Space Coast BUSINESS - Women in Business

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Table of


ON THE COVER: MEILI VIERA A Passion for the Profession Photo by Jason Hook

best practice Business Law - Brett Miller

Understanding Non-Compete Agreements Business Psychology - Lyle Smith


What’s so important about Storytelling? Business Economy - Jessica Mitchell

The Gig Economy: The Future of Workforce?

28 34 36

junior achievement laureates




“She is like a breath of fresh air, that lightens up the room every time she walks in.” COVER STORY, PAGE 14 EVERY ISSUE

Publisher’s Note Executive Profile The Ethical Capitalist

2 10 26

Find more at:




MARCH 2020 1

Publisher’s note

THE SOUND OF BREAKING GLASS f you are wondering what the glass on the floor is, it is what happened when the women, like the ones in this month’s issue, broke the ceilings. They all possess that personal and catalytic synergy which comes from drive, optimism, intelligence, perseverance and teamwork. The result is always remarkable accomplishments, not only by themselves, but what they motivate in others. From two of the area’s largest technology and defense contractors, to the woman who runs the county’s largest city, you will find treasures of wisdom and experience that are priceless. Our cover is one of the most remarkable women in our community, Meili Viera, an entrepreneurial force of nature. It is always a privilege to share with you insights from lives like these. •






EDITORIAL Eric Wright, Publisher

PRODUCTION & DESIGN Cheyenne McCully, Creative & Print Operations Manager Evelyn Sutton, Art Director



ADVERTISING & SALES Lori Reader, Director of Sales Jessica Benitez, Director of Business Development Natalie Guzman, Account Manager

ADMINISTRATION Helen Reyes, Director of Operations & Human Resources


BOARD OF DIRECTORS Joseph Duda, Eric Wright For general inquiries call (321) 622-5986 TO SUBSCRIBE: Subscribe online at or send $19.95 for a one-year (12 issues) subscription to Space Coast BUSINESS, 335 Pineda Ct. Ste. 101-104, Melbourne, FL 32941-0901. Please include name, mailing address, city, state, zip code, phone number and email. Please allow 4-6 weeks for subscription to start.

Space Coast BUSINESS® is a registered trademark of Space Coast Magzines, LLC (“SCM”). The contents of Space Coast BUSINESS, associated websites, and any other print or electronic publications published by SCM or related to the brand, including advertisements, articles, graphics, websites, web postings, photographs and all other information (“content”), are for informational purposes only, are protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published, broadcast or modified in any way without the prior written consent of SCM, or in the case of third party content, the owner of that content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. SCM does not necessarily endorse, verify, or agree with the content, and makes no warranties or representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, or usefulness of any content. SCM shall not be held liable for any errors or omissions in the content. spacecoastbusiness

MARCH 2020

Space Coast BUSINESS® 335 Pineda Court, Suites 101-104, Melbourne, FL 32940




©2020 All rights reserved. Any reproduction, in whole or in part, is prohibited without written permission from the publisher.

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WIB “Growing talent and helping people 020 find their path is a passion of mine.” - Julie Braga 2

ACCOMMODATING ADVANCEMENT ulie Braga started with Marriott International in 1997, initially working at the front desk while in college before steadily advancing up the ranks. Today, she is general manager of the Residence Inn by Marriott Melbourne. Leah Blackmore began in the hotel business approximately a decade later, as a housekeeper/college student in North Carolina. Now, she is general manager for the Marriott Courtyard Melbourne. Coincidence that each is excelling almost side by side? Not in the least. While Marriott has been instrumental in nurturing their careers and others, as part of a distinct corporate philosophy, Braga and Blackmore have rolled up their sleeves both figuratively and literally —taking their current roles almost simultaneously in August 2018.

By Michael Candelaria, Writer

For Julie Braga and Leah Blackmore — rising general managers for Marriott — a spirit of nurturing has led to growth. Braga had career interest in hospitality management, and she wanted more than classroom learning. Even before graduating from the University of Central Florida with a marketing degree, she had received her first promotion with Marriott, to a sales coordinator. Within a week of graduating in 2000, she landed her first managerial position as an operations manager. Similarly, Blackmore always knew she wanted to work in travel and tourism. Attending college in North Carolina, she took a job at a nearby hotel because it was the closest she could walk to, while also dabbling in insurance sales. With Marriott, she went from housekeeping to laundry duty to the front desk and beyond, getting her big break in her hometown of Nashville as a hotel manager. That set the stage for stints in Nevada and Miami before arriving in Melbourne. As good fortune would have it, the general manager positions at the Residence Inn and Courtyard were originally meant to be shared, as they were previously for many years. When the two roles were divided, opportunity struck for Braga and Blackmore — but again without coincidence. Jim Ridenour, the dual GM of both hotels, was retiring. As part of Marriott’s leadership mandate, he had mentored and encouraged Braga and Blackmore. Also, Ridenour introduced them to key organizations across the region, strengthening

their community backgrounds with involvement in groups such as the Melbourne Regional Chamber. The duo then did the rest. “[Ridenour] really gave me many of the opportunities I had to grow with the company. He believed in me and pushed me into opportunities when sometimes I didn’t believe in myself,” said Braga, echoing comments by Blackmore. “That’s the value of any mentorship... Looking back, it was incredibly instrumental in my career.” These days, they are seeking to return the favor for staff members (associates) at their own hotels — as a blend of corporate commitment personal approach. “Women helping women” is part of it, for certain. Yet, the approach is even more expansive. “Growing talent and helping people find their path is a passion of mine,” said Braga. “And I think I did learn that. It’s very, very rewarding to see young people decide to have a career in hospitality and watch them grow. Whatever it is I want to help people become the best that they can be, and help them through whatever hurdles there are.” In her hotel, Blackmore believes in training across departments, with the “expectation that you’re

not a particular department; you’re everything.” In the community, she wants engagement from staff members. “Mentorship would be really, ultimately, the idealistic thing that I would want to be known for. … Advocating the next generation to be continue to grow and plug in and desire and want more.” Meanwhile, Braga and Blackmore have made their own community impacts. Braga has served on numerous chamber committees and is a past chairperson there. Another organization is weVENTURE, which provides business education and mentoring to women Brevard, Indian River and St. Lucie counties. Each time she volunteers for an organization, she starts solely intent on helping out. Ultimately, the volunteerism also winds up helping her. “We live in an amazing place, so for me it’s very rewarding to get involved in the community and give back,” Braga said. Blackmore, citing a business community that is strong and poised for more growth, concluded: “It’s just so important that we mentor each other, to be there for one another.”

By Michael Candelaria, Writer

WHAT CAN Chamber Membership DO FOR YOUR BUSINESS? • Business support and development resources • Networking events, including monthly business breakfasts, business after hours events, council events, and more • New business opportunities • Access to professional development, including seminars and workshops • Participation in councils and committees pertaining to your field • Complimentary listing in Melbourne Chamber Member Directory on website and app • Complimentary Traffic Catcher website • Exclusive advertising and sponsorship opportunities to other chamber members as well as the community • Representation on governmental issues • Advocacy for a strong business community

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1005 East Strawbridge Avenue Melbourne, FL 32901-4782 Tel: (321) 724-5400 MARCH 2020 7

“I am a constant learner. I have to continue learning.” - Holly Tanner





When Holly Tanner found herself in an unfamiliar industry, she built a second career with this approach: “continue to grow.” opment, such as for city streets, public parks and parking lots, along with pier and shoreline work.

uring her early career, Holly Tanner never planned on becoming an executive in the construction industry. While her now-husband Lawrence Tanner literally was raised in the construction business, with his parents both being successful contractors, Holly was formally educated in physical therapy, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in 1996 and starting out in health care. That was her plan, anyway. Then Holly and Lawrence got married in 2001, four years after he had formed L.H. Tanner Construction Corp. in Melbourne, and she found herself in the midst of a growing enterprise — with projects that included residential and commercial construction, renovations and restorations. The same year they married, the company expanded to also encompass site devel-

The company, in essence, beautifies residential interiors/exteriors and improves commercial spaces that range from health care facilities and institutions to restaurants and gyms. Plus, government projects are part of its portfolio, as is marine construction. In turn, Holly Tanner, who became company president, did what she always has: She learned. “I am a constant learner,” she said. “I have to continue learning. If I don’t know it, I reach out to resources. … I am not afraid to ask for help and also to continue learning; I think that’s the biggest thing for me.” Steadily, she learned about the basics of

construction, ultimately advancing into business development, daily operations, customer care and marketing. That learning approach also counts in her “second career.” She continues as a physical therapist, maintaining a position with Health First two days a week. “I have two lives,” she noted with a laugh. “I try not to mix both. People in the construction industry don’t know I’m a physical therapist.” Yet, the construction industry does know Tanner’s style — friendly, for sure, but also willing to confront a good challenge. “I love a challenge. And I will tell you this [dual careers] is challenging,” she said. “But I also feel

By Michael Candelaria, Writer

that hard work pays off, even if it’s in an area that you’re not comfortable with at first. There are always opportunities to learn and continue to grow, no matter what your age is, what you gender is, no matter what your industry is. It should be limitless.” Not that things have always been easy. From concept through completion, L.H. Tanner Construction offers ideas and guidance, as well as drafting, value engineering and licensed contracting, among other services, mostly across south and central Brevard County. The company has eight to 10 full-timers, depending on the project load. Approximately 60% of the work is commercial. Meanwhile, the business of construction, of course, can often be difficult. In troubling times, Tanner goes back to old lessons learned: She listens. “As a physical therapist, I’ve been a caretaker. I’m open-minded,” she explains. “I know I can’t take care of everybody, but I listen — whether it’s taking care of employees, owners or subcontractors. That’s my style, really to really listen. Communication and listening.” It’s no surprise then that the company has

successfully built lasting connections with thousands of Brevard clients, she said, by virtue of being “relationship-driven.” ‘We work with clients to ensure their needs are being addressed … so that the construction phase will be a seamless experience,” she said, simply. “Our ‘handson/in-house’ approach makes it possible for us to leave each and every client with lasting value.” Also, she applauds the local business community, citing, “Even though it’s the construction industry, I have not felt there has been a gender bias at all, especially how I’ve been treated.” For many of the same reasons, while there is temptation to broaden the company’s geographic footprint, there are no current plans to do so, even with another family member now joining the operation. Joshua, the stepson, has decided to extend the family lineage in the construction business. “There is so much [work] here. The economic boom is awesome,” described the physical therapist-turned-construction exec. “These are our roots, and we really have been fortunate. Brevard has been very good to us.” In other words, one hand helping another.

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PLATT HOPWOOD RUSSELL & COLE ATTORNEYS’ BILLIE JO HOPWOOD AND TIFFANI COLE represent clients for divorce, paternity, child custody, child support, dependency, adoption, contempt, enforcement and modifications of alimony, child support and custody.



“Both attorneys have successful blended families & experience in helping others transition after separation.”

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They also prepare prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and handle post-trial motions. Both attorneys have vast experience with high asset cases, high conflict custody matters as well as preparing prenuptial, postnuptial, marital settlement agreements and parenting plans for uncontested matters that are unambiguous and enforceable. Representation of a client is tailored to their family’s needs. Billie Jo and Tiffani, as well as their children, were born and raised in Melbourne. Billie Jo loves Melbourne’s “small town” feel with the beach so close and so many paddle board spots. Tiffani and her family take advantage of the great Melbourne weather playing in the pool and boating. Both attorneys have successful blended families and experience in helping others transition after separation. Platt Hopwood Russell & Cole Attorneys At Law PLLC is located on the corner of Apollo and NASA Blvd., Melbourne, Florida. Call 321-725-3425 or visit their website at to schedule a free consultation.

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Guest of Honor Ed Scott Founder The Scott Center for Autism Treatment DINNER HONOREE

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T. Dwayne McCay Florida Institute of Technology DINNER CHAIR

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MARCH 2020 11







SHANNON STARTED SMB ACCOUNTING AND CONSULTING LLC in 2018 to bring her unique knowledge of federal government contract accounting to Central Florida. Her experience in corporate controllership assists a number of growing startups and small businesses in Orange and Brevard counties. When people hear CPA, they tend to assume it’s all about tax preparation. Shannon’s goal is different. Managerial and cost accounting are important business functions that ensure proper product pricing, allow for an accurate status of cash flow, and provide pertinent information for manager and owner decision-making. For small businesses attempting federal contracts there is a long list of requirements that can be difficult to maneuver. These areas are where Shannon’s expertise can help. In her first full year working with one small business, Shannon was able to contribute to a net income increase of 900% by implementing strategic internal controls, data analysis and accounting oversight.



VICTORIA BRANNON’S MOST IMPACTFUL MENTOR during her career and journey is her mom. She thanks her mother for advising her, encouraging her and pushing her to strive and to never give up. Victoria’s mother taught her that there is nothing wrong with a strategic “no,” to take time out for yourself and that continuing to do something day to day, even if it’s small, means progress. Victoria feels that mistakes are opportunities to learn; they are experiences that mold us. Many mistakes have been made along her journey, which have equipped her for future challenges. She expresses the importance of growing from your failures because they don’t define you. Developing a strong understanding of the process from a very young age, she confidently leads her events business with passion and a strong constitution. Her focus is to provide a stress-free experience for her clients and their guests. No matter the size of the event, her standard of quality remains the same. Disasters might happen, she says, but it is her priority to handle them professionally, truly allowing her client to be a guest at their own event.



7640 N Wickham Rd. Suite 109B, Melbourne, FL 32935

P.O.Box 410341, Melbourne, FL 32941








Financial Advisor

COLLEEN HAS SERVED EDWARD JONES’ clients since 2012. Colleen moved to Florida and established her office in Viera in 2017. She enjoys working with clients and local businesses in the Brevard area, and works diligently to understand what’s most important to her clients. She uses an established process and indepth analysis to build personalized strategies to help them achieve their goals. Colleen’s most impactful mentor is her father, Jerry, who is also her inspiration for working at Edward Jones. Her father has been a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones since 1978 in Illinois, inspiring Colleen from a young age to serve individuals as a financial resource in the community. She is also a member of the Junior League of South Brevard and 321 Millennials. Colleen also has a passion for working with children in Juarez, Mexico where she travels regularly and volunteers with Amigos en Cristo. Member SIPC



Attorney at Law | Mediator

JESSICA PRACTICES AS AN ATTORNEY in the areas of estate planning, wills, trusts, power of attorney, designation of a preneed guardian, trust administration, probate administration and elder law. In addition, Jessica is also a Florida Supreme Court Certified County Mediator, mediating county civil, circuit civil (including probate) and family law cases. Prior to starting her own firm, Jessica was an estate planning and probate attorney with a local law firm. Before practicing law, Jessica garnered experience through her previous roles as judicial assistant to a Brevard County Judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit, civil litigation paralegal, real estate paralegal, certified notary signing agent, real estate agent, Florida mortgage loan originator, real estate investor and property manager. Jessica truly enjoys assisting each client and considers it her pleasure to serve their legal needs. Jessica grew up traveling as the daughter of a military family. She then married a (soon to retire) United States Air Force Officer from Hawaii, and traveled again, this time as a military wife. She and her husband are parents to their three children and have resided in Brevard County since 2011. Jessica enjoys volunteering at her church and within the community also participating in the legal industry and serving as a board member on local boards.



7370 Cabot Ct., Ste. 102, Viera, FL 32940

7341 Office Park Place, Suite 202, Viera FL 32940


MARCH 2020 13


for the






ave you ever met someone who seemed like a force of nature? One of those rare individuals whose drive and enthusiasm raises everyone’s game, like a thermostat raises the temperature in a room. Meili Viera was described by her business associate and the owner of Waterman Real Estate, Andy Waterman, saying, “She is like a breath of fresh air, that lightens up the room every time she walks in. She is extremely smart, caring and probably the most driven woman I’ve ever known.”









It is a sentiment shared by most of her business associates. But, when the veil is pulled back, there is always a story of perseverance and intelligence, of taking chances and of helping other people realize their dreams, that is the underpinning of people like Meili. As the 19th century philosopher and writer Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” Her journey began in Cuba, under a communist regime, until the age of seven. It was a system, as she describes it, “Where shortages and rationing were the norm and the people were controlled by fear.” But her parents ensured she was able, even at that young age, to separate the truth from the daily diet of propaganda. Her father escaped the island nation on a raft and was followed by her maternal grandfather, who was granted political asylum here, along with her mother, grandmother, sister and Meili herself. |


MARCH 2020 15

Her family eventually moved to the west coast of Florida and as a senior in high school, she had her first exposure to the industry where she would make her mark. “I was doing dual enrollment and I met a woman who told me I had the type of skills and personality that would do well in real estate,” Meili said. She interviewed with a family-owned brokerage, run by a mother and daughter, at a time when the market was very hot. They managed a number of seasonal and annual rentals, and on the first day she was given a stack of leases to review and was thrown into the deep end of the pool. But Meili found that in business she was as at home in the water as Michael Phelps. She could be rental agent and property manager, at that time, without a license and soon was managing that side of the business. Meili developed finely-honed people and communication skills, as she was dealing with clients migrating to Florida from all over the U.S., whose first reaction was, “What do you know, you are my granddaughter’s age?” Then, when the market dropped, she learned how the rental side could carry a brokerage through lean times, while she also became an expert in foreclosures and short sales. By the time she graduated from college she had her real estate license and more experience than most agents have in a lifetime.

and took it as a sign from heaven.” Though she added that her name was part of her Iberian, not Slovak, heritage. Describing her early impressions, she said, “I loved the beaches, especially that no matter where you live, you aren’t far from the ocean or the water and the area had so much potential.” Meili was not sure real estate was where she would stay professionally, but felt it was a good time to explore her options.

I was, in most cases, the youngest and usually the only woman in the room, at regional commercial real estate seminars,” Meili said. At one in Orlando, a man came up to her and said, ‘Who are you? Then added, ‘We won’t see you next year.’ She was there the next year and the next, though she was not sure if he was, and she was sure to look for him.

Spreading Her Wings

As she was finishing her MBA, she realized she had always lived and worked where she grew up and decided to move east to the Space Coast. “When I got here, I discovered one of the most vibrant communities shared my last name,” she recalled. “Then, when I found out that in Slovak, ‘Viera’ meant ‘faith,’ I was excited 16 SPACE COAST BUSINESS



It was the commercial side of the market that attracted her interest next – particularly shopping centers – which led her to begin exploring how marketing and leasing of commercial property was done. Serendipitously, she came across an add on Craigslist, of all places, for a manager of five Publix shopping centers and sent in her resume. An owner from New York needed someone in the area to manage their properties and flew her to New York for an interview and then hired her. At the time, their vacant inventory was at more than 50 percent, and much like her initial foray into rental property, it was a learn as you go experience, with a seasoned mentor. She developed a business plan, joined several leads groups, like the Chambers, who could connect her with the type of small business owners they wanted to work with as tenants. Thus, began her relationship with Juster Development. Today her properties are almost 100% occupied.

“I was, in most cases, the youngest and usually the only woman in the room, at regional commercial real estate seminars,” Meili said. At one in Orlando, a man came up to her and said, ‘Who are you? Then added, ‘We won’t see you next year.’ She was there the next year and the next, though she was not sure if he was, and she was sure to look for him. For the next three years she focused exclusively on the commercial side of the business.

Strategic Partnership In 2015 as the real estate market began to grow again, Meili began working with a group that was buying, remodeling and then selling homes and she was their exclusive agent. As word spread that she was involved in investment deals, she attracted more investment parties. By 2017 she found a new professional home with Waterman Real Estate. “I really admired what Andy had done in the community. A second-generation business that embodied all the values that were important to me and gave me the flexibility to pursue the commercial management, investment and home transactions that I wanted to be involved in,” she said. To Waterman’s credit, he admired her drive, her vision and endorsed her pursuit of her broker’s license and earning a second master’s degree in real estate development.

Meili found that in business she was as at home in the water as Michael Phelps.

THE DREAM TEAM: Glenn Tomasone, Mitzi Thompson, Yanni Gonzalez Chirino, Meili Viera, Andy Waterman, Sarah Hidy, Christi Dalton

Together, she and Waterman opened perts, who could handle all facets an office in Indialantic, with Meili of process which today includes serving as the managing broker. Af- Sarah Hidy with The Mortgage Firm, Yanni and her dream team Gonzalez Chirino of ter selling $11.8 million in oneMeili year, without her own team, it was time to NuVantage Insurance, along with lay the groundwork for the future. “I Mitzi Thompson and Glenn Towanted to open a multifaceted bro- masone of Landing Title Agency. kerage, where we can pair a client The brokerage also works hand in who wants to buy a home, with a hand with local builders to design residential real estate specialist. But and customize specific visions, while also, to have someone who could help offering concierge project managea client build a real estate investment ment for the most basic, to the most portfolio or to actually build an in- complex projects. “The synergy has vestment property from the ground been contagious,” Meili said, “and up,” she explained. In addition, Mei- the vision is to provide all real estate li wanted a team of partners, ex- solutions under one roof.”

Chirino described Meili as, “the ultimate professional, who does incredible work and I know it’s because she absolutely loves what she does.” She went on to say, “Meili’s most admirable feature is her drive and reluctance to settle for ‘good enough.’ She imprints this onto her friends, colleagues and clients, often highlighting opportunities for them to succeed and going out of her way to ensure they can. Meili changes your perspective and helps you turn your dreams into reality.”

MARCH 2020 17

WIB “Be authentic. Communicate well. 020 And do what you say you’ll do.” - Sarah Hiza, Ph.D. 2

SARAH HIZA Mission Command

Sarah Hiza’s leadership skills and management style are charting a strong course for women at Lockheed Martin.

arah Hiza isn’t bashful about how she got into aerospace. “I had always hoped to be an astronaut,” Hiza said. Then she added: “While I did not foresee this as my future, I’ve taken opportunities as they came about and always did my best.” As it turned out, that’s a good thing for Lockheed Martin’s Fleet Ballistic Missile Program, which began its relocation from California to Titusville three years ago as part of a major corporate transition. Hiza is the program’s vice president — with a career in rapid ascension.

By Michael Candelaria, Writer 18 SPACE COAST BUSINESS



“It’s just a very inclusive company that sees all the different kinds of talents people bring and recognizes that one cookie-cutter definition isn’t always the answer. They like to see different types of people in different types of roles.”

“Being myself has been the key [to advancement], being authentic to who I am,” Hiza explained. “I’m inspired by other people, but I don’t try to emulate them or be something I’m not. It’s worked for me. “I am transparent and highly reliable in my decision making and communications. Communicating out what we’re deciding and why we’re deciding is very important to me. Once I make a commitment, whether it’s to the customer or the broader Lockheed Martin, I put together plans that deliver.”

Hiza began as a rocket scientist, spending 11 years there, and her career took off — landing at Lockheed Martin in 2015 as director of Propulsion, Structures, Ordnance & Controls before becoming a vice president in 2017.

Hiza has literally gone beyond, too, as an avid participant in the National Outdoor Leadership School, a nonprofit global wilderness school that specializes in unconventional leadership development. As part of the training, Hiza, for example, has backpacked 70-plus miles along the Sweden and Norwegian border for 15 days with six other people (strangers) for approximately 150 miles. Also, she has studied group dynamics and leadership; received personal leadership assessments and mentoring; and developed outdoor skills related to navigation, emergencies, weather, glaciers and snowfield traveling.

At Lockheed Martin, Hiza described, she has mastered leadership fundamentals: Be authentic. Communicate

“It was certainly not required for the [Lockheed Martin] job, but I would say it’s been very pivotal in developing

A bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Virginia Tech and, ultimately, a doctorate degree in polymer science from the University of Akron, set up employment at ATK, a Utahbased rocket motor manufacturer and her “first big step into aerospace.”




me as a leader. … While I may have practiced those out in the wilderness, they actually translate very well to my day-to-day job,” she noted.

Lockheed Martin, I put together plans that deliver.” - Sarah Hiza

Yet, Hiza doesn’t blink. In characteristic style, she remains focused on the task ahead and defers to the larger mission.

well. And do what you say you’ll do.

“Once I make a commitment, whether it’s to the customer or the broader

Florida's Space Coast not only gained a new Fleet Ballistic Missile Headquarters, but also a dynamic emerging leader. The corporate move allows for a continued partnership with the U.S. Navy and creates a great opportunity for program’s future growth. Much of the expectations fall squarely on the shoulders of Hiza.

Not that her job has been easy. Hiza arrived at Lockheed Martin with impressive credentials, but without much insight about the specific company systems and culture. So, she leaned on the Women’s Impact Network at Lockheed Martin. For Hiza, the network simply meant becoming more integrated. “The women not only welcomed me, but were also a fountain of knowledge, which was critical in my transition,” she said. Hiza, in turn, now is working to make others around her feel the same. It’s her own mission. “No matter where a person falls in this organization, I want to help them feel a part of the team, and that they know their contributions matter,” Hiza concluded. “And I believe if I do that, I can help bring the best out in them, therefore, they will bring the best out in the business. And we will deliver.”

MARCH 2020 19

“...We exist to insure everyone’s experience within the city is exceptional.” - Lisa Morell




MORRELL Mastering the Technology of Leadership

djectives like “engaged” and “excited” are a little too subdued to describe the City Manager of the county’s largest community, Palm Bay. Though she did not set out to be a city manager, Lisa Morrell’s expertise was in Information Technology.

By Eric Wright, Publisher 20 SPACE COAST BUSINESS



With an annual budget of over $180 million, a population that is approaching 120,000 and a city workforce that exceeds 800, it was no small task. But it is one she seems to relish. In fact, if you contact the city with a complaint, it might be Morrell who shows up on your doorstep to discuss the situation. It is one aspect of an administrative style she describes as “servant leadership.” A Boston College graduate, her father was a commercial/ industrial facilities director and her mother an interior designer. She recalled, “Our home was the site of one remodeling project after the other, long before there was an HGTV. He was a real craftsman, which made me very comfortable around people and projects in the construction trades.” Morrell, along with her husband, her newborn and her parents, all followed her grandparents south to Palm Bay about twenty years ago. She had learned tech sup21 SPACE COAST BUSINESS


with the citizens or the business owners about what we are doing.”

port and network integration in the intensive environment of a major hospital and landed a job with the city as a network analyst. During the next 19 years, she was progressively promoted, as the utilization and the complexity of computer networks, in a city the size of Palm Bay, continued to expand. “When I came on, only 25 people could send external emails. Now we have over 700 users. It was an exciting time of growth, both for the city technologically and for me, as a leader and manager of people,” she said. Adding, “As director of IT, beginning around 2011, I had to some degree, understand what every department and every key department leader did, in order to develop IT solutions to improve their efficiency.” When she became City Manager, transforming both public confidence, as well as the buy in of the city’s employees has been on the rise, as Morrell emphasized transparency, communication and serving the people, who in turn, serve the city. “I told our team we are 88-squaremiles of hospitality,” she recalled about her initial meetings with city employees. “That we exist to insure everyone’s experience within the city is exceptional. We strive to be approachable, that we listen and then, and most importantly, we take action to address their concerns. Then we communicate SPACECOASTBUSINESS.COM

“Essentially, I view every employee as a leader, even if they aren’t in a leadership or supervisory role and I try to treat them as such.” -Lisa Morell

However, as she rose through the ranks of the city’s IT department, she found that her job involved interfacing and solution-finding for every department serving the sprawling municipality. So, in late 2018, when it was time to reboot the city’s administration, she was the person the commission tapped to step into the role of City Manager.

In a job that not only involves leading and managing a vast workforce, but also includes responding to the needs of thousands of citizens, while being accountable to elected politicians, is a balance not everyone can find. “The amount and the pace of change never lets up, because in a sense, the job is never finished,” she said. She said her greatest leadership awakening came not from her ever-expanding role with the city, but as a youth soccer coach. “Getting all these five-yearolds to understand the fundamentals and goals of the game,” Morrell shared, “then to work together and finish strong, while dealing with the ‘parent factor,’ taught me a lot.” “Essentially, I view every employee as a leader, even if they aren’t in a leadership or supervisory role and I try to treat them as such. Also, I endeavor to keep everyone focused on the purpose, the why, the vision of what we are doing and the goals we have,” she said.

MARCH 2020 21

“You will learn more from projects that didn’t go well, than from ones that did.”

WIB - Kelly Wendling



President, Mission Networks L3 Harris t is not unusual for someone to land their first job out of college with the company where they served as an intern. What is almost unheard to today, however, is that same person spending their whole professional career with that company, while rising through the ranks to become a sector president. Such is the case for Kelle Wendling, president of Mission Networks at L3Harris. As Wendling explained, “Mission Networks is focused on safety critical networks and infrastructure; we’re predominantly focused on air traffic management, although we provide network infrastructure for defense, international countries and for the state of Florida.” Executive leadership in a Fortune 500 company and seventh largest defense firm in the world, is a long way from the small town in Rhode Island where she grew up and honed her interest in the STEM side of education. Wendling even did a high school senior project on sonar and underwater sound, a subject she became interested in after reading Clancy’s Hunt for Red October. It was Florida Tech’s reputation in Computer Science, along with a scholarship, that brought her to the Space Coast. Though she admits that proximity to the beach was a factor. She worked for what was then Harris Corp. for two semesters. “I learned a lot in that time – both about what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do in the future,” she said. Though she was good at what she did, Wendling discovered she really enjoyed working with a team. “I

wanted to understand the context, beyond my scope of the program, and I really liked organizing and leading tasks,” she said. With the company’s broad portfolio, she took on roles of increasing responsibility. “I found being open to the next challenge, in a new industry, new technology or with a new customer, meant I would always be challenged,” she shared. However, the transition from being a technologist to corporate leader was sometimes formidable. Having led the technical cost and schedule elements of a project, she thought she was well prepared for program management. “I was wrong,” she conceded. “The customer interface, the visibility and the business/financial acumen were things I needed to quickly come up to speed on. While it was difficult initially, I established strong relationships with my finance and contracts teams, to help close the business gaps. I found the visibility a little daunting, but I learned if you took ownership of your project – good or bad – the reporting internally and externally became straightforward.” Essential in any leadership role is assuming responsibility for the customer relationship. Each customer is different and building trusted relationships is imperative. It takes time to cultivate the right relationship, and I hadn’t had much exposure to this in my technical roles,” she said. Wendling also pointed out that the company had a culture that ensured her gender was not a limiting factor in her career. “L3Harris has demonstrated a commitment to recruiting, retaining and advancing women in what is a male dominated defense and aerospace sector,” she said.

By Eric Wright, Publisher 22 SPACE COAST BUSINESS



“I found being open to the next challenge, in a new industry, new technology or with a new customer, meant I would always be challenged” - Kelly Wendling

Wendling admits to having some great mentors along the way, who provided invaluable guidance and encouragement. “My mentors had common traits. They were supportive. They let me know it was okay to feel overwhelmed, so that I would be comfortable asking questions. They challenged the team to push boundaries and think differently. Most importantly, they encouraged diversity of thought and rugged debate,” she recalled. “You will learn more from projects that didn’t go well, than from ones that did,” she concluded. “Just because a project doesn’t fit a common description of ‘successful’ does not mean you can’t be successful in seeing it through – and learn a lot in the process.” It is like the sign she has in her office, “There are no rules here. We are trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas Edison.




EDUCATING THE WHOLE CHILD — MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT Provided by Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy


the academic experience goes far beyond the curriculum. Extracurricular teams including Speech and Debate, Academic Team and the Math Modeling earned state, regional and In a county full of A-rated schools, what can students get at Holy national recognition this year. Trinity that they can’t get elsewhere? The total educational Every Lower School student participates in the arts, as do more package. Now in its 63rd year, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy than 80 percent of junior high and high school students, (HTEA) has a long history of educating the whole child – mind, leading to state and national awards. The Tigrium yearbook body and spirit – giving its students in preschool through 12th has been recognized nationally by the National Scholastic grade the strong academic, moral and physical foundation to Press and Columbia Scholastic Press Association for multiple truly “Start Here. Go Anywhere.” in college, career and life. years. Advanced acting students were selected to present their one-act play, “Silent Sky” at this year’s state thespian festival. HTEA musicians regularly earn superior ratings at Music MIND Rigorous academics are the hallmark at Holy Trinity, and Performance Assessments and are selected to perform at the students go on to earn placement at some of the nation’s finest state level. colleges and universities. In addition to earning a high school diploma, they can elect to earn one or more special interest diplomas: Global Citizenship, STEAM and AP Capstone.

Phase II of the school’s current $5.6 million capital campaign will focus on the construction of a new multi-story classroom building to support STEAM programs, collaboration, and project-based learning.

This year, five seniors were named National Merit Semifinalists and two were named National Merit Commended Scholars. A new partnership with Florida Tech enabled seniors to earn BODY three hours of college business credit for the Creativity, Physical fitness is an Innovation and Entrepreneurship class taught on the HTEA important part of a child’s campus by a Florida Tech professor. physical development, so While a choice of 27 Advanced Placement classes gives students in kindergarten high school students a leg up in college, the breadth of

Tiger Athletic Complex featuring a 12,000-square-foot field house with new locker rooms, a strength and conditioning facility, concessions, and more. Additional parking, lighting, sidewalks and other infrastructure improvements are currently in the works as the school continues work on the first phase of its capital campaign.

through eighth grade take physical education classes daily. Children as young as five can participate in extracurricular sports, creating the foundation for more than 50 junior high, junior varsity and varsity teams. Holy Trinity athletes excel year after year, with its varsity teams earning 22 state, 46 regional and 98 district championships in the past 20 years.


Chapel services, character education and service learning provide HTEA students with a strong spiritual and moral foundation that carries them into adulthood. While founded in the Episcopal tradition, Holy Trinity welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds. Chaplains at each campus lead brief services Last fall, Holy Trinity installed the area’s most sophisticated three to four times weekly, and elementary and junior high synthetic turf field and track, optimally designed for athlete students receive additional character education on values safety. This spring, the school will break ground on its new such as kindness, compassion, honesty and integrity. School-sponsored service projects including the annual Thanksgiving Ingathering, Backpacks for the Homeless, SouperBowl of Caring and food-packing event for Children’s Hunger Project encourage students to care for those who are less fortunate in the Brevard community and beyond. Clubs and honor societies regularly hold fundraisers and gift drives benefiting lesser-served communities, and the school is pilot-testing a service-learning program in partnership with the Florida Wildlife Hospital. To learn more about how Holy Trinity educates the whole child, visit or call 321-723-8323. 25 SPACE COAST BUSINESS



MARCH 2020 25



CAPITALIST Operating Systems By Eric Wright, Publisher

As my plane taxied to the runway outside of London, suddenly the monotony of hearing how to put on an oxygen mask, in the event that I would be alive long enough to benefit, was broken. Parked on the grass between the runways, slightly smaller than I imagined, sat a De Havilland Comet, the first commercial passenger jet.




In a remarkable example of learning from another’s mistakes, Boeing’s 707 became what the Comet was intended to be.

“Character helps us learn from mistakes and hone the skills which create opportunities and enable us to capitalize on opportunities when they come. It is character that sets the stage on which our skills and our intelligence is showcased.” n a visionary move the British government developed the Comet, foreseeing that air travel by jet was the future of transportation. They built this beautiful airplane whose design DNA is seen in all subsequent jet transports. It had only one major problem –

they started falling out of the sky like rocks. British aviation authorities immediately grounded the fleet of Comets. Then they spent almost as much money to determine why the planes were crashing, as they spent in developing the jet in the first place. What they discovered was that the structure of the Comet was designed to withstand the vibrations incurred by a propeller driven aircraft. The jet engines of the Comet literally shook the airplane apart. By the time they identified what the problem was, the public’s support and trust in the Comet was lost and they abandoned the project. However, their discoveries, released on public domain, were seized by an American aircraft manufacturer, Boeing. In a remarkable example of learning from another’s mistakes, their 707 became what the Comet was intended to be. In business and in life we often try to move into a new area or just grow beyond the capacity of existing structures. To borrow a description from the computer industry, our “operating system” sometimes doesn’t have the

capacity to run the new program or application we want. Though things look great, the stress tolerances of our old system cannot meet the demands of these new opportunities and challenges. Then, as visionary as our initiative might be, it seems to crash and burn.

We all have operating systems. We have an intellectual operating system that allows us to grasp concepts and make use of knowledge and experience. We also have a skill operating system. I know a lot of highly intelligent people, but if I needed by-pass surgery, I would want a certified surgeon, not just a member of the Mensa Society. Our culture tends to put great emphasis on these two systems, because they are what allow us to make a living and contribute to the well being of others.

Dan-Air Comet

There is a third operating system which is sometimes overlooked or marginalized. Yet this component, more than any other, determines how effective the other operating systems of our life function. It is our ethical system. Character is often what causes a person to utilize their intellectual system to its fullest capacity. Character helps us learn from mistakes and hone the skills which create opportunities and enable us to capitalize on opportunities when they come. It is character that sets the stage on which our skills and our intelligence is showcased. If there is an Achilles Heel, it usually isn’t intelligence or skill that brings the mighty down. It is a vulnerability in their character. As South African writer Nicky Verd explained, “A highly intelligent man/woman in the mind, who lacks basic morals and empathy in the heart, is nothing but a menace to society.”

MARCH 2020 27



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Is your company’s non-compete


under Florida law?

o generally be enforceable under Florida law, a non-compete agreement must meet the following three requirements:

1. 2. 3.

The agreement must be in writing and signed by the individual sought to be bound by it.

The agreement must set forth restrictions that are reasonable in scope—i.e., time, geographic area, and line of business. Finally, the non-compete agreement must be for the purpose of protecting one or more of a company’s “legitimate business interests.”

BRETT MILLER is an attorney and partner with the firm DSK Law. Originally from Satellite Beach, Florida, Brett opened DSK Law’s Melbourne office July 2018.

A non-compete agreement that broadly prohibits competition per se is a violation of public policy and thus void. Strong non-compete agreements, therefore, are narrowly tailored to address these statutory requirements. Outside of making sure the agreement is in writing and signed by the person to be bound, the most important consideration is whether the agreement is actually for the purpose of protecting a legitimate business interest. This is because a non-compete agreement that is unreasonable in scope (time, area, or line of business) may be modified, or “blue penciled,” by a court to be reasonable in those respects and enforceable against the party that signed it. 28 SPACE COAST BUSINESS



As provided by Section 542.335, Florida Statutes, legitimate business interests include, without limitation: (1) trade secrets; (2) valuable or confidential information that is not technically a trade secret; (3) substantial relationships with specific clients (whether existing or prospective); (4) goodwill associated with an ongoing business reputation, trademark, physical location, marketing region, or other business practice; and (5) specialized training. Additionally, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that business referral sources may also be deemed a legitimate business interest. For a non-compete agreement to be effective in this regard, the employer should ensure that the agreement is tailored to address the specific aspects of the business that give it a competitive advantage. Those type of matters will often be deemed legitimate business interests, and they should be identified as precisely as possible in the agreement.

Another important consideration is for the agreement to set forth restrictions that are reasonable in time, area, and line of business. Section 542.335, Florida Statutes, addresses the time periods that are presumed reasonable in various contexts. For example, as to a former employee or independent contractor not associated with the sale of a business, a restriction against competition of six months or less is presumed reasonable, and a restriction of more than two years is presumed unreasonable. Upon sufficient evidence, however, courts have found a restriction longer than two years to be reasonable under the particular circumstances.

The most important consideration to be enforceable is whether the agreement is actually for the purpose of protecting a legitimate business interest. Like the legitimate business interest inquiry, whether the geographic area or line of business restrictions are reasonable is dependent on the specific facts of the situation. For example, a company that develops software specifically for flight control systems would likely not be able to enforce a broad restriction prohibiting an employee from working for any other software development company with-

out narrowly tailoring the prohibition to those companies that compete in the flight-control-system market place. Similarly, a construction equipment sales representative with a Florida sales territory should not be prohibited from taking a similar job in California selling strictly to California customers. Such overly broad restrictions would most likely be deemed unenforceable.


BEST PRACTICES TO FOLLOW FOR A NON-COMPETE AGREEMENT 1. State the terms in a written document signed by the party to be bound; 2. Have restrictions that are reasonable in time, geographic area, and line of business; 3. List with particularity the company’s legitimate business interests; 4. Have only those individuals with access to the legitimate business interest information sign the non-compete agreement.


MARCH 2020 29



Director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center obert “Bob” Cabana could be described as a pragmatic optimist. He once said, “I am the type of person who not only embraces change, but wants to drive change, once the case for and the advantages of the change are clearly presented.” These are qualities that served him well as he evolved from a U.S. Naval Academy Cadet, to a Marine fighter and test pilot, to NASA shuttle astronaut and then the director of Kennedy Space Center. Not since the Space Race of the 1960s has the pace of change and transition been more visionary and robust, than under Cabana’s tenure, since taking the helm as the tenth center director in 2008. He has facilitated moving America’s most famous launch facility into a multi-user spaceport, where government-sponsored research and exploratory projects are developed side by side with privately funded space utilization ventures. At the core of his leadership is a vibrant and inclusive team approach based on one key component. “I truly believe in servant leadership and this is probably the number one attribute I learned in the Marine Corp,” he said. “If you put the welfare of the team above your own, you will be successful. In other words, if you take care of your people, your people will take care of you.” A seasoned, yet enthusiastic ambassador and evangelist of space exploration, Cabana sees man’s future in not only exploring, but in colonizing the yet uncharted regions of space. “Unmanned probes are valuable, but our destiny, our inner calling, is in humans exploring the unknown,” he said. When asked about the idea of a “Space Force” he commented, “It is a logical next step, just like the Air Force evolved out of the Army Air Corp. Space is where our future lies and frankly, I would like my next job to be running the equivalent of Star Fleet Academy.”






CEO and President, Space Florida he descriptor “Space Coast” is a perpetual reminder of the role Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center have played in America’s astonishing achievements in space exploration and utilization. Because of that recognition, many do not realize Florida was primarily a launch sight. It wasn’t where aerospace design and fabrication took place. But that was something Frank DiBello and Space Florida have worked tirelessly to change. With over 50 years in the aerospace industry, DiBello is recognized as one of the leading players in making Florida the emerging home of aerospace innovation, manufacturing and of course, launching. “Even as a child I was fascinated by the notion that you could draw an airplane on paper and there was a process by which you could turn that concept into a metal aircraft that actually flew,” said DiBello. DiBello recognized early on that government was a crucial partner in helping industries accomplish complex technological goals, for which there was no business model. He also knew that the “business of space” was inevitable and financing was the key. He concentrated on companies taking space and defense technology to market and begin to find solutions to the crucial questions of capitalization and how to capitalize the special facilities and equipment needed to operate. “To date we have financed over two-billion dollars of research and development labs and manufacturing facilities and equipment that enables these companies to come to Florida and to thrive,” he said. “Every state wants to attract aerospace industry. But we had a historic location and a workforce that was second to none. What we had to do was leverage what the legislature had done to create a good business environment where it was easy for companies to relocate or grow here.”



Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman, One Web, Embraer, SpaceX, Boeing and countless others all bear witness to the impact DiBello and Space Florida have had. When asked if he thought the global space industry would top a trillion dollars in 25 years, he said, “No, I think it will happen in a little over ten.” SPACECOASTBUSINESS.COM


DON & JULIE HERNDON Classic Wood Flooring

heir names, Don and Julie Herndon, are synonymous throughout Brevard with philanthropy and entrepreneurialism. The daring to take the risks necessary to launch their own business, linked with the compassion and engagement to share with some of the most needy and vulnerable, has touched thousands of lives. Never vying for the spotlight, the Herndons’ dedication to Brevard, finds them often in the spotlight, as they are an example and inspiration to the regions business community. Don was a well-respected installer, working with large retailers, when his wife Julie, a successful business manager suggested, “You are doing great making these other companies successful, why don’t you open up your own showroom?” Don agreed it was time, but he insisted she come with him. “I was hesitant,” she said. “I had a very secure position with great benefits, but we decided to take the leap.” That was twenty-one years ago, and they have never looked back. Boot strapping their initial venture with a second mortgage on their home, they opened a 500-squarefoot showroom in Suntree. Six years later their growth necessitated them building their new Classic Wood Flooring showroom on US 1, featuring tile, carpet, wood and vinyl plank for a discriminating group of customers, designers and contractors. “It was a learning experience for both of us,” Don said. With Julie adding, “I didn’t know much about the flooring business, but I knew how to treat people and how to earn their trust.” They built their business on a true partnership, which has in turn deepened their love and respect for each over the years. “We were taught about giving back and gratefulness in the homes we were raised in,” Don shared. “God has blessed our business and we feel that has happened so we can bless and help others.” From the AMI Kids, which is changing the future of troubled teens, to Nana’s House which helps at risk children, the Herndons’ involvement and generosity is one of the things that makes Brevard special. 32 SPACE COAST BUSINESS



MARCH 2020 33



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It’s all about survival.

ow do you get consumers to understand the value of a thing? Simple – you tell them a story. People don’t buy products. People don’t buy services. People buy the solutions they understand will help them right away. People buy value. It’s a brain thing. From the time cave people recorded their experiences as pictures on stone walls, human brains have been hard-wired to understand the natural world in terms of survival.

Our natural flight or fight instinct is tied to it. As a result, we have an inherent need to do three things:

1 2 3

Explain the world around us

Communicate dangers & opportunities to each other

We understand this by telling stories. Understanding something to the point of trust is inherently psychological. A storytelling approach to communication is one of the most effective methods of connecting a person to another person, a brand, a product 34 SPACE COAST BUSINESS

Create a sense of community

LYLE SMITH is the owner and founder of Nymblesmith, a content marketing agency that helps brands simplify, focus and activate their stories to grow their businesses.

or a service. This is not just simple brand communication. It applies to all types of business communication as well: networking, presentations, content strategy, all of it. And stories have a structure. Virtually every story in the western tradition is |


built on the same structure. From Aristotle to Hollywood, to Madison Avenue, just about every effective story follows the hero’s journey. Simply put, a hero encounters a problem, then meets a guide who helps him or her overcome that challenge, succeed, and in the end, transform into something new – ideally, something better.

So how does it work? Popular interpretation is that it gets people to do things, to buy things. But that’s not actually how it works. People can always tell when you’re trying to manipulate them. When you bring them into your story, you connect with them. You convince them. It gets them on your side, or better yet, convinces them you’re on their side and you’re going to guide them to success.

When it’s done well, it gets people to see themselves inside your story. They imagine themselves as the hero; as the Luke Skywalker, the Robin Hood, the Hermione Granger character. They connect, engage, trust and value. Then they buy, because you’ve helped them internalize the value of your offering and what it means to them. It deepens the relationship. It’s not just a transaction anymore. They don’t become part of your story so much as you become a trusted part of theirs.

“People don’t buy products. People don’t buy services. People buy the solutions they understand will help them right away. People buy value.” Then, how do you do it? There are many approaches you can take when you start trying to nail down your story and how to best communicate it to your target audience. You can hire an agency to do it for you, but that separates the message from the messenger. You can study storytelling and work on it yourself. There are plenty of examples of successful brands who have done it this way, but it’s not easy without the proper guidance. Or, you can hire someone to come in and work with your team to get the story straight, using a process that utilizes the people on your team nearest and dearest to your best customers and pulling out all of the details and their perspectives to focus it into a tight, simple, repeatable message that your target audience will not only engage, but be able to repeat and amplify to a larger field.

Regardless of method, the best advice anyone can give you regarding your story is to always remember to think about how you are talking about your business and cast it through the lens of your customers’ eyes. We all have a natural tendency to talk to and about ourselves. We need to force ourselves out of that approach and talk about our businesses the same way our customers do. Remember, they are thinking about their survival. We need to be thinking about their survival, too.





Proudly serving clients in Brevard and Central Florida 3845 W. Eau Gallie Blvd, Suite 101 Melbourne, FL 32934 321.757.7383

Jennifer Parkerson

V.P. of Operations

Ken Welsh

President and CEO

MARCH 2020 35



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THE GIG ECONOMY: THE FUTURE OF WORKFORCE? Autonomy and job flexibility are a major draw to gig work. orkforce is changing. When most of us think of traditional employment, we imagine full-time, 9-5, permanent positions. However, the rise of technology has resulted in millions of Americans earning income via “gig” work. The gig economy is made up of workers who get paid by the “gig” or project, and is a temporary work assignment versus a permanent one. Companies such as Uber and Lyft are well recognized “gig” jobs, but the gig economy spans across multiple industries and can include almost any type of work imaginable. The gig economy is growing rapidly, and more than one third of U.S. workers (roughly 57 million Americans) work in the gig economy today. There are many reasons individuals choose to join the gig economy. Autonomy and job flexibility are a major draw to gig work. Individuals in the gig economy can work when they feel like

it, free to accomplish their tasks however they choose. The gig economy also contributes to reducing the national income gap – over 76% of gig workers over the age of 55 are using earnings generated from gig work to help them save for retirement. Employers may choose to use gig workers for many reasons, including cost saving measures, or to bring in expert level knowledge for special projects. Utilizing gig workers also allows employers to tap into talent pools outside of the local area. Susie

JESSICA MITCHELL CareerSource Brevard

“In the future, the majority of workers may be gig workers as opposed to traditional employees.”

Glasgow, President/CEO of Kegman Inc. and chairman of CareerSource Brevard has utilized contract workers for many years. “We have 13, 1099 employees from across the nation that we use on an as-needed basis, as subject matter experts. All have other jobs, but contracting with us allows them to stay current and relevant in their industries.” Consumers love the gig economy too, as it allows fast and easy access to goods and services. While the gig economy has many benefits, there are some regulatory and policy challenges that should be addressed as this sector continues to grow. The majority of gig workers are classified as independent contractors (i.e. 1099 employees). These employees have far less protections than traditional employees. They typically do not receive benefits such as unemployment compensation, medical, retirement, etc. Without benefits and protections, many gig workers are left financially vulnerable. Down the line, having an entire generation without retirement savings and health plans could increase future reliance on government

1. McCue, T. (2018, August 31). 57 Million U.S. Workers Are Part Of The Gig Economy. Retrieved from 2. Eisenberg, A. (2017). Gig work hurting financial futures? Employee Benefit News, 31(6), 34. Retrieved from 3. Ravenelle, A. J. (2019). “We’re not uber:” control, autonomy, and entrepreneurship in the gig economy. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 34(4), 269-285. doi:10.1108/jmp-06-2018-0256. 4. Bercovici, J. (2015, November). The 1099 bind. Inc, 37(9), 78-112. Retrieved from the-1099-bind.html. 5. Kess, S., Grimaldi, J. R., & Revels, J. A. (2018). Financial planning for workers in the gig economy. CPA Journal, 88(8), 68-70. Retrieved from 6. Watson, G. (2019, October 18). Improving the gig economy for Federal tax participants. Tax Foundation [Washington D.C.], pp. 1-67. Retrieved from




programs to compensate for a lack of benefits provided by employers. Though hiring 1099 employees can be good for employers financially (allowing them to save approximately 20-40% on labor costs versus a traditional employee), employers must proceed with caution. The key factor in determining whether or not an employee can be classified as an independent contractor ultimately boils down to the elements of control imposed over the worker. It is becoming increasingly difficult to determine if gig workers are true “employees” or not. The laws which define standard work arrangements were created long

before the gig economy existed, and there is not a universal framework in place to determine how to classify gig workers. The lack of clear guidance on how to classify gig workers opens employers up to increased risk of misclassification lawsuits. Since gig workers are largely classified as 1099 employees, this changes tax reporting requirements compared to traditional W-2 employees. Evidence shows that many gig workers are confused about their tax reporting requirements. This confusion could result in gig workers misreporting income, or being out of compliance with the IRS. The risk of underreporting income is

especially concerning, as this could lead to a reduction in tax revenue, and ultimately, a reduction in government programs and services. Gig workers are unique, and the current tax regulations for independent contractors may not be suitable for the new era of gig workers. What the gig economy means for our future remains to be seen. It is difficult to estimate the impact of the growth of the gig economy on society, because we don’t know what technology will exist, nor what skills will be most useful in the future. One thing is certain, however – the gig economy will continue to grow. In the future,

the majority of workers may be gig workers as opposed to traditional employees. This could be an amazing opportunity to shape an entirely new societal ecosystem, with many positive benefits to the economy, or it could have negative effects on the entire global market. We have the opportunity to shape the rise of the gig economy into something extremely positive, but this can only be done if business owners, leaders, and government embrace it, and get ahead of any potential issues it could create. The evolution of the gig economy is the industrial revolution of our time, and we must be prepared.

MARCH 2020 37


SHARON DUBOIS U.S. Bookkeeping Company

[ By Eric Wright, Publisher ] Photography by Jason Hook


hen you consider that some 87% of white-collar crime involves embezzlement by a company’s bookkeeper or financial administrator, the need for third-party or outsourced financial management begins to come into focus. Often, the books of a small business or startup are kept by a family member or friend, but a rudimentary knowledge of QuickBooks hardly qualifies someone to make or to advise on the decisions every business owner faces. Like, how to manage cash flow? How to interpret a P&L? This is why Sharon Dubois teamed with Glenn Sandler of GI Tax to launch U.S. Bookkeeping Company (USBC), a service paired with Sandler’s tax service, to franchise booking services for the small business market.

EW: Who is the target client of USBC?

EW: Are you from this area?

SD: We are looking to help the small business operator with five to 15 employees. We found that market is very large, but also largely underserved. When you are smaller than that, bookkeeping and payroll aren’t that complex, but once you cross that threshold, you need more sophisticated services. What Glenn and I found was most bookkeeping or CPA firms start running the timer as soon as a client calls. It is about billable hours. I have had clients call me and say, ‘I have a question, but I can only afford to talk for 15 minutes.’ I tell them, I am here to help and ensure they really understand the answers I am giving.

I was actually born and grew up in Melbourne and went to Mel High. But after being born here, when I was nine, we relocated to Maine, where I fell in love with horseback riding. We did come back though, and I finished high school here.

EW: So, you serve as a small business financial coach? SD: In a sense, yes. A company’s finances are like the instruments in an airplane’s cockpit. If those instruments are not visible or you don’t know how to interpret them, you are flying blind. How often have I heard a business owner say, ‘We are bringing in all this money, but I don’t understand where it all goes?” Or, “How can we have all these sales, but we don’t seem to be making money?” Showing the business owner what the financial management tools are, how to interpret them and how to use them to guide their business is what we do.

From there I went to what is now Eastern Florida State and was planning to go into special education, mainly because of my involvement with Special Olympics. I landed a job a in that field, but found the emotional toll was not something I managed well at that age. Then someone offered me a job as a bookkeeper for an electrical contractor. EW: What connected for you about the field? SD: It really wasn’t until later that I developed a sort of passion for it. I took a few years off when I had my daughter and when I went back into the workforce, it was as an inventory auditor. I found I loved the job and grew into a regional manager, covering from Daytona to Wabasso, with crews of up to 350. We would go into a retailer, like a Home Depot, and do an inventory audit, counting every nut, bolt and fixture. Then I would compare cash reports and inventory reports, with our findings. It was fun, but the hours were crushing.

A company’s finances are like the instruments in an airplane’s cockpit. If those instruments are not visible or you don’t know how to interpret them, you are flying blind. – Sharon Dubois

EW: What did you learn? SD: I discovered that people are so unique and how different individuals must be matched to the type of role and responsibility they are best suited for. It really carried over to this business. Most accountants and bookkeepers aren’t real outgoing people persons. They like number crunching. But to be effective, you have to interface with the business owner, to be responsive and anticipate their questions. EW: How did you get back into bookkeeping? SD: When I went back to work, it was doing payroll and bookkeeping for a small company, I realized how challenging that was. Then, when I went to work for an actual bookkeeping company, I began to help owners move from being a fledgling startup, to growth and to profit. It was an incredible experience being a part of that incredible process. That is when the excitement for this profession took hold of me. Bookkeeping can be mind-numbingly boring, but when you can teach an owner how to understand, utilize and discover the power of the reports we provide, that was really satisfying. EW: What were the common denominators you found among small business owners? SD: They love what the do. Whether it is a product or service, to hear them talk about it just pulls you in. The downside is they know about their product or service, but they don’t understand the other aspects, particularly the financial aspects, of running a business. That is where it stung me, when I realized customers were watching the

clock, as much as they were listening to me about what I was trying to help them with. Which then led me to start my own company, so I could do customer service my way. EW: So how did you connect with Glenn Sandler and GI Tax? SD: We got to know each other because my bookkeeping clients were talking to him about me and vise versa. When I met with Glenn he said, ‘Sharon you aren’t selling bookkeeping, you are selling customer service.’ And when I thought about it, he was right, that is why I wanted to start my own business, to offer more customized services. Because of our week by week involvement we can help track both positive trends and negative signs. We have caught embezzlement and employee theft. We aren’t just responding or recording, after the fact. EW: What’s the future? SD: This paring of tax services with bookkeeping is something every business owner needs and looks for. Glenn kept referring clients to me, but we were maxed out. Then early last year he called me and said he wanted to open a bookkeeping company. I said, ‘Great.’ Then he said he wanted to open it with me. Glenn had a franchise mentality, along with providing me with a high-level support system. Now we are refining the business model and the processes. The challenge then is finding the person or persons who find the endorphin boost in helping others out, who have the skill sets that are needed and who enjoy working with entrepreneurs, not just doing data entry.


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