald).” Lawrence received death threats. For more than three years, he started his car by remote control. Despite the attacks, Lawrence embraced and celebrated diversity in a town transformed by


Joe Natoli

oe Natoli, CFO at the University of Miami and former president of the Miami Herald Publishing Co, recalled he first met David Lawrence while serving as the head of products at the newspaper company. “He was kind of an intimidating character,” said Natoli. One Saturday, shortly after Lawrence arrived in Miami from Detroit, Natoli, his wife, and children had a chance encounter with Lawrence at the Bakery Centre, a retail and office complex in South Miami. Lawrence inquired about what Natoli had done thus far that day. Natoli responsed, “I got up and played basketball.” Lawrence countered that he had spent the day working, writing speeches, and taking care of other matters. “And then he looks at me and says, ‘What are you going to do tomorrow?’” “He’s a unique guy who’s had a tremendous impact on people’s lives,” added Natoli. “He is a wonderful teacher. He taught me how to write.” “I would draft memos at the Herald and I’d send them to Dave and he would give them back to me with [edits] in his blue tip marker,” said Natoli. “If I made the mistake twice, he’d call me into his office.” Natoli said Lawrence’s daily calendar— famously chock full of tasks, meetings, trips and events—frequently served as a guiding force. “He used to send me his calendar every week,” said Natoli. “I used to live vicariously through his calendar. He led such an interesting life.” He credited Lawrence with introducing him to community service through the United Way. Natoli ended up chairing or co-chairing United Way campaigns in Miami-Dade County, San Jose, and in Southeastern Pennsylvania-all areas where Knight Ridder Inc. operated metropolitan newspapers and where Natoli served as a top executive. E





David Lawrence Jr

On Air Force One with President Clinton in 1994, on the way to the Summit of the Americas in Miami. the arrival of immigrants from all around Central and South America. In 1994, he was local chair of a hemispheric trade summit in Miami, accompanying President Bill Clinton on Air Force One from Washington. During his time as publisher, he visited every country in the Americas and met with every leader—except Castro. “The reality is Miami is only on the leading edge,” Lawrence said. “If people think they can run away to America they are fooling themselves. The reality is there is change everywhere.” “The big challenge in Miami is not language,” he added. “The big challenge is culture.” In-house, former Herald executives said Lawrence ensured the level of journalism remained high despite the financial pressures. He wrote a weekly column on an array of issues ranging from Latin American affairs to early childhood development. If he thought writers and editors did a good job, he saluted them with short notes of appreciation. But amid a climate of expense reductions that included painful rounds of layoffs, the notes came to be known sarcastically among a number of staffers as “Dave raves.” “It was always real,” Lawrence said of the notes. “I really believed that. I need to be told that I did a good job … I like my work to be noticed.” “I think it was a challenging time, but if you look at the contributions the Herald made at the time, they were extraordinary,” said Joe 54


Natoli, a former Herald executive who is now CFO at the University of Miami. “Dave encouraged a focus on diversity, community, and keeping the journalism at an extraordinarily high level while we were trying to meet financial expectations.” Both Natoli and Doug Clifton, executive editor for the bulk of the time Lawrence served as publisher, said the boss set a pace that was hard to maintain. “He’s a demanding guy, smart as hell,” said Clifton. “He is organized beyond anyone’s concept of what being organized is. Keeping up with him is a full-time job. As a newspapermen, he was among the best. I used to say he was the best copy editor in the building.” In the community, Lawrence “was a consensus builder,” added Clifton. “He had credibility across all sectors of the town. All ethnicities. People just snapped to. If Dave called, everybody showed up. He would have been a great governor.” Lawrence said journalism helped fuel his present-day efforts on behalf of the children he seeks to help. What is journalism about?” he asked. “It’s about gathering information. Gathering the facts. How do you get it specifically right? What’s the lead to the story? Ultimately what’s the headline? What’s the picture you’re using? What are you trying to tell? This is an inappropriate word, but I’m in the sales business. I’m telling stories. And I’ve got to


Roberto Martinez

or Roberto Martinez and David Lawrence, it was the type of conversation that could have made a rocky relationship worse—or become the foundation for something special. It became the latter. In the 1990s, Martinez, a newly appointed US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, called on Lawrence to see what he could do to make relations better between the office and the Miami Herald after some tough coverage by the newspaper. “He was very straight-forward. He was very professional,” recalled Martinez, a Republican. “David did something extraordinary in 1993 when President Clinton was elected. He said the new administration should keep me regardless of political affiliation.” The rule of thumb is that the nation’s 94 US attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president. When there is a changing of the guard at the White House, there is a changing of the guard at the US Justice Department as well. And sure enough, Martinez did not get to stay in office. He joined a private law practice in Coral Gables. “He and I developed a very good relationship,” said Martinez. Later, when Martinez joined the Florida State Board of Education, the two men’s interests merged. “I became interested in early childhood education and early learning disabilities,” he said. “The Florida State Board of Education really didn’t have an interest in that area. We had Dave appear before the board at my request, and he put me in touch with some experts.” “What Dave did tell me I’ll never forget— he said to me, ‘It’s important you voice your opinion when you’re on the state board of education.’ He said you have an obligation to ask tough questions and to make people provide you with answers. I took that to heart.” E





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David Lawrence Jr

The Lawrence family—five children plus their families—gathered last December in Vermont for the Lawrences’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration. know what the story is and my whole life informs that.” A voracious reader, he devours a book a week, sometimes several. He favors histories, biographies of politicians, educators, and social thinkers. After the Herald, he didn’t want to run another newspaper. Nor did he warm to leading a journalism school, despite recruitment efforts from three or four. Ahead of his departure, he undertook some on-site fact gathering in the field of early school readiness, visiting Yale, the Carter Center in Georgia, and venues in France, Turkey, Bangladesh, South Africa, and Sweden. “I certainly didn’t know what I was doing or what I could accomplish,” he said. But the self-education tour did provide groundwork for his advocacy of the pre-K constitutional amendment in 2002, The Children’s Trust, and later, The Children’s Movement which got its start in 2009; today, the latter commands more than 100,000 followers. “We’re moving on a lot of different fronts,” said Lawrence. “The Florida Chamber of Commerce just announced an Early Childhood Business Alliance. We have 17 regional committees around the state; raised millions of dollars over the years, and are pushing all these sorts of issues.” “Fundamentally, the major issue is how do you make children a real priority for investment on the part of the state?” 56


Each year, the Movement promotes a legislative agenda in Tallahassee. “It changes every year and we do it in alliance with other people,” said Lawrence. “We don’t need to be ‘party partisan’ but we do need to be ‘political’ without getting involved in people’s campaigns. I need to work with people who can get things done. I will meet with the governor and leaders of the Legislature. And I increasingly think people are awakening to how important a challenge this is—how important the early years are.” Each week during the school year, Lawrence personally tutors two four-year-olds, “trying to help them get caught up.” “I work hard to be an ally of the school superintendents. I’m at schools and child-care centers many times during the course of a year,” he added. “It inspires me to see what is going on. I understand the connection. I think I can be useful. But if you work at this right it serves as a contiunuum.” At 72, Lawrence said he is primed to extend his 15 years of work, a period that supersedes the length of time he spent as Herald publisher. “First of all, I’ve energized a lot of people and if I suddenly quit I think it would let a bunch of people down,” he said. “Number two, I’m not saving my energy for the next world. And number three, I hope I live a life where I have ideas six months from now that I never thought of before.” E


or David Lawrence, giving back to the community is more than writing a check. It can mean traveling far and wide to organize like-minded people in the name of a good cause, building alliances among multiple groups, or simply taking a faceto-face meeting with a person who can use a little help. Since leaving the Miami Herald as publisher in 1999, Lawrence has devoted his time to finding ways to improve the plight of the state’s children by enhancing their early education, and providing for their health and safety. He does this in a number ways, through The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, a nonprofit he established to provide advocacy services in MiamiDade County; through The Children’s Trust, an independent entity he founded and sustained to provide early intervention and prevention funding for children in Miami-Dade; and through The Children’s Movement of Florida, a nonprofit statewide advocacy organization for children’s issues. He is compensated only for his work with the foundation. He did not receive, nor has he ever received compensation for his work on behalf of The Trust or The Movement. Lawrence is also presently chair of The Foundation for Child Development in New York, and sits on the boards of the Everglades Foundation and Americans for Immigrant Justice. He served previously as chair of the United Way, the New World School of the Arts, and the Miami Art Museum, now known as the Pérez Art Museum Miami. He also has served on the board of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, and chaired two blue-ribbon state commissions. “I’m involved in a lot of things in this community. I don’t say that blithely or egomaniacally, I’m just involved and I’ve always had a problem of sorts that if you ask me to help you, I’ll help you,” he said. E

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Stanley Tate Investor-developer Stanley Tate is still the consummate GOP insider, relentless free enterprise advocate, and defender of the Florida prepaid college program that bears his name. Friends know it’s wise to always take his call.

By David Lyons | Portrait Photos by Donna Victor



Stanley Tate

The need to get an affordable college education was far greater than I ever thought. — Stanley Tate


ne day in 2006, Stanley Tate took a phone call from the Governor’s office in Tallahassee, which was not all that unusual because he knew Florida’s chief executive very well. But on this day Jeb Bush was on the line with the news that he had a birthday present for the North Miami real estate investor and developer and longtime supporter of the Republican party. “He said (Bush), ‘You wrote the most important program in the history of Florida for education. I’m going to have them change the name from the Florida Prepaid College program to the Stanley Tate Prepaid College program,’” recalled Tate. 60


“I said, ‘You must be kidding,’” added Tate. “He said, ‘No, you deserve it. The state never refunded you the money that it cost you to do it.’” By all rights, Tate deserved the accolade. He not only thought of the idea, designed, and provided seed money for the program, but he oversaw it as chairman for eight years. Five years ago, in 2009, he rode to its defense when the legislature and state universities proposed to boost annual tuition by 15 percent, a move Tate believed would destroy the pre-paid program by increasing the cost of a pre-paid contract. This year, he helped orchestrate legislation signed by Governor Rick Scott to cut tuition and rebate surplus funds to the families in the program. Currently, there are 2.5 million children in the program, with 2 million yet to graduate from high school. The program holds $2 trillion in US Government securities

(only China holds more). And it has a $700 million surplus. “Few Floridians have contributed to the civic life of their communities as much as Stanley Tate,” said US Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, in a statement. “When I think of Stanley’s greatest legacy, it will always be the thousands of Florida students who have been able to afford college because of Stanley’s innovative idea: Florida’s prepaid tuition plan.” The program, Tate said, is his greatest accomplishment among an array of successes that include helping to salvage the nation’s financial system from the wreckage of the S&L crisis of the late 1980s, building a wide-ranging real estate development business with interests in Florida, New York, China, and the Middle East, and helping elect local, state and national candidates who run under the GOP banner. Philosophically speaking, Republicans

are the only ones in tune with his belief that free enterprise is the key to a successful, prosperous, and free nation, he explained. Ideally, Stanley Tate’s America is a bastion of free enterprise, where the rule of law provides businesses and consumers with a level playing field and where multiple generations of the nation’s children have a shot at a quality education. “I think my system is right,” he said. “It works today. It worked for me. I come from a poor family.” His father was Russian, his mother a fifthgeneration American. From a non-descript, six-story office building in North Miami, sons Kenneth and James operate the family business Tate Enterprises, under the counsel of their father. It is an umbrella organization for various corporations and partnerships that have evolved over the years, doing business in real estate development, construction, investments, condo development, shopping centers, office buildings, and restaurants. During the course of several decades, Tate has handled more than 300 receiverships. At 86, Tate still comes to the office every day, working the phones as an adviser to high-profile business and government figures. He presides from a windowless ground-floor conference room bedecked with photos, plaques and other mementos worthy of a man who wields considerable political influence from South Florida to Tallahassee to Washington. He has advised three presidents—George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. He counts Rubio, Jeb Bush and US Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as close friends. The feelings are mutual. “He’s a straight shooter and he will never lie to you,” said Diaz-Balart. “It’s why his opinion is so sought after.” Tucked among the mosaic of autographed photos in the conference room is one of Tate with longtime national GOP political adviser Karl Rove. In a handwritten salutation to Tate, Rove dubbed him, “Our Man in Miami.” “He knows all the players,” said Peter Bermont, Miami-based managing director of Bermont Advisory Group of Raymond James. “If I need to check anybody out, I can call Stanley and he will give me the lowdown.” “There’s nobody that won’t take his call,” added Bermont. “He’s very analytical. I’ve sat in meetings where there have been lots of numbers discussed and Stanley can pull the right numbers out. The guy’s 86 years old and he’s as sharp as a tack. He’s got a good feel for numbers. He’s got a feel for people. That’s very rare. I don’t think I’d want to be his enemy.”

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Senator Mel Martinez, in Miami.

Tate with Governor Jeb Bush. Tate isn’t shy about using his political clout to advance his philosophy or to take his views public. As President Barack Obama geared up his first term, the administration launched a search for someone to head the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and deal with yet another round of failing banks whose shaky lending practices had contributed to the Great Recession. Recalling his work for the

Resolution Trust Corp. two decades earlier, both Democrats and Republicans suggested Tate. By Tate’s account, the idea quickly crumbled during a 20-minute meeting with the President in the Oval Office. “He said to me, ‘Will you use my people?’ And I said, ‘Mr. President with all due respect, I don’t believe you have a single person in your administration who understands the needs of the banking industry. The people I want to be SEPTEMBER 2014


Stanley Tate

Tate with Eddie Murphy at Studio 54 in New York.

on the board of this enterprise—I want people who are constructive. I don’t want politics to be the determining factor.’ I also said, ‘You know, there is a big difference between you and me: I don’t believe that anything this government does can be done as well as the private enterprise system. They don’t do it as well, they don’t do it as inexpensively, they don’t know how to do it.’” “He (President Obama) said, ‘You’re telling me I can’t run this government better than you can run your company? You’re wrong.’” “I said ‘No, Mr. President, you’re wrong.’” “He said, ‘The interview is over.’” The laissez-faire spirit came at an early age for Tate. The son of Jewish parents, he came to Florida from New York at the age of 3 to help cope with his rheumatism. The family was poor. When they arrived to live in Miami Beach, Dade County consisted of four cities, each with its own school system. As World War II entered its final phase, 16-year-old Tate entered the University of Florida. He said his father, a salesman, gave him the $50 tuition while Tate funded the rest of his expenses by waiting tables. Tips came in at a dime a plate.

Tate with President George W. Bush in Washington. 62


SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE Tate with Senator John McCain in Washington, D.C. In 1949 Tate entered graduate school at Columbia University in New York. He established Stanley Tate Builders in the 1950s, building apartment houses and private homes. Around the same time he became active in Republican politics. Also in the 1950s, he developed properties in Cuba before the Batista government fell to Fidel Castro. He says graft posed a major impediment during the Batista days and he got some relief when a Havana lawmaker named Rafael Diaz-Balart, father of the congressman, intervened. Tate’s company moved into consulting services and commercial real estate development in 1959, and condo development in Delray Beach a decade later. In the 1960s, Tate established Investment Diversified Limited for building and developing of land in South Florida and North and South Carolina. Along the way, he qualified as a receiver, special master, and trustee in state and federal courts for developments and other businesses around the US. He also qualified as an expert witness in federal and state litigation involving complex real estate and banking matters. The broad-based experience set the stage for his work for the Resolution Trust Corp. (RTC), which was set up to salvage a thrift system ravaged by fraud and mismanagement. He ran the RTC from 1989 to 1992, deflecting pleas from congressmen and other politicians to spare flagging local institutions from

shutdowns. Some of the people who ran them were important campaign contributors. “I had the absolute authority to close any bank,” recalled Tate. “I had no obligation to meet any elected official of the United States.” Over five years the RTC shut 2,000 S&Ls, reopening every one of them under new, better-funded ownership. He says he flew 400,000 to 500,000 miles a year, visited all 50 states. In one case, he closed the biggest bank in Hawaii over protests from the governor. He threatened to call in the Army if she tried to intervene. Nationally, hundreds of bankers went to jail for fraud. And Tate pushed for increased insurance coverage and tighter appraisal and borrowing rules. “It was a hard five years,” he said. When ranking the accomplishment against the Florida Prepaid College program, Tate said, “It’s a different concept of importance.” “One of the things that made America great is the banking system—the ability of the American people to borrow money legitimately by assets, and safety where the government could guarantee the depositors’ money through an insurance program.” Tate said he couldn’t have pulled off the system’s overhaul without those guarantees. It seems no small coincidence that his work with the RTC occurred in the 1980s, around the same time he devised the prepaid tuition idea. Tate saw parallels between the way the


Peter Bermont

eter Bermont, a longtime Miami financial adviser who works for Raymond James, considers Stanley Tate to be a mentor. “We are good friends,” he said. “I’ve learned a great deal from the man. He treats me as a contemporary. Businesswise, when I run into problems I can run stuff by him and he comes up with a recommendation or solution I never thought about.” “What’s wonderful for me is he is very honest. If he thinks I’m doing something dumb or stupid, he’ll tell me,” said Bermont. “If I need to check anybody out, I can call Stanley and he will give me the lowdown on people.” Bermont noted that Tate’s strong association with the Republican Party and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee allowed him to build a strong business and social network that in turn benefits people who are close to Tate. “He knows all the players. He’s friendly with all of them, and he is a check writer. He puts his money where his mouth is,” said Bermont. “There’s nobody that won’t take his call.” Bermont doubts many other people could have succeeded in steering the reconstruction of the nation’s financial system after the savings and loan system collapsed in the late 1980s. Tate did so as chairman of a 25-state advisory board to the Resolution Trust Corp. “Here was a guy who had experience in the banking and development business and that was hard to beat,” said Bermont. “He’s a man of very strong opinions and is convinced of his ways. He was talking about having regulatory guidelines now in place that were not in place before.” “He’s very analytical,” added Bermont. “I’ve sat in meetings where there have been a lot of numbers. He can pull the right numbers out. The guy’s 86 years old and he’s sharp as a tack. He’s got a good feel for numbers. He’s got a feel for people.” E




Stanley Tate

Tate with Governor Mitt Romney during his presidential campaign, at a function in Palm Beach.

Tate with President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at their Ranch in Crawford, Texas.




Mario Diaz-Balart ario Diaz-Balart, now a congressman from Miami, was not yet born. His father, Rafael, was a member of the Cuban congress when Tate was developing properties in Cuba. The lawmaker helped Tate overcome obstacles to his projects posed by graftseeking inspectors. After the takeover by Castro, the DiazBalarts migrated to the United States and the friendship with Tate grew. He would ultimately support the political careers of Mario and his brother, Lincoln, both Miami Republicans who served in Congress and the Florida state Legislature. “He’s always been a friend and adviser,” said Mario Diaz-Balart. “He’s also a very, very loyal Republican.” “He’s a very patriotic American,” added Diaz-Balart. “What stands out is his love for the United States. That’s the one thing I always take from him. He could have sat down and rested on his laurels. He’s been doing so much for so long.” E


Stanley Tate

Tate with Senator Ted Cruz at a political event in Miami, 2014. financial system worked and the methodology behind the prepaid tuition program. If you can buy a car through financing, “maybe we can finance the college education system,” he said. Tate effectively provided seed money for the program, personally putting up $650,000 for a startup loan made by the Florida Legislature to aid the launch. He borrowed $450,000 of it from a bank because, he said, the state said it would repay the money. (The reimbursement never happened.) “That was what it cost to print the brochures. I had two attorneys help me write the program. I advertised it in the legislature and I used some of the money for my own airfare because I didn’t have enough money to pay for my own tickets,” recalled Tate. Initially, Tate figured a couple of thousand families would buy the $15 monthly prepaid contracts during the program’s first year, 1987. “I changed the estimate because the first day we sold 2,000,” he recalled. “We sold 65,000 the first year. And I realized that the need for these citizens of the state to get an affordable college education was far greater than I ever thought it was.” 66


The following year, new legislation opened the program to grandparents who wanted to underwrite contracts as gifts for their grandchildren. “So we have a grandparent program,” he said. Tate said even Gov. Bob Martinez bought contracts for two of his children. A number of other changes were implemented during Tate’s stint as chairman. A so-called STARS program was started for low-income students at risk for dropping out. The prepaid board promoted federal legislation that exempts earnings on qualified withdrawals from the program from federal income tax. Even after he left his chairmanship, Tate has remained an aggressive advocate, vociferously protesting proposed tuition hikes at state schools on the grounds that the increases would dilute the families’ savings. In March of this year, the legislature acted to suppress tuition hikes in the future. For example, it codified current ones and eliminated automatic annual inflationary increases authorized for postsecondary institutions. Most important for Tate is that an allowable 15 percent tuition boost will not go into effect, and $51 million in surplus money is headed back to student beneficiaries.

Michael Colodny


ichael Colodny, a longtime attorney from Fort Lauderdale and a former mayor of North Miami, recalled sitting in Stanley Tate’s office one day when he was consoling a member of Temple Israel. The woman had lost her husband. Suddenly, a secretary entered the office and said he had a phone call. “Mr. Tate, it’s the White House,” she announced. Without missing a beat, Colodny recalled, Tate told the secretary, “I’ll call him back.” Colodny said he admires Tate’s focus, tenacity, and fearlessness, as well as his widespread involvement on countless numbers of boards of directors. “He was a Republican in South Florida when it wasn’t popular to be a Republican,” said Colodny. “Stanley can be a huge pain in the a--,” he said. “I had some very contentious dealings with him; you can be his best friend and if he thought you were wrong he would go to the wall. There’s no question, he gets into something and he’s relentless. He does not let things go without a tremendous amount of effort.” “I just think being around him, you watch the tenacity and you watch the diversity of interests and diversity of community involvement. Is an inspiring thing to see,” said Colodny. E


Stanley Tate

Tate with Senator Norm Coleman at a political Reception in Washington, D.C.

The latter point met with resistance from Gov. Rick Scott, whom Tate said threatened to veto the bill “because it’s state money.” It was then that Tate found himself in a confrontation with another government chief executive: the governor. “I said, ‘You know, governor, I’ve known you a long time. You and I have had plenty of fights. But you’re making a big mistake. This is the kids’ money. It’s their families’ money. They’re mostly low-and-moderate income families.” “I told him that if you dare to try to use it for something else, I will make sure you never get re-elected in this state.” He said, “You mean that, don’t you?” 68


“I said, ‘I mean it because there is nothing more important to these families.’’’ In his North Miami office building, Tate maintains a vault filled with 5,000 letters— all from families of children and the children themselves expressing appreciation for the prepaid program. He said he offered to show them all to the governor; Scott signed the bill. “One day I was sick and I didn’t feel like going in [to the office] and I just sat there reading letters,” said Tate. “And I must tell you I came out of that room feeling unbelievably good because I realized I was able to do something far bigger and greater than I ever thought could be accomplished.” E


y far, Stanley Tate’s most significant civic project was his sponsorship of the Florida Pre-paid College program that now bears his name. In the late 1980s, he provided more than $600,000—$450,000 of it borrowed—to get the plan started. Over a two-year period, he said it took a “huge amount of time and effort” before the enacting legislation was passed by lawmakers in Tallahassee. After its inception, he chaired the Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Education Expense Board from 1987 until 2005. He never took any compensation for his work. Even now, Tate devotes considerable time seeking to expand and defend the prepaid program against tuition increases that he says would dilute the savings efforts of Florida families that purchase prepaid program contracts. Most recently, he was instrumental in helping to persuade the legislature to pass a bill that refunded or lowered tuition for 50,000 plan participants. “Because of its great success of being the largest program of its kind in the United States, it has given me the greatest reward anyone could ever have,” said Tate. Today, the program boasts assets exceeding $14 billion. Closer to home in the field of education, he has endowed the Stanley G. Tate and Family Endowed Teaching Chair at the Miami-Dade College Medical Campus and a loan forgiveness fund at St. Thomas University School of Law. “If I took the time to list all of the other areas in which I have either contributed time or money, it would take me pages to list them all and try to even remember all of those efforts over the past 60 plus years,” he said. Over the last decade, Tate’s honors have included the United Way Dorothy Shula Award for Outstanding Volunteerism and the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics & Public Trust Award. In 2004, he was named as one of “The Twelve Good Men” by the board of Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida. E

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Monty Trainer Monty Trainer turned the popular bayfront bar and restaurant bearing his name into a Coconut Grove landmark. After some personal hardships, he embarked on his second career as an influential leader in Miami’s cultural arts community.

By Mike Seemuth | Portrait Photos by Donna Victor



Monty Trainer

Have confidence in your singular ability as a volunteer to make any community organization more effective. — Monty Trainer


onty Trainer is perhaps best known for Monty’s in Coconut Grove on South Bayshore Drive that he turned into a South Florida landmark. “Everybody knows the name,” said Trainer. “South Bayshore Drive, you know, is the secondmost-traveled road other than I-95. Everybody has been seeing that [restaurant] since 1969, so it’s ingrained.” But Trainer, who no longer owns the popular restaurant, is well into his second career as a leader in Miami’s cultural arts community. Since 2005, he has served as president of the annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival and as a member of the board of the Miami-Dade 72


County Department of Cultural Affairs. Trainer also serves on the executive board of the New World School of the Arts, an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami-Dade College, and the University of Florida, a center of excellence in the performing and visual arts that the Florida Legislature established in 1984. Trainer is a native of Key West, where as a boy he got his first exposure to the restaurant business working in the kitchen of the Casa Marina hotel. He moved to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida (UF), where he studied political science, history, and education. “I had a long tenure there, from 1957 to 1967. I was on the two five-year plans,” said Trainer. A death in his family extended his stay in Gainesville. Trainer’s father had a heart attack in 1960 while boarding up an open-air laundry

he owned as Hurricane Donna approached the Florida Keys. When he learned in Gainesville that his father was hospitalized, Trainer said, “I got in my car and drove straight down to Key West and I got to see him for about an hour before he passed away.” Trainer subsequently sold his father’s open-air laundry, which was located at the corner of Roosevelt and Margaret streets in Key West, brought his widowed mother to Gainesville to care for her, and got a job as general manager of a Gainesville hotel and restaurant, which limited the time he could devote to college and slowed his progress toward graduation. Though caring for his mother while taking college courses and running the hotel left him little time for leisure, “I wish I could do it again,” said Trainer. “It was worth it.” Before he graduated from UF, Trainer put his academic training in political science to work.

Monty Trainer at Monty’s Raw Bar in the 1970s.

“I was very politically motivated in the 1960s,” he said. In 1964, he went to work for a state senator who was running for governor. Trainer’s candidate lost the election to Democrat William Haydon Burns. After the election, Trainer moved from Gainesville to Tallahassee to work for Burns, who served as the 35th governor of the state from 1965 to 1967. “Then I moved back to Gainesville to finish college and figure out how to help my mother,” said Trainer. “Ultimately, I chose to move to Miami and brought my mother with me.” Trainer had a friend in Miami named Howard Glicken and landed a job working for him. Glicken owned a company that leased television sets for hotel rooms, and “because of my experience working in hotels in Gainesville, I did some leasing for him at some of the hotels down here,” he said. While working for the TV leasing company, Trainer became a regular diner at a Coconut Grove restaurant called the Bayshore Restaurant. “It was the kind of place to be, so I started having breakfast there,” he said. “It was just a gas station-style, breakfast-lunch only kind of place.” But eventually, Trainer would transform the waterfront location and develop the restaurant bearing his name. In 1970, Trainer learned that the operator of the Bayshore Restaurant was leasing the property from an out-of-state owner, an Alabama businessman, and the lease was set to expire in 1972. Trainer smelled a business opportunity along with the bacon and eggs at his favorite breakfast hangout. He took over the lease and made the monthly payments for two years, then negotiated a new 20-year lease with the owner. But Trainer would have to assemble six other pieces of leased land to acquire control of the entire property along Biscayne Bay for the bar and restaurant he envisioned. “I got a 20-year lease for the front part [of the property] but there were six other leases from Bayshore Drive back to the water,” he said. So, one by one, as the leases expired on each of the six properties “I was able to secure them” because of a deal he made with the property owner in Alabama. “As they became available, we had an agreement that he would lease them to me.” What Trainer really wanted, though was a liquor license and a better bayfront location for his main restaurant, the Bayshore Restaurant, which he renamed Monty Trainer’s Bayshore Restaurant, known now simply as Monty’s under different ownership. Monty’s opened with a license to serve beer and wine but not liquor. “We sold more draft beer than anyone in the state,” said Trainer, but he longed for higher-profit liquor sales. SEPTEMBER 2014


Monty Trainer

Cast party at Monty’s after performance at the Coconut Grove Play House with Milton Berle. “I was forever trying to get a liquor license but I didn’t have the parking,” said Trainer. So he ended up buying a nearby building called Bayshore Inn just for its parking. “It was a restaurant that stayed open until 3am serving breakfast and lunch. It was a lunch countertype operation,” he said. The Alabama owner of the Bayshore Restaurant site owned multiple parcels of the real estate east of South Bayshore Drive where the street bends west at Peacock Park, including the current location of Monty’s. Summer vacation with Steve Winn, son of Sherman Winn.



Trainer successfully encouraged both parties to agree to a deal under which the City of Miami bought all of the Alabama owner’s bayfront property, encompassing the original Bayshore Restaurant site and, just north of it, the future location of Monty’s and an adjacent retail store. The city then leased the property to Trainer. Trainer then moved the location of his bayfront restaurant to a site just north of the old Bayshore Restaurant site, because it had more frontage on Biscyane Bay, compared to the old Bayshore Restaurant, which Trainer demolished. He said the location of Monty Trainer’s Bayshore Restaurant allowed him to “take advantage of the entire waterfront” in that corner of Coconut Grove. With an upgraded waterfront location and a liquor license, Monty Trainer’s Bayshore Restaurant was well on its way to becoming a local landmark. Trainer tried to build on the success of Monty’s and the popularity of its waterfront setting by opening other restaurants and nightspots in Coconut Grove, including the Village Inn, which featured outdoor dining despite resistance from city officials worried about flies on food. “I really challenged the city on outdoor dining ... There was an ordinance prohibiting it,” he said. “I was the first one in Coconut Grove with outdoor dining”—and the first restaurateur in the Grove to openly violate the ordinance. At the same time, Trainer said, the city was trying to force Trainer to put screens around the open-air raw bar at his flagship restaurant on the bay to keep flies off the food. But eventually, the city dropped its ban on outdoor restaurant service. “I asked them, ‘What’s the difference between a drive-in restaurant and my raw bar?’ So logic prevailed. The city acquiesced,” he

1986 Miss USA, Miss Texas Christy Fichtner and Trainer. said. “That opened up a lot of outdoor dining on the bay.” At the Mayfair retail mall in Coconut Grove, Trainer opened a nightclub called Cats and two restaurants, the Catwalk Cafe and Monty Trainer’s Stone Crab. On US 1 south of the Grove he opened a nightclub called One South. He also acquired the old Candlelight Restaurant, a low-key dining spot on Commodore Plaza now occupied by Mr. Moe’s Restaurant and Bar. Trainer said both Cats and One South were profitable when he sold them. But Trainer’s efforts in the early 1980s to export his brand name to restaurant locations beyond Coconut Grove brought mixed results. He and other investors opened and closed Monty’s restaurants in Boca Raton, Orlando, Key West, and Atlanta. He said the Monty’s in Boca “had a good run,” the Monty’s in Orlando “we probably shouldn’t have gone into, the one in Key West failed to survive a bad location,” and the one in Atlanta “was a little bit far-fetched ... We didn’t research the market properly.”

SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE Meet and greet at the Versace Mansion, Christopher Korge, Hilary Clinton, Monty Trainer and Howard Glicken. These setbacks led him to take longer looks at business opportunities and to avoid investing based on “gut reaction.” Trainer also wanted to build on the success of Monty’s Bayshore Restaurant by developing an adjacent retail center on part of the bayfront land he had leased from the city. To finance the multimillion-dollar development, he needed to double the remaining term on the city lease to 50 years. The city manager refused to negotiate a 50year lease, Trainer said, but the city commission chose to let votersdecide in a city-wide referendum whether the city should consider Trainer’s request. Most voters sided with the well-known restaurateur in the 1985 referendum. A 56.5 percent majority of the electorate voted “yes” after Trainer waged a vigorous campaign. By the summer of 1986, Trainer had sold the 50-year city lease to commercial real estate developer Manny Medina, who also bought rights to use the Monty’s name. Medina went on to give the Monty Trainer’s Bayshore Restaurant location a makeover. By 1987, the restaurant and bar had a new, enclosed, second-story dining room and an adjacent retail center. Trainer said Medina “did a beautiful job” on the retail center and the upstairs dining room. “I wasn’t successful in getting it done. But I got it started,” he said. “He took what I had and embellished it.” Trainer said while the initial design of Monty’s

was “true bohemian,” Medina’s design took the property to a new level: “His was upscale.” Medina said in a July 1986 Miami Herald article that he was planning to put his development expertise together with Trainer’s knowledge of operations to open more restaurants outside Miami-Dade under the Monty’s brand. Monty’s “could have been [a franchise]. It should have been,” said Trainer. “If I didn’t have the problem, it probably could have been.” “The problem” was an Internal Revenue audit that revealed Trainer had underreported revenue from his bayfront business operations in Coconut Grove. A federal grand jury indicted him for failure to pay tax on business receipts in May 1988. About a year later, Trainer pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion as part of a deal with prosecutors, and agreed to recommend a prison sentence no longer than six months. His plea deal also obligated Trainer to perform 2,500 hours of community service. He served his sentence at a minimumsecurity federal prison at Saufley Field, a Naval base in Pensacola. At Saufley, “everyone was courteous and polite. I didn’t have a problem with anyone,” said Trainer, who likened prison life to college dormitory life. “You had five guys in a room with bunk beds. You could read, but it was light’s out at 10pm, lights on by 7am. It was like being in college, the physical setup. And you knew there were no fences, but you knew


Rodney Barreto

odney Barreto is a former Miami police officer who went on to become a serial entrepreneur, a real estate investor and a member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Barreto gives credit for his successful career change to Monty Trainer, who hired him as an off-duty police officer to handle security at Monty’s, the Coconut Grove bar and restaurant that Trainer turned into a South Florida landmark. Barrreto’s six-year career as a cop ended in 1985 when Trainer hired him full-time to oversee security at Monty’s. Trainer “is a special person,” said Barreto, who now serves as vice chair of the fundraising foundation of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. “In my life, he means more than anyone because he hired me away from the police department, and I owe him a big debt of gratitude. I’ve learned a lot from him, and from the people around him.” In particular, Barreto learned a lot about politics, in particular, from Trainer. In 1988, they started Miami-Dade Days, an informal annual cookout in Tallahassee during the Florida Legislature’s regular spring session that brings a delegation of Miami-area community leaders together with state legislators to dine on paella and share views on public policy. With Barreto’s help, Trainer launched the 26-year-old annual event with the late Sherman Winn. “It started in Steve Winn’s backyard and eventually ended up at the state Capitol and became a huge event.” Other counties around the state copied the informal get-together with state legislators. “It started a whole trend across Florida,” he said. Trainer got into trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, admitted to tax evasion in 1989. Though his conviction for tax evasion tarnished Trainer’s reputation, “I think a lot of people have gotten over that,” said Barreto. “It was a long time ago, and he has paid his debt to society and he still gives back. It’s amazing how much he gives back.” E



Monty Trainer

At the 2014 Coconut Grove Arts Festival. Monty with Joe Pineda, Assistant Dean of External Affairs at Nova University.

Aerial view of the 2014 Coconut Grove Arts Festival.

if you walked outside that door, there was big trouble coming down.” After his arrival at Saufley, in September 1989 Trainer soon realized he already knew some of the inmates there, including one who had worked as a chef at Monty’s and another who had been a BellSouth employee and had installed the phone system at Monty’s. “Of course, there were some people from Miami who knew me but I didn’t know them,” he said. Many inmates at Saufley had office jobs, but Trainer worked in the prison’s kitchen. “A lot of guys worked in the Navy office. And because of my restaurant background, they put me in charge of salads, he said. “So I was up every morning at 3 o’clock to get the salads going.” Imprisonment “was a big learning experience for me,” he said. “It certainly set me on a different path, more of a community-involved path.” Indeed, Trainer began performing public service after exiting prison in February 1990, and never really stopped. “I had a lot of organizations that wanted me to do my community service working for them,” he said. With 2,500 hours of community service to perform, Trainer started by donating time and equipment to the Miami-Dade Juvenile Detention Center at 3300 NW 27th Avenue. “I had a trailer that was a full-blown kitchen with everything—stoves, grills, exhausts,” he said. “So I donated that to the juvenile detention center. ... We built a restaurant around it in the courtyard. It’s still there.” 76


In 1991 Trainer joined the board of directors of the Florida arm of a national organization called Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, which produced audio recordings of books and other written material for the visually impaired. “After six or seven years I became chairman,” said Trainer. He led a statewide initiative with schools to put audio recordings of teachers’ lectures and homework assignments on portable audio players for blind and dyslexic students. “When I first got there, we didn’t have an outreach program,” he said. Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic got a $25,000 donation from former Miami-Dade School Board member G. Holmes Braddock, Trainer said, “and I matched

it to fund an outreach program. We wound up getting into 305 schools.” He said he performed 10,000 hours of community service—four times more than his 2,500-hour requirement—at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, based on work records compiled by the organization, and along the way, “I took it from a local organization to a local statewide organization with 11 outreach centers.” Trainer fondly recalled going to classrooms and watching students with visual handicaps as they played recordings of their teachers’ lessons. “That is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve done, philanthropically speaking,”

But Trainer shifted his career gears by reselling the restaurant lease and the Monty’s brand to another operator and joining the board of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. In 2005, he became president of the non-profit organization behind the annual arts festival and led efforts to increase its impact on the Miami-area arts community. “I have held the job for the last nine years ... I’m doing something I love to do,” said Trainer. For example, the festival began sponsoring an art gallery in the Mayfair retail mall in Coconut Grove. On the first Saturday of every month, the gallery features a collection of work by a different artist. This led to a cooperative program with other art galleries in the Grove to open their doors for a monthly gallery walk through the Grove. As a result of Trainer’s support of the New World School of the Arts as an executive board member, alumni of the school have had opportunities to display their artwork at the gallery in Mayfair.

At the 2011 Coconut Grove Arts Festival’s poster unveiling Guy Harvey and Monty Trainer.


he said. “I got a new appreciation for what all these kids go through.” Fatherhood also may have heightened Trainer’s concern for the plight of disadvantaged children. He fathered a son out of wedlock in 1996. Trainer, 85, said he never has been married because “I’m too selfish with my [spare] time. I guess that’s it. I’m such a creature of habit that whenever I have time, I don’t like to be tied down. Now don’t quote me on that. That’ll kill me socially.” But he regrets not spending more time with his son, now 18 years old and living in Miramar with his mother, a special education teacher. He has a relationship with his son, who comes to Maine every summer to spend a month with his father. “In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time with him and not been so selfish with my time,” said Trainer. Trainer devoted part of his post-prison time to re-entering the restaurant business. He bought back the city lease on the Monty’s restaurant on Biscayne Bay and the rights to the Monty’s name from Manny Medina.


Michael Spring

ichael Spring, director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, said he has learned an important lesson about professional success from Monty Trainer, who serves as a volunteer member of the department’s board, the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council. “He has this amazing ability to stay in touch with a wide variety of people, and that has been a real lesson to me,” said Spring. “In order to really be successful here in South Florida, you really need to keep a lot of people as part of your network.” Spring calls Trainer “the ultimate networker. ... He’s open-minded. You always know you’re getting a fair hearing from Monty on any issue you’re talking about. He has a real respect for other people’s points of view.” Trainer has served as a member of the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council since 2005, when Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who was a county commissioner at the time, appointed him. “Monty brings a whole array of things [to the cultural affairs council],” said Spring. “First and foremost, Monty is a dedicated volunteer. He takes his assignments very seriously.” Trainer chairs the grant panels within the council, overseeing the decisionmaking process it pursues to invest public funds in art organizations. “He’s very inclusive. The panel members feel their voices are being heard,” said Spring. “There’s a very democratic process. He’s very good at ensuring that good, fair debate occurs.” The Coconut Grove Arts Festival is one of a handful of events–including Art Basel, the Miami International Book Fair, and the Miami International Film Festival–that “define the image of South Florida,” said Spring. “The hard part is keeping a mature event like the Coconut Grove Arts Festival fresh.” Nevertheless, Trainer has succeeded in keeping the festival “at the forefront of what’s happening in the arts community,” said Spring. E




Monty Trainer

Coconut Grove Chamber Luncheon, Charlie Cinnamon is founder of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, David Martin of the Terra Group and Monty Trainer. And while the Coconut Grove Arts Festival remains a strictly juried event featuring the works of experienced artists, “we’ve opened it up to some first-time artists and called them emerging artists,” said Trainer. The organization behind the arts festival has also established a visiting artists program that allows Miami-Dade students to get art lessons from exhibitors. “At the end of the festival, about 110 of the artists go to public schools and teach art classes,” said Trainer. In addition, “we work with the Children’s Trust, which is something new,” he said. “We’ve given a section of the festival to the Children’s Trust for children and art education, and that’s been very beneficial. So we’ve made a lot of progress outside what we do as an art festival.” Trainer has also been a leading advocate to re-open the historic Coconut Grove Playhouse, which was built in 1927 as a movie house, then became a venue for live theater performances, and has been closed since 2006. Last year, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation included the dilapidated Playhouse on a list of endangered historic sites. Trainer has had a long love affair with Coconut Grove, where for the last 14 years he has leased his principal residence at a hotel across from the bayfront restaurant that still bears his name, but operates under different ownership. He said people still perceive the Grove as a low-rise, laid-back place to shop and dine despite a surge in high-rise condominium 78


construction there by such developers as David Martin and Jorge Pérez. “We have to really modify that perception with all the development that’s going on,” said Trainer. “What David [Martin] and his partner Jorge Perez are doing is going to enable the Grove to go to a different level [and] will create some demand for retail, which is now sorely lacking in the Grove. The restaurants are doing well but retail is not doing well ... That’s due also to the [Coconut Grove] Playhouse not being open. The Playhouse was a big center of attraction. That really hurt us a lot when it closed.” But earlier this year, Miami-Dade County and Florida International University signed an agreement with the state of Florida to lease the Playhouse property in hopes of reviving the Coconut Grove landmark, said Michael Spring, director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. Trainer “has been making people who didn’t really see eye to eye on this [issue] come together,” said Spring. “This is a project with an untold number of stakeholders. You’ve got historic preservationists, the state (which owns the property), and the city of Miami (where the property resides), and the county ... Whenever you have that many people involved in an issue, ultimately you’re going to have disagreements, and Monty is always the calm voice ... He has been very good at being the diplomat.” E


onty Trainer is an active supporter of the New World School of the Arts, said Maggy Cuesta, the school’s dean of visual arts. “He helps us with our funding, he helps us with some of our events ... He’s been a great mentor to the school,” she said. “He’s been a supporter of the school for as long as I can remember. He has served on both our foundation and our executive boards.” The school is an educational partnership between Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami-Dade College, and the University of Florida that the Florida Legislature established in 1984 as a center of excellence in the performing and visual arts. Among his other contributions to the school, Trainer is “always very encouraging” and regularly “works on getting other community leaders involved with the school,” said Cuesta. She said Trainer has used his position as president of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival to showcase artwork by alumni of the New World School of the Arts at festival-sponsored galleries located at the Mayfair shopping center in Coconut Grove. She said Trainer has also supported the school through his position as the organizer of Miami-Dade Days, an annual event in Tallahassee during the Florida Legislature’s regular spring session. Students of the New World School of the Arts compete to create the design for ties and scarves that members of the Miami-area delegation wear during Miami-Dade Days. “He’s instrumental in getting that done,” said Cuesta. “As a matter of fact, the students who get selected, Trainer gives them a cash award, invites all the students that participate to a luncheon at Monty’s,” said Cuesta. E

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Executive South Florida Magazine . September 2014  

Covering the dealmakers, innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders in the business community.

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