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STRONG MEDICINE Competition among Northwest Florida’s hospitals has resulted in better medical care — and longer lives — for residents of the region

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>> getting the most out of that BP claim >> franchises offer stability for budding business owners >> Jackson County farmers look to the satsuma for economic revival

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aug/sep 2010

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If cus usto t me to m rs like whatt the hey y se ee o on n pa p ape p r, they’ll seek you ou ut in per erso so on. n. Rowl Ro wland d Pu Publ blis ishi hing ng works wit ith h yo ou tto o d de esign and produce dynamic c pr prin in nt mate ma t riials that inform, inspire and inc nc citte. And our creative solutions will sh An how wca c asse e you ur business without strrai aini n ng ni g yo y our ur b budget. Call (8 (850 50)) 87 8788 05 554 5 or or visi vi s t ro r wl w an andp dpub ubli lish shin ing. g.co com m to toda day. y.

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Our Track Record is Proven AS NORTH FLORIDA NATIVES with more than 50 combined years of experience in state government and the legislative process, Doug Bruce and Jon Steverson strategically engage decision makers to accomplish your objectives. For decades, Doug Bruce and Associates has consistently earned the trust and support of a broad range of private and public clients.

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850 Magazine • August – September 2010

IN THIS ISSUE

AL L W R A P P E D UP Doug McMurray earns the privilege of being a PakMail franchisee every day. Go inside the world of franchises in our feature, starting on page 34.

850 FEATURES aking Care of Patients 26 THospitals across Northwest Florida are expanding

Photo by scott holstein

to meet the medical needs of their fast-growing communities. And many have made the sound business decision to develop expertise in a particular health care niche that caters to their patient population. The good news for patients is that they can now find specialized medical services — from cancer and cardiac treatment centers to pediatric emergency rooms and intensive care units — within miles, not hours, of their homes. The result: an untold number of lives being saved. By Linda Kleindienst

wning a McBusiness 34 OStarting a new business in this era of economic uncertainty is risky. Instead of embarking on a solo entrepreneurial journey, scores of budding business owners are turning to the world of franchises. While it can be costly to buy into a business that bears someone else’s name or trademark, it can also provide a level of comfort. Corporate headquarters provide a deep network of support, including a manual on how to run the business, and in many cases have already conducted a local marketing analysis and demographic research. By Jason Dehart

On the Cover: Pediatric surgeon Dr. Michael Taylor, standing in Gulf Coast Medical Center’s new pediatric emergency room, is symbolic of the hospital’s new focus on children. Photo by Scott Holstein

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850 Magazine • August – September 2010

IN THIS ISSUE

55

57 14

In This Issue

Departments

9F  rom the Publisher + Letters to 850 78 Local Business News 81 Pay It Forward 82 The Last Word from the Editor

The (850) Life

11 Janet Watermeier is busy helping to shape the economic future of Northwest Florida. By Jason Dehart

business speak

45 Once a prosperous farm community, Gadsden County is desperate to lure new business to the area — but there aren’t many takers.

12 Dale Brill, president of the Florida Chamber Foundation and former chief marketing officer for VISIT FLORIDA, gives his perspective on how Northwest Florida’s tourism industry is handling outfall from the oil spill.

FORGOTTEN COAST

IT’S THE LAW

CAPITAL

51 A new historical boat building shop funded through a state grant program may help breathe life into Apalachicola’s working waterfront.

BAY

MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES

18 How important is it for your company to have a strategic plan — and how do you go about putting one together? By Tim Collie and Linda Kleindienst

14 If your business has been hurt by the oil spill, don’t be shy about making a claim for reimbursement. Some advice on how to prepare for what could be a long legal siege. By John Kennedy

THE HUMAN ELEMENT

22 Key businesses in Northwest Florida have become a lot more security conscious since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. By Triston V. Sanders

57 Engineers at the Naval Surface Warfare Center team up with local defense contractors to save lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

EXECUTIVE INTERVIEWS

EMERALD COAST

63 Renegade Performance Center in Pensacola is one of only five shops in the country authorized to customize Mustangs coming right off the assembly line.

I-10

71 Once known as the Satsuma Capital of the World, Jackson County farmers hope to soon regain that title.

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48 Sean Doughtie shares the story of Taproot Creative and why he was hiring employees during the Great Recession. 55 Elected as the first woman president of the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association, Taunya James now has the daunting task of fighting to keep her fellow oystermen employed.

60 James Kerley talks about the importance of community colleges in Northwest Florida’s economic development. 68 He’s a major in the Air Force, but Matt Butler is also an inventor who puts fellow veterans to work. 75 His experience with building roads helped Darryl Carpenter come up with an innovative way to remove oil from the Gulf.

Photos by Scott Holstein and courtesy U.S. Marines

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Here today. Here tomorrow.

850 THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE OF NORTHWEST FLORIDA

AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2010

Vol. 2, No. 6

Publisher Brian E. Rowland

Editor Linda Kleindienst

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Manager of finance Angela Jarvis HR/Administration

CLIENT SERVICE Shannon Grooters REPRESENTATIVE

assistant Saige Roberts creative director Executive Assistant to McKenzie Burleigh the president/publisher ProDUCTION coordinator Carlin Trammel

TRAFFIC coordinator Kara O’Ferrell

Senior designer Tisha Keller

graphic designers Beth Nabi, Marc Thomas, Daniel Vitter

Network Administrator Daniel Vitter RECEPTIONIST Lisa Sostre

Web Site rowlandpublishing.com

850 Magazine is published bi-monthly by Rowland Publishing, Inc. 1932 Miccosukee Road, Tallahassee, FL 32308. 850/878-0554. 850 Magazine and Rowland Publishing, Inc. are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photography or artwork. Editorial contributions are welcomed and encouraged but will not be returned. 850 Magazine reserves the right to publish any letters to the editor. Copyright August 2010 850 Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Member, Florida Magazine Association and seven Chambers of Commerce throughout the region.

one-year Subscription $24.95 (SIX issues) (850) 878-0554 850 Magazine can be purchased at Books-A-Million, Borders and Barnes and Noble in Tallahassee, Destin, Ft. Walton Beach, Pensacola and Panama City and at our Tallahassee office.

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Proud member Florida Magazine Association and Florida Press Association


Photo by David Eggleston

From the Publisher Each year, Rowland Publishing sends out 22 bulk mailings of our various magazines — each mailing totaling between 15,000 and 23,000 copies. We also send out thousands of first-class mailings of invoices, priority packets and statements each year. In short, this business is a good client of the U.S. Postal Service. In round numbers, we invest more than $100,000 a year in our mailings. Over the past decade, the postal rate for first-class mail has increased at a steady pace, going from 34 cents in 2001 to 44 cents in 2010 — a 29-percent increase. Now postal officials want to tack on another 2 cents. Bulk mailing costs have also increased over the past decade, and now periodicals face an 8 percent rate hike. Also proposed is a 5.1 percent increase for catalogs and a 23 percent hike for parcels. These rate hikes, if approved in early October by the Postal Regulatory Commission, will raise about $3 billion a year. That is less than half of what is needed to overcome a $7 billion funding shortfall. (Projected losses over the next decade: $238 billion.) For this small business, the resulting impact of any rate hikes on our bottom line would be significant. We have chosen a directmail method of circulation because that way we can target a specific demographic, and we know exactly who is getting our magazines. That’s one of the main reasons that advertisers invest their dollars with the many titles that Rowland Publishing produces — because they know the exact audience they are branding their products and services to appeal to. I don’t really have an issue with investing money to mail out our magazines, because I know its value. It’s a cost of doing business, and I would venture to guess that other businesses using this model would agree. But what does cause me concern is the ongoing — and seemingly never-ending — increase in rates. The rates go up, but we hear little discussion about cost savings that the Postal Service could implement — savings that could be passed along to its business customers. I would suggest that most all businesses in this country have had to make a significant reduction in their overhead over the past couple of years. And, most likely, they have not increased the costs they have passed on to their customers at the same pace as the Postal Service. What could possibly be done to turn this situation around? From my uninformed corner of the world, here are some things that come to mind. First is eliminating mail delivery or pick-up on Tuesdays. Historically, my mail arriving that day tends to be more periodicals and catalogues. I can wait the extra 24 hours to get those items or, for that matter, to mail out anything. Another option would be closing all post offices at noon on Wednesday.

The Postal Service has already laid off more than 40,000 workers, and there have been suggestions that Saturday delivery be eliminated. But I am sure there are many other reduction measures within the realm of possibilities — cutbacks that could be made to help shield small businesses, which form the backbone of the American economy and have already significantly tightened their financial belts. In the near future, they’re already facing higher payouts in taxes and health care costs. I feel that business owners are doing our part in keeping the American dream alive by helping people stay employed, paying our taxes and, recently, working twice as hard as ever to ensure that we keep bringing in the same amount of annual revenue in spite of the recession and the Gulf oil spill. I just wish that those whose incomes rely on our hard work would do the same. That seems fair and reasonable to me. That’s my 2 cents for today. I’ll probably need to save a lot of those pennies so I can send out my invoices by first-class mail on Jan. 2 next year.

Brian Rowland browland@rowlandpublishing.com

FROM THE MAILBAG I cannot thank you enough for the wonder-

ful article in 850 on the economic impact of the arts (Capital corridor feature, June-July 2010). At the same time I want to reiterate how incredibly impressed I am with the magazine as a whole. Kudos to you for bringing this to Northwest Florida. Peggy Brady, Tallahassee

I’ve really enjoyed your magazine and think you’re doing a great job. As a business owner and resident of Holmes County I feel a little left out though. Here in Ponce De Leon we have some of the most beautiful springs in the world. We’ve got Little League baseball and high school girls basketball teams that have regularly qualified for state competition. We’ve right now got several high school kids getting ready to go to Gillette, Wyo., to compete in the national high school rodeo finals. I know we’re a small town and we don’t have any beaches but we are investing in what really counts, our children along with our future, and we are very proud of them. Thanks again for a great job.

Bob Arban, Ponce De Leon

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Executive Mindset

) The (850 Life   

s urvive and thrive

Rain Maker Janet Watermeier, PANAMA CITY Director, Bay County Economic Development Alliance

E 1

3 4

1. First job? I was 13 and living in Madrid in a dorm. I collected laundry for the whole dorm, carried it to the washroom, and once it was washed, I would carry it back and distribute it.

4. Managing the ‘to-do’:

2. When do you relax? I’m

5. Role model: My mother. She

one of those people who loves what I do and probably works too much, but it’s fun for me, particularly when we’re making progress.

3. Last vacation? Over

Memorial Day weekend I visited my mother in Punta Gorda, and prior to that my husband and I took a nice cruise. Traveling is something we like to do when we have the opportunity and the time.

Photo by SCOTT HOLSTEIN

I try to manage it all on the computer. I have a touchscreen tablet notebook, and you can physically write into it. You can write on the laptop and save it and have it with you all the time. is a wonderful lady. She’ll be 80 and works every day teaching computer software, mostly to seniors. She taught us to care about people and be flexible in everything we did. You carry those values forever.

6. Definition of ‘homecooked meal’: Anything you

can cook in a microwave. Cooking is not one of my strengths.

6

7. Retail therapy: I spend time

in both the Panama City Mall and Pier Park, and both are great places to shop. If I want to go to the beach, have fun and walk the streets, I go to Pier Park, and if I’m shopping for business clothes, I tend to go to the Panama City Mall.

8. On the bookshelf: “The

Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy.” It tracks a T-shirt from the time it starts as cotton in Texas, then as fabric in North Carolina, and moves overseas to be constructed and dyed, and shipped back. It’s fascinating, all the hands that touch it in this global economy.

9. Newspaper or blog? Online newspapers.

ven when Janet Watermeier is relaxing, she’s thinking — perhaps subconsciously — about economic activity. “I happen to live on St. Andrews Bay, and looking over the water, it’s beautiful to watch the boats and planes go by,” she said. “All the activity is very relaxing.” Watermeier was hired in 2009 to oversee what might be considered the dawn of a brave new era in Panama City as the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport makes its presence felt across the region. Planes, boats and even highways all play into that broad economic tapestry. “I thought it would be fun to be here for the next 10 to 15 years and to help shape the economic future of not only Bay County but all of Northwest Florida,” she said. “You have to think in terms of regions today. Northwest Florida is a unique part of Florida.” Watermeier has more than 15 years of experience dealing with private and public economic development. When she was the economic development director of Lee County in Southwest Florida, she brokered the creation of almost 5,000 jobs in 105 target industries. However, during her time in South Florida she constantly kept her eyes on the growth potential of Bay County. “I’ve been watching it for 12 years,” she said. “It’s an incredible area between Pensacola and Tallahassee. There’s available land, people have great hospitality and they have a desire to grow in a positive way.” — Jason Dehart

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Executive Mindset

Business Speak O, if you raise this house against this house, It will the woefullest division prove That ever fell upon this cursed earth. (Shakespeare’s Richard II, IV.i.135-148)

As Florida’s Deepwater Horizon crisis continues to unfold, a postmortem evaluation suggests that the power and strength of a unified effort should be revisited by many who have cast aside lessons learned from history, be it five or 500 years past. Thought by many to be the ultimate political strategist, Machiavelli warned in 1532 that “I do not believe that factions can ever be of use; rather it is certain that when the enemy comes upon you in divided cities you are quickly lost.” There is much to be relearned about the costs of division. First, let’s acknowledge what is at stake. According to Dun & Bradstreet’s preliminary analysis, the oil spill has the potential to affect approximately 1.25 million businesses in Florida located in the 23 counties along the Gulf Coast. They employ 28 percent of the state’s work force — approximately 3.65 million Floridians. That’s the equivalent of Florida State University’s Doak Campbell Stadium filled to capacity more than 44 times. But sometimes it is an understatement that best portrays reality. Standing on the coastline back in June with just the early signs of oil covering Pensacola Beach, one Floridian put her head in her hands and cried, “This is just awful.” Her simple expression of grief accurately captured and generously shared the sense of loss that pie charts and line graphs cannot. Early and justified criticism aimed at BP pointed to a lack of transparency and quickly moved to focus on failed efforts to stop or contain the flow of oil pouring into our waters. And, like the oil, the poison of

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DALE a. BRILL, ph.d. Brill is the president of the Florida Chamber Foundation. Previously he’s served as the director of the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade & Economic Development and chief marketing officer for VISIT FLORIDA.

vilification rapidly made its way across the Gulf Coast to Florida. Signs of partitioning first emerged when criticism of the state’s tourism marketing efforts leading up to Memorial Day made headlines, and not without reason. The natural, yet unrealized, fear was that a financial disaster was imminent in the absence of a significant advertising push to market Northwest Florida’s pristine beaches. Post-holiday reports from Escambia County indicate that bed-tax collections jumped 13 percent in May compared to the year before. This happened, however, without the substantial marketing campaign launching prior to Memorial Day weekend. Reports show a more modest return in other coastline counties at other corners of our state. Lee County saw a 6 percent increase in its May bed-tax collections compared to last year. Brevard County was up 8 percent.

Yet even before the oil could ruin the sugar-white beaches and the tourism industry that is inextricably linked to them, the real damage was already done. The mighty tourism confederation led by Visit Florida and its thousands of partners — proven effective following the Sept. 11 tragedies and again in the wake of the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes — began to collapse. Local tourism-development councils, convention and visitors bureaus and others within the state’s travel industry fought for portions of the $25 million secured from BP. Unlike any crisis response since its creation, tourism-recovery marketing funds were allocated only in part to Visit Florida, which holds the unique position as the state’s statutorily authorized tourism-industry marketing corporation. The balance of funds went directly to other groups, with no visible attempt to coordinate efforts. Those familiar with biblical instruction may recognize these words from the book of Matthew: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” And students of the Civil War recall Abraham Lincoln invoking these words in warning his colleagues of the imminent dangers the weakened Union faced as it wrestled with slavery: “A house divided against itself cannot stand ... I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided.” Division and acrimony are the precursors of defeat in the face of adversity. We must reject them both, and invest in the institutions and programs that with unified support have proven successful. Should they fail in performance under the full and transparent judgment of the facts, swift and corrective action is justified. In the meantime, the clear lesson of history, well beyond the microcosm of the Sunshine State’s tourism industry, is that we will either stand together as a Florida stronger and wiser as a result of our collective history, or collapse divided in the gulf of fragmented and selfish pursuits. n

PHOTO BY SCOTT HOLSTEIN

Time to Stand Together


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Executive Mindset

It’s the Law   

T he Economic Fallout from the Gulf Disaster

I N CRI S I S The oil washing up on Pensacola’s beach, shown here in June, has started a chain of events with far-reaching economic effects. Businesses hurt by the spill need to start filing claims with BP now.

Surviving the Big, Oily Mess If your business is a victim of BP’s gushing oil, you have legal recourse for compensation by BP. Here’s our guide to how to get what you’re owed. by John Kennedy

T

 he Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster has suddenly made “boom,” “skimmer” and “junk shot” part of the vocabulary for residents of the Florida Panhandle. But the Gulf spill is now also introducing such terms as “multi-district litigation,” “secondary claims” and “gross negligence” as

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the battle with BP and its oil shifts from the beach to the courtroom for many coastal residents and businesses. Experts say it’s vital to be prepared for what will likely prove a long siege with the oil giant. Their advice: Keep good records of lost business or bookings, check your existing insurance coverage, videotape before-and-after footage of property affected by the spill —

and don’t be shy about making a claim. The $20 billion compensation fund BP has set up to cover economic damage along the coast is there to settle legitimate claims. And right now, there’s no telling how far courts may go in acknowledging losses tied to the April 20 explosion of Deepwater Horizon. “The biggest questions remain largely unanswered,” said Wiley Horton, a Tallahassee


navigating the claims process lawyer specializing in commercial and intellectual property claims. “We still don’t know how far afield the damage claims will go. “With oystermen, it’s fairly easy to determine they have a claim,” he added. “But when you try to make whole people who own commercial property away from the beach, that’s going to be a tougher claim. But it can be made.” BP has opened 25 claims offices across four Gulf states. For now, those making claims usually are businesses or workers who have lost profits and earning ability; have absorbed some oil removal costs; have suffered property damage; or have experienced the tougher-to-gauge “loss of a natural resource.” Documenting any claim is key, experts say. “We’re saying don’t wait if you think you’ve got a claim,” said Larry Houff, an accountant with Carr, Riggs & Ingram, which has offices along the Gulf Coast. “If a restaurant is seeing a 30-percent decline in revenue, they should be filing a claim every month. They’ve got to stay alive.” But, Houff added, “Businesses also should be able to show they’ve tried to mitigate their loss — by letting some employees go, cutting back on salaries, or taking some other costcutting steps.” The cost of the Gulf spill is still unfolding. But it’s clear that its effects in Florida alone will soar into the billions of dollars as legal claims mount. The state’s $60 billion tourism industry is staggering from at least a 20-percent decline, Visit Florida officials acknowledge. Along the Panhandle, the usually lucrative vacation season has evolved into a grim summer of oil, sharply reducing what for many beach-reliant businesses is the bulk of their annual revenue. University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith predicted earlier this summer that even a 10 percent decline in Florida tourism along the Gulf Coast would drain $2.2 billion from the state’s economy and cost 39,000 jobs. If tourism was cut in half, Snaith warned, the economic cost could top $10 billion and erase almost 200,000 jobs. Property appraisers in Santa Rosa and Escambia counties have already sent a joint letter to Gov. Charlie Crist warning that homeowners and businesses are likely to endure a loss in value this year because of the spill — but face tax payments this fall based on

BP has established a process to manage claims resulting from the Deepwater Horizon spill. It has stated that it will pay for bodily injury or illness, property damage and/or loss of income.

How to File a Claim with BP BP has established several ways to file a claim. >> File a claim online at bp.com/claims. >> Call the toll-free number at 1-800-440-0858 (TTY device: 800-572-3053). >> V  isit a claims center in your area. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. >> F  ile a claim by mail at ESIS, PO BOX 17160, Wilmington, Del. 19850. In order to avoid delays, BP recommends that the claimant call the toll-free number to obtain a claim number prior to sending in a claim by mail. Claims Office Locations Pensacola (Escambia County) Ft. Walton Beach (Okaloosa County) Apalachicola (Franklin County) Panama City (Bay County)

Gulf Breeze (Santa Rosa County) Crawfordville (Wakulla County) Port St. Joe (Gulf County) Santa Rosa Beach (Walton County)

Federal Disaster Assistance Information Individuals and businesses looking for information on how to obtain federal assistance for dealing with the impacts of the current oil spill should visit DisasterAssistance.gov. Before applying for federal assistance, individuals should first make a claim with BP. DisasterAssistance.gov includes information on the types of federal assistance that individuals and businesses can apply for such as nutrition programs, business disaster loans, temporary assistance for needy families and unemployment insurance. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Information The U.S. Small Business Administration may be able to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) — working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. — Information from restorethegulf.gov

Key Claims Statistics as of July 16, 2010 114,000 total claims $201 million paid BP IN FL 64,000 checks written since May 3 (10 weeks) As of July 16, 2010, Floridians filed 30,047 claims with BP. 16,200 checks of $5,000 or more paid The company paid a total of 131,000 calls received $34,596,633 by that time. 6-second average call wait time 18,100 claims submitted online (as of July 12) 36 field offices, with translation capability at 9 1,500-member claims team 5-day average time from “claim to paid” for individuals who have received checks 9-day average time from “claim to paid” for commercial entities who have received checks More than 48,000 claims are awaiting documentation for a first payment More than 13,000 claims have “contact difficulties” — Courtesy BP

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IT’S THE LAW

In Business to Write Business. SM

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assessments in place at the start of 2010. The appraisers are urging lawmakers to approve a tax relief measure in a special session, similar to those enacted five times since 1985 following hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes in Florida. The most recent, $1,500 property tax reimbursements handed out in 2007 to Central Florida residents whose houses were destroyed or heavily damaged by tornadoes. But tax relief is far from certain. And against this volatile backdrop, many of those counseling businesses and residents say that if you’re experiencing a downturn, it’s wise to go ahead and file a claim at a BP office. Such action doesn’t block you from filing a lawsuit later for an even larger claim. But getting a BP claim identification number and paperwork on record at least establishes that you were experiencing a loss. It also secures a beach business, homeowner, golf course, resort or condominium association a place in what is certain to prove an ever-growing line of claimants. “You ought to have a claim file,” said Dana Matthews, partner at Matthews & Hawkins, PA, a Destin law firm. “If you’re a fisherman, restaurant or hotel, you may be able to submit data showing you should get some money right away. “But for plenty of people, the impact of this is going to be felt for a long, long time to come,” he said. “Your damage claim will probably increase. And you’ll probably wind up in court eventually.” Because of the oil spill’s location, legal claims against BP will be considered multi-district litigation which, itself, is guided by a set of judicial rules and principles. Most claims are expected to be directed to federal court, likely in Louisiana. Class-action lawsuits have already been filed on behalf of Gulf shrimpers and the region’s fishing industry. But large plaintiffs’ law firms, mostly from the Gulf states, are already positioning other business claims, helped along by local attorneys. Florida Panhandle lawsuits could eventually become part of this larger litigation. “When you think of how far these claims may stretch, think of a concentric circle,” Matthews said. “It’s a ripple effect. It begins at the beach with a fisherman unable to fish, then to the restaurant that doesn’t have customers, to the hotel that has no guests, to well beyond that.” William Hughes, a Tallahassee lawyer at Pennington Law Firm practicing commercial litigation, said those concentric circles currently stretch far and wide.


Courts will eventually begin focusing on claims and determining what is considered a legitimate “secondary” or even “tertiary” loss. Until then, it’s possible that lawsuits against BP will accumulate and come from as far afield as the corner gas station seeing a decline in tourist traffic, or the Manhattan seafood restaurant that alleges lost business because Gulf oysters were struck from the menu. “How far you can go in seeking damages or lost business opportunity will eventually be set by the courts,” Hughes said. “But right now, you can envision an almost unlimited range of claims.” Like most, Hughes said Gulf businesses and residents shouldn’t feel they have to rush to court. Even Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator named by President Obama to head the $20 billion BP compensation fund, cautions against eschewing the claims process and getting embroiled early in court. “If you go to court, you’re rolling the dice,” Feinberg said. “Your lawyer will get 40 percent, you’ll wait five years, and there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed.” Making a claim at a BP office, however, is a good first move, experts agree. “My advice to a client is, ‘Stay alive long enough,’” Hughes said. “Get whatever subsidy money you can. Then keep good records and see what kind of impact this has on you and your industry.” He also offered some simple advice that should be done before anything else. “Check your insurance policy,” Hughes said. “A lot of base insurance policies will cover you for ‘business interruption’ damages. If you don’t have exceptions on your policy, you might have a simple insurance claim for whatever you’re losing.” Houff, the accountant, said it’s vital that businesses take some basic steps ahead of what may be a long legal fight. Along with filing a BP claim, a company can strengthen its hand by speaking to customers, asking them to put in writing the reasons why they have reduced their business. Keep records of lost revenue or bookings and whatever moves you made in advance of the oil spill — from moving boats to other locations to spending time cleaning property fouled by tar balls or other damage. All are costs worth trying to recover. Houff also cautioned that businesses should be prepared for the BP legal fight to eventually get ugly. “BP is smiling now, on TV ads and handing out small-claims money,” Houff said. “But I think the frowns are going to come later when the big claims start rolling in.” n

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Executive Mindset

Management Strategies  c hecking in with your strategic plan

Defining Your Own Success No matter your industry, don’t underestimate the importance of strategic planning in today’s competitive business environment by Tim Collie and Linda Kleindienst

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  hen Allie Fleming set out with her close friend to start their own Tallahassee group fitness gym, she knew that everything had to be on paper. And along with all the cost projections about staffing, space, hours and equipment, Fleming knew she had to set a few simple goals in a strategic plan. “We had a very straightforward mission, and some very clear goals,”


said Fleming. “Our numbers weren’t just based on how many we signed, but on how many used our service. A lot of fitness centers are all about the numbers, but we knew instead of 1,000 members who may only come occasionally, we’d rather have 400 who come weekly. “We also knew we had to open by January, or we might as well just wait another year,” Fleming said. “In this business, it’s true that January is the time when people are filling those New Year’s resolutions and signing up to exercise.” Quitting your job or cashing in your assets to start a business without a plan may seem crazy, but experts say a surprising number of entrepreneurs don’t take the simple first step of writing it down on paper. Why? Maybe it’s because many feel the goal is simple: cover expenses, turn a profit, make a living. If only it were that simple. Successful entrepreneurs and business scholars both say that without a clear set of

The key here is to keep this simple — you’re going for a single page in your final plan. Stick with straight, declarative sentences that anyone walking off the street into your business could understand. goals, deadlines and numeric benchmarks, a small-business owner can quickly become overwhelmed by a tsunami of tasks. According to businessdictionary.com, a strategic business plan is an “internal document that (1) outlines an organization’s overall direction, philosophy, and purpose, (2) examines its current status in terms of its strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats, (3) sets long-term objectives and (4) formulates shortterm tactics to reach them.” The good news is that the word “strategic” is not nearly as frightening as it may seem. We’re not talking about building Rome in a day — more like jotting down a few goals to reach Rome in several years. Basically, a strategic plan is a single-page

plan that “bridges the gap between where the business is and where it wants to go,” said Ted A. Kirchharr, vice president and chief operating officer for Landrum Consulting in Pensacola. It should take no more than a few hours, he and other experts say, and should include a range of goals from six months to a few years out. At the end, you might even want to add what famed business guru Jim Collins calls your “big, hairy audacious goals.” “Whether you’re a $300 million company or a bakery with three employees, you want that strategic plan simple and straightforward,” Kirchharr said. “And this is very

now — number of clients, amount of billings per month, employees and expenses. Crucial to this exercise is a good hard look at your weaknesses. Are partners pulling their weight? Is the service you’re offering the right fit for your clients, or does it need some fine-tuning? It should go without saying that the idea here is to correct the weaknesses, but Jerry Osteryoung, director of outreach for the Jim Moran Institute of Global Entrepreneurship at Florida State University, says this is where some owners fall down. He believes the chief weakness is communication — between partners,

thoughtstrategy There are many approaches to strategic planning that can be found on the Internet, but sometimes simpler is better, at least to start out. The key questions are, where do you want your business to go and how are you going to get there. For some simplified planning examples, we turned to Wikipedia: Draw-See-Think: Draw — What is the ideal image or the desired end state? See — What is today’s situation? What is the gap from ideal and why? Think — What specific actions must be taken to close the gap between today’s situation and the ideal state? Or you can try See-Think-Draw: See — What is today’s situation? Think — Define goals/objectives. Draw — Map a route to achieving the goals/objectives. But no matter what you use as a roadmap for your company’s future, Colleen Gildea from interbiznet.com has some sound advice on how to start. 1. Find a quiet place (alone or with a carefully picked core group), usually away from the office. 2. Bring beverages and snacks, pads, pens, markers and paper, all reports on the status of the business, laptops and anything you require for uninterrupted, sustained thought. 3. Begin.

important: It should have clear goals, in clear English, with designated responsibilities and clear deadlines. Otherwise, it’s worthless.” He and other experts tend to break down the strategic plan into several simple steps. First is what’s known as the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. This involves taking a hard look at where your business is right

among employees, with clients. Next comes what might be called the opportunity and threat assessment. What opportunities are out there for you to seize in six months, a year, two years? And what are the biggest threats to you obtaining that goal? Again, the key here is to keep this simple — you’re going for a single page in your final plan. And don’t make the type too small;

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stick with straight, declarative sentences that anyone walking off the street into your business would understand. There should be no wiggle room. The plan has to have clear goals with quantitative targets — the number of widgets sold, the number of accounts closed. The qualitative goals frequently include objectives such as improving the customer service experience and improving the quality of new hires. Getting your team to buy in to the strategic plan after it has been agreed upon and written up

The good news is that the word “strategic” is not nearly as frightening as it may seem. We’re not talking about building Rome in a day — more like jotting down a few goals to reach Rome in several years.

is crucial. The plan must be embraced by everyone in the organization. And Osteryoung says it should then be revisited every month — and the progress (or lack thereof) should be recorded. Remember too that the plan you have for your company will become an important roadmap for its continuance, should something happen to you. As Osteryoung puts it, “Running a business without a strategic plan is like flying an airplane with no guidance assistance.” There are plenty of websites available to help you formulate your strategic plan. And don’t forget nearby academic resources that you may be able to tap into for help. In formulating your plan, Fleming, the group fitness gym co-owner, says one of the most important pieces of advice she can give is not to be afraid to ask for help. “The people you do business with — your equipment suppliers, the electricians, printers, whatever — they want to help you,” she said. “Because if you succeed, they succeed. And they’ve all been through this before, starting a business from scratch, making plans, formulating targets and goals. That’s one of the most important things I can say — don’t hesitate to ask for advice.” n

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Executive Mindset

Human Element  workplace security

Behind the Invisible Shield Nine years after 9/11, businesses are learning how to protect themselves — and their country — from future acts of terrorism. by Triston V. Sanders eptember will mark nine years since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Many lessons have been learned since Sept. 11, 2001, and there have been major changes in attitudes toward security in every facet of American life, including the workplace. Since that tragic day, businesses vulnerable to cyberattack or physical dangers have had to take unprecedented precautions to protect themselves. Indeed, the private sector is building its own arsenal and has joined the battle alongside government to prevent another strike. High-risk targets for acts of terrorism include military and civilian government facilities, international airports, large cities and high-profile landmarks. Experts believe terrorists also might target large public gatherings, water and food supplies, utilities and corporate centers. Pensacola-based Gulf Power Company places an emphasis on security because of the potential appeal a utility company has to terrorists.

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“Security risks have become very complex for a corporation, especially a utility like Gulf Power,” says Bentina Terry, the company’s vice president of external affairs and corporate services. “Keeping employees, company information and physical assets secure is critical to the operation of our company.” Part of the job is raising awareness of the importance of security and educating the company’s 1,300 employees on how they can help make Gulf Power a safe and secure place to work. The man charged with leading that effort is George R. Schenck, the company’s security manager. He says many lessons were learned from the fateful day that terrorists struck on American soil. “We became more cognizant of the fact that there are organized groups and individuals that are focused on doing us harm or destroying our operations,” says Schenck, who retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation after 32 years with the agency. “This is especially true for a power company because of the devastating impact it could have on the community or region, both emotionally and financially. We also

learned that good communication and coordination is essential for effective security, wherever or whoever you are.” And companies have changed how they address security issues. “It shifted the focus away from routine security matters like theft and vandalism — local matters — to concern about terrorism on a more regional and global perspective,” Schenck says. “We now coordinate more within the industry and with outside entities such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.” International Paper, also in Pensacola, has 463 employees and about 100 contractors. Human resources manager Stan Shaw says the company analyzed workplace security after Sept. 11 and “learned that at any point in time, things can happen that you don’t expect, so we should prepare for the unexpected to protect life and property. “We’re a lot more conscious about domestic and international travel updates, information and traveler status,” he says. “We also increased security assessments to focus more


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human element

The first thing you did was name your business. Now put a face with the name. Your visual products communicate who you are to your customers. Without well-designed, well-marketed materials, you’re just another face in the crowd. Rowland Publishing offers expert services in identity development, print collateral design and photography. Whether you need a logo, business card, brochure, newsletter, direct mail piece or annual reports, we specialize in creative print solutions that showcase your business without straining your budget. Call ((850)) 878-0554 or visit today rowlandpublishing.com today.

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on perimeter protection and identify any areas of vulnerability.” Shaw says the company has taken measures to close security gaps and monitor security processes at least annually. There also is annual training to remind employees of what steps to take if they identify a strange person, package or activity in their area. Following the terrorist attacks, Florida established seven Regional Domestic Security Task Forces to prevent, investigate and respond to terrorist attacks. Each task force includes partners from law enforcement, emergency management, fire/rescue, health and education, along with communication officials and representatives from the private sector. The North Florida task force specifically designed a localized domestic security program for the private sector called the “Business Owners Against Terrorism” (BOAT) program, which encourages businesses to be proactive in making sure they are secure. The task force adopted some of the New York City Police Department’s domestic security concepts and created BOAT for the specific needs of the region, which includes Leon, Columbia, Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla counties. The BOAT program was designed to educate business owners in the region about the threats of terrorism that they may encounter every day and to engage them in the fight against terrorism. To enhance the task force’s community outreach, a DVD video series was created for major business categories that may be targeted by terrorists. These categories include vehicles, hospitals, weapons, property and chemicals. In May 2008, Florida companies got some reinforcement from the state through a first-inthe-nation program created by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Called BusinesSafe, it is a free, Web-based program designed to better connect the public with FDLE’s Office of Domestic Security. “Business owners and employees are encouraged to sign up for this service to receive breaking news, time-sensitive security information and tips for protecting assets,” says BusinesSafe’s administrator, FDLE Inspector Leisha Fordham. “BusinesSafe offers more than 70 industry-specific fact sheets that educate businesses on how to identify suspicious activity and how to report it to law enforcement through the online reporting form. “By creating a dialogue between businesses and the FDLE Office of Domestic Security, we are able to better inform businesses about security issues that could potentially affect their personal safety and business security,” Fordham says. “Any business of any size can access the website. We especially encourage executives,

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risk management officials, human resource professionals and security personnel to sign up.” Approximately 3,450 businesses now are receiving alerts through BusinesSafe. “Many other states have various local mechanisms to communicate with businesses,” Fordham says. “But we are unaware of other states that have a statewide e-mail alert system accessible to all private enterprises.” As is the case with BusinesSafe, there are many security measures that cost nothing. As Fordham points out, “Awareness is the best tool. Knowing how to recognize suspicious activity and identifying potentially harmful products and services aids law enforcement and businesses in better protecting communities.” This partnership between law enforcement and business is powerful. It helps to address potential threats, enhance awareness and better protect assets. “Security is much like insurance,” says Schenck, of Gulf Power. “However, in today’s environment, the loss might not be some copper wire, tools or vandalism; it could be destruction of a power plant or a corporate headquarters and many employees. Security today takes on an entirely new dimension and magnitude ... I would use that argument to convince a reluctant company of the importance of a robust security operation.” Businesses can get creative and do what Schenck did for Gulf Power Company. “We coordinated with the local police department and corporate management to conduct a ‘hostile intruder exercise,’ ” he says. “We engaged all areas of our operation with a scenario-driven tabletop exercise and utilized the advice and expertise of the local SWAT to assist us in testing, guiding and modifying our existing response plans to more effectively plan and hopefully deal with such a situation if it occurs.” Another way to bolster a company’s defenses is to reach out to an expert such as Joseph A. LaSorsa, an independent consultant with 32 years in the investigative and security fields. “Companies have increasingly become more proactive and aggressive in security-awareness training mediums and prevention techniques since 9/11,” LaSorsa says. “Many more companies are looking toward experts like me to tailor programs specifically adapted to their company’s environment and culture. They are realizing that prevention and awareness are main ingredients in the prescriptive arsenal of security countermeasures.” Workplace security since Sept. 11, 2001, has taken on new meaning. It’s about protecting employees, the community and the country — and that is a business investment that’s hard to put a price on. n


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(850) hospitals

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The Are In Across Northwest Florida, hospitals are upgrading facilities and adding more specialized care as competition heats up.

Walking into the new

pediatric emergency room at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Panama City is like stepping into a scene from By Linda Kleindienst “Finding Nemo.” >> Whales, dolphins, sharks and reef fish adorn the walls in the area’s first-of-its-kind ER for kids, a project that reflects the hospital’s focus on children and the demographics of Bay County, where more than one in five residents are under the age of 18. >> Gulf Coast CEO Brian Baumgardner views the addition of pediatric emergency care as an enhancement of the special niche the hospital has established for itself within the local medical community. >> “If you were born in Bay County in the last 20 years, most likely you were born at our hospital,” Baumgardner says. “Because of the relationship we’ve developed with families at the birth of their children, we’ve extended the opportunities for us to continue that relationship as their children get older.” >> Crucial to that mission was the hiring of Dr. Michael Taylor, a specialist in pediatric surgery who only a few months ago performed the first robot-assisted surgery on a child in Northwest Florida. >> “Gulf Coast has seen there is a need to develop a center of specialty for pediatric medicine, so they’ve taken and run with it. An example is the pediatric emergency room, where the children won’t be mixed in with all the hustle and bustle of adults,” says Taylor, pointing out that recent national studies have shown many emergency rooms aren’t properly equipped to handle the youngest patients. >> Taylor, 38, a native of Chipley in Washington County who graduated from the University of Florida College of Medicine, knew he wanted to be a doctor when he was in high school. After getting his degree, he figured on practicing in a place like Miami or Pensacola. But then the opportunity came open in Panama City. >> “When I first came here five years ago, I thought this was

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Serve Yourself Medical consumers can easily compare hospitals for volume, pricing and health outcomes on medical conditions and procedures — as well as mortality, infection and complication rates. Visit FloridaHealthFinder.gov, a website maintained by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which regulates health-care facilities throughout the state.

probably not the best place for me to work as a pediatric surgeon,” Taylor says. “However, I am busy, busy, busy. And with Gulf Coast trying to advance pediatric care, it makes me want to commit to stay here for a long, long time. I appreciate what they’re doing for the kids.”

Changing to Meet Growing Needs Northwest Florida, the state’s last real frontier, has undergone a multitude of changes over the past decade. The population has grown, industry has blossomed, educational opportunities have expanded and, not surprisingly, local medical care provided by the region’s hospitals has evolved to where it is as good as anywhere in the state. Brick-and-mortar expansion, along with innovative and improved technology — and a focus on patient care and quality service sparked by a strong sense of competition — are the hallmarks of change in the region. “We always have to be searching for where we can improve,” says Mark O’Bryant, president and CEO of Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. “Our patients trust us with their lives. We have a moral obligation.”

Adds Dennis Taylor, CEO of West Florida Hospital, “There is nothing lacking within the Pensacola area except for highly specialized transplant services.” Not only has growth in the industry brought high-wage jobs to the region, but the quality of medical care — and its availability — has aided with economic development and the creation of non-medical, high-wage opportunities. Patients who once traveled hours to get specialized care now have more of it available it in their own backyard. From Pensacola to Tallahassee, hospitals are opening centers focused on the treatment of cancer and cardiac patients and providing improved obstetrics care for women and high-risk newborns. Several have purchased the da Vinci surgical system, a robotic and computer-assisted surgical device that allows doctors to perform minimally invasive surgery. Rural and smaller hospitals have established relations with their big-city counterparts and large medical groups for a variety of services ranging from X-ray readings to providing for visiting specialists. A good example is the new Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf, recently opened in Port St. Joe, which has

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County Health Rankings Chart

A 2010 report by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute ranked Florida’s 67 counties on how healthy they are. Health Outcomes Where the 16 counties of Northwest Florida ranked when analyzing their citizens’ length and quality of life:

Clinical Care Rankings How the 16 counties of Northwest Florida fared when analyzing their access to and quality of health care:

Bay Calhoun Escambia Franklin Gadsden Gulf Jackson Jefferson Leon Liberty Holmes Okaloosa Santa Rosa Wakulla Walton Washington

Bay Calhoun Escambia Franklin Gadsden Gulf Jackson Jefferson Leon Liberty Holmes Okaloosa Santa Rosa Wakulla Walton Washington

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35 45 3 51 28 46 22 33 2 56 60 9 15 44 61 49


FOR ONE AND FOR ALL (Below, left) Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare in Tallahassee is the only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit within a 100-mile radius, and it serves hundreds of tiny babies a year. (Right) Soon, the hospital’s new Cancer Center will open under the guidance of CEO Mark O’Bryant. HECTIC SCHEDULE (Below, right) Brian Baumgardner, CEO of Gulf Coast Medical Center in Panama City, has overseen expansion of children’s services, including a new pediatric ER, while Dr. Michael Taylor has performed pioneering surgeries on young patients using the DaVinci robot (center, right).

tallahassee memorial healthcare :: tallahassee

Photos by SCOTT HOLSTEIN

gulf coast medical center :: panama city teamed up with Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic to provide surgeries. Ron Gilliard, CEO of the nearly 50-year-old Calhoun/Liberty Hospital in Blountstown, credits a urologist who now holds office hours at the hospital every two weeks with saving his life by finding early indications of prostate cancer. “We’re working aggressively to add to that specialist list,” Gilliard says. As they have grown, many of the hospitals have tried to carve out a special niche in their regional market, an area where they can provide that extra measure of care that no one else can. “Health care is such a dynamic industry,” says Steve Johnson, CEO of Bay Medical Center in Panama City. “From Pensacola to Tallahassee, everyone is trying to find their niche, finding a way to make it in an environment where the rules change almost monthly.” In Bay County, Johnson’s nonprofit Bay Medical

Center cares for more than 80 percent of the area’s heart cases. The hospital is ranked among the top 5 percent nationally for cardiac services and is on its way to becoming a Level II trauma care center, the only one between Tallahassee and Pensacola. Its competitor, Gulf Coast Medical Center, a privately owned hospital, cares for the lion’s share of pediatric and obstetrics cases and has the area’s only neonatal intensive care unit. “To bring high-skill, high-wage jobs into the community, we have to have great health care,” says Gulf Coast Medical Center CEO Baumgardner. “We understand we have that role to fill.”

Building Boom All of the region’s hospitals are waiting to determine the effects that national health-care reforms will have on the services they provide and, ultimately, their bottom line. In the meantime, of

the patients they now see, about one in 10 have no insurance — and there is widespread recognition that those numbers could quickly grow, a financial repercussion of the Gulf oil disaster. Despite the looming financial uncertainties, many of the hospitals are just finishing or starting major construction projects designed to meet the needs and demands of a growing region. “We needed more operating-room and intensive-care unit capacity,” says Al Stubblefield, CEO of Baptist Health Care, which is headquartered in Pensacola and has embarked on a $30 million construction program at its main hospital labeled “Building a Better Baptist.” “More and more of the patients who end up in the hospital are really, really sick. The acuity is up, which drives the need (for more capacity),” Stubblefield explains. “And we needed sort of a refreshing of the building. If you don’t have a sugar daddy and can get a new hospital,

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sacred heart on the gulf :: port st. joe

capital regional gadsden :: quincy

you need to spend some money and get a little makeover. We’re upgrading our rooms to modern standards.” Bay Medical in Panama City is putting the finishing touches on a $70 million project, which includes 144 private rooms. “With facilities, we were behind the curve going in,” says CEO Johnson. “We spent a large part of the last decade trying to get our infrastructure to where it can be competitive.” West Florida in Pensacola has spent $84 million over the past eight years. Sacred Heart Health System, also based in Pensacola, just opened its new 25-bed, $38 million hospital in Port St. Joe — Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf — built on 20 acres donated by the St. Joe Foundation. Capital Regional Medical Center only recently opened a 24-hour, seven-day emergency clinic at the site of Gadsden County’s old hospital, which has been closed for five years. Only two blocks away from Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, which is developing a $200 million surgical/intensive care tower, a large construction site is the future home of a new cancer center, an outpatient surgical center and a training center being built by Tallahassee Community College to educate health-care workers

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“Competition between hospitals keeps us on the cutting edge of technology and services — and our patients are the benefactors. We help each other be better.” Bud Wethington, CEO, Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee

— all set to open within months of each other. Dedicated space is also being set aside for health research to be done by Florida State University and Florida A&M University. “It will be a broad-spectrum, multi-relationship campus, a unique medical environment,” O’Bryant says.

The Competitive Edge Northwest Florida’s hospitals fall into two categories: nonprofit and for-profit. And the competition between them can be intense, as

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demonstrated by the back-and-forth in TV ads and on billboards. The largest private provider in Northwest Florida is the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), which owns West Florida in Pensacola, Gulf Coast in Panama City, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee and Twin Cities Hospital in Niceville. The HCA hospitals have been particularly aggressive in promoting their private rooms and their short emergency-room waiting times. “We’re advertising so the public knows,” says Bud Wethington, president and CEO of Capital Regional Medical Center. “Competition between hospitals keeps us on the cutting edge of technology and services — and our patients are the beneficiaries. We help each other be better.” For years, Capital Regional has promoted its private rooms to get patient attention. But Tallahassee Memorial CEO O’Bryant likes to point out that of the 770 rooms at his hospital, only 14 are semi-private — the rest are private. As for the ER waiting times, O’Bryant countered, “There is no measurement for that.” But the most intense competition is in Pensacola, where West Florida, Baptist and Sacred Heart are located.

Photos by SCOTT HOLSTEIN and (west florida hospital) by michael duncan/Duncan McCall Advertising Agency (sacred heart hospital on the gulf) courtesy sacred heart hospital

west florida hospital :: pensacola

HEALTH CARE WHERE IT’S NEEDED MOST New hospitals in rural areas, such as the Sacred Heart on the Gulf hospital in Port St. Joe (above, left) and the Capital Regional Medical Center Gadsden Campus (above, right) are bringing much-needed services and care in small packages. West Florida Hospital in Pensacola (left) has spent $84 million on renovations over the past eight years.


I N PRACTICE

baptist health care :: gulf breeze

Dr. James Andrews and The Andrews Institute

photos by john trainor (E smith); us navy (woods & favre); steve lipofsky (jordan); john silks (bradford); and keith alison (jeter); all from wikimedia commons

Repairing the sports stars of today, protecting the stars of tomorrow

It’s an image that haunts: University of West Virginia basketball star Da’Sean Butler, lying injured on a hardwood court with only minutes left in a 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinal game, his coach cradling his head as Butler’s tears flowed from the pain in his injured knee and visions of a promising professional career coming to an end. Five days later, Butler was at the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze to undergo surgery and rehabilitation. Less than three months after that, he was selected by the Miami Heat in the NBA Draft. Repairing injured basketball stars and NFL quarterbacks. Protecting the throwing arms of pre-teen baseball pitchers. Preparing college athletes to transition to the pros. It’s all in a day’s work at the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, a worldclass sports treatment facility with 40 physicians and medical experts who specialize in treatment, research, training and sports injury prevention.

Built in 2007 by Baptist Health Care, which is headquartered only a few miles away in Pensacola, the institute has created 150 local jobs and pays out an annual $10 million in wages. But under the leadership of world-renowned orthopedic surgeon James Andrews — who himself has operated on a Who’s Who of the sports world during his career (Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan, Emmitt Smith, Tiger Woods) — the institute’s economic impact on the world of sports is hard to measure, as professional athletes come in the door seeking a cure for their injuries, then leave and see their careers (and often their teams) soar. A recent example is Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford. The former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback was selected No. 1 in the 2010 NFL Draft, picked by the St. Louis Rams after undergoing shoulder surgery, rehabilitation and training at the Andrews Institute. There also is Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez, who is still wowing fans after spending two months at the Institute in 2009. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre visited for arthroscopic surgery on his ankle in May to remove scar tissue and bone spurs — and at press time was still considering his playing options for the coming season. On the international scene, after spending two months training at the Institute in Gulf Breeze, the Argentine rugby team took the 2007 World Cup by storm, finishing a surprising third. And the Institute isn’t just working with the sports stars of today. There also is a focus on tomorrow, an example being the recruitment of local baseball-great wannabes, ages 9 to 18, for a study of the injury patterns in baseball pitchers to develop guidelines designed to keep players safe. “One of our major focuses is growing the presence, the impact and the reach of the Andrews Institute,” says Al Stubblefield, CEO of Baptist Health Care. “The caliber and the quality of new physicians and specialists we’ve been able to bring to the market has far exceeded our expectations when we began the journey five years ago. This facility provides new opportunities for making Pensacola an attractive place to practice for high-quality physicians.” — Linda Kleindienst

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FOR ONE AND FOR ALL Bud Wethington, CEO of Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee is overseeing the hospital’s effort to be the ER of choice (left).

(850) hospitals

capital regional medical center :: tallahassee

I N PRACTICE

Hospital Vital Signs

Financial, admission and uninsured information reported to the Agency for Health Care Administration, 2008.

402

38,499

($385,033)

16.89%

Bay Medical Ctr. (Panama City)

323

32,088

$2.94 million

20.02%

Calhoun-Liberty (Blountstown)

25

1,798

$522,270

9.01%

Campbellton-Graceville (Graceville)

25

711

$56,451

5.19%

Capital Regional Medical Center (Tallahassee)

198

14,831

$5.36 million

15.03%

Doctors Memorial (Bonifay)

20

2,530

($529,463)

21.68%

257

17,248

$36.6 million

12.27%

1,888

($604,208)

7.48%

--

--

--

George E. Weems Memorial (Apalachicola)

25

Gulf Breeze*

65

Gulf Coast Medical (Panama City)

176

16,568

$20 million

21.66%

Healthmark (Defuniak Springs)

50

3,236

$108,435

12.66%

Jackson (Marianna)

100

9,279

($2.5 million)

18%

Jay

65

2,773

$11,226

12.83%

North Okaloosa (Crestview)

110

13,168

$11.2 million

13.42%

Northwest Florida Community (Chipley) Sacred Heart (Pensacola)

59

3,502

$52,678

19.31%

466

43,891

$16.55 million

33.09%

58

9,501

$8.56 million

13.54%

Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast (Miramar Beach) Sacred Heart on the Gulf (Port St. Joe)**

25

NA

NA

NA

Santa Rosa Medical Center

129

10,172

($1.2 million)

16.88%

Tallahassee Memorial

770

42,910

16.4 million

20.88%

Twin Cities (Niceville)

65

4,157

$1 million

5.23%

West Florida (Pensacola)

531

15,714

($7.2 million)

10.68%

* Data included in Baptist Hospital totals

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Medicaid and charity percentage, 2008

Baptist Hospital (Pensacola)

Fort Walton Beach

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Excess (deficit) Admissions, of total revenue over 2008 total expenditures, 2008

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** Opened 2010

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Sources: Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, Florida Department of Health

Photos by SCOTT HOLSTEIN

Hospital Beds


calhoun-liberty hospital :: blountstown “It has been more or less pleasant, depending on where you fit,” says Baptist’s Stubblefield, adding that the hospitals in the area often collaborate. “We are considered one of the most competitive regions in the country. But that has also led to a lot of high-quality physicians and staff being attracted to our community.” Laura Keiser, CEO of the Sacred Heart Health System, says the area has turned into a “medical mecca,” adding, “I think the people of Northwest Florida are blessed by that.”

CREATIVE LEVERAGING When the Calhoun-Liberty Hospital wanted to upgrade, it looked to the community for help. Local benefactors have renovated patient rooms (below), the mammography room (left) and the new ER (above).

Where from Here? As these hospitals finish their construction projects and meet the needs of the region’s growing population, what does the future hold? Several of the region’s hospital CEOs see change on the horizon, with more physicians being directly employed by hospitals and greater collaboration and consolidation among those facilities that dot the 16 counties of Northwest Florida.

“[Boomers] have higher expectations and I try to think a lot about that. How do we match demands with the needs and make sure we create something that is necessary and viable?” laura keiser, CEO, sacred heart health system

“We’ve already had 90 physicians join us, and we expect that to be over 100 by the end of the year,” Stubblefield says. “That’s a fairly significant seismic shift. They think they can more effectively meet the needs of the patients by becoming economically aligned with the hospital.” Steven Johnson at Bay Medical expects that more hospitals will be consolidated into larger health systems. “I’m not sure our current business model is sustainable,” he says. “I think most hospitals will become affiliated with a major system.” Sacred Heart’s Keiser says the hospitals especially need to ensure that they are able to meet the medical needs of the retiring baby boom generation. “For boomers, and I am one, there will be a giant tsunami of us,” she says. “We have higher expectations, and I try to think a lot about that. How do we match demands with the needs and make sure we create something that is necessary and viable?” n

Keeping It Local

Although money remains tight, one rural hospital is finding a way to serve its community. Ask Ron Gilliard how it’s going at his hospital and he will candidly admit that it’s a daily struggle to survive. Those who run Northwest Florida’s handful of rural hospitals don’t have it easy. But in the case of the Calhoun/Liberty Hospital in Blountstown, the community has rallied to the cause, and the local nonprofit has been transformed from “not even a good Band-Aid station” into a facility that the region is proud to call its own. “It has been a bit of a miracle,” says Gillard, the hospital’s chief executive officer, who at first had his doubts. Of his introduction to the new job about three years ago, Gilliard remembers walking in the front door and being taken aback by the foul odor in the lobby and the worn, torn carpeting. The medical equipment was outdated and the rooms were run down. The previous owner, the for-profit DasSee Community Health Systems of Quincy, had tried to shut it down. But the community wouldn’t let that happen. Business and political leaders — among them Laddie Williams, chairman of the hospital board, and local banker Vicki Montford — immediately stepped forward to fund loans, make donations and rally support. Local families funded room renovations. The local chamber of commerce adopted the chapel. Wakulla Bank took on the lobby. The Rotary Club helped decorate the cafeteria, where it holds weekly meetings. There is even a chandelier in the room where women can now get breastcancer screening. The clinical equipment has been updated. And the beds are new. “We were starting from scratch,” says Gilliard, an Air Force veteran who previously worked at two small Georgia hospitals. As for medical services, patients can now see a urologist without having to travel to Tallahassee, Panama City or Dothan, Ala. The hospital has just started providing endoscopic services, and about 250 CAT scans are done each month. A federal budget earmark is going to help renovate the emergency room. While Gilliard will concede that the hospital is “still struggling,” there have been victories. The annual payroll is now more than $3 million, making the hospital one of the largest area employers. It has gone from losing money to making a $1 million profit in 2009. “A hospital in a community this size is important,” Gilliard says. “But the biggest challenge for us is still financial, so we can upgrade and pay the light bill.” And, by the way, hints Gilliard, there is still one in-patient room left to be adopted. — Linda Kleindienst

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If you’re itching to get your feet wet with a new business, owning a franchise may be an easier way to get your feet on the ground. BY JASON DEHART • PHOTOS BY SCOTT HOLSTEIN

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SUNNY SIDE UP Ron Green founded Another Broken Egg Café of America, which now has franchises in Louisiana and Florida. Especially in a tough economy, the help of seasoned franchisors like Green can make or break a fledgling new business.

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business in a box

By 2001, there were 767,483 business establishments in all domestic franchise systems (either owned by franchisors or franchisees), which employed almost 10 million people, with direct output close to $625 billion and a payroll of $230 billion. These establishments account for a significant percentage of all establishments in many important lines of business: 56.3% in quick service restaurants, 18.2% in lodging, 14.2% in retail food and 13.1% in table/full service restaurants. — franchise.org

Starting a new, independently-owned business is hard enough in good years. It’s even tougher during bad times. That’s why owning a franchise remains a popular option, even though this part of the entrepreneurial sector has taken its share of lumps during the recent economic slump. “Florida has been a difficult market for every brand during the last two or three years,” said Drew Ritger, senior vice president of business planning and purchasing for Sonic, the popular drive-in restaurant with franchises all over Northwest Florida. “But the Panhandle and Tallahassee perform better (for Sonic) than South Florida. Northwest Florida is a great market.” Even deep-pocketed local investors are cognizant of the risk of tackling new business ventures during this less-than-robust economic climate. “Financially, things are challenging for everybody right now,” said Chad Kittrell of Hunter & Harp Holdings, a Tallahassee real-estate development company captained by Kittrell, Frank Whitley and J.T. Burnette. “There’s a reason why not everybody is (opening new restaurant franchises), because of the risk side of it.” Together, Kittrell, Whitley and Burnette coown Tallahassee’s new Hotel Duval, and they recently partnered with Trey Gardner and Jamie Langley to open the first Genghis Grill restaurant in Florida, also located in Tallahassee. Genghis Grill is a “Mongolian stir-fry” franchise based in Dallas; the company has about 40 locations in 11 states, with more to come.

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Investors such as Kittrell’s group — which also makes big bucks in construction projects for the federal government — certainly have the clout to successfully take on new ventures in times like these. But across the nation, others haven’t been as lucky, according to the International Franchise Association, which lays claim to being the largest and oldest collective voice for business franchises worldwide. Franchise growth seemed to do nothing but go up a decade ago. As with other business sectors, growth came to a virtual standstill in the face of the recession, but franchise insiders hope 2010 marks the start of a recovery. “The U.S. economy is expected to experience slow growth in 2010 as the nation begins to recover from the recession,” said Drew Lyon of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ National Economics & Statistics practice. “Our forecast is for output of all franchise business sectors to expand modestly in 2010 as the recovery takes hold.” The Franchise Business Economic Outlook for 2010, created by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, predicts only a 2-percent increase in the number of “business format” franchises in the United States. That amounts to a gain of nearly 18,000 businesses. By contrast, the number of franchises grew on average by 5.6 percent a year from 2001 to 2005, while the number of jobs grew 3.7 percent during that same time. The franchise sector lost 400,000 jobs in 2009

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but is expected to grow by 0.4 percent, or 36,000 jobs, in 2010. A big reason for slow growth is the tightening of credit, which is crucial for new franchisees to get started. “We are pleased that the 2010 outlook for franchise businesses is projected to be more positive than 2009, but access to credit remains a major hurdle to increase jobs and economic output at levels we have seen during past recoveries,” said International Franchise Association President Matthew Shay. “An expected $3.4 billion shortfall in lending to franchise businesses in 2010 will result in 134,000 jobs not created and $13.9 billion in economic output lost.”

Franchising 101 A franchise is not an independent business per se, but a link in a network of conforming businesses. The franchisee buys a license, which grants him or her the opportunity to run a business based on the franchisor’s proven brand name and track record. When a franchisee buys the brand, he agrees to follow the franchisor’s business-practice template. In return for a licensing fee or ongoing royalties, the franchisee gets a business with a deep support network, ensuring a good chance of success. Despite the prediction of sluggish growth, franchises are still considered fairly stable business investments. Their advantages are many. The franchisee has a model to go by, and in many


PRE-PACKAGED Doug McMurray, a Pak Mail franchisee in Tallahassee, saw the proven track record of the parent company as a major reason to invest in the franchise.

cases the hard work of conducting marketing analyses and studying local demographics has already been done by the parent company. Franchises are also attractive to those who want to run a small business but aren’t willing to risk opening a “mom and pop.” “People buy a franchise business because of the reputation, brand recognition and a proven system,” said Sonic’s Ritger. “You probably will have a little better success if you follow the playbook that exists for you.” Douglas McMurray, who has owned a Pak Mail franchise for 12 years in Tallahassee, went with a franchise because “the failure rate of small businesses is astronomical, in my opinion. Going with a franchise, you can cut that down because you’re basically buying a license to operate a business that’s already worked in many countries, counties and different states.” Based in Colorado, Pak Mail opened its first location in 1984 and now has as estimated 500 stores in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Japan. “With the real estate, the financial debacle going on, we decided to look at something that is

more stable and we could grow with and build,” said mortgage company owner and developer Duane Clark of Mary Esther. Clark and his wife, Pam, now own two Tropical Smoothie Café restaurants, one in Panama City Beach and the other in Pensacola. Tropical Smoothie is a healthy, all-natural alternative to fast food with proven name recognition — and with that comes stability. “Right now, we don’t know where the financial world is heading,” Clark said. “That’s the reason we’ve ventured down this path.” Kittrell, of Hunter & Harp Holdings, said he and his partners have experienced, and in some ways combined, the best of both worlds. They have their own independent business with Hotel Duval, but they own two franchises as well. The partners put an upscale Shula’s 347 steakhouse franchise in Hotel Duval. Shula’s 347 is based in Miami Lakes and owned by the father-and-son team of Don and Dave Shula. And while Shula’s caters to a more sophisticated crowd, Kittrell and his team plan on setting up two additional, easier-on-the-wallet (meals run around $10 to $12) Genghis Grill restaurants in Florida.

“We’ve been on both sides of the fence,” Kittrell said. “I’ll tell you from our experience that franchise concepts have zero learning curve.” By that, he means the franchisor — the company that grants the franchisee a license — steps in and gives the franchisee an operating manual to run the business. Owners of independent businesses have to go through the time and expense to create their own operating manual, with no outside corporate help. Kittrell said that approach takes a “ton of work, and a lot more risk.” “But franchisors, they’ll give us information, like what our back-of-the-house labor costs should be. If we didn’t have that number, it’d take us three or four months looking at the numbers to work out what would be proper,” he said. Most franchises are fairly similar, Pak Mail franchisee McMurray explained. “They’ll select the site for you, do some market research and study the demographics of the area,” he said. “They have a model that should work anywhere. So if you get the right demographic in an area, your store will survive — as long as you’re not stupid. You’ve got to work still. But when you buy a license, you’re buying

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business in a box

SERIOUS EATS Duane and Pam Clark (left) own a Panama City Beach Tropical Smoothie while JT Burnett, Chad Kittrell and Jamie Langley brought Genghis Grill to Tallahassee.

training, buying support ... you’re buying their infrastructure, name, the whole nine yards.” And in down times, the continued support offered by a franchisor becomes invaluable, according to Robert Wicker, chief marketing officer for Homes & Land Affiliates, the largest real estate advertising magazine franchise in the nation. Homes & Land publishes 60 million magazines annually in more than 30,000 communities in the United States and Canada. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we have done pretty well in terms of keeping our network in place,” Wicker said from the franchisor’s headquarters in Tallahassee. “We try to keep close tabs on our franchises that either ask us specifically for help or we perceive to be not in the best position. We reach out to them and ask what we can do to help.” One franchisor — Ron Green, founder of breakfast café chain Another Broken Egg of America — said close supervision during the start-up phase is important to ensuring quality control over the franchisee. That translates to success right out of the gate. Green started his popular breakfast restaurant franchise in Louisiana, but it quickly spread to

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places such as Sandestin and Destin on Florida’s Emerald Coast. “Another Broken Egg’s approach to support begins with our detailed involvement with site selection and restaurant/facility design and continues throughout the development phase with continuous direction and guidance,” Green said. Like other franchisors, Green emphasized that his support doesn’t end once the business begins serving hungry customers. “Our corporate team assists in the strategic and operational questions that come up after the grand opening,” he said. “Our job is to encourage, coach and support business and team development with every franchisee and help the franchisee establish and grow a profitable business.” Homes & Land offers the same high level of support to its franchisee publishers, Wicker said. It’s especially important considering that real estate itself was one of the business sectors hardest hit by the recession. Wicker said Homes & Land has, unfortunately, lost some franchisees due to the recession, but most have persisted, thanks to support from the home office in Tallahassee. “Most of our publishers have hung in there,

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and you know, when the market turns down, that’s another real strength of a franchise network,” he said. “You have a corporate office to rely on in terms of advice on how to manage the downturn, and you also have — and this is big — the expertise and support of other franchisees.” Ritger said that Sonic also has a “suite of services” available to the franchise owner. “We have a training program, a construction and real estate team that works with you on the selection of property, the permitting, the design of your Sonic, all the things you do to build,” he said. “What you will find is, almost all restaurant brands have field support teams — we call it a market leader — who works closely with you on how to run your Sonic.” The golden arches of McDonald’s also provide a great support system, according to Tracy Johnstone, whose family owns and operates four of the iconic fast-food restaurants in Panama City. She said the chain is friendly toward families who want to run a franchise — although it’s not an easy road to go down. “My husband has been in the franchise for 35 years — he bought it from his father when he retired, and I started in the business when we got


married 20 years ago,” she said. “It’s an arduous and strict process to become a franchisee, even if you are the spouse of a franchisee.” Johnstone said the famous franchisor is, by its very nature, family-oriented, and that attitude applies to helping out licensees. She said there are second-generation, and even third-generation, franchisees today, children of owners who are now coming into the business themselves.

A franchise is not an independent business per se ... The franchisee buys a license, which grants him or her the opportunity to run a business based on the franchisor’s proven brand name and track record. “There is a structured system in place to support that family mindset,” Johnstone said. “You know, as big as McDonald’s is, that (sense of family) hasn’t been lost.” McDonald’s also offers a women’s operator network that provides female franchisees the opportunity to have a voice in the system. “That part has been rewarding,” Johnstone said. “As a woman in business, I have a place in this huge brand. I am being recognized and supported.”

Staying Power Does this mean franchises are more immune to tough economic times? Not necessarily, but they do stand a better chance of success because of consistency, economies of scale and communications. Those are major recruiting points. “You have to have the mindset of yes, you are an entrepreneur. But part of the success is the hamburger tastes the same whether it’s Panama City, Fla., or Panama City, Panama,” Johnstone said about McDonald’s. Green, the founder of Another Broken Egg, said that the franchisee is protected by an umbrella corporation whose size and reputation can be of great benefit. “A potential franchisee comes under the umbrella of a well-established and branded name with a proven support system,” he said. “Because of our size and buying power with various distributors, they will certainly benefit from our economies of scale.” McMurray said he has confidence in his Pak Mail franchise because of the solid lines

of communication between owners and the franchisor. “I think we’re a little more solid because we have support,” he said. “We have a group collective that has ideas, and we draw on each other. We have an intranet that we communicate with, and they’re constantly working on our behalf to get better discounts, good ideas, different vendors. “I think a lot of the time, mom-and-pop standalones don’t have a support system, so I think that goes a long way,” McMurray said. “We’re probably a little more immune to (economic slumps), but we are not immune. Franchises have gone out of business, but I think we’re a little more resistant.” There are other stabilizing factors. Real estate sales may have tanked during the recession, but a specialty product like that offered by Homes & Land remains a stable commodity because people always love to look at real estate, Wicker said. That makes the real-estate advertising magazine franchise fairly stable in its own right, whether the market is up or down. “People haven’t stopped picking up the magazines,” he said. “We publish about 60 million magazines a year. They’re still getting picked up; there’s no slowdown there. A lot of people are picking up the magazine to see what their house is worth, what the prices are, but they are still picking them up, and we are still getting a lot of traffic to the website. “And that’s one of the nice things about this business,” Wicker said. “You’re in an industry that people like to talk about, that they are engaged by. As opposed to some of the franchises that are maybe not as influential.” Food and dining are also influential factors in deciding on what franchise to opt for. Duane and Pam Clark said the time was right to open their Tropical Smoothie Cafés because people wanted to eat healthier “to go” meals, and had less money to spend at the same time. “People are moving away from more expensive restaurants as they downsize their budgets,” Duane Clark said. “The opportunity is right now. That’s why we’re pushing ahead fast, because now is the time to jump into the business.” Apparently, this approach is working for them in the current economy. “We opened in Panama City Beach in October 2009 and then immediately started looking for another location to do another Tropical Smoothie,” Pam Clark said. She noted that the drive distance is not an easy obstacle for them to overcome, but at the same time, “you have to go where the market has a need, and that’s what we’ve done.” Johnstone, too, said her family’s McDonald’s

Startup Costs Franchise fees and startup costs vary widely between companies. Here is a sampling of what one can expect:

Tropical Smoothie Café Franchised units: 275 Startup cost: $100,000–$150,000 Total investment: $254,000–$385,000 No in-house financing; special franchise fee discounts for veterans.

FastSigns Franchised units: 529 Startup cost: $75,000 Total investment: $169,000–$295,000 Financial assistance offered; special franchise fee discounts for veterans; participates in minority program.

The Melting Pot Franchised units: 139 Startup cost: $325,000–$400,000 Total investment: $877,000–$1.5 million Financial assistance offered; special incentives; international opportunities.

Supercuts Franchised units: 1,025 Startup cost: $115,000–$243,000 Total investment: N/A Financial assistance offered; special incentives; special franchise fee discounts for veterans; rebate on first franchise fee.

Home Instead Senior Care Franchised units: 893 Startup cost: $95,000–$105,000 Total investment: $39,000 Financial assistance offered; special franchise fee discounts for veterans; international opportunities.

Handyman Connection Franchised units: 163 Startup cost: $83,000–$156,000 Total investment: $83,000–$156,000 Financial assistance offered; special franchise fee discounts for veterans; franchise fee varies according to size of market. Source: franchise.org

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business in a box

Here’s a fun thought for potential franchise owners: Baby boomers are starting to retire, and they (along with older senior citizens) will need services that can be provided by imaginative franchises. According to SmallBizTrends.com columnist Joel Libava, 2010 is the year to consider hopping on the inside track of franchises devoted to recreation, golf, fitness, mobility, medical and non-medical services. Meanwhile, the food sector carries on. Libava reported that Five Guys Burgers and Fries is coming on strong; the 25-year-old frozen yogurt chain TCBY is freshening up its brand; Qdoba Mexican Grill will remain popular. Trend watchers are also encouraged to keep an eye out for franchises in the fields of supplemental education and tutoring, as well as energy-efficient “green” technology.

franchises have done well in the recession and pull in $9 million in sales a year. “We definitely have been on the ‘good’ side of the recession because people eat cheaper today, and we are that alternative,” she said. Supply and demand drives the world of franchising just as it does the realm of independent enterprise. “The demand has to be there,” Pak Mail’s McMurray said. “Just because it’s a franchise that works in some areas doesn’t mean it’ll work in all areas. But yes, there has to be a demand for it or it won’t fly, no matter how much money you put into it.” In the example of Genghis Grill, Kittrell and his partners are hoping demand remains high for the new stir-fry restaurant. Success depends on connecting with a cross-section of the community — specifically, a cross-section of wage earners. “What we’re focusing on now with the Genghis project is such a price-point deal that it hits everybody, from top wage earners down to minimum wage,” Kittrell said. “Genghis in Tallahassee has a nice customer mix which includes students all the way up to legislators, so it’s a unique mix. We really like that product right now with the economy the way it is.” Early success convinced the investors to eye other properties around the state. “As soon as we saw the success of Genghis, we worked with corporate to secure a large portion of Florida,” Kittrell said. Again, one advantage of owning a franchise is made clear. The hard work has already been done. All they have to do is find an abandoned Bennigan’s building and remodel it, as they did in Tallahassee. Those costs will now be a known factor. “The great thing about the Genghis concept to us is now that we’ve done one, it’s pretty easy for us to go out and find these Bennigan’s buildings

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that have failed in other markets and recreate the construction process,” he said. “We have a template built. We can go out, and I know HVAC is going to cost this much, this is what booths are going to cost. There’s a model I can go to.”

Looking for the Right Fit Becoming a franchise owner takes more than the right amount of capital, although that can’t be overlooked. In most cases, the prospective franchisee needs gobs of cash to even start the process. Meanwhile, he or she has to look inside and ask the questions: Am I right for this particular job? Do my skills match what’s required of me? Also, am I willing to follow the franchisor’s business model and give up a certain amount of profit to pay the license fee? Wicker, of Homes & Land, said that when he talks to a prospective franchisee, he wants to find out why that person wants to own a real-estate magazine franchise. That information helps him determine the extent of the applicant’s knowledge — because it’s important to understand that more is required than simply publishing a magazine. “What prospective franchisees need to make sure they’re doing is matching their skill set with the skills that are needed to succeed in this

Franchises are not immune to a tough economy, but they do stand a better chance of success because of consistency, economies of scale, and communications — major selling points.

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particular franchise,” he said. “For example, in this franchise, ideally they have sales skills. And sometimes we get people in here who surprisingly don’t understand that. They think more in terms of being a publisher, of putting out the product and distributing the product and designing the ads. None of that is happening if someone is not networking.” Accepting the limitations of owning a franchise is another thing the potential franchisee has to come to terms with. “You can’t do what you want to do,” Pak Mail’s McMurray said. “You have to stick to your model. They want you to stay within that realm. It’s your identity. When you open up (a Pak Mail), you’ve got to have a copier. You’ve got to have mailboxes. The beauty of a franchise is they have the fixtures set up, they have all the vendors set up. I won’t say it’s all turnkey, but the concept is turnkey.” From a franchisor’s perspective, “what we are looking for first and foremost is a good operator that shares the same enthusiasm and passion for the restaurant business, as well as our philosophy and commitment to exceptional food and exemplary service for our guests,” said Another Broken Egg’s Green. There is also the money to consider. “You have to have a fair amount of liquidity and capital to build and operate Sonics in the early phase,” Ritger said. “You need to invest in people; you need adequate cash reserves to build stores, train people and build your infrastructure while you launch your Sonic business.” The prospective owner also has to understand that there is a symbiotic relationship between the franchisor and franchisee. “Oftentimes there is confusion about the franchisor-franchisee relationships,” Wicker said. “Ideally, and this is what prospective franchisees should look for, the relationship between the


franchisor and franchisee is a strategic partnership. What they are doing is working together to attract and retain customers. When they are unified around that concept, then you’ll have a successful business model.”

The Flexibility Factor Although franchisors are sticklers when it comes to following their model, sometimes a little flexibility is granted to the franchisee, depending on the circumstance. McMurray said Pak Mail is probably one of the more lenient franchisors around, because in his case he is allowed to control the type of the books and cards his shop sells at the counter. It’s a small consideration, but something that works for his particular shop. “Most franchises, you stick to their model, you work their hours, you wear their uniforms,” he said. “How it was set up, you do it. If you don’t you lose your license, and a lot of money to boot. But this (franchise), I love it. The sense I got from them at the beginning was they were fairly liberal. “We sell Christian books, which is probably a big no-no in a lot of franchises, but to me the books go with the cards we sell, and they’re both positive things,” McMurray said. “But if (the franchisor) came in for an audit and saw a toilet bowl, or I’m selling concrete slabs or whatever, there would be some issues. But they give us a little bit of room to do some things. Overall, this franchise is great.” Flexibility is something that can be a great asset to a company. But Kittrell said that in the case of the Shula’s 347 franchise, it took a lot of upfront negotiations to be granted some creative leeway. “One thing that has been challenging is, we know what we believe will work in markets we understand, as far as appearances, and so you have to find a franchise that is flexible with build-out,” he said. “The Shula’s 347 in (Hotel Duval) looks nothing like any other Shula’s 347 concept in the country.” Kittrell said that Shula’s 347 is really more of a sports bar, but he wanted something a little more upscale to fit the Tallahassee location and clientele. “We knew we wanted to be the best steakhouse in town, so we had to have our finishes mirror that attitude, and so there was a lot of negotiations between myself and Dave Shula and our designer on how to make our space unique from any other Shula’s,” he said. “And at the end of the day, they allowed us to. They were very flexible, to the point that now, they love our finished product, and they’re going to use it for some of their new 347 concepts.”

GOING NATIONWIDE Robert Wicker, Chief Marketing Officer at Homes & Land in Tallahassee, provides tools and support for the franchise’s more than 340 real estate magazines across the U.S.

Kittrell said the partners’ Genghis Grill franchise also was granted some latitude in its size. “It’s the biggest in the franchise. There are 200 seats in there,” he said. Flexibility is a good thing, but expect to fight for it, Kittrell cautioned. “It’s not an easy thing. It’s a negotiation from day one,” he said. “You have to go into it with the understanding of what your market wants. We did our own market research so we could understand what the need was, where the voids were. Turns out there is just not a high-end product in town. When the Silver Slipper (restaurant) went out of business, it really opened the door. You’ve got to get down to what does Tallahassee want.”

Controlling One’s Destiny Although a franchisee may be a link in a chain, prospective owners are drawn to it because of their desire to take control of their future, both financially and personally, said Green, the Another Broken Egg founder. “Many people today want to exit the corporate world and take ownership and control of their destiny,” he said. “Franchisees can make a very good living while at the same time having some say in their future. Because (Another Broken Egg is) a breakfast, brunch and lunch concept, it allows for evenings off to spend with family and friends while at the same time owning a

lucrative investment.” Pak Mail’s McMurray said he is one of those corporate-world refugees who wanted to break away from the corporate rat race and spend more time with family. “Retail management was my background. I worked for Gayfers department store, which was great,” McMurray said. “It was a good company, but when you start having kids, and you’re working six days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day, it gets tough.” For two years or more, he looked at every type of franchise under the sun, from ice cream to cleaning to packing. He always had a certain set of criteria in mind. That is, he wanted something that didn’t involve working nights or weekends. “This was probably the main reason I kind of came to this one — it has regular business hours,” McMurray said. “If you don’t know exactly what to do, a franchise is the way to go,” McMurray said. “In my case, I knew good and well my success would be bound to a franchise.” Also, if you’re an aspiring small-business owner, trying for a well-known franchise will go over better down at the bank. That’s a great help in a recession when credit is tight, Sonic’s Ritger said. “If it’s a known entity, you can see its history, its structure and guidelines,” he said. n

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Gadsden, Jefferson + Leon Counties

Capital Corridor

spotlight

THE TOWN THAT COKE BUILT David Gardner has a plan to revitalize Quincy’s quaint downtown. While he’s come up against opposition to major projects — such as the Adage biomass power plant in nearby Gretna — Gardner thinks there is the seed of economic success beneath the ground in Gadsden County.

Open for Business

Rural Gadsden County faces a challenge familiar to many poor communities — trying to attract new economic development in an extremely competitive market by lilly rockwell

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n the early 20th century, a Quincy banker convinced many of his town’s wealthier farmers and merchants to buy stock in a new Atlanta soda company — Coca-Cola. At the time of its initial public offering in 1919, Coke stock was $40 a share. Eventually the price rose, the stock split and many Quincy residents became rich. But while Quincy is known for its high per capita percentage of millionaires, it is the county seat of Gadsden County, one of the poorest counties in Florida, where more than one in three children live below the poverty level and the unemployment rate was 10.3 percent in June. David Gardner’s job is to recruit business

Photos by SCOTT HOLSTEIN

to Gadsden, once a bustling farm community known for its shade tobacco farms. And although he gets calls from potential business suitors at least twice a month, many never pan out. The problems are varied. Many residents want to retain the community’s agricultural atmosphere. There are few local incentives to encourage new businesses to move there. And more often than not, the infrastructure needed by a new business isn’t in place and would take months to build. “These are very challenging times,” Gardner said. “Eighty percent of the opportunities are in green technology and renewable energy, and it’s very competitive.”

COR R I D OR BY T H E N UM BE R S Employment in Gadsden County $603 Average weekly wage (Compared to $760 statewide average) 13,325 Total number of employees 24 percent Workers employed in health care and social assistance, the largest major industry Source: Florida Research and Economic Database, 3rd Quarter 2009

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Capital Spotlight

A Ray of Hope Is Extinguished

Residents who were in favor of the biomass if not hundreds, of other competitors vying for that same business. plant were beyond frustrated. The struggling Gardner, the president of the Gadsden County It all comes down to the sales pitch, location county has never regained its footing after tobacChamber of Commerce, was especially excited and tax incentives package. It’s standard practice co farming started to dry up in the 1980s, leaving last year when work to bring a new biomass now for counties to offer tax breaks and help co18,000 people looking for new employment. plant to the small city of Gretna, in western Gadordinate other incentives at the state and federal sden County, started to gain momentum. “We’re still experiencing the repercussions level to businesses willing to guarantee a certain A company called Adage, a joint venture of that,” said Byron Spires, editor of the Havana number of jobs in an area. between companies Areva and Duke Energy, Herald. “We’ve never put that many people Gardner’s pitch for Gadsden County focuses wanted to build a $250 million biomass plant back to work.” heavily on the county’s near State Road 12. According to a four intersections with news release, the company would Interstate 10, as well bring 400 temporary jobs as early as its proximity to the as mid-2010 and 24 full-time percoast, major airports and manent jobs to the area. Adage’s universities. plant was to burn wood scraps as “More often than you a fuel to produce electricity — a win, you lose,” said Bill process it called a “clean biopower Stanton, the executive dienergy solution.” rector of the Jackson Coun“We’ve got the county commisty Development Council, sion, all six municipalities and a which focuses exclusively lot of stakeholders pointed in the on recruiting new business right direction,” Gardner said at to that county. Jackson a meeting on economic developshares its eastern border ment efforts covered by the Tallawith Gadsden County. “You hassee Democrat in February. “We’re just have to keep plugging excited.” away and don’t let failure Yet some Gadsden County get you down.” residents saw it differently. James Gadsden County has Maloy, who lives just outside had its share of losses, but it Gretna, was so incensed he built also has scored a few wins. a website called “The Concerned The city of Midway, which Citizens of Gadsden County.” The is near the county’s southsite detailed his concerns about ern border and a short drive the plant’s effect on the environSIGN OF THE TIMES Quincy may be “the town that Coke built,” but nowadays it is a small rural to Tallahassee, pursued an ment and potential for air pollucommunity struggling with modern pressures and a high unemployment rate. This 1905 mural harkens to a time less preoccupied. aggressive economic develtion. “Concerned Citizens” quickly opment plan that included drew supporters. annexing additional land The group headed by Maloy agand zoning some of it near gressively lobbied city leaders and The recent severe economic recession only the I-10 and U.S. Highway 90 interchange in a county commissioners. It received media attenworsened the county’s already slumping busiway that offered businesses a more streamlined, tion from local television stations, the Tallahasness community. Gadsden’s largest private emfaster process for building in the area. see Democrat and even the student newspaper at ployer, mushroom grower Quincy Farms, anAs a result, companies such as T-Formation, Florida A&M University. nounced in late 2008 that it was shutting down, which employs 120 people, decided to relocate “There are good reasons to stop this plant from laying off nearly 500 people. there, building a 45,000 square-foot production being built,” said Quincy resident Carl Owenby, Because of its proximity to Tallahassee, the facility for its T-shirt printing business. quoted at a public meeting on the issue in the state government is Gadsden County’s largest Still, local business leaders say they’d like to Democrat. “There are good scientific reasons that employer. see Gadsden County be more aggressive, envycan affect our health and our children’s health.” Gardner said losing the biomass plant was a ing the success nearby Jackson County has had Three months later, the city of Gretna called bitter pill to swallow. in recruiting new business. for a six-month period to study the issue before Though Jackson County has a similar agricul“I got pretty down. I bottomed out for a couple final approval and Adage reacted by canceling tural background and recruiting pitch, it has been of weeks,” he said, shaking his head. “I wasted a its plans for a plant. The city issued a statement: able to land major projects, such as the Family year and a half of my life.” “In light of Adage’s decision to suspend activity Dollar distribution center and the Green Circle on its proposed bioenergy facility slated for conBioEnergy wood-pellet manufacturing facility. Wins and Losses struction in Gretna, the city now considers this Stanton sympathizes with Gadsden County’s Recruiting new business to any county or matter closed and will take no further action.” challenges. The concerned citizens had won. city is tough work. A county could have dozens,

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{ Capital Corridor }

“We’ve had long spells where we didn’t get anything, and then spells where we got ourselves organized and competed effectively and regularly,” he said. It is daunting to pitch businesses on what’s special about your community, he said. “No matter how attractive your community might be in your mind, with the best schools and the best recreation, everybody says that,” Stanton said.

A Challenge Gadsden County faces a number of significant challenges when it comes to recruiting businesses, according to Gardner and other business leaders. The fight over the biomass plant focused on air pollution and environmental concerns, but County Administrator Johnny Williams had another word for it: NIMBY, short for “Not In My Backyard.” “Most of the opposition came from people very near to it,” Williams said. Similar to the NIMBY folks are the residents concerned about losing the county’s rural heritage for a big-city atmosphere. “People don’t want this place to grow,” Spires said. “They like it just the way it is. That’s not a

bad thing, but it’s in contrast to growth.” Hemant Patel, an owner of several hotels in Gadsden County, said it can be a challenge to get all the cities within Gadsden County — Chattahoochee, Midway, Quincy, Havana, Greensboro and Gretna — to collaborate on economic development projects. “Everyone wants a piece of the pie,” Patel said. “We are all fighting as opposed to helping.” Patel and Spires criticized the lack of a strategic growth plan from the county and cited an ongoing struggle to get the strong backing of local elected officials. (Williams says the county commission is committed to bringing new jobs to the area, and has shown its dedication by paying the chamber of commerce for its economic development duties.) Gardner said that when it comes to tax incentives, Gadsden County lags behind its competitors. And even if a business commits to building a new plant or distribution center, the county may have to build the basic infrastructure to support it, such as a water and sewer line. This turns off some businesses because it can slow down the project. Longtime residents look to the Quincy town square as a symbol of what Gadsden County used

to be, and could be again. At one time, that square buzzed with activity, with shops and restaurants. “Downtown was vibrant,” Gardner said. “On Saturdays, that was the center of the universe.” Now the square is busiest during the day and has mainly government offices. Many retailers shut down or moved closer to I-10. Spires said he’s hopeful Gadsden County can make up for lost time and views economic development as a way to diminish some of the county’s problems when it comes to poverty, education and health care. “We can make it a more prosperous community by being more business-friendly and overcoming all of these other problems,” he said. “We are on the threshold of making some great advances if we can pull together as a community,” Spires said. “When the economy turns up, we could be sitting in a very good position.” Gardner agreed, saying that while he was down in the dumps about losing the biomass plant a few weeks ago, he’s smiling again. Why? That very morning, a promising new business recruit had knocked on his door. Gadsden County was back in the game. n

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sure shot { Capital Corridor }

WHO: Sean Doughtie AGE: 34

Nourishing New Ideas

INDUSTRY: Communications YEARS IN BUSINESS: 5

Tallahassee-based communications company Taproot Creative is helping its clients grow stronger by kimberley yablonski

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 hen Sean Doughtie launched Taproot Creative in 2005, he had a singular focus — to “save the universe, one pixel at a time.” Although Doughtie may not yet have saved the universe, he has been able to grow his oneman show into a thriving company in challenging economic times. Over the past five years, Doughtie has taken Taproot Creative from a website design firm to a full-service public relations and social media/marketing shop. And he has done well enough to be hiring new staff during the recession. When he contemplated starting his own business, Doughtie was already married with two young children and realized that his “window of bravery was getting smaller each year.” He jumped in with both feet, and Taproot Creative was born. He says his approach to design is “definitely

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less is more.” The firm’s philosophy and approach with clients is to connect, motivate and inspire. The combination is a clean, crisp look without clutter and pop-ups or drop-downs that get in the way of the message. Taproot now has eight employees, two of whom were hired in 2009. The firm also just named Jonathan Edwards a partner and the company’s new vice president. With growth, Doughtie has had to learn to “let go” a little of his baby and allow those he has hired to walk on their own. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is the importance of delegation and the strength of my team,” he says. “I rely on my team daily for the success of my business. I had to learn to let go and trust, and that has been a tough thing but an important thing to do in order for the business to grow and be successful.” Doughtie, now 34, shares more lessons he has learned along the way:

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Why did you decide to start your own company? At the time I founded Taproot, I had worked in the industry for about five years as an art director for a firm. There were a lot of things I liked about the job and some things I didn’t like. I was 29 years old at the time, and I realized my window of bravery was getting smaller with every year. I was married with two kids at the time, a toddler and baby. (He now has three children.) I sat down with my wife, and we decided that it was now or never. So June 3, 2005, on my last day with the firm, I shook hands with my employer and drove across town and signed my first contract. Thus began Taproot Creative. The primary focus was Web design and development. Our brand was tied to website design because that was the low-hanging fruit. We offered branding and print design, but the bulk of our work was Web design. A couple months in,

Photo by SCOTT HOLSTEIN


I had an opportunity to work on the (gubernatorial) campaign for Charlie Crist, then attorney general. That really launched Taproot and started opening other doors. We started doing really well and sort of caught people off guard.

What are your business and creative philosophies? On the creative side, I’m definitely a less-is-more style of designer. Design should be a window, not a wall. It shouldn’t distract from the client’s message. We have the ability to detach our own personal likes and dislikes from the work we are doing and create designs that reflect the needs of our clients, and more importantly, what their audience wants and needs to receive. Political work can be challenging. We never set out to be a political shop, and we don’t look at ourselves that way, but in our community it is part of the available business. I take a very conservative approach on my business philosophy. Since I started the company, we have always existed in the black. I had a pretty well-thought-out business plan. We didn’t rely on venture capital, and we have grown as our revenue allows us to. We have to be nimble, strong and vibrant as a company, and we aren’t beholden to debt. That allows us to focus on what we are doing and not reacting based on financial need.

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Who inspired you? There have been a few different people, business mentors, who have helped me along the way. My wife has been my pillar. It is a demanding job. I don’t work typical hours, and I’m doing stuff on the weekend. She has been terrifically supportive and loyal and always stood by me. Without her being that way with me, I’m not sure I could have done this. A friend of mine since we were 19 years old, Jay Colle, has also helped me. During my career, we laugh that he has been my boss twice and I have been his boss once. He is a good confidant. He gets the creative side of me. He can understand the tortured artists.

What was your first entrepreneurial endeavor? Taproot was really the first. The first year especially, I had a really steep learning curve. All I did was work as a designer. The bookkeeping and management aspects of the business were brand-new territory. I read as many books as I could. I met with business mentors and people who were successful.

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capital sure shot I made more than one phone call to former bosses to apologize for being an artistic prima donna. When you get to running a business, you have to be more strategic and detach a little emotionally from the artistic aspect of things. You have to become thick-skinned as a creative person. You put your work out there, and people can tear it down. There is a lot of trust involved in both sides. You have to forge really good relationships. If you aren’t sensitive to the needs of clients, you can turn them off.

What was your best and worst business decision? I can answer both

What client required you to be most creative? That is a really tough one

with the same case study. When we bought Signeo, a small ad shop here in Tallahassee, we didn’t know the business environment was about to hit a recession. The type of business that came along with the acquisition of that company immediately dissipated. However, with that same transaction I brought on Jonathan Edwards, who is now my new partner. He has helped with the growth of the company.

to answer. The needs and final solutions are so different from project to project. It seems like there would be cases where we use a cookiecutter formula, but that never seems to be the case. Each project is unique just based on the client’s needs. In the end, the projects that stick out in my mind have been the ones that have been really rewarding to be a part of.

How did you come up with the company name? In botany, a taproot is the primary root from a plant or tree which is the main source of nourishment to the plant. That is the approach we try to take with our clients. We are the root source and provide constant nourishment to our clients and let them worry about running their business.

Why did you choose to start your company in Tallahassee? Did you consider any other location? Actually, I did. Most people thought I was insane for starting this type of business in Tallahassee. Some said go to Atlanta or Orlando. I think there are a lot more business opportunities in Tallahassee than people see on the surface. Part of me was just stubborn and competitive, and I wanted to prove those people wrong. My wife and I came to the agreement that if I had a successful business but lost my family in the process, that would not be a success. My family was too important. I love the Tallahassee community — the people, the landscape — and we wanted this to be the place we raise our family.

What marketing “product” are you most proud of?We recently worked with Myron Rolle, a former football player for Florida State University. He is a Rhodes Scholar and chose not to play football his senior year of college in order to go to England. It was a challenging project. We created a logo, website and brand for him to communicate with his fans and contacts while studying as a Rhodes Scholar. It was really great to come alongside and help someone like that realize their vision. The biggest thing we’ve been trying to push from the business side is the fact that we can offer a complete integrated marketing package. Having built the company as a Web-centric shop in the beginning is a blessing and curse. We don’t want to be boxed in. We are not just Web guys but integrated marketing guys. We are tackling projects that are more comprehensive versus one-off deliverable. n

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Gulf, Franklin + Wakulla Counties

forgotten coast Corridor

spotlight

THE WATER WILL RISE AGAIN Proponents of the Apalachicola Boatworks revitalization effort say this historic building can once again give birth to commercial-grade vessels, if given the chance.

Boatworks Revival ‘Working waterfronts’ are back in the forefront of community revitalization by jason dehart

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n the old days of Apalachicola, the port’s “working waterfront” may have been crowded with cotton bales, sponges, oysters and the buzzing of burly fishermen, teamsters and boatmen. Back in those days, “King Cotton” ruled the local and regional economy, and in 1836 the town had the third-largest port on the Gulf coast, behind New Orleans and Mobile, Ala. More than 40 warehouses dotted the port. Barges piled with puffy cotton bales regularly floated down

the waters of the Apalachicola River, and larger sailing vessels lay offshore waiting for cargo. Inestimable fortunes rode the waves. But things change, and those days of shipping glory vanished long ago. First there was drought, then the arrival of rail service — which was more resistant to low water levels than were steamboats — and war. Over the succeeding generations, Apalachicola had to reinvent itself with each new change in the economic and environmental landscape. Aside from cotton,

Photos by SCOTT HOLSTEIN and courtesy FLORIDA COMMUNITIES TRUST

COR R I D OR BY T H E N UM BE R S $1 million Apalachicola Boatworks, Franklin County $2.66 million Blue Crab Cove, Brevard County $3.16 million Sebastian Working Waterfront Collaborative, Indian River County The first three projects funded by the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever Grant program, established by the Florida Legislature in 2008.

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forgotten coast Spotlight

HIDDEN TREASURE The Federal Stimulus-built sidewalk (left) is what some call a sign of good things to come in the miniscule St. Marks downtown (above). The redevelopment plans call for improvements such as a boardwalk to create a new Riverwalk District by the water (inset).

HEYDAY OF THE BOATWORKS The proposed site of a revitalized Apalachicola Boatworks was a working boat building operation in the 1960s and 1970s. Historical photos show the operation in action, seemingly impossible when looking at today’s state of chaotic disrepair.

sponges, fishing and tourism all have played a part in the town’s history. The seafood heritage lingers on. Today, Apalachicola Bay produces 90 percent of Florida’s oysters and 10 percent of the nationwide supply. But there are a number of abandoned seafood houses on Water Street these days. Only a handful of functioning dealers are left to tend to business. Time and tide have also worked against the bay. Storms, high gas prices and water shortages have caused all but the most stubborn oystermen and shrimpers to leave the waterfronts of Apalachicola and neighboring Eastpoint. But thanks to a new state grant system, Florida’s traditional waterfronts may come back to life. The Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever Grant Program, created in 2008, is aimed at restoring once-vital coastal communities. Apalachicola is the first community to receive money from this pot, which may help the Water Street district hum with the sounds of one particular waterfront industry: boat building. We’re not talking aluminum johnboats or modern fiberglass inboard runabouts. We’re talking about small, working seafood boats with time-honored, plank-on-frame construction. George Kirvin Floyd, founder of the Apalachicola Maritime Museum on Water Street, has long dreamed of offering a traditional boat-building

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“Being raised in the Panhandle commercial fishing industry, it certainly is gratifying to see that Apalachicola is moving forward to ensure that working waterfronts are preserved for future generations.” debbie mayfield, State representative R-Vero beach

class at the museum. His plans got a boost earlier this year when the city joined with the Florida Communities Trust to buy the vintage Apalachicola Boat Works not far from the museum. The first project may be something simple, such as a demonstration project at the existing maritime museum, Floyd says. “Probably an oyster skiff, to get people involved,” he said. He was hoping that the grant management plans and other government documents would have been in place to allow him to do that this spring, but the wheels of government move

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slowly. Instead, Floyd said he hopes to have everything in place this summer. “It’s frustrating how slowly things turn,” he said. Meanwhile, Floyd is taking the opportunity to focus on making improvements around the maritime museum. Final touches to the museum’s new dock were added in April, and the touring ketch Heritage was undergoing some restoration work. Floyd said he would like to model Apalachicola’s boat-building program after the historical program featured at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. “It enriches lives and turns out great commercial boats as well,” he said. The Florida Communities Trust awarded $814,703 in Florida Forever money to the city of Apalachicola to buy the old building, abandoned since Hurricane Dennis hit the area a few years ago. The Apalachicola site has the distinction of being the first property to be bought through the state grant program. More than $7 million in Florida Forever money is available to coastal communities that want to buy land connected to commercial seafood or aquaculture, or property that promotes and educates visitors about the economic and historical value of working


waterfronts. Communities have to go through a competitive grant application process to be considered. Mayfield was a Republican lawmaker from Vero Beach who died of cancer in 2008. The grant carries his name because he was “passionate about maintaining the seafood industry,” Floyd explained. The Apalachicola Boat Works is one of three projects awarded funding during the program’s inaugural grant application cycle two years ago. The Apalachicola purchase will expand the existing maritime museum and establish an educational commercial seafood boat-building and restoration shop. It remains to be seen whether the old boatworks will be the actual location of a new boat shop, Floyd said, or something else just as important, such as classrooms. Architectural elevations for the new, three-story maritime museum building indicate a workshop space. “The core of the boat building may be at the (existing) museum,” Floyd said. “What really needs to happen is a structural assessment of the (old boatworks) building, which tells us what really can be done there.” The boatworks building is a two-story, tinclad shack originally built back in the 1920s by a real estate speculator. Three were built, but this is the only one that remains. “It’s in a sorry state of affairs,” Floyd said. “The roof is peeling back. It’s been abandoned since Hurricane Dennis. Right now there is no plumbing and essentially no electricity. I don’t know about putting heavy-duty shop equipment in there. It would make an excellent classroom building, but it’d be a big refurbishing effort.” Right now, the community doesn’t have a repair shop for commercial boats, but the purchase of the property may change that. “This will be the first active boat-building program in Franklin County since the 1960s or 1970s,” said Floyd, whose Apalachicola roots run long and deep. Mayfield’s widow, state Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, grew up in the Panhandle and was enthusiastic about the news. “Being raised in the Panhandle commercial fishing industry, it certainly is gratifying to see that Apalachicola is moving forward to ensure that working waterfronts are preserved for future generations,” she said. “This was a priority for Stan, and he put a lot of effort into making it a reality. The Apalachicola project, together with those in Sebastian and Brevard, will serve to keep the trade of the commercial fishing industry and the legacy of Florida’s traditional working waterfronts alive and prosperous.” Florida Communities Trust is part of a Florida

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forgotten coast Spotlight

Department of Community Affairs effort to help communities plan and manage growth. And the working-waterfronts program perfectly dovetails into that mission. “Traditional working waterfronts play an important role in the culture and economic fabric of Florida’s coastal communities,” said Department of Community Affairs Secretary Tom Pelham. “I congratulate the city of Apalachicola for receiving this grant to protect a piece of its heritage and provide a much-needed service to the community.”

The Apalachicola site has the distinction of being the first property to be bought through the Working Waterfronts Florida Forever grant program. “Apalachicola is well-known for its rich commercial fishing heritage, and if we do not protect and preserve our maritime industry, we will lose it forever,” said state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City. The museum provided $50,000 in seed money to start the rehabilitation of the building, Floyd said. “We’ll work with the city to do more grant writing,” he added, noting that these things don’t come cheap. “Fifty gets you started, but you can’t pick up a hammer for less than $10,000 today,” he said. n Florida’s commercial fishing industry has taken a beating in recent years, no thanks to hurricanes, ever-changing regulations and rising fuel prices. Fishermen, however, are carrying on. If you do business with these hardy souls and want to learn more about their hardworking way of life, check out the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Working Waterfronts website, WorkingWaterfronts.com.

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sure shot

{ FORGOTTEN COAST Corridor }

RIP CURRENT While Taunya James normally leads fellow seafood workers in coastal Apalachicola, she’s currently spending her days helping mitigate oil in the Gulf — a cause not only important to her but also financially necesssary.

WHO: Taunya James AGE: 34 INDUSTRY: Seafood

Up Against the Big Boys

YEARS IN BUSINESS: 8

Taunya James is working to save a way of life in seafood-dependent Franklin County by lee gordon

Taunya James was eager to take the reins of the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association in January. As the new president, James had what she thought was a successful business model. Her plan was to help create work for fishermen and reel in money to the coastal community. But then came the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a disaster likely to forever change Franklin County. Suddenly James’ plan to breathe life into the region’s oyster industry was overshadowed. “Even if it doesn’t come here, we’ll feel the effects for close to a year, because the damage is done with the tourist industry,” James said. “Our tourist industry is the summer — that’s when everyone makes their money. People aren’t coming because they think we’ve been hit, but we haven’t been hit. We’ve had so many cancellations.” But it’s not just tourism. Everything important to Franklin County is hurting, and that includes

Photo by SCOTT HOLSTEIN

the hundreds of local residents who make their living from the water. Oystermen and fisherman have only a small window during the calendar year in which to make money. That window has been partially closed by the oil spill. So it was up to James to come up with a solution. One option was to lay oil-collecting booms just off the area’s shoreline. The hope was that BP would hire out-of-work fishermen and oystermen in Franklin County to do the work and prevent the oil from reaching the sandy beaches. Families were counting on the cash infusion to put food on their tables. But in June, when tar balls washed ashore on

Pensacola Beach and BP was forced to dispense boom to Florida’s coastal areas along the western Panhandle, Franklin County was given only a fraction of the 400,000 feet of boom it was expecting. Worse yet, BP hired contractors to lay the boom, taking work out of the hands of local residents. It was a crushing blow to those living day to day, trying to keep their lights on and a roof over their head — a harsh reality of life after the oil spill. “I have people calling me every day,” said James, who said she has been calling state political leaders for help. “But there’s nothing being done. BP is just Lord Almighty, and they can do whatever they want to. That’s the way we feel. What can Florida be bought for?” James is 34 years old and the first female president of the nonprofit Franklin County Seafood Workers Association. She won an election in early 2010, replacing Johnny Richards as the president

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forgotten coast sure shot

of the association — a position she will have until January 2014. The industry is dominated by men, as a good percentage of the male population in Franklin County makes a living on the water. However, there are around 150 to 200 women currently working on the bay, and another 50 to 100 women who are shucking oysters. James is hoping to pave the way for women in the seafood industry and hopes that she can make a positive impact, despite some initial resistance. “At first I believe (my gender) was an issue among a few, but I stood strong and determined — showing my passion for my fellow seafood workers — and was able to get more accomplished than anyone has in many years,” she said. “Male and female, if we stand strong together, we can accomplish anything.” One of James’ first orders of business as president was to establish a shelling program to provide an added revenue stream for oystermen in Franklin County. A $100,000 grant from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was used to transport oyster shells to areas of Apalachicola Bay that had been overworked and needed to be replenished. The shelling program employed around 250 to 300 people for a couple of days a week during a time when the bay was closed due to heavy rainfall. “Our greatest (accomplishment) has been seeing the seafood workers standing together again,” she said. “From oystermen to clammers to charter and longline fishermen, having them at the same meetings and joining together to work on our industry issues. “(I’m) trying to get more money for help and assistance,” James said. “Trying to get a shelling program again, which gave $100,000 to the community. They had to work for it, but it benefits the community.” Many of the fishermen who report to James are old enough to be her father. But age to her is just a number, not an indication of how well a person can do his or her job. “I am 34, and I am proud and feel honored to be chosen at such a young age when there are many older, more experienced oystermen out there,” she said. The Franklin County Seafood Workers Association calls itself a definitive voice for the men and women who work within the seafood industry. Its new leader is now acting the part, advocating for their rights and working to generate new business for the stewards of the bay. James is a Florida girl who was raised in Okeechobee and then moved to Blountstown when she was 15. She was home-schooled for

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most of her life and went on to Gulf Coast Community College, where she studied recreational therapy and made the dean’s list. Shortly afterward, James moved to Apalachicola. “It was about 2002 when I moved to Apalachicola and met my husband,” she said. “He was an oysterman. I pulled oysters for him and have been oystering out there for the past few years.” James received her first oystering license in May 2003. In 2006, the seafood workers association asked her if she would like to get involved in the organization. She accepted the role of treasurer, although the stint was short-lived because James had other interests to tend to, including efforts to protect and preserve the area’s estuary and river system. She worked for Apalachicola RiverKeeper for two years. But shortly after Christmas in 2009, James found herself preparing to return to the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association, this time as its president. “They asked me if I would come back in and get things straightened out, and I did,” she said. Ninety percent of the state’s oysters come from Franklin County, where they are brought up by hand from the bottom of Apalachicola Bay. It’s a way of life in the county for at least 20 percent of the population. In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration came down hard on the oyster industry. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 11 people

FRANKLIN COUNTY BY THE NUMBERS 12,371 2010 Projected Population $28,176 Average Wage 23 percent Residents Living Below Poverty Level

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5,123 Labor Force 1,000 Oystermen and Shrimpers (est.) 8 percent Unemployment Rate in June 2010, (fifth lowest in Florida).

had died from consuming tainted East Coast or Gulf Coast oysters that were served either raw or undercooked. The FDA has ruled that, starting in 2011, raw oysters coming out of the Gulf of Mexico during warm-weather months must be treated before they can be sold to consumers to kill vibrio vulnificus, a type of bacteria that occurs mostly in the summer in warm coastal waters. “The FDA was coming in and wanted to shut us down five to seven months of the year,” James said. “(The bacteria is) only something that harms anyone if they have liver disease or a terminal illness. There’s just a few people who died from it, and they wanted to shut down the industry. And so it was a great big challenge to overcome someone as powerful as the FDA. “We got 14,000 signatures in a few days; it was all over the Internet and on Facebook to gather support,” she said. “They backed off a little bit.” Adding insult to injury was a new requirement that oysters go through a post-harvest processing procedure to kill off the bacteria through freezing, pressure and radiation. But it comes at a price. Setting up a plant and installing cooling systems could cost fishermen in excess of $1 million. It left James with the unenviable task of trying to figure out how to keep herself and her fellow fisherman working without breaking the law. Between the FDA, the oil spill and the unseasonably cold winter, Franklin County hasn’t been able to catch a break in James’ short tenure as president of the seafood workers association. “We had one after another after another,” James said of events affecting the county and its people. “This oil spill, trying to keep it out, and (I’m) trying to keep everybody on their toes and take protective measures. That’s the biggest one at this point. Keep in contact with the political candidates and things, let them know that we are here and we need their support.” Not one drop of oil may ever reach Franklin County, but the damage has already been done. The role of the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association has been changed for at least the foreseeable future, maybe forever. It will be years before James or her successor can focus solely on oystering and preservation issues. Until then, the oil spill will be in the forefront of everyone’s mind. “We are down for a year for making money,” she said. “And then if (oil) comes in, it could be up to 20 years,” James said. The uncertainty of when life will get back to normal is an emotional burden everyone must bear. “There is a shutdown procedure, but not an opening procedure,” she said. n


BAY Corridor

Panama City, Panama City Beach + Bay County

spotlight

BIG BOOM The Panama City Mine Roller System is a device that attaches to the front of any Marine vehicle and sets off IEDs before the vehicle itself rolls over them, saving the lives of U.S. Marines in Afghanistan.

Tactical Triumphs Local military engineers and defense contractors prove to be the best at counter IED measures by tony bridges

I

f necessity is the mother of invention, then war surely is its granddaddy. Over nearly nine years in Afghanistan, the American military has struggled to adapt to the constantly evolving tactics of Taliban and foreign fighters. The biggest threat they’ve faced from the insurgents, by far, has been the use of homemade bombs, frequently referred to as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. These crude, powerful explosives have wounded or

Photos courtesy U.S. MARINE CORPS

COR R I D OR BY T H E N UM BE R S killed thousands of troops, including more than 200 in a single month earlier this year. When the stakes are life and death for American service members, military inventors have to think on the fly to come up with equipment that will keep the blood off the ground. And the counter-IED engineers at the Naval Surface Warfare Center – Panama City Division are as good as anyone at doing just that by developing surprisingly simple, but effective solutions.

49%

The portion of U.S. combat deaths (during Operation Enduring Freedom) in Afghanistan caused by improvised explosive devices between 2001 and June 28, 2010. (Of 853 U.S. troop deaths caused by hostile activity, 421 were a direct result of an IED.) Source: The Brookings Institution

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bay Spotlight

With the help of private military contractors, they have been saving the lives of U.S. Marines and sailors in Afghanistan with one of their latest pieces of equipment, the Panama City Mine Roller System. The mine roller is a device that attaches to the front of any Marine vehicle and sets off IEDs before the vehicle itself rolls over them, protecting the Marines inside from the blast. The idea was conceived, tested and implemented in Bay County, using military engineers and local defense contractors such as L-3 Communications. So far, more than 600 have been produced for use in Afghanistan, many of them coming from facilities in Panama City Beach. “Every aspect of what our program requires (is) located at Panama City. They have an intelligence section that tracks emerging IED trends, a solid team of engineers and scientists who really understand the physics of mines and ... skilled craftsmen who can fabricate the rollers and test facilities to quickly test the new designs,” U. S. Marine Lt. Col. Kevin Reilly said in a military statement.

Fighting an Explosive War The Taliban fighters simply are not equipped to go toe-to-toe with American forces. They don’t have the soldiers, heavy weapons and technology to withstand the kind of brutal power — from smart artillery to air support — that an Army division or Marine Expeditionary Force could bring to bear in a straightforward, conventional battle. So, the insurgents are doing what smaller, less-advanced forces have done for centuries when facing overwhelming firepower — they’re waging asymmetrical warfare. The idea behind a guerilla war is not to take and hold ground or to reduce the enemy’s numbers by sheer force. It is to weaken the will of the other side, to drag the conflict out and make the enemy question whether it is worth the cost. Insurgents do this by interrupting supply lines, carrying out hit-and-run attacks that slow the enemy’s advance and by inflicting casualties in particularly gruesome and frightening ways. The easiest way for the Taliban and foreign fighters to do this in Afghanistan is through the use of IEDs. Insurgents can plant bombs along routes used for logistics and patrols and detonate them remotely, destroying both equipment and wounding or killing Americans without exposing their own small force to direct contact. The result is that resupply is temporarily disrupted and troop movement slows as soldiers and Marines move more cautiously to avoid additional bombs.

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About 200 people, both government employees and contractors, work on the Panama City Mine Roller system, along with other regional manufacturers. L-3 Communications’ Panama City Beach facility has a $44.6 million contract to support the mine roller through 2012, according to the Defense Logistics Agency. And the counter-IED engineers also oversee production by other military facilities. The Washington Post recently reported that the use of bombs has increased significantly from the beginning of the war, with American military records reflecting nearly 15,000 “IED incidents” between 2007 and 2009. They have become a leading cause of casualties in Afghanistan, accounting for at least 275 deaths last year alone, according to the website iCasualties.org, which tracks military deaths. And the bombs are becoming more effective. Alan Canfield, manager of the counter-IED program at the Navy base in Panama City Beach, Insurgents in Iraq often were operating in developed areas with paved roads, so they had to place their bombs beside roads, disguised as anything from trash to dead animals. There are few paved roads in Afghanistan, though, meaning Taliban fighters can bury their bombs

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underground in “natural chokepoints where movement is expected,” Canfield said. No remote detonator is needed because the device is triggered when a vehicle rolls over it — or a Marine steps on one — and the weight pushes two small pieces of metal together, closing a circuit. They’re also made largely from fertilizer, with only minimal metal components, so they are extremely difficult to detect. Because the bombs are buried, instead of sitting out in the open, insurgents can make them much larger. And while the military is using more Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in Afghanistan, even an armored vehicle body is not much protection from the overpressure and shrapnel generated by several pounds of high-order explosive detonating directly underneath. The result: IEDs in Afghanistan are as much as


{ bay Corridor }

COLLATERAL DAMAGE A Marine Corp Mine Roller System damaged during a combat logistics patrol in Farah Province, Afghanistan.

50 percent more lethal now than just three years ago, according to Congressional testimony by Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. And so, the military has been getting inventive.

How to Shield the Marines? The call came from the Marine Corps in 2006. Could the mine experts from the Naval Surface Warfare Center – Panama City Division take a look at the IED threat and try to devise a solution? Countering mine warfare is an integral part of Navy operations, and is a frequent subject of research and development at the Navy base. Of course, coming up with a way to defeat mines manufactured uniformly by a foreign government is a different animal from homemade bombs, which can change from device to device. “We have to war-game, troubleshoot and think ahead,” Canfield said. The idea they landed on was a simple one. “Our proposal was for a wheel-based system for the tactical vehicles to provide pre-detonation of the mines,” he said. A team of six Navy engineers and techs started working on the design. What they created was

a flatbed trailer, of sorts, with headlights that could be attached to any of the vehicles commonly used by Marine units. Rows of wheels stretch across the front to roll over and compress the ground before the vehicle follows. While Canfield said he can’t go into details about how it works, the basic concept is that the roller triggers the mine, then “takes the hit.” The roller, although designed to be durable and repairable, usually is destroyed in the explosion, leaving the vehicle behind it and the Marines inside untouched. In addition to lives, the device also saves money, since the cost of a mine roller is only about 10 percent that of a tactical vehicle, Canfield said. Less than 90 days after the original request for help, the counter-IED engineers had a prototype being field-tested in Iraq. That was just the beginning. After an early success in Iraq — Canfield can’t say what — the Marines ordered more of the mine rollers than the Navy base could actually provide. L-3 Communications was chosen to help manufacture the mine rollers and turned out at least 42 in the initial stages. Meanwhile, the counter-IED representatives began traveling to the war zones to see how the mine roller was performing and what improvements could be made. Canfield said the civilians on his team have made nearly a dozen trips in three-and-a-half years to both theaters, so many that several have received awards for time spent in combat zones. “That’s one of the ways we’ve been able to get to a third generation,” of the mine roller, Canfield said. Initially, the Marine Corps was testing five counter-IED systems, designed by both government agencies and private contractors, but settled on the Panama City Mine Roller System as the best solution. (Canfield said the U.S. Army has its own version of a mine roller manufactured by a company in the United Kingdom.) Now, the program is running full blast. About 200 people, both government employees and contractors, work on the project, along with other regional manufacturers. L-3’s Panama City Beach facility has a $44.6 million contract to support the mine roller through 2012, according to the Defense Logistics Agency. And the counter-IED engineers also oversee production by other military facilities. Last month, Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan told Congress: “We currently have approximately 200 rollers on order at the Marine Corps Maintenance Center, Albany, Ga., and 90 on

order with L-3 through the Naval Surface Warfare Center (in) Panama City.”

Bomb Goes Off, Marines Survive Of course, the question is, how well does it work? There have been more than 100 reports since 2006 of successful uses of the mine roller. The Navy provided information on one such incident from December 2008. A Marine unit from Hawaii that Canfield had helped train in the use of the system was on a supply run to a forward operating base. The unit, commanded by 1st. Lt. Rebecca Turpin, was using a mine roller. “The mine roller has to go over some very rocky terrain in Afghanistan and I’m not talking about little rocks either — I mean huge boulders, but it holds up.” she said, in a Navy statement. The lead vehicles, with a roller attached, crested a wadi — sort of a gully — and was starting down into it. “The mine roller came over the top of the bank and dropped down into a wadi and the IED blew up,” said Marine Sgt. Benjamin Chesterbristow, as reported by Dan Broadstreet, a spokesman at the Navy base. “We actually laughed out of relief. I can definitely say that (the mine roller) prevented a mobility kill and saved the lives of everyone in our vehicle…You don’t necessarily have to worry about things going terribly wrong if the mine roller does catch an IED.” For Canfield, the incident illustrates how critical it is for programs like the one in Panama City Beach to provide fast, workable solutions to those who are in the line of fire. “In this business, when you have an adaptive and responsive enemy who doesn’t have a chain of command, a supply system or acquisition process — they just come up with an idea and execute it — that’s an enemy we have to respond to quickly,” he said. n

L-3 At a Glance Headquarters: NYC LLL (NYSE) Industry: Aerospace & defense Sales: $15.6B (2009) Fortune No. 148, based on sales Employees: 67,000 76% of sales U.S. Dept of Defense Estimated 2010 Net Income: $960M

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experience speaks { BAY Corridor }

“We are at the grassroots of the community, where we can act quickly, if needed, and not get swallowed by red tape and bureaucracy. As President Obama has indicated, the community colleges in the country are the key to economic recovery and retooling the work force, and are the open-door entry to higher education. Many people would not attend college if not for community colleges. We truly make a difference.” — James Kerley

WHO: James Kerley AGE: 60 INDUSTRY: Education YEARS IN BUSINESS: 31

Mission: Make a Difference

How James Kerley is making sure that Gulf Coast Community College will enhance the region’s economic future by lee gordon

He’s known around campus as a cheerleader, risk-taker and visionary. His resume boasts three decades of community college experience — including 21 years as a community college president. Since June 2007, James Kerley has served as president of Gulf Coast Community College. He says that growing up in a farming family, where he was the first to go to college, helped shape his approach to leading the college. “I cherish the mission of open access, hope and opportunity,” Kerley says of community

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colleges. “Everyone has the opportunity to excel; no one is excluded from a college education. Giving someone a chance to enter college whose family previously did not have the same opportunity warms my soul.” Kerley learned about his own potential as a young man in the U.S. Navy. He entered the military as a teenager and credits his Navy years with showing him the importance of teamwork and diversity. “Having lived in a small town, I had not seen a diverse background of people, and the Navy gave me the opportunity to work and know people from many different backgrounds,” he says. “At the community college, diversity is a key element, and we continually celebrate it.”

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His first job was as an adjunct professor and graduate assistant for the student teaching office at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Then it was on to Valdosta State University in Georgia, Union College in Barbourville, Ky., and a slew of community colleges in Kentucky, where he spent most of his professional career. Kerley met his wife, Donna, while in the Navy. She, too, is an educator, most recently as the academic dean of Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky. Together, the Kerleys have more than six decades of education experience to pull from, and Gulf Coast Community College has taken advantage of his grassroots push toward academic achievement. “I would never want to go anywhere else

Photos by SCOTT HOLSTEIN


other than Gulf Coast,” James Kerley says. “It is a fine institution, and our goal is to continue to push it forward with great flexibility and agility and to meet the needs of our work force, which is constantly changing.” The college is in the second year of a five-year comprehensive strategic plan to enhance education in Gulf, Franklin and Bay counties. Part of that plan includes a $30 million advanced technology center. “(The new center) will address work-force skills,” Kerley says, “especially in high-skill and high-paying jobs. This facility will be a national model and will make a distinct difference in our region, especially with the new airport.” Since he came on board, Kerley has been rolling up his sleeves, not only as president, but as a salesman of Gulf Coast Community College. “Especially if it gives more opportunity to our students and our region we serve,” he says. “We have many goals, such as greater collaboration with our partners in education, business/industry and government. The future is bright at our institution because we are dealers of hope.” Developing new programs for the green industry, information and technology, robotics and the health professions, as well as increasing access for more people to attend universities, is key to the area’s economic development, according to Kerley. The strategic plan will add at least two new programs per year, focusing on excellence in teaching and academics and providing more opportunities for professional development for the Gulf Coast faculty. It will also allow the school to tap into the vast resources available in Bay County. The plan is not as easy as it would appear. Enrollment is up, while state financial support is down. But despite the bumps in the road, Gulf Coast is determined not to let the downturn impede its progress. “We continue to stay optimistic and innovative, having received over $4.5 million in new grant dollars last year, which helped us jumpstart new programs and update technology,” Kerley says. “We have also expanded our e-learning dramatically, ensuring greater access for all students. We have an excellent college foundation that gives out hundreds of scholarships every year, and that has been a lifesaver for economically strapped students.” Kerley has also reached out to businesses in Bay County, utilizing resources that could guide the school now and into the future. “We have a group that I chair that is addressing future work-force needs, especially attracting

community colleges in the Sunshine State 28 Colleges 62 Campuses 180 Sites 1,990 Campus buildings 12,583 Acres of land $6 billion Capital assets

What do Florida’s college students look like? 831,165 students

Total Unduplicated Annual Headcount (2007–08)

Student Profile

(Fall 2008 “award-seeking” students):

38% Full-time students 62% Part-time students 25 Average student age 60% female 41% Minority enrollment

Enrollment by Degree Program 260,141

Associate in Arts Degree

193,560

Continuing Workforce Education

128,920

College & Vocational Preparatory

80,659

Associate in Science Degree

76,742

Recreation & Leisure

61,439

Adult Secondary

29,575

Vocational Certificates

15,841

College Credit Certificates

5,333

Bachelors Degree Program

3,365

Life Long Learning Source: Florida Department of Education

{ BAY Corridor }

high-tech and high-paying jobs,” he says. “One year ago, the college, The St. Joe Company, Gulf Power and Workforce Florida signed a (memorandum of understanding) to set up a model work-force development program.” Kerley serves on various community boards, among them the Bay County and Panama City Beach chambers of commerce; the Bay County Economic Development Alliance; the Gulf Coast Workforce Board; and the Executive Leadership team of the American Heart Association. He has also been the recipient of a slew of major awards. Some of the biggest ones include the Kentucky Humanitarian Award, the Business of the Year Award and the Leadership Kentucky Recognition Service Award. “Awards are nice to obtain, but the greatest awards are knowing one life has breathed a little easier because of my involvement as a community college leader,” Kerley says. “Seeing someone walk across the stage and receive the diploma brings tears to my eyes.” Larry Henderson is one of those students. Henderson received a Purple Heart for his heroics in Iraq, where he was seriously injured on the battlefield. Now, after being discharged from the U.S. Army, he is attending Gulf Coast and, according to Kerley, has purpose and hope. Lessie Flowers, a recent graduate, took more than 20 years and overcame major obstacles, but she walked across the stage and received her diploma. “These are examples of hundreds of students who have moved my heart and touched me, and these are my true awards,” he says. “I received a couple of major awards in Lexington pinpointing my work to help and promote diversity, and I am pleased how I focused my efforts to make a difference in lives.” Kerley has been presented with the opportunity to leave the community college sector and run a public university, but dropped out after being in the final two for the job, mainly because he truly loves the community college mission of open access and opportunity for all. “We are at the grassroots of the community, where we can act quickly, if needed, and not get swallowed by red tape and bureaucracy,” he says. “As President Obama has indicated, the community colleges in the country are the key to economic recovery and retooling the work force, and are the open-door entry to higher education. Many people would not attend college if not for community colleges. We truly make a difference.” n

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“Welcome home.” Words everyone in the market loves to hear. HOME SALES • RELOCATION • PROPERTY • RENTALS

HOMES & LAND AND RENTAL GUIDE MAGAZINES ARE PERFECT RESOURCES for finding your next home or apartment. If you are moving locally, pick up a copy to see the area’s most attractive places to live. If you are locating outside the Tallahassee area, contact us at 800-277-7800 and we’ll send you a free magazine for your target destination. Make sure you visit HomesAndLand.com and RentalGuide.net to see thousands of new listings and apartments everyday.

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Coastal Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa + Walton Counties

EMERALD COAST Corridor

spotlight

HOT ROD James Klok’s Renegade Performance Center beefs up muscle cars into custom rocket rides. His shop in Pensacola has made a name for itself in the hot rod industry.

Hopped Up on Horsepower James Klok has found the remaking of a sports car classic is a cottage industry where he’s at home by scott jackson

A

s a young boy growing up in rural Michigan in the late 1970s, James Klok was immersed in the auto-​  racing culture. For Klok, souped-up cars with massive rumbling engines, aerodynamically modified bodies and exotic paint jobs were as normal as any vehicle seen on the highway. It couldn’t be helped. He lived adjacent to a drag strip — and a thin property fence couldn’t muffle the day-in-and-day-out staccato roar of the behemoths scorching the pavement. Hot cars were imprinted on Klok’s mind. Now, at 40 years of age, Klok operates Renegade Performance in Pensacola, customizing

Photos by SCOTT HOLSTEIN

cars with a particular focus on the Ford Mustang. His is one of only five businesses in the United States authorized by Ford to modify the Mustang for dealerships.

Starting His Engine When he was younger, Klok did some of his own racing He competed in bracket racing, a form of drag racing that allows for a handicap between the predicted elapsed time of the two cars over a standard distance, and some auto-cross, a timed competition where drivers navigate one at a time through a series of traffic cones. Klok arrived in Northwest Florida in 1990

COR R I D OR BY T H E N UM BE R S The Legendary Ford Mustang 418,812 Number of cars sold during first year sales (1964) 66,623 Cars sold in 2009 40,035 Cars sold in 2010 (January through June) Acccording to MuscleCarFacts.net, the Ford Mustang is the only original “pony car” that has remained in continuous production for more than four decades.

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The Flightline team is as follows, left to right: Cindi Goodson, CFO; C. Daniel Langston, President and COO; Cody Langston, Director; Mac Langston, Chairman and CEO; Paul Watts, COO Electronet Broadband Communications

RE AL CUSTOMERS . RE AL ISSUES . RE AL SOLUTIONS . “The worldwide aviation community relies on Flightline Group and our family of companies to provide them with excellent aircraft, parts, maintenance services, and aviation expertise to help them keep their families and employees safe and their companies profitable. Our voice and data communications are vital to the success of all of our businesses. That is why we chose Electronet Broadband Communications for our telephone system, dial tone services, long distance and internet access. By bundling our services we were able to enhance performance and reduce costs. Electronet has been a great local choice for our business communication needs that span the globe. Their responsiveness to our needs has been excellent and we highly recommend Electronet to anyone looking to improve their business communications.” C. Daniel Langston

Paul “Mac” Langston

3 4 1 1 C a p i t a l M e d i c a l B l v d . Ta l l a h a s s e e , F L | 2 2 2 . 0 2 2 9 | w w w. e l e c t r o n e t . n e t


{ emerald coast Corridor }

Worldwide Interest

TOTAL CUSTOM MUSCLE Renegade Performance Center does all the modifications from bumper to bumper on their jobs — from engine work to personalized graphics and paint.

when he was assigned to Eglin Air Force Base as an Air Force calibration technician. For five years he worked at the base’s Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory, practicing metrology — the calibration and repair of test equipment. The work honed his penchant for precision and quality, skills that would carry over in his civilian life. “I left the service in 1995 to go work for Roush Fenway Racing, a NASCAR team, performing engine development work for one year,” he said. The Roush team’s cars were no slouches by any measure, garnering 260 NASCAR wins over the team’s history. The following year found Klok doing brake development work at the General Motors proving ground in Arizona for legendary auto designer Larry Shinoda, who is credited with creating the Boss 302 Mustang and doing development work on early models of the classic Corvette Stingray. Shinoda died of kidney failure that year, leaving Klok with his stockpile of Mustang customizations. Admitting he wasn’t always a Mustang fan, Klok said, “I got into the Mustangs primarily because I took over for Larry in 1997.” He subsequently formed his own company, Renegade Performance, and continued to focus on Mustangs. “We have always specialized in the Mustang, but that is not to say we don’t do other vehicles,” Klok said.

A Unique Relationship Klok brought his company to Pensacola in 2001 and set up shop in a converted filling station. Renegade Performance now is one of only five

customization shops in the country that have a direct link with Ford Motor Company. “Ford delivers directly to our facility via a car hauler,” he said. “We modify them and send them back to whichever dealer ordered the car. Normal turnaround time is anywhere from 30 to 90 days, depending on how extensively they want it modified.” The markup for customized cars is considerable — a $30,000 car can get close to $60,000, depending on the amount of work.

Although his customization business has been exclusively for clients in the United States, Klok has garnered international attention. “We haven’t had any overseas customers yet, but we have had people show interest,” he said. “We send parts overseas to Japan, Puerto Rico and Germany. We have a guy from England that comes in about once a quarter to pick up parts.” The most exotic customization Klok has done seems more like a rocket ship than a car. “We put in a twin turbo-charged, 4.6-liter, 1,100-horsepower engine for a car that is now in Ohio,” he said. By comparison, a typical non-turbo-charged NASCAR race car produces upwards of 750 horsepower, and a 2009 Ford F-150 truck tops out at 392 horsepower. It’s not just about engines, either. Klok’s shop also does all of the graphics, spoiler, supercharger, upholstery, suspension and brake work involved in its customizations. The cars themselves are an amalgamation of technological miracles; with aerodynamic styling and powerful engines, they represent the cutting edge of technological design.

Riding Out the Recession America’s love affair with the automobile is so strong that it had to take the near-total financial collapse of the auto industry to appreciably affect the customization industry. “That is why we are doing more local stuff now, when we used to not even be open to the

“We are lean and mean, and that is why we are still in business ... Most of the larger companies have a board of directors and some managers, so by the time it gets down to the person who is doing the actual work, you will have gone through four or five tiers of people to get it approved. With me, if the job comes in and we like it, we simply do it.” JAMES KLOK, OWNER, RENEGADE PERFORMANCE CENTER

Klok admits he doesn’t always know who the car’s ultimate owner is but acknowledges that he has his share of high end customers. “The yellow car belongs to Mark Nally, CEO of Flex Equipment in California, which manufactures all the exercise equipment for Gold’s Gym,” said Klok, pointing to one of two vehicles undergoing modifications. “The white one is owned by Charmed Limo Service in Long Island, N.Y. We also have one for the CFO of Baltimore Gas & Electric. We deal with people all across the country.”

public,” Klok said. He attributes Renegade’s survival to unique licensing arrangements and a small, flexible team, which is unlike most of his competitors. “We are lean and mean, and that is why we are still in business,” he said. “In 2005, there were approximately 20 businesses modifying Mustangs across the country. Now there are basically five major players: myself, Roush, Saleen, Shelby and Steeda. We are small enough that there isn’t any red tape. Most of the larger companies have a board of directors and some managers, so by the

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time it gets down to the person who is doing the actual work, you will have gone through four or five tiers of people to get it approved. With me, if the job comes in and we like it, we simply do it.” And being small allows Klok to adapt to unique requirements. “We get a lot of projects that nobody else has done,” he said. “For instance, the yellow car we are building for Mark Nally in California is a 5.4-liter engine swap into a 2006 Mustang that still has all the California emissions equipment. We have to make the modification and preserve the emissions equipment as if the factory had done it.” Klok also has a license from Ford to use the “Boss” nameplate, which designates a special customization that is allowed for only a limited edition of race-ready Mustangs. “I am the only guy licensed to use that name on a Mustang,” he said. Noting his niche of themed cars, Klok points to a poster of a Mustang on his wall that features Blue Angels paint and design. He likes to compare his shop to the popular Orange County Choppers group whose television series showed custombuilt motorcycles with unique themes. “We did an Auburn-themed car, as well as a Georgia Bulldog car, for possible licensing by the NCAA, but are still working on that,” he said.

Looking Ahead

Renegade’s close ties with Ford also allow Klok’s business to make approved modifications to other vehicles, such as conversion vans and police cars. Equipment Manufacturing Association report, and that may eventually bode well for specialty equipment manufacturers and customizers such as Renegade Performance. As vehicles age, consumers are more likely to repair or refurbish them rather than buy something new. Klok is optimistic. “I feel that it is coming back,” he said. “I think as long as companies like Ford are as healthy ... They appear to have turned things around.” Renegade’s close ties with Ford also allow Klok’s business to make approved modifications to other vehicles, such as conversion vans and police cars.

Klok hopes to move into a larger and betterdesigned facility where he can add an auto-parts consignment element to his business. In view of the considerable transaction volume for auto parts on Internet forums such as Craigslist and eBay, this would allow customers to store their parts, for a fee, at his warehouse. “Sellers will be able to have a place to display their parts after they post it on the forums,” Klok said. “This way, nobody would have to come to your house, but they could still inspect the merchandise.” Klok and his three employees are assisted by two of his three children on a part-time basis. His 18-year-old son helps with the multimedia aspects and 15-year-old daughter works the counter during the summer. As for the future, as long as Americans continue their love affair with the car, Renegade Performance will most likely continue playing Cupid to the passionate mix of style, power and ride that makes up the Ford Mustang. n

Industry Group Rides Shotgun The industry trade organization that is at the hub of the customization business is the Specialty Equipment Manufacturing Association. It consists of a diverse group of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, publishing companies, auto restorers, street-rod builders, customizers, car clubs and race teams. The 46-year-old organization performs services for its members to protect consumers’ rights to drive accessorized, customized and vintage vehicles; it also monitors legislation at the state and federal levels. In an October 2009 survey, the member manufacturers were asked by the association for their sales outlook compared to the previous year. Not surprisingly, the results show a tentativeness about the near-term future of the auto industry. Forty-one percent predicted that sales would be flat compared to one year ago; 37.3 percent predicted sales would be up; and 21.7 percent said sales would be down. Of the manufacturers that predicted sales would be up, the average increase was 13.9 percent. Of the manufacturers that predicted sales would be down, the average decrease was 18.7 percent. Even though the auto industry is struggling, there is evidence that people appear to be keeping their vehicles longer, according to a Specialty

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 oday, Matt Butler is a major in the U.S. Air Force. He works as an air battle manager at Hurlburt Field, testing surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, systems and aircraft. But around seven years ago, while seated in a Boeing 707 flying 35,000 feet over Iraq and Afghanistan, he became an inventor as well. Aiming for a fun game that would be simple enough for young players, yet challenging enough for adults, Butler landed on Rollors, a handcrafted wooden game of skill and chance. Think bocce meets horseshoes. The game is hand-carved from maple wood and includes a pyramid-shaped goal, six wooden discs marked with points (three each for two teams), and a measuring cord. To play the game, two teams of up to six players take turns rolling two-sided discs (numbered from 1 to 6) toward the opposite goal. The discs that land closest to the goal and face up earn the most points. As in horseshoes, a disc leaning on the goal, or a “leaner,” earns the maximum points. The team with the most points takes the victory. Butler, a 34-year-old Minneapolis native, confesses that he has a lot of ideas circling in his head, but this is the first to take flight. For the sports enthusiast, creating a fresh spin on a backyard lawn game was a natural fit. “I am from the Land of a Thousand Lakes,” he says. “I grew up in the city. We went to cabins to escape and always played games that were easy to set up and tear down, like bocce ball, horseshoes, badminton …” Butler doesn’t claim to have hatched a novel concept. “These games have been around for thousands of years — it works,” he says. “The American way is innovation. Inventing something is good, but also if you look at things people have thought about, sometimes ideas have innovated it, changed it and made it better. That’s what I did with this game. It’s nothing new. I just did a new approach of it.” When deciding where to outsource the prototype of the game, Butler found it fortuitous that the economy was down. It meant that many retired military veterans and skilled local contractors, unable to find work in the housing industry, could assist him in handcrafting his game. It was a win-win relationship. The knowledgeable veterans were pivotal in shaping the final product — literally. “It was important to me that it be good quality. I wanted it to last — I didn’t want anything plastic,” he says. Butler’s crafty comrades tried different

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finishes and lacquers on the maple; they tried curved and flat sanded edges and suggested exactly where the hole should be drilled so that it rolled best. Butler continues to work with a handful of local veterans who create games for him in the evenings or on weekends when they have time. To date, he has sold more than 214 games, which retail for $85 plus shipping and handling, and tries to keep a limited number in stock. Winning by chance is the only thing that has been left to chance with Rollors. In addition to manufacturing, all patent research, trademarking, marketing, website development, packaging and distribution have been handled locally — and that’s by design. “I feel good about it in multiple ways, because I know I’m helping people here,” Butler says. He has already become a mentor to other would-be inventors. Butler has even been asked for advice on launching cosmetic products. One

One piece of advice Butler himself received early on is to be sure to apply for a patent that gives the most protection. “I chose a utility patent, which covers your idea in general. If you get a patent too specific, someone could change your invention slightly and take your idea.”

piece of advice he has shared is to be wary of organizations promising too much or that are overly eager to help. “There are a lot of fakes out there who claim to provide patents and such; you have to be careful,” he says. One piece of advice Butler himself received early on is to be sure to apply for a patent that gives the most protection. “I chose a utility patent, which covers your idea in general,” he says. “If you get a patent on something too specific, someone could change your invention slightly and take your idea.” Beyond the reward of realizing an invention, Butler’s foray into business has enabled him to provide his new colleagues with leads and referrals. “It’s not (only) the game that is helping the economy in the area, so I feel good about that as well,” he says. Butler advises that market research could be a game changer.

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“When you have an invention, you have to be sure that not only is it marketable, but is it something someone is going to like?” he asks. Instead of conducting surveys, Butler donated Rollors as prizes at tournaments and events. He then watched and listened while his game was played. He also enlisted a professional gamer who reviewed Rollors and then shared pros and cons. According to the Rollors website (rollors.net), the reviewer of Outdoor Games concluded that the game is “portable, easy to learn, easy to play, high quality and fun.” But there were some suggestions for the new inventor. “I learned I needed more than one measuring device, and that makes sense,” Butler says. Some people wear their pride on their sleeve, but this soldier displays his on the game’s box — literally. It’s no surprise that Butler’s invention would be packaged in red, white and blue. The old-fashioned, retro-style graphic design, which depicts a family enjoying the game, seems to embody Butler’s American spirit. “It’s made in the USA, and not many things are anymore,” he says. “I may change things here and there, but I’ll always keep the red, white and blue.” Rollors is available for purchase online, as are many games, but what is not typical is Butler’s free, personalized delivery service. He has handdelivered games to customers from Pensacola to Panama City Beach. “I could have just waived the delivery fee, but delivering the game gives me a chance to meet the person, show them the game and talk to them about it,” he says. “When I see their smile, it’s worth it.” Butler says the game is popular with grandparents as a family gift, but he also sees it purchased as a wedding gift, and as recreation for camping and tailgating parties. Now that Rollors is “in play,” Butler is tinkering with several aspects: reducing manufacturing costs; designing a convenient carrier for the game; improving the packaging; and managing supply and demand. Though he has other ideas, he says he’s not racing to get them to market, adding that he will “stick on this for a while.” Butler is happy to take turns. He looks forward to sharing tricks of the trade and good advice that he was given from fellow inventors he has met through trade organizations and Inventor’s Digest magazine. “People who’ve helped me said all they ask is that I pass it on to someone else, so that’s what I try to do — and I feel good about that,” Butler says. For a soldier who rolled with his idea, it seems his new toy may be as lasting as the American dream. Game on. n

Photo by SCOTT HOLSTEIN


sure shot

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Let’s Roll! Meet Matt Butler: military man by day, toy soldier by night by zandra wolfgram

WHO: Matt Butler AGE: 34 INDUSTRY: Recreation YEARS IN BUSINESS: 7

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Northern Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa + Walton Counties and Holmes, Washington, Calhoun, Jackson + Liberty Counties

spotlight

BACK IN THE GAME Nolan Daniels (left) and Mack Glass are bringing back the old tradition of satsuma growing in Jackson County. This grove near Marianna burgeons with juveniles of the citrus, which thrives in North Florida’s cooler climate.

The Satsuma Orange Revival New technologies enable farmers to revive a neglected North Florida crop by tabitha yang

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century ago, vast satsuma orange orchards stretched across Jackson County, with rows of trees extending  as far as the eye could see. Every November, the trees would be laden with thousands of ripe satsumas ready for picking. The sweet, juicy and easy-to-peel fruit became a trademark of the county, garnering Jackson County a reputation as “the Satsuma Capital of the World.” Annual satsuma festivals celebrated nature’s bounties and attracted crowds of thousands in the late 1920s.

Photos by SCOTT HOLSTEIN

All of that changed in 1935 when a severe freeze wiped out 3,000 acres of satsumas and devastated the local farmers. For a long time afterward, they stuck with crops they knew would grow well in North Florida’s odd mix of hot, humid summers and cool, sometimes freezing winters. Corn, soy beans, peanuts and cotton might not be as profitable as satsumas, but they were at least familiar and dependable. Recently, however, a few farmers have ventured back into the world of citrus growing, emboldened by new freeze-protection technologies

COR R I D OR BY T H E N UM BE R S

18.2%

Increase in revenue from the sale of Florida grapefruit, oranges and specialty fruits from the 2008–2009 fiscal year (Aug. 1, 2008–June 14, 2009) to the 2009–2010 fiscal year (Aug. 1, 2009–June 13, 2010) Total sales: $424,938,000 Source: Florida Department of Citrus

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and the promise of greater profits.

A Different Kind of Orange Satsuma oranges are members of the mandarin orange family. Nolan Daniels, a satsuma farmer in Jackson County, says the fruits are unusual in that they require a good cold snap in the winter in order to achieve maximum flavor and color. “(The cold) actually makes them go ahead and ripen and taste sweeter,” he said. Satsuma trees bear white, star-shaped blossoms in April, and the main harvest month for the fruit is November. Doug Mayo, the Jackson County Extension Office director, describes the flavor of the satsuma as “in between a navel and a tangerine.” “It’s kind of got a unique flavor,” he said. “It’s sweeter than a navel but not quite as tangy as a tangerine, I guess. I’ve never had anybody that didn’t like them.” The other distinguishing features of satsumas are that they are seedless and “zipper-skinned,” meaning the peel comes off easily. They resemble clementines and are sometimes confused with them, but the two are actually different varieties of citrus. “They’re a lot like a tangerine, except you can just peel them without getting the juice all over you,” Daniels said. “You can hand that to a 5-yearold kid and he can eat it.”

Satsuma History Jackson County may have been “the Satsuma Capital of the World” in the 1930s, but these days, it’s Japan that produces the most satsumas. The sweet and tangy oranges are also grown in cool, subtropical regions in Spain, central China, Korea, Turkey, along the Black Sea in Russia, South Africa and South America. Horticultural historians say the satsuma mandarin orange probably originated in China, but records show they could be found growing in Japan 700 years ago. They were brought to the United States in 1876, and between 1908 and 1911, an estimated 1 million satsuma trees were shipped to this country from Japan and planted throughout the Gulf Coast states from Florida to Texas. The trees became known as “satsumas” when the wife of Gen. Van Valkenburg, a U.S. minister to Japan, shipped trees back to the United States from a province on Kyushu Island called Satsuma. The name stuck, although the province is now known as Kagoshima Prefecture. Ever since then, the seedless, easy-to-peel fruits have remained popular, even among those in Central and South Florida who have access to other citrus varieties. “I took some down to my relatives in Melbourne and they loved them,” said Jackson County Extension Office Director Doug Mayo. “They can buy all kinds of citrus in the area, and they liked what I brought them better.” Satsumas are not only tasty, they’re a good source of dietary fiber and an excellent source of vitamin C, according to ProduceOasis.com. One satsuma contains approximately 50 calories and provides 110 percent of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C. The Produce Oasis website recommends selecting satsumas that are slightly soft but heavy for their size — good indicators that the fruit is fresh, sweet and juicy. Harder fruits tend to be more tart, as they have not been hanging on the tree long enough to sufficiently ripen.

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The New Generation of Satsuma Farmers For Mack Glass, Nolan Daniels and Herman Laramore, satsuma orange trees represent an investment of time, money and marketing efforts that they hope will be amply rewarded. Glass grew up in Jackson County and has been farming there for decades. In March 2002, after talking with citrus growers at conferences in other parts of the state and doing research on what would be involved, he decided to give satsumas a try, planting 6 acres of trees on his property. “My reason for doing this is, the economics of our traditional crops are getting tighter and tighter, so I was trying to find some niche to make our farm viable,” Glass said, noting that he sells a two-fifths-of-a-bushel (or 17- to 18-pound) box of satsumas for $15. A big reason why growing satsumas is attractive is the fact that they can be sold for a higher profit margin than traditional row crops. While the federal government’s farm programs heavily regulate and artificially suppress the price of staple crops such as corn and peanuts, satsumas and other fresh produce are not as regulated.


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A FATHER’S NURTURING HANDS Both Nolan and Glass (left) work year-round to bring their satsuma crop to fruition. While cold-hardy and suited to the North Florida clime, satsumas do require sophisticated irrigation, freeze protection, feeding and care. Summer months are the growing season; in November the crop will be ready for harvest. Hopefully, a cold snap will help the fruit develop its signature flavor and sweetness. Jack Noonan (right), general manager of Jackson County Food Services, serves them to enthusiastic students in Jackson County schools and colleges.

Mayo noted that it’s more difficult in general for farmers these days to make a living. “We have larger acreage and fewer people,” he said. “It takes more acres to make a living than it used to, and that’s a long-term trend that we’ve seen — farming more acres using larger, more efficient equipment ... A lot of the smaller family farms are being leased.” One of the largest farms in Jackson County covers thousands of acres that, a generation ago, Mayo said, was split into 22 smaller farms. But growing satsumas, because of the higher profit margin, could help small farmers survive during challenging economic times. A couple of years after Glass planted his satsuma trees, Daniels and Laramore, also local farmers, decided to join him. The three formed a co-op, the Cherokee Ranch of North Florida, so they could combine forces to pick, pack and market their fruit. So far, the arrangement has proved advantageous for the farmers and their families. “If you’ve got an order for two semi (trailer) loads of satsumas, you might not have that many ready right now, but the co-op might,” Daniels said. “If I don’t have the fruit for (an order), then I can go to the co-op members, and we can fill it.” He added that Glass and Laramore are just good people to be in business with.

“Look here, these are people that I’ve known ... forever, I reckon, and (they’re) very easy to work with,” he said.

“It’s a whole different system of marketing than most of our farmers are used to. ... You can’t just go to the local peanut-buying point or the cotton gin to sell your product. You’ve got to work at it.” doug mayo, director, jackson county extension office

Today, the three farmers sell much of their crop through fundraisers for churches, civic clubs and schools. Over the past year, they have also supplied fruit for the local school lunch program, a convenient arrangement that turned out to be win-win for both the schools and the farmers. The schools got fresh local produce to feed their students, and the farmers identified another outlet for selling their oranges. “When I came here in August (2009), I found

out this was ‘the Satsuma Capital of the World’ at one time,” said Jack Noonan, general manager of Jackson County Food Services, which handles food for the public school system and Chipola Community College. “I got all our schools lined up to order them and we started serving them ... It was favorably received, and of course the school board was happy because we were buying stuff from here instead of from China.”

The Satsuma Challenge Selling oranges to the schools represented a victory for Glass and the other farmers in his coop, who have had to put in a lot of hard work to grow, harvest and market their oranges. Peanuts, corn and other local crops can simply be carted off to the local supplier and sold all at once, but not so with the satsumas. Glass and his partners are continually looking for ways to inform people about their unique crop and generate interest in it. “It’s a whole different system of marketing than most of our farmers are used to,” Mayo said. He is familiar with the Cherokee Co-op farmers and has observed the effort they have put into growing satsumas. “They’re selling direct or they’re selling wholesale, but they’re doing a lot of their own marketing,” he said. “You can’t just

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I-10 Spotlight

“The Leadership Development Program has created a positive energy and atmosphere among the team. There is more enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn and understand the mission of the organization and grow into leaders.”

go to the local peanut-buying point or the cotton gin to sell your product. You’ve got to work at it.” In addition to honing their marketing skills, the farmers have had to do a great deal of research to find out how to grow the trees — figuring out what fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to use — as well as investing in a freeze-protection irrigation system developed by researchers at the University of Florida. The system emits a steady spray of water that keeps trees from being damaged when temperatures drop below freezing in the winter months.

— Rhonda Skipper, Walton County Tax Collector

Recently, a hundred people turned out for a training session on

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growing satsumas, and even a Lane Rees President

group of Quincy farmers are ramping up to begin satsuma production.

The trees themselves aren’t cheap. According to Glass, trees for commercial planting run about $10 each, which quickly adds up when one is planting several acres of them. And even obtaining the trees can be a challenge, since citrus nurseries have been devastated over the past five years by diseases such as citrus greening and citrus canker, and are now trying to build their stock of healthy trees back up. Between the cost of the trees, the irrigation system and other expenses, Glass says he hasn’t yet recouped his investment. But with production volumes steadily increasing each year, he hopes that will happen soon. This past year, the Cherokee farmers shipped some of their satsumas off to brokers in Boston and Atlanta, Glass said, in addition to selling the fruit through the fundraising-sales and school lunch programs. Mayo thinks their efforts have attracted some attention from other farmers, citing as evidence a hefty turnout of 100 people at a recent training session on growing satsumas, as well as a group of farmers in Quincy who are ramping up to begin satsuma production. “(The Cherokee farmers) are kind of the pioneers,” he said. “And others are watching to see how successful they’ll be.” n

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experience speaks

{ I-10 Corridor }

WHO: Darryl Carpenter AGE: 54

Nothing to Sneeze At

INDUSTRY: Construction YEARS IN BUSINESS: 21

If Darryl Carpenter is right, old hay could help soak up the Gulf’s epic oil spill by jason dehart

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he well is capped, and the infamous oil slick staining the Gulf may be dissipating naturally, but if something like the Deepwater Horizon accident happens again, Darryl Carpenter hopes an idea of his will have a better hearing. Carpenter, 54, of Bristol in Liberty County, is vice president of C.W. Roberts Contracting, a highway paving company that has been in business for 35 years and currently has annual revenues of about $200 million. He is an area manager and has run the Freeport division for about 10 years. All told, Carpenter has been with the company for 21 years. “We originally put an office here when St. Joe Company started building WaterColor,” he said, referring to the premier landmark sea village built a decade ago. “(C.W. Roberts) is a major road contractor in Florida. We have seven offices from Fort Myers to Freeport. We do road paving, grading, site work and utility work. We’ve done work for the U.S. Air Force at Eglin and also for

Photo by SCOTT HOLSTEIN

the Army Corps of Engineers.” Probably one of the company’s most notable and recent paving projects, Carpenter said, was the work it did for the new Beaches of Northwest Florida Airport in Panama City. Credentials like these, forged from years of “in the arena” work, ought to give Carpenter and his team a certain amount of clout among other engineers. He hoped to parlay that clout into helping British Petroleum and the U.S. Coast Guard find a way to soak up the millions of gallons of oil that came to the surface of the northern Gulf of Mexico from a wellhead some 5,000 feet down. But now that the well is under control, Carpenter’s idea may have to wait. During the crisis, all sorts of quirky ideas for either sealing the spewing pipe itself or absorbing the surface oil came from the blogosphere or from armchair engineers. One idea for cleaning up the surface involved using booms of pantyhose stuffed with hair clippings. Another called for inflating tire tubes inside the pipeline.

Perhaps the most drastic, off-the-cuff idea for sealing the gusher itself involved detonating a nuclear bomb at the wellhead — something that was never seriously considered by U.S. officials. The U.S. Coast Guard captured surface oil little by little and set it ablaze to burn it up, and oil booms were deployed to protect various coastal areas. Carpenter hoped his idea isn’t something to sneeze at. His plan called for taking some old feed hay, sending it out on barges and boats to the nearest oil sheen, and blowing it into the water. There, wind and wave action would blend the hay with the oil, and after a period of hours or days, the hay would soak up the oil. Once sufficiently absorbed, the hay would be recovered and hauled off to an incinerator. Carpenter knows it works — at least on a small scale. He came up with the idea one day just driving along the highway. “I was riding along, thinking about ways to help clean it up,” he said. “We use a lot of hay

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I-10 experience speaks mulch for erosion protection at our roadside projects. It’s what we use in our everyday business. So I called Otis Goodson (an erosion control specialist) and said we need to think of a way to stop this oil and suggested hay.” Carpenter said he instructed Goodson to put some water and oil in a bucket, put some hay on it and see what it does. “And Otis goes home and does this and calls me up and says the hay got all the oil out of the water, so that got us all excited,” he said. Carpenter and Goodson demonstrated the idea to Walton County emergency management officials and representatives from BP. “We did a little experiment — put some water in a large bowl, put oil and hay in it, and it cleaned it right up,” Carpenter said. “The sheriff was amazed by it and got a representative from BP and the Coast Guard to come back, and we did the demonstration for them. BP seemed interested.” Video taken during the small-scale experiments wound up on YouTube. The video registered more than 1.6 million hits by mid-June. “I was definitely surprised by that,” Carpenter said of the YouTube “fame.” The video even attracted national media attention. On June 7, Carpenter discussed his idea with

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Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who also interviewed veteran oil engineer Nicholas Pozzi, chairman of WoW Energy Solutions. Pozzi lent credence to Carpenter’s theory by saying that hay sucks up 80 percent of its weight in oil and that it’s known the world over for its absorbent properties. “It is nature’s most effective way and safe way to pick up oil,” Pozzi said in the interview. The million-dollar question now is exactly how much hay would be needed to clean up a spill over thousands of acres of ocean. “That’s been the question everybody has asked. It would take a massive amount of hay,” Carpenter said. “At least a million tons. We can’t clean up the whole spill, but whatever we can do will help. If we get 5 percent or 10 percent of it, it’s that much that doesn’t get to our beaches.” Carpenter said the actual application would use old hay that is no longer suitable for feed. He would have liked testing the idea out on the open ocean, perhaps in a 10-acre to 100-acre section. He submitted his plan to BP at the height of the crisis, but at press time there were no barges of hay heading into the Gulf. If ever given the green light, such a countermeasure would involve deploying the hay near the source of the oil spill and not on the beaches.

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“Our thought is, let’s fight it as far away as possible,” Carpenter said. “We think we should fight it at the source. I don’t want to see it reach the beach at all. It would be an economic disaster for Florida. I know a lot of fishermen in Destin, and the bookings are way down. Charter-fishing fuel pricing is high. They’re in a dilemma already, and I’m sure some of them will go away.” Like many other people who live, work and play along the coast, Carpenter has a particular soft spot for that industry. He loves to fish and doesn’t want to see the fishing industry get “hammered.” “I do lot of offshore fishing,” he said. “Chuck Roberts (founder of C.W. Roberts Contracting) is also an avid fisherman. We have an interest in the Gulf. We like to fish and go to the beach.” Once the hay is set out and used, it would have to be picked up again. Carpenter thinks it could be scooped back up and sent to local incinerators for disposal. The oil would then serve a second useful purpose by helping provide electrical power for the region. “We’ve talked to the Panama City/Bay County incinerator, Gulf Power in Pensacola and the Florida DEP about burning this hay in an incinerator and using it to make electricity so it would actually be used to produce energy,” he said. “DEP


said it would be acceptable. We actually talked to another company about extracting the oil so it could be used, and the hay to be made into pellets for energy. We’ve talked to companies that can do this.” Carpenter said a lot of red tape would have had to be cut for his hay idea to actually float. “All the regulatory agencies would have to be involved, and ultimately the Unified Command (the Coast Guard and BP) would have to give the green light,” he said. Once past all the red tape, there would still be the problem of moving tons of hay from the shore to the oil slick. “We have the equipment and people available to do it,” Carpenter said. “We’ve been in contact with barge companies (to haul the hay out), and we have blowers lined up, and the hay removal equipment, some skimmers and net boats that could pick the hay up. The unprecedented nature of this oil spill made cleanup an uncertain and possibly much more difficult endeavor, Carpenter said. “It’s uncharted territory,” he said. “I can tell you, I don’t think anybody thought this could happen. I’m a proponent for drilling in the Gulf, but we’ve got to do it safely.” n

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O UR EAR TO THE GROUND IN THE 850

To include your business news, simply e-mail us at editor@850businessmagazine.com.

Compiled by Linda Kleindienst

J. Telfer III in appellate and business litigation and Monica Evans in real estate law.

CAP ITAL

Tallahassee Holland & Knight attorneys Karen D. Walker and Gigi Rollini have been selected as this year’s recipients of two Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division awards. Walker will receive the Michael K. Reese Quality of Life Award. Rollini will be honored with the Lynn Futch Most Productive Young Lawyer Award.

Local honors Winners of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce 2010 Small Business Excellence Awards are: Boot Camp Fitness & Training, King Arthur’s Tools, New Leaf Market, Florida Health Care Association, RedEye Coffee, United Solutions Company, Tallahassee Museum and Brandt Information Services. Mainline Information Systems has received the 2009 Business Partner Excellence Award from IBM. Hettie Spooner and Lindsay Elliott of Hill Spooner & Co, Inc., have received the “Real Estate Online Marketing Award of Excellence.” CICEFT, a new Tallahassee-based small business, has received a $5 million federal contract to provide components for an international fusion energy project that, if successful, would provide an essentially unlimited source of clean, carbonfree electricity. Business and Professional Women/Tallahassee (BPW/Tallahassee) was honored with several statewide awards during the recent state conference. Honors included: highest percentage gain in new members, highest number of new members under age 35, best overall public rela- mims tions campaign for the year, best website and special recognitions went to Christy Crump and Deanna Mims for recruiting new members. The club recently installed new officers: president, Deanna Mims; president-elect, Marcy Collins; vice president, Liza Barber; secretary, Cathy Hopkins; and treasurer, Necia Little.

Legal Affairs Three Tallahassee attorneys with Berger Singerman have been named to the “Florida Super Lawyers 2010” list compiled by the publishers of Law & Politics magazine: Melanie Ann Hines, Criminal Defense: White Collar; Brian G. Rich, Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor Rights; Daniel H. Thompson, Environmental. Two attorneys from the law firm of Messer, Caparello & Self, P.A., have been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyers Magazine: Dominic Caparello, in the area of alternative dispute resolution, and William Dillon in the area of health care Law. “Rising Stars” are Robert

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Eight attorneys from the Second Judicial Circuit were among 166 attorneys honored by The Florida Bar for 50 years of dedication to the practice of law: Richard W. Ervin III, Samuel William Fuller, Major B. Harding, Gerald Alvin Lewis, S. Strome Maxwell, Leander J. Shaw Jr., Donald Edward Stone, all of Tallahassee; and Sid J. White, Monticello. The Tallahassee office of the Akerman Senterfitt law firm had several shareholders named to the 2010 Chambers USA Guide: Silvia Alderman, Martin Dix, Katherine Giddings and Jason Lichtstein.

Commerce, has joined the firm of Smith, Bryan & Myers. Triston Sanders has been promoted to News Director of WCTV. Ivette Marques has joined Tallahasseebased Kidd Group as its PR director.

Pam Monnier has joined Hotel Duval as director of meetings and special events. Humana Government Relations Director Harry Spring is the new chairman of the Florida Insurance Council. Superior Bank has announced three Tallahassee hirings: Shannon Murphy as a mortgage lender; Laura Jo Smith as mortgage lending manager; and Mark Hinrichs as a commercial banker. The Florida Chamber Foundation has added Carrie Blanchard as director of research and public policy.

Gigi Rollini, an attorney in the Tallahassee office of Holland & Knight, has been installed as president of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. Eric Eikenberg, formerly chief of staff for Gov. Charlie Crist, has become a senior advisor in Holland & Knight’s Tallahassee office.

Happenings Community Coffee Company has expanded its Tallahassee presence, adding direct store distribution to its local operations. The Land Group Real Estate Services, with offices in Tallahassee, Marianna and Carrabelle, has been retained by The St. Joe Company to exclusively market nearly 8,000 acres of rural, and recreational property in North Florida. Alicea Gorman and Tom Montalbano in the Tallahassee office of Carr Riggs & Ingram, LLC, have been certified to practice public accounting in Florida. Off Road Inc. has taken on new leadership from Tim and Wendi Cannon. Seminole Boosters Inc. and Hunter & Harp Holdings LLC have proposed College Town — an entertainment and residential district to be located between Gaines and South Madison Street.

Moving Up and On The News Service of Florida has named Ruth Hardy as publisher. David Royse has been promoted from NSF editor to executive editor and NFS reporter John Kennedy has been made associate editor. David Daniel, former vice president of government affairs for the Florida Chamber of

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kennedy

hofacker

Marketing professor Charles Hofacker has been named director of international programs for The Florida State University College of Business.

Appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist Steve Uhlfelder, a Tallahassee attorney and volunteer lobbyist for Audubon of Florida, to the Gulf Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force.

BAY Local Honors Elizabeth (Lisa) Walters, partner of Burke, Blue, Hutchison, Walters and Smith, P.A., has been awarded the 2010 Richard L. McLaughlin Volunteer of the Year Award for the 16-county Northwest Florida region by the Florida Economic Development Council. Walters has served on the Bay County Economic Development Alliance’s Board of Directors since 2004 and is also a member of the Panama City Port Authority and the Bay Defense Alliance. Panama City businessman and former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Allan Bense has been elected to the Gulf Power

photoS by scott holstein

Sound Bytes  


Company directors.

board

of

Gena Phillips, Lisa Love and Bill Gahns of Panama City recently received the Outstanding Manager Award, an annual performance-based award that recognizes the top performing bense McDonald’s restaurant managers in the region.

happenings Hopewell Nursing and Living Assistance, a Tallahassee Nurse Registry that refers caregivers to elderly individuals who are in need of in-home assistance, has expanded its operations to now include Bay County. Pier Park, Northwest Florida’s largest entertainment, dining and shopping complex, has created the new Pier Park Beach for the local community and visitors to enjoy.

Appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist Jon McFatter, 46, of Lynn Haven, owner, Simply the Best Sports, as chair of the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida. Tim S. Kitts, 54, of Lynn Haven, principal of Bay Haven Charter Academy, to the Charter School Review Council.

E M E R A LD COAST happenings Tammy McGaughy, a CPA financial forensics expert in Fort Walton Beach with O’Sullivan Creel, LLP, recently received the Certified in Financial Forensics Credential from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Kathy Anthony and Dana Schmidt, in Pensacola, received their Human Capital Strategist certification from the global association for strategic talent management. Caron Sjöberg of the Pensacola Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association has earned professional accreditation in public relations. Sixteen Pensacola business, charitable and civic leaders have formed a development board to help build The Pensacola Multicultural Center, which will be operated by the University of West Florida at the Community Maritime Park. Those involved include: Ellis Bullock III, Debbie Calder, Carol Carlan, Robert de Varona, Brunie

Emmanuel, Teri Levin, Kyle Marrero, LuTimothy May, Freddie McCall, Jean Norman, Debbie Ritchie, Susan Story, Sue Straughn, Bentina Terry, Dr. Ted Traylor, PC Wu. The St. Joe Community Foundation has given a $1.25 million contribution to support the outfitting of the National Flight Academy in Pensacola and establish a scholarship program for the youth of Northwest Florida. Local entrepreneur Ryan D. Jumonville has purchased the Beach Community Bank building on the Emerald Coast Parkway in Destin. He purchased the up-scale outdoor shopping mall Destin City Market earlier this year.

local honors Bentina C. Terry, Gulf Power vice president of External Affairs and Corporate Services, has been elected to the Board of Directors for the American Association of Blacks in Energy. Mort O’Sullivan, managing partner of O’Sullivan Creel, LLP, an accounting firm, has been elected to the Gulf Power Company board of directors. Four Emerald Coast attorneys have been honored by The Florida Bar for 50 years of dedication to the practice of law. They are: Frank Carmack Bozeman, Pensacola; John Paul Fitzgerald, Milton; David W. Palmer, II, Fort Walton Beach; and William Harrison Flick Wiltshire, Pensacola. Gulf Coast Electric, a 30-year-old Destin electrical contracting company, was recently awarded the Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics from the Better Business Bureau Foundation of Northwest Florida. Company President Jeff R. Linn was named Destin Business Person of the Year by the Destin Chamber of Commerce. John Tice, the CEO of Bullock Tice Associates, has received the American Institute of Architect’s Florida Gold Medal, the group’s highest statewide award, for his professional and community work. Gulf Power Company and the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority are co-winners in the partnership category for the Sustainable FloridaCollins Center 2010 Best Practice Awards program, which rewards groups and individuals for work that promotes a healthy environment and healthy economy.

association with the NWFL Next Generation Learning Community for opening Northwest Florida’s first student-run credit union, Patriot Credit Union, at Pace High School, in August 2008 followed by Milton High School’s Panther Credit Union, which opened in April 2009. Blood Orange Sorbetto has won G.S. Gelato of Fort Walton Beach the Gold sofi™ Award by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade for the most outstanding diet and lifestyle product of 2010.

Moving Up and On Sacred Heart Health System has selected Carol L. Schmidt as its new chief operating officer. She joins Sacred Heart after serving with Ascension Health and previously the Daughters of Charity National Health System for 12 years. Michael S. Oleksyk, M.D., is the new vice president of medical affairs for Baptist Hospital. He will handle all medical staff office functions and direct physician quality and safety programs. Kitty Whitney has been chosen as the new president/CEO of the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce, replacing Dawn Moliterno. Lauren Rich has joined the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa as executive meetings manager.

Appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist Ira Mae Bruce, 69, of Navarre, owner of Century 21 Island View Realty Inc., and Nathan O. Botts, 67, of Milton, certified public accountant with Saltmarsh, Cleveland and Gund, to the Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority. Deborah D. Caldwell, 57, of Gulf Breeze, business manager of Caldwell Associates Architects, to Fiesta of Five Flags Commission of Pensacola.

I-10 happenings Thomas Cornell Wilkinson of Marianna was among 166 attorneys recently honored by The Florida Bar for 50 years of dedication to the practice of law.

Silver Sands Factory Stores’ marketing team, in collaboration with area business partners JobsPlus and graphic designer Kate Kelley, recently received four Northwest Florida Image Awards from the local chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association.

Food World and Bruno’s supermarkets across Northwest Florida and in Alabama are now carrying Panhandle Fresh produce. Panhandle Fresh Marketing Association, a program of TEAM Santa Rosa Economic Development Council, works to provide fresh and local produce to shoppers.

Pen Air Federal Credit Union was given the Most Ingenious Career Academy award by the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce in

To include your business news, simply e-mail us at editor@850businessmagazine.com.

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august – september 2010

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Taste of the region Business luncheons. Celebratory dinners. Deal-making cocktails. A sampling of the best fare the region has to offer.

A GUIDE TO FINE DINING IN NORTHWEST FLORIDA

Magnolia Grill FORT WALTON BEACH

TOM & PEGGY RICE, PROPRIETORS

(850) 302-0266

www.magnoliagrillfwb.com

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special advertising section


Pay It Forward the giving back roi

Walking Miles to Help Others

L

ocal businesswomen Jennifer Holcombe   and Jessica Jones are sisters and best friends who last year teamed up for the biggest physical challenge of their lives — participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City. Their goal was to walk a marathon and a half — 39.3 miles — to raise a total of $5,400 through pledges and fundraising efforts. Their mutual motivation? To do something positive with their lives to help save the lives of others. The outcome? They raised $5,611. Now they are well into training and raising funds for their second Avon Walk this fall in Santa Barbara, Cal. Both say the whole experience last year — the training, fundraising and walking — was strenuous but satisfying. “It was an amazing experience,” said Jones, broker/owner of Compass Realty of Florida. “It was challenging, but we completed all the miles both days.” Added Holcombe, who owns The Promotions Chick advertising specialty firm: “The walk was exciting, fun, satisfying and difficult all at the same time.” The sisters and their friend Jennifer Goldsby, who all live in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, got together under the banner of DESTINation Cure and set out to prepare for the walk. “The unknown was the thing that made me so nervous,” Holcombe said. “But it’s a piece of cake compared to what women with breast cancer go through.” The sisters are again raising money through the sale of merchandise and donations while training for the California walk. “I have to say that I feel so very lucky to be able to participate in these events,” Holcombe said. “My sister is my best friend and it’s really fun to do this with her. We have heard so many stories of sisters loosing sisters and it really hits home. We are all here to help each other and by helping others we help ourselves.” The women are focused on their ultimate goal — to walk in the Avon Walks held in nine cities across the country. To donate or volunteer, go to their website, destination-cure.com. — Lisa Monti

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The Last Word

That number represents how many baby boomers — Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — will be retiring over the next two decades. They’ve been dubbed the “Silver Tsunami,” but instead of disaster, there is more likely to be opportunity. Studies show that retirees who make Florida their home contribute more to the local economy than state and local governments spend to provide them services. For example: >> T  he “Tough Choices: Update 2008” report by the LeRoy Collins Institute at Florida State University found that an average retiree contributes $2,000 more in revenues to the state than she or he consumes in services. >> I n 2008, Professor David Denslow of the University of Florida was quoted in the Tampa Tribune as saying retirees generate $4 in state revenue for every $3 they cost in state services. “Wealthy retirees drive up the taxable real estate base and generate plenty of sales tax revenue with their spending,” the LeRoy Collins Institute report found. “Also, retirees don’t have children in schools, don’t drive much during rush hour and are not a heavy burden to the judicial system.” In December 2009, there were 3.7 million Social Security recipients in Florida. They pumped $47.5 billion into the economy that year, according to the Social Security Administration. By 2020, state economists expect 4.6 million Floridians to be 65-plus. This looks to be a no-brainer. More retirees are going to move to Florida. They’re more likely than not to have spending money. They’ll boost the real estate market. They’ll support local business. So why not find a way to lure them to Northwest Florida — and in greater numbers? AARP Florida has been a major advocate of the state kicking into high gear a campaign to encourage more boomers to come to the Sunshine State as they decide it’s time to hang up the work clothes. “One very important key to a bright Florida future lies in attracting more, not less, of this powerfully positive economic resource.

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Yet we must also recognize that competition to secure a larger share of the retirement relocation market is especially fierce in these times,” Jack McCray, AARP’s advocacy manager, wrote to members of the Florida Legislature in 2009, after some lawmakers began grumbling that maybe the state should discourage retirees from moving here. According to AARP, after decades of leading the nation in attracting retirees, Florida has been supplanted by states such as North Carolina, Texas and Arizona. Indeed, while Florida reported 390,000 new residents between July 1, 2003, and June 30, 2004, it actually started losing population in 2009. As I write this, the oil has stopped gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Nonetheless, our region’s economy will suffer from the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon incident for many months to come. But here’s the light at the end of the tunnel: The leading edge of the boomer generation begins turning 65 in just five months, on Jan. 1, 2011. The poster child of that generation is Kathleen Casey-Kirschling. She was born just after midnight on Jan. 1, 1946, and became the first boomer to collect a Social Security check when she retired early, at the age of 62. The former teacher now splits her time between Cherry Hill, N.J., and Vero Beach, Fla. As our region looks into the future, seeking new ways to drive our economic engine besides tourism, perhaps it’s time to start finding more ways to bring those retirees to Florida — and more specifically, to Northwest Florida.

LINDA KLEINDIENST, EDITOR lkleindienst@rowlandpublishing.com

photo by scott holstein

As Northwest Florida struggles to revive its economy after a double hit from the Great Recession and the BP oil disaster, here’s something to consider: 80 million.


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