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Where do you get AN MBA and what IS IT worth? App Alert! How mobile apps can help your business ‘Startup Round’ connects entrepreneurs, investors GINA: the law banning genetic discrimination

Rising Stars

Meet the 40 Under 40 — the up and coming business stars of Northwest Florida.


A STRONG

RELIABLE LAW FIRM Founded over thirty years ago, Harrison Sale McCloy is well grounded in Northwest Florida. With lawyers specializing in all areas of civil law, HSM is well equipped to meet your broad range of business needs.

HARRISON SALE MCCLOY.

304 MAGNOLIA AVENUE, PANAMA CITY, FL 32401 (850) 769-3434 WWW.HSMCLAW.COM

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850 Magazine February – March 2012

IN THIS ISSUE

40

Yo ung Ta l ent Across the 850, there is a growing number of under-40 leaders who are making their mark in the business world.

850 FEATURES 40 Under 40 They’re not household names yet, 30 but they likely some day will be. 850 has embarked on a mission to find 40 special individuals under the age of 40 who are already making a significant mark in the business world and in their community. In this issue we introduce you to nine of them and let them tell you in their own words about their business philosophy and theories about business success and how to improve the business climate in Northwest Florida. More will be highlighted in each issue of 850 until we reach a total of 40 by the end of 2012. By Linda Kleindienst

he World of MBAs It’s one of the most 40 Tpopular graduate degrees that a college or university can offer. And it has gained in popularity as many people already in business who have only a bachelor’s degree return to school with hopes of improving their future with faster promotions and better salaries. What options are available in Northwest Florida for those who want to get their MBA? Is it better to be sitting in a classroom or can you get your degree by taking online classes? And, in reality, how much good will an MBA do you? By Lilly Rockwell

On the Cover: Tim Giuliani, one of 850’s 40 Under 40, in front of Florida’s Old Capitol Photo by Scott Holstein

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IN THIS ISSUE

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Corridors I-10

49 Opportunity Florida is an economic development organization made up of eight rural counties in Northwest Florida, working with local officials to improve and market the region. Its major impetus is providing broadband access in hopes of luring business to the region.

CAPITAL

52 The polka dot pottery juggernaut that is Coton Colors began with six plates that Laura Johnson made for her family. Today she runs a global enterprise, with her wares produced in China and then sold via the Internet and in stores across the Southeastern U.S.

FORGOTTEN COAST

PhotoS by SCOTT HOLSTEIN (COTON COLORS AND SHIPBUILDING)

54 Mullet has played a big part in the development of the region’s local economy going back to the 1800s, when people learned to catch, smoke, eat and trade it for other food in hard times. But Florida’s net ban dramatically changed the industry.

EMERALD COAST

56 The story of how Destin became the fishing destination it is — morphing from a small fishing village to the world’s luckiest fishing village sporting million-dollar yachts and hosting world renowned fishing tournaments.

BAY

58 Eastern Shipbuilding was launched in 1976 when Brian D’Isernia came to the area to fish for swordfish. When he couldn’t find a fishing boat he liked, he built his own. Today his shipyard continues to build boats — but on a much larger scale.

Departments

In This Issue

THE (850) LIFE

13 When the Legislature is in session, David Hart is on the go 24/7. But after sine die he’ll find a quiet mountain to climb.

11  From the Publisher 62  Sound Bytes 66 The Last Word from the Editor

GUEST COLUMN

14 Don Kirkman of Florida’s Great Northwest looks at the benefits of the region’s 16 counties working together to attract new business.

WI-FILES

16 The best mobile phone apps for you to use in your business. By Laura Bradley

CREATING RESULTS

18 Startup Round in Tallahassee has begun a monthly networking event to connect entrepreneurs and investors — and it is already bearing fruit. By Kimberley Yablonski

IT’S THE LAW

22 Understanding the federal Genetic Information NonDiscrimination Act and how it affects you and your employees. By Laura Bradley

MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES

26 You own your own company and you’re a natural leader — but that doesn’t necessarily make you a great manager. By Buddy Nevins

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CONTRIBUTORS Laura Bradley is a native Floridian, a college student and a Rowland Publishing intern who loves to read and write as much as possible. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Tallahassee Magazine, Electronic Retailer and Beauty Link. She is also the co-Editor-in-Chief of Florida State University’s primary literary magazine, The Kudzu Review.

Kim MacQueen is a Florida-based writer and editor who has covered education, science, politics, law and crime — everything from crumbling inner-city school systems to backwoods meth trafficking — for both academic and general-interest newspapers, magazines, websites and books since 1993. Her debut novel,“Out, Out,” is about life and love in a primate lab. It’s available at kimmacqueen.com.

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To learn more, call 800.898.4754 or visit www.ADTpulse.com/smallbiz.

Kimberley Yablonski is a freelancer who has written on everything from business leaders to grizzly bears, green homes to Lewis and Clark, prison management to Florida’s love bugs — as well as fly fishing in Montana. Her work has been featured in Florida Monthly as well as 850, dating back to its early issues. She lives in Tallahassee but hears the call of area code 406 (Montana). She writes for Big Sky Journal, Distinctly Montana and Montana Living. Daily life finds her keeping pace with her husband, daughter, son and two active dogs.

Act Now and Save! Enjoy great savings on ADT Pulse Interactive Solutions.

Be As Connected As You Want To Be.

License information available at www.ADT.com or by calling 1.800.ADT.ASAP.® FL: EF0001121. ©2012 ADT. All rights reserved. ADT, the ADT logo, Pulse and 1.800.ADT.ASAP are marks and/or registered trademarks of ADT Services AG and are used under license.

LOG ON.

Interested in writing for 850? Send your resumé and some writing examples to Editor Linda Kleindienst at lkleindienst@rowlandpublishing.com.

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Check us out online with our digital flipbook. issuu.com/rowlandpublishing

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850 THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE OF NORTHWEST FLORIDA

February – March 2012

Vol. 4, No. 3

Publisher Brian E. Rowland Editor Linda Kleindienst designers Laura Patrick, Saige Roberts Contributing Writers Laura Bradley, Tony Bridges, Wendy O. Dixon, Rosanne Dunkelberger, Lee Gordon, Don Kirkman, Kim MacQueen, Buddy Nevins, Lilly Rockwell, Kimberley Yablonski staff Writer Jason Dehart STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Scott Holstein Editorial Intern Laura Bradley traffic coordinator Lisa Sostre Sales Executives Lori Magee, Renee Miller, Tracy Mulligan, Linda Powell, Rhonda Simmons, Chuck Simpson, Chris St. John online 850businessmagazine.com facebook.com/850bizmag twitter.com/850bizmag

President Brian E. Rowland DIRECTOR OF Linda Kleindienst EDITORIAL SERVICES

Creative Director Lawrence Davidson ProDUCTION Manager Daniel Vitter

Manager of finance Angela Cundiff HR/Administration manager OF Dan Parisi INTEGRATED SALES

CLIENT SERVICE Caroline Conway REPRESENTATIVE

assistant Saige Roberts creative director Marketing and Media McKenzie Burleigh Development Manager Administrator of Marjorie Stone Sales and Events TRAFFIC coordinator Lisa Sostre

graphic designers Jennifer Ekrut, Laura Patrick, Shruti Shah

Production Specialist Melinda Lanigan Network Administrator Daniel Vitter RECEPTIONIST Amy Lewis

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 February 2012 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 $30 (SIX issues) 850businessmagazine.com 850 Magazine can be purchased at Books-A-Million 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


From the Publisher

Photo by Scott Holstein

He Made a Huge Difference in our Corporate Journey At an earlier time, Tallahassee Magazine (a sister publication to 850) was produced within the walls of the Homes and Land Publishing Corp., a firm that employed about 300 people. Of those, 175 to 200 were in the production department, working two and three shifts a day to keep up with the demands of the expanding real estate industry and the growth of the Homes and Land franchise. Back then, before the birth of the graphics and computer design industry, it took physical equipment (“cut and paste” for those who may remember) and a sheer volume of human resources to produce magazines. I recall anywhere from five to eight graphic artists were working on Tallahassee Magazine as it moved through the critical design and production cycle. In late 1989, Homes and Land ordered a slew of first-generation Apple computers developed and designed for the publishing industry. It was about that time that I acquired Tallahassee Magazine. Part of the deal was continuing the payments on one of these computers — $750 for 18 months. That’s $13,500 for a computer with a fraction of the ability of today’s systems. However, I also got to drive away with one production employee — not eight — for the newly formed Rowland Publishing, Inc. Now, the math was working. RPI has been using and upgrading its Apple lineup throughout the ensuing years. Right now, there are at least 25 Apple computers in use at the office, including my MacBook Pro. We recently ordered seven of the newest generation Apple desktop computers and monitors (with a total price that’s just over half as much as that original computer).

I’ve tried pretty much all of the Apple laptops, including the slim and lightweight MacBook Air. Once, I tore apart my office looking for that little computer, only to discover hours later that I had closed it inside a folder. At a recent meeting, I handed my business card to a client, who held it in front of his iPhone and used one of Apple’s hundreds of thousands of apps. I watched in amazement as it scanned my card and, within seconds, uploaded the information to his contact list. He then returned the card to me, saying “Here, I don’t need this anymore.” I am now the proud owner of an iPhone 4 and trying to select — and master — the apps that work for me. Steve Jobs — with his passion and intellect — was decades ahead of most everyone, driving Apple to be the most recognizable brand and the second largest company on Earth today. He was intimately involved with every Apple product and guided the company to a position today of having an enviable $76 billion in cash reserves. But Apple was not just a successful moneymaker, the development and success of its products has changed the lives of consumers and corporations worldwide. Rowland Publishing would not be the business it is today without the technology of Apple. Over the past two-plus decades, I estimate just over 100 people have earned their living at this company. Hundreds of nonprofits have benefited from our media coverage. Forgotten Coast, Emerald Coast, Bay Life and 850 magazines were developed during this time, and I would say that RPI has had a tremendous, eight-figure economic injection into the regional economy over these two decades. Yes, it has taken a lot of hard work on many people’s part, but none of this could have come to fruition without the vision of Jobs and the products of Apple. Jobs, who died Oct.5, and his company were an integral part in the development of the 21st century in general and the success and longevity of Rowland Publishing in particular. I, for one, will miss his visionary ways and his creation of some very cool and smart product lines.

Brian Rowland browland@rowlandpublishing.com

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ADVERTISEMENT

“We are a professional office, and we want to do business with other professionals. 850 Magazine is one of the places professionals go to learn about what’s going on in the area.” — Stewart Proctor, shareholder, Structure Commercial Real Estate

FROM LEFT: DANIEL WAGNON, JR LONG, STEWART PROCTOR

Building a Brand Named Structure

Tallahassee Brokers JR Long and Stewart Proctor had been doing business together since 2005 as Proctor & Long Commercial Real Estate. They collaborated with Daniel Wagnon over the years on different real estate projects and were impressed with his areas of expertise and geographical reach. About 18 months ago, the trio decided to join forces to create a new firm that would be unprecedented in the area, providing a full range of commercial real estate services in a region that would encompass all of Florida as well as southern Georgia and Alabama. After working with a consultant, the three shareholders decided on a simple, but evocative, name for their company: Structure. But they were then faced with decisions about the best way to introduce their business to potential markets. “It was more than just a rebranding, it’s a new brand of a new company,” recalls Proctor. Structure reached out to Rowland Publishing for help. Rowland designed the company’s distinctive pyramidal logo and created printed materials and website graphics, as well as developing an advertising strategy which included 850 — The Business Magazine of Northwest Florida as part of the business’ rollout. “We worked with the Rowland designers to come up with the color schemes, the logo, the font — the things that make it all fit together,” says Proctor. “One of the areas we really wanted to try to hone in on was the Panhandle, and advertising in 850 magazine is heads and tails the best way to do that.” While the change wasn’t official until January 1, 2011, the team began rolling out teaser ads in the fourth quarter of 2010 and moved on to more traditional ads throughout 2011. “Suffice it to say the brand is very recognizable at this point,” Proctor says. And apparently even competitors are taking notice. “We do know other companies have stepped up their marketing CURRENT » QUOTABLE » WELL-READ efforts to try to compete, because we have been noticed by everybody in town,” says Long. (850)�878-0554 • 850businessmagazine.com

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Executive Mindset

) The (850 Life    s urvive and thrive

Business Advocate DAVID HART, TALLAHASSEE

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Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce

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1. Most people don’t know:

I was in Berlin the day the wall came down. I stood at the wall with a hammer and chisel. I helped to do it. I watched families walk through the Berlin gate and reunite. I witnessed freedom breaking out … it left an impression on me I will never forget.

Photo Courtesy Brian Burton

2. Escape: I go off and climb

big mountains. I climbed Mount Rainier last summer. I’m in pretty good shape from all my running, but that’s an awesome mountain. When I saw it out the plane window, it was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. Summer after next I hope to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

3. Relaxation: I’ve been a runner for 25 years. I still have my best ideas when I’m running.

4. Favorite Team: Boston Red

Sox. I grew up in Winter Haven and the Sox had their spring training there. When you live in a little town, you get to meet the players in places like the local pizza parlor. I played Little League and they’d come out and do events with us.

5. Best Advice: My mom told me to be nice to everybody. Dad told me if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. It’s challenged me to think about where I want to be in life and what I want to achieve.

6. Hero: I’m sure there was a

time when I would have said Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln. But the more I live, the more my mom and dad are my heroes. Neither completed a college degree, but they made sure me and my sisters got that. It took a lot of sacrifice.

7. Like to share a cup of coffee: I really want to have

coffee with the first man or woman who travels to Mars and returns to tell the story. In all likelihood that boy or girl has already been born and is among us. I hope I am around to have a cup of coffee with them when they get back, and I really hope they make their departure from Florida.

8. Electronics: I just got

my first iPad. It’s pretty cool.

9. Biggest challenge:

Completing the Miami Marathon. Miami was hot, hot, hot. I was dehydrated and my legs were cramping from mile 16 on. Not pretty. But I knew my kids were waiting at the finish line, and I was not going to let them see their dad quit at something.

hen the Florida Legislature is in session, David Hart’s job is “as close to 24/7 as you can imagine.” As the chief lobbyist for Florida’s largest business voice — with about 139,000 members — the 46-year-old is grateful he can go for months on only four hours of sleep a night. “It’s not uncommon to work a 15to 18-hour day. To my wife’s great frustration, I actually sleep with my Blackberry during session. I get emails in the middle of the night and sometimes I’m up and on the computer, reading bills and seeing what amendments have been filed,” Hart says. While more than 100,000 jobs have been created in Florida since January of 2011, Hart says that still leaves close to 1 million workers unemployed and the Chamber wants to help whittle down that number by promoting legislation to: cut unnecessary regulations, encourage more college degrees in the sciences, ease the financial burden on small businesses, eliminate unfair competition and increase international trade. Hart joined the Chamber’s staff in 2010, but he served on the organization’s board of directors from 2001 until 2007. “I was part of the conversation about what the Chamber could become, and now I’m helping to implement those dreams,” he says. — Linda Kleindienst

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Executive Mindset

Business Speak R

egionalism has become one of the most discussed trends in economic development, and support among economic development policy leaders for regional approaches to economic development continues to grow. Increasingly, size and scale mean the difference between success and failure, since more and more global economic activity is migrating to larger metropolitan regions. In addition, pressures on public and private economic development resources are causing a greater emphasis on efficiencies found in collaborative regional economic development approaches. Northwest Florida is no exception. In fact, the arguments for regional economic development in the Florida Panhandle are even greater than in many regions of the country. While no two regions are alike, and regional approaches to economic development must be customized to reflect the unique circumstances of each region, regionalism makes sense in Northwest Florida, where neighboring counties share many attributes and challenges. Although Northwest Florida does not function as a single economic geography, there are many compelling reasons for the region to work collaboratively across county boundaries to promote the region as a single product to companies considering the Panhandle as a business location. Florida’s Great Northwest’s mission is “to market and brand the 16-county Northwest Florida region as a globally competitive location for business and to work with regional partners to recruit new jobs and investment throughout Northwest Florida.” Like Enterprise Florida at the state level, Florida’s Great Northwest is focused on diversifying the economy of Northwest Florida by attracting new companies — and the jobs, incomes, tax base and tax revenues that follow — to the region. That is no easy task, particularly in the challenging global economy in which Northwest Florida competes for new jobs and investment. While the Florida brand is recognized around the world, most people associate that brand with the

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D o n K i rkma n Don Kirkman became president of Florida’s Great Northwest on January 1, 2011. Florida’s Great Northwest represents a 16-county region consisting of Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties. Prior to joining Florida’s Great Northwest, Kirkman had a 20-year career leading regional and local economic development organizations in North Carolina.

major metro areas on the Peninsula. In addition, most people associate that brand with tourism and retirement. While those two economic engines must remain vital for Florida’s economy to thrive, the state needs more. Military and defense are also huge economic drivers in Northwest Florida, and in other areas of the state as well; but Department of Defense budget reductions are all but certain, and Northwest Florida will be adversely impacted. Northwest Florida must diversify its economy beyond tourism, retirement and defense, and fortunately the region is well positioned to do that — but only if people know the region and its assets. As Northwest Florida’s economic development professionals travel outside of the southeastern United States to talk with site location consultants and representatives of companies in their target industries, they find that there is little

familiarity with Northwest Florida. Few people have visited our region or have any perception of our geographic location and unique attributes. Even among consultants who are working with clients interested in locating new facilities in the Southeast, often Florida is overlooked. That is particularly troubling for Northwest Florida, since one of the region’s greatest advantages is its unique northwest location, making it an excellent location for companies that manufacture and distribute goods to Southeast markets. Beyond the challenges of branding and marketing Northwest Florida to global businesses, Northwest Florida faces internal challenges within the State of Florida as well. Again, size matters in politics, and although Northwest Florida contains nearly one quarter of Florida’s counties and 20 percent of the state’s land mass, the 1.4 million residents of the region represent less than 8 percent of the state’s nearly 19 million residents. That means the population, as well as the electorate and their elected leaders, largely resides on the Peninsula. For Northwest Florida to be heard in Tallahassee, or in Washington, it is critical that the region work across jurisdictional boundaries. The economic development bottom line is this: The more assets offered to a prospective business, the greater the likelihood that the prospect will find something he likes in Northwest Florida and choose to locate in the region — more buildings and sites, more colleges and universities, more airports and ports, more military bases and their skilled and dedicated workers, and more choices of places to live and things to do. These assets do not reside in a single county or city — they reside in the region. Ultimately the client will choose where to locate, and it will be in a county, and possibly a city or town, hopefully somewhere in Northwest Florida. And the entire region benefits when that happens. But without an awareness of the Panhandle and the regional resources that are available, the company will never call Northwest Florida home, and we all lose. n

Photo Courtesy Don KIrkman

Regional Economic Development in Northwest Florida


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 850 Business Magazine

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Executive Mindset

Wi-Files

THERE’S A (BUSINESS) APP FOR THAT

Technology & You Nine business apps worth watching By LAURA BRADLEY

W

ith tens of thousands of apps out there — social media tools, information receptacles, games and more — it’s hard to determine which (if any) might be useful for getting down to business. This task is made more difficult by the fact that the number of apps grows with overwhelming speed. 850 went looking for apps designed to make your work life a lot easier. Here are some that have been consistently recognized for their utility:

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“This app drags travel kicking and screaming into the 21st century.” Hootsuite

CamCard

Expensify

(iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Keitai, iPad):

(iPhone, Android, BlackBerry):

(iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, WebOS/Palm):

Social media promotion is still a hot trend in businesses, especially as a way for emerging enterprises to keep customers engaged and up-to-date with promotions. Accordingly, keeping up with the various social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) can still be a dizzying task. This is where Hootsuite comes in. This app enables users to schedule updates to various social networks ahead of time. It can also update networks simultaneously. Results can be tracked and tasks can be assigned and delegated to employees. In short, this product offers a serious edge when it comes to promotion through social media.

Scan2PDF Mobile (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile):

This app will send your portable scanner packing. Take photos and convert them to high-quality PDFs in a snap. Even better, since they are already on your phone, they are ready to send virtually anywhere. Multiple pages can be scanned and converted to one PDF quickly and easily. Image quality is higher than that of a photocopier, but still not quite as good as a desktop scanner. Since the images are stored locally on the phone, retrieval is also made simpler.

TripIt (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile (beta), iPad):

Anyone who travels frequently knows how much of a hassle it is to keep track of all those confirmation emails for flights, reservations and rentals. This app “drags travel kicking and screaming into the 21st century” by organizing all of this minutia into a neat itinerary. Users can forward their confirmations to plans@tripit.com and receive an organized itinerary that can be customized with maps, directions and even personal touches like pictures and notes. The itinerary can be accessed anytime online or by mobile device. These features, combined with its support for over 1,000 booking sites, make TripIt a must-have for business travelers.

Rather than collect business cards and stuffing them in a pocket, why not use an app that can scan them and sync the information to the phone’s contacts quickly, easily and with astounding accuracy? CamCard is designed to do just that — and do it well. It works by taking a photo of the card that can be cropped and then using OCR technology to scan the text in the photo. Finally, the app identifies to which field each piece of information belongs (email address, phone number, name, etc.). With a brief skim to make sure the card scanned appropriately and everything was categorized correctly, the work is done and the information can be found in Contacts. There is also a cardholder that allows organization of contacts.

For those that dread doing expense reports, Expensify is a perfect tool. This app allows users to track their expenses and store them digitally — whether they are tracking mileage, snapping a photo of a restaurant receipt or simply tracking daily expenses. Receipts can be emailed to receipts@expensify. com and added to expense logs without a fuss. With all of the information stored online it can be accessed virtually anywhere. Reports can be made through Expensify online, and iPhone users can enjoy the ability to create reports directly on their mobile phones. Say goodbye to the mile-high receipt stack.

Intuit GoPayment (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, iPad):

Evernote (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, WebOS/Palm, Windows):

Evernote is a fantastic notetaking and organization tool. Capable of taking text, photo and audio notes, as well as OCRscanning documents and photos with text to enable text-based searching, this free app is a must. When used on both a personal computer and a phone, notes and changes sync frequently between the two, enabling seamless work no matter where a user is. Clips of web pages can also be stored. Passwords can be organized. With a little imagination, possibilities for this app abound.

Documents to Go (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Web OS/Palm, iPad):

The name says it all. No more meeting stand-stills when someone forgets their folder or laptop. Now documents can be accessed, edited, even generated on a mobile phone. With the ability to work with Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and formulas, PDFs and more, Documents to Go can serve many purposes. If the app encounters a function it does not support, often it can open the file in read-only format. With all of these functions, it is well worth the small investment.

Merchants who do a lot of work outside the office should look into Intuit GoPayment. This app provides the ability to take and process payments by mobile phone quickly and safely. The app accepts payment from all major credit cards and does not store information locally on the phone, similar to a credit card terminal. Payments are made by typing in card information or by scanning with additional hardware. Receipts can be sent from the user’s phone as well, creating peace of mind in conjunction with efficiency.

My Eyes Only (iPhone, iPad):

It’s convenient to be able to store passwords and other secure information on a mobile phone, but what if it gets stolen? My Eyes Only makes sure that secure information is kept that way with data encryption. While the strong encryption will keep hackers out, users should be warned to use a strong password, lest someone steal the phone and figure out or look up the password (i.e. your birthday is not the best password). Credit card information, passwords and other personal information can be kept backed up safely and conveniently. n

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A Contact Sport On the second Thursday of each month, a group of entrepreneurs, investors and business faculty from Florida State University meet at The Wine Loft in Midtown to share ideas and network.

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Photos by SCOTT HOLSTEIN


Executive Mindset

Creating Results    Talk of the Town

Startup Round How cocktails could catapult your business dream

The Starters (L to R) Adam Kaye, Lester Hutt and John Chason founded the Startup Round to help grow entrepreneurship in Tallahassee.

By Kimberley Yablonski

T

he old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” may be more pertinent than ever in the business world. Networking is always important in any business but, let’s face it, it can be tiresome. That’s why John Chason of Metrix Ventures, along with Lester Hutt of BevShots and Adam Kaye of Silicon Tally, teamed up to launch Startup Round, a unique, informal way for entrepreneurs to gather and share ideas … and an adult beverage or two. Cities like Gainesville and Atlanta have this type of networking event as well. In fact, it was Chason’s daughter, a student at the University of Florida, who first introduced him to the entrepreneurial gathering in Gainesville. Their networking happy hour, called Startup Hour, spurred Chason to get one started in Tallahassee. He recruited Hutt and Kaye, also entrepreneurs, to expand their sphere of influence and pull people in from all age groups and experience levels. “Tallahassee is full of ambient talent, and this is drawing it out,” Chason said. “We want to grow entrepreneurship organically in Tallahassee.” The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at Florida State University has stepped up to support the group and sponsor the monthly gathering, which is

held the second Thursday of each month at The Wine Loft. “It is really good to have regular events where people come together and discuss issues so an entrepreneur doesn’t feel like the lone wolf out there,” said Adam Kaye, whose Silicon Tally business aims to bring more digital technology industries, including Internet technology, web/mobile application development, digital media and graphic design, to Tallahassee. “Some other business groups have events, but many times those are aimed at generating leads and not as much on the mentoring side,” said Lester Hutt, who started his own business after moving to Tallahassee to help his wife with her family’s business. With a master’s degree in chemistry and a wide array of experience — from working on the Mars Rover at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to being a part of Apple’s development team for the Powerbook and the first iPod — Hutt had always wanted to start his own business. Despite his wealth of experience, however, he had to learn to be an entrepreneur. He launched BevShots MicroArt after he had worked as a consultant at FSU looking at ways research could be turned into businesses. BevShots are beers, wines and cocktails photographed under a microscope

and featured as modern art. The “intoxicating blend of art and science” has been turned into prints, scarves, neck ties and bar accessories. Hutt launched the company when he teamed up with FSU research scientist Michael Davidson, who developed the unique art through the microphotography technique. The products are completely produced in the United States. Partly based on his experiences, Hutt said, “We saw a need for this type of happy hour. Nothing like it existed in Tallahassee. It is almost mandatory to build your network to be successful.” Although in its infancy, Startup Round draws about 50 percent student and 50 percent working professionals, including entrepreneurs, investors and FSU faculty. “I don’t think there are that many venues or forums for a group of people of all ages and all backgrounds coming together businesswise,” said Kaye. “Startup Round brings a mix of participants together you normally would not find at other events. I do not know of any other entrepreneurtype group.” So far, one new business has launched as a result of the monthly networking events. Chason, whose business is an early-stage and startup venture consulting firm, was the first to partner with someone who has developed software that mixes social and

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Exceptional Care Has Its Rewards

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Creating Results

project management. Another larger deal that involves a chain of businesses is also in the works, according to Chason, who jokes that the unofficial motto of the group is: “I went to happy hour and a startup broke out.” He adds, “When you get the right people in the room and bring people together, they can create jobs and wealth.” And Chason believes the informal nature of the event is working. “Everyone is engaged in good conversation. They aren’t talking about football. They see it is a valuable source of support and education.” Kaye said the group meetings are especially important to help with morale during tough economic times, “when you feel like you are the only one out there. You’d be amazed how important keeping your morale up is to the success of a new business. Collaboration and bouncing ideas off of other people is very important. Even friendly competition can help.” The Startup Round is seen as the first step to bigger events. “We are still in the cocoon,” said Chason. “This is the first step, and then we want to take this thing to the next level.” One goal of the group is to have more mentors and investors. There are plenty of people with ideas, but to execute them they need capital. “There is money out there. We need people to meet and then it snowballs,” Chason said. “Tallahassee may never be Silicon Valley or Research Triangle, but it will help our local economy. This is the way businesses start. Microsoft started as a small business.” Kaye echoes the sentiments. “What is really good about Tallahassee is there’s a lot of human capital and a high quality of life in relation to a low cost of living. So you can get great talent for lower capital in this area.” However, he admits the environment could be better, suggesting more people need to be willing to recycle their wealth into the local economy. Investors need to be willing to take risks and be okay with failure, he said. “It is really great when you help someone start a career, but there is much more incentive when you launch someone in a business. There is more willingness to make things happen on an individual basis when you’ve got skin in the game,” said Kaye. Startup Round is held the second Thursday of each month at The Wine Loft, 1240 Thomasville Rd., Suite 100, Tallahassee, Fla. You can learn more about Startup Round on Facebook. n

Keys to Networking Startup Round founder John Chason shares ways to effectively network, which he calls a “contact” sport. “Networking is one of the most important activities you can do to help start and grow a business, especially in Tallahassee. Doing business on a face-to-face basis makes networking more personal and gives you a chance to build relationships with specific people, or groups of people, that have a more direct relation to your goals and objectives,” Chason says. “I created Startup Round to get one group of people together in one room and that would be people specifically interested in startups and new ventures. When you network with people that share the same interest, and you can talk one on one, credibility and trust can be gained much quicker than other methods. But, this is not to say that all of your networking effort be relegated to just one group. “There are many other opportunities to network with people that may be able to help you indirectly. For example, if you are starting a business and all of your experience is in finance, you should absolutely network within marketing, technology and any other disciplines that will be required for business success. Some of the most successful startups were founded by a ‘business’ founder and a ‘technical’ founder. “Some of the keys to effective networking are, first and foremost, making sure you are in the networking group that is aligned with your goals and objectives.”

Here are Chason’s other tips:

» Be ready to deliver your “Elevator Pitch.” For networking events, this is a 30to 60-second introduction of who you are, what you do and what you are looking for. This will help both you and the person with whom you are networking to discover if and how you can help each other. It is a two-way street.

» Make each conversation meaningful. If it’s not, move on to the next person. Don’t try to “hit up” everybody at the event. It’s more about the quality of the conversations and not the quantity. If you are new, don’t hesitate to ask a veteran of the group for an introduction to some of the attendees who may be able to help you — and those that you may be able to help.

» Build relationships before you ask for anything. It takes time for people to get to know you, much less trust you. Disciplined patience could be the rule here. Strive to get to understand others’ goals and objectives, and then they will want to know everything about you and be willing to help.

» Get contact info and stay in touch. Networking is a “contact” sport. Have a hefty supply of business cards, and make sure that the right people have one. Again, it’s not how many business cards you can hand out, it’s how many cards can you get into the hands of those that are best positioned to be able to help you or that you are able to help. Make the most of your networking time, and schedule follow-up meetings to further discover any mutually beneficial issues.

» Just do it! And stick to it. You must attend, and attend regularly, to gain favorable exposure. People will do business with, provide help and give introductions to people that they network with on a regular basis. It shows that you truly care about the people involved, their goals and the purpose of the event.

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Executive Mindset

It’s the Law Civil Rights Legislation

The little-known law that can get you in big trouble The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) By Laura Bradley

K

aren’s employee mentions to her that he is getting tested over the weekend for a heart condition. She asks whether heart conditions run in his family and tells him to let her know how the test goes. She has just broken the law. Under federal law, genetic information cannot be used when an employer is considering the hiring, firing, job assignment or promotion of any employee. And it’s illegal for an employer to probe for information, no matter how innocent the inquiry may be. The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) — often referred to as the first civil rights legislation of the 21st century — was signed into law by President George W. Bush in May of 2008 and is designed to prohibit misuse of genetic information in health insurance and employment in businesses with more than 15 employees. (Labor organizations and employment agencies were added in 2009.) GINA expands Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination based on race or gender, to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees or applicants on the basis of genetic information — a fear that has grown with the ready availability of genetic testing, which helps individuals determine whether they have a predisposition or susceptibility to certain diseases based on their genes. The concern is that employers’ access to this information could allow them to avoid hiring those with predispositions to certain illnesses that could lead to future cost in one form or another. In filing the measure, U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-New York, voiced hopes the new law would go even further, saying, “GINA will do more than stamp out a new form of

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discrimination. It will allow us to realize the tremendous potential of genetic research without jeopardizing one of the most fundamental privacies that can be imagined.” The act prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of genetic information as well as retaliation against employees who file a claim of discrimination or participate in proceedings regarding discrimination. Compensatory and punitive damages

conversation, prohibiting medical and genetic questions that have little to bear on a person’s ability to do the job. “The employer should basically stay focused on whether the employee can perform the job or not,” he explains. More importantly, he points out, “Employers need to know there’s an affirmative obligation to comply with the act … So their forms need to change; their policies need to change. They need to

Genetic information can include information about genetic test results, including those of family members — and the family history or current medical state of a family member. GINA protects current employees as well as applicants. can be awarded to those who fall victim to violations of GINA, consistent with those granted for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Genetic information can include information about genetic test results, including those of family members — and the family history or current medical state of a family member. GINA protects current employees as well as applicants. Although the law remains murky to many businesses and human resource companies, GINA’s regulations change business dynamics entirely, refocusing the requirements and questions that are appropriate to place upon job applicants. Tallahassee attorney Scott Callen, from the Tallahassee law office of Foley & Lardner, explains that GINA limits the pre-employment

say expressly, ‘We don’t discriminate on the basis of any genetic information.’ ” It is important to note that there is a requirement to proactively engage with GINA. Beyond ensuring that genetic information is handled with appropriate care, confidentiality and objectiveness, employers must also take steps to prevent acquiring genetic information in the first place. A lot of this falls on the shoulders of the human resources department. Bob Franklin, CEO of Franklin Employer Solutions, advises that HR departments can take various measures to protect businesses from GINA’s legal hot water. The first step employers can take toward proper compliance is to get informed. Franklin urges employers to err on the side of caution. “Guessing your way is fraught


with peril,” he points out. An employer with questions or doubts should call an attorney or HR specialist, because if an employee is unsure about a particular issue he or she will likely not hesitate to do the same. Franklin recommends substantial regular training for supervisors and employees to ensure that everyone in the workplace is well informed about their rights and boundaries. “My advice: if you’re unclear about GINA or any of the discriminatory possibilities that can arise in a workplace, that you institute a series of training programs for employees and employers,” he says. “GINA is designed to protect both.” As a general rule, Callen and Franklin agree that it is better to avoid any contact with employees’ genetic information, directly or indirectly. To do this, a company should take an inventory of current forms for insurance, employment and more to ensure that no genetic information is requested. And Callen urges employers and HR departments to add safe harbor provision language to forms, pursuant to regulations within Title II of GINA. Safe harbor language essentially tells applicants and employees that the company does not want their genetic information and asks them not to provide it. (More information on safe harbor language can be found at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website, eeoc.gov.) This act should not be a problem for everyone. Some businesses might find that they are already in compliance with all of the act’s provisions. Such was the case with Gulf Power, recalls Employee Relations Manager Tim Lambert. “When we first became aware of the pending legislation, and then the fact that it was legislation and going to become effective, certainly we took a look at our company, and frankly we didn’t see where it was going to have any significant impact,” he says. Gulf Power has been careful with genetic and

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It’s The Law

Whether it be obtained at the water cooler, through the employee file or via Facebook, genetic information is now a potential liability for employers that should be handled with care, and even avoided if possible. general medical information for quite some time, going so far as to keep a separate room for medical records with access limited to four designated individuals. They had already instituted authorization forms for their wellness program. Training for supervisors and managers as to how to deal with sticky social situations is also something Gulf Power provides. In cases of illness and death in the family, Lambert explains that the training teaches people to, “Be caring, be supportive, be sympathetic, but don’t ask questions.” Additionally, supervisors and managers are urged not to spread word about conditions they hear about, even through well-intentioned emails to fellow employees. Even if employers feel secure that their forms do not ask any illegally invasive questions, it is worth it to double check. Chad van Iddekinge, Synovus Research Associate and associate professor of Management at Florida State University, notes that many businesses inadvertently include questions on their forms that have been illegal since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “Despite years and years of warnings against asking … whether someone is married or not or how old they are or whether they have religious affiliations, you still find these types of questions on applications and in interviews,” he says. With these violations still occurring after nearly five decades, it would not be surprising for employers to miss a few inquiries somehow related to genetic information. Like information that falls under the jurisdiction of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), existing documents containing an employee’s genetic information should be kept in a file separate from their general employee file. Employers should also be mindful of various state statutes that apply to the gathering of genetic information.

Florida law provides that the results of “DNA analysis” are the exclusive property of the person tested, are confidential and may not be disclosed without the consent of the person tested. The statute mandates that anyone who performs DNA analysis or receives the results of DNA analysis must notify the person tested, and include (among other things) whether the information was used in any decision to grant or deny any insurance, employment, mortgage, loan, credit or educational opportunity. If information was used in any decision that resulted in a denial, the analysis must also be repeated to verify the accuracy of the first analysis. If the first analysis is found inaccurate, the decision must be reviewed. Beyond these regulations, GINA also restructures the way employer/employee relationships can function. Close relationships ultimately entail the exchange of information, and that exchange is becoming increasingly risky for employers. While it might be a tough pill for some to swallow, Franklin admits that it is easier to ward off or win genetic information lawsuits if the employer can prove he or she simply has no knowledge of the employee’s information. “We live in a very litigious, competitive marketplace, and employers have to be very vigilant and very careful about how they conduct themselves in today’s employer/ employee relationships,” he says. Van Iddekinge holds that the act’s true purpose is pre-emptive in the face of improvements in medicine and genetic tests. In his view, it is meant to ward off abuses of these advances in the future as they grow more sophisticated. At present, however, he does see another realm in which GINA could come into play: social media. Employers now rely increasingly on social media sites such as Facebook to provide them with information about applicants, and some even use it for screening

purposes. He foresees that this could pose some problems under GINA, should the applicant’s profile supply any genetic information through statuses, photos or wall posts. As the popularity of digital expressions of relationships and social transactions grows, so does the risk employers take in viewing these sites as a source of information. Whether it be obtained at the water cooler, through the employee file or via Facebook, genetic information is now a potential liability for employers that should be handled with care, and even avoided if possible. While on the surface GINA might seem daunting and detrimental, in the long run it produces a positive effect on businesses. Franklin points out that proper compliance with GINA can create more satisfied and efficient employees. “Employees I think are more productive and more efficient if they are aware of their rights, and if they know the employer is staying current on the laws and statutes — that they put in place systems so the employee knows where they stand at all times,” he says. n

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Executive Mindset

Working Smarter The Leading Edge

Inspired G Genius or Bully? Belligerent bosses can be destructive to a company BY BUDDY NEVINS

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iven a chance to hire Apple Inc.’s often-combative co-founder Steve Jobs, entrepreneur Joseph A. Kelley would have found a place for him — in a branch office or working at home. Jobs was an inspiring genius. But he was also a demeaning, belligerent boss with a notorious my-way-or-the-highway attitude. And Jobs probably wouldn’t be a good fit at Kelley’s Tallahassee-based GTO (Gates That Open), a national remote access gate manufacturer. “You have to put somebody like that in a remote location,” said Kelley, the long-time president of GTO. “I refer to personalities like that as a destructive hero. They can create magic, but when they are dealing with people, they create havoc. There are reasons why a lot of these people (like Steve Jobs) are consultants. I would rather not have them working in my building.” Kelley echoed what many business experts believe: Success in small, medium and large businesses is usually a team effort. After being recruited from the state Department of Commerce to run the two-year old company in 1999, Kelley instituted a team


method approach. Within four years, GTO had increased business more than 400 percent. Today its residential, commercial and agricultural automatic gate openers are sold nationwide. He is quick to credit his 100 North Florida employees who work in the company’s headquarters in a Tallahassee office park for that success. A joint vision binds the GTO employees. That goal is to have the best customer and employee relations so that the firm continues to be a leader in the domestic access control industry. “There are a lot of commonalities between our success and sports,” Kelley said. “We work together towards one goal — to win. To win we must work together.” In many companies, however, it is the boss who is the biggest barrier to a welloiled team. A study by the Florida State University of 750 mid-level employees in 2008 found widespread distrust of supervisors by employees:

» 26

percent said their boss frequently has trouble managing his or her anger

» 27 percent

said their boss vigorously pursues undeserved rewards

» 41 percent said their boss habitu-

ally pushes work on to others rather than doing it himself or herself

» 31 percent said their boss regularly seeks undeserved admiration from others at work

» 33 percent said their boss makes

sure that others stroke his or her ego on a daily basis

» 19 percent said their boss can be

counted on to act enviously toward others who experience good things

» 23

percent said that their boss purposefully hoards resources that could be useful to others at work.

Bad bosses infest big, medium and small companies. Christopher Iansiti has seen all forms of bad bosses as a management consultant. A former Tallahassee resident and FSU graduate, he runs an Atlanta-based firm that designs leadership training for corporate clients. “If you run a small business and you are a bad boss, employees check out. They are there, but they aren’t doing their best. They are disengaged and

“If you run a small business and you are a bad boss, employees check out. They are there, but they aren’t doing their best. They are disengaged and there is a cost to that. When they can, they will move on and there is a cost associated with turnover.” Christopher Iansiti there is a cost to that. When they can, they will move on and there is a cost associated with turnover.” The recent downturn only made matters worse. The economy fostered fear about the future. Worried about their own prospects, toxic supervisors are sometimes taking their frustrations out on employees. “Anytime there is more stress, uncertainty and limited availability of other opportunities for a job, the workplace atmosphere can change,” explained Wayne A. Hochwarter, the Jim Moran professor of management at FSU. Hochwarter’s research further described the traits of the toxic boss. He said they use “public criticism, loud and angry tantrums, rudeness, coercion, publicly ridiculing and blaming subordinates for mistakes they did not make, yelling and bullying.” Sometimes bad bosses are more subtle, but just as damaging. “Too many managers lead by fear,” Iansiti said. “One boss would say something like, ‘If you don’t do a good job, you know the front office is planning layoffs.’” A 2009 University of Phoenix study found workplaces rife with such employee intimidation since the economic crisis hit. Many of the 1,150 employees questioned described threatening communications from supervisors, including “Be thankful you have a job,” “There are lots of qualified people on the street who would love your job” and “You can be replaced.” The only accomplishment achieved by this type of boss is negative. Their tactics serve to destroy morale, according to numerous studies. Hochwarter has found those negative employees are outcomes associated with supervisors’ aberrant behavior, including impaired work productivity and poorer heath. One woman who worked for an Arizona lawyer wrote her story on author Stanley Bing’s blog dedicated to bad bosses:

“During the six years I worked for him, he would insult me, tell me he didn’t know if he liked me, tell me that I was ‘a bright woman, so please don’t disappoint him’ … Why did I stay? I was a single woman raising two daughters and he paid very well. He knew that he was a difficult, crazy man and he paid a high salary so that he could ‘trap’ somebody who really needed the cash.” In the end, she quit and threatened him with a restraining order if he ever contacted her. “Employees pay a heavy price for workplace bullying,” according to David C. Yamada of Suffolk University Law School, Boston, writing in the Journal of ValuesBased Leadership. The costs include “major bottom-line consequences,” including increased health care costs caused by stress, high turnover, absenteeism, poor customer relationships, acts of sabotage and losses from a worker’s job effort falling “between the maximum effort of which one is capable and the minimum effort one must give in order to avoid being fired.” Add to that possible litigation resulting from abusive work situations. The creations of the best workplace begin at the job interview. The GTO team is selected and groomed from the first employment interview to be part of a winning group. Supervisors look for employees who spread the praise when talking about their experiences. “I ask them to tell me about their most successful achievements,” Kelley said. “I ask, ‘What do you attribute that achievement to?’ If I hear a lot of ‘I’s’ in there, like ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that,’ I wonder if they recognize the value of a team.” Employers should only hire supervisors that can motivate others to feel they are part of a team. “It is really about people skills. It is a skill that is learned more than it is taught as an academic subject. It is really about someone having people skills,” said Hochwarter.

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In Business to Write Business. SM

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Working Smarter

Every supervisor should practice good communications, according to numerous studies. Ruby Rouse, a professor of marketing, communication and research at the University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies, said her research indicates that sharing information with employees is even more important in troubled times like the recent economic downturn. Her 2009 study found that 55 percent of employees emphasized a desire for their supervisors to increase the level of transparency about company operations during a financial crisis. Failure to do so harms employee morale and creates a negative workplace environment. Also vital is listening. Good supervisors learn to listen to their employees’ ideas and concerns. Thomas Peters, the business consultant and co-author of one of the most widely read business management books ever written, “In Search of Excellence,” calls listening an indispensable part of good supervision. “Most bosses would agree that listening is ‘important.’ But, again, do they make it a strategic obsession? Because beyond a shadow of doubt that is precisely what listening per se should be,” Peters wrote in the Financial Times in 2011. “Listening is … the heart and soul of engagement, the heart and soul of recognition, the heart and soul of strategic partnering, the heart and soul of learning.” Supervisors have to concern themselves with the macro view, the big picture. Listening is a way to find out what is happening at the micro level with each task in their workplace. It is also a way to generate ideas. Listening can build morale. Employees work harder when they believe supervisors care enough to consider what they have to say. “One of the best non-verbal skills good managers practice is listening,” said FSU’s Hochwarter. “Everybody puts their two cents in, but does anybody listen? The best managers do.” Some of the best management skills are non-verbal. Supervisors should “stand straight and have a friendly face. Smiling works,” Hochwarter said. “Open doors. Say hello in the halls. Carry yourself with optimism. It is important to show you are having fun at work.” The most important non-verbal technique is “just working hard,” he added.

T EAMWOR K Experts say business success hinges on a joint vision and employees working together as a team — not on bullying and fear.

“It sets an example that can spread. If a lot of people believe the boss doesn’t work very hard, well … ” Supervisors must also learn to respect difference among people, not try to fit everybody into some preconceived notion of what an employee should be. “Bosses today will be dealing with everybody from a kid just out of school in Generation Y to a person about to retire,” Iarossi noted. The best bosses realize that supervising such individuals with vastly different experience requires vastly different approaches, he said. That does not mean that the company goals should be altered, but it may mean that different employees reach the same finish line on different routes. Most of all, experts and research agree that the best supervisors don’t resort to yelling, shouting or other types of bullying.

It will destroy the workplace and damage the bottom line. “Treat people as adults. Treat them as partners; treat them with dignity and respect. Treat them — not capital spending and automation — as the primary source of productivity gains. These are the fundamental lessons from the excellent companies’ research. In other words, if you want productivity and the financial reward that goes with it, you must treat your workers as your most important asset. These companies give control over their destinies; they make meaning for people. They turn the average Joe and Jane into winners,” wrote Peters and Robert Waterman in “In Search of Excellence” almost three decades ago. It still works. As Kelley, GTO’s president said, “Every small business should run like a team, together.” n

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Meet an emerging new generation of Northwest Florida business leaders

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F

rom an insurance executive to a farmer to a software guru, they’re young, ambitious and making an economic impact on the many and varied communities of Northwest Florida. You may not yet know their names. But you will. Over the coming year, 850 plans to introduce you to 40 special people under the age of 40 who live and work in the 16 counties of Northwest Florida. Every day they are making a difference in the business world and in their communities — and prepping themselves to become the leaders of tomorrow. Their impact is already being felt, from the state Legislature to city hall. In this issue we introduce you to nine men and women who are mostly newcomers to the region. Some were nominated by

friends or coworkers; some 850 sought out through contacts in the business community. We think you will be interested in their theories of success, their outlook on life and their thoughts about how to improve the outlook for business in Northwest Florida. Nearly every one of our first group attended a state university in Florida. All but one earned an undergraduate degree while several went on to obtain a masters. Most pay homage to parents and grandparents as role models and mentors. Some are CEOs of their own companies, some work for others. Many spend their spare time doing charity work, serving on community boards and the Chamber of Commerce, or using their business to help others.

By Linda Kleindienst Photos by Scott Holstein

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Business Philosophy Perfect food, perfect service, community involvement.

Grannie taught us that being different is best, and boring is just not acceptable.

Reading Brian: “The 21 Irrefutable Laws

Definition of Success Setting ambitious goals and then achieving them by leaps and bounds.

Hardest Lesson Learned Brian: Method and repetition cannot create customer service, only inspiration can. Inspire your people to love their customers and they will amaze you.

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning.” Both are

Northwest Florida Business Growth Jenna Leigh: We should be focused on the retention of young professionals in this community, particularly our military personnel. I feel that creating a hip, trendy and beach-focused community that competes with other municipalities for business and pleasure is the key.

Steinbeck.

Role Model/Mentor Brian: My Pop Pop taught me the value of hard work and fun. When I was little he’d wake me up at 5 a.m. to go surfing, then he’d take me back to fix our neighbor’s roof. Jenna Leigh: My grandmothers. Grandma Caldwell gets up every morning and sings, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This brings me joy and perspective. My

of Leadership,” “Comprehensive Guide to vital to the restaurant industry. And, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Jenna Leigh: National Book Award winners and John Fun Jenna Leigh: We both enjoy the beach, boating, our dogs and camping. Brian is an avid surfer, novice fisherman and brews his own beer. I am a total book nerd. I love to ride my road bike and create new recipes.

Brian and Jenna Leigh Burger, 30 { Restaurateurs » Fort Walton Beach } Owners, Tijuana Flats in Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola Brian is director of operations, Jenna Leigh is director of marketing and public relations

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Business Philosophy Knock loud, hard and often. Definition of Success Having a positive impact on others, each and every day. Role Model/Mentor My grandfather, because he showed me that no matter what obstacles or challenges you face, you can overcome them. At the age of 86, he was the oldest FBI agent to testify in a (federal) court case. He was traveling from Tampa to Birmingham and had congestive heart failure. They had two doctors and an ambulance waiting outside the courtroom. This taught me that perseverence is a must in life. Hardest Lesson Learned It’s important to be focused on your career, but do not let your career become bigger than you. What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self? Relax, it’s fine to have big dreams, but nothing great happens overnight. Northwest Florida Business Growth We need to spread the word on how much opportunity is here in this untapped market, professionally and personally. I’m a Floridian, and before I moved here I only visited the “Panhandle” on one occasion. We need to reach out to our fellow Floridians. In 10 years I hope to be … Enjoying my life on the beautiful beaches of Florida. Reading Inspirational and leadership books. Michael Oher’s “I Beat the Odds.” Fun Run, play basketball, help out in my community.

Anthony de la Torre, 28 { Insurance Industry » Panama City } Executive Vice President Brown and Brown Insurance

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Business Philosophy “When deeds speak, words are nothing.” (African proverb) Definition of Success Design and construction is successful when the completed project results in all parties being satisfied. Personal success is the result of doing what you love and being happy doing it. Role Model/Mentor My mom is my role model for life; my dad is my business mentor. Both have taught me the importance of setting goals and working to achieve them. Hardest Lesson Learned While I know that a properly managed and well-led team can outperform a single individual, it is easy to forget this simple concept when in the midst of trying to complete a project. I have learned that delegating with clear communication is the key to being a good leader. What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self? Slow down and enjoy life! Hard work, determination and patience will take you where you want to go. Northwest Florida Business Growth The best way to keep Northwest Florida special and unique is through intelligent planning and development techniques for sustainable future growth. Sustainability is critical because it will result in less overhead for businesses and keep our area a desirable place to live. In 10 years I hope to be … An architect/ builder with a reputation for projects that are sustainable, functional and beautiful. Reading Technologies, materials and codes in my field are constantly evolving, so most of my reading time is related to professional materials. I do, however, enjoy a well-written mystery. Fun Travel, work out, fish and spend time with my family, friends and my Springer spaniel, Clyde.

Bonnie Johnson, 32 { Architect and general contractor » Tallahassee } President BKJ, Inc.

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life isn’t about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself. A very powerful lesson I’ve … tried to share with others.

conversation about the role entrepreneurship needs to play in Florida’s ability to thrive in the 21st century.

Role Model/Mentor My grandmother. She brought joy and humor to everyone she knew. She always looked “at the bright side of life,” did the right thing and put her family first.

What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self? Create your future. People too weak to follow their own dreams will always find a way to discourage others. So, don’t listen to them.

Hardest Lesson Learned Most of them. A few years back, I spent some time with Peter Senge, an internationally known expert on organizational development and author of the best-selling book, “The Fifth Discipline,” who changed my world view. I finally learned that

Northwest Florida Business Growth Create a culture of entrepreneurship through (formal and informal) education, commercialization of university research, access to capital, enhanced support organizations, initiatives and better inform the public

Reading Regularly, Florida Trend, The Wall Street Journal and 850 Magazine. At night, interesting books of leaders and people that think differently. Most recently completed “Joker One” by former Marine Donovan Campbell after meeting him at the Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum. Currently reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.

Business Philosophy Stay hungry. Stay foolish. (via Steve Jobs) Definition of Success To dare greatly.

Fun Play with my children and our occasional family trip to the North Carolina mountains or Florida beaches.

Tim Giuliani, 30 { Non-profit leader and fundraiser » Tallahassee } Vice President, Corporate Outreach & Engagement Florida Chamber of Commerce

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Business Philosophy Be relentless in character, marketing and common sense. Definition of Success Personally, it’s preserving our family’s farm and ensuring a comfortable living for myself and my family. Professionally, success means providing more and better local produce and meat, and establishing a business model that shows family farms and young farmers can thrive within the community. Role Model/Mentor I was “raised” by my parents (and) much of who I am is due to them. I’ve pulled bits and pieces from lots of people.

I sold real estate in college. I got to work under Leonard Bembry and Pepper Ghazvini. They taught me a lot, although I don’t think they realized it. I’m still learning, and I still take bits and pieces from people every day. Hardest Lesson The wholesale side of produce is rough-and-tumble. I found out fast that if you don’t market, you don’t make it. Bumper crops don’t matter if you can’t move them, and you can’t store this stuff. It has to move now. If it doesn’t, all you have are bills. I get my inspiration from … Reminding

Luke Langford, 30 { Farmer » Freeport } Owner, Cypress Cattle & Produce Co.

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myself that my family’s farm is irreplaceable. My family has been there 80 years and our family’s legacy is written into every acre. That’s something that money can’t buy. Every day I work is a tribute to my parents, grandparents and great-relatives. I take that seriously. It’s a bottomless well of inspiration to keep fighting on. Northwest Florida Business Growth Provide the marketing infrastructure for Panhandle family farms. It’s time for a revival of family farms, because when you lose them you never get them back.


Business Philosophy Don’t be afraid of hard work. Definition of Success Making a positive impact in the community. Helping members of my professional network. Being an example for young Latino entrepreneurs and technologists. Role Model/Mentor Through challenging times (my mother) has always managed different situations with courage and tenacity. She is extremely selfless and is always thinking about others. Hardest Lesson I worked for a financial institution in the Caribbean, managing a multimillion dollar banking system migration. The team and I worked 16 hour days for a year (and) placed an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves to complete the project successfully. Even though we finished the project, many members of the team (including me) were burned out for several weeks after the fact. I quickly learned that health and family are way more important than work. What advice would you give your 16-yearold self? You are going to experience tough times. You are going to feel distracted. You are going to feel down. You are not always going to make popular decisions. You are going to fail. Dust it off and keep pushing. I get my inspiration from … My grandparents and parents. As political exiles they left their birth country of Cuba to start from scratch in the U.S. During this time they worked extremely hard to provide opportunities for me and my sisters. Now it’s my turn to help others, by contributing to the community and providing opportunities for those who weren’t as lucky as I was. Northwest Florida Business Growth Create an organization that provides educational resources to members of the underserved communities in the region. The mission would be to work towards eliminating the digital divide. Provide the tools and education to arm the future of our country with knowledge and experience needed to work in emerging industries like health care technology, ITsecurity, banking and mobile commuting. I would call it “We Are the Future.”

Eduardo Gonzalez Loumiet, 31 { Entrepreneur, project manager, business manager » Tallahassee } Managing Director, Uber Operations; Founder, Gonzalez Loumiet Group; Co-Founder and Advisor, Business Continuity Management Professionals

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Business Strategy Stategy. Inform. Connect. Growth. Savvy. Create. Definition of Success Learning, earning and yearning. My success is derived from and directly correlates with the success and growth of my clients’ businesses. Role Model/Mentor Kay Phelan, president of Phelan & Lowery. I’ve worked with Kay since the beginning of my career in 2007. I soak up her knowledge and knack for traditional public relations like a sponge. Hardest Lesson As a young adult, by nature it is easy to be naïve and make quick decisions. I’ve learned to remove myself from a situation and analyze it from afar before coming to a conclusion. What advice would you give your 16-yearold self? Slow down! I get my inspiration from … My parents. They’re my biggest fans and have instilled me with the drive and determination to be the next President of the United States. Northwest Florida Business Growth Continue to help raise awareness of our beautiful area and this hidden gem we call the Emerald Coast. What I plan to be doing in 10 years Rubbing elbows in the White House. No, really, I strive to elevate my business, brand and connections nationwide, which in turn will help my clients achieve their goals. Fun Travel, boating, snow skiing, golf, yoga, exercise, entertain, meet new people and enjoy life to the fullest.

Jessica Proffitt, 26 { Public Relations and Marketing Professional » Destin } President, Proffitt PR

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Business Philosophy Deliver unsurpassable value through every interaction. College Experience One day at the University of Georgia. Definition of Success Providing solutions to customers that enable them to beat their competition and achieve the success they desire. Creating engaging jobs through an organization and workplace that rewards our team and instills excellence in each person. Providing opportunities for others to advance and succeed and watching them grow. Working with the best and brightest to lift beyond our weight class and deliver world class solutions. Role Model/Mentor Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos.com, for developing an incredible culture that benefits their team as well as

customers. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, for believing in “one computer in every house” before it made sense and changing the world along the way. Jessica Mah, 20-year-old founder of InDinero, for showing kids today that age doesn’t matter. If you have an idea, pursue it relentlessly and you will succeed. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple/Pixar, for the genius to understand how to design and build products down to the last detail and revolutionizing an industry. Hardest Lesson I started Overgroup in 2002 and have always said it has been my “college.” A lesson that stands out is about delegation. Early on I thought it was smart to delegate as many tasks as possible. I later learned the other name for this — micromanagement. Instead of delegating tasks, I learned to delegate areas

of responsibility, but with the caveat that it should be to those who have a proven track record of success in those areas. If you don’t have anyone with the experience, don’t settle for less — regardless of cost. To grow, your team should be better than you within their respective areas. What advice would you give your 16-yearold self? Position yourself to intern at a Fortune 500 software company, to learn how organizations function, and then start your own company with that knowledge and experience behind you. Northwest Florida Business Growth Expand the Gulf Coast Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, our local technology business incubator. n

J. Ross Overstreet, 29 { Entrepreneur, Software Engineer » Pensacola } CEO/Founder Overgroup Consulting, LLC

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A guide to MBA programs in Northwest Florida

Master of Business What makes each unique, are they still relevant and why online programs are growing in popularity.

T

he Master’s Degree in Business Administration has consistently been one of the most popular graduate degrees a university can offer. It is viewed as the ideal career booster, giving graduates the tools necessary to make the often-lucrative step into management, the right networking to land that new job or even provide a safe shelter in an economic storm. Though MBA programs remain popular, they have evolved to meet the needs of today’s students. Most

cater to working professionals with evening and weekend classes, and now many universities are shifting into online-only programs. But given the still-troubled job market and lingering economic woes, does it make sense to take on additional debt to earn an MBA in an uncertain economy? What’s available in Northwest Florida? 850 provides the answers to some of those questions in this guide to MBA programs in the Northwest Florida region.

By Lilly Rockwell

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Northwest Florida MBAs By the Numbers

Tuition

Job placement

MBA enrollment size

Common employers

Uwf $9,048 for Floridabased students; German students pay $10,000

Uwf N/A (85–90 percent of students already have a job)

Uwf 145

Uwf Gulf Power, Baptist Health Care, International Paper, Navy Federal Credit Union, O’Sullivan Creel, IBM, General Services Administration, Department of the Air Force, Walt Disney Corporation.

fsu $28,350 for online students; for traditional students between $16,410.42 and $44,191.56 depending on type of program and residency status.

famu 85 percent of students found a job within 6 months fsu Unknown

fsu 280 thomas University 145

thomas University N/A (Most students already have a job)

famu Eli Lilly, JP Morgan Chase, PwC, Ernst and Young, Altria, Cintas fsu Harris, Lockheed Martin, Burger King, AT&T, Macy’s, Moore Consulting, BankUnited, CSX, Florida Department of Education, Adecco, Ryder, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, ACS thomas University Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, Archbold Memorial Hospital, banks, small businesses such as restaurants and retailers.

thomas University $19,500

Average student indebtedness

Average Years of prior work experience

Average age of full-time entrants to the program

Average starting base salary for full-time graduates

FSU $21,000

FSU 1–4

UWF 25

FAMU $55,000

FSU 30

FSU $59,250

Source: U.S. News and World Report; Florida State University, Florida A&M University, University of West Florida and Thomas University

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ICONS LAURA PATRICK

famu $34,056 for online students; traditional students pay between $13,149.40 and $39,653.31 depending on residency status.

famu 120


A guide to MBA programs in Northwest Florida

FPO Univer sity of W est F lo r i da The UWF College of Business is in the middle of a construction project to build a $17 million, three story, 36,000 square foot Education Center. The grand opening of the new College of Business Complex is set for October 2012, however, it will be ready for use by the fall semester.

University of West Florida P e n sac o la, F lo r ida

Rendering Courtesy University of West Florida

MBA Programs Offered Geared toward the working professional with its evening classes, UWF’s MBA program promises to graduate students in five semesters. Those with no prior undergraduate degree in business also have to take one semester of business foundation courses. Unlike neighboring schools, UWF has stayed away from the trend of offering an all-online MBA. Why Pick UWF The school requires students to focus on one industry throughout the program, making its students veritable industry experts by graduation. UWF also offers an MBA program in Germany, giving professors international exposure. Located near several military bases, with multiple campuses in Pensacola and Ft.

Walton, the University of West Florida’s Master’s Degree in Business Administration is a popular choice for current or former members of the military. “Because of our location in the heart of a very large military community, with both the Navy and Air Force, we get a lot of very wellqualified military individuals in the program,” said Ed Ranelli, the dean of the College of Business at UWF. He said the decision to focus on industry portfolios, in which students intensively analyze a given industry throughout the five semesters, has paid off. At the end of the program, students have to write an extensive 30-to 40-page research paper on their industry. “We

have folks who have gone on interviews and been hired on the spot,” said Timothy O’Keefe, the director of the MBA program. Ranelli agrees. “It gives them a real advantage,” he said. “When they come out of the MBA program, they are really an expert in that industry.” For Jeremy Wyatt, the vice president for software engineering at Pensacola-based ActiGraph, which makes health monitoring systems, getting his MBA at UWF just made sense. Back in 2006, the now-35-year-old was given more management responsibilities at ActiGraph and he wanted to gain more management expertise. He started researching programs in 2007.

“Because of our location in the heart of a very large military community, with both the Navy and Air Force, we get a lot of very well-qualified military individuals in the program.” — Ed Ranelli, dean of the College of Business, UWF

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Flo ri da Stat e Uni ver sity The new building for the FSU College of Business is planned for the corner of Academic Way and Dewey Street (the site where the Conradi Building currently sits). Plans include the construction of a five-story building consisting of 192,000 square feet, which amounts to a 67-percent increase in space.

Are MBAS OVERRATED? The traditional selling point for getting an MBA is that if you want to ascend the ladder within your company, make more money or switch into a business-oriented career, getting a master’s degree in business administration is the logical step. Many schools will tell you that it’s not just what you learn in classroom lectures that counts, but the networking, connections and cache that come along with the MBA. But in tough times, there has been a re-examination of whether an MBA degree is worth the investment. It’s not uncommon now for some MBA students to accrue a debt that exceeds $100,000. Though employment data tracked by the Graduate Management Admission Council indicates that 88 percent of MBA graduates in 2010 found a job, an examination by Fortune magazine found that some of those jobs pay less than the amount of student loan debt the

MBA student has accumulated. The national median starting salary for an MBA graduate was $78,819 in 2010, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. (Though in Florida average starting salaries were lower, typically in the midto-upper $50,000s.) Even The Economist weighed in recently with an article urging students to think twice about getting an MBA. “More and more students are finding the promise of business schools to be hollow,” wrote Philip Delves Broughton. “The return on investment of an MBA has gone the way of Greek public debt. If you have a decent job in your mid-to-late 20s, unless you have the backing of a corporate sponsor, leaving it to get an MBA is a higher risk than ever.” University administrators in Florida, however, say there is still tremendous value to an MBA, especially during a recession. “I know what it’s like to be in a hard economy and feel like

“West Florida started advertising their finishin-five program and that caught my eye and I started exploring it,” Wyatt said. “I found out they are highly accredited.” UWF’s MBA program is accredited through The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. “The biggest thing was it was local and it was quality.” He liked taking classes with the same people — cohorts — that he could meet face-to-face. “The program is designed to allow you to enter

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I’m not prepared for the new jobs, and that is the beauty of an MBA,” said Doug Stevens, the director of Florida State University’s MBA program. He said FSU’s program aims to help students avoid massive debts, with most full-time students graduating in a year and tuition costing between $16,000 and $44,000, depending on a student’s residency status and the type of program. Shawnta Friday-Stroud, the dean of Florida A&M University’s School of Business and Industry, said it is “definitely a worthwhile investment” for students to get an MBA. “They need to weigh the cost-benefit analysis,” said Friday-Stroud. “In today’s economic times, do you want to spend $100,000 getting an MBA?”

at a certain time and leave the program exactly five semesters later,” Wyatt said. “I made friends after one or two semesters with everybody in my class.” Wyatt kept his job at ActiGraph and had a secondary job as part owner of an entertainment hall called Farmer’s Opry, while taking evening classes for his MBA. He said it was definitely a challenge balancing work and school. “If it was easy everybody would do it,” Wyatt

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“I met and had working partners throughout class that were from all over the world. The professors were also readily available to answer questions. The professors were great, they challenged us and cut us no breaks whatsoever.” — Matthew Amman, FSU graduate

said. “It was tough, no doubt about it.” In the end, getting his MBA was beneficial for his career. Wyatt got a promotion after getting his degree to the vice president position he now holds. “I can’t put it into words,” Wyatt said. “Now if I go into a meeting with executives, I understand accounting better and our position against the market. It gave me a better understanding of the company’s direction.”


*

U.S. News & World Report’s 2012 edition of “Top Online Education Programs” rankings places the Florida State University College of Business’ Online Master of Business Administration program at No. 20 nationally in terms of faculty credentials, training and online teaching experience. FSU is the only university in Florida ranked in the top 20.

Florida State University * Ta l l ahass ee, F lorida MBA Programs Offered FSU offers a full menu of MBA options. The school has two “accelerated” programs: a fulltime one-year on-campus program and a parttime program that takes seven months to complete. FSU also has an online MBA program that takes most students a little over two years to finish.

Rendering Courtesy Florida State University

A guide to MBA programs in Northwest Florida

Why Pick FSU Students in every type of program get the chance to participate in the “global business experience,” which includes an expenses-paid one-week trip abroad. It’s a good pick if you want to go into real estate, law, social work or start your own business. The school also offers: an MBA with a real estate specialization; two joint degrees; one law degree and an MBA; and one Master’s of Social Work and MBA. And the school has the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship. Getting an MBA from Florida State University also means becoming a Seminole. It’s more than just inexpensive football tickets. Graduates are plugged into the extensive network of Seminole alumni, with 300,000 members of the alumni association. Doug Stevens, the director of FSU’s MBA program, said the same professors teach online and traditional courses. This is different from some schools that turn to adjuncts or part-time faculty for online courses. “Every time we added a new delivery format, we insisted that the same faculty teach all the formats,” Stevens said. The full-time accelerated MBA program is designed for students with at least two years of work experience, Stevens said, though some students do come straight from undergraduate

school. The part-time and online MBA programs are geared toward people with more work experience — typically five or more years. Getting an MBA from Florida State is a great investment, even in a tough economy, Stevens said. “As far as a cost-benefit perspective, it cannot be beat,” Stevens said. “It is so relatively inexpensive, it is one of the best buys in the country.” Matthew Amman, a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch in Savannah, knows this firsthand. He picked Florida State University for his MBA over other universities because it was accredited and had a high-quality online program. At the time, the now-38-year-old was working for South Carolina-based Core Communities, a real estate development company. He saw obtaining his MBA as a way of elevating his career there and opening new career doors. Amman said the online program helped him stay in his job while focusing on schoolwork on evenings and weekends. He started the program in 2009, finishing in 2010. The classes were not easier because they were online. “They are very rigorous. I wanted a program that would really put me to the test,” he said. “The big benefit of the online program to me was having the ability to do it in my own time.” Amman said the MBA also offered valuable networking opportunities. “I met and had working partners throughout class that were from all over the world,” he said. “The professors were also readily available to answer questions. The professors were great,

they challenged us and cut us no breaks whatsoever.” Tacking on “MBA” to his resume did help his career. Shortly after graduation he approached Merrill Lynch about a job. Having Florida State University on his resume and his MBA opened the door to an interview. To help him prepare for the interview, he got advice from a Merrill Lynch worker who was also a Florida State graduate. “It made all the difference in the world,” Amman said.

Thomas University Th o mas vi l l e , G e o r g i a MBA Programs Offered All of Thomas University’s MBA programs are online. The private school offers a regular MBA; a combination MBA and Master’s Degree in Nursing; an MBA with a concentration in public administration; and an MBA with a concentration in accounting. Why Pick Thomas This small, private university near the GeorgiaFlorida state border really caters to working professionals who want to gain the educational credentials to move up their respective career ladders. For instance, future hospital administrators find the combination MSN and MBA degrees helpful.

“We have very close, personal contact with our students. When I taught at FSU, sometimes I would have sections, even at the MBA level, of 40 people.” — Paul Wilkens, Thomas University

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A guide to MBA programs in Northwest Florida

THE VIRTUAL MBA Only a decade ago, an online degree was not highly regarded and many employers and academics scoffed at online-only universities as nothing but diploma mills. Now the tide has turned and many well-respected traditional universities are offering onlineonly versions of MBA degrees. Universities say they are responding to the demand of students, many of whom don’t want to quit their jobs to get an MBA or have to take evening classes at the closest university. University administrators insist there are few differences between the course material taught in traditional face-toface classes and online. In fact, there is nothing on your degree that would indicate your classes were taken online, a draw for some students in rural areas

who can say they got an MBA from, for instance, the University of Florida or Florida State University. Doug Stevens, the director of FSU’s MBA program, said he was once a skeptic about online classes. “What I’m finding is when I teach online I interact with students individually in a way that I don’t when I’m teaching a full-time class, when I’m lecturing and looking out at 50 to 75 students that I don’t know.” Most online classes use a virtual discussion board that allows students to post questions and answers on their own time. Some professors also post online lectures or have online lectures at certain times. Stevens said he has been “pleasantly surprised” by the quality of interaction with online students.

After retiring from his job as a business professor at Florida State University, Paul Wilkens took a job teaching MBA students at nearby Thomas University. He liked the small, intimate classes at Thomas University. “We have very close, personal contact with our students,” Wilkens said. “When I taught at FSU, sometimes I would have sections, even at the MBA level, of 40 people. What we do here is we get to know the student, and they have my home phone number and email.” Though he started out teaching night MBA courses, Wilkens said shifting to all-online classes makes sense for Thomas University students, the great majority of whom come from Florida and Georgia and already had full-tome jobs.

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Students say the flexibility of online classes cannot be beat. Matthew Amman, a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch, said he wouldn’t have been able to obtain his MBA from Florida State University if it wasn’t for the online program. His advice to students considering online versus traditional programs is to evaluate your career and the timing of getting an MBA. “It boils down to available time,” he said. For him, “online was a no-brainer” because he didn’t have to sacrifice his job. But don’t make the mistake of thinking online means easy, he said. “You have to evaluate the MBA as part of your life plan,” Amman said. “It is a very deep commitment, not just financially. It is a rigorous program.”

“These people work a full day and in some cases, the nurses work a 12-hour shift,” Wilkens said. “They can’t come here to campus and sit through night classes.” Linda Jones, an operations controller at Thomasville-based Flower Foods, said she picked Thomas University because of its flexible online program. A married mother of two with a full-time job, Jones said getting her MBA was a personal goal. “It was an opportunity to go back and sharpen my skills and get another perspective,” said Jones, who has bachelor’s degrees in accounting and management. Jones, 43, said the online classes were intellectually stimulating, prompting lots of discussion between classmates. “You would go online

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“One of the great things about FAMU’s business school is you have such a tight-knit group going through that MBA with you. It was great to come in and have that support. You all have that drive and you all push each other forward.” — Orlando Hankins, FAMU graduate

and post your response to a case study and then respond to three or four other peoples’ response,” Jones said. “They may disagree with you, and it wasn’t bad to disagree.” She said she got the personal email addresses and phone numbers of classmates and got to know them well as they worked together on class projects. One benefit to Jones was learning more about other aspects of a business’s operations, such as marketing. Since she works primarily in accounting, it helped her understand the value Flower Foods’ marketing team brought to the company. “We think about counting the numbers, and just going through the executive marketing class was such an eye-opener,” Jones said. “It


Flor ida A&M U n i ver si t y

gave me a new appreciation for our marketing department.” She said it made her a more wellrounded person. After taking roughly two years to get her MBA, Flowers said the sense of accomplishment it has given her made the endeavor worthwhile. “For one thing, most people were amazed I could do it,” Jones said. “They said ‘How did you find time to do it?’ It was inspiration to others.”

Florida A&M University Ta l l ahass ee, F lorida

Photo By Scott Holstein

MBA Programs Offered Students can aim for their MBA starting as early as their first year of undergraduate school, thanks to FAMU’s five-year program that earns graduates both a bachelor’s degree and MBA. The school also offers an “accelerated” oneyear full-time MBA program and an online program that takes five semesters. Why Pick FAMU Unlike some other schools, FAMU is welcoming to students who come straight from undergraduate school. They bring online students to campus for an introductory session and require

students to complete internships. FAMU also offers a one-week study abroad experience. When North Carolina native Orlando Hankins was choosing where to go to college in 2006, he applied to Columbia University, the University of Maryland, the University of Virginia and FAMU, the historically black college. While he got into most of the schools he applied to, it was FAMU that impressed him the most because of: its five-year MBA program that channeled bachelor’s degree students straight into graduate school; its tight-knit, welcoming community; and the promise of international exposure through study abroad internships. “When I came in (to FAMU) and spoke with the recruiting director and current students, I was sold,” Hankins said. “They told me about all the different experiences I could have within the U.S. and overseas. They haven’t let me down.” Dean Shawnta Friday-Stroud, who oversees the School of Business and Industry at FAMU, said the school places a strong emphasis on real-world experience. “At a minimum, they have to do a semester-long internship,” FridayStroud said. “We actually encourage them to do a year-long internship.” She said the school has partnerships with companies from all over the country and flies in corporate executives to speak to students as part of the school’s leadership development

program, providing invaluable networking for students. For Hankins, his study abroad dreams came true in 2008. Just after his sophomore year he spent the summer in Shanghai, China, taking classes in Mandarin and completing an internship at Shanghai Yongguan, a company that manufactures and supplies shelves. He also taught English classes for his co-workers. “Going over to Shanghai gave me a new perspective,” Hankins said. “You may read about (China) in World Cultures class, but actually being immersed in it you see how different people see things and take a step out of your own shoes.” Hankins, 23, graduated this year and now works for pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. in New Jersey doing a 24-month “rotational” program that exposes him to different parts of the company and prepares him for a permanent position. Hankins said classes at FAMU were small, and the administrators at the business school took the time to know the students. The dean knew who he was and what his goals were, Hankins said, helping him land the internship in China. “One of the great things about FAMU’s business school is you have such a tight-knit group going through that MBA with you,” he said. “It was great to come in and have that support. You all have that drive and you all push each other forward.” n

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If you want to advance your business career, you will have to earn our stripes. Earn your master’s degree online or on campus from The Florida State University College of Business and gain an edge in the ever-changing business world. Choose one of our flexible online programs in Business Administration, Management Information Systems or Risk Management and Insurance to further your education without setting foot on campus. Or choose to pursue a traditional, on-campus degree program in Accounting, Business Administration, Finance or Marketing. No matter which path you follow, you’ll receive an innovative and advantageous business education because our world-class, on-campus faculty members teach both options. That means you’ll experience a cutting-edge curriculum and individual attention that will challenge and inspire you to shape the future of business. Learn more about our online and on-campus master’s degree programs at

graduatebusiness.fsu.edu.

Dr. Patricia Born Payne H. and Charlotte Hodges Midyette Eminent Scholar in Risk Management and Insurance Visiting Scholar in China, Korea and Germany

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I-10 Corridor

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

Getting Connect e d By early fall, most of Northwest Florida’s rural area should be linked up to the Internet, a must for the region’s economic development.

Opportunity Knocks Rural counties get wired for economic development By Lee Gordon

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mployment opportunities are few and far between these days. The unemployment rate in Florida remained in double digits throughout 2011 and the outlook for 2012 looks to be just as dreary. That holds especially true for rural communities across the Sunshine State decimated by the economy and the bursting of the real estate bubble. At the start of the decade, life was good, there was opportunity for growth and everyone was flush with optimism. Then in 2007–08 real estate prices crashed — and so too did the hopes and dreams of many communities that had visions of a better tomorrow. Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist have talked prominently about job creation. But it was former Gov. Jeb Bush who literally got the ball of opportunity rolling with the launch of Opportunity Florida — not just

Photo illustration by LAURA PATRICK

a vision, but a grassroots effort to enhance business and job creation in rural Florida. On its website, Opportunity Florida boasts that it is a champion for business and “an aggressive economic development organization committed to growing the regional economy.” Its goal is to create opportunities for regional businesses by providing resources and knowledge while leveraging connections in the nine counties that it serves. “Rural Florida per capita incomes are 34% less than urban Florida,” said Rick Marcum, the agency’s executive director. “What is the challenge to rural? The challenge now, and for a long time, is going to be a lack of infrastructure. Companies that are expanding or relocating are looking for ‘shovel ready’ sites, and we usually need to get a grant to accomplish the task.” Opportunity Florida, a 501(c)6 Florida corporation represents the first legislatively

designated Rural Area of Critical Economic Concern (RACEC). Established in 2000, it includes Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties. Last year, Scott added a ninth county, Wakulla.

Opportunity to Make a Difference Marcum and his staff work diligently on Opportunity Florida’s mantra: When a person gets up in the morning and goes to work, they never notice or care that they have crossed a county line. Simply put, if something good happens in a neighboring county, it’s good for all. On the agenda for Opportunity Florida in 2012 are two key priorities. First and foremost is successfully completing a project designed to give broadband Internet to the nine rural counties that make up the RACEC. The counties will primarily benefit through a $24 million

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TALLAHASSEE MEMORIAL HEALTHCARE AND THE TMH FOUNDATION PRESENT GOLDEN GALA XXIX STARRING

Keith Urban APRIL 25, 2012

TALLAHASSEE – LEON COUNTY CIVIC CENTER

The Golden Gala, now in its 29TH year, is a black tie affair considered by many as Tallahassee’s premier charitable and social event. Proceeds will be used toward the acquisition of an Interactive Communication Education Entertainment System for TMH patients and their families. To make Golden Gala reservations, please contact the TMH Foundation by calling Bonnie Cannon at 850.431.4590 or e-mailing bonnie.cannon@tmh.org. you very much for your support of “Recognized World Class Healthcare” at . 50 | February –  March 2012Thank | 850businessmagazine.com


federal broadband grant and by being able to use $10 million of local in-kind assets (such as existing city and county water towers and communication towers). The grant money is being shared with the South Central RACEC and Florida’s Heartland Regional Economic Development Initiative, Inc., which together cover six counties, including Hardee, DeSoto, Highlands, Glades, Hendry and Okeechobee. When the network is done, the world will change for rural Florida. “If we fail at that there will be no economic development,” said Marcum, “Without highspeed Internet, you cannot compete. It is fundamental to all business and all regional economies. Right now, my leadership tells me to forget strategic plans, forget the many meetings and keep our eyes on the prize — and that is completing our broadband grant. “This is an all-consuming program and probably the hardest event of my career. But hopefully, by August or September of 2012, we will be 85% complete and well on our way to success.” Marcum sees this high tech network as the single most important mission of Opportunity Florida. Without it, he believes there will be no economic development in the counties and the distinct likelihood that existing businesses may migrate out of the region. “We already have a brain drain when our children get degrees and there is no place for them to work here and they are forced to leave,” Marcum told those attending the Northwest Florida Broadband Summit in October 2011. “Opportunity Florida’s 50 percent ownership of the Florida Rural Broadband Alliance, LLC, is our greatest opportunity, because the most fundamental question a business prospect asks when considering locating in the region is, ‘What is your Internet capacity?’ ” Once that game-changing project is complete, Marcum and his staff will focus their attention on the port in Port St. Joe. A deep water port with rail access to the major east-west transportation corridors provided by CSX and I-10 will make the region, “a force to reckon with in the state of Florida, and for that matter, all the Southeast U.S.” The Port Authority has already been receiving inquiries about operators and cargo operations. “Opportunity Florida is one of our best cheerleaders and promoters,” said Tommy Pitts, executive director of the port of Port St. Joe. “The ports are regional economical development engines. The development in those counties

will support port development. We are having preliminary discussions to support each other in these counties.” Opportunity Florida is funded by the county commissions, towns, utilities, local economic development organizations and businesses within the region. Scott has also provided support through the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity, with a staffing grant.

“WITHOUT HIGHSPEED INTERNET, YOU CANNOT COMPETE. IT IS FUNDAMENTAL TO ALL BUSINESS AND ALL REGIONAL ECONOMIES … ” RICK MARCUM Leading by Example As for Marcum, he’s part lobbyist, part cheerleader — but mostly a champion for the nine counties he and Opportunity Florida represent. He returned to Florida in 2003 as the third person to serve as the executive director of Opportunity Florida. His background is in the financial/real estate sector, first as the executive director for the Walton County Economic Development Council, then working in New Mexico as the executive director for the Northern New Mexico Regional Development Corporation. What drew him back to the Sunshine State was an opportunity to use what he learned out West and apply it to a state that desperately needs jobs. “There are many states that encourage/instigate regional cooperation via such organizations (i.e. the Northern New Mexico Regional Development Corporation). And most grants now look for regional initiatives and cooperation,” noted Marcum. “Prime examples are the two broadband grants that cover the three RACEC organizations in Florida. Most all the grants awarded went to regional groups and organizations.” According to Marcum, regional efforts are a very strong trend, especially regarding tourism and rural infrastructure. Since 2003, there has been a good deal of growth in the area served by Opportunity Florida. Aside from the broadband

grant and the port in Port St. Joe, Opportunity Florida has designated logistics and distribution as its number one targeted industry. While real estate had been considered the backbone for the region’s future growth, Marcum chooses to look at the glass half full, knowing that Opportunity Florida was born not to focus on problems, only solutions. “With the widening of the Panama Canal, we remain encouraged about our regional opportunities in logistics and distribution,” said Marcum. “There are other targeted industries, but as the world’s global economy and trade expands, we will seize on some very good things. Also Gov. Scott has targeted huge growth for the entire state in international trade ... and Opportunity Florida hopes to be right there with him.” Opportunity Florida has already expanded from eight counties to nine, and it works with the two other RACEC areas that cover north central Florida (from Jefferson to Putnam County) and south central Florida to make sure that rural areas have a strong vision for the future, as well as a voice at the state capital. Despite the high unemployment numbers across the state, Marcum is quick to point out that the counties that make up his area across I-10 have not seen the devastating effects that have plagued much of South Florida. Businesses up and down Highway 20 have remained fairly stable, although the same can’t be said for those located closer to the coast. “I would say that the real pain has been endured in Franklin and Gulf County,” Marcum said, “However, revenue for all our governmental operations has taken some very big hits. So there is opportunity knocking, and our challenge is to make sure we have the ability to open the door.” While the broadband Internet project is the focus of Opportunity Florida to attract new business and jobs, the port in Port St. Joe also has the potential to be a major job creator. Some benefits: » Support manufacturers within the region looking to ship their products — as well as companies looking to import raw materials. » Benefit the Apalachicola Airport. » Cargo can be easily moved to distribution centers that already exist in Jackson County via Highway 71 or the Gulf Coast Parkway, Highway 231. »T  here’s plenty of available and affordable land for future manufacturing sites within Opportunity Florida’s nine rural counties. n

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Capital Corridor

Gadsden, Jefferson + Leon Counties

STO C K E D U P Entrepreneur Laura Johnson poses with Coton Colors’ best seller, the Happy Everything platter, at one of the two local warehouses stockpiled with products.

Meet Laura Johnson This Tallahassee tycoon has turned touches of whimsy into a multi-million-dollar business By Rosanne Dunkelberger

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fter her third daughter was born in 1995, Laura Johnson continued a tradition and pressed little Sarah Parker’s handprints into some clay. “I drove over to the old timey pottery studio on Tharpe Street and had her fire them for me,” Johnson recalls. “While I was in there, I saw these plates — greenware …. I bought six and I took them home, sat in my dining room and painted my three daughters’ names. My sister has three girls and I painted their names on (the other three). And I took them back, fired ’em and gave (the plates) to them for Christmas.” A girlfriend who saw her holiday table set with the cheerful, colorful plates with names handpainted in a funky font told Laura she wanted to

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order three. “I said, ‘I’m not even making them yet.’ She said, ‘Just make them, I’ll buy them.’ ” At the time, Johnson was already selling dyed and painted clothing — a line she called Coton Colors — at a local store, so she just added the plates to her offerings. Painting pottery in her garage, Johnson also sold pieces in other stores in the region. Within a year, she dropped the clothing line, opened a studio, recruited her family — mother, father and sister — and, with their help, went to market in Atlanta and sold ’em like crazy. And so, the polka dot pottery juggernaut that is Coton Colors began. From those half dozen personalized plates, Johnson’s Tallahassee-based business has grown to a line that includes about 1,100 different items

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sold in 3,000 outlets. Pottery pieces — platters, plates, bowls, plaques — and painted glass ornaments are the heart of the line. The products have a distinctive look, most with bold stripes or polka dots and motifs that are simple and childlike. She has branched out and put her whimsical touch on wood and melamine as well as resin figurines. Coton Colors is licensed to create products with the insignias of 45 different colleges and has just launched a line of sorority items. Coton Colors also sells products from its own website (cotton-colors.com) as well as two retail storefronts, one run by Johnson’s sister in Tampa, where most of the company’s ornaments are shipped from, the other run by her mother in Tallahassee. Her father is the company’s CFO.

Photo by SCOTT HOLSTEIN


Photo courtesy Linley Paske for Coton Colors

The bulk of the company’s operations are based in a pair of warehouses on the outskirts of Tallahassee. Johnson says the company has “40-some-odd” employees, including 12 sales representatives throughout the Southeast. The number grows between September and December, when the company does about 40 percent of its annual business. From 2008 to 2010, the company’s sales doubled to $6.5 million. The plan, she says, is to top $10 million in two years. “When CPAs look at that, they freak out; they’re amazed,” by the company’s success in the midst of recession, says Johnson. What drove that explosive growth, she says, was a decision made in the mid-2000s to move the production operation to China. In the beginning, the pottery making and painting was done in Tallahassee by a slew of high school and college girls, some of whom continue to work in Coton Colors’ headquarters today. “The production (process) was aging, it just wasn’t my love,” Johnson explains. “I picked the hardest product in the world to make well. Plus, to get the price right and to get the quality good; it’s very difficult.” Even adding the cost of shipping products halfway around the world, the price of a similar product created here would be double that of a Chinese-made one. Still, Johnson’s decision wasn’t all that deliberative and it wasn’t all that easy. Johnson says when selling her wares at wholesale markets — they have permanent booths at markets in Atlanta and Dallas — she was constantly approached by people encouraging her to let them take over the manufacturing process. Because she was busy at market and even busier once she returned to Tallahassee creating products to fill orders, Johnson says she never had time to seriously consider outsourcing manufacture of her products. Her sister met and liked one man who asked if he could stop by on his way to taking his family to Disney World — in December. “There’s 550 platters I have to do for Neiman Marcus and I was like ‘What? No!’ He shows up in this little teeny compact car with his two daughters and his wife and he sat there in our little studio and my dad and I, we grilled him.” He told her, “I take all this problem away from you,” she recalls, and he drove away with her products strapped to the top of his car with bungee cords. “I’m like sure, right (but) he gave us wonderful samples. We flew out to meet him (in China). We toured the whole factory. We (started) with one container and he has been with us ever since, and he’s done a fabulous job. “At the time it was a hard transition for us. I didn’t want to give it up,” Johnson says.

“I was terrified. (Quality) is so important to us and we didn’t want to sacrifice anything … now it’s like old hat.” At the time, Johnson also realized her creative options were limited by staying with the original Tallahassee operation. “There was just no way we could continue the growth that we wanted,” she explains. “Now we can really officially design and do the things that we do best. (Before) I would be so busy in production, I could never do wood. I could never do resin. I could never do paper mache. I could never do melamine. We couldn’t have our wire or tree displays without that source.” When she was manufacturing pottery in Tallahassee, there was also breakage and packaging problems. “Now it comes perfectly packed and we label it and send it out,” she says. “They know what they’re doing. They’ve got it down. They’re the experts at that.” Her Chinese manufacturers call her creations “easy, not-so-easy” to make. “It’s very unforgiving because it is very solidly painted, it’s very handpainted. Although it’s very simple … if you have any problem with the background, it shows, and if there’s anything off it’s very difficult to cover it once it goes through the firing.” To assure herself of the working conditions and the quality of the Coton Colors products, Johnson, her sister and staffers travel to China twice a year and visit about a dozen factories, some in far-flung locales. Before her first trip, “I expected it to be machines producing things. But take a picture of their factory and take a picture of our factory and it’s very similar; people working around the table painting by hand, kilns — much larger than we have — more people, but it’s all based on (being) handmade. They talk in Chinese and I talk in English and we commiserate about the same problems: easy, not-so-easy.” The main challenge of overseas manufacturing is managing inventory. In the past, there was never enough and it was hard to keep up with orders. “Now the trick is not to have too much,” she says. It takes about a year to develop a new product and even existing items need about 120 days to be delivered. Products are sent via shipping container, and Johnson says they will receive about one a week during their busy season. Coton Colors’ signature style has its imitators — “Which is the ultimate compliment, right?” Johnson says with a touch of chagrin. She admits copycats are “a little frustrating,” but believes her work stands out because of the continuously changing designs and the quality of the products. “We’ve never succumbed to the cheap,” she says. “When we source, we only source with the finest and they are trained well by us and they

do a fine job for us. We could do this a whole lot cheaper, but we can’t bring ourselves to do it. We never compromise.” Coton Colors products are found mostly in stores throughout the Southeast (although the company’s No. 1 wholesaler is in Ohio). “We are growing organically. What we have found is that … if we concentrate somewhere, we are going to sell it,” she says. Part of the Coton Colors success story is their support of companies that carry their products. “We put a lot of time and effort into helping them grow, giving them marketing support and advertising and workshops.” Their products are appealing to collectors in a fashion similar to Vera Bradley or Pandora beads — some products “retire,” while new ones are promoted and anxiously anticipated. Dealers are ranked based on their purchases as Partner, Preferred or Premier, with those at the top level being offered exclusive products for their customers. Coton Colors also focuses on a good working environment for its employees, Johnson says. “I spend a lot of time in this office and so do a lot of people who (work) here. It doesn’t have to be a dungeon or a jail; we do try to have fun.” She is also a believer in sharing during profitable years (which has happened for the past five years). “Everybody enjoys a bonus, no matter who they are and what they do.” Management has its eyes on expansion into new markets, as well as branding a Coton Colors lifestyle. To that end, Johnson and her friend, Susie Murray, coauthored what they plan to be the first of four cookbooks. Published last November, the book includes recipes and stories promoting casual, easygoing entertaining. The book is also supported by an interactive website, blog and additional products. In January, the company launched a new line of kitchenware, including dinner plates, mixing bowls, measuring spoons and utensils. “This brand can expand to a little bit more contemporary flair, a little bit more muted flair and you’ll see as we mature that … we’re just holding back,” she says. n HAPPY COO KING Laura Johnson and Susie Murray’s latest endeavor, the first of four cookbooks, the Happy Everything Cookbook.

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forgotten coast Corridor

Gulf, Franklin + Wakulla Counties

Running Wild Mullet are plentiful, but Florida’s net ban strangles the livelihood of local fishermen By Kim MacQueen

A Changed Industry Angie Mercer owns and runs Angie’s Marine Supply in Panacea. She’s been in the business for most of her life and used to fish with her grandfather, back when, she says, “we might throw out 1,000 yards. Now you can only use 500 square feet. And it has to be only a one-inch square, period. And it has to be nylon, it can’t be

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monofilament, like we used to use.” So Mercer can say with pretty good authority the effect the net ban has had on local fisheries. “It was major,” she says. “My company probably got stuck with $50,000 worth of net.” Mercer echoes the voices of fishermen who’ve complained to law enforcement for years that the mesh in the nylon nets they’re now forced to use is so small that “it’s really trashed the ecosystem.” “There are more mullet than there have ever been, of course, because you can’t catch them,” Mercer says. “Mullet and redfish are eating the baby crabs, and there’s so many now that the baby crabs aren’t getting enough time to grow up. They’re depleting the baby stock before it has time to get bigger.” Jonas Porter, who has been fishing in Wakulla County for more than 60 years, is one of those fishermen severely affected by the net ban, who calls the nylon nets “detrimental to the fishing industry because they catch a lot of the smaller fry in the mesh. So they have a lot of waste, a lot of kill.”

“THERE ARE MORE MULLET THAN THERE HAVE EVER BEEN, OF COURSE, BECAUSE YOU CAN’T CATCH THEM … ” ANGIE MERCER It’s also destroyed a way of life for many fishermen. “Nobody can make a living now. I was out there all day today, casting two nets in a circle, and I burnt two tanks of gas and I caught 30 mullet,” Porter said. “A young man with a family

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can’t make a living like that.” The net ban has turned this longtime fisherman into a distinctly political animal. He made his first trip to the Capitol in Tallahassee a week before the ban went into effect and has made plenty more trips since then. He’ll proudly tell you he’s been arrested several times, getting the first ticket in the state of Florida due to the net ban — ­ July 1, 1995, 11:00 a.m. “I was at the Capitol the week before, and I told them, I want you all to tell me when I can go out and make a living for my family. They said, it’s undetermined,” he says. “I said, well, if I don’t know by July the first … then I’m going fishing.”

A Fish with a History Mullet have been a big part of the economy in this part of state since at least the 1800s, when people learned to catch, smoke, eat and trade it for other food in hard times. Fishermen would ice what mullet they could and salt the rest. They used mullet as the principal food for workers at turpentine plantations, as well as barter. Biologist and nature writer Jack Rudloe, who has exhaustively chronicled the Gulf region in his 1988 book “The Wilderness Coast,” writes of

Photo courtesy MARK WALLHEISE, Tallahassee Stock.com

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ou can get just about anything that swims at Doug’s Seafood Truck on St. George Island — scallops, tuna, grouper, several different sizes of Gulf shrimp scooped out of the water that morning. Anything, that is, but mullet. You can walk over to the other side of the island and see their shiny, grey, oblong bodies jumping out of the still waters of Apalachicola Bay, but they’re not listed on the chalkboard menu of the many fish Doug’s has to offer. Mullet are either a delicacy or a trash fish, depending on whom you talk to. They’re bony, so they don’t make a good sandwich. Those who know how to split them carefully remove the backbone and spread the mild white flesh on a cracker. Mullet are plentiful everywhere year-round, in both fresh and salt waters, in the creeks and bays of Wakulla, Franklin and Gulf counties. And yet, at the same time, they can be maddeningly hard to find. Blame the net ban. The 1995 constitutional amendment outlawed the monofilament “gill” nets fishermen had used for years, limiting them to nylon nets of no more than 500 square feet, used one at a time, mostly in shallow water. The ban was designed to preserve the severely overfished mullet habitat. It changed the mullet fishing business forever. Sixteen years later, it looks to the casual observer like the mullet are back. Mullet make their annual run in the fall but are present yearround as well. The only problem, fishermen say, is that net ban restrictions mean they just can’t get to them.


bizarre physiology to make their case to county Judge Don McLeod. Mullet are bottom-feeders whose digestive systems have evolved to let them make the most of the detritus they find on the floors of lakes and bays. That includes a gizzard — ­ the mullet is said to be the only fish in the world that has one. “OK, well, it’s a well-known fact that only birds have gizzards. So the judge declared that the mullet was a bird,” Jameson says. “That’s why there’s a mullet on the courthouse.”

Good Eating

STALKING MULLET A man stands motionless with his net as he waits for mullet to get close enough to cast for dinner at Shell Point Beach along the Forgotten Coast in Wakulla County.

a time when “[t]ons upon tons of frantic, leaping, beating, frothing fish were hauled out on the marshy berm. The fishermen and their families worked into the night splitting and salting fish … When the licks were big enough, the salted fish were loaded into boats and hauled to Cedar Key, Apalachicola, Carrabelle and other fishing villages that had a railroad spur, and their catches were shipped north by rail. When the mullet ran, they flowed along the Gulf shore in immense black rivers, with millions upon millions of fish carpeting the shallows for miles.” That was back when fishermen used huge seine nets to pull in masses of mullet, in historic fisheries along the creeks and bays of Wakulla and Franklin counties. Writer David Roddenberry’s monograph “Historic Seine Fisheries of Wakulla County and Eastern Franklin County, Florida” lists 16 different historic fishing sites used by generations of fishermen dating back to the Civil War. The fishing holes were also used as recreational and social gathering places as well as commercial hotspots that tied Wakulla and Franklin counties with inland communities in Florida and southern Georgia. “The net of former days is no longer

permissible gear, and a regular crew as in the old days probably no longer feasible,” Roddenberry writes. That, and the last of the historic structures erected to support their fishing businesses along Goose Creek, Ochlockonee Bay and other popular mullet fishing spots were swept away in 1985 by Hurricane Kate. Fishermen have fought with the law over mullet since way before the net ban, as well. Wakulla County’s old courthouse is listed on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places, and it’s got a handcarved weather vane on top in the shape of a mullet. According to Cal Jameson, director of the Wakulla County Historical Society Museum and Archives, that’s a nod to a court fight in the county in the 1920s. Jameson says the Legislature passed a ban restricting mullet fishing to certain times of the year. But the timing was based on weather conditions in South Florida, not North Florida. “So when the mullet were running here, it was illegal to fish for them,” Jameson says. “They were looking for a way to get around that ruling so they could legally fish up here.” Wakulla fishermen used the mullet’s rather

When it comes to mullet, there’s another difference between North and South Florida. While it’s a culinary delight in North Florida, in the southern part of the state sport fisherman use mullet mostly for bait. In the Big Bend, aficionados build little wooden huts just big enough to house huge, black smokers, and set them on the edge of the woods so the incredible scent of smoking mullet wafts out through their whole property. Mineral Springs Seafood in Panacea, just off 319 about 25 minutes south of Tallahassee, doesn’t bother with the hut — they just put the smoker right there in the parking lot, where the woodsy, salty smell reaches in through the car windows and grabs you if you try to drive by without stopping in to pick up a few. In a brightly painted food truck just off Highway 98 in Panacea, Stacy Hutton serves long lines of customers who queue up for her fried mullet, softshell crab, hushpuppies and French fries. Though she’s originally from Ohio, Hutton said her father was a shrimper from the Spring Creek area, so “we kind of ventured this way, and we’ve been here ever since. And then I married a commercial fisherman.” Hutton’s husband Ray and son Tim often go fishing and crabbing all night — leaving from docks not far from where Spring Creek restaurant serves fresh mullet to discerning customers — and then bring the fish and crabs right up to the back of the truck to Stacy the next morning. On Saturdays, the lines of eager customers can wrap around the truck a few times, but weekdays are plenty busy too. n

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F I S H E R M E N ’ s CATC H TOP: Fishermen pull in siene nets filled with salt-water fish off the coast of North Florida’s Destin Beach. BOTTOM: Dewey Destin Sr. compares his catch to son Dewey Destin Jr.

A Fish Tale

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e takes no offense at the question, coming innocently enough as it does from curious tourists visiting his popular seafood restaurant. It’s just a reflection of how the town, a jewel of the Emerald Coast that bills itself as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” has changed over the past several years. Still, Dewey Destin can’t help but laugh a little at the irony when he introduces himself to outof-towners and they inevitably say, “Oh, were you named after the city?” See, it’s actually the other way around. His great-great-grandfather was the eponymous founder of Destin, the small fishing camp that has grown over 150-plus years into a resort destination visited by millions annually. While it may be simply a quiet playground for the likes of John McCain and Britney Spears, to the Destin family and a handful of other local clans the city is the embodiment of ancestral history.

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“It’s been a real source of pride to be part of the family,” Dewey Destin said. “We have roots in the community that most of the people in this country don’t have.”

A Tragedy at Sea If the fishing had been better off the coast of New London, Conn., in the early 19th century, Destin might have a different name and a different backstory. Leonard Destin and the other men in his family made their livings from the sea. After a good season of fishing, they could lay up in port waiting for the schools to return. But when they had a bad season, the men had no choice but to strike out for other waters. Often they would sail south to the coast of Florida and salvage wrecks during hurricane season. That’s what they were doing in the fall of 1833. Leonard Destin, 20 at the time, was captain of one vessel, while his father, George, and his

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brother commanded another called the Hempstead. That September, they ran afoul of a heavy storm off the coast of what is now Cape Canaveral. The Hempstead capsized. Leonard’s father and brother both perished. Leonard Destin later ventured south along the coast and around into the Gulf of Mexico. In 1835, he arrived at what was then a small island located toward the western end of the Florida Panhandle. Despite the area still being very much a frontier, he decided to stay.

The Good Life After building a small fish camp on the island, Leonard Destin and his crew began to fish the blue waters. They used seine nets to encircle schools of fish and haul them aboard, where they were kept in live pens since ice was difficult to come by. The fishermen would then sail to Pensacola and sell their catch to the Warren Fish Co.

Photos courtesy THE DESTIN FAMILY and THE FLORIDA ARCHIVES

The industry and family that sparked a town and helped change the future of the Emerald Coast By Tony Bridges


Coastal Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa + Walton Counties

There, the fish were packed in ice and shipped out across the country by rail. Leonard Destin eventually met and married a woman from South Carolina named Martha and, in 1855, built a home on what is now Calhoun Street in the city of Destin. His fishing fleet continued to grow and prosper. After the Civil War, word of his success spread and attracted others who wanted to fish the Gulf waters. The first to arrive was the Marler family, followed a few years later by the Melvins and eventually by the Jones, Woodward, Shirah, Maltezos and Brunson families. The Destin property ran from what is now Tyler Calhoun Park over to A.J.’s Seafood, and the other families settled in alongside. The families began to intermarry and came to form “one big clan,” Dewey Destin said. “Every time someone would have a child, they’d carve off a hundredfoot lot and give it to the child.” Leonard died in the mid-1870s. So how did the town come to officially bear the name of the man who had started it? The timing isn’t exactly clear, but at some point, a man named William P. Marler — “Uncle Billy” to locals — became the town’s first postmaster. In order to have a post office, the government declared that the town would have to have a name. As postmaster, it was up to Marler to give it a designation. So, he named it after his good friend, Leonard Destin.

An Industry Changes Of course, nothing ever stays the same. When Leonard Destin and the first seamen arrived, there was no bridge to Destin, and storms and shifting sands had yet to close the gap with the mainland. The only way to get there was by boat. After the first bridge was built in 1936, the direction of fishing in Destin began to change. Fishermen would go out in the morning to catch their load for the day, then take tourists out charter fishing in the afternoons. “Who better to take you fishing than a native son who knew all about it?” said Jean Melvin, herself a member of one of the area’s oldest families. Slowly, the number of fishermen seine-fishing out of the Destin docks began to drop, while the charter business grew — especially after billfish were discovered in the waters off DeSoto Canyon in the 1960s. Dewey Destin, 57, born and raised in the town, never left, except for college. That makes him somewhat of an anomaly in Florida, where

EMERALD COAST Corridor

most everyone seems to be from somewhere else, and those actually from “around here” often move on to other places. He started on the boats with his father when he was 6 and had his own small boat when he was 16. It was just a little 24-footer, “but I thought I was king of the world.” Destin went off to college at Auburn University and earned a degree in political science, a decision that still gives him a self-deprecating chuckle all these years later. “That was real handy in the fishing business,” he said. “I hung that diploma on the boat, and the fish would just give themselves up. I didn’t even have to catch them.” Destin, who married his college sweetheart and has four children, spent most of his adult life working the boats and managing the fish business started by his great-great-grandfather. But then, in 2000, the state of Florida made changes to seine-fishing rules that effectively shut down the family operation. “We were sitting there no longer having a business,” Destin said. The solution was a little seafood stand he had started almost by accident. While the fishing company was in the business of wholesaling and retailing seafood, Destin also had set out a few picnic tables near the dock where a few customers could eat some fresh-steamed catch. People seemed to like that, so he added grilled and fried seafood. “It really just kind of mushroomed after that,” he said. “We were quite shocked. The good Lord takes care of fools and fishermen.” He opened the first restaurant, Dewey Destin’s Seafood, in 2002 and has since added two others, including one in Crestview. His restaurants are popular with tourists — including the ones who ask whether he was named after the town.

From Family Name to Commercial Brand These days, Destin is an internationally recognized name. It’s synonymous with clean white beaches, upscale Florida condominiums, fine dining and great golf. It’s where celebrities, politicians and high-profile business people go to relax for a few days in the sun, where they buy second homes to maybe retire to some day. “So many people relate that name to a regional area,” said Shane Moody, president of the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce. “Destin is a

really strong brand name for this area.” Rudimentary fish camps have long since given way to a sprawling complex of master-planned communities and golf resorts that stretches for miles along the southern edge of Walton County. There still are remnants of the original families. Among them are Dewey Destin and his mother, Muriel, along with a few assorted other Destins, Marlers, Melvins and the rest. Moody figures that’s a boon to the community. “The families of the founders of most cities fade, but here, Dewey and his family still have a very strong presence,” he said. “It’s a unique thing, and I think it adds to the charm of the city.” But, he acknowledged, not many people, aside from some locals, know that part of Destin. Ironically, Dewey Destin played a part in the transformation of his small fishing village into a resort town, a transformation that pushed his family toward obscurity. In 1984, the city of Destin became incorporated, and Dewey Destin was elected to the city council the next year. “The original council had a healthy representation of the old families that had been here a long time,” he said. “That didn’t last long.” But as a member of the council over a combined total of eight years, he had a role in the decision-making that led to the city’s growth and eventual recognition as a vacation destination. The development brought benefits that many people appreciated. Property became much more valuable, business opportunities opened up, and cultural and modern conveniences became available. It was exciting, especially at first. “I remember when we got our first hamburger joint and our first stoplight, we thought we had arrived,” he said. But with the good has also come the bad. The beaches are nowhere near as pristine as before, and the town has become “infinitely more crowded,” he said. And, of course, his family’s contributions have been pushed far into the past. Having been part of the local government, he has had a chance to see why and how this has happened — and had a say in it, too — so he’s able to remain relatively sanguine about the direction the town has taken. Still, resentment does occasionally bubble up. “When I feel that coming on, I always tell myself, ‘We were the newcomers too,’ ” he said. “We were the ones who came here and shoved the Indians out of the way. They just came here a little later than we did, but they came here for the same reason.” n

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BAY Corridor

Panama City, Panama City Beach + Bay Counties

Anchor (Alm ost ) Aw e i gh Eastern’s largest shipyard facility is located in Allanton on the Intracoastal Waterway and is where large vessels are built.

Small Shipbuilding Company Brings Big Business Hundreds of jobseekers in Northwest Florida will have opportunity for employment, thanks to Eastern Shipbuilding Group By Wendy O. Dixon

S

hipbuilding is one of the oldest industries in the United States, and was once one of the most important. During its glory days, the industry contributed in major ways toward making this country a world power — playing vital roles in all of its major wars. But since the Civil War, the U.S. shipbuilding industry has declined significantly, according to GlobalSecurity.org, a public policy organization that focuses on the fields of security, intelligence and defense.

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Despite the dramatic decline nationally, Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Bay County continues to churn out a diverse assortment of vessels in Panama City. A shipbuilding and marine repair company specializing in commercial steel and aluminum vessel construction and repair, it’s one of the big contributors to the local and regional economy as the largest private employer in Bay County. “We’ve been here for 35 years and have seen our share of growth in spurts,” says Lisa Barnes,

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the company’s special projects manager since 2006. “Shipbuilding in and of itself is kind of a cyclical business, you have good years and bad years. Right now we’re doing well.” Brian D’Isernia, Eastern’s president and CEO, familiarized himself with the Gulf of Mexico in 1976 when he brought a vessel to the area to fish for swordfish. The native New Yorker found an opportunity that hadn’t been capitalized on yet. “I came to Panama City as a fisherman,” he says. “When I needed a new fishing boat, I knew

Photos by SCOTT HOLSTEIN


I could do it better than anyone else could, and that is when the shipyard began.” Though the U.S. doesn’t build nearly as many military ships as in the past, the United States shipbuilding industry has made some progress in its reemergence as an active participant in the commercial market. The National Shipbuilding and Conversion Act of 1993 and the expanded Title XI Federal Ship Financing Program are helping U.S. companies by providing financial incentives to aid in their ability to aggressively enter and compete in the market. In the past, it was hard for small and midsized shipyards to compete with the bigger shipyards in Louisiana, Maine, Connecticut, Virginia and California. But because of a surge in activity relating to the offshore exploration, drilling and servicing sectors, the smaller shipyards, including Eastern Shipbuilding Group, are scoring major contracts, building an assortment of vessels for use on inland and coastal waterways, as well as for foreign markets. Eastern Shipbuilding Group has become one of the leading innovators in marine construction and repair, with three modern shipbuilding yards, all located in Bay County. These and similar shipyards around the country are expected to continue to prosper for the next decade. Capitalizing on the increased demand for vessels for the Brazilian offshore drilling market, Eastern Shipbuilding recently took on a major Brazilian customer. Ship owner Boldini S.A. was granted a $250-million loan guarantee in 2011 by the U.S. Maritime Administration, a department within the Department of Transportation, which allows Eastern Shipbuilding to build five 282-foot-long platform supply vessels that will be used to provide service in new deepwater oil fields in Brazil. “The Brazilian offshore field is growing because they have the pre-salt (underneath the salt layer) discoveries off the Brazilian coast,” Barnes says. “And that’s a significant market.” Eastern Shipbuilding is doing pre-engineering work for Boldini’s vessels now. The Boldini project is a case in point that U.S. shipyards can compete in a global market. And through the Maritime Administration’s Loan Guarantee Program, the U.S. government is helping Eastern Shipbuilding and its workers build world-class vessels. “Eastern Shipbuilding Group is an impressive entity,” says William P. Doyle, chief of staff for Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association in Washington, D.C. Citing the Boldini contract, he adds, “This is proof positive that the United States, specifically in this case U.S. shipyards, can compete on a global scale to construct and then export its manufactured products.”

The Gulf oil industry is also starting to pick up since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010. “People are starting to drill again,” Barnes says. “And there are opportunities in Alaska, so there are a lot of things coming together now.” In November 2011, Hornbeck Offshore Services, a Louisiana-based company that provides logistics support and specialty services to offshore oil and gas exploration in the Gulf Coast, announced $720 million worth of contracts with Eastern Shipbuilding Group (along with VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Miss.) for the construction of 16 high-specification offshore supply vessels. Each shipyard will build eight 300-class vessels, with options to build additional such vessels should future market conditions warrant. The project is expected to be completed by 2014. Depending on workload, the shipyard has employed from 100 up to 1,100 employees. Currently, Eastern Shipbuilding employs around 800 people but it plans to add 300 new employees to its payroll in 2012. The work is strenuous, but the salary potential is high. “It’s hard work, I’m not going to sugar-coat that, but there certainly is an opportunity there

if you’re willing to work,” says Barnes. “We have people at the shipyard that have worked there for many years, and supervisors who are making $100,000 a year, so there are good jobs at the shipyard if you’re willing to work.” And those jobs help the community with additional jobs, which are created to provide services to the shipyard workers. “For every job we have at Eastern, you have three ancillary jobs because of Eastern,” Barnes adds. “The guys who work at the 7-11 or at UPS have jobs because of Eastern.” The hourly wage is $10.50 for trainees and up to $20 for experienced workers. The shipyard offers training, which includes a welding school and ship-fitters school, and hires all sorts of craftsmen, from trainees to first class craftsmen. The necessary training means that Eastern Shipbuilding is not only creating current jobs but ensuring a skilled labor force for the future. “Shipbuilding requires skilled craftsmanship by a dedicated workforce,” Doyle says. “In these tough economic times, Eastern claims it will create and retain 300 jobs in Bay County beginning in 2012. It is refreshing news.” Like most shipyards, Eastern is largely made up of male employees, many who commute from a five-county area surrounding Bay County. The shipyard also hires underwater welders, who work in murky water with zero visibility. Eastern’s 11-acre Nelson Street shipbuilding and repair facility is located close to downtown Panama City and has more than 1,300 feet of water frontage situated on St. Andrew Bay, a short distance from the Gulf of Mexico. Adjacent to the Nelson Street shipyard is Eastern’s six-acre East Avenue fabrication yard, where much of the modular pre-fabrication is performed. With more than 5,200 feet of water frontage, Eastern’s largest shipyard facility is a

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NEED WE SAY MORE?

Come to the USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger and see the greatest tennis stars right in your own back yard.

20th

■ March 31–April 7, 2012 at Forestmeadows Tennis Complex in Tallahassee, FL. ■ For more information about tickets, sponsorships or volunteer opportunities, visit our web site at TallahasseeChallenger.com or call the TMH Foundation at 431-5389.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Winner of the 2007 Tallahassee Tennis Challenger; 7 career singles titles; 2011 Semifinals Wimbledon and Quarterfinals US Open; plays Davis Cup for France; currently #6 in the world.

Please visit our Web site at: www.TALLAHASSEECHALLENGER.COM

* Photos by Mike Olivella

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John Isner Winner of the 2009 Tallahassee Tennis Challenger; 3 career singles titles; 2011 Quarterfinals US Open; Davis Mardy Fish Cup for USA; Winner of the 2006 Tallahassee Tennis currently ranked Challenger; 6 career singles titles; 2011 #18 in the world. Quarterfinals Wimbledon and 4th Round US Open; Davis Cup for USA; currently ranked #8 in the world.

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140-acre site located 12 miles east in Allanton and is adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway. This large facility is laid out for multiple vessel and large vessel construction. The Allanton yard houses equipment and an electrical shop, carpenter shop, pipe shop, warehouse and sandblasting and painting shop in its 32,000-square-foot building. The shipyard has had military contracts, though its focus is on commercial vessels. “We’ve built everything from small fishing vessels to a 425-foot barge,” Barnes says. Eight 200-foot supply vessels, which will transport workers, supplies, parts and chemicals to the offshore oilrigs, were built at this facility. And the shipyard is currently building 55 towboats for Florida Marine Transporters. One of its more emotion-tinged launches came on Sept. 11, 2009, with a fireboat built for the New York City Fire Department named Three Forty Three, for the number of FDNY members killed in the line of duty on Sept. 11, 2001. The $27 million fireboat is the largest of its kind in the country. In addition to new construction, the shipyard has done major conversions on more than 50 vessels, including the lengthening of oil supply vessels, the conversion of oil supply vessels to North Sea rescue platforms, and the conversion of utility vessels to catcher/processor fishing vessels. Its most recent conversion included a 472-foot self-unloading phosphate rock barge to a 22,000-deadweight ton heated liquid sulfur barge. Plans to quadruple the size of the launch basin are in the works, with Florida Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers permits in place to facilitate expansion. The length of the basin in which vessels and barges are launched, which is now 400 feet, will nearly double to 730 feet. And the width will be increased from 125 feet to 200 feet. This expansion will make Allanton an ideal facility for large tug barge construction. “Through the years, Eastern has maintained our competitiveness by building a wide variety of vessels,” D’Isernia says. “We will continue to build top-quality vessels for our customers. Our customers’ success is our success.” n

Piece By Pi ece New ships are welded together at one of the yards operated by Eastern Shipbuilding Group, the largest employer in Bay County. Much of the modular prefabrication is done in a 32,000-square-foot warehouse.

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New Beginnings >>  Former state House Speaker Tom Feeney has taken over Associated Industries of Florida as president and CEO. In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the organization, he will work closely with elected officials and policymakers to further cultivate a pro-business climate Feeney in Florida. Feeney served three terms in Congress representing the Orlando area after leaving the state Legislature. He replaces Barney Bishop, who has started his own public affairs and lobbying firm, Barney Bishop Consulting. >>  Attorneys Terry Cole and Mark L. Bonfanti have joined Gunster, one of Florida’s oldest and largest business law firms, in the Tallahassee office. Cole is a shareholder and environmental and land use practice attorney who for the past 25 years worked as an attorney with the law firm Oertel, Fernandez, Cole & Bryant, P.A. in Tallahassee. Bonfanti joined the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice. He specializes in labor relations for private and public employers, including collective bargaining, union organizing campaigns and union avoidance training. >>  Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott has hired Brian Deffenbaugh, an attorney, insurance expert and long-time legislative staffer, as senior counsel. With nearly 20 years of experience in the Florida Legislature supervising insurance-related committees, Deffenbaugh brings legal and policy expertise on Florida’s insurance laws and marketplace to the advocate’s office.  >>  Doral Bank Florida, headquartered in Panama City, has hired Jack Kane to serve as its Tallahassee market leader. The bank has established a loan production office at 2473 Care Drive and Kane will oversee operations as the bank works to grow its presence in the market. >>  The Florida Ports Council has named Jennifer Krell Davis as vice president of Public Affairs. She previously served in Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office as deputy communications director and press secretary. >>  James Roberts has joined Hotel Duval as manager in charge of day-to-day hotel operations. He comes from the Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village in Destin, where he served as Rooms Division Manager and acting general manager when needed.

Roberts

>>  Charles Belvin, a third generation Tallahassean and recently the senior producer for Ron Sachs Communications, has opened Charles Belvin Productions, LLC — a full-service video and production company. >>  Mike Bender has left the Tampa Bay Times’ Capital Bureau to join Bloomberg News Service. The financial news service created by now-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently opened a full-time Tallahassee office and is looking to boost its state government coverage. >>  Chris Mantzanas, a web and print designer with 12 years of design experience, has been promoted to art director at SalterMitchell, where he will take a lead creative

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role in the firm’s Tallahassee office. Alicia Belch, a 2011 graduate of Florida State University’s School of Communication and the SalterMitchell internship program, has joined the firm as an editor/producer based in the Tallahassee office. >>  Management consulting and IT firm ISF has promoted Cyndy Loomis to chief executive officer. Loomis has been with ISF since 1989, most recently in the role of chief operating officer. She will split her time between Tallahassee and ISF’s corporate headquarters in Jacksonville.

>>  John Culver, president, Starbucks Coffee China and Asia Pacific, was honored by the Dedman School of Hospitality and the Florida Society of Hosts as 2011 Alumnus of the Year. >>  Melissa Raulston, Florida State University service learning coordinator and Wellspring Studio School founder, has been recognized by the Florida Campus Compact as the 2011 Community Engagement Educator. Local Honors

Loomis

>>  Jordan Jacobs has joined Moore Consulting Group as a director. She previously worked at the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. >>  Lindsay Potvin has left the Florida Democratic Party to work at CoreMessage, the public relations firm owned by Cory Tilley. >>  John Ricco has joined Partners in Association Management as chief staff executive. >>  Florida political consultants ContributionLink LLC, headed by Brecht Heuchan, has hired Sandy Stevens and A.J. Rhodes. Stevens is director of business development and client service, and Rhodes is director of data and account management. >>  Pablo Diaz has joined the National Federation of Independent Business/Florida as its new legislative director. He most recently worked for the Republican Party of Florida as deputy executive director. >>  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc. has opened a new Florida Blue retail center in Tallahassee at Governor’s Square. With the Florida Blue concept — think health care meets an Apple store — the insurer created the first interactive environment where consumers can purchase health insurance, have face-to-face consultations concerning complex health insurance issues, receive free preventive health screenings and participate in wellness events. >>  Claudia Sachs has joined First Florida’s Investment Services Team in Tallahassee. FSU Happenings >>  J. Harold Chastain, a 1955 graduate of Florida State University, and his wife, Barbara, have added another $1 million to an earlier estate plan gift to FSU. The additional funding will likely make the J. Harold and Barbara Chastain Eminent Scholar Chair in the Department of Risk Management/Insurance, Real Estate & Legal Studies the largest endowed position in the College of Business with funding of as much as $2 million. Chastain had successful careers in banking and real estate. >>  Thanks to a gift from two alumni of the FSU College of Business, students and faculty in the college’s Professional Sales Program now have access to a state-of theart behavioral research and training facility. Among other innovations, the new facility will help them to acquire the latest skills relating to the use of mobile technology for a wide array of business applications. The Marvin A. “Mitch” Mitchell Sr. Behavioral Laboratory was established with a $50,000 gift from businessman Andy Mitchell and his wife, Kathy Ireland Mitchell, both 1974 graduates of the College of Business. >>  FSU’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization Chapter took first place for best chapter marketing plan

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at the National Elevator Pitch Competition in Texas. The award marks the third consecutive year the FSU chapter has won one or more first-place awards at the national event.

>>  Michelle Wilson, director of sales and marketing Hampton Inn & Suites® Tallahassee I-10 Thomasville Road, has been elected president of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association Tallahassee Chapter. Wilson is the organization’s first female president in the Northwest Florida Region.

Wilson

>>  Karl Hempel, M.D., of Tallahassee Primary Care Associates, has been recognized by The Center for the Advancement of Health IT for his leadership in the nationwide transition from paper based patient medical records to Electronic Health Records. Hempel and TPCA are among the first healthcare providers in northern Florida to adopt this technology.

>>  The Florida TaxWatch Board of Trustees recently approved the following as new members of the Board for one-year terms: Deborah Curry, Florida Institute of CPAs, Tallahassee; Nancy Deal, IBM, Tallahassee; Charles Hinson III, TECO, Tallahassee; Barbara Ray, Bryant Miller Olive, Tallahassee. >>  Comprehensive Preparedness and Continuity Consultants, LLC of Tallahassee has been awarded a contract with O’Brien’s Response Management to develop Pandemic Influenza plans for the State of Hawaii as well as the four counties of Hawaii (Honolulu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii). >>  O, R&L Facility Services has been awarded the contract to provide building management services for Florida A&M University. Appointed by Gov. Scott >>  David Darm, 25, of Tallahassee, an analyst in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget, as executive director of the Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities, and Susanne F. Homant, 66, of Tallahassee, president and CEO of The Able Trust, as the Commission’s chair. >>  Debra B. Glass, 53, of Tallahassee, a pharmacy supervisor with CVS Caremark since 2006, overseeing 21 stores in the Florida Panhandle, to the Board of Pharmacy. >>  Charles J. Scriven, 79, of Tallahassee, minister of Corinth Christian Fellowship, and Chucha Barber, 58, of Tallahassee, chief executive officer of the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science, to the Florida Commission on Community Service. >>  Kelly W. Horton, 43, of Tallahassee, vice president of governmental affairs for Heffley and Associates, and Frank M. Patterson, 50, of Tallahassee, dean of the College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University, to the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council.

Photos courtesy Tom Feeney, James Roberts, Cyndy Loomis, Michelle Wilson, Bruce Craul, Jack McCombs, Kathleen Baldwin and Darlene Stone,

Capital


BUSINESS NEWS >>  Joseph R. Boyd, 42, of Tallahassee, an attorney at Boyd, DuRant and Sliger, to the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board.

Emerald Coast

Progress Energy; Larry Sassano, Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County; Lawrence Saunders, SunTrust Bank; Sandy Sims, Gulf Power Company; Bill Stanton, Jackson County Development Council; Jeff Stevenson, Gulf Coast Community College; Linda Sumblin, Workforce Board of Okaloosa-Walton Counties Johnathan Taylor, Landrum Employer Services; Neal Wade, Bay County Economic Development Alliance; Richard Williams, Chipola Regional Workforce Development Board.

Local Happenings

Local Honors

>>  O’Sullivan Creel has merged with two other CPA firms to form one of the top 5 firms in the Southeast. The Northwest Florida-based firm has joined forces with the Birmingham-based certified public accounting firm of Warren, Averett, Kimbrough & Marino LLC and the Montgomery-based firm of Wilson, Price, Barranco, Blankenship & Billingsley, P.C. Effective January 1 the three firms began operating as the newly formed accounting firm of Warren Averett and the O’Sullivan Creel branch will operate as Warren Averett O’Sullivan Creel. Mort O’Sullivan will continue to serve as managing member of Warren Averett O’Sullivan Creel.

>>  Bruce Craul, COO of Legendary Inc. and Hospitality Inc. in Destin, has been selected 2012 Chairman of the Board for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, one of the state’s largest trade associations, representing more than 10,000 members in the hospitality industry.

>>  Stan L. Greer, 49, of Tallahassee, the area manager of regulatory relations for AT&T, and Sandra A. Khazraee, director of regulatory affairs for CenturyLink, to the E911 Board.

>>  Cantonment-based Custom Control Solutions Inc. has expanded its operations to Pensacola. One of the company’s largest and most competitive markets is building industrial equipment buildings, and its largest competitors are located in North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. CCS currently outsources the fabrication of these buildings, but through this project — a $520,000 community investment — the company plans to construct them at the new facility in Pensacola. CCS presently has 20 employees, but the expansion will create 15 jobs with annual salaries averaging $39,616, which is 115 percent of the metro area’s mean yearly wage of $34,449.   >>  In one of the largest office transactions in the Pensacola area this year, 1115 Gonzalez Office Center, LLC has acquired Gonzalez Office Center for $2 million. The 17,000 square foot, multi-tenant office property is located on 12th Avenue in the East Hill neighborhood of Pensacola. >>  The 2012 officers and directors of Florida’s Great Northwest, the regional economic development organization for the 16-county Florida Panhandle region, are: Officers — Chairman, John Hutchinson, Gulf Power Company; Vice Chairman, Ed Gardner, PowerSouth; Past Chairman, Jeff Helms, Atkins North America, Inc.; Secretary, Kim Bodine, Gulf Coast Workforce Board; Treasurer, Neal Wade, Bay County EDA Executive Director. Associate Member Representatives to the Board — Rick Bitner, Farm Credit of Northwest Florida; Johnathan Taylor, Landrum Employer Services; Bobby Pickels, Progress Energy;  Lawrence Saunders, SunTrust Bank. Economic Development Representative to the Executive Committee — Larry Sassano, EDC of Okaloosa County. Corporate Representative to the Executive Committee —  Denise Barton, Sacred Heart Health System. Board of Directors — Cindy Anderson, TEAM Santa Rosa; Denise Barton, Sacred Heart Health System; Rick Bitner, Farm Credit of Northwest Florida; Kim Bodine, Gulf Coast Workforce Board; Ed Gardner, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative; Ty Handy, Northwest Florida State College; Rick Harper, University of West Florida; Jeff Helms, Atkins North America; Jim Hizer, Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce; John Hutchinson, Gulf Power Company; Beth Kirkland, Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County; Rick Marcum, Opportunity Florida; Ed Meadows, Pensacola State College; Kim Moore, Workforce Plus; Jim Murdaugh, Tallahassee Community College; Scarlett Phaneuf, Walton County Economic Development Alliance; Bobby Pickels,

SoundByteS >>  Pen Air Federal Credit Union has been recognized for the 84th consecutive quarter as a Superior 5-star rated credit union by BAUERFINANCIAL Inc., putting it into the group of “Sustained Superiority Institutions.” Only 5 percent of the nation’s financial institutions can claim this honor. >>  Legendary Marine, the Gulf Coast’s largest boat dealership, has earned two prestigious boating industry honors, including the rank of No. 16 out of all dealers in North America and the “Best in Class” distinction for “Most Improved Dealer” of the entire Top 100 universe, awarded by Boating Industry magazine. >>  Jean Floyd of Niceville Keller Williams Realty Emerald Coast graduated from Florida Realtors® Leadership Academy.    New Beginnings

Craul

>>  H2 Performance Consulting, a Pensacolabased IT company providing management and technology consulting services to government and commercial clients, is part of the Adams Communication & Engineering Technology (ACET) team that was awarded an estimated $12 billion contract with the Department of Veteran Affairs to provide world-wide IT support services and solutions to VA and non-VA customers. A leading provider of IT systems support for the U.S. Department of Defense, ACET is one of just 15 contractors selected for the five-year, multiple-award contract — the largest IT procurement in VA history. >>  Gulf Power Company has been named one of the most military-friendly companies in the nation. The company and its parent firm Southern Company placed second in the annual G.I. Jobs 2012 Top 100 Military Friendly Employers ® listing, out of more than 5,000 companies considered. The criteria include a company’s long-term commitment to hiring former military, the strength of the company’s military recruiting efforts and policies toward the National Guard and the Reserves.    >>  Jack McCombs, owner of McCombs Electrical Company in Milton, has been inducted into the Florida Housing Hall of Fame. The 77-year-old is the first person from Northwest Florida selected to the group, which McCombs includes 59 individuals (inducted since the Hall of Fame was instituted in 1990) who have made significant and lasting contributions to Florida’s housing industry. >>  The Emerald Coast Utilities Authority’s Main Street Replacement Project has earned two national awards. The project was included on the recently released Water & Waste Digest list of Water and Wastewater Top Projects for 2011 and was recognized by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies through its 2012 National Environmental Achievement Awards Program. >>  Dr. Rachel Holt, M.D., rheumatologist with Baptist Medical Group and the Andrews Institute of Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, was voted by her patients and selected for the 2011 “My Doc ROCKS!” program of the national Arthritis Foundation.

>>  The Cottage Rental Agency in Seaside has hired Nancy Stanley as its new director of marketing and public relations. She most recently served as the director of marketing and communications at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. >>  Valeria Lento, the former communications manager for the Hilton Sandestin Resort, has been named to a similar position with Visit Pensacola. >>  O’Sullivan Creel, LLP, one of the region’s largest CPA and consulting firms, has promoted Kathleen Baldwin of Pensacola to partner.

Baldwin

>>  Dr. James B. Williams, a board-certified cardiologist who has practiced in Austin, Texas, for more than 25 years, has joined Sacred Heart Medical Group. >>  Baptist Health Care in Pensacola has named Darlene Stone as vice president and chief human resources officer and Elizabeth Callahan as the first full-time inhouse general counsel.

Stone

>>  Coldwell Banker United, REALTORS of Destin has merged with 30A Resorts, welcoming Johnny Earles, Scott Provow, Matt Provow and Reagan Todd to the team as full-time sales associates. Appointed by Gov. Scott >>  Thomas W. Roush, 48, of Pensacola, film commissioner for the Pensacola area, to the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council.

Forgotten Coast Appointed by Gov. Scott >>  Michael P. Hansen, 59, of Crawfordville, director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, to the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council. >>  James W. McKnight, 59, of Wewahitchka, the chief operating officer of North Florida Child Development since 2010, and Ralph C. Roberson, 59, of Port St. Joe, a certified public accountant and owner of Roberson and Associates P.A. since 1997, to the District Board of Trustees, Gulf Coast State College.

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“ With Heartland you know.” “Heartland’s endorsement by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and its ability to save us on fees were key to our decision to switch credit card processors seven years ago. Plus, we value Heartland’s timely payment turnaround.” David & Elizabeth Gwynn, Proprietors Cypress Restaurant, Tallahassee

As the fifth largest payments processor in the country, we understand the needs of businesses of all sizes. That’s why we offer custom solutions like card processing, data security, payroll and gift marketing to help your business prosper. Get to know Heartland. Visit us at HeartlandTallahassee.com or call 866.941.1477 “Like” us at www.fb.me/HeartlandHPY

Follow us @HeartlandHPY


SoundByteS Bay Local Happenings >>  Neal Wade, former senior vice president of economic development for The St. Joe Company, has taken over as executive director of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance. He replaces Janet Watermeier. Wade brings 22 years of private and public sector experience to Wade the job, including a stint as director of the Alabama Economic Development Office. >>  Summit Bank, headquartered in Panama City, has acquired from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, as receiver, the assets and assumed the liabilities of Premier Community Bank of the Emerald Coast. Premier Community is headquartered in Crestview with a branch in Fort Walton Beach. Appointed by Gov. Scott >>  Leah O. Dunn, 56, of Panama City, the chief executive officer of Gulf Resources L.L.C. since 2008, Cobroc Med L.L.C. since 2005 and Dunn Properties L.L.C. since 2001,  to the District Board of Trustees, Gulf Coast State College.

I 10 Local Happenings >>  Capital Avionics Inc. has opened a new facility in the industrial center at the Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, near Destin. The company specializes in the design and manufacture of avionics test equipment; aircraft avionics installation, repair, maintenance and recertification; and hands-on technical training around the globe, ranging from basic electronics to complicated avionics systems. The company is keeping its original facility in Tallahassee for the manufacture of specialized test equipment.

Photos courtesy Neal Wade and David Goetsch

>>  Mowrey Elevator Company of Marianna has been honored with an award from the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. Employers qualify for recognition when they practice leadership and personnel policies that support employee participation in the Guard and Reserve. CEO Tim Mowrey Sr. served in the Coast Guard, Vice President Irving Charles served in the Navy and Vice President Dan Redmond with the Marine Corps. The nomination came from Sgt. First Class Rick Carey, a former employee assigned to HHT 1-153 CAV as its readiness NCO. >>  Dr. David L. Goetsch of Niceville, vice president for community relations and workforce development at Northwest Florida State College, has retired after a 36-year career at the school. Goetsch played a leadership role establishing the college’s Fort Walton Beach Campus, the Robert Goetsch L.F. Sikes Center in Crestview, and the college’s new South Walton Center. He also established the college’s distance learning program and turned the college into a regional leader in economic and community development. He has joined Human Resources Solutions of Santa Rosa Beach as a partner. Compiled by Linda Kleindienst

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The Last Word “Success does not come to you. You go to it.” — Wally “Famous” Amos, Tallahassee

LINDA KLEINDIENST, EDITOR lkleindienst@rowlandpublishing.com

photo by Kay Meyer

I’ll be honest. It’s hard to awe old reporters like me. I’ve had lobbyists try to con me and any number of public (and private) figures lie to my face. As a result, I’ve always told interns and “cub” reporters: If your mother tells you the sky is blue, go outside and double check. I wouldn’t put myself in the curmudgeon category, but when I approach a story or an issue, it’s always with a very cautious eye and a lot of skepticism. Nearly 40 years in the newspaper business, most of it covering government and politics, tends to do that to you. That said, I had nothing but great hopes when I put out the word last fall that, during the course of 2012, 850 Magazine had plans to shine the spotlight on some of the rising business stars in the 16-county region of Northwest Florida, from Pensacola to Monticello and all points in between. We are calling the series 40 Under 40. I can’t claim credit for the idea. I would like to personally thank an old friend from my days of covering politics and the Legislature, Gus Corbella at Greenberg Traurig, for sending me the suggestion. And I embraced it as a great vehicle for introducing the 850 region to some of its leaders of tomorrow. We put out the call for nominations through our Facebook page and the names started flooding in. Looking over nominations made by people throughout the region, I was awed by some of the great work being done and businesses being run by men and women in their 20s and 30s. Since many are already well known in their respective communities, we decided instead to focus on those who had not yet become household names in their hometowns, much less the region. Some, like Jenna Leigh Burger, have been on my radar for a while. Jenna has been religiously sending me information on fundraising efforts her Tijuana Flats Restaurant in Fort Walton Beach has undertaken on behalf of a wide variety of needy causes. Others I hadn’t yet heard about, like Ross Overstreet of Pensacola, a successful entrepreneur and software developer who spent a grand total of one day in college. Or Luke Langford of Freeport, a new generation farmer who also opened up a produce market

and admits he spends as much of his time on logistics as he does in the field. We didn’t have the room in this issue to tell you all we know about our first round of under40s. But take my word for it, they are impressive. Interestingly, Florida Trend recently named the country of Brazil as its Floridian of the Year. True, Brazil is a great trading partner for Florida, but given my druthers I would have focused on some of our state’s young up-and-comers, entrepreneurs who cut their business teeth on the worst economy since the Great Depression — and have succeeded. No small feat. I was given a book awhile back entitled “The Book of Florida Wisdom,” which is filled with some common sense from “101 Great Floridians,” like Wally “Famous” Amos, Arnold Palmer, Don Shula, Thomas Edison, LeRoy Collins, Osceola … the list goes on. There are sections of the book that deal with work, success and failure and business advice. I read through it the other day and picked out some sayings I think reflect the hardiness of our 40 Under 40, their work ethic and their dedication to success. “I am glad the eight-hour day had not been invented when I was a young man. If my life had been made up of eight-hour days, I do not believe I could have accomplished a great deal.” Thomas Edison, part-time resident of Fort Myers “If you refuse to work as hard as you can to achieve your goal, you’re cheating yourself, whether it’s in athletics or in life.” Don Shula, former coach of the Miami Dolphins “Luck and laziness make a pair that never pulled a load up the hill.” J. C. Penney, Miami “Florida is a businessman’s dream.” LeRoy Collins, Florida’s 33rd governor If you have a favorite quote, send it my way so we can help you share it with others. And if you know a special under-40 person in your business community, feel free to nominate them for recognition either through 850 ’s Facebook page or by emailing the information directly to me. We’ll be working on this project for the rest of the year.

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Peter Cizdziel and Paul Watts, COO Electronet Broadband Communications

RE AL CUSTOMERS . RE AL ISSUES . RE AL SOLUTIONS . We have used Electronet for internet access for years, and when we learned that they could bundle voice, data and long distance together, we decided to take a look. With our management ofďŹ ces located off-site from the Club, we had two separate phone systems, making communication between the two very difďŹ cult. Electronet assisted with the purchase of our new phone system and streamlined communication between the two locations. They now provide all our communication needs. If you need reliability, performance and great hometown service, we highly recommend Electronet. Peter Cizdziel G e n e r a l M a n a g e r, C . O . O .

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2012 February-March Issue of 850 Business Magazine