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We are privileged to be in a community where dedicated businesses and individuals strive each day to make Lakewood Ranch a better place to live and work. As an organization with high ethics and values, we look to associate ourselves with those who have the same beliefs.

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WELCOME TO the second sandies awards The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance continues to bring vision, voice and visibility in support of our members and the community of Lakewood Ranch. Last year’s inaugural Sandies Corporate Awards Dinner was an amazing event, and we are honored to partner with The Observer Group to host our second annual Sandies Awards. Named for the area’s signature sandhill crane, the Sandies awards recognize those organizations and individuals who represent the best of Lakewood Ranch. On behalf of The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, I would like to congratulate all of this year’s nominees. It is an honor to be recognized by your customers, peers and the community for

your great work, outstanding service and leadership. Your success and contribution to the community make Lakewood Ranch an even better place to live, work and play. I would also like to congratulate this year’s finalists. It is truly an honor to be held in such high regard and your dedication and determination to be the best is inspiring, and we thank you. Everyone is excited for this year’s Sandies Awards, and we are all anxiously awaiting the announcement of this year’s winners! I am proud to be a member of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, and I want to thank all our members, partners and supporters — YOU make our organization and community great! — Brian Volner, Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance president

ABOUT THE SANDIES A partnership between the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance and The Observer Group Inc., the Sandies awards seek to recognize outstanding businesses and citizens within the Lakewood Ranch community in four categories.

Business of the Year Award

Award recognizes a business that has an exemplary reputation with its customers, employees and the community. The business displays consistent sales growth and profitability, delivers superior products or services and makes exceptional contributions to the betterment of Lakewood Ranch.

Lakewood Ranch Citizen of the Year Award

Award honors a resident of Lakewood Ranch for his or her individual accomplishments and special contributions to the growth, enrichment and enhancement of the community. Primary consideration is exemplary service to the local/county community in single or multiple initiatives over multiple years, and service is beyond what is recognized in his or her job description.

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Award recognizes one individual for best demonstrating the characteristics of entrepreneurs and the spirit of entrepreneurism. Individual must be an owner, partner or top executive of the business; must demonstrate leadership in his or her company; and must demonstrate integrity, a commitment to excellence and a proven record of success.

Corporate Philanthropy Award


Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 The Polo Grill and Bar’s Fête Ballroom 10670 Boardwalk Loop Lakewood Ranch Main Street

PROGRAM 5 to 6 p.m.: Cocktails 6 p.m.: Seating and Introductions Brian Volner, Chairman of the Board, Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance 6:15 p.m.: Dinner and Awards Presentations Matt Walsh, president and CEO, Observer Media Group

12 3 4

Entrepreneurial Spirit Paul Hoffman, SouthTech Bob Kirscher, The Broken Egg Andy Toller, Waste Pro

Corporate Philanthropy Grapevine Communications Mauldin & Jenkins MGA Insurance Group

Business of the Year Blue Skye Lending Lakewood Ranch Medical Center Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc. Citizen of the Year Bob Delaney Allan Shaivitz Brittany Wenger 8 p.m.: Closing remarks After-party to follow sponsored by Waste Pro

Award recognizes an organization or business that demonstrates outstanding commitment through financial and volunteer support, encouraging others to take leadership roles in philanthropy and volunteer service.

SANDIES 2012 3

Business of the year

Blue skye lending


eslie Swart and Marci Walker started as friends and neighbors. Now, they are business partners. The women, owners of Blue Skye Lending, have worked hard to create a positive environment for their employees, while also building a company that meets the standards they’ve held close to heart. Swart and Walker say they are firm believers in the idea that, if your people are happy, they’ll be more productive. “We really started our company because we felt there was a void in the marketplace for the kind of company we wanted to work at,” Swart says. Walker pipes in: “We wanted a company that was about the employees and the clients, not the bottom line.” Walker and Swart, along with two former business partners, started the company in 2006. With smart growth and hiring practices, Blue Skye now has increased from $301,945 annual revenues in 2009 to $909,965 in 2011. This year, it expects to generate $1.4 million. “Being one of the last brokers standing has caused us to have more visibility out

there,” Swart says. “We have a great reputation on the street, too.” Plus, Walker adds, customers are frustrated with service from big banks, and even other brokerage companies. When you combine that with low interest rates for prospective homebuyers, a recipe for growth forms. As a broker, Blue Skye is a licensed lender, offering loans and refinancing to clients. But, the company is set up to have wholesale relationships with several lenders and banks so it can offer its prospective customers the best rates possible, as well as many lending options as possible. Additionally, the women say they have been proactive in setting systems in place to increase communication and accountability. Blue Skye also has hired wisely, bringing to its team former brokers who want to produce more than they want to manage, Walker says. This year, too, the team at Gulf Atlantic Mortgage joined Blue Skye’s fold, allowing for Blue Skye to open a branch office in Sarasota. It hired three more employees in October, as well.

“We’re getting our momentum going,” Swart says. Swart and Walker, who have worked together for 10 years, still enjoy one another’s company. The women, who bought out their former business partners in a deal that went live Jan. 1, are intent on keeping the momentum of the last year going strong. “We’re going to continue to get our name and reputation out there,” Walker says. — Pam Eubanks

The Out-of-Door Academy congratulates Brittany Wenger, Class of 2013, for winning the 2012 Google International Science Fair. Her artificial intelligence programming project detects breast cancer at an accuracy rate of 99.1%. Ranked among the nation’s top 1% of public and private schools, The Out-of-Door Academy develops each student’s ability to meet life’s challenges with a unique balance of rigorous academics, athletics, arts, and character development. Discover The Out-of-Door Academy. Open a world of opportunity for your child. Learn more about Brittany and The Out-of-Door Academy by visiting

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Business of the year



hether he admits it, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center CEO Jim Wilson knows it’s been a big year for his facility. The medical center has not only brought more specialty physicians into its fold during the last year, but it has also expanded services. Tidewell Hospice opened its new six-bed Tidewell Care Center at the hospital in June. In September, the center became the only hospital in Manatee County to be named one of the nation’s Top Performers on Key Quality Measures by The Joint Commission, a leading accreditor of national healthcare organizations. And, in October, it became the first and only hospital in the Sarasota/ Bradenton area to offer MAKOplasty total hip replace-

ment surgery and partial knee resurfacing, as well. Sheridan Healthcorp, a group that provides professional physician services in emergency rooms, assumed operations of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center’s emergency room Oct. 29, in an effort to improve customer service and quality of care. With the change came the full-time staffing of pediatric physicians in the emergency room. A pediatric unit, which is slated to open before the year’s end, will provide a continuum of service for the families of children treated in the center’s emergency room, while also allowing providing more access of patients to local pediatricians. Competing for the Sandies’ Business of the Year award for the second year running, Wilson notes this year’s nomi-

nation is especially meaningful. “It highlights (what we’ve done) to the community, of our efforts of all of our staff every day,” Wilson says. A member of the Manatee Healthcare System and a subsidiary of University Health Services, Lakewood Ranch Medical was founded in 2004 and now has roughly 370 fulltime employees, a medical staff of more than 300 physicians and allied health-care professionals and 120 licensed beds. Revenues have grown from $53 million in 2008 to an estimated $72 million for 2012. The

center averages about $15 million in bad debt/charity contributions annually, as well. Wilson says the hospital has been trying to grow its reputation for quality care, not only in the East County, but also in the larger Sarasota and Manatee County communities. Additionally, Wilson says, the hospital remains committed to being a visible part of the community, hosting and participating in community events throughout the year. “We’re in Lakewood Ranch for the long haul,” he says. — Pam Eubanks

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SANDIES 2012 5

Business of the year



igger isn’t always better. The mantra rings especially true for David Sessions, president of Willis A. Smith Construction, and his business partner, Willis Smith Vice President John LaCivita. When the construction industry was booming in 2004, Sessions and LaCivita held tight, turning away more business than they accepted. “That turned out, in hindsight, to be a very good decision,” says Sessions, noting he tries to make few decisions that are short-term in nature. “I don’t necessarily want to grow for the sake of growing,” he adds. “We want to focus on doing our job and doing it well. We want to keep our employees happy and fulfilled. We have a vision for the direction we’d like to go.” The commercial contractor,

which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, has maintained annual revenues hovering between $50 million and $60 million since 2000, except in 2011, when figures dropped to about $43.3 million. With plenty of idea-bouncing, good-natured debates and research on long-term construction trends completed and still under way, Willis Smith had begun to see forward momentum again by the end of last year. Four years ago when the construction industry fell, Willis A. Smith turned to a fundamentally simple strategy that still carries mostly true today. “We no longer had any revenue goals,” Session says. “We focused on people goals. Our goal was to find a way to keep everyone here (employed).” Sessions and LaCivita made

investments on modeling software and other capitalimprovement expenditures that would have long-term benefits. Employees who could not be fully utilized in their normal capacities during the downturn learned the new programs, trained fellow employees on them and used the time to work on miscellaneous improvement projects that had been on hold. The company, known primarily for its work building educational facilities, such as Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s School of Dentistry as well as public-

sector work, began to explore alternative business options. The company also encourages employees to volunteer and allows them to do so on company time. The attribute earned Willis Smith a Sandies’ finalist nomination for Corporate Philanthropy in 2011, as well. “We take pride in everything we do,” Sessions says, noting he still feels good every time he drives by Harvest United Methodist Church, for which Willis Smith completed a building expansion. “For us to have a little part of their growth (is rewarding).” — Pam Eubanks

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BOB DELANEY S tudents at Bayshore Elementary follow Bob Delaney through the postcards he writes them. Delaney is a former New Jersey state trooper who worked undercover to help convict the Genovese crime family. He is also a retired NBA referee who shares his mob stories with Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant. An author and leader who travels to a different Army base every other week— including Afghanistan and Iraq — educating troops about post-traumatic stress, Delaney brings his experiences back home, to the Sarasota-Bradenton area. Seven years ago, Delaney and his wife, Billie, created a leadership academy at Bayshore Elementary. The fifth-graders take what they learn from listening to Delany’s stories and volunteer at Southeastern Guide Dogs, or wear robes and sit atop a raised bench with Judge Henderson, smacking a gavel. “We wanted to work with a school where there is a level of hope there,” Delaney said. “I want to give them leadership skills for middle school and high school and show them there’s a larger world outside

Bradenton. We learn from each other.” Through his handwritten postcards and in-person shared stories, the students follow Delaney across the world. They follow him to New Jersey in the 1970s, when Delaney battled paranoia and anger, looking over his shoulder and locking doors to evade imaginary wise guys, after he brought down the mafia. They follow him to Open Mic night after the 9/11 10th anniversary Ride to Recovery Challenge, where Delaney biked with 250 wounded warriors, 100 firefighters and cops, from ground zero to the Pentagon. They follow him in 2009 to Camp Marez in Mosul, Iraq, as Delaney sleeps at 4:30 a.m. in a self-contained housing unit next to members of the 25th Infantry Division. Delaney is here to share tales of posttraumatic stress, to convince troops to be selfish about their health, so they can continue to help others. The therapy ends when a bomb explodes far away. Delaney runs out the door onto the gravel street before a soldier says, “We are OK. We can’t be scared. We do our best soldiering when we’re not afraid of dying.”

“Whatever is personal is universal,” Delaney said. “We think we’re isolated, but we are all going through something.” They follow him to back to New Jersey, this time to a modest home in Paterson. “My grandfather said, ‘It’s easy to be there during good times, but harder to be there for someone during tough times,’” Delaney said. “You have to be there for the fellow man.” It’s a thought Delaney carries with him even on a small scale locally. — Josh Siegel

it feels good to be s u r r o u n d e d b y s u c h g r e at c o m pa n y . Congratulations to all our fellow 2012 “SandieS” award FinaliStS.

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SANDIES 2012 7


Allan Shaivitz I

eowners association. He volunteers at his temple. Shaivitz joined the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance in its second year of existence. When he first arrived, it had 150 members. Now it boasts 450. Shaivitz’s footprint in Lakewood Ranch started with a three-day project for a friend. Some friends had just bought a house in the University Park Country Club and they needed Shaivitz to help design the home. When he completed the work, Shaivtiz would fly back to Baltimore. That idea changed when Shaivitz’s wife, a retired potter and water colorist who joined her husband on the trip, intervened. “My wife said, ‘Let’s just move here now and not wait until we’re in our walkers,’” Shaivitz said. “We fell in love with it.” Before Shaivitz found Lakewood Ranch, he hired students from Ringling College of Art and Design to work for him in Baltimore. “That didn’t mean anything to me then,” Shaivitz said. “Who knew I would later be there with them (in the Sarasota area) working right in the middle of it.”

Shaivitz immerses himself in the beauty of the Lakewood Ranch design culture, a region known for its sustainable building practices, he says. A Baltimore Orioles fan, Shaivitz helped bring a renovated Ed Smith stadium to Sarasota. “It’s really beautiful what they’ve done there, and I tell them that,” Shaivitz said. “It’s another example of the Sarasota area being a place where businesses want to be.” — Josh Siegel


nterior designer A llan Shaivitz believes in a customer-centered working style. “I never have disagreements,” Shaivitz said. “I did a job for a podiatrist once. He originally told me wanted a hunter greenand-camel scheme in his office. He later told me he doesn’t like color and wanted his walls white and his furniture brown. I said, ‘That’s boring.’ He finally let me paint the wall beige.” Shaivitz served on Maryland’s interior design board for 12 years, a governorappointed position. Nearly 10 years ago, after spending his entire life in Baltimore writing and passing interior designing legislation, and scheming colors, tile and furniture for orthodontists, dental surgeons and businesses, Shaivitz began promoting Lakewood Ranch as a place to do business. A member of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, Shaivitz stays active in the business and local community. He serves on committees for the Alliance, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, the American Society of Interior Designers, the International Interior Design Association and on multiple boards for his hom-

8 SANDIES 2012


Brittany Wenger B rittany Wenger, a National Honors Society high school senior who could be headed to Harvard, or possibly Stanford or Duke, might need to rethink her definition of normal. “I’m basically just your normal teenager,” said Wenger, 18, a midfielder on the varsity soccer team at The Out-of-Door Academy. “I like to hang out with my friends and go to the beach.” She also likes to play spades with her 14-year-old brother, spend time with her parents and, as founder of her high school’s science club, introduce her friends to new ideas. The Lakewood Ranch resident also volunteers at a camp for kids with disabilities. Then, there’s this — something significantly far from normal: Wenger created an artificial neural network, basically a computer brain that aids doctors in diagnosing breast cancer. A neural network such as Wenger’s, one that’s fed data on a scientific basis, can learn, improve and even analyze complex equations. Moreover, Wenger’s inventive computer program, won the grand prize at the Google Science Fair this summer.

“It was so exciting,” said Wenger, of the day she found out she won, which she calls “a surreal blur.” “I just sat there bug-eyed.” The program, along with Wenger’s commitment to helping others, is one of the reasons she was named a finalist for the Sandies’ Citizen of the Year award. “A good citizen is altruistic,” Wenger wrote on her application, “and looks to improve society for everyone’s benefit, not just his or her own.” Wenger’s project is called the Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer. The program allows doctors to use fine-needle aspirates to determine whether a breast-cancer tumor is malignant or benign. It has a 99.1% rate of diagnosing malignancy correctly, said Wenger. One of the complicated parts of Wenger’s discovery was how to use the artificial neural network she built to read and analyze the data. First, she found public data on fine-needle aspirate tests of breast-cancer patients. Next, she built several neural networks. Then she ran thousands of tests. The urge to help a cousin diagnosed with breast cancer was initially why Wenger put her heart, and brain, into the project.

Photo by Mark Wemple

“I’ve always been interested in the medical field,” said Wenger, “but not specifically breast cancer until I saw the impact it had on my family.” The next phase of Wenger’s project is to partner with hospitals. After that, Wenger is open to business possibilities, in marketing the program and techniques. Her ultimate goal is to be a pediatric oncologist. Said Wenger: “I want to be on the team that cures cancer.” But first, of course, there is high school. — Mark Gordon

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entrepreneurial spirit

paul hoffman


n 2007, ignoring the doom of the recession, Paul Hoffman and his small team left a cushy building on Main Street in Sarasota for a cramped office on Fruitville Road. Hoffman and SouthTech, an IT management company, left the stability of its partner, the Kerkering Barberio Group, to establish a local presence independently. Saddled with debt, SouthTech didn’t hire a salesperson until 2010. Now, with a human-centered approach, the 22-employee business has earned millions of dollars in revenues and numerous accolades. A finalist for the Sarasota Chamber Small Business of the year in 2012, SouthTech was selected as one of Tampa Bay’s Best Places to Work by the Tampa Bay Business Journal in 2011. All eight of the employees

SOUTHTECH who fled with Hoffman, remain with him. Hoffman was motivated to reach entrepreneurial success because he scrapped his way through college. With a double major in accounting and computer science at Kent State University, Hoffman ran out of money before he could finish the latter degree. A tall and lanky track-and-field runner in high school, Hoffman learned to aim past status quo when his coach, Bing Newton, preached hard work and faith. Fresh out of college, Hoffman worked for Arthur Andersen Technology Solutions. The young tax adviser watched how the managers ran the business, absorbing how they operated under a sharp, specific focus. He grew bored of balancing

financial statements. “I started to get the bug to build things,” Hoffman says. “I wanted to do more than tax advising and accounting. I started (building businesses) and thought, ‘Well, this is fun.’” During his 10 years at Arthur Andersen and through stops thereafter, Hoffman realized tech didn’t matter much in starting an IT company. People mattered. And finding and retaining productive, good people means giving them freedom and keeping them happy. A member of the Sarasota and Manatee Chamber of

Commerce and the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, SouthTech hires only local employees. “It’s a really tight-knit community here and there’s a lot of untouched talent,” Hoffman says. At 53 years old, Hoffman’s wife says he’ll never retire. Hoffman wants SouthTech to grow conservatively — 20% to 40% — but not if it means veering from its mission. “I don’t want to grow, to grow,” Hoffman says. “If our service drops, we have to stop everything.” — Josh Siegel

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entrepreneurial spirit

Bob Kirscher


ob Kirscher opened his first restaurant with no operating budget. Decades later, Kirscher is a veteran of the restaurant industry and the managing partner of The Broken Egg restaurant — a local eatery that has garnered a reputation for its breakfast and lunch offerings. Its Lakewood Ranch location — one of three in the area — also has become a home office, of sorts, for ESPN commentator and Hall-of-Famer Dick Vitale. Despite numerous interruptions and challenges — such as a road closure dropping business on the Broken Egg’s Siesta Key location by 80% and a hurricane-induced delay and price increase for construction of the Lakewood Ranch location — Kirscher has persevered, a fact that has landed him on this year’s finalist list for the Entrepreneurial Spirit award. “In our lives, we always have

The Broken Egg

challenges,” Kirscher says. “It’s so important to face those challenges.” Kirscher’s venture into the food industry started with a summer job to help pay for college. He started as a cook, but within a month had earned the title of kitchen manager. His days in military school had kept Kirscher out of trouble, building in him self-confidence, respect and a discipline, he says. And after 13 years as a restaurant manager, Kirscher had an opportunity to open his first restaurant. “It was breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an emphasis on steak and seafood,” Kirscher says. “I leased (the location) for seven years.” “It can be challenging,” he adds of opening an eatery. “A restaurateur has to be his own

menu developer and bookkeeper, in addition to manager. Kirscher then moved to Wyoming to open a restaurant, bar and grill and banquet-hall facility at a resort. He ran that operation for seven years, as well, until deciding to head toward warmer weather. “I was looking to go back to work at a corporation,” Kirscher says. But, through a series of events, he and a partner purchased The Broken Egg on Siesta Key. “Twenty percent to 25% of the menu is from the origi-

nal,” Kirscher says. As Kirscher talks, he pauses to say hello to patrons passing by, and add a personal touch to their visit. “I stress with all my staff to create relationships with the guests,” Kirscher says. “It brings us from having a one-time guest to (having the coming back. We have guests who eat here daily.” Fostering that familial atmosphere, he says, is a top priority and goes hand-in-hand with his desire to constantly improve his business model. — Pam Eubanks


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entrepreneurial spirit

Andy Toller W aste Pro, a leading solid-waste disposal company in east Manatee County, is all about trash collection — but sometimes the company pulls a reverse, and gives stuff away. Like the Franklin Award. That’s when executives walk around the office and go into the field to dispense $100 bills for notable accomplishments. Andy Toller, district manager for the company’s ManateeSarasota-Pinellas-Hillsborough region, reasons the payouts are worthwhile, because “every human being needs a pat on the back.” The company also recognizes long-term excellence. Last Christmas, for instance, Toller’s region presented $10,000 bonus awards to four separate drivers who had threeyear records of flawless performance. That kind of employee appreciation is a key reason

Waste Pro

why Toller is a finalist for the Sandies’ Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. “We ask our people to go above and beyond,” said Toller. And the “whatever it takes” attitude spreads from the employees in the field up through top executives. Toller took the Waste Pro job in May 2008. He moved from the Orlando area with his wife, six months pregnant at the time, and their 2-year-old son. Toller had until Oct. 1 — his wife’s due date — to hire 80 employees, prepare routes and become familiar with the community. It was Toller’s aboveand-beyond moment. “Just about every person that I came in contact with thought I would fail,” Toller said last year, when he was also a finalist for the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. “I kept my head up,

worked as hard as possible, surrounded myself with the best people and never let the negative comments affect me.” Toller says his management style is situational leadership, where flexibility is integral. Toller’s region is up 787% over five years, from $2.5 million in the last three months of 2008 to $11.75 million this year. The spirit that led to sales growth has translated to community involvement. Under Toller’s direction, the company has assisted with at least a dozen groups and functions over the last year. The list includes Habitat for

Humanity; Homes for Troops; Big Cat Habitat; All Faiths Food Bank; the Red Cross; and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The company is involved with several pro-business groups, too, including five local chambers of commerce; the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange; and the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance. “Waste Pro is involved in many events throughout our area,” Toller wrote in his application, “and never once do I need to ask for people to participate. They all just jump in.” — Mark Gordon

Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance Join and get 14 months for the price of 12. New memberships between now and the end of the year will be paid all the way through December 31st, 2013


The Standard membership levels are for businesses located within Lakewood Ranch and are based on number of employees at a designated location. This membership is non-transferable and the business holds the membership not the individual. 10 group members maybe assigned to this level membership from your company. Standard 1 (1 to 25 employees) = $125 Standard 2 (25 plus employees) = $150


The Associate membership levels are for businesses located outside of Lakewood Ranch and are based on number of employees at a designated location. This membership is non-transferable and the business holds the membership not the individual. 10 group members maybe assigned to this level membership from your company. Associate 1 (1 to 25 employees) = $200 Associate 2 (25 plus employees) = $300


The Individual membership levels are for independents such as real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, or insurance brokers who are considered independent contractors within their organization. This membership is transferable and the individual holds the membership not the business. No Group members are available with this level. Independent 1 (business address located within Lakewood Ranch) = $125 Independent 2 (business address located outside of Lakewood Ranch) = $150

Memberships run on an annual basis from January to December. If you would like to join today please got to our website at and click on “become a member”

12 SANDIES 2012

corporate philanthropy

Mauldin & Jenkins


erry Marlar embraces public service because Charlie Jenkins did. Jenkins, the 90-plus-yearold founder of Mauldin & Jenkins, an accounting firm with branches in Bradenton, Atlanta, and suburban Georgia, is a decorated paratrooper who served in World War II. Jenkins and his partners talk about the public-service history of Mauldin & Jenkins, and CPA Associates, an accounting firm around since the 1920s. The two merged a few years ago. Marlar, the partner in charge of Mauldin and Jenkins’ Bradenton office, beams when he talks about the story-filled retreats. “Who we are in our Bradenton office is defined by our owners,” Marlar says. “All of our partners have common characteristics. They are good people, good managers and they do what’s right. ”

To Marlar, public service requires looking behind balance sheets and tax law, pursuing a well-rounded life. It’s a thought carried forward from generations of Mauldin & Jenkins founders. Eleven Mauldin & Jenkins partners have been presidents of the Florida Institute of CPAs local chapter. Three partners in the firm volunteered on Florida Bar committees. Three have worked as unpaid members of the Circuit 12 Disciplinary B Committee. This year, the company has supported more than 30 local entities, including the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida, Manasota ARC, the Manatee Community Foundation and the Manatee River Fair Association. More than 15 employees from the Bradenton office hold an officer position on boards for nonprofits, and the company itself has con-

tributed thousands of dollars to sponsor local events and fundraise for groups, like Meals on Wheels. “These aren’t original thoughts. Giving dollars isn’t enough, though. You need to volunteer, Marlar says” After graduating from the University of Alabama and working for an oil company nearby, Marlar escaped a depression in his hometown of Huntsville. Marlar eventually found work in the Midwest and Toronto before moving to Florida, where he married, had children and made a home.

Marlar, who says he spends a third of his day doing public service, tries to hire local people and assists with county government and economic development committees in a push to diversify and strengthen the area work force. Above all, Marlar serves the Sarasota, Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch communities outside the office because it’s in his job description. He manages with integrity because the public depends on accountants for accurate information to make important decisions, he says. — Josh Siegel

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SANDIES 2012 13

corporate philanthropy

Grapevine Communications


efore he began his philanthropic journey, John Fain heard a story of a Bradenton woman who made peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for needy children. At the Florida Winefest & Auction in 2002, the woman told a story of hungry children roaming in backyards while their parents went to work. The children knocked on the woman’s door, and, with their parent’s permission, she made the children sandwiches, only feeding them after they finished their homework. For her outreach, the woman received $5,000 from the Winefest, an event for which Fain’s company, Grapevine, did marketing work. Fain and his wife, Angela MassaroFain, owners and partners of Grapevine Communications, a full-service advertising, marketing and public relations firm, saw a need in an unfamiliar market. “That compelling story helped us make a choice,” says Fain, who was new to the area at the time. “To call Sarasota home, we needed to be a part of the community.”

Now, Grapevine and its 11 employees, donate more than $100,000 annually in services to local non-profit organizations, for a total contribution exceeding $1.32 million since the company started in 2002. Involvement with nonprofits ranges from event sponsorships to pro-bono services. Massaro-Fain, a graduate of the New York School of Visual Arts, started Grapevine as an advertising agency in Montreal. Fain, who formerly worked for Scott Paper Co. and headed marketing for Lantech in Louisville, Ky., among other jobs, used his management skills to partner with his wife to turn Grapevine into a one-stop communications service. In 2009, Grapevine responded to a client whose husband had ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. The woman quit work to care for her wheelchair-bound husband. Inspired, Fain and his wife arranged for a contractor, also a Grapevine client, to construct a hoist and track that allowed the sick husband to wheel from the bed to the shower. Grapevine established the first Walk to Defeat ALS for Sarasota and Manatee

counties. More than 240 people walked through Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park and raised $68,802. Fain, himself, had needed help while growing up in poverty in Louisville. “I was the one who needed help sometimes,” Fain says. “I had a reasonably good life. There was food on the table. But we didn’t have the ability to help others.” Fain later paid his way through University of Louisville, got married, had children, and later divorced, before meeting Angela Massaro-Fain. The Fains’ youngest child, MariaFrancesca Massaro, a 16-year-old at The Out-of-Door Academy, extends her parents’ work volunteering at the humane society on Saturday mornings. — Josh Siegel

corporate philanthropy

mga insurance group


ou Marinaccio listened to the flowing conversation and business advice, as he swept hair off the floor of his father’s barbershop. The clientele at Louie’s Barbershop was much older and wiser than the 10-year-old Marinaccio. “I saw all that information and heard the stories and it shaped my appreciation for success and sharing,” Marinaccio says. “You inherently pick it up.” Marinaccio and his wife, Ann Marie, own MGA Insurance Group, a nationwide insurance broker, that sprouted in Chicago nearly 30 years ago before the couple moved it to Lakewood Ranch in 1999. In 2005, Marinaccio, a son of Italian immigrants and the first in his family to attend college, started the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance in an effort to foster entrepreneurial development. The alliance has grown from 11 members to more than 400 under Marinaccio’s watch. MGA also gives to “innocents,” — children, animals, or small businesses that cannot care for themselves or who have no say in their situation.

14 SANDIES 2012

“We seek out charities that provide value to the community,” Marinaccio says. “We ask where the dollars go and make sure they don’t leave the community.” Contributions have been made to the Boys & Girls Club, The First Tee Sarasota/ Manatee and more. Marinaccio likes to see results. When he drives by the colorful dog cottages on Lorraine Road, the property of Honor Sanctuary Animal Rescue, Marinaccio remembers the charity MGA gave to get them there. It brings back memories. Before the results, Marinaccio felt nearly as helpless as the people he helps. A son to a bookkeeper and a barber, Marinaccio shared a bedroom and bunk bed with two younger brothers in the family’s modest Cape Cod home. “We were not well off,” Marinaccio says. “That is how I learned how to share. I made a commitment to myself as a child that if I could give back I would. (My childhood) is why I try not to be overly showy.” After setting a new family standard at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, where he earned a finance

degree, Marinaccio served as division general manager at General Electric near his home, before being transferred to Chicago. Expired leases at its Chicago offices and the Google search brought MGA to the second floor of the Bank of America on Town Center Parkway, in Lakewood Ranch. MGA later moved to its own office next door, and opened other locations in Sarasota and Bradenton. Now, Lakewood Ranch and its people have the same camaraderie and freeflowing conversation as the elders at the bustling, sweeping barbershop from Lou Marinaccio’s past. “There is a lot of energy here a unity of purpose,” says Lou Marinaccio, an Alliance board member. “Lakewood Ranch has become a place to meet and share.” — Josh Siegel


SANDIES 2012 15

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