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A PR I L 25 - M AY 1, 2014 | T H R E E D O LL A R S

FLOR IDA’S NE WSPAPER FOR T HE C - SUI T E

Facelift | Avison Young invests in renovations to help it compete in Westshore. PG.7 P A S C O • H I L L S B O R O U G H • P I N E L L A S • M A N AT E E • S A R A S O TA • C H A R L O T T E • L E E • C O L L I E R

COVER YOUR

BUTT

Upon opening a new store in Tampa, billionaire Spanx founder and Clearwater native Sara Blakely shares the lessons behind her success. PAGE 12

inside HEALTH CARE

Business Bites

Pediatrician dentist Dr. Nilofer Khatri brings service design to her practice to appeal to her real clients: moms. PAGE 8

TECHNOLOGY

Talent Scout

For his online real estate forum, Sanjay Kuttemperoor learned to hire the best when outsourcing. Read why it’s worth it. PAGE 9

DEVELOPMENT

Speed Test

After getting a bad reputation for delays in its development-approval process, Collier County created a new position to remove roadblocks for business. PAGE 10

EXECUTIVE SESSION

Hail to the Chef

David Gordley, IberiaBank’s new market president for Southwest Florida, likes to keep things cooking in and out of the office. PAGE 14

40 UNDER 40

Where Are They Now?

See how Samantha Scott has grown her business threefold since being named a 40 under 40 winner in 2008. PAGE 16

BRANDING

Stay on Track

It takes more than good vision to build a strong brand. Forming a brand council to provide guidance can help. PAGE 17

TOP DEALS Tampa Trader Joe’s building purchased for $8.18 million.18 Grazing land in Parrish sells for $27 million less than in 2005. 19

Sara Blakely | FOUNDER, SPANX

23 A former ambassador gives lessons of leadership. PAGE

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DON’T MISS

Ask Gary founder sells Englewood Marina. 20

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2

BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014

BusinessObserverFL.com

Vol. XVIII, No. 17

A DIVISION OF THE OBSERVER MEDIA GROUP

NATIONAL POWER, LOCAL EXPERTISE

BusinessObserverFL.com The Business Observer, formerly the Gulf Coast Business Review, is Southwest Florida’s newspaper for business leaders. With offices in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties, the Business Observer is the only weekly business newspaper that provides business leaders with a regional perspective. The Business Observer’s mission is to deliver relevant news and information on Southwest Florida’s leading and growing companies, up-and-coming entrepreneurs and the important economic, industry and government trends affecting business. The Business Observer is also the leading publisher of public notices on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

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LEE COUNTY

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Address: 949 Tamiami Trail, Suite 202 Port Charlotte, FL 33953 Phone: 941/249-4900 (Legal Notices) Fax: 941/249-4901

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COLLIER COUNTY

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POSTAL INFORMATION Prior to entering the Commercial Real Estate industry six years ago, Brad Lindberg served for 25 years as a senior executive and managing partner in an international telecommunications distribution company. He had responsibilities for operations, site evaluations, relocations and business evaluations. Brad has now taken that valuable experience and applied it to commercial real estate giving his clients a perspective to their real estate decisions that only someone with his vast business experience can know. Additionally Brad has served his industry by being the 2012 President of the Sarasota Association of Realtors Commercial Investment Division, serving on the Public Policy Advisory Committee, and he was the 2011 Commercial Realtor of the Year. Brad Lindberg can be reached at (941) 356-0338.

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The Business Observer (ISSN#1539-9184) is published weekly on Fridays by the Gulf Coast Review Inc., 1970 Main St., Sarasota, FL, 34236; 204 S. Hoover Blvd., Suite #220, Tampa, FL 33609; 14004 Roosevelt Blvd., Clearwater, FL 33762; 3030 Starkey Blvd., New Port Richey, FL 34655; 5570 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key, FL 34228; 949 Tamiami Trail, Suite 202, Port Charlotte, FL 33953; 5237 Summerlin Commons Blvd., Suite 324, Fort Myers, FL 33907; and The French Quarter, 501 Goodlette Road N., #D-100, Naples, FL 34102. Periodicals Postage Paid at Sarasota, FL, and at additional mailing offices. The Business Observer is circulated in Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014 | BUSINESS OBSERVER

3

BusinessObserverFL.com

CoffeeTalk Foreclosures a thing of the past Remember foreclosures? For several years during the real estate collapse, Lee County was the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis. It’s safe to declare that’s over now, says Jeff Tumbarello, executive director of the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investors association, a group that tracks the monthly foreclosure data closely. As of March 31, there were 5,227 foreclosure cases winding their way through the Lee County courts. On March 31, 2010, there were 22,187

cases and in 2008 there were more than 25,000 cases. “More and more, the evidence is apparent that the correction’s over,” Tumbarello says in his monthly report. That’s reflected in the numbers that Realtors are reporting, too. For example, the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach says that just more than 80% of existing-home sales in March were traditional sales, while short sales and foreclosures represented just below 20% of the number of sales.

Life sciences gets play session. “We’re here to help advance the business of life sciences and research,” Van Butsel tells Coffee Talk. Another reason for the BioFlorida chapter expansion into SarasotaBradenton is sheer logistics: Anyone in town interested in the organization’s bi-monthly meetings previously had traveled to Tampa. Van Butsel, who lives in northeast Manatee County but works for Redwood City, Calif.-based DPR’s Tampa office, is one of those executives. Van Butsel noticed several others in a similar predicament, so he looked into a Sarasota-Bradenton chapter last year. In that way, BioFlorida’s push south from Tampa to make a mark in Sarasota-Bradenton mirrors moves other organizations have made in recent years. The Gulf Coast CEO Forum in Sarasota, for instance, is modeled on the CEO Council of Tampa Bay. And the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth started to hold SarasotaBradenton meetings in late 2011. In addition to Tampa, BioFlorida has chapters in Fort Myers-Naples; MiamiBroward; Orlando; Pensacola-Tallahassee; Jacksonville-Gainesville; and Palm Beach-Treasure Coast. The next Sarasota-Bradenton meeting is scheduled for June.

3979 SOUTH TAMIAMI TRAIL

What is Your Bank CHARGING YOU

Some see success, others see secession A semantic struggle over the words succeed and secede is in play in the state capital over what some might call a silly, if not superfluous, flap. The brouhaha started in February. That’s when The League of the South, a Killen, Ala.-based organization that encourages southern states to secede from the United States, took out a billboard on that position in Tallahassee. The billboard, with simply the word secede in giant bold capital letters, is on Apalachee Parkway, a few blocks from the state Capitol. The League of the South, in a post on its website, states its reasons for the dramatic call to action: “If the South is going to survive, especially against a floodtide of massive third world immigration and leftist attempts to destroy her very cultural and political foundations, she is going to have to seek her independence and govern herself.” The

League of the South, incidentally, is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to a Sunshine State News report. Secession pleas in modern times in the U.S. aren’t necessarily new (see Texas). But the efforts have a low success rate, of, well, never. The League of the South’s billboard, adds Sunshine State News, is scheduled to come down by the end of April. But the Florida business community in Tallahassee, led by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, won’t stand for secession chatter. The organizations put up a different Tallahassee billboard April 16 to answer the League of the South. The Chamber’s billboard states another

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The statewide association for the bioscience industry, BioFlorida, plans to add some beakers, and members, in the Sarasota-Bradenton market. The West Palm Beach-based organization, with seven chapters statewide, has held two well-attended meetings in the region this year and a third is scheduled for June. Part of the reason for the expansion is the growth in area companies, investors and economic development officials interested in bioscience. “Some very respected players in this industry are coming to the area,” says Michael Van Butsel, a DPR Construction executive and the SarasotaBradenton BioFlorida Chapter Business Chair. “They are starting to talk it up.” More than 60 people participated in each of the first two meetings, says Van Butsel. One was held at the Roskamp Institute, a nonprofit biomedical research center, while the other was held at Sarasota-based product design firm Robrady. Van Butsel says the meetings, in addition to a pitch for new members for BioFlorida, were strong networking opportunities for bioscience businesses. A venture capital investor was at the most recent meeting, for example. Robrady also won some potential new business from contacts it met at that

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RAISE YOUR WATER GLASS Dunedin and Sarasota. The science behind drinking water is what makes it taste so great, according to the Ave Maria water plant’s operator, CH2M Hill. Water drawn from the Lower Tamiami aquifer is softened through a process called “nanofiltration.” Evian and Perrier be warned: The Ave Maria water will now compete in June for the national title of best drinking water in the country. We’ll drink to that.

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It’s not quite holy water, but it’s close. Turns out, the best-tasting drinking water in Florida is from Ave Maria, the new town in eastern Collier County that is home to the Catholic university by the same name. Ave Maria Utility Co. recently won the American Water Works Association’s best-tasting drinking water contest for the state of Florida. This is the second time the utility has won the statewide award, beating out fine water from areas such as


4

BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014

BusinessObserverFL.com

topstories from BusinessObserverFL.com Former banker barred from industry

The Federal Reserve barred Missouri banker Darryl Woods from banking after he used government bailout money to buy a luxury condo in Fort Myers. Woods was chairman and chief financial officer of Ashland Bank and president and chairman of Calvert Financial Corp. in Ashland, Mo. According to the Federal Reserve, Woods bought a luxury condo in Fort Myers with $381,487 of money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Woods failed to disclose the condo purchase in a TARP inquiry. In August, Woods pleaded guilty to a criminal charge in connection with the use of the TARP funds and he was incarcerated in March.

Naples home prices jump 26% The median price of an existing single-family home in Naples showed no sign of slowing in March, jumping 26% to $360,000 compared with the same month in 2013. Based on the current sales pace, there was about four

quote of theweek

“”

People don’t like to live under perceived inequities. But I realized conflict wasn’t the way to go if you wanted to have a well-run organization. Rob Weisberg | Former U.S. ambassador, on leadership. SEE PAGE 23

what do you think?

months of supply of existing single-family homes on the market in the Naples area in March. An existing single-family home spent 97 days on the market on average in March, down from 171 in March 2013. SARASOTA-MANATEE

Home sales spike 33% in Sarasota Property sales in Sarasota County jumped 33% in March over February and surpassed 1,000 for the month, the Sarasota Association of Realtors reports. In total there were 1,050 closed sales in March, a mix of 698 single-family and 352 condos, according to association data. The total is two closings fewer than March 2013, but up from 787 in February. The total also dwarfs the bottom of the market at the end of the last decade, when the county recorded monthly sales in the mid-300s.

Law firm notches $4M award over crash A Bradenton law firm won a $4 million judgment for a client, a motorcyclist who suffered debilitating injuries in a 2012 crash. The firm, Gallagher & Hago-

How much do you expect your company to grow this year? Vote at BusinessObserverFL.com/decision

pian, says the judgment, based on a settlement agreement, awards Sarasota resident David Jones $3,992,500. Attorneys with the firm, formerly Czaia & Gallagher, say the award is one of the largest motorcycle accident judgments handed down by a Sarasota court. Jones was hit while driving his motorcycle in Sarasota. Jones’ attorneys alleged that Carl Ozug Jr.,made an illegal left turn in front of Jones’ and hit him. Attorneys with Gallagher & Hagopian say Jones faces $400,000 in current medical bills and at least $500,000 more in projected future medical bills. Attorneys for Jones and attorneys for the defendants, Ozug, U-Haul and its insurance company, were set to go trial this week, says Kevin Gallagher with Gallagher & Hagopian. But the sides worked out the agreement last week. TAMPA BAY

Vology, Tampa Bay Rays ink 3-year deal Vology Inc. recently announced a three-year sponsorship agreement for Vology to be named the baseball team’s preferred I.T. solutions provider. Oldsmar-based Vology and Last week’s question:

Confession time: Have you ever lied on your taxes?

the Tampa Bay Rays have had a business relationship since 2007. “Vology’s core competency is helping our customers get the most out of their I.T. budgets. We are not aware of an organization that exemplifies getting the most out of a budget better than the Tampa Bay Rays,” says Barry Shevlin, Vology CEO.

USF ranks growing alumni businesses The University of South Florida Alumni Association revealed its annual list of the fastestgrowing USF alumni-owned or led businesses. Sarasota-based Nutter Custom Construction topped the list for the most recent threeyear period. Firms on the list have been in business for at least three years, have revenues of at least $250,000 and are owned or led by a USF alumnus. The top 10 businesses on the list include: Nutter Custom Construction, AirHeads Trampoline Arena, Arehna Engineering, No Wait, Bulluck Law Group, Synoptos, Florida Wellness & Rehab, BridgeView IT, Dynamic Communities, Machine Tool Recyclers.

75% Never, I’m a straight arrow 17% Maybe fibbed a little 8% What the IRS doesn’t know won’t hurt it.

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CHARLOTTE-LEE-COLLIER


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014 | BUSINESS OBSERVER

BusinessObserverFL.com

CoffeeTalk

5

FROM PAGE 3

simple message: “Succeed Florida!” Florida Chamber officials say the fact that Washington, D.C. “remains stuck in neutral” is no reason to depart from the country. “There are some who would like to see Florida fail, and even break away from the rest of the country,” Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson says in a press

release and video message published the day the billboard went up. “At the Florida Chamber, we share their frustration with Washington, D.C., but seceding is not the answer. Instead, we must continue down the path that has opened doors of opportunity for Florida’s families and businesses. We are succeeding and we will continue to lead this nation back to prosperity.”

of driving under the influence. The Tallahassee Democrat reported that Eagle, 30, was arrested and charged with DUI after he allegedly ran a red light and drove erratically after leaving a Taco Bell at 2 a.m. Eagle was taken to the Leon County Jail after refusing a sobriety test, the Democrat reported. We won’t pre-judge the outcome of Eagle’s case, but we suspect voters may grow weary of special elections.

Florida: A mediocre tax state? Florida, for all its no state income tax acclaim, is only a little better than average in overall state-local tax burden, according to the Tax Foundation. The state has the 31st highest statelocal tax burden in the U.S., the report shows. That puts it one spot behind Colorado and one spot ahead of Virginia. The annual report analyzes the percentage of state income residents pay in state and local taxes, and whether those taxes are paid to their state of residence or others. The formula is the total amount of state and local taxes paid by state residents to both their own and other governments, divided by each state’s total income. A Washington D.C.-based nonpartisan research organization, the Tax Foundation analyzes taxes that way,

it says, to move the focus from the tax collector to the taxpayer. “States have different tax burdens, just as they have different levels of services,” Tax Foundation economist Liz Malm says in a statement. “For Americans to make informed judgments about benefits and costs of state-local government, the costs need to be known.” The report, which uses 2011 fiscal year data, the most recent available, says Florida taxpayers paid 9.2% of their collective incomes in state and local taxes in 2011. The national average is 9.8%. The states with lightest tax burden, the report shows, are Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota and Texas. The ones with the heaviest tax loads are high-tax stalwarts: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California.

ECONOMY ON AN UPSWING Commercial property transaction volume will reach $430 billion by 2016, according to an Urban Land Institute report, which would exceed the volume for 2006. The ULI/E&Y Real Estate Consensus Forecast report, a multiyear outlook based on opinions from 39 of the industry’s leading economists and analysts, actually projects steady growth in commercial real estate fundamentals and housing. The ULI Center for Capital Markets and Real Estate prepared the report in conjunction with consulting firm EY, formerly called Ernst & Young. “Respondents to the Consensus Forecast survey project consistent growth in the real estate industry, bringing some key factors back to pre-recession levels and others moderating to long-term averages,” ULI Center for Capital Markets and Real Estate Vice President Anita Kramer says in a release. “Fundamentals beyond multifamily continue to improve with the retail sector now joining in. This overall outlook for real estate is supported by expected ongoing improvements in the economy.” The forecast is even more opti-

mistic than what the organizations published in October. For one, commercial mortgage-backed securities, a key source of financing for the commercial real estate industry, is expected to continue its rebound through 2016, the report states. Hotel occupancy rates are projected to improve, the report adds, while vacancy rates are projected to decrease modestly for office, retail, and industrial properties. Another key projection: Forecasters predict a retail rental rate turnaround in 2014, with the first gains since 2007. Other findings from the report include: • Gross domestic product is expected to grow 2.8% in 2014 and 3% in both 2015 and 2016; • Employment will grow by more than 7.5 million jobs in the next three years. The unemployment rate is expected to drop to 6.3% by the end of the year, 6% by the end of 2015 and 5.8% by the end of 2016; • Inflation is expected to grow 1.9% in 2014 and increase 2.2% in 2015 and 2.5% in 2016.

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Could a second rising political star be felled by run-ins with the law? On April 22, Republicans in Southwest Florida went to the polls to pick their candidate to replace disgraced U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, who resigned after admitting to buying cocaine in Washington, D.C. On the same day, voters found out that Republican State Rep. Dane Eagle of Cape Coral had been arrested the night before in Tallahassee on a charge

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First Trey. Now Dane?


6

BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014

BusinessObserverFL.com

BY THE NUMBERS

economicsnapshot

3 Employment

1

The NaplesMarco Island area posted the highest annual-percentage employment growth in the state in March, up 5%.

4

Four areas of the state posted annual-percentage employment growth below 1% in March: Lakeland-Winter Haven (0.8%), Pensacola (0.8%), Ocala (0.3%) and Palm Bay-MelbourneTitusville (0.2%).

7.8 million (Florida statewide) 7.7 7.6 7.5 7.4 7.3 Mar. 2013 Apr. ’13

May ’13

June ’13

July ’13

WHAT THE DATA SHOW Total nonagricultural employment estimates in the major metropolitan areas of the Gulf Coast in March. The data are not seasonally adjusted. WHAT IT MEANS The Naples, Fort Myers and Sarasota areas posted stronger annual-percentage employment growth in March than the state as a whole (up 3%). Increased tourism and newhome sales are boosting the staffs of hotels, restaurants, retailers and construction-related firms. While the Tampa-St. Petersburg area’s 2.8% annual employment growth in March was slightly slower than the state’s, the region added 30,000 jobs over the year. In terms of employment numbers, the Tampa-St. Petersburg area was ranked third behind Orlando (33,300) and Miami (32,900). FORECAST Employment growth should continue to grow at the current moderate pace throughout the Gulf Coast region. Some industries such as construction have noted labor shortages, but they probably won’t be as acute as they were during the boom years. Still, employment growth is likely to pressure wages as more businesses compete for a shrinking talent pool.

Aug. ’13

Sept. ’13

Oct. ’13

Nov. ’13

Dec. ’13

Jan. ’14

Feb. ’14

Mar. ’14

MARCH EMPLOYMENT AREA TampaSt. PetersburgClearwater North PortBradentonSarasota Punta Gorda Cape CoralFort Myers NaplesMarco Island

EMPLOYMENT

% ANNUAL CHANGE

1,203,800 2.6% 264,800 3.4% 44,500 1.8% 227,900 3.6% 131,100 5.0% Source: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

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Three areas of the Gulf Coast exceeded the 3% statewide annualpercentage increase in employment in March: Naples-Marco Island (5%), Cape Coral-Fort Myers (3.6%) and North Port-BradentonSarasota (3.4%).


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014 | BUSINESS OBSERVER

infocus | commercial real estate |

7

BusinessObserverFL.com BY TRACI MCMILLAN BEACH | TAMPA CORRESPONDENT

REVAMPING

WESTSHORE

MARK WEMPLE

Avison Young Tampa’s CLAY WITHERSPOON and LAUREN COUP work to rebrand Westshore Center to give it a cleaner, more modern look to differentiate it.

With some investment to revamp a 1984 building and backing from the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate company, Clay Witherspoon is ready to make a big dent in Tampa’s Westshore market.

S

ometimes all a building needs is a facelift to beat the market. At least that’s what Avison Young is hoping with the 30-year-old Westshore Center. The commercial real estate company is in the middle of a $1.5 million project to revamp the building, updating everything from landscaping to elevator banks. It all started when one of the building’s owners, an investor from TA Associates Realty, asked if the firm could change out the lights on the walk from the parking garage to the front door. From there, the revamp quickly expanded to a complete overhaul. Clay W it herspoon, Av ison Young’s principal and managing director, says it will be well worth the investment. Since the company started renovations in January, occupancy has increased from 83% to 87%. By the end of 2014, the company expects to be above 90%. Witherspoon also thinks the company will see a 15% to 20% increase in annual rental revenue from the renovations. Nearly eight months ago, Witherspoon’s 19-person commercial real estate businesses, Lane Witherspoon & Carswell Commercial Real Estate Advisors (LWC) and L&W Commercial Property Management, were acquired by Avison Young. Toronto-based Avison Young is the fastest-growing commercial real estate firm in the world, with 1,500 employees

“”

in 54 offices. The Tampa branch brought in $75 million of the company’s $449 million in total transactions in 2013. The Westshore market is one of Florida’s largest submarkets and Tampa’s most popular and expensive area for businesses, with an average leasing rate of $24.11 per square foot and average vacancy rate of 12.8%, according to a market report from CBRE’s Tampa office. “Westshore’s success is because you have two regional malls within a mile of each other, the interstate systems and roadway infrastructures and access to Tampa International Airport,” Witherspoon says. With 1.4 million square feet in its Westshore listing portfolio, Avison Young ranks in the top three commercial real estate companies in an area that includes 12.6 million square feet of building space. We s t s hor e C e nt e r i s a 215,410-square-foot building across the street from International Plaza, the Container Store, and a number of restaurants. “The new generation wants the ability to walk to work and walk to lunch,” Witherspoon says. Renovations to Westshore Center included refreshed landscaping to allow more light into the building, parking garage and walkway, new light fixtures, updated signage and a digital directory. The building was covered f loor to ceiling in red granite,

which has been replaced with white tile, wood accents and raised ceilings. “You can’t change an ‘80s building, but you can do quite a bit and rebrand the building,” Witherspoon says. Avison Young worked with Ai Collaborative and Trimar Construction on the project. “The most exciting part is how it’s gone from concept to reality.” One of the building’s main draws will be the new restaurant going in on the first floor, to be announced next month. The building previously had a momand-pop café, but will now have brand recognition. “We felt like we’d get a return on our investment with changes in the neighborhood, with an improving office market,” Witherspoon says. “With timing, we’d be able to capitalize on both of those.” According to Witherspoon, most of the company’s competition has done touch-up work to similar aged buildings, but not many have done an overhaul of this scope. Anne-Marie Ayers, first vice president from CBRE Tampa, disagrees. “It’s ‘keeping up with the Jones’ cycle,” she says. Renovations are “long overdue for them.” One of Avison Young’s main competitors, Highwood Properties, has completed significant renovations at Tampa Bay Park, which is just north of Raymond James Stadium.

Witherspoon says Avison Young is not trying to compete with a MetWest, or a Class A building that is only 5 or 10 years old with $30 a square foot rent. Instead, it is pursuing tenants who aren’t interested in paying the top end market rental rates. One of the biggest challenges was getting people to walk in the front door, Avison Young’s Vice President Lauren Coup admits. Changing the building’s signature exterior red stripes to white stripes has made a huge difference. “It signals to the world that change has occurred,” Witherspoon adds. Avison Young is hosting a grand reopening in late May to attract brokers to take a second look at the newly renovated building. The Avison Young brand name has also attracted interest. “There are relationships that we have now that we didn’t have when we were smaller. But it doesn’t happen overnight,” Coup says. Due to the acquisition, Witherspoon guesses that his office will more than double in size, adding 10 more brokers by the end of 2015. The Tampa branch is mostly focused on office and industrial, but he believes they’ll soon add more retail and multifamily buildings to the company’s portfolio. He also thinks the branch’s focus will shift from 70% landlord representation and 30% tenant representation to an even split within the first two years.

You only get that one time to make a first impression. Clay Witherspoon | Avison Young


8 infocus | health care |

BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014

BusinessObserverFL.com

BY MARK GORDON | DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR

teethTrend

Physicians must hone their business skills to thrive in the new health care landscape. One doctor/entrepreneur, with an investment that exceeds $500,000, drills ahead of the pack. MARK WEMPLE

The patient list at Venice-based Janoff & Khatri Pediatric Dentistry has grown about 25% over the last three years. Dr. NILOFER KHATRI runs the 10-employee practice.

P

ediatric dentist Dr. Nilofer Khatri was fanatic about Disney World when she was a young girl. But not the princesses or the rides. The daughter of immigrants to the U.S. from India, Khatri was more fixated on how it worked. She learned at an early age, for example, that Walt Disney would walk the park to see how long a person held a piece of trash before tossing it aside. He timed it down to the second. Then Disney instructed his staff to install garbage cans every 30 feet, so customers wouldn’t litter. “I was obsessed with logistics,” says Khatri. Khatri, 34, has turned that obsession to her work, where she’s now part of a pediatric dentistry trend on the Gulf Coast: building whimsical, theme-park style, uber child-friendly pediatric dental practices — costly moves aided by service design concepts, where the business is designed to eliminate all customer hassles. Severa l denta l practices in Tampa have followed a path similar to Khatri’s with Janoff & Khatri Pediatric Dentistry, in terms of expansion and renovation. So too has Dr. Manav Malik with SmileWorks Kid Dentistry in

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Sarasota and Dr. Tim Verwest in Fort Myers. Verwest built a new home for his practice last year, a $2.5 million investment. (See Business Observer, Oct. 25, 2013) These dentists are partially driven by declining medical reimbursements: Expansion is their edge to grow patient counts and dent the shortfall. Others are motivated more by an entrepreneurial spirit. “I’ve put every dime I’ve made back into this business,” says Khatri, “because I have such a passion for it.” A dentist since 2006, Khatri bought a pediatric dentistr y practice run by longtime area dentist Jeff Janoff in Venice in 2008. Janoff, who founded the practice in 1977, still sees patients and mentors Khatri, the majority owner. Khatri decided to renovate the practice in 2010. Venice-based contracting firm J2 Solutions gutted and rebuilt the entire 1,700-square-foot office. At more than $500,000, the project included raised ceilings, a redesigned lobby, new equipment and updated patient management software. Fun paintings adorn the walls, and the main patient areas are decorated in bright and bold colors. Stuffed animals are plentiful.

SHOWTIME MAGIC A common refrain about dentists and other physicians is they are good at the clinical side, but lack business skills. That’s one reason why the dental practice management industry is in boom mode. But Venice-based pediatric dentist Dr. Nilofer Khatri deflates the all-clinical, no-business acumen theory. She’s an avid business book reader, with a list of favorites that includes Jim Collins’ “Good to Great.” Khatri also constantly seeks ways to improve her processes and people skills. Here are two of her guiding business lessons that can apply to any company: • Build leaders: Khatri often says “walk me into your brain,” to “The real person I’m selling this practice to is mom,” Khatri says. “So I imagined this like Alice in Wonderland meets New York boutique hotel.” The 10-employee practice has grown its patient list about 25% since the project was completed, says Khatri. Annual revenues are about $1.5 million, right around the industry average for a practice with four chairs to see patients. And while Khatri targets more growth, she recognizes the high cost of her services turns away

employees. To Khatri that’s an invitation to “help me understand what you’re doing and why.” She says that approach forces employees “to slow their thought process and articulate their rationale for a specific behavior.” • Start right: Khatri has a huddle/ meeting with the staff every day at 7:45 a.m., before the practice opens. She goes over patients for the day. Then she declares it Showtime. That means the next eight hours are all about work. “We’re on stage for our patients and their parents,” says Khatri. “And you leave your baggage at the door when you’re on stage.”

some potential patients. “It’s an elite service we provide,” says Khatri. “There’s an elite fee that comes with that.” Business is good enough that Khatri, a Detroit native who grew up in Tallahassee, now ponders expansion. She specifically targets an office for Charlotte County, from which she says about 40% of her business comes. “My greatest fear,” Khatri says, “is I become stagnant and accept mediocrity.” Follow Mark Gordon on Twitter @markigordon

The real person I’m selling this practice to is mom. So I imagined this like Alice in Wonderland meets New York boutique hotel. Dr. Nilofer Khatri | Janoff & Khatri Pediatric Dentistry


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014 | BUSINESS OBSERVER

infocus | technology |

9

BusinessObserverFL.com

BY JEAN GRUSS | EDITOR/LEE-COLLIER

Come back home Sanjay Kuttemperoor is building a real estate forum utilizing the ‘wiki’ concept of widespread content contribution. It’s a big undertaking that requires top talent.

F

inding the right team is often the key to success. Sanjay Kuttemperoor found that out when he hired software programmers from Russia and India to develop WikiRealty, a real estate website he began creating three years ago. Language barriers, different time zones and subpar technical skills turned out to be tough hurdles to overcome. So last summer, Kuttemperoor turned to a San Francisco software-development firm called Tivix. A team of techies there created his vision in just five months. In addition, Kuttemperoor hired attorneys at top Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini to help him file patents on the technology. The high-profile firm has advised companies such as Apple and Google on their initial public offerings of stock. But hiring the best can be costly. “Right now we’re looking to raise several million,” says Kuttemperoor, declining to share how much he’s spent so far. “A lot of people I give demos to want to invest,” he says. Kuttemperoor is no neophyte to the real estate business. He is an attorney whose family was the initial developer of Treviso Bay in Naples, a luxury residential development that was the subject of foreclosure during the real estate collapse. Kuttemperoor’s vision is to create a site that uses the “wiki” principle of encouraging contributions. The more people contribute their knowledge to WikiRealty, the more useful it becomes, he reaO V E R

6 5

sons. “We have a big vision here,” he says. While Kuttemperoor posts home listings from ListHub, a provider of multiplelisting-service data, he hopes contributors such as attorneys, tradesmen and area residents will add content to the site. Besides starting in Naples and Milwaukee a little more than a month ago, the site is launching in Miami, Chicago, Boston, Houston and Los Angeles. “My focus up until now is getting the application launched,” Kuttemperoor says. To become popular on the Internet, websites need original content to rise to the top of search-engine lists such as Google’s. “They like all this fresh new content,” Kuttemperoor says. It’s a snowball effect: The more people contribute, the more popular the site becomes. “The goal right now is to drive traffic to the site,” Kuttemperoor says. Before he can start making money with advertising or subscription features, Kuttemperoor says he wants to see how people use the site. “I’ve got a list of 20 ideas, but I want to see consumer behavior first,” he says. “There’s a variety of ways to monetize.” There’s more to the business of real estate websites than selling ads, he points out. “We don’t want to become some ad platform,” Kuttemperoor notes. Kuttemperoor says he’s ready for where technology is heading in the future. “I’m developing for this,” he says, holding up his cell phone. Follow Jean Gruss on Twitter @JeanGruss

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BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014

BusinessObserverFL.com

DEVELOPMENT

BY JEAN GRUSS | EDITOR/LEE-COLLIER

Collier County Hearing Examiner MARK STRAIN says he seeks common ground to approve land uses.

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RECOVERY Collier County takes another step to repair its reputation as a difficult place to do business with the creation of a hearing examiner’s office.

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ou know Collier County is a tough place to do business when even the chairman of the chamber of commerce has a hard time with a simple real estate deal. But as Michael Wynn’s experience shows, Collier County is making strides to overcome its anti-business reputation. Last year, the county commission created a new position of hearing examiner that lets property owners bypass the bureaucratic bottleneck of the planning commission and board of zoning appeals. Wynn’s deal was the first case to go through the examiner’s streamlined process. Besides being the chairman of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, Wynn is chairman of the Wynn Cos., which operates hardware stores, grocery stores

and has interests in real estate throughout the region. Over a year ago, Wynn contracted to buy nearly two acres on U.S. 41 where his company planned to build a 22,000-square-foot hardware store. The lease was expiring at another Wynn-owned hardware store nearby and he felt two years was plenty of time to get through the planning and zoning process to move into a new building. But Wynn was wrong, because the planning-commission process would have been bogged down by at least six months of hearings without certainty of success. In fact, he almost gave up. “We did not feel we could get the property developed in time given the expiration of our existing lease,” Wynn says, looking back. “At that point, we passed on the property despite the fact that we could’ve secured it at the

right price.” In addition to his role at the chamber, Wynn was co-chair of the Partnership for Collier’s Future Economy, an economic development organization seeking to find ways to improve the business climate in the Naples area. “These are the types of situations that have caused Collier County to have a bad reputation,” Wynn says. “Time is money.” But in discussions with Russell Budd, owner of PBS Contractors in Naples, Wynn learned last year about the creation of the new hearing examiner’s office. Wynn’s hardware store was the first case through that office in the fall and it easily won approval. “Right now we’re on schedule to open Jan. 1,” Wynn says. Wynn says he hopes his case and others pave the way for a better business climate in the recovery. “It shouldn’t be a struggle for

anyone,” he says. SPEEDIER APPROVALS Collier County commissioners created the position of the hearing examiner in June to make it easier for landowners to petition changes in land use. While there are hearing examiners in other counties, Collier’s is unique because its examiner can communicate with all sides outside the hearing, seek out more evidence on his own and consider any additional evidence. “Sometimes I shuttle back and forth,” says Mark Strain, who was appointed as the county’s first hearing examiner. “It’s almost like mediation.” Importantly, the hearing examiner reports directly to the county commission, not the county manager. The county’s staff recommendation on a project is considered evidence, not

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Industry. Real estate Issue. Government bureaucracy Key. Collier County streamlines the land-planning process.


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014 | BUSINESS OBSERVER

the final word. Strain, a general contractor who grew up in California and kayaks long distances to stay fit, worked for one of the top developers in Collier County, Gulf Bay Cos. As vice president of planning for Gulf Bay from 1994 to 2010, Strain oversaw the development of communities such as Fiddler’s Creek. He’s intimately familiar with the challenges landowners face in Collier. “I know what they’ve had to do to get there,” he says. Strain also is chairman of the planning commission, which hears the more complex cases that generate significant public interest. But he says the hearing examiner should consider more routine cases that don’t require lengthy hearings that are costly to taxpayers and landowners alike. “Government says no too much,” Strain says. Rather than approving or denying a project, Strain strives to create consensus. “Compromises are what we should be doing,” says Strain, who will notify landowners if they’re missing certain details in their applications. “I’d rather find a solution,” he says. After considering the evidence in a case, such as a change in use of a property, Strain renders an opinion within a week. He estimates that cuts about two months off the process. Collier County’s tortuous landuse approval process became unwieldy because anti-growth forces in the Naples area demanded a halt

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BusinessObserverFL.com

11

NAPLES INSIDER After about two years of recovery in the residential real estate market, Collier County is starting to see the resurgence of commercial development. For insight into the Naples market, few people are more plugged in than Russell Budd. As owner of PBS Contractors and Wall Systems, Budd has focused on residential and commercial construction in Naples for more than three decades. Unlike prior recoveries, commercial development has been slow. “Everything has taken longer in this recovery,” says Budd, whose focus during the downturn primarily was on upscale residential homes. But commercial construction is starting to pick up again after years in the doldrums. For example, Budd says PBS could see 25% to 50% revenue growth this year from annual revenues of $8 million last year. “We see the commercial side of our business recovering because there’s a lot of land,” Budd says. In addition, space is being absorbed to the point where developers are considering new construction. “This year there are a lot of projects,” Budd says. Retail and to development in prior decades. But the pendulum swung too far, creating a bureaucratic maze that hampered growth and prolonged the recession. “Prior to the recession we had

RUSSELL BUDD, owner of PBS Contractors and Wall Systems in Naples, says commercial development is starting to recover. office space are leading the way. “We’re doing a lot of office space build-outs,” Budd says. “Industrial is still lagging.” Budd says economic recoveries are tricky times for construction companies because of wage long, drawn out sessions,” Strain says, noting that the creation of a new administrative code for the county should help streamline the process further. Strain acknowledges that switch-

growth. He’s anticipating 20% wage growth in the next year, an estimate he’s taking into account when bidding on new jobs. “I’ve been through these cycles before,” he says. “These are dangerous and difficult times for a contractor.” ing from the private sector to government work has taken some adjustment. “Here it moves really slow,” he chuckles. But he clearly relishes the new position: “I love this job,” he says with a smile.

Government says no too much. Mark Strain | Collier County Hearing Examiner

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BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014

BusinessObserverFL.com

EXECUTIVE Q & A

BY MARK GORDON | DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR

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ndergarment billionaire and Clearwater native Sara Blakely credits her parents for a lot of her success, and she readily admits her first few customers were her mom’s friends. So it was a big deal one night in 2000 when Blakely came home to her Atlanta apartment and got the news from an email: Spanx, the slim-down shapewear business she founded on $5,000 in savings and a reservoir of guts, had sold its first pair of footless pantyhose to someone who wasn’t a family connection. “I thought that’s when I really arrived,” Blakely quipped to a crowd of hundreds at a recent Spanx store opening at the International Plaza in Tampa. In the 14 years since that sale, Blakely, 43, has become a unique self-made American businesswoman success story. One of many highlights was being named a Forbes magazine billionaire in 2012, the rare woman on the list who got there without help from a husband or inheritance. Then there are these morsels: She sold nearly 10,000 pairs of Spanx in less than 10 minutes when she debuted the product on QVC in 2001; she was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002; and she’s had lunch with Bill Gates and tea with Sir Richard Branson in a hot air balloon. That’s a long way from selling fax machines door-to-door for Danka Office Imaging in Tampa. Even longer from standup comedian gigs she took in and around Clearwater in her late 20s. Blakely’s colorful past also includes a three-month stint greeting people on rides at Walt Disney World. But Spanx changed everything. The Atlanta-based firm has redefined an industry through products — girdles 2.0 — that shrink butts and tighten tummies. The privately held firm doesn’t disclose revenues, but several national business publications estimate the figure at more than $250 million a year. The 200-employee firm has hundreds of products, a list that ranges from bras and hosiery to jeans and leggings. There’s a swimsuit line, men’s undershirts and, of course, shapewear. Spanx products are sold online and in more than 11,000 stores in 60 countries, from Saks Fifth Avenue to Sports Authority to independent boutiques. The store that opened in Tampa April 11 is one of four Spanx stores nationwide. It joins others in malls in suburban New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Blakely, in Tampa for the International Plaza opening, spoke with the Business Observer about her career. Here are edited excerpts: How do you make decisions? I do the Ben Franklin. I weigh the pros and cons. But a lot of times a decision is my initial first instinct. Knowing how to balance the two is really important. From experience I’ve been able to compartmentalize the decisions that need to be more on a pro-con list and the ones I just need to go with. Usually it’s a feeling you get in your body, a gut instinct. What do you look for in hiring people? Energy and enthusiasm has al-

‘make it HAPPEN’

Sara Blakely sold fax machines door-to-door. She was a standup comedian. Then she got serious and launched a business that shifted a multibillon-dollar industry.

MARK WEMPLE

SARA BLAKELY founded Spanx in 2000 on $5,000 in savings. TV show host Oprah Winfrey has touted the firm’s famous shapewear products, which are sold in 60 countries. ways been what I’m most drawn to when I’m interviewing someone. A lot of Spanx was built on people who had no idea what they were doing and didn’t have any previous experience. So I’ve never been someone who has been intimidated or concerned about hiring someone outside of their resume or specific experience, and that serves me well. Another thing when I’m looking to hire people is there are people who do their jobs and there are people who make things happen. I look for that spark in someone. You get a sense from asking them questions about their life if they are a “make it happen” kind of person. We have a lot of “make it happen” people here. You have spoken about having

autonomous employees who are comfortable taking chances. Why is that important to you? I feel like people might go on autopilot doing things the way someone else showed them how to do it. And inevitably the people who haven’t had a lot of history being shown how to do it come to the table with fresh ideas no matter what. That’s sort of what happened to me with Spanx. I had no idea how it was done. How did you deal with the host of doubters you encountered when you launched Spanx? I looked in the mirror and looked at my own butt and then I overcame all doubts. I saw the benefits firsthand of what it could do. So even though the industry and ev-

eryone kept telling me they weren’t sure they understood it or it wasn’t a good idea, I could tell it was from my own personal experience. How have you continued to innovate at Spanx after the initial success? Each time we go really out of the box to start a whole new category of shaping. The second big invention that has continued to breathe a lot of life and revolutionize the whole category, was I came up with the first shaper short with no leg band. And now anywhere you go in the world you basically can’t find a shaper short with a leg band. But Spanx was the one that pushed the envelope and invented that. For a year and a half I tried to push the manufacturers. They all

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Company. Spanx Industry. Retail Key. Spanx, founded by Clearwater native Sara Blakely, recently opened a store at International Plaza in Tampa.


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014 | BUSINESS OBSERVER

BusinessObserverFL.com

13

BLAKELY’S BITS

MARK GORDON

Tampa Mayor BOB BUCKHORN and U.S. Rep. KATHY CASTOR, D-Tampa, attended the grand opening of a Spanx store inside International Plaza in Tampa April 11. said they have a leg band for a reason. It’s the only way you keep it down on the leg. I kept saying “we put a man on the moon, work with me, I know we can do this.” Because getting rid of a panty line but giving a big mark on your thigh isn’t solving anything for women. Another line that has been both a Spanx success and shifted the industry is the Bra-llelujah bra line. How did you come up with that product? Everybody in the industry had

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been looking at the bra from the front, the cup and the strap. I looked at it from the back and thought why forever has a bra had two elastic straps that go across our back and pinch our skin or fat? Is there a better way? What did you take away from your early jobs in sales? Leave with the benefit. When you are describing what you are doing and why you are doing it, try to get the person the what’s in it for them. I

Clearwater native, Florida State graduate and onetime Danka Office Imaging fax machine saleswoman Sara Blakely has been featured in multiple national media publications. Her top media moments include: • Inc.: Blakely made the cover of the magazine’s February issue and was part of a “How I got started” feature story. “One day I cut the feet out of a pair of pantyhose,” Blakely says in the story. “That was my ‘aha’ moment.” • Forbes: Blakely was on the cover of the magazine’s annual Billionaires issue in March 2012. Blakely talked about her first job in the article, a babysitting service at the Clearwater Beach Hilton she launched without the hotel’s knowledge. The article also detailed one of Blakely’s first big breaks, when she

sent her products to Oprah Winfrey’s stylist. The TV show host later named Spanx her favorite product of the year. • Fortune: One of 25 business leaders featured in an article entitled “The best advice I ever got” in October 2012. Others who dispensed advice in the article include Mindy Grossman, CEO of St. Petersburg-based HSN. Blakely’s advice: Don’t fear failure. Her dad, she says, even encouraged setbacks for the teachable moment. “I have realized as an entrepreneur that so many people don’t pursue their idea because they were scared or afraid of what could happen,” Blakely says in the story. “My dad taught me that failing simply just leads you to the next great thing.” • Time: The magazine named Blakely one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2012.

learned that from cold calling here in Tampa Bay selling fax machines for a lot of years. If you don’t leave them with the benefit the door is already in your face.

idea or invent something, visualize the moment when you are standing in front of a store. See it, take a snapshot, almost like a Polaroid picture in your mind.

How have visualization techniques helped your career? I’m a big believer in visualization. I visualized myself on the Oprah Winfrey show when I was in college, even though I had no idea what we were talking about. But your life will start to fill in the blanks. If you think of an

What advice do you give to entrepreneurs who are trying to break through with a product? Differentiate yourself and do it quickly. You need to be able to explain it quickly and make it simple for the customer to understand what’s in it for them.

I looked in the mirror and looked at my own butt and then I overcame all doubts. I saw the benefits firsthand of what it could do. Sara Blakely | founder, Spanx

Commercial Property Guide

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14 executive session | BANKING |

BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014

BusinessObserverFL.com

BY JEAN GRUSS | EDITOR/LEE-COLLIER

of CHEF the BANK ED CLEMENT

DAVID GORDLEY oversees Lee and Collier counties for IberiaBank as market president for Southwest Florida.

David Gordley, IberiaBank’s market president for Southwest Florida, is known for his culinary skills. He’ll drive to Arcadia for a good dry-aged steak.

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ou wouldn’t know it from his trim physique, but David Gordley loves food.

Gordley, who now oversees both Lee and Collier counties as Southwest Florida market president for IberiaBank, says his two elementary school-aged daughters can tell you which kind of snapper they prefer to eat and how they like their steaks cooked. Gordley learned his culinary skills early, avidly reading cookbooks as a child. In fact, he almost became a chef before deciding to go into banking. Gordley, 44, recently spoke w it h t he Business Observer about his personal life, career and the banking industry.

PERSONAL LIFE

SCRATCH GOLFER: Gordley started playing golf at age 9, sneaking onto the course at his parents’ golf community outside Columbus, Ohio. He joined the University of Kentucky golf team as a walk-on. FIRST JOB: At age 10, Gordley became a golf caddy at Wort hing ton Hills Countr y

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Club in Ohio. The first time he caddied, his father gave him $10. HOW HE STAYS FIT: “I take the stairs and park far away,” Gordley says. Although he loves food, he doesn’t have a sweet tooth. CULINARY SCHOOL: Gordley almost went to culinar y school, but decided against it. “You work when everyone else is playing and play when everyone else is working,” he says. SPEECH IMPEDIMENT: When he was a child, doctors recommended Gordley read books to help him with a speech impediment. He discovered he had a passion for food because cookbooks were his favorite books to read. FOODIE: Seafood, steaks and morel mushrooms get top billing on Gordley’s menu. He recently served five kinds of oysters for friends at his home. He shops at City Fish Market in Fort Myers, Jimmy P’s Butcher Shop in Naples and Fussell’s Meats in Arcadia. FAMILY: Married to Carrie, two daughters, ages 8 and 10.

CAREER

INDUSTRY

BANK BOOT CAMP: Gordley became a branch manager at a Fifth Third Bank in rural Ohio in 1994. It was an introduction to the industry, a sort of boot camp for a young executive. For example, that’s where Gordley learned how to spot check kiting, a fraud that scammers perpetrate on banks by writing checks on accounts with insufficient funds.

MANAGEMENT STYLE: Servant leadership. “I don’t micromanage,” Gordley says.

DAD’S ADVICE: Gordley’s father, Richard Gordley, was CEO of Ohio-based Wood Bancorp. “He told me: Don’t get into banking,” the younger Gordley chuckles.

UP THE RANKS: From his branch-manager days, Gordley rose up the ranks to Fifth Third’s headquarters in Cincinnati, where he became senior vice president for corporate banking and managed $2 billion in credit exposure. NO MORE SNOW: Gordley and his wife moved to Southwest Florida in 2005 to serve as Fifth Third’s vice president of middlemarket banking. He left in 2006 and joined TIB Bank as senior vice president in charge of commercial banking.

GOOD TIMES: Gordley joined IberiaBank in May 2011 as commercial banking group manager for Collier County and was promoted two years later to market president for Collier County.

NO LABOR SHORTAGE: There are labor shortages in certain industries such as construction, but not in banking. “There’s no shortage of people looking for jobs,” Gordley says. ECONOMIC RECOVERY: “It helps when you get a Hertz,” he says, referring to the Fortune 500 company relocating its global headquarters to Southwest Florida. FINDING GOOD LOANS: Business owners are more conservative after the downturn and are reluctant to borrow. “I think people are a lot more averse to debt,” Gordley says. FUTURE OF COMMUNITY BANKING: “Regulations are driving up the costs,” Gordley says. “It’s becoming far too expensive.”

I think people are a lot more averse to debt. David Gordley | IberiaBank


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014 | BUSINESS OBSERVER

BusinessObserverFL.com

calendar

of APRIL 30

ECONOMICS OF ART: Steven High, executive director of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art; Mark Rodgers, curator of DaVinci Exhibits; Elliott Falcione, executive director of Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau; and Jim Shirley, executive director of arts and cultural alliance of Sarasota County, will discuss the economic imHIGH pact of the arts at a SB2 Symposium meeting. The event will start at 5:30 p.m. at the Powel Crosley Estate, 8394 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Cost is $35 per person. For more information visit srqsb2.com.

MAY 1

CORPORATE EXPANSION: Richard Broome of Hertz; David Bumpous of Arthrex; Adam Hinds of Chico’s FAS; Nathan Swan of Gartner; and Robert Ball of the Lee County Port Authority will discuss corporate growth at a Chamber of Southwest Florida meeting. The event will start at 11:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport & BROOME Town Center, 9931 Interstate Commerce Drive, Fort Myers. Cost is $30 for members and $40 for others. For more information call 239-275-2102 or visit chamberswfl.com. GOVERNMENT MANAGERS: Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer; Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin; Longboat

Key Town Manager Dave Bullock; and Visit Sarasota President Virginia Haley will discuss their communities at a Sarasota Tiger Bay Club meeting. The event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Michael’s on East, 1212 S. East Ave., Sarasota. Cost is $22 at the door for members and $27 for others. RSVP is required. For more information contact Kim Noyes at 941-925-2970.

MAY 2

ECONOMIC OUTLOOK: Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, will discuss his economic forecast at an Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County meeting. The event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. For more information visit edcsarasotcounty.com.

MAY 6

TECH TITANS: Karen Etzkorn, executive vice president and chief information officer of HSN; Rob Goldberg, vice president of audit services, IT and eCommerce for Walmart; Dave Massey, chief information officer of Bealls; David McLeod, chief information security officer for VF Corp.; and Eric Singleton, senior vice president and chief information officer of Chico’s FAS, will speak on a technology panel hosted by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hilton Bayfront St. Pete, 333 First St. S., St. Petersburg. For more information visit tbtf.org. FOCUS ON PANAMA: Todd Gates, chairman of Gates Construction; Max Stewart, regional manager for international trade development at Enterprise Florida; Rick Michael, director of the Lee County

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Economic Development Office; and Christine Ross, president and CEO of the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce will discuss international trade with a focus on Panama at a meeting of the Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council. The event will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Wood Country Club, 22801 Oakwilde Boulevard in Bonita Springs. Cost if $35 for chambers members and $45 for others. For more information visit BonitaSpringsChamber.com or call 239992-2943.

development, redevelopment of the former Amtel/Sheraton hotel and the proposed riverfront convention hotel. The event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pelican Preserve Clubhouse, Treeline Ave. at Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers. HENDERSON Cost is $30 for members and $40 for guests. For more information visit reis-swfl.org.

MAY 8

MEET THE CONGRESSMAN: The CFA Society Naples will host U.S. Rep. Mario DiazBalart, who represents southwestern MiamiDade County, at its May meeting. The event will run from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club, 851 Gulf Shore DIAZ-BALART Blvd. N., Naples. Cost is $30 for members and $40 for others. For more information visit cfanaples.org.

PANCAKES AND POLITICS: State representatives will discuss the 2014 legislative session at a meeting presented by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. The event will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the IMG Academy Golf Club at 4350 El Conquistador Parkway, Bradenton. Cost is $25 for members and $30 for others. For more information contact Lisa Reeder at 941-748-3411 or email LisaR@ManateeChamber.com. WATER POLICY: Rich Budell, director of the state’s Office of Agricultural Water Policy, will be the keynote speaker for a Chamber of Southwest Florida workshop for landowners and developers. The event will begin at 7:30 a.m. and end at 1:15 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Airport-FGCU, 9931 Interstate Commerce Drive, Fort Myers. Cost is $60 for members and $70 for others. For more information visit chamberswfl.com

MAY 13

HIZZONER SPEAKS: Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson will be the speaker at a meeting of the Real Estate Investment Society. Henderson plans to discuss the City of Palms Stadium, First Street Village

STARTUP GROWTH: Steve Tingiris, an entrepreneur who sold his most recent company Prospect Smarter, will speak at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center’s free May TECH Talk program. The meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. at Microsoft Headquarters, 5426 Bay Center Drive, Suite 700, Tampa. For more TINGIRIS information contact Jen Suereth at 727-547-7340 or email suerethj@tbinnovates.com.

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BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014

BusinessObserverFL.com

40UNDER40 | Where are they now?|

Grand Poobah S amantha Scott remembers working late one Friday night trying to complete a project for an important client. While Scott has burned the midnight oil many evenings, this night was different: It was her birthday. “I remember thinking: How did this happen?” This is a dilemma that every successful entrepreneur faces: The business grows to the point that she can’t do it all. “You get to that breaking point,” Scott explains. Scott’s Fort Myers marketing and public relations firm, Pushing the Envelope, has grown threefold since she was named to the Business Observer’s 40 under 40 list of top young professionals at age 23. Scott, now 29, says she’s better at delegating and has even gone a few days without checking her iPhone 5. “I work to live, not live to work,” she says. Scott says she’s willing to trade profits for a work-life balance. Besides, she says, managing that properly will be beneficial for her clients, too. “To be as good as you can be, you have to check out sometimes,” she says. Scott hired her first employee in 2010 and the staff now totals five including her, plus three interns from Florida Gulf Coast University. “I’ve always grown slowly and strategically,” says Scott, who signs her emails with this title: Grand Poobah (Owner). Some of her long-term clients include high-profile businesses such as the Pincher’s Crab Shack restaurant group, Harley-Davidson dealer Scott Fischer Enterprises and California Closets. Scott is considering moving to larger office space soon.

BY JEAN GRUSS | EDITOR/LEE-COLLIER

Samantha Scott says she’s gotten better at figuring out the work-life balance.

ED CLEMENT

SAMANTHA SCOTT says her Fort Myers marketing and public relations firm, Pushing the Envelope, has grown threefold since 2008. One of the keys to success, Scott says, is to stay focused on what you do best. “Wear your one hat,” she says. When a new project presents itself, she always asks herself: “Is this within our one-hat realm?” For example, customers have asked her for help with technology because her firm designs websites and helps manage their social media efforts. But information technology such as data hosting and software upgrades are not her specialties, so she refers work to Pulse Business Solutions, an IT firm in Fort Myers with whom she’s created a strategic alliance.

Scott says her impressive roster of clients has overcome any issues relating to her relatively young age. “There’s a bit of skepticism until I start talking,” she says. In particular, Scott says she’s focused on delivering detailed analysis of her results for clients. “Everything we do is tested and measured,” she says. “Feel-good is not enough.” Scott continues to be active even though nagging injuries have sidelined her in recent years. “I still really love triathlons,” she says. Scott works out four days a week. “I still run a lot.” Follow Jean Gruss on Twitter @JeanGruss

Blast from the Past A glimpse back at Scott’s answers from the 2008 40 under 40 issue. • Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska • First job: After-hours secretary at my high school, 15 years old. • Favorite book, why?: “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss. It’s encouraging and whimsy at the same time. • Most inspirational book: “Fish” by Stephen Lundin, Ph.D., Harry Paul and John Christensen. • Favorite movie: “Underworld” • Best way to relax and let off steam: Visit my best friend and our favorite city, San Francisco, for weeklong touristy trip of cool sites and good wine. • Type of cell phone: Mogul, through Sprint. It’s my fifth limb, I don’t go anywhere without it. • Three words that describe you: Determined, compassionate and honest (even when it hurts). To see more on the Business Observer’s 40 under 40, scan this QR code or visit businessobserver4040.com

On April 15th, volunteers from SunTrust Bank and Parent Volunteers presented the JA curriculum “Our Community” to the 5th grade classes at Taylor Ranch Elementary School.

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APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014 | BUSINESS OBSERVER

brandstorm

BusinessObserverFL.com

17

BY JAMES R. GREGORY | CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST

Form a council to keep your brand on track How a time-strapped CEO can manage, maintain and maximize his company’s brands with authority. Successful companies are nimble, fastmoving and continuously reinventing themselves to ensure maximum returns and to remain relevant with their customers. New strategies are the hallmark of an ever-changing business landscape. There is good reason why corporations leverage brands to positively impress that intangible asset that occupies some of the most valuable real estate in the world — their consumers’ brains. Brand councils, comprised of knowledge-based personnel, are designed to oversee the implementation of a strategically focused, integrated communications system across all touch points within an organization and with its customers. The most successful branding programs reflect the vision of the CEO, but few CEOs have the time to closely oversee implementation. That responsibility falls to the chief marketing officer (CMO). There are times when periodic oversight by the CEO is not only needed to assure an alignment of brand with the vision but also to provide traction for the campaign where support is less than assured. Forming a brand council can provide a diverse group of corporate thinkers a forum to conceive, discuss, explore, debate, and plan their business strategies in the most conducive atmosphere possible. Within their framework, brand councils can express diverse opinions and perspectives that will generate more effective solutions. Ideally, brand council meetings should be chaired by the CEO or the CMO, who assign responsibility to other members of the council to run various parts of each

meeting. Here is an organization example of a successful brand council at a large global company: 1. Executive brand council — CEO, CMO, CFO, CRO, IR, HR and business unit heads (annual meeting or meet as necessary) The executive brand council is made up of senior officers. Its main role is to restate the message that the brand is the responsibility of the entire organization. When the CEO has a clear and consistent commitment to the brand, that commitment will flow through the various echelons of the corporation as a unified entity. The executive brand council’s primary purpose is to set budgets and to approve overall brand strategy and direction. 2. Communications brand council — global communications and marketing leadership (quarterly meetings) These managers implement the communications programs. The communications brand council has to formulate, coordinate and execute the marketing and communications strategy based on the executive brand council’s approved budget and direction. These meetings are designed to hold the communicators accountable for making sure that goals are met and to identify problems before they happen. 3. President’s brand council — an appointed cross-functional team of business managers (appointed by business unit presidents) to represent the business unit and its

Class

branding needs (annual meetings) The president’s brand council consists of multiple disciplines including: purchasing, graphics, marketing, sales, legal, accounting, procurement, production, administration, training, human resources and public relations – key managers who control all brand touch points. The role of the president’s brand council members is to identify the various requirements of the brand and to evangelize/proselytize the brand back to the various groups they represent. OUTSIDE CONSULTANTS Ultimately, brand councils are designed to oversee the implementation of a more sophisticated and reliable integrated communications system across all touch points within an organization and outwardly to all customers groups. Sometimes a company won’t have certain specialists on staff and will seek outside consultants to fill the role. One of the best brand councils I’ve served on was with Robert Zito when he was the chief marketing and communications officer at the New York Stock Exchange, and later when he held the same position at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Bob included both insiders from the company but also outside consultants who were full participants on the council, which enriches the discussions and adds credibility to the council itself. Some specialists to consider — a lobbyist, or a knowledgeable Washington “beltway” insider, is always helpful to provide perspective on key regulatory issues. No doubt the impact of new technolo-

gies on products and social media is also extremely important to monitor over time as companies grow and diversify. An independent outside IT or social media specialist might have a role on the council. Facilitation of meetings is also something to consider for especially sensitive topics. Many times it is easier for an outside consultant to make a point, or to get a task completed rather than an employee of the company. BRAND COUNCILS WORK FOR ALL SIZES At this point, you should not be thinking this is just for big companies. Brand councils are great ways to get your team members together and to make sure they are all on the same page no matter what size company you manage. If I only had three people in my company, I’d still recommend having a brand council. It is a formal time set aside to discuss your brand strategy without the daily pressures that force tactical decisions rather than long-term strategy development.

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18 commercial real estate | TAMPA BAY | BusinessObserverFL.com

BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; MAY 1, 2014 BY SEAN ROTH | REAL ESTATE EDITOR

PREVIOUS PRICE: $3.35 million, February 2011 LAW FIRM ON DEED: Adams and Reese LLP, St. Petersburg PLANS, DESCRIPTION:

COSTAR

1

1

Loja Real Estate LLC buys Tampa Trader Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

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BUYER: LOJA FL Retail LLC (principal: Tom Engberg), Walnut Creek, Calif. SELLER: CAP Dale Mabry LLC PROPERTY: 3808 W. Swann Ave., Tampa PRICE: $8.18 million PREVIOUS PRICE: $2.7 million, August 2013

3

PLANS, DESCRIPTION:

Loja Real Estate LLC, a subsidiary of the California real estate investment management firm Loja Group LLC, purchased a 12,318-square-foot building housing Trader Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s for $8.18 million. The price equated to $664 per square foot. That figure is higher than the twoyear average price per square foot for retail space ($146) in the Tampa Bay area, according to the CoStar Group. The seller an affiliate of Greenville, S.C.-based Centennial American Properties purchased the former Shapes fitness center on 0.99 acres of land in August and renovated it for the prominent specialty grocer. Trader Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opened the store, its first in Tampa Bay area, on March 21. Loja Real Estate LLC acquired the Tampa store nearly a month after it bought a Trader Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s building in the Chicago suburb of Libertyville, Ill. That 12,529-square-foot store opened in late February. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be more pleased to add these newly developed Trader Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s into our ever-growing single-tenant grocer portfolio,â&#x20AC;? Scott Kyman, vice president of acquisitions for Loja Real Estate, says in a press release. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Trader Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Libertyville serves an affluent greater Chicago community at a wellpositioned location while Trader Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Tampa exemplifies Trader Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s growing footprint in Florida in dense infill trade areas. Both store openings were extremely well received in their local communities.â&#x20AC;? These acquisitions represent the sixth and seventh Trader Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s properties in Loja Real Estateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s portfolio. Loja Group LLC has $200 million in assets under management and its commercial real estate subsidiary has more than $100 million worth of additional properties under contract or in its active pipeline.

2 Publix Super Markets buys Carillon Town Center store

Mike Milano and Ron Schultz of Colliers International Tampa Bay represented the seller. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The greatest investor demand for retail continues to be for grocery-anchored neighborhood centers, especially Publix-anchored centers,â&#x20AC;? Schultz, says in a press release. Publix Super Markets owns a number of its retail store buildings and in several cases the entire shopping centers it anchors.

BUYER: PSM Carillon Town Center LLC (Publix Super Markets Inc.), Lakeland SELLER: Feathersound Development LLC PROPERTY: 120 Carillon Parkway, St. Petersburg PRICE: $5.2 million LAW FIRM ON DEED: GrayRobinson PA, Tampa PLANS, DESCRIPTION:

Publix Super Markets has purchased a freestanding, 28,800-square-foot building at Carillon Town Center for $5.2 million. The price equated to $181 per square foot. That figure is higher than the two-year average price per square foot for retail space ($146) in the Tampa Bay area, according to the CoStar Group. Publix previously leased the space and was offered the first right of purchase. The seller is White Development, a developer of retail investment properties primarily within the Southeast.

3 Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pass Village building sold, future home of CafĂŠ Alma BUYER: Boardwalk Place LLC (principal: Heath Boksen), Clearwater SELLER: Florida Bank PROPERTY: 111 Boardwalk Place W., units 101, 103, 201, 203, 301, 303 and 305, Madeira Beach PRICE: $1.68 million

A company led by Heath Boksen of Clearwater purchased a multilevel, mixed-use commercial and residential condominium building in Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pass Village for $1.68 million. The seller, Florida Bank, had foreclosed on seven of the eight commercial and residential units, totaling 11,000 square feet, in the property. The first floor of the building features a 930-square-foot retail unit and a 1,540-square-foot retail unit occupied by D&D Collectibles. The 5,085-square-foot second floor of the building will house the restaurant CafĂŠ Alma. The third floor contains three vacant residential units. At the time of the sale only 12% of the total 7,555 square feet of retail space was vacant. Frank Boullosa of FAB Realty Group represented the seller and David Kramer of Pridgen Realty Inc. represented the new owner and handled the lease to CafĂŠ Alma. Kramer says after the former owner, Florida Bank, declined to lease the vacant restaurant and former bar location to CafĂŠ Alma, he brought a letter of intent from the restaurant to the buyer as an additional incentive to acquire the property. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Without the CafĂŠ Alma lease, Boardwalk Place LLC would not have been interested,â&#x20AC;? Pridgen wrote in an email to the Business Observer.

ETCâ&#x20AC;Ś â&#x20AC;˘ Pima Enterprises purchased a 14,416-square-foot multitenant office building at 10707 66th St., Pinellas Park for $650,000. Scott Clendening of Commercial Partners Realty Inc. represented the buyer and Stan Newmark of Klein & Heuchan Inc. represented the seller. â&#x20AC;˘ Hawkeye Construction of South Florida Inc. leased 3,000 square feet of industrial space at 985 Harbor Lake Drive, Safety Harbor from Solo Investments LLC. Marty Slavney of Klein & Heuchan Inc. represented the landlord. â&#x20AC;˘ Body Contouring Technologies leased 2,500 square feet of office space at 12037 Whitmarsh Lane, Tampa. Brian Breeding of Cushman & Wakefield represented the tenant. â&#x20AC;˘ Mobile Hi-Tech Wheels leased 6,400 square feet of industrial space in Corporex Distribution Center at 3719 Corporex Park Drive, Tampa from Cobalt Industrial REIT. Mike Davis, Julia Rettig, Tim Callahan and Scott Peek of Cushman & Wakefield represented the landlord.

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APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014 | BUSINESS OBSERVER

commercial real estate | SARASOTA–MANATEE |

BY SEAN ROTH | REAL ESTATE EDITOR

Investment group buys east Parrish land BUYER: FH Parrish 62 LLC (principal: Eric Howell), Sarasota SELLER: SR 62 Holdings LLC (93.6% interest in parcel 1 and all of parcel 2) and Reynold Glanz (6.4% in parcel 1) PROPERTY: 13200, 13250 and 13500 State Road 62, 2623 10th Ave. W. and additional land with no address, Parrish PRICE: $4 million PREVIOUS PRICE: $31 million, March 2005 and $40,000, October 2006 LAW FIRM ON DEED: Greene Hamrick Quinlan & Schermer PA, Bradenton PLANS, DESCRIPTION:

An investment group led by Eric Howell purchased 595.06 acres of grazing land a mile east of U.S. 301 in Parrish for $4 million. The price equated to $6,722 per acre. SR 62 Holdings LLC, a Rancho Mirage, Calif., company owned by Reynold Glanz, purchased much of the property in early 2005 for $31 million. The developer had planned on creating a 1,100-home community on the site, called Cone Ranch. Howell had not replied to a request for comment as of deadline. The purchase entity, FH Parrish 62 LLC, mortgaged the property to Freedom Holdings Manatee LLC for $4.5 million.

Sarasota veterinarian buys Clark Road area Starbucks BUYER: Yoffie LLC (principal: Ronni Tudin), Sarasota SELLER: Venti Holdings LLC

19

BusinessObserverFL.com

location near the hospital. In general, office transactions are up, Fuller says, because sellers have become realistic and end users are seizing upon the more affordable opportunities in the marketplace.

ETC…

COSTAR

PROPERTY: 5825 Derek Ave., Sarasota PRICE: $1.67 million PREVIOUS PRICE: $899,000, November 2013 LAW FIRM ON DEED: Kirk Pinkerton PA, Sarasota PLANS, DESCRIPTION:

A company led by Sarasota veterinarian Dr. Ronni Tudin purchased a 2,712-square-foot Starbucks building for $1.67 million. The price equated to $616 per square foot. That figure is higher than the two-year average price per square foot for retail space ($146) in the Tampa Bay area, according to the CoStar Group. Clint Conway, a senior investment adviser with Sperry Van Ness Commercial Advisory Group, purchased the former KFC building in November and completely refurbished the store for the Seattle coffee giant. The new Starbucks location opened Feb. 7. Tudin had not returned a request for comment prior to deadline. The purchase entity, Yoffie LLC, mortgaged the property to Insignia Bank for $1 million. Ian Black and Steve Horn of Ian Black Real Estate handled the transaction.

CELEBRATING 90 YEARS: 1924 – 2014

Hautamaki & Horiuchi physicians’ office moving to Floyd Street building BUYER: 1843 Floyd Street LLC (principals: Raymond Hautamaki), Sarasota SELLER: Ehlers Enterprises LLP PROPERTY: 1843 Floyd St., Sarasota PRICE: $1.09 million PREVIOUS PRICE: $585,800, December 1993 LAW FIRM ON DEED: Henry P. Trawick PA, Sarasota PLANS, DESCRIPTION:

A company managed by Dr. Raymond Hautamaki purchased a 7,898-square-foot medical office building for $1.09 million. The price equated to $137 per square foot. That figure is more than the twoyear average price per square foot for office space ($115) in the Tampa Bay area, according to the CoStar Group. The two-story former MRI center building was purchased to serve as the new home of the Hautamaki & Horiuchi medical practice, which is currently located at 2130 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. The new owner plans to remodel the interior of the building. Michele Fuller of Ian Black Real Estate handled the transaction. She says one of the more attractive elements of the building for the buyer was its

• CK Franchisee LLC leased 2,669 square feet of retail space at The Market at University Town Center from Tramlaw LLC. John Caragiulo of Hembree & Associates Inc. represented the tenant. • Avesta Properties LLC purchased 0.71 acres of vacant land at 14600 S. Tamiami Trail, North Port from the Church of the Lutheran Confession of North Port FL Inc. for $110,000. Ronald Struthers of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT handled the transaction. • SW Pain & Wellness leased 2,716 square feet of medical office space at 901 Venetia Bay Blvd., Suite 210, Venice. Brad Lindberg of Sperry Van Ness Commercial Advisory Group handled the transaction. • Brent Yoder leased 4,000 square feet of industrial space at 5414 Ashton Court, Unit 1, Sarasota from Rick Frignoca. Jon Kleiber and Terry Eastman of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT handled the transaction. • Avesta Properties LLC purchased four acres of vacant land at 1400 Citizens Parkway, North Port for $60,000. Steve Gant of Riverside Realty represented the seller and Ronald Struthers of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT represented the buyer. • Baird-Chessler Holdings LLC leased 7,119 square feet of office space at 50 Central Ave., Suite 950, Sarasota. Linda Emery of Sperry Van Ness Commercial Advisory Group handled the transaction.

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20 commercial real estate | CHARLOTTE-LEE-COLLIER |

BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014

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Couple buys Englewood’s Rocky Creek Marina from 1-800-Ask-Gary founder BUYER: Warmack Holdings LLC (principals: Andrew and Jessica Warmack), Venice SELLER: MGM Marina LLC PROPERTY: 1990 Placida Road and 1754 Manor Road, Englewood PRICE: $1.15 million PREVIOUS PRICE: $1 million, February 2009 LAW FIRM ON DEED: Lutz Bob & Telfair PA, Sarasota PLANS, DESCRIPTION:

Andrew “Skip” and Jessica Warmack purchased the former Rocky Creek Marina from Gary Kompothecras for $1.15 million. The property features a 6,406-squarefoot commercial building with retail, service/repair and office space. The property also features 60 high-anddry covered boat spaces, 10 uncovered out-of-the-water storage spaces and 20 boat slips. The property has sat unused for the past six years. The Warmacks discovered the marina property when they were house hunting in the area. “We’re planning to rehab it to bring it back to what it used to be,” says Skip Warmack. “We have already been putting in new lights and we’ll start the dock repairs this week.” Warmack says along with the marina services such as repairs, bait and storage, the new owners plan to add boat rentals and possibly a tiki bar with a limited menu and beer and wine sales. The marina is being renamed Placida Marina and the retail portion will be called Skip’s Bait and Tackle. Ken Hoskinson Jr. of Hembree and

BY SEAN ROTH | REAL ESTATE EDITOR

Associates handled the transaction. The purchase entity, Warmack Holdings LLC, mortgaged the property to seller MGM Marina LLC for $1.05 million.

[Development of Regional Impact]. It has great U.S. 41 exposure and was very well constructed.” Saluan plans to market the vacant land for an asking rate of $18 a square foot with $5.75 for common area maintenance.

Moorings Park buys Golden Gate land zoned for retirement community BUYER: The Moorings Inc. (principals: Daniel Lavender, Dr. John Little, Michael Weir, Denise Heinemann, Wilford Hecox, Kent McRae, Patricia Barton, Dr. Sherie Brezina, Michael Hole, Greg Russo and Daniel Spintman), Naples SELLER: Fifth Third Bank PROPERTY: a portion of Golden Gate Parkway east of Goodlette-Frank Road PRICE: $12 million PREVIOUS PRICE: $22 million, December 2005 LAW FIRM ON DEED: Zimmerman Kiser & Sutcliffe, PA, Orlando PLANS, DESCRIPTION:

Naples-based Moorings Park purchased 22.41 acres of vacant land on the south side of Golden Gate Parkway for $12 million. The price equated to $535,475 per acre. In 2009, the properties’ then owner, Caribbean Venture of Naples LLC, rezoned 21.99 acres from agricultural to planned development. Senior Care Development LLC petitioned to change the approvals for the property to create a continuing-care retirement community on the site. However, in July 2012, Fifth Third Bank foreclosed on the property. “We have no current plans [to develop a retirement community],” says Dan Lavender, CEO of Moorings Park. “But we have a 10-year zoning window and plan to do something like it sometime in the future.”

AJS Realty and Harbour Insurance owner, partner buy Coconut Point shops

ETC…

BUYER: The Shoppes at Coconut Point LLC (principals: Andrew and Christina Saluan), Naples SELLER: Fifth Third Bank PROPERTY: 8350 Hospital Drive, Bonita Springs PRICE: $2.25 million PREVIOUS PRICE: $2.5 million, March 2011 LAW FIRM ON DEED: Zimmerman Kiser & Sutcliffe, PA, Orlando PLANS, DESCRIPTION:

Naples-based AJS Realty Group Inc.; William Kastroll, principal of Harbour Insurance in Naples, and Joseph O’Malley of Naples purchased the 25,000-square-foot The Shoppes at Coconut Point in Bonita Springs for $2.25 million. The price equated to $90 per square foot. That figure is less than the twoyear average price per square foot for retail space ($140) in Southwest Florida, according to the CoStar Group. The center is nearly entirely vacant. Its sole tenant is the restaurant Tijuana Flats, which occupies 2,500 square feet. “We’ve been actively watching that property for quite some time, since Fifth Third Bank took it back in foreclosure,” says Andrew Saluan, owner and managing broker of AJS Realty Group. “The timing was just right, they were ready to sell and move on. We like that location; it’s part of the Coconut Point

• South West Refrigeration and Air Services leased 8,000 square feet of industrial space at 5681 Zip Drive, Fort Myers from Peetsa LLC. Scott Miller of CRE Consultants handled the transaction. • Envirotrust LLC purchased a 3,952-square-foot office building at 26711 Dublin Woods Circle, Building 8, Bonita Springs from HMTW Land Fund I LLC for $155,000. Randy Mercer and Brandon Stoneburner of CRE Consultants represented the seller and Matt Stephan of Premier Commercial represented the buyer. • Applied Concepts Unleased Inc. leased 5,000 square feet of industrial space at 2827 S.E. Monroe St., Suite 2871, Stuart in the Taurus Business Center from Taurus Business Center Associates Inc. Scott Dunnuck of CRE Consultants handled the transaction. • Stuart Boatworks LLC leased 6,900 square feet of industrial space at 2827 S.E. Monroe St., Suite 2851, Stuart in the Taurus Business Center from Taurus Business Center Associates Inc. Scott Dunnuck of CRE Consultants handled the transaction. • Artichoke and Co. Catering purchased a 5,400-square-foot, freestanding former Bob Evans Restaurant at 11920 Saradrienne Lane, Bonita Springs from Bob Evans Farms for $545,000. Mike Concilla of Equity Inc. represented the seller.

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APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014 | BUSINESS OBSERVER

BusinessObserverFL.com

commercial real estate | TRANSACTIONS | DEEDS/MORTGAGES The following real estate transactions more than $1,000,000 were filed in Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota county courthouses. The information lists the seller, buyer, amount of sale, mortgage and lender, if available, address and book and page of the document.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY Calusa Growers LLC sold to James Bickett, $7,910,301, agriculture or orchard or grove, 46481, 47271, 47511, 47751 and 47991 Farabee Road, 3990 Chiquita Drive and 47230 Bermont Road, 2256095. American Citrus Products Corp. sold to James Bickett, $6,349,699, cropland and agriculture or orchard or grove, 46000, 47031, 47271, 47750 and 47990 Neal Road, 2256094. MGM Marina LLC sold to Warmack Holdings LLC, $1,150,000, Mortgage: $1,045,000, MGM Marina LLC, airport, bus terminals, marine terminals, piers and marinas, 1990 Placida Road and vacant multifamily residential, 1754 Manor Road, 2257267.

COLLIER COUNTY Fifth Third Bank sold to The Moorings Inc., $12,000,000, vacant residential, 18A-3, 18C, 18D, 18E, 18F, a portion of lots 7 and 8, Naples Improvement Co.’s Little Farms Subdivision, 18G4966955. Lo Exclusivo LLC sold to Gordon River Apartments LLC, $5,200,000, multifamily, 1400 Fifth Ave., North Naples, 4961106. Creekside East Inc. sold to White Oaks Real Estate Investments of Southwest Florida LLC, $3,798,432, Mortgage: $18,900,000, GriffinAmerican Healthcare Finance LLC, vacant commercial, 4.36 acres, tract 5 Creekside Commerce Park East and in SEC 27-48S-25E, 4961947. The Family Church of SW Florida Inc. sold to BLC Naples LLC, $3,800,000, church, 8882 Collier Blvd., 4967419. Naples View LLC sold to 6900 Airport Pulling LLC, $1,950,000, Mortgage: $3,500,000 (includes additional land), United Bank, vacant commercial, 6900 Airport Road N., 4962964.

pasture, 50.99 acres, 12002, 12119 and 12235 S. U.S. 301 and mobile home park, 12231 S. U.S. 301, Riverview, 2014115347. 6503 LLC sold to Hillsborough County, $3,173,342, pasture land, 6321 and 6505 State Road 674 and a portion of County Road 579, Wimauma, 2014109517. Tampa Enterprises Inc. sold to Howard & Morrison LLC, $3,100,000, fitness center, 936 S. Howard Ave. and parking lot, 2202 W. Bristol Ave., Tampa, 2014107648. 9403 U.S. HWY 301 LLC sold to 301 & Gibsonton LLC, $2,000,000, Mortgage: $2,815,000, Bay Cities Bank, strip center, 9403 S. U.S. 301 and mixeduse retail, 9613 and 9617 S. U.S. 301, Riverview, 2014121638. Peachtree Land Holdings Ltd. sold to JCW Ye Group LLC, $1,880,000, restaurant, 926 Providence Road, Brandon, 2014121842.

James Connell and Southern Hospitality Real Estate Inc. sold to D.R. Horton Inc., $3,500,000,

PINELLAS COUNTY

arena, skating rink and gymnasium, 5651 38th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, 18368-1772. Sein Enterprises Inc. sold to Palm Harbor Professional Center LLC, $2,150,000, general office, 36350 and 36400 U.S. 19 N., Palm Harbor, 18359-0112. Prominent Investment Group LLC sold to D&J Realty Properties LLC, $2,030,000, Mortgage: $380,000, Platinum Bank, single building store, 1433 Main St., Dunedin, 18358-2529. CSC/PDL Pinellas Park LLC sold to Auto Wash Services Inc., $1,950,000, commercial land, 6357, 6379 and 6391 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park, 18357-0381. Coco Cola Refreshments USA Inc. sold to Gandy Industrial LLC, $1,800,000, processing plant, 2950 Gandy Blvd. N., St. Petersburg, 18344-1140. North South Properties of Hartsville LLC sold to Russell and Muriel Gessow as co-trustees of the Gessow Family Trust, $1,250,000, Mortgage: $600,000, Wells Fargo Bank National Association, auto service center, 11601 47th St. N., Pinellas Park, 18365-0543. Biel REO LLC sold to DAG Bros Inc., $1,100,000, Mortgage: $2,000,000, Terence McCarthy as trustee of the Terence J. McCarthy Family Trust, single building store, 204 Boardwalk Place E. and an additional portion of Boardwalk Place, Madeira Beach, 18347-0805.

SARASOTA COUNTY

LEE COUNTY

Feather Sound Golf LLC sold to Premier Club Holdings LLC, $5,150,000, par-3 golf Course, 2201 Feather Sound Drive and an additional portion of Feather Sound Court, Clearwater, 18342-1530.

Jamalapa Properties LLC sold to All Event Rental LLC, $3,000,000, Mortgage: $162,500 and $130,000, Synovus Bank (Tampa) restaurant, 7113 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 2014037373.

Waterford Landing Acquisitions LLC sold to D.R. Horton Inc., $12,725,000, lots 1-221, Lindsford, phase 1, 2014000065940.

Citrus Grove Affordable LLC sold to Citrus Gove Apartments LLC, $3,535,000, apartments, 731 15th St. S., St. Petersburg, 18355-0241.

Bay 02 LLC sold to VA Eagle Landing LLC, $8,244,000, community shopping center, 6690-6704 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers, 2014000063460.

Real Property Holdings Pinellas County FL LLC sold to Gold Sun Hospitality LLC, $2,800,000, hotel or motel, 37611 U.S. 19 N., Palm Harbor, 18344-0094.

Bonus Properties Inc. sold to Holderness Enterprises LLC, $2,550,000, Mortgage: $2,040,000, Gateway Bank of Southwest Florida, duplex or villas, 124 Columbus Blvd., units 1-9 and two family dwelling, 110 Avenida Veneccia, Sarasota, 2014036244.

Waterside Manatee Bay Holdings LLC sold to LB WBB LLC, $2,880,000, government lot 3 in SEC 3-47S-24E, 2014000064803.

33550 U.S. Highway 19 North Holdings LLC sold to Palm Harbor Commons LLC, $2,500,000, Mortgage: $2,000,000, Wells Fargo Bank, strip store, 33470 and 33510 U.S. 19 N., single building store, 33550 U.S. 19, fast food restaurant, 33420 U.S. 19 N. and a portion of Green Valley Road, Palm Harbor, 18337-1305.

Lee County Enterprises LLC sold to Colonial at Metro LLP, $2,200,000, grazing land, 42.38 acres, 10631 Metro Parkway, Fort Myers, 2014000063482.

Robert Lynch as bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg sold to Taylor Morrison of Florida Inc., $4,000,000, crops, a portion of Cameron Crest Drive west of Sheldon Road, 15.25 acres, 2014116939.

Collier Tat Inc. sold to United Oil Co. Inc., $1,450,000, Mortgage: $1,200,000, Frank Alliaga, retail, 22911 State Road 54, Lutz, 9018-0196.

Feathersound Development LC sold to PSM Carillon Town Center LLC, $5,200,000, supermarket and store, 120 Carillon Parkway, St. Petersburg, 18355-1940.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY

Tama Spruce LLC sold to NR Spruce Property Owner LLC, $5,000,000, vacant commercial, 4310 W. Spruce St., Tampa, 2014111998.

Holiday Sun Properties Ltd. LLLP sold to Local Holiday LLC, $2,610,000, retail, 2513 U.S. 19, Holiday, 9015-3965.

McInturf Enterprises Inc. sold to Panther Trace Plaza Inc., $1,250,000, vacant commercial, 12512 S. U.S. 301, Riverview, 2014109824.

Fifth Third Bank sold to The Shoppes at Coconut Point LLC, $2,250,000, community shopping center, 8350 Hospital Drive, Bonita Springs, 2014000072250.

CAP Dale Mabry LLC sold to LOJA FL Retail LLC, $8,180,000, vacant commercial, 3808 W. Swann Ave., Tampa, 2014121728.

PASCO COUNTY

Tropicana Redevelopment LLC sold to Tropicana Block St. Pete LLC, $12,000,000, general office building, 25 Second N. St. Petersburg, 18355-2335.

TwinEagles Developments AGR LLC sold to Minto Communities LLC, $1,258,526.40, lots 9, 10, 13, 22, 38, 39, 40 and 41, TwinEagles, 4963642.

CCP Legacy LLC sold to FL St. Moritz LLC, $11,000,000, Mortgage: $8,250,000, Trust Co., in SEC 4-28S-19E formerly known as the Legacy at Tampa Condominium, 2014109642.

Sarabay Associates LLLP sold to D.R. Horton Inc., $1,380,000, lots 52-55, 57-59, 61-64, 85-88 and 102-104 Legends Bay, 02515-4654.

Village at Ybor City LLC sold to Ybor Land LLC, $1,450,000, vacant residential, lots 3-13, block 12, Thurman’s East Ybor Subdivision, 2014103822.

EverBank sold to Pine Railhead Holdings LLC, $1,810,000, light manufacturing or small equipment, 1486, 1490, 1494, 1498 and 1502 Rail Head Blvd., in Rail Head Industrial Park, 4962093.

6919 RP Associates LLC sold to Garden Isles Tampa Apartments LLC, $12,360,000, Mortgage: $9,225,000, Arbor Realty Arbor Realty SR Inc., multifamily residential, 6919 Bonair Drive, Tampa, 2014108063.

HRK Holdings LLC and HRK Industries LLC as debtors in possession of the estate sold to Allied New Technologies 2 Inc., $3,876,600, in SEC 6-33S18E, 02514-7815.

David Resch, individually and as trustee of a Florida Land Trust Agreement sold to Resch Land Trust No. 1, $1,600,000, office, 501 N. Reo St., Tampa, 2014112878.

J. Kent Manley sold to Jerry Nichols as trustee of the Jerry F. Nichols Revocable Trust, $2,650,332.21, vacant commercial, 17.46 acres, 12331 Bonita Beach Road S.E. also known as the southeast corner of Bonita Beach Road Southeast and Interstate 75, Bonita Springs, 2014000066268.

CFLP Hunters Ridge LLC sold to MIC HR LLC, $23,000,000, multifamily residential, 1400 Plantation Blvd., Plant City and vacant commercial, 2014109018.

BY SEAN ROTH | REAL ESTATE EDITOR

TI Resort LLC sold to Which Treasure Island Owner LLC, $16,400,000, Mortgage: $15,000,000, JPMorgan Chase Bank National Association, condo conversion motel or hotel, 10650 Gulf Blvd., various units, Treasure Island, 18357-2674.

Pilot Bank sold to Kane Capital LLC, $1,025,000, Mortgage: $787,500, Colorado Business Bank, warehouse, 3609-3619 E. 10th Ave., Tampa, 2014109159.

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Swann Avenue Properties LLC sold to Moonstar 2100 LLC, $2,178,600, Mortgage: $2,600,000, Community Southern Bank, bowling alley, pool hall,

Venti Holdings LLC sold to Yoffie LLC, $1,670,400, Mortgage: $1,000,000, Insignia Bank, commercial use, 5825 Derek Ave., Sarasota, 2014041911. BHER Family Limited Partnership sold to Exxxtreme LLC, $1,280,000, Mortgage: $1,088,000, Synovus Bank, warehouse and office, 1523 Edgar Place, Sarasota, 2014036056. Lennar Homes LLC sold to Sam Rodgers Homes Inc., $1,148,700, lots 7-10, 12, 13, 49-50, 52, 339-343, 346, 353 and 355, Gran Paradiso, phase 1, 2014037334.

Palm Cove Developers of Southwest Florida LLC sold to Neal Communities of Southwest Florida LLC, $1,615,000, lots 20, 45, Seminole Gardens, 2014000061623. Avalon Office Park Developers LLC sold to AMA Dental LLC, $1,128,000, Mortgage: $935,000, First-Citizens Bank & Trust Co., office, 8900 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers, 2014000069281.

MANATEE COUNTY HRK Holdings LLC and HRK Industries LLC as debtors in possession of the estate sold to Manatee Bulk Storage LLC, $4,076,859.17, Mortgage: $3,600,000, Florida Federal Land Bank Association FLCA, in SEC 6-33S-18E, 02514-7815. SR 62 holdings LLC (93.6% interest in parcel 1 and all of parcel 2) and Reynold Glanz (6.4% in parcel 1) sold to FH Parrish 62 LLC, $4,000,000, Mortgage: $4,500,000, Freedom Holdings Manatee LLC, grazing land, 160 acres, 13500 State Road 62; 295 acres, 13250 State Road 62 and 2623 10th Ave. W.; 1.45 acres, 13200 State Road 62 and 138.61 acres of additional land with no address, Parrish, 2516-3944.

Opportunity to Operate and/or Develop

Warm Mineral Springs

12200 San Servando Ave., North Port, FL Warm Mineral Springs in Sarasota County is known internationally for its warm mineral-rich water. More than 80,000 people visited Warm Mineral Springs last year. Warm Mineral Springs is an established operation, with opportunity for growth and development, close to Gulf beaches, Interstate 75 and other Florida attractions.

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Copies of the solicitation (#142723CG) are available from Sarasota County’s eProcure site: https://eprocure.scgov.net

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The owners are seeking creative responses for the operation and/or development of this unique property. Responses are due May 23 at 5 p.m.


22 corporatereport |

BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014

BusinessObserverFL.com

Hillsborough Title buys CornerStone Title Hillsborough Title has acquired CornerStone Title in Lakewood Ranch. This marks the fourth acquisition in four months for the Tampa Bay-area title agency and its strategic expansion into the Sarasota-Bradenton area. Mary Howard, founder of CornerStone Title, will continue to serve as relationship manager for the local operation, which will retain the CornerStone Title name. “In my investigation of the Sarasota/ Manatee County area, CornerStone Title’s name kept coming up as one of the premier agencies,” Aaron Davis, president and CEO of Hillsborough Title, says in a press release. “Its quality of service, agency marketing, and moral and ethical values are in perfect alignment with

AAMP of America buys U.K.’s Armour Automotive AAMP of America, a Clearwater portfolio company of Audax Private Equity, has acquired Armour Automotive Ltd. from consumer electronics group Armour Group Plc. Headquartered in Hampshire, U.K, Armour Automotive designs and distributes branded in-vehicle connectivity and audio products. Armour Automotive products are sold to installers and retailers in the automotive, agricultural, leisure and commercial markets, through several brands, including Autoleads, iO, Radiomobile and Veba. AAMP is a supplier of a broad spectrum of car audio integration technologies as well as aftermarket audio accessories and mobile audio/video components. This is AAMP’s sixth add-on acquisition since Audax’s initial acquisition of AAMP in November 2006. “The acquisition of Armour will help build AAMP into a global platform, expand our product offering into the European and OEM markets, and broaden our technical capabilities,” Ron Freeman, CEO of AAMP, says in a FREEMAN press release.

Transamerica Financial Advisors settles SEC overcharge complaint The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reached a settlement with St. Petersburg-based financial services firm Transamerica Financial Advisors over charges it improperly calculated advisory fees and overcharged clients. According to SEC examinations and a subsequent investigation, Transamerica Financial Advisors offered discounts designed to reduce the fees that clients owed to the firm when they increased their assets in certain investment programs. The firm also permitted clients to combine the values of related accounts in order to get the discounts. However, Transamerica failed to process every combination (aggregation) request by clients and also had conflicting policies on

U.S. Army awards Dais Analytic grant for watercleaning study Odessa-based advanced materials company Dais Analytic Corp. has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Army for a six-month, Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant. The grant will pay for Dais Analytic to study the application of its NanoClear water-cleaning process for the needs of field-deployed Army units. The U.S. Army is looking for an energy efficient and low-maintenance method to repurpose the gray water, created by a number of daily military uses, into potable drinking water. Dais’s Aqualyte material has shown the ability to separate most contaminants from water. The company’s pilot

whether representatives were required to pass on to clients the savings from discounts. “Transamerica failed to properly aggregate client accounts so that they could receive a fee discount, and this systemic breakdown caused retail investors to overpay for advisory services in thousands of client accounts,” Julie Riewe, co-chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit, says in a press release. As a result, Transamerica Financial Advisors failed to discount clients properly over the past several years, according to the SEC. Transamerica has agreed to settle the SEC’s charges. The firm reviewed client records and has reimbursed 2,304 current and former client accounts with refunds and credits totaling $553,624 including interest. Transamerica has also agreed to pay an additional $553,624 penalty. water site, Dais-East, located at a Pasco County wastewater treatment facility, reportedly played a key role in the company receiving the grant.

DataMentors hires former KBM Group exec Tampa-based DataMentors LLC has hired Tim Tully as its regional director for the Midwest. Tully has more than 16 years’ experience in database marketing and analytics. Most recently, he served in sales leadership roles at KBM Group and Acxiom. While at KBM Group, Tully served as director of business development, leading new partner and customer acquisition strategies. He is also credited with significantly expanding Acxiom’s data services market share.

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Weller Residential, a St. Petersburgbased multifamily real estate investment and property management company, has appointed Lori Krull as president of the newly formed division Weller Management. In her new position, Krull will be responsible for managing operations and growing Weller’s third-party management footprint. Prior to joining Weller, she served as the president of WestWind Property Management, a private firm that owns and manages 4,800 units across six states. Krull also previously served as the director of operations for Greystar, which handled third-party operations for 8,000 units throughout the Tampa Bay area. Since its launch in 2012, Weller has acquired seven properties and manages more than 1,500 units.

our agency’s core values. Cornerstone Title has a strong foothold in the Lakewood Ranch area, and is a strategically placed office for the convenience of our Realtor and builder clients.” With the CornerStone Title acquisition, Hillsborough Title currently has 14 locations in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco and Manatee counties. It also has more than 110 employees.

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Weller forms third-party management, hires new president for division

BY SEAN ROTH | RESEARCH EDITOR

A Better View of Business

BusinessObserverFL.com


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014 | BUSINESS OBSERVER

BusinessObserverFL.com

out of the office | CEO EMERITUS |

23

BY MARK GORDON | DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR

GLOBAL TOUCH

LORI SAX

Sarasota resident ROB WEISBERG was the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Congo from 2006 to 2008.

After a Foreign Service career with stints everywhere from Moscow to Indonesia, Rob Weisberg can speak five languages. He can also speak with authority on a host of leadership and management principles.

A

26-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, capped with an ambassadorship, was essentially a lifelong lesson in leadership for Robert Weisberg. A part-time Sarasota resident, now retired from government, Weisberg started his career in 1982 in what was then Bombay, India. He left the service in 2008 at the pinnacle of his field after he served two years as Ambassador to the Republic of Congo. It was technically a political appointment that required both a nomination from President George W. Bush and U.S. Senate approval. But Weisberg is an anomaly in that he earned his post through his Foreign Service expertise and experience — not by a large donation to a politician or political party. The long list of countries Weisberg has held leadership positions in include Lithuania, Poland and Indonesia, where he was stationed on Sept. 11, 2001. He was deputy chief of mission in Finland, and he worked in Norway for three of that country’s most famous moments: The Oslo Peace Accords; Nelson Mandela’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in 1993; and the 1994

“”

Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Weisberg spent a few years in private industry after the left the State Department, when he ran a global compliance unit for Nokia-Siemens. Weisberg, 63, recently discussed his career and the leadership lessons with the Business Observer. Edited excerpts of the conversation follow. CULTURE CLASH: Weisberg, in working with everyone from high-level foreign dignitaries to U.S. State Department employees, cultivated an oft-overlooked skill among harried executives: conflict resolution. It was a delicate balance of massaging egos, holding people accountable to rules and regulations and, especially, knowing when to pick battles. “People don’t like to be told no,” says Weisberg. “People don’t like to live under perceived inequities. But I realized conflict wasn’t the way to go if you wanted to have a well-run organization.” COMFORT LEVEL: Arguments are second nature to Weisberg, an attorney by training. Yet his listening skills, not his oratory chops, were his greatest asset overseas. “The ability to make people feel comfortable

with you is the most important thing,” he says. “That doesn’t mean you have to be milquetoast.” LIE DETECTOR: When Weisberg started out with the Foreign Service in India, part of his responsibility was to interview people who sought to come to America. It was a lesson in reading people. “I heard some wild stories,” Weisberg says. “Some were tourists, students or investors. Others were just plain lying. They wanted to just make it to the U.S. This country is the beacon to many.” CALM VOICE: Weisberg’s first supervisory role overseas was at the U.S Consulate in Milan, when he was 37 years old. He oversaw U.S. State Department employees who worked there, where he helped staff find housing and health care. He also coordinated relationships with the alphabet soup of U.S. federal agencies that had a presence in Milan. That included the USDA, U.S. Customs, the DEA and the Secret Service. All told, Weisberg spent a chunk of his four years in charge in Milan putting out turf wars. “It was a learning experience,” he says. “There was a lot of sparring.”

HARSH REALITY: The next stop after India, in 1984, was Moscow — a time Weisberg says was exciting from a career perspective, but for the Russian people it was “exponentially grim.” Weisberg, who speaks Russian, lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment on the south side of the city. He recalls the long lines portrayed in movies for Russians to get everything from toilet paper to a piece of cheese were a reality. “Moscow was a challenge,” he says. “They didn’t have much.” One big takeaway Weisberg had from Russia for was perspective about life in the States. Says Weisberg: “I wrote a letter to my mom a few times telling her every American ought to be required to live here.” POWER PLAY: Weisberg believes the traditional way to become a U.S. ambassador to a foreign nation, big donations to a political party and candidate, is wrong. “It’s really demoralizing,” he says, to people who dedicate their careers to the Foreign Service to see money buy a powerful job. He says he’s worked for some good ambassadors, and some who were not so good, “who just wanted the title.”

People don’t like to live under perceived inequities. But I realized conflict wasn’t the way to go if you wanted to have a well-run organization. Rob Weisberg | Former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Congo


24

BUSINESS OBSERVER | APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2014

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April 24 issue  

Business Observer's April, 24, 2014 issue

April 24 issue  

Business Observer's April, 24, 2014 issue

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