Space Coast BUSINESS - Founder of the Year

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AUG 2019

SEPT 2019



Manufacturing on the Space Coast


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Made in Brevard

This month, Space Coast Business celebrates the entrepreneurial achievements of Bobbie Dyer our cover story, and Founder of the Year honorees Jim Barfield and Rich Hall of Luke & Associates. The magazine is also a salute to a sector that sets Brevard apart from the rest of the state. Namely the fact that we have one of the highest percentages of manufacturing jobs of any county in Florida.

Association Florida’s Space Coast) to highlight local firms, along with showcasing the remarkable evolution of modern manufacturing and the career opportunities it holds.

With over 500 manufacturers of all sizes and covering diverse markets, this part of Brevard’s economy is as varied, as it is robust, with only a small sample appearing in this month’s magazine. Made in Brevard is an initiative of the EDC and MASC (Manufacturers

Eric Wright

Today’s manufacturing bears as much resemblance to historic stereotypes of poor working conditions and questionable environments, as a modern Tesla has with a Ford Model T.


THIS MONTH’S THEME: Manufacturing






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Full & pages Half a Hurry vailable! and b o your s pot to ok day!


Guide global law teams involving contracts and cases with Investment Clubs (AAIC); Alibaba Investment Clubs (ALIC), Alphabet Investment Clubs (ALIC), Apple Investment Clubs (AIC), AT&T Investment Clubs (ATTIC), BeenVerified Investment Clubs (BVIC), Berkshire Hathaway Investment Clubs (BHIC), Capital One Investment Clubs (COIC), Century 21 Investment Clubs (C21IC)Chase Investment Clubs (CIC), ETrade Investment Clubs (ETIC), Facebook Investment Clubs (FIC), Google Investment Clubs (GIC), LaJolla Financial Investment Clubs (LJFIC), Investment Clubs (LMIC), Microsoft Investment Clubs (MIC), Wells Fargo Investment Clubs (WFIC), Zillow Investment Clubs (ZIC), etc. Private investors fund the SmartSitesSolutions (S3) which could be apartments, commercial sites, condos, homes, land or

just water which become Internet Protocol (IP) routes for the Internet of Things (IOT) with big data wireless transferring and forwarding. The S3 make 3 to 12 times the income compared to monthly expenses so our Smart Sites (2) Managers who just make sure that the 3+ power back ups are up and running (batteries, generators, power grid and solar) so that the IP route keeps the multi-million contracts from Internet companies such as AAAction, Alibaba, Alphabet, Apple, AT&T, BeenVerified, Berkshire Hathaway, Capital One, Century 21, Chase, ETrade, Facebook, Google, LaJolla Financial,

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Profile and Space Reservation: September 15, 2019


Copy and Image Deadline: September 25, 2019


Published: November 2019


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WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR HURRICANE DAMAGE CLAIMS [ By Michael P. Sapourn, Esq. and David J. Volk, Esq. ]


eing properly informed and prepared, from the time you submit an application for property insurance until the worst happens, is usually the difference between having coverage denied, or undervalued, and arriving at a fair claim settlement. This subject could fill a book, but the following tips will better prepare you for the aftermath of storm damage.

The insurance application Let’s begin with the application for insurance. Florida Law allows an insurance company to void coverage (meaning act as though the policy was never written) if the application the policyholder signs contains “material” misrepresentations or the concealment of “material” facts. The term “material” has a statutory definition. Many insurance companies conduct their first detailed review of the application after a large claim has been submitted. They look for anything on the application that may be false, and then issue a letter voiding coverage, accompanied by a check for the total premiums paid on the policy. At that point, you need a lawyer to battle the company in court. Before this happens, your first line of defense is to review the questions answered on the application and be certain those 6: SPAC E C OAST B U S I N E SS


answers will pass the future scrutiny of insurance company investigators. Often, applicants rely upon the insurance agent to guide them through this process. Insurance agents are busy people, and they sometimes assume the answers to certain questions on your behalf and then ask you to sign the application. If they made the wrong assumption and you did not correct the mistake, you may find yourself without coverage at precisely the time you need it the most.

Policy warranties Some questions on the insurance application focus on your “protective safeguards.” Those include burglar and fire alarm systems and hurricane shutters. When you answer “yes” to the existence of these protective safeguards, the insurance company generally issues the policy with “Protective Safeguard Warranties.” These endorsements to the policy void coverage if the protective safeguard was not in proper use at the time of a loss. That means you must set the alarm when you leave the premises and have your hurricane shutters installed when a “named storm” is heading your way. Florida Law expects policyholders to read their policies. So, take a peek at the endorsements to your policy (generally found near the end of


the policy) and be sure you know what is expected of you.

How to prepare in advance of a claim With today’s digital technology, everyone should tour the house or the commercial property and photograph or video all the personal property that is covered by your policy. We like video because it allows you to comment on the model, make and year you bought the TV, stereo or dining room set. Upload the photo or video file to the cloud. This assures preservation of the record. This record is vital when you are asked to prepare an inventory of all items damaged or destroyed at the time of a disaster. You’d be surprised how much more you remember when you have a visual record of your property, and that improves the settlement value of your insurance claim. When you purchased the house or commercial property you probably paid for an appraisal. Most appraisals include a “Reconstruction Cost Estimate” to rebuild the structure. That estimate includes vital information like square footage, construction quality and “extras” that add value to the structure. Use the full reconstruction value when writing the dwelling or building limit on your initial policy application. Have your company include an “Inflation Guard” endorsement that increases the limit of insurance over time. In the event of a total destruction of the covered building, Florida Law generally requires the insurance company pay the limit shown on the policy declarations. Of course, when a named storm is heading your way, install your shutters, drain some water out of the pool, turn-off the water main and turn the natural gas off before vacating.

When disaster strikes If the worst happens, consider hiring a reputable public adjuster to help you value your claim and prepare the Proof of Loss. Do your homework on which adjusters are “reputable.” They generally charge a percentage of the claim settlement amount (don’t sign an Adjuster Agreement that asks for more than 10%). Good public adjusters generally earn enough additional settlement money to justify the expense.

Michael Sapourn spent 30 years in the insurance business including as an independent agent and a public adjuster and now litigates insurance claims as both a lawyer and an expert witness at The Law Offices of Michael Sapourn. His law practice specializes in representing policyholders when they feel their insurance company doesn’t play fair.

David Volk of Volk Law Offices, P.A. has been a commercial litigation lawyer for 32 years. At times, Michael and David jointly prosecute insurance claims cases.

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AN IMPRESSION OF SOUTHEAST AEROSPACE THE GROUNDED MINDSET THAT MAKES FLIGHT POSSIBLE [ By Christian Dossett, Writer ] Southeast Aerospace hangar Photos provided by Southeast Aerospace


visited Southeast Aerospace on a hot Florida day in July at their location on The Melbourne International Airport. Mirages floated above the tarmac. Massive and small planes ascended and descended over my head upon arrival. The sound of helicopters permeated the atmosphere as their blades chopped through the air to defy Earth’s regular downward pull. I felt like I was where the action was, and I would soon have the opportunity to share my enthusiasm with the staff. Once I was welcomed into the lobby, I sat awaiting my host and witnessed employees strolling through with smiles on their faces and warm greetings to one another. There’s still a familyowned small business spirit in the quarters of SEA, 26 years since its inception. During my tour of the facilities, Paul Siebert (Aircraft Production Manager) and Aprile Blair (Director of Marketing) led me outside from the Hangar to the fabrication shop and our gazes shifted from onward to upward as we set our sights on another plane breaking the bound of gravity. At this moment, I looked back down to my guides with a smile on my face to see that they were also sporting grins of admiration. It became obvious to 8: SPAC E COAST B U S I N E SS


me that they had never lost their recognition for the magic of flight. After a combined 40 years in the aerospace industry, their luster for airplanes refused to dull. I asked Mr. Siebert if my observation was truly the case and he confirmed my assumption along with informing me that the overwhelming majority of the staff all have a love for airplanes. I then sat down to speak with Ms. Blair and Executive Vice President, Joe Braddock, after my tour who discussed one of the basic business philosophies the company has lived by for many years – keep it simple. That sounds trivial, but what he means is that many companies in aviation complicate normal everyday business even in a highly technical industry like this. Mr Braddock commented, “At the end of the day we are still just providing a product or service just like any other business and we will continue to grow as long as there are good people to bring in here. We are always looking for good people to add to the company.” The Braddock family has grown SEA from the original idea of selling high-quality products and services with warranties. Decisions in the growth of the company have been consumer-


centric; SEA aims to do their work so well that the customer doesn’t feel like they’re doing any work themselves. The company has taken a no-stonesunturned approach to do business the right way, which includes employing the right people and treating them well. SEA is not just the parts manufactured and sold; SEA is not just the repairs and machines used to do so. SEA is the employees behind the work and SEA is the company to keep people safe in the air.

Southeast Aerospace team


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nter Ordnance (I.O.) has been providing innovative and quality firearms to both commercial and government markets for the past 20 years. The company primarily focuses on manufacturing and supplying firearms around the United States, but it also offers import services for collectors that are interested. The company started out in Charlotte, North Carolina before moving its home base to Palm Bay in 2013. 10: SPAC E C OAST B U S I N E SS


Prior to this move, the company was primarily importing firearms and parts from Eastern Europe. These items made up most of the company's supply; however, the quality of the items was not up to its standards. In order to improve the quality of their products, I.O. decided to start making their own firearms in the U.S. and bought all the tooling necessary to mass-produce them. In order to better facilitate this fresh start for the company, the CEO, Uli Wiegand, decided


to move the company down to Palm Bay, Florida to work toward only having American-made products. “We are committed to our local manufacturing and manufacturing in the United States,” said Uli Wiegand, CEO/ President of Inter Ordnance Inc. Wiegand explained that there is a huge disparity between American-made products and products made abroad. The differences can be found in the material and the level of quality that these products hold. This difference is obvious to the company's customers who can see and feel the difference. For I.O., it’s important to have domestic production and labor force in order to ensure this quality. The majority of the employees that work at I.O. are from the local area. Many of the talented workers and engineers that joined the company when they moved to Palm Bay had previously worked in the space program. With the help of local labor services, such as workforce Brevard, I.O. was able to secure this talent for the company. In order to further promote local business, I.O. makes sure that its suppliers, distributors and business partners are found in the local areas or within the United States. The company’s vendors can be found all over Florida in areas like Jacksonville, Lakeland and Cocoa. I.O. also partners with businesses such as PCO of Titusville and WMD in Port Saint Lucie, who provide coding support to the company. “We try to keep the business local so we can support our Florida economy,” said Wiegand. The company hopes to increase business with the United States government and the local law enforcement. Initially, I.O. had been focused on supplying primarily for the commercial market; however, the company is shifting gears to the government/military market. Wiegand described that he wants to pursue the military market due to the high demand that the government has for these firearms. Since I.O.’s firearms are American-made, Wiegand believes it would be beneficial to both the government and the local business. Not only would the government be able to cut cost for the manufacturing of these products, but it would also be able to ensure the quality. This would not only improve business for I.O., but also the local community in Wiegand’s eyes. With this goal of pushing toward the military market, I.O. will be debuting new firearms in the coming months as well as pursuing government contracts. The company will be releasing its newly finished designs, the AK-103 rifle and the concealed carry revolver. These will debut at the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASW) show in Orlando in the fall. These firearms will be available in the commercial market; however, I.O. is hoping to focus on the military market and law enforcement market.

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pecializing in audio components and sound amplifiers, Geshelli Labs aims to produce reliable audio products that heighten listening experiences by creating clear and authentic sound quality. With a newly opened office in Melbourne, all of the company’s products are designed, tested and assembled in the United States. Geshelli Labs is customer focused, aiming to produce quality audio products at affordable prices so consumers can enjoy listening to music in its most authentic form without breaking the bank. Owned by husband and wife duo Geno and Sherri Bisceglia, the company began with the desire to find quality audio products for a good price. Geno Bisceglia, who is an engineer, decided to create his own Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) in order to obtain clearer sound and improve his listening experience. With help and encouragement from his wife Sherri Bisceglia, he began selling this product online and contributing to a market for 12: SPACE C OAST B U SI N E S S


audio gear. The company’s first consumers were employees at the Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County. In honor of its first customers, all first responders and military personnel receive a 10% discount on Geshelli Labs products. The audio products available to buy on the company's website include the ENOG2 Pro DAC and Archel Pro Amp. These products are offered in clear, Plexi cases in order to preserve a vintage look and the theme of clarity. Geshelli Labs focuses a great deal on custom work and details in order to satisfy customers and provide them with the best service possible. Geshelli Labs produces products in a variety of colors as well, which do tend to sell quickly. With an increase in demand, the company hopes to expand its range of products in early fall of 2019. The production of quality audio components does, however, come with its fair share of challenges. All products must


pass FCC and safety regulations, which can be expensive and time consuming. It is also one of the only audio-specific companies that have a female at its center. Although breaking through the barrier of a male-dominated industry and hobby can be challenging for many women, Sherri Bisceglia’s journey as a female audiophile has been very supported and backed by the community. Through the challenges of creating and establishing audio boards and prototypes, Geshelli Labs’ mission for generating quality, affordable and customer-centric sound and audio products never falters. “We’re pretty casual about what we do,” says Sherri Bisceglia. “I’m just really proud of the fact that there is a small company in Florida making really quality audio gear.” For many people, the accurate representation of audio is a significant aspect of listening to any genre of music or even one’s own self-generated sound. The difference can definitely be heard when comparing standard headphones to the DAC or amps that Geshelli Labs offers. Consumers are able to hear music in its purest form: clear, authentic and real.

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Tourist Information Kiosk, Exploration Tower 670 Dave Nisbet Dr. Port Canveral S EPTEM B ER 2 019: 13


RENZETTI, INC.: BY FLY FISHERS, FOR FLY FISHERS [ By Heather Motro, Junior Assistant Editor ]

Andy Renzetti with fly tying vise Photo provided by Renzetti, Inc.


here is always a way to do it better... find it." Posted above his teacher’s desk at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the late 1960s, this Thomas Edison quote caught Andy Renzetti’s eye and stuck in his memory. When he got hooked on fly fishing several years later, he found that the fly tying vises of that time were ineffective and frustrating to use. There had to be a better way to tie flies, and in the spirit of Eddison's words, Renzetti set out to find it. With a one-car garage as his workshop and his younger brother as his right-hand-man, Renzetti created his first True Rotary vise, named the Presentation 3000, in the early 1970s. Word of the Presentation 3000 spread throughout the small but tight-knit fly fishing community. As Renzetti’s after-hours hobby developed into a flourishing business, he relocated to a three-car garage. Then, a two-story shop. Now, a full-scale facility in Titusville. It’s a long way from his humble beginnings, but through the success, Renzetti, Inc. has remained an honest, quality source upon which fly fishers can depend.

Fly fishing 101 To understand the fly fishing business, we have to get to know the sport. Lily Renzetti, Andy’s wife and President of Renzetti, Inc., explains that conventional fishing and fly fishing have a lot 14: SPACE C OAST B U S I N E SS


in common. In both, the goal is to attract a fish – in conventional fishing, with a bait, and in fly fishing, with a fly, an imitation of what certain fish in a body of water would eat. But with fly fishing, she continues, the fly and the structure of the rod present new challenges: "Imagine tying a fly... add that to the skillful task of casting a fly rod and presenting that fly to the fish so you can entice it to bite it, and then the challenge to bring that fish in with a very light rod.” The vise is a tool used to tie the fly to the line. It was this piece of equipment that Andy Renzetti first innovated back in his garage in Pennsylvania. The kind that he crafted, a True Rotary vise, can turn as the user ties, allowing the fisher to use small flies and streamers that require more intricate handwork to tie. Now, Renzetti, Inc. offers not only True Rotary vises but also rod lathes, vise accessories, flies and more.

Good citizens Lily Renzetti believes that the company is unique "for contributing to society even before it became a part of a company's marketing plan." From the very first Renzetti vise that hit the market to the dozens of variations available today, Renzetti products have been made with the highest-quality materials, right here in the United States in Renzetti, Inc.’s very own manufacturing facility. Knowing that all their products are USA-made gives Andy Renzetti, Lily Renzetti and the rest of their team confidence that their equipment benefits not just


their clients but the whole nation. The family atmosphere of the staff and the feedback from the fishing community fuel Renzetti, Inc.’s desire to always “give [the fly tyers] more so they can grow with the sport," Lily Renzetti says. Another, perhaps unexpected, source of inspiration in the fly tying business: America's veterans. She explains that fly tying can bring a much-needed sense of peace and purpose to our nation’s veterans. “What comes to my mind… is a comment a veteran made to me, “When I tie flies is the only time I do not hear voices,” she recalls. “That stayed with me for the last 15 years.” Renzetti, Inc. keeps innovating, and Andy and Lily Renzetti keep fishing. “We still travel miles, when possible, domestically and internationally in search of the next fly fishing experience,” Lily Renzetti says. No doubt it’s this passion for quality fishing that pushes Renzetti, Inc. to stand always at the forefront the fly fishing industry.

Andy and Lily Renzetti Photo provided by Renzetti, Inc.

# L A U N C H F R O M H E R E


Rich in history, nature, recreation and technology, Titusville is the place to begin your visit, your business, your career, your family, your life. Today Titusville and the surrounding area includes many of our highest-visibility corporate neighbors, and we're on the move. The economy is ramping up (along with our rocket launches), and three major cycle trails converge right here. Keep watching. Begin to make connections that can make a difference. Start Here

Marcia Gaedcke



Edyie McCall

Troy Post, CEcD, CBE

LAUNCH FROM HERE is a community-forward initiative to help tell the story of Titusville and provide a vital and united way to bring greater attention to its unique accomplishments, places, people and opportunities.

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Photos provided by Sentry View Systems



magine, for a moment, that you need to put a surveillance camera in a remote location, where weather conditions are severe. Though the camera is designed to be very durable, what happens when a computer has to be located with the camera, in say, the middle of a desert where temperatures can go from sweltering heat to freezing cold? Also, how do you power that surveillance camera computer and link it to a monitoring center when it is miles from the nearest power network? Sentry View Systems in Melbourne has built a reputation for adaptive engineering and specialty manufacturing, creating solutions for these demanding and remote applications. Sentry View has designed, delivered and installed remote SATCOM communications systems in the U.S. and abroad, providing security for some of the most sensitive installations in the world. This includes being awarded repeat contracts to provide remote surveillance solutions for the USAF to monitor and protect Minuteman III ICBM launch facilities. Consider another real-world scenario. You and a medical team arrive to a city following a major hurricane, like when Maria hit



[ By Eric Wright, Publisher ]

Puerto Rico. Maximum sustained winds reached 175 mph, not only taking lives and destroying buildings, but also devastating the island’s power grid. With you are medical supplies that require constant refrigeration. Sentry View just introduced Solice, a portable refrigeration unit, coupled with a solar panel, battery backup and rechargeable lighting. Using Solice, critical food and medicines can be kept refrigerated. And the system has USB ports to charge cell phones and other devices you may require in times of emergency. These are the types of innovative and rugged products Sentry View has developed a reputation for delivering

New products, new markets

Kirk Hall CEO and CFO, Sentry View Systems


Kirk Hall, CEO of Sentry View, explained the legacy the company has in developing these customized applications, primarily for the military. However, this former CFO and

corporate tax attorney, who took the helm in 2014, indicated the team is expanding into products that have a broader appeal and applications. “We are now developing products that can be included in a GSA (Government Services Administration) Catalogue,” Hall said. “That way, if a defense contractor is looking for a product and it is in the catalogue, they can purchase it without going through a bidding process.” In addition to its connection to the military, Sentry View is targeting U.S. Border Patrol, FEMA, Homeland Security and local law enforcement as potential customers. Sentry View began in 2000 as a telecom company for the overseas cellular market. When that sector plummeted, the company landed a contract with the Air Force to provide remote communications capabilities. The opportunity led to an invitation to compete, as a subcontractor, to developed equipment which enhanced security for nuclear missile sites. Sentry View’s relationship with the Air Force carried the company through the ups and downs in the market. Now, the company is using its engineering and product development talent to take advantage of new opportunities. “One of our plusses is the engineers on our team like working for a firm our size,” Hall said. “They are able to be a part of the process from concept, to design, to final product. The opportunity to innovate is there every day. That creative flexibility has a lot of appeal, which creates a loyalty that is in some ways impervious to the enticements of large corporations.” Currently, the company has just under 50 employees, but they are all essential to present operations. Sentry View’s new product lines would mean additional hires. The plan is to outsource its manufacturing and continue to grow as a design firm. “Unfortunately, the world is not perceived as a safer place than it was, even five years ago,” Hall said. “The platforms that we are providing make it easier to protect against those threats, which gives us a strong position in the market moving forward.”





T H E E D C O F F LO R I D A’ S S PA C E C O A S T A N D I T S 1 6 2 CO R P O R AT E I N V E S TO R S

enhance the quality of life in Brevard County, securing economic prosperity for today, and for future generations. • 321. 638. 2000 6525 3rd Street, Suite 304, Rockledge, FL * Since 2010. Projections reported by company over three-year timeframe from commencement of operations. Solice portable refrigeration unit

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Photos provided by Titusville Marina


[ By Monique Corea, Writer ]


hether you make it your home port or stop by during your travels, Titusville Marina aims to provide you with the best services for your boating needs. Titusville Marina is a full-service Marina that prides itself in its customer service, convenience and commitment. The Marina is equipped to accommodate boats of all shapes and sizes while offering various amenities. The marina offers both fixed and floating docks from 30ft. and can accommodate boats up to 130ft. There is also a mooring field available for vessels up to 50ft. The location of the marina is the perfect point for visitors and locals to house their boats. It is located on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, which offers boaters with a pathway stemming from Boston, Massachusetts, to Key West, Florida. If you find yourself wanting to explore more of the east coast, this marina is the perfect place to dock. “The City of Titusville has done a fantastic job at bringing vibrancy to the community, and in turn we host as a concierge service to our customers. We recommend the best local 18: SPACE C OAST B U SI N E S S


restaurants and businesses to patronize, and even local events that are happening,” said Tom Lawson, general manager of Titusville Marina The marina is owned by the City of Titusville and welcomes people to take part in the city’s activities. Some of these include the Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Port Canaveral. It can even be the perfect place to dock for those wanting to visit attractions that are more inland, such as Disney theme parks in Orlando. Whatever location you aim to get to, the marina will be open for you to dock your boat. In order to accommodate both visitors and locals, the marina has many well-maintained amenities to support your lifestyle. Some of these include Wi-Fi, electricity, newly remodeled bathrooms, on-site laundry facilities and maintenance. They serve the boating community by offering superior customer service from every team member of Titusville Marina, affordable slip fees, wonderful amenities, close proximity to downtown, professional management, abundance of fun events and a


clean property. Titusville Marina aims to provide the best services for its customers and is open to suggestions to improve and adapt to their clientele’s needs. “Communication is also key at Titusville Marina. We keep our customers fully informed of all our community events, as well as marina events, by sending out monthly e-newsletters� said Lawson. The Marina is currently remodeling its restrooms, updating its Wi-Fi, adding in new washers and dryers, increasing the number of mooring balls to better accommodate the large demand for them and always adding in new fun events for boaters to participate in. The marina invites people to come in to enjoy these new amenities and share in the experience that Titusville can offer them.

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Bobbie Dyer Photography by Jason Hook



ave you ever called a help line and, after the fourth or fifth question posed by the automated voice, found yourself thinking, “I wish I could talk to a person?” We all appreciate and agree that technology has brought a host of wonderful advances. However, when it comes to a transaction as big as a home mortgage, Bobbie Dyer of Dyer Mortgage has found that what looks like a great online deal, in the long run, often costs you more in time and money. “Many people approach shopping for a mortgage like they were shopping for paper towels,” Dyer said. “Only they may spend more time on the paper towels. The difference is, you don’t get the personal involvement of someone who understands the industry and the area. A professional who can explain your options and your costs, while taking an interest in you as an individual, to customize your mortgage to match your needs.”

through the Regional Economic Information Network (REIN), serves as a Trustee at Florida Tech and sits on the board of the Health First Foundation.

Rising to the top, while challenging Goliath By the time Dyer was 15, she had developed a personal credo that, even today, rolls off her lips like the lyrics to a favorite song, “Other people can be smarter than me, richer than me and prettier than me. But they will NOT outwork me.” “Hard work is what got me to where I am today,” she said. “No matter what the job was, I made sure I did it all with as much effort as I could.” Dyer was a good student and found she was exceptionally autodidactic, along with being adept at financial math, with a good memory for details. These skills would provide advancement and opportunity for her business aspirations.

Dyer’s business model is a unique combination of A.I.- artificial intelligence, and what she refers to as, “L.I.- local intelligence.”

Dyer Mortgage began with a vision to alter the paradigm of the traditional mortgage business, which had not changed for decades. Dyer’s business model is a unique combination of A.I.- artificial intelligence, and what she refers to as, “L.I.-local intelligence.” A.I. gives clients the speed, convenience and vital feedback that is part of the 21st century loan process. But the crucial difference is adding to that local intelligence. They can provide insight about the market, while delving into the nuances of the individual’s situation.

This dual approach of A.I., having the most critical and up to date data and L.I., not only understanding local conditions, but taking the time to uncover the specific circumstances that can influence loan approval, from a recent divorce to being self-employed, is the differentiator. Which, underscores Dyer Mortgage’s ability to walk a customer through the mortgage process from start to finish. All of this is built on the work ethic which brought Dyer from a trailer park in rural Colorado and turned her into a business leader who advises the Federal Reserve

She got her first job in the mortgage industry typing closing documents for five dollars an hour. Her meticulous attention to detail and ability to make complex calculations began to catch people’s attention and soon, she was being trained to take on more and more responsibilities.

Moving to Melbourne, she landed a job as a loan officer at Great Western Bank. She transitioned to another bank, now owned by Chase, but made her real mark when she was recruited by Norwest, which was then acquired by Wells Fargo. She soon became a branch manager, while at the same time she integrated herself into the community as a volunteer. “They wanted me to be on the board of the museum at 24 years old and I told them, ‘I don’t have any money.’ They said, ‘That doesn’t matter, we know you’ll work.’” It is an ethos she continues today, by both working and giving, while offering her staff paid time to serve with non-profits or to volunteer. They also provide “Lunch & Learn” seminars to area businesses, bringing helpful information and education directly to people in their workplace. S EPTEMBER 2 019: 21

Dyer Mortgage Group office Photo provided by Dyer Mortgage Group

Running a branch was a perfect fit for Dyer’s skills and experience. She was with Wells Fargo for 18 years, building her branch from practically nothing, into having the number one market share in a company whose revenue last year was over $86 Billion, with assets at almost $1.9 Trillion. For several years, her branch was in the top 10 in the U.S., and she sat on significant committees with the bank and traveled throughout the country speaking and doing training seminars. Soon, however, Dyer noticed inconsistencies in the contracts loan officer’s compensation was based on, along with other practices that disturbed her. Like any good employee, she appealed to her bosses at Wells Fargo. However, their attitude was at first dismissive, then they offered her a personal payment to ignore the situation.

Unique & Boutique When Dyer closed that professional door, she opened another. Though she received a number of very lucrative offers, her dream was to build, what she described as, “a boutique mortgage company.” The parent company she works with, Primary Residential Mortgage, a privately held mortgage bank, gave her the opportunity to build a company that was truly “Customer centric, where I could guide the process,” she said. The relationship also brought the economy of scale of a large business.

“I tell my team, ‘They aren’t files, they are families.’”

Exasperated, she filed a class action lawsuit, which a federal judge settled out of court, in favor of Dyer and the other plaintiffs, for approximately $15 million, though she received only $2200 personally. “It was about the principal of the thing. Even the executive from Wells Fargo, who was in the final mediation with the judge and me, said he was unaware of the situation.” 22: SPAC E C OAST BU SI N E S S


It was being able to build a business culture and to guide the client experience that Dyer wanted. “When you sit down with people and listen, there is a connection that often lasts a lifetime,” she said. “I wanted the customer to feel like they had someone who would guide them through the whole process and could advise or direct them, by considering their larger financial picture. I tell my team, ‘They aren’t files, they are families.’” Many of Dyer Mortgage’s clients come from personal referrals, along with local realtors and builders. They also created a Corporate Relocation Concierge Program that includes working directly with HR managers, relocation


companies, assisting the employee even before an offer letter is accepted and guiding them in every step of the journey. “There are too many uncertainties in this type of transaction for your only recourse to be a 1-800 number,” Dyer explained. “We have had sellers die right before a closing, along with a myriad of other situations, that could have derailed a purchase. It is such a complex process that people need a trusted guide.” Dyer’s vision was to be not only locally focused, but to have the authority to complete the loan process locally. She wanted to give expert advice with a loan customized to the client’s needs, not begin locally and then be transferred to a call center or to get preapproved online, only to find that when a person actually examined the documents, it was not approved. Experience is perhaps the real differentiator; the experience of Dyer Mortgage’s team and the experience customers have. Most of the company’s 13 professionals have worked together for over a decade and some two decades; their team is diverse and reflects the community they serve, being bi-lingual and including active duty and retired military families. Her team calls them, “Bobbie-ism,” memorable sayings that define Dyer’s approach, like, “The cheap often becomes expensive.” By assisting the customer through specific local information, such as down payment assistance and

property tax exemptions, the value become clear. “Internet or out-oftown lenders don’t know about County assistance programs clients may be eligible for, this could be a grant of up to $30,000 the consumer would not know about, unless they worked with a local lender,” Dyer said. That perspective comes from the experience of having 30 years in mortgage banking, with over 10,000 loans closed and having funded over $500,000,000 in home mortgages. Add to that, Dyer has been recognized as a Nationwide Top Producer, along with being voted one of the 2018 70 Elite Women in Mortgage Banking in the U.S. it becomes clear why Dyer Mortgage is another example of why working with local companies pays so many dividends.



Going online and providing personal information (including social security number) to internet companies, while assuming that they are working with the actual lender. In many cases they are applying with a lead-generation site, that appears to be a lender, but is not. These sites often sell their information over and over.


“Instant approval” loans aren’t so instantaneous. Automated applications are very useful. But the difference with Dyer Mortgage is validating the information and personally going over all aspects of their personal financial situation. These loans are too large to commit to without all the details being known.

Dyer Mortgage Group team volunteers for Habitat for Humanity Photo provided by Dyer Mortgage Group

S EPTEMB ER 2019: 2 3

frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera.”

What Ever You Do, Do Your Best Gen. Colin Powell rose to the top in all his professions. He was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was the U.S. Secretary of State in George W. Bush’s administration. But Powell started from the very bottom and learned a valuable lesson as a young man mopping floors at a local soft drink bottling plant. His philosophy was, “No matter what you do, someone is always watching.” Powell recalled one of his early working experiences: “I set out to be the best mop wielder there ever was. One day someone left 50 cases of cola that had crashed to the concrete and brown sticky foam cascaded across the floor. It was almost more than I could bear. But I kept mopping, right to left, left to right. At summer’s end, the foreman said, ‘You mop floors pretty good.’ The next summer, he had me filling bottles. The third summer, I was deputy foreman. As I have learned, someone is always watching.”

Though most of us only have a few things we are really outstanding at, focusing on developing those particular skills, while giving equal focus on whatever the task is in front of us, is an unbeatable formula for success. It is a lesson I have heard repeated in countless interviews with CEOs and wildly successful entrepreneurs.

“Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.” – Tony Robbins

S EPTEMBER 2 019: 25



Pamela GUNTHORPE Pamela Gunthorpe is president of the Space Coast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). AFP advances philanthropy by empowering its members to practice ethical fundraising through professional education, networking, research and advocacy. She is the community engagement and grants manager for Brevard Schools Foundation and serves on the board of directors for South Brevard Sharing Center.

SPECIAL EVENT FUNDRAISING HOW TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL EVENT Many people think that fundraising is all about hosting special events. However, as these events are popular among the volunteers who organize them and the people who attend, events can become more about entertainment and less about supporting an important mission. While these events do hold a specific purpose in overall charitable giving, it is imperative that they not become the lifeline of your organization. According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), events are an expensive tactic, second only to direct mail acquisition. The cost per dollar raised is $0.50, which generally doesn’t include the indirect costs of time or labor. So, with a community calendar already packed full of events and a low return on investment (ROI), how does an organization determine if it should add yet another fundraising event to its calendar? Are fundraising events worth all the effort? Thoughtfully managed fundraising events play an important role in a comprehensive annual giving program. They provide the opportunity to draw




participants into your mission, helping fundraisers to identify new donors and to educate and connect with people. When managed effectively, the event becomes more about the cause and less about entertainment. In order to create a successful fundraising event, there are three things you should consider. Create an experiential event. Black-tie affairs and “rubber chicken” dinners have begun to give way to experiential events. These types of fundraising events connect donors to your mission on an emotional level. For example, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds cancer research for kids, raises funds through a headshaving event. The commitment to shave one’s head raises both awareness and funds and brings hope to children who have lost their hair during treatments. Likewise, “dining in the dark” events bring awareness of the challenges of those who are visually-impaired, and some of Brevard’s philanthropists have even slept overnight in a tent to support those who are homeless.

Choose quality over quantity. Considering the higher ROI of events in comparison to other fundraising tactics, successful organizations are opting to reduce the number of events held to focus on creating one quality event that educates, inspires and develops sustainable investment. Your event’s return on investment should always be included in the event analysis.

You do what you do best. We'll deal with the fine print!

Missionize your event. Your event should educate participants about the real work of the organization and tell a compelling story that helps them to truly understand the scope of your programs. This could be delivered as a visionary message by your organization’s leader or, with some careful coaching, by a current or former client. A personal testimonial will always trump a video or boring presentation spouting statistics and program data. By communicating the impact of charitable gifts, you show your guests the difference they can make, and you inspire real generosity. Beyond raising revenue for your organization, a successful fundraising event should bring awareness to your organization, create genuine donor engagement and inform participants of the great things you’re doing for the community and how they can help fund them. Be sure to incorporate these ideas into your event planning and you’re sure to develop long-term relationships with your donors.

Blake Stewart, Attorney

Construction Background + Business Expertise = Business, Contracts, & Construction Law Made Simple • (321) 541-6845

Photos from St. Baldrick's Event, March 2019 Photography by Michele Shelton

7341 Office Park Place, Suite 202 Melbourne, FL 32940

S EPTEMBER 2019: 2 7



Lynda L. WEATHERMAN Lynda L. Weatherman is the president & CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. She administers all operations and provides strategic direction to an organization responsible for a $2 million budget within a 1,557-square-mile area that is the Palm Bay-MelbourneTitusville MSA.

Photography by Jason Hook

THE STATE OF MANUFACTURING On the Space Coast, rockets are not the only things that are taking off. Since 2001, Brevard’s manufacturing GDP has soared by over 200%, compared to an increase of 50% for the State of Florida. This is a reason for celebration, and this October, the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC) plans to do just that.

October is Manufacturing Month In a nation where manufacturing is on the rise, 84% of manufacturers reported a shortage of available qualified workers. This challenge echoes on the Space Coast, and with 3,000 job openings expected locally in this field by 2022, manufacturers are seeking that talented workforce who are willing to expand their skills. In order to showcase today’s world of modern manufacturing, Manufacturing Day was created in 2012, and then expanded to Manufacturing Month encouraging participation throughout cities and regions. Celebrated across the nation, Manufacturing 28: SPAC E C OAST B U SI N E S S



Month is supported by thousands of manufacturers with a focus on raising awareness about manufacturing, its impact on the economy and to drive interest in manufacturing career paths. Since 2012, manufacturers have annually opened their doors to host students, teachers, parents, job seekers and the community at large to showcase the reality of modern manufacturing technology and careers. And the reality is, today’s world of modern manufacturing is high tech, automated, requiring talented individuals with varying skills and professions.

Why we celebrate With over 500 manufacturers locally, Brevard’s largest contributor to our local economy is manufacturing, producing goods anywhere from plastics to rockets themselves. Here are other reasons to celebrate our local manufacturing community: • In May 2019, manufacturing had 381,800 jobs in Florida, an increase of 11,500 jobs over the year.

• Brevard contributes over 20,000 manufacturing jobs • Manufacturing pays well. The average annual salary for manufacturing across all skill levels, according to EMSI, is $104,247, demonstrating a sharp pay-scale increase upon attainment of valued skills and experience. • Manufacturing jobs are stable. According to PayScale 2017, manufacturing ranked second for job tenure and stability. • Manufacturing is safe and clean. Manufacturing is technology driven and clean environments are required. • Manufacturers pay tuition. Of the manufacturers in Brevard surveyed, 70% report they are offering tuition support to their employees. • Manufacturing offers the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector. 100 manufacturing jobs creates an additional 250 jobs in the economy. For every $1 spent in manufacturing, another $1.81 is added to the economy. • Manufacturing drives innovation. 75% of all private sector research and development is performed in manufacturing. Celebrate with the EDC this October as we share insights from local manufacturers on our Facebook page, @EDCofFloridasSpaceCoast, and hear how they are celebrating #ManufacturingMonth on the Space Coast this October. And, join the EDC’s MASC (Regional Manufacturers Association of Florida’s Space Coast) as they kick off Manufacturing Month 2019 at the 4th Annual State of Manufacturing event on Wednesday, September 11 at 4:00 PM at Craig Technologies in Cape Canaveral. This event celebrates modern manufacturing with a focus on inspiring the next generation of manufacturers and connecting to the community at large. This year’s event will feature a keynote presentation from Dr. Jerry D. Parrish, the Chief Economist and the Director of Research for the Florida Chamber Foundation Learn more at


CONSTRUCTION Building success for today

and tomorrow.

321-632-7660 |

1038 Harvin Way, Suite 120 Rockledge, FL 32955 License# CGC34068 S EPTEMBER 2019: 2 9



Barbara NOONEY Barbara Nooney is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and partner at Flavin Nooney and Person, CPAs and Advisors. She has over 25 years of experience providing financial planning, tax and audit expertise to her clients. She also enjoys lending her financial knowledge by volunteering in the community.

TYING AN INVESTMENT PLAN TO YOUR FINANCIAL PLAN Asset allocation is the mix of stocks, bonds and cash in your portfolio. The asset allocation you select will have a large impact, as it attempts to balance risk versus reward on the long-term returns in your portfolio. Your financial plan assumes a certain level of investment return and a certain amount of risk required to get that return. When you are investing for retirement, the goal is to build a portfolio that makes your individual financial plan work. Asset allocation helps with this goal because different assets will perform differently in various market and economic conditions.

Start with your emergency cash fund

fund is part of your personal portfolio. In the long run, cash provides the lowest return of the major asset classes, but it is also a liquid insurance policy of sorts; cash is there to cover unexpected bills or take advantage of interesting opportunities should they arise. The key is to have the right amount of cash to provide a safety net in case of financial need. Access to cash in downturns may also preclude the need to sell other assets for funding requirements. Once your cash reserve is in place, you can invest the rest of your portfolio in more productive asset classes.

The appropriate allocation of stocks and bonds

An emergency fund is foundational to every good financial plan. Your emergency fund should be cash in an FDIC-insured account. This could be a savings account, a money market account or a short-term certificate of deposit.

The majority of investors saving for retirement will have a significant part of their portfolios invested in stocks and bonds. Stocks have higher potential returns but come with more risk. Bonds can help diversify your investment portfolio and can be especially helpful to own in times of market volatility.

Cash is an asset class, and your emergency

Academic studies show that having a mix




of stocks and bonds can actually be less risky than bonds alone. Finding the right amount of stocks versus bonds is a balancing act. Owning more stocks means higher potential returns, which could allow you to achieve your financial goals more quickly. However, investing too heavily in stocks exposes you to the risk that a downturn in the market could set back your financial plan.

careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there.” Once you have a plan, it becomes much easier to select investments that make the plan work. When you are investing for and in retirement, your portfolio is a means to an end – not the end in itself.

Bonds offer more stable cash flows and more predictable returns, but these returns are usually much lower than stocks. Most retirement savers who complete our financial planning process end up in a range of 50% to 80% stocks, depending on their age, income and risk tolerance. The key things to consider when selecting an asset allocation are your ability to stick with the plan in a market downturn, and the return your financial plan needs to meet your goals.

DISCLOSURE Investment advisory services offered through Flavin Financial Services, Inc. (FFS), a registered investment advisor. Flavin Nooney & Person, LLC and FFS are independent entities.

Always begin with the end in mind The most important part of investing for retirement is having a financial plan. The financial plan is your roadmap to retirement and beyond. Investing without a plan for retirement is like leaving on vacation before you decide where you are going. As Yogi Berra once famously quipped, “You've got to be very


(321) 725-4700 |

Investment advisory services offered through Flavin Financial Services, Inc. (FFS), a registered investment advisor. Flavin Nooney & Person, LLC and FFS are independent entities.

S EPTEMBER 2019: 3 1



Joe REILLY Joe Reilly is celebrating his 26th year in the drug and alcohol testing industry and is the founder and president of National Drug Screening, a Melbourne-based company with 18 employees. Reilly is recognized throughout the country as a thought and policy leader on drug screening for businesses of all sizes. From 2004 to 2008 he served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) – based in Washington

SAVING MONEY ON WORKERS’ COMP INSURANCE There are several ways to save money on workers’ comp insurance. One way is to have a safe workplace with no accidents or claims. Then, you will have no premium increases and you will save money. A safety program will go a long way towards preventing accidents. Maintaining a safe working environment is something you can achieve. Keep up with repairs, maintenance and add safety features as needed. Maintain scheduled inspections of your workplace to identify issues that pose a safety threat before someone becomes injured. Make sure personal protective equipment (PPE) is readily available. PPE equipment includes items such as gloves, ear plugs, respirators, goggles, helmets, flak vests, chem gear and more. In Florida, your business can also save 5% on your workers’ compensation premium insurance by implementing a Drug-Free Workplace Program in accordance with Florida Statute 440.102. Generally, a drug-free workplace program consists of five components: • Written drug-free workplace policy • Employee education on harmful effects of drugs & alcohol • Supervisor training on reasonable suspicion • Access to employee assistance program (EAP) • Drug testing of applicants and employees




The written drug-free workplace policy will clearly state the prohibition of the manufacture, use and distribution of controlled substances in the workplace and spell out the specific consequences of violating this policy. The use of alcohol while working or being intoxicated on the job will also be covered. The long-term goals of the policy are to protect and improve worker health, safety and productivity more broadly, in part by addressing workplace alcohol and drug misuse. Some insurance providers offer a template for the drug-free workplace policy to make it easy for employers to implement the program. The education and training is to establish a drugfree awareness program. The program should inform employees of the dangers of workplace substance use; review the requirements of the organization’s drug-free workplace policy; and offer information about any counseling, rehabilitation or Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs) that may be available. Supervisors are trained to recognize signs and symptoms of an employee that may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work. For safety, this individual is removed from the workplace and should be required to have a reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol test. The Florida program requires a one-time, sixty-

day notice of the program to existing employees. This notice must include: • The types of drug testing an employee or job applicant may be required to submit to, including reasonable-suspicion drug testing or drug testing conducted on any other basis. • The actions the employer may take against an employee or job applicant on the basis of a positive confirmed drug test result. The sixty-day notice gives employees a chance to come to the employer and request assistance. The sixty-day notice does not apply to job applicants. At a licensed laboratory, testing must include initial screening and confirmation testing for non-negative results. All of the lab reported drug test results must be reviewed and verified by a Medical Review Officer (MRO). Substances to be tested for in this drug testing program can be any of the following: • • • • • •

Alcohol Amphetamines Cannabinoids (marijuana, THC) Cocaine Phencyclidine (PCP) Opiates

• • • • •

Barbiturates Benzodiazepines Methadone Propoxyphene Methaqualone

Another huge benefit of the Florida Drug-Free Workplace Program is the availability of the intoxication defense on a worker’s comp claim. After an accident, post-accident drug and alcohol testing should be performed. Your written policy should have an acknowledgement statement that includes this language: “I understand that if I am injured in the course and scope of my employment and test positive or refuse to be tested, I forfeit my eligibility for medical and indemnity benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act upon exhaustion of the remedies provided in Florida Statute 440.102(5).” Denial of a workers’ comp claim can save a lot of money. An application for the 5% premium discount is available from your workers’ comp insurance provider. The application must be completed, signed and notarized in order to receive the discount. Recertification is required annually. Don’t miss the boat on this, you get a safe and drug free workplace and you save money.

S EPTEMB ER 2019: 33





[ By MIke Candelaria, Writer ]


uccess in business is no guarantee — even when the service need is so huge one can drive an 18-wheeler through it. Or, in this case, an ambulatory vehicle. The shortage of medical staffing across the United States has been widely chronicled, and projections for the future are troubling. An example: According to one 2018 study, 2.3 million new health care workers will be need by 2025 to keep pace with the aging population. The situation is magnified throughout the U.S. military, where military medical personnel are often deployed overseas, heightening the national shortage of physicians, nurses and staff personnel. Enter Rockledge-based Luke and Associates, a company that isn’t merely helping to fill voids, it’s thriving. Founded in 2004, the company provides a wide range of health care services and medical research/development to all branches of the military and soldiers’ families, along with the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration treatment facilities domestically and in Europe. Also, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been a contract partner, as have the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency and the Centers for Disease Control, in addition to other government and commercial entities. Regarding comprehensive medical care to military families, for instance, services range from preventive medicine to behavioral science and extend from routine examinations to surgical procedures. The company’s first contract bid was made in 2005, which was won in 2006. By 2011, there were 1,500 employees. Today, all totaled, more than 2,500 health care professionals have been placed worldwide at military installations, with the current site count at approximately 60, while care also is available to national, regional and local health care networks. Further, Luke and Associates provides information management and research expertise to the military and private industry — maintaining a staff of developers, programmers and specialized IT professionals — plus offers a variety of professional services to support the operation of business organizations. Can anyone say, “successful”? Yet, it hasn’t happened by accident. In fact, it almost didn’t happen. Cofounders Jim Barfield and Rich Hall brought business development/consulting and IT/management skills, respectively, to the table. Initially, though, even the backgrounds of those two seasoned professionals weren’t enough. “We fell flat on our face within the first year,” said Hall, chief financial Officer and chief information officer. “We had to go back to

the contract officers and talk to them and lay out a plan: ‘This is exactly how we are going to fix things.’ And we did what we said. The government absolutely respected that, and that was a huge learning process for us.” “That was a tough meeting for us, too,” recalled Barfield, president and chief executive officer. “We had to tell the government that we’re failing — that we weren’t doing this right, so these are the actions we’re going to take. And I think they were kind of floored that we came to them to tell them. … And we did exactly what we said we were going to do.” Within the next three years, while policies, processes and procedures still were being tweaked, and the infrastructure still was being built, company revenues climbed from zero to more than $100 million. “There were significant challenges. … It was daunting,” Hall said. “And Jim and I are very hands on.” As the company grew, so too did Barfield and Hall professionally. For a time, Barfield left the day-to-day to serve as a Brevard County commissioner, where he expanded his scope and sharpened his vision for the future. Meanwhile, Hall broadened his business acumen at the company, and his staff similarly rose to the occasion. “I had my own company before Luke. But when [Barfield] went to be county commissioner, it had to excel me to a level I had never been at before,” Hall said. “So, it was challenging. But to be able to do what we did — our staff is tremendous. I can’t talk enough about them. If it wasn’t for our staff, we would be where we are today.” For Luke and Associates, spiritual strength also is a factor. The name Luke actually was taken from the Bible. “The reality is, we’re both very strong in our faith,” said Hall, simply. In turn, the company views its current 60 military installations as “opportunities” to assist. “We have our veterans coming back, our military coming back, and we treat them,” said Barfield. “We have all kinds of medical people that work directly with them. So, we have the opportunity to find when there are needs.” In essence, the company’s mission to help the military, just like its cofounders’ roles in and out of the company, is all about building community. “Communities are important,” Barfield concluded. “… It’s doing what you can for people. … The old saying that ‘the more you give, the more you receive’ is true.” S EPTEMB ER 2019: 35



Eric Parent and Matthew Vazquez

Next Level is a data-driven advertising team that provides outstanding creative strategy and communicates comprehensive reporting results of its clients’ campaigns. The agency strives to produce the best results for clients every time; the kind of dedication the Florida's Space Coast community deserves. The team’s core values are integrity, passionate collaboration and authenticity. At one time, founders Matthew Vazquez and Eric Parent were independently consulting for businesses in the Space Coast community, often competing against each other for business. After meeting in person and talking through their strategies, Vazquez and Parent realized they were stronger as a team than

Founded 2016


as competitors. In October of 2016, Next Level was formed. Next Level focuses on transparent reporting and analytics. The agency doesn’t use confusing marketing lingo, which allows the business owner to have a clear and collaborative relationship with the agency. The business owner is the pioneer in the digital space and the team at Next Level is mission control, managing the brand and business growth from the ground. If you’re a business owner looking to launch a data-driven digital marketing strategy for your business, reach out to the Next Level team today to schedule your consultation.

255 East Drive, STE L Melbourne, FL 32904



President and CEO of the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce [ By Jack Roth, Writer ] 38: SPACE C OAST B U S I N E SS




ichael Ayers has an impressive professional background, having served as chief of staff for three Florida state agencies and as director of government relations with Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Orlando. Today, as president and CEO of the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce, he is charged with developing and promoting the business interests of the city’s small business owners. Ayers has embraced his current role by working closely with both Chamber members and the Melbourne City Council to enhance economic growth in the region. Ayers recently spoke with Space Coast Business about his current role and goals for the region.

What inspired you to take the professional path you have chosen? I grew up in a small farm town in Illinois with a population of 1,500. My family was very engaged in local politics. My father was the chair of the local county party and ran for State House in Illinois, and my uncle was the mayor of the town and is currently the party chair. From a young age, I have vivid memories of meeting with politicians at all levels and working on political campaigns both for family members and friends. Politics was always a discussion point around the dinner table, and all that experience eventually led me to Washington, D.C. for stints with the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform and with the Office of U.S. Congressman Robin Hayes. I saw an opportunity to be a leader and make a positive impact in people’s lives by working directly on legislative policy.

How has your past experience helped you in your current role? It has allowed me a wide range of professional opportunities, from holding a senior leadership role in multi-billion dollar state agencies, to leading the legislative and policy agenda for a multi-million dollar non-profit research institute based in Orlando. These experiences gave me the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of individuals on a daily basis and understand the need to work together and compromise if we’re to accomplish any substantive goals. I bring that collaborative approach and mind set to my current role, in which I cultivate relationships with a diverse range of member businesses.

How would you define your role at the Melbourne Regional Chamber? My role calls for me to provide long-term strategic direction for the business community in the Space Coast. We have nearly 1,100 members, from sole proprietorships to large corporations and everything in between, along with non-profit and other organizations seeking to connect with the community. Our mission is to develop

and promote the business interests of our members through representation, advocacy education and support while contributing to the growth and prosperity of the business community. It’s my job to ensure all our efforts and initiatives align with that mission.

How important is building relationships with the local business community? Relationship building is the key to success for someone in my position. The Chamber is continually creating and cultivating relationships with community members. We’re a community builder that exists to unite disparate entities and factions and work for a common goal to improve the business climate and the overall economic health of the region.

How would you define the relationship between the Chamber and the City of Melbourne? The Chamber has a strong partnership with the City of Melbourne. The City has been a long-time trustee Chamber member, and the Mayor serves on our board of directors. We work closely with the city council and staff to support their economic development efforts and longterm strategic goals.

What is your greatest challenge? The greatest challenge is to define the relevance and value of the organization in today’s modern world. There are many outlets and avenues companies can pursue to market themselves, and we need to constantly evolve and evaluate our operation to ensure we’re providing the best possible value, experience and support for our members. What is your No. 1 goal for the Chamber? The Melbourne Regional Chamber, founded in 1925, th is celebrating its 95 anniversary next year. We’ve operated on a solid foundation and have a long ⊲ S EPTEMBER 2 019: 39

The thing I love most is the people I get to meet on a daily basis and knowing we have an opportunity every single day to positively impact the community. – Michael Ayers

and rich history supporting the business community. The No. 1 goal for the Chamber continues to be to help businesses grow and to create an environment in which business thrives and continues to make a positive impact in order to improve the overall economic health and well-being of the community.

What do you love most about your job? The thing I love most is the people I get to meet on a daily basis and knowing we have an opportunity every single day to positively impact the community.

What do you love the most about the Space Coast region? I love that the Space Coast has a robust and diverse economy but is small enough that there’s still a smalltown feel and a sense of community pride. Where else can you live, work and play in an environment close to the beach that is affordable and friendly, and also has a first-rate education system with plenty of activities to keep families engaged?

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

Contact the Chamber today for more information.

What would you say to high school students who may be interested in getting involved in community or regional economic development? If you enjoy getting to work with a variety of businesses and community leaders, there’s no better place to work than a chamber or economic development organization. We have an exciting opportunity to positively impact the community in the long-term by advocating for pro-growth polices, while also helping business owners connect with each other and grow their businesses. 40: SPAC E C OAST BU SI N E S S



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