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New college program to offer graduating seniors free tuition

New college program to offer graduating seniors free tuition

High School students celebrate

High School students across the Treasure Coast join in on celebrating the IRSC Promise Program.


In response to a pandemic that has disrupted lives and derailed plans for so many in the community, Indian River State College recently revealed its most significant investment ever in eliminating barriers to higher education.

At a special assembly for Fort Pierce Central High School seniors, the college launched the IRSC Promise Program — announcing tuition-free associate degrees for qualifying 2022 high school graduates from public and public charter schools in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.

IRSC president, Dr. Timothy Moore

IRSC president, Dr. Timothy Moore

“IRSC exists to change the lives of those we are here to serve,” IRSC president, Dr. Timothy Moore, announced. “No matter your background, household income or grade point average, if you are graduating from a public or public charter high school in our service district this spring, you can earn an A.A., A.S. or A.A.S. from IRSC tuition-free. We are not going to let anyone fall through the cracks.”

Sponsored by the IRSC Foundation, the IRSC Promise Program comes at a critical time. One million fewer students are enrolled in higher education today than two years ago. Consumer prices are 7.5% above January 2021 and rising. For many students and families, the cost of college can feel out of reach.

“The cost of tuition should never prevent anyone from pursuing their personal and academic goals,” said Michael Hageloh, interim vice president for Institutional Advancement. “The IRSC Promise Program, backed by the strength of the IRSC Foundation and led by the vision of the college’s district board of trustees, will help countless individuals stay the course and earn the education they require to build the futures they deserve. It is the ultimate investment in our community.”

Seventy-six percent of IRSC students remain in their community after graduation, contributing to the local economy as workforce members and consumers.

IRSC Promise Program Pep Rally

Fort Pierce Central High School Cobras engage students at IRSC Promise Program Pep Rally. INDIAN RIVER STATE COLLEGE

The IRSC Promise Program aims to make college education broadly accessible. Students do not need to demonstrate financial need and there is no GPA requirement for acceptance to the program.

Once in the program, students must maintain full-time enrollment status during fall, spring and summer terms and maintain satisfactory academic progress as they pursue an Associate in Arts, Associate in Science or Applied Associate in Science Degree.

To take advantage of the program, eligible high school seniors must commit to IRSC by taking the Promise Pledge [available at] by May 15.

Go to or send an email to [email protected] for more program details and a list of upcoming information sessions.

See the original article in the print publication

Treasure Coast Business is a news service and magazine published in print, via e-newsletter and online at by Indian River Media Group. For more information or to report news email [email protected]

Apr. 20, 2022|

Underserved communities banking on businesses to help wipe out hunger

Underserved communities banking on businesses to help wipe out hunger

Tammy Matthew — Market Executive, Bank of America Treasure Coast

Tammy Matthew has worked in the financial services industry for more than 25 years. In her role as the market executive for Bank of America, she leads the market’s business, civic and philanthropic activities and oversees the bank’s business engagement and growth on the Treasure Coast.

More than 12% of Florida residents are facing food insecurity, according to Feeding America. This means the chances are high that you know someone suffering from food scarcity, even if you don’t realize it. More than 2.5 million Floridians live in households without consistent access to food and more than 700,000 are children.

Taking a closer look at the Treasure Coast, Indian River and St. Lucie counties share even higher rates of insecurity than the state average and the prevalence among children is significantly greater at more than 22%.

Hunger is complex and exacerbates other issues faced by underserved communities. Estimates show that hunger results in more than $4 billion of additional annual healthcare costs for Florida, and more than $126 million on the Treasure Coast, through increased illness and decreased academic achievement.

Food insecurity is a compounding issue, creating ripple effects that weaken the labor force and limit the academic potential of children. Yet, as the pandemic continues, hunger relief organizations in the Treasure Coast and across the country are facing ongoing challenges that have made it increasingly difficult to address this issue, such as increased demand for their services and rising food prices.

As members of the Treasure Coast community, it’s important that local business leaders are aware of vital organizations like the Treasure Coast Food Bank, that are lifelines to residents who may not know where their next meal is coming from.

Solutions exist to bridge the hunger gap, including community cohorts, school programs, and awareness campaigns to connect those in need to available resources, but programs like these need financial support — estimates indicate more than $1.4 billion more per year is needed to adequately meet food needs in Florida.

While the magnitude of need and funding requirements may seem daunting, they are surmountable when people work together. Supporting health and wellness has always been part of Bank of America’s commitment to the communities it serves. Bank officials are happy to share that the Treasure Coast Food Bank has received $25,000 in honor of their employees who shared that they have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. Nationally, the bank has committed $10.6 million in donations to local food banks.

The impact of the donations is sizable, meaning that its booster donations will provide thousands of meals to Treasure Coast residents across the three counties Bank of America serves. The bank has been a longtime partner of the Treasure Coast Food Bank, donating more than $265,000 to the organization and participating in volunteer efforts, including warehouse sorting and packing as well as Better Money Habits presentations.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Bank of America has also provided support across the region to the hunger relief efforts of House of Hope, Sarah’s Kitchen of the Treasure Coast, and the Council on Aging of Martin County.

Furthermore, the bank donated 398,000 masks, 1,122 hand sanitizers, 202,000 pairs of gloves and other PPE equipment to help local nonprofits address critical issues affecting the community beyond food insecurity.

Today the financial institution applauds its employees who participated in its shared commitment to protect and serve their communities. It also encourages the Treasure Coast’s business community to find ways to support both employee and community wellness. We all win when we work together to create a better tomorrow for Florida today.

See the original article in the print publication

Treasure Coast Business is a news service and magazine published in print, via e-newsletter and online at by Indian River Media Group. For more information or to report news email [email protected]

Apr. 19, 2022|

Center’s guidance designs contract strategy for graphics company in Stuart

Center’s guidance designs contract strategy for graphics company in Stuart

GDI President Kimberly Amsalem talks new bids with PTAC Specialist Scotty Wilson

GDI President Kimberly Amsalem, left, talks new bids with PTAC Specialist Scotty Wilson. LINDA GONZALEZ


What began as a simple inquiry regarding attracting and acquiring government contracts has quickly grown into a high-value business model for Kimberly Amsalem and her company, Graphic Designs International.

Founded in 1994, Amsalem acquired the Stuart-based company in 2019. It specializes in creating and installing high-profile and dynamic fleet graphics for first responder vehicles, including police and sheriff, ambulances, aviation units, fire trucks and private security. Amsalem has since expanded the business nationally and become certified as a Women Owned Business and Women in Business Enterprise.

Katie Muldoon

Katie Muldoon serves the community and Indian River State College as the Marketing Specialist for the Florida SBDC at IRSC.

Under Amsalem’s leadership, GDI has become the premier emergency responder vehicle graphics company in the United States, dedicated to assisting police departments and local municipalities in creating effective, budget-friendly graphics for their fleets.

Originally seeking to expand the organization’s sales and national presence, Amsalem contacted the Florida SBDC at Indian River State College, specifically the center’s Procurement and Technical Assistance Center [PTAC] government contracting specialist, Scotty Wilson.

With assistance and guidance from Wilson, GDI has developed a national business strategy that includes the creation of a Bid Match account and profile. Bid Match is a high-value government contracting tool provided by America’s PTAC and the Florida SBDC at IRSC that pulls local, state and federal contracts together for client review and potential response.

fleet graphics for first responder vehicles

Since creating its profile, GDI has been awarded numerous contracts from first responder organizations from across the country resulting in business and revenue expansion.

Beyond winning bids, Wilson and Amsalem are working to acquire a second Women Owned Small Business Certification from the State of New York. Amsalem also is planning to hire a few more employees to enhance productivity and delivery times.

“I don’t know where I would be without Scotty; he has been my advocate. I feel like I have an assistant,” Amsalem said. “He is helping me to get in several different states and get on their approved vendor list.”

You can learn more about Graphic Designs International by visiting or calling 800.344.6853.

fleet graphics for first responder vehicles

Ready to grow your business? Contact your local center at [email protected] or call 336.6285.

About the FSBDC at IRSC
The Florida Small Business Development Center at Indian River State College is a part of the Florida SBDC Network, which provides tools, training and resources to help small businesses grow and succeed. Designated as the provider of small business assistance, the network has more than 40 offices from Pensacola to Key West. Since 1976, its partners have helped construct a statewide ecosystem to foster the spirit, support and success of thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators. It is funded in part by the Small Business Administration, the Defense Logistics Agency, the State of Florida and other private and public partners with the University of West Florida serving as its designated lead host institution. It is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs.

See the original article in the print publication

Treasure Coast Business is a news service and magazine published in print, via e-newsletter and online at by Indian River Media Group. For more information or to report news email [email protected]

Apr. 15, 2022|

Center provides multiple training programs for aspiring entrepreneurs, small business owners

Center provides multiple training programs for aspiring entrepreneurs, small business owners


The Florida Small Business Development Center, hosted at Indian River State College, recognizes the top priority for small business owners is to run the business. Dedicating time to attend business training and professional development education is an almost impossible task for small business owners.

However, significant benefits and opportunities can and do exist for those who participate in continuing business education. Regular participation in business training programs can provide critical and valuable information to owners seeking to grow and expand their businesses and revenues.

Katie Muldoon

Katie Muldoon serves the community and Indian River State College as the Administrative & Outreach Specialist for the Florida SBDC at IRSC.  

The FSBDC at IRSC provides high-value training programs throughout the year that focus on vital business issues including social media marketing and financial management. The center also offers Start-Smart, a class for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Attending business training programs is tough — but what’s not tough about owning a small business. The question is: What would you do to potentially grow revenues and earn more profit?

Here are some of FSBDC’s training opportunities:

This three-day program is designed for business owners, entrepreneurs, marketing students, managers, and others seeking to strengthen their digital marketing presence, effectiveness and strategy. The focus will be on creating a positive digital presence on social media and establishing a digital marketing strategy. Some of the subjects to be discussed include:

Leanna Haag

Leanna Haag, FSBDC digital media consultant.

• What a buyer’s persona is and how one can be created for a service or product
• Drafting a marketing plan
• Implementing your marketing plan on social media
• Defining your target market
• Tailoring your marketing message
• Creating a call to action

Conducting the class will be Leanna Haag, an FSBDC digital media consultant. Haag, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on marketing at the University of Central Florida, has acquired years of marketing experience working for corporations to develop and execute tactical marketing plans at the regional and national level.

Haag launched her digital media company, See Level Marketing, in 2009 to assist regional businesses in managing their online presence. She has worked with all types of businesses, including local governments, to improve their search engine ranking with website development and search engine optimization, internet advertising, email marketing, online directories and development of tactical internet marketing plans. She recently accepted the digital media consultant position to help local businesses begin the recovery process from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The financial management training program is the Profit Mastery course. This 16-hour course offers the participant high-level training to better understand and manage their business financials.

Partnering with multiple local lenders, the FSBDC at IRSC has scholarships to cover the $499 course cost. Business owners who attend are encouraged to include their bookkeepers, payroll execs, managers, and others who may benefit from strengthening their financial management skills.

Steve LeFever, founder and chairman of Profit, is a national leader in the development of practical financial programs and training for the independent business community. His dual role as a successful entrepreneur and as a commercial banker gives him a unique perspective on financial analysis, business management, and practical business decisions.

The programs are led by veteran business consultants possessing extensive knowledge of financial management. Consultants Frank Fink of Vero Beach, Michael Bernard of Port St. Lucie and Clifton Vaughn of Fort Pierce coordinate classes across the Treasure Coast with programs planned in every county throughout the remainder of the year.

Aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners are encouraged to participate in monthly Start Smart Orientation programs. This two-hour workshop provides a fundamental overview of what it takes to start a business in Florida. It is designed for potential entrepreneurs in the pre-venture or startup phase of establishing a new business. It is the first step in your journey toward reaching your business goals with the guidance and resources that are available through the FSBDC at IRSC.

To register contact your local FSBDC at IRSC at [email protected] or call 772.336.6285.

See the original article in the print publication

Treasure Coast Business is a news service and magazine published in print, via e-newsletter and online at by Indian River Media Group. For more information or to report news email [email protected]

Apr. 15, 2022|

Interruption of supply chain is painful for companies and consumers

Interruption of supply chain is painful for companies and consumers


If your small business is experiencing supply chain interruptions, you are not alone. Not a week goes by that I don’t hear about another small business experiencing supply chain issues.

Throughout the Treasure Coast, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with their clients’ demands. One in particular has been put on a wait list for more than15 months as it waits for a key component [truck chassis] for the equipment it manufactures.

Duane Reiff

Duane Reiff is president of Global Source International Inc., where he provides outsourced VP of sales consulting to small and medium companies. He also serves as a manufacturing specialist for the Florida SBDC at Indian River State College, where he helps with the Treasure Coast Manufacturers Association. Reiff is a successful international business leader with more than 20 years of experience in the manufacturing and service markets. He has traveled to more than 45 countries and understands the complex global marketplace. As an outsourced VP of sales, he implements highly effective sales strategies and executes sales plans to help companies achieve profitable, sustainable revenue growth.

These wait times are creating many problems including cash flow, productivity, long lead times, lower margins and loss of business.

According to a recent Federal Reserve survey of 1,104 CFOs across 14 sectors, small businesses have lots of company. Among large and small businesses, nearly 90% said they face extraordinary cost increases because of supply constraints with more than 60% expecting the trend to persist at least into the fourth quarter of next year.

Companies are dealing with higher prices by reducing profit margins, cutting costs, substituting or eliminating products, adding contingency clauses to contracts and turning down work, according to the survey by the Fed district banks of Richmond and Atlanta and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

They are also diversifying supply chains, attempting to increase inventories, switching to suppliers closer to the U.S. and moving products by air instead of by ship. Still, according to economists, those adjustments “will likely increase the cost of production over a longer period of time.”

Supply chain issues are weighing on sales, with 55% of the CFOs reporting lost or delayed sales equivalent to an average of about 5% of 2021 sales revenue, according to the survey. Smaller companies reported an average 7% reduction in sales revenue.

Seven out of 10 companies are struggling with supply constraints that are increasing costs, delaying production and shipping, and impairing efforts to meet demand, the survey found.

“After squeezing profit margins, the only place these pressures can go is into higher selling prices,” economists wrote.

So, what are small businesses doing about it?

Some are trying to wait it out. They are also looking beyond their usual channels to find relief. When companies are able to get supplies, they are likely paying more and they either absorb the added cost or pass on the cost to consumers. Some businesses have started adding supply chain surcharges to the bill.

“What has worked for the last 20 years, will not work for the next 10,” said Duane Reiff, president of Global Source International Inc. and a manufacturing specialist with the Florida SBDC at IRSC.

“Companies need to be innovative and look at other options through this global supply chain breakdown. Companies can look for other manufacturers in their geographical area to help in the production or supply of key components and they could possibly source another option for the manufacturing needs they require to fulfill customer orders.”

The good news: Price increases due to the supply chain are likely temporary. But how long is temporary?

“Many companies have not passed on all of their direct and indirect increased costs and are settling for a lower margin,” Reiff said. “Companies need to keep a close eye on their costs and pass on as much as possible to their clients to preserve their own margins. This will help in their cash flow situation.

“This supply chain breakdown will eventually be corrected, but the strong and innovative companies will flourish and come out on the other side with increased market share and profitability.”

See the original article in the print publication

Treasure Coast Business is a news service and magazine published in print, via e-newsletter and online at by Indian River Magazine Inc. For more information or to report news email [email protected]

Apr. 15, 2022|

TCMA Voice Spring 2022

See the original article in the print publication

Treasure Coast Business is a news service and magazine published in print, via e-newsletter and online at by Indian River Magazine Inc. For more information or to report news email [email protected]

Apr. 15, 2022|

Spreading its wings

Spreading its wings

Southern Eagle Distributing’s Fort Pierce warehouse

Southern Eagle Distributing’s Fort Pierce warehouse prominently displays the Anheuser-Busch logo, identifying it as the Budweiser-Busch beer headquarters. SOUTHERN EAGLE DISTRIBUTING PHOTOS

Southern Eagle’s purchase of Palm Beach beer distributor greatly increases its market share


Philip Busch

Philip Busch, a son of company founder Peter Busch, has taken over the helm at the family business. ANTHONY WESTBURY

Southern Eagle Distributing was founded in Fort Pierce in 1984, when Peter Busch signed a franchise agreement with brewing giant Anheuser-Busch to cover the Treasure Coast territory.

Starting with only 28 employees, Southern Eagle has grown exponentially since then. It has increased its market share of package beers by more than 73% and handles more than 50% of the draft beer market on the Treasure Coast, which includes Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.

A separate distributor serves Okeechobee County.

The company recently added 120 employees after acquiring Palm Beach County beer distributor Brown Distributing in December, bringing the number of its employees to more than 300. The vast majority of them operate out of the firm’s Glades Cut Off Road location in Fort Pierce.

The company, now run by Peter’s son, Philip, 39, still strongly emphasizes its family atmosphere and values. It does not operate like a big-city distributor, Philip and other top managers insist, and employees seem to appreciate this approach. Many have 10- or 15-year careers with the company.

“We should all try to do what is best for our community in which we live,” Philip wrote on the company website.

“It’s important to foster growth and give back to the very people who help our business survive.”

Adolphus Busch III

Adolphus Busch III created America’s first national beer, Budweiser.

For Philip Busch, who comes from a long family line of beer luminaries, it’s all about family. And what a family.

Philip’s great-great-grandfather, Adolphus Busch III, took a solid regional brewing operation in St. Louis and blasted it into the stratosphere. In the course of his career, Adolphus built 18 breweries in cities across the country and created America’s first national beer, Budweiser.

It’s interesting to hear from Philip that Adolphus never liked the taste of beer; he preferred wine. He discovered a small brewery in Czechoslovakia that produced a light pilsner beer called Budweiser.

Adolphus pioneered pasteurizing the product so it could be shipped long distances and he started using refrigeration for the first time.

Philip’s great-grandfather, “Gussie” Busch, kept up the momentum, but diversified the company’s direction and public exposure with several marketing innovations. He purchased the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, built Busch Gardens and came up with using Clydesdale horses as a marketing tour de force.

Philip has been president of Southern Eagle for 10 years. And while Peter is still available for business advice, Philip says it is his show now. He has always wanted to work in the beer business, which he describes as multifaceted, interesting and exciting.

Philip clearly recalled his father’s 40th birthday celebration. Peter borrowed a friend’s mega yacht and threw himself a lavish party for 500 guests. During the party, Philip took the microphone to announce to the world that he really wanted to be part of this exciting business and how he couldn’t wait to take over. He was 12 at the time.

He is one of six siblings, but the only one to take a consistent interest in the company.

“It’s the perfect industry to stay engaged,” he said, “You’re always learning new things. It keeps you on your toes.”

Southern Eagle employees and owners

Southern Eagle employees and owners gather to celebrate 30 years of business on the Treasure Coast.

Paul Trabulsy, chief financial officer for Southern Eagle Distributing

Paul Trabulsy, chief financial officer for Southern Eagle Distributing, helped with the new acquisition.

Philip and his chief financial officer, Paul Trabulsy, 61, have spent a lot of time recently on their toes. Since August, Southern Eagle had been negotiating for a bold and perhaps daunting business opportunity that concluded with the purchase of Brown Distributing.

Beer distributors form one-third of the chain of beer delivery [from brewers to distributors to retailers, including bars, restaurants and grocery stores]. Anheuser-Busch dictates strict franchise territories for individual distributors as a way to encourage competition and to keep such lucrative companies in as many hands as possible.

Coincidentally, on the very same day in 1984 that Peter Busch took over the Treasure Coast franchise, Brown Distributing signed to take on distribution in Palm Beach County. Last year the ownership of Brown decided it was time to sell the business.

Brown had aggressively been buying up the distribution rights to dozens of small craft breweries since the early 2000s. Craft beer reached its peak in popularity between 2008 and 2009. Many of these small breweries were outside the traditional Palm Beach County territory. When it came time to consider selling the company, Brown had to divest itself of the out-of-town and out-of-state craft brewers — all 48 of them.

Sale prices of distributorships are a closely held secret in the industry, Philip and Trabulsy both said. But Philip did indicate he estimates that Brown received “north of $300 million” for the rights of the small breweries.

Southern Eagle employees and family members

Southern Eagle employees and family members participating in a community service project benefiting the Treasure Coast Food Bank.

Philip is wary of disclosing the price Southern Eagle paid for Brown but did admit the company paid a premium for the Palm Beach company. The assets of Brown south of Palm Beach County were purchased separately by the country’s largest beer distributor, Reyes and Company, for “several hundred million dollars,” according to Trabulsy.

Trabulsy and Philip said they would have loved to have taken over the entire Brown operation but it would have left them really financially stretched.

With the purchase of Brown, another 120 people were added to the company’s payroll, Philip said. Most are delivery drivers who make the daily commute from their Palm Beach County homes to the Fort Pierce warehouse. Southern Eagle has retained a small salesforce with an office in West Palm Beach to service accounts there.

Philip made a point of talking individually with every driver who came with the acquisition. That was a big contrast with the more corporate approach taken by Brown management. Several 10-year employees admitted they’d only seen their previous bosses once or twice during their careers.

Toys donated by Southern Eagle employees

Toys donated by Southern Eagle employees benefit the Boys & Girls Club and St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Department.

By contrast, Philip maintains an open door policy toward all his employees. That fosters a sense of camaraderie and a family atmosphere, he believes. Southern Eagle holds several big company parties, picnics and even a rodeo every year for
its employees.

Retaining Brown drivers after the merger was crucial, Philip said. He pays them $500 a month for daily travel time and has boosted the wages of his existing and very loyal group of Fort Pierce drivers. Average salaries range from $50,000 to $75,000 a year, not including frequent performance and retention bonuses.

Philip pointed out the national shortage of CDL drivers and how other distributors such as food companies routinely pay $100,000 a year or more for a 6-day week. He said Southern Eagle is working toward a four-day, 10-hour day week for most drivers, which is a popular move.

“I have a real strong passion for my people,” Philip said. “They count on me. Life’s too short to work for an *******. You can achieve results without being an overbearing, numbers-driven person, that’s not real.”

Philip, as does his father, believes in supporting local nonprofits and community causes. While Peter is geared more toward environmental causes, Philip concentrates on helping the less fortunate in society. He has particular fondness for the mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs.

“In the 12 years I’ve known Philip, he’s been a loyal supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs not just financially — which we really appreciate — but he also has great ideas, like our Learn & Earn food truck,” said Will Armstead, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County. “His family foundation was the first to invest in the food truck for our Teen Workforce Readiness program.”

Gathering of many retired and current Southern Eagle Distributing employees

Gathering of many retired and current Southern Eagle Distributing employees at Little Jim’s Bait & Tackle to celebrate all of the great times together.

Philip said he feels fortunate his father decided to step away from the business in 2012 and hand the reins over to him. He said the Anheuser-Busch family has seen too many difficult transitions between different generations.

“My father legitimately walked away,” Philip said. “He wanted me to figure it out on my own. We do financial reviews together and he is available for annual budgeting. He’s up to date with the big picture about the company, but I handle all the day-to-day operations. I feel we are partners.

“I did ask for his advice over the Brown transaction because it was such a big undertaking for us,” Philip continued. “We made a lot of obligations to our bank, so projections of future business are even more important. Now it’s a new business, with new retailers. Everything is different.”

The Busch family recently welcomed a fifth child into the world. Philip has two girls, 14 and 12; and three boys, 7, 2, and 8 weeks. He said he’s particularly close to the girls.

“I encourage them to have a passion for working,” he said. “They need to apply themselves. In the back of my mind I see I could use an attorney and an IT person in the future, so I’d welcome them into the company in some capacity. But I’d require them to first work for another distributor and learn the ropes somewhere else.”

The Busch family business seems poised to stretch for another generation soon. That’s fitting for a company whose motto is “Making friends is our business.”

See the original article in the print publication

Southern Eagle Distributing

Locations: Warehouse at 5300 Glades Cut Off Road, Fort Pierce; satellite office in West Palm Beach
Employees: More than 300
Fleet: More than 100 delivery vehicles
Territory: Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Hendry and Palm Beach counties
Brands Carried: Budweiser, Bud Light, Busch, Natural Light, Corona, Modelo
Craft Beers: Sailfish, Islamorada, American Icon,Hop Life, Motorworks, BluePoint, SweetWater
Spirits Carried: Walker’s Cay Bourbon,Hope Town Vodka, Costa Tequila, Cantera Negra Tequila and Cape Fear
Nonalcoholic Beverages Carried: Celsius, Essentia, Nestle, Arizona, Sparkling Ice, Nesquik and Good 2 Grow

Treasure Coast Business is a news service and magazine published in print, via e-newsletter and online at by Indian River Media Group. For more information or to report news email [email protected]

Apr. 13, 2022|

Leaders to watch


Treasure Coast Business Leaders to Watch 2022

Treasure Coast business movers and shakers contributing to regional growth

Vision for the future is an important component for any business owner, manager or aspiring entrepreneur. Whether it is a nonprofit, for-profit, government, small or big business, the organization will always require a vision for growth, expansion or innovation. The mechanism that allows the organization to execute this vision is leadership. From motivating and inspiring the team and community to creating and organizing the tasks and work plan — leadership plays a critical role.

So, what is good leadership?

The most common definition is the ability to inspire confidence and support among the people who are needed to achieve organizational goals. An important element regarding leadership is that it can be practiced to some extent even by those who do not hold or are not assigned a formal leadership position.

The Treasure Coast region has begun to experience dynamic growth and changes to the economic landscape. These marketplace changes will require leadership at all levels and from all industry sectors. Understanding the important role leadership will continue to play in the region, Treasure Coast Business has created its first issue dedicated to leaders to watch as our communities and marketplace continue to grow.

The region has a strong foundation of innovative and influential leaders. If all those worthy of appearing in this article were included, this issue would resemble a dictionary not a magazine. This article is simply to provide a sampling of the hundreds of influential leaders who work and lead every day along the Treasure Coast.

With the assistance of regional business organizations, a list was created with the following eligibility requirements:

• Individuals must have been in business for five or more years
• Businesses and their owners must reside in the region
• No elected officials.

The individuals profiled in this segment serve as examples of the different pathways to fostering a positive effect on the development of our community, its residents and especially our youth.

William ‘Will’ Armstead

William ‘Will’ Armstead
CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County

William “Will” Armstead was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, along with his seven brothers and sisters. A veteran of the U.S. Army and Army National Guard, he served 16 years that included deployments during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom. He received more than a dozen awards and medals for his outstanding leadership and retired as a sergeant 1st class senior noncommissioned officer.

As a civilian, Armstead’s career soared as a regional general manager for Aramark – a publicly held $16 billion worldwide food and uniform services company. He successfully managed $26 million in annual revenue in the Southeast division and increased revenue 12% year after year.

His career continued to excel at A’viands, a privately owned $140 million services management company. As director of operations, he managed $65 million in annual revenue at 126 locations in 26 states.

Armstead’s personal life mission is to serve people in need, especially disadvantaged children. Even while working for large corporations, he has always been a community-based leader, serving multiple nonprofits including Big Brothers Big Sisters, PACE and Safe Space. For eight years, he served on the Boys & Girls Club board and also as board president. He also serves on Global Vision Citadel Ministries and Alzheimer’s Community Care, just to name a few.

Although he is a busy executive, Armstead makes time for family. He and wife, Rachel, have six sons and four daughters. They also are foster parents, which is how they came to adopt brothers Nathyn and Marcus in 2018. The family attends First Baptist Church of Lake Park where he serves as a deacon.

In 2015, Armstead became chief executive officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County – a nonprofit organization that serves more than 15,000 children yearly with 166 employees and an annual budget of more than $5 million. He is clearly dedicated to the club’s mission of helping children reach their full potential. His outgoing, friendly manner attracts people who may have never experienced the Boys & Girls Club. He believes that people sincerely want to help kids – especially those who need it the most.

In his rare spare time, he enjoys fishing, golfing and quality family time.

His passion and strongest attributes are his compassion for people and his ability to lead by example. He pushes people to be the best version of themselves and he wants that more for others than for himself.

Whom on the Treasure Coast do you most admire and why?

One of the many people on the Treasure Coast that I admire most is Elizabeth Barbella, CEO of The Community Foundation Martin – St. Lucie. Under her leadership, the foundation has grown from a quiet organization to a robust organization serving philanthropists and nonprofits in Martin and St. Lucie counties. She’s a visionary leader, a mentor and valued adviser.

If given $50,000 to start a new business, what type of business would you start and why?

If given $50,000, I would open a day-care. There are not enough day-care businesses on the Treasure Coast, which is a problem for working families and their employers.

If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what song would you choose and why?

In 1991, I was stationed in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. I remember vividly the first time I heard Lee Greenwood’s hit song, God Bless the USA, blaring full blast over the loudspeakers on base. That song gave me chill bumps then and still does today.

Philip A. Busch

Philip A. Busch
president of Southern Eagle Distributing

With a long family history in the development and sales of beverages, Philip A. Busch is a prominent Treasure Coast business leader. As the president of Southern Eagle Distributing and The Busch Family Foundation, Busch has an impressive track record of running a successful, family-owned business.

His strengths and expertise are in the acquisition, sales and marketing of beverage brands. Some of the brands include Anheuser-Busch, Constellation, Sailfish Brewing, Celsius, Essentia Water, a newly launched spirit portfolio, and more than 60 other local and national suppliers.

He is committed to being a great corporate citizen and a leader with his philanthropic endeavors.

Through the foundation, Busch, with the help of his employees, supports local causes such as combating homelessness, fighting hunger, helping veterans and assisting youth programs such as the Boys & Girls Club.

If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what song would you choose?

The Budweiser theme song – Here Comes the King

Have you ever watched a movie and gained a new perspective on life? What movie was it and what did you learn?

Jeremiah Johnson – the appreciation of silence and accomplishing objectives on your own. Do the right thing, especially when no one is looking.

What was the first leadership role you can remember being in?

The first leadership role I had was playing sports, specifically football. Being a leader on both defense and offense, I was responsible for pushing the team to give their all, have discipline, and be aware of their surroundings.

Shane Mullan

Shane Mullan
COO Aluma Tower Co.

Shane Mullan, chief operating officer, joined Aluma Tower Company in 2006. He began his journey with Aluma as a welder/fabricator and quickly rose through the ranks as shop lead, production manager, vice president of sales and vice president of operations.

As production manager, he was successful in reducing overtime by improving workflow and implementing proven work procedures on the production floor. As vice president of sales, he developed Aluma’s first outside sales team and implemented many of the company’s sales processes that are still used today.

And as vice president of operations, Mullan led the company through record-breaking revenue growth, which resulted in the company making the INC. 5000 list in 2020. He has also assisted in the development of new products, such as Aluma’s skid system, the Scorpion trailer model and Aluma’s un-guyed tower systems.

Since becoming COO, Mullan has been able to leverage his experience and vast knowledge of the products to become a well-respected and important element of Aluma’s leadership team. His current focus is on the growth of the business, both in volume and margin, while maintaining quality, efficiency and on-time delivery.

In addition to his role at Aluma, Mullan is also on the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce board and sits on multiple community committees. He has an associate degree in business administration and management from Indian River State College and a Master Welder Certification from Tulsa Welding School in Jacksonville.

Mullan moved to Indian River County with his family in 1986 from Yonkers, New York. He resides in Vero Beach with his wife, and dog, Louie. His daughter is a student at the University of Miami. He spends his free time traveling with his wife and doing DIY projects on their home.

What leadership skills do you find most useful?

Relationship building/nurturing and decision making are the leadership skills I utilize most on a day-to-day basis. This applies to both internal and external relationships and activities. Building relationships and nurturing them are two different, highly important skills. Decision making, specifically knowing when and how to make decisions is a key skill I utilize every day. Recognizing situations that require a rapid decision, being able to make the right one and being conscious of the impacts of that decision are critical.

How do you think people would communicate in a perfect world?

Verbally. We have lost the critical intimacy of face-to-face communication. We all get caught up in technology at times, sometimes I will be typing an email and then have to remind myself the recipient is right down the hall. When I catch it, I will walk down for the discussion and memorialize it in writing if necessary.

Have you ever watched a movie and gained a new perspective on life? What movie was it and what did you learn?

Braveheart. It was always a favorite of mine as a young man. It taught me to be selfless and always be willing to stand on the front lines no matter how far I make it in life.

Tabitha Trent

Tabitha Trent
SouthState manager and vice president

Tabitha Trent, who is a lifetime resident of Okeechobee, attended Indian River State College and University of Central Florida, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She also attended the Florida School of Banking at the University of Florida, graduating with honors.

Trent, who has been in banking for 35 years, is a community banker at heart and believes in investing in the lives of the community she serves. She serves or supports the Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County, Okeechobee Utility Authority board of directors, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office’s Citizens Advisory Board, Altobello Charitable Donor Trust Fund, GRAD Nite, Economic Development Corp. of Okeechobee and the Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee.

Her passions in life are her faith and her family. She enjoys serving alongside her More 2 Life church family. She and her husband, Jay, have a son, Chase, who recently graduated from Indian River State College and is pursuing his lifelong career with Florida Power and Light.

What leadership skills do you find most useful?

Follow-up: inspect what you expect. Be an effective communicator; communication is key. Be firm but fair. Empower your team members. Honesty and integrity, always do the right thing first.

How would you sell hot chocolate in Florida, during the summer?

I would commission a fleet of hand-pushed ice cream carts along the majestic Treasure Coast beaches and sell frozen hot chocolate fudgesickles dipped in marshmallow to sweltering hot beachcombers and sunbathers.

Whom on the Treasure Coast do you most admire and why?

Throughout my life I have been blessed with many people in which I admire and who have impacted my life and career. From my parents, family members, managers, colleagues and community leaders, there are two individuals who stand out the most – my pastor and his wife. We each have a calling in life and sometimes the call is not always the easiest path. My pastor’s life is a prime example of the struggles and ultimate joy of following your calling no matter what the cost.

Mike Adams

Mike Adams
president of Adams Ranch

Mike Adams, who was born in 1955 in Fort Pierce Memorial Hospital, attended Fort Pierce Elementary School and Pinecrest High School in Fort Lauderdale. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1976. In January 1985, he was elected president of Adams Ranch and handles the cattle and citrus operations in St. Lucie, Okeechobee and Osceola counties. Adams has served as supervisor of the St. Lucie County Soil and Water Conservation District. He is an Indian River Citrus League board alternate and is on its Land and Water Committee; and a board member and past president of the St. Lucie County Farm Bureau. He is also president of the Florida Bradford Breeders Association and the Treasure Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council. He and his wife, Rachael, have five children.

What leadership skills do you find most useful?

The cattle business and family business involves generations just not measured on the clock. Agriculture is a very dynamic business and is a constant learning process, so one must be flexible to change.

If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what song would you choose and why?

The theme to the classic television show, Rawhide. 

What was the first leadership role you can remember being in and how did the experience shape how you lead today?

My experience with the Treasure Coast Research Park continues to be interesting. Working with St. Lucie County, the federal government, the University of Florida and others to build a business incubator for the food industry. There were years of FaceTime and meetings before building the Sunshine Kitchen. At the end of the day, it is an asset to our community as we strive to better our citizens.

Bert Culbreth

Bert Culbreth
owner of The Gilbert Family of Companies

Bert Culbreth is a third-generation owner of The Gilbert Family of Companies in Okeechobee, which consists of Gilbert Realty, Gilbert Ford, Gilbert Chevrolet, Gilbert Outdoors and Gilbert Oil Co.

He serves on boards including the Indian River State College Foundation Board, Okeechobee County Economic Development Corp., Seacoast Bank – Heartland Community Board and Ford Dealer Council Representative – Orlando Region. Culbreth is also a member of the Okeechobee Masonic Lodge and past director of the Florida Petroleum Marketers Association. His hobbies include golf, hunting, fishing and aviation. He enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter.

Whom on the Treasure Coast do you most admire and why?

I’ve been lucky to have many mentors and role models in my life including my parents. If I had to choose one person on the Treasure Coast it would be Sam Mullinax. Sam and his partner started a small company years ago in Stuart and through hard work grew it to a premier national brand and the leader in their space. In the years I’ve known Sam, he has always impressed me with his positive outlook on life and his dedication to his faith. Sam leads by example in his life and inspires me to do the same.

What is your favorite spot on the Treasure Coast to grab a bite to eat?

In Okeechobee we enjoy visiting Lightsey’s Seafood Restaurant and OK Corral Gun Club for lunch or dinner. Our favorite spot on the Treasure Coast to grab a bite is Drift Kitchen & Bar in the Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa.

What was the first leadership role you can remember being in and how has the experience shaped how you lead today?

Early in my career, my sister and I had two key managers leave at the same time in our business. We were not familiar at the time with all of the aspects of the job that they were handling as we were new to this role. We had to learn on the fly and made a lot of mistakes in the process. It was a trial and error situation and we learned some valuable lessons in the process. We also learned all of the aspects of these positions so that we would never get in that situation again.

Dr. Greg Rosencrance

Dr. Greg Rosencrance
president of Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital

Dr. Greg Rosencrance earned his undergraduate degree from West Virginia University and his medical degree from Marshall University School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency training in medicine as chief medical resident at the Charleston Area Medical Center in West Virginia. He is board certified in internal medicine.

Prior to accepting the appointment as president of Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital, he served as chairman of the Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, from 2016 to 2018.

He was instrumental in restructuring the Medicine Institute to Cleveland Clinic Community Care.

Community Care serves as the medical home for accessible, comprehensive and coordinated care for patients. It includes adult primary care, family medicine, consultative internal medicine, geriatrics, hospital medicine and infectious diseases.

Rosencrance served as the center director for medicine and medical subspecialties at Cleveland Clinic Florida from 2014 to 2016. He helped organize and implement the care model in South Florida where he received many accolades for his work.

He is a devoted medical doctor who has received many awards and honors for his work, including being named the Ayash Distinguished Professor of Internal Medicine. One of his proudest moments was the $100,000 establishment of the Dr. J. Gregory Rosencrance Clinic Fund in 1993 by Marjorie Johnson.

Whom on the Treasure Coast do you most admire and why?
The person I admire most is my wife, Jackie, for her resiliency, guidance and perseverance. She is my confidant.

What are the core values you implement into your organization every day and why they are important?

The core values I implement into the organization every day are: quality and safety, empathy, inclusion, integrity, teamwork and innovation. As a health care institution, doing the right things that not only promote the wellness of the patient, but also those of the caregivers, come first. Setting the highest standards and excellent outcomes through effective interactions, decision-making and actions are critically important for the patient. Empathy helps to alleviate suffering, and we try to create joy whenever possible. Our organization sets a standard to intentionally create an environment of compassionate belonging where all are valued and respected. Integrity creates high moral principles and professional standards by a commitment to honesty, confidentiality, trust, respect and transparency. We must work together as a team to ensure the best possible care, safety and well-being of our patients and fellow caregivers. We strive and support innovation to drive large and small changes to transform healthcare everywhere.

What is your favorite spot on the Treasure Coast to grab a bite to eat?

My favorite spot on the Treasure Coast to grab a bite to eat is Waldo’s. It has incredible charm and a great meal, all served on the outdoor deck, right on the oceanfront.

Kaylee King

Kaylee King
business manager for Okeechobee County Economic Development Corp.

Kaylee King is a business manager who is constantly learning and growing. King, who lives and works in her hometown of Okeechobee, is passionate about her role as a business manager with the Okeechobee County Economic Development Corporation because it allows her to use her marketing and relational expertise to grow the county’s tax base. This helps provide job opportunities for this rural community.

She uses her great frame of reference in marketing, which has helped her to recruit and retain around 30 different projects during her time at the corporation. A graduate of Indian River State College and the University of Central Florida, she pivoted from her original love for health care administration and discovered her true passion for marketing while working at her family’s local health care practice as a customer relations coordinator.

She has consulted for various local businesses, business owners, organizations and events in Okeechobee to help elevate their online presence and create results.

Whom on the Treasure Coast do you most admire and why?

Hands down, Dr. Jennifer Laskey, owner and dentist of Family Dentistry of Okeechobee. She has been my mentor and role model since I was a young child. The values I learned from working in health care have changed my life forever. The way she has always treated her patient family, she is constantly approaching situations with integrity. I have watched her balance being a woman business owner, a mother, a practitioner and a wife. She is very inspiring. This type of leadership just makes the business experience so much better!

What core values do you implement into your organization every day and why are they important?

The core values that come most naturally to my personal and professional life are service and creativity. I am a very creative person, and I have found this approach can translate very well into your work environment. We see all around us how businesses are having to adapt and pivot into the new changes that the pandemic has afforded. Companies and organizations that are creative are growing. The value of service is so near to my heart. Whether we are serving our community, our board of directors, our patients, or our customers, people are the key part of the equation for me. I was raised in an industry with a very high level of customer service, and so this principle has always brought the most fulfillment to my projects. It’s all about people, and that is what fuels my fire.

If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what song would you choose and why?

I was working on a big photo shoot with a team of about 15 women. It was summer in Florida, in a cow pasture that had amazing scenery. All were glammed out in their gowns. The bugs were biting and excitement was dying down. I pulled out my portable speaker and turned on Beyonce’s Before I Let Go and suddenly the atmosphere changed. They turned on their queen mode attitude so fast and starting having fun dancing. I love that music can set the mood so quickly, even though the environment was the same. It is such a fun song, up-beat, girl power, a go-getter mantra with a little fun for dancing. The photos turned out stunning and you could tell they had fun doing it. So this song and this memory, makes the song my go to.

Rob Gluckman

Rob Gluckman
CEO for health care companies

Rob Gluckman, who graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, received his law degree from St. Thomas University College of Law in Miami.

He was an assistant state attorney in the 19th Judicial Circuit for 2½ years before becoming an associate and eventually a managing partner in the law firm of Hurley, Rogner, Miller, Cox and Waranch. After practicing for more than 10 years, Gluckman became the chief executive officer for Treasure Coast Urgent Care, Employee Wellness, P.A. and Treasure Coast Primary Care.

Gluckman is an avid offshore fisherman, promoting catch and release and spending time with his three rescue dogs. He is on the board of directors for the YMCA of the Treasure Coast. He previously served as board chairman for the Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce and on a number of other not-for-profit boards of directors during the past 15 years.

What leadership skills do you find most useful?

Empathy, honesty, critical and outside of the box thinking.

If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what song would you choose?

Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

Have you ever watched a movie and gained a new perspective on life? What movie was it and what did you learn?

Yes, Rudy. I learned never give up and hard work earns you respect.

William J. Penney

William J. Penney
president, CEO, board chairman of Marine Bank & Trust Vero Beach

William “Bill” Penney was born and raised in West Palm Beach and has lived in Vero Beach since 1984. He graduated from Palm Beach Junior College, Florida Atlantic University and the School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University.

He has worked at Marine Bank & Trust for 18 years; 12 years as president and CEO and eight years as chairman of the board.

An avid cyclist, he rode 65 miles to celebrate his 65th birthday in 2021 and raised $12,000 for the Alzheimer’s & Parkinson Association of Indian River County.

Whom on the Treasure Coast do you most admire and why?

I have great admiration for all the entrepreneurs that have opened businesses. It takes a lot of determination and sacrifice, but the result has a domino effect. Businesses create jobs, wealth and resources that contribute to the quality of life in our community.

How do you think people would communicate in a perfect world?
From Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Seek first to understand, then be understood.

Have you ever watched a movie and gained a new perspective on life? What movie was it and what did you learn?

It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart is a great example of the lasting and positive impact that community bankers can have on their communities.

Maddie Williams

Maddie Williams
executive director of Treasure Coast Builders Association

Maddie Williams, who is originally from Massachusetts, moved with her family to Port St. Lucie in 1989. She has been in the construction industry for 30 years, beginning her career working for a local residential homebuilder in 1991.

She joined the Treasure Coast Builders Association in 2002 as special projects director and was appointed executive director in 2011. In this position, she focuses on advocating on behalf of the construction industry, which includes governmental affairs issues, skilled trades training and other workforce development issues.

Williams is very involved in her local community and serves on the board of directors of Career Source Research Coast and vice chairman of its Youth Council Committee. She also serves on the boards of St. Lucie County Cultural Alliance, St. Lucie County Art in Public Places and is chairman of the Port St. Lucie Art Advisory Council. She volunteers her time with Family Meals of St. Lucie County, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity and is a member of the Fort Pierce Woman’s Club.

What is your favorite spot on the Treasure Coast to grab a bite to eat?

Shuckers on the Beach

What was the first leadership role you can remember being in?

I taught Sunday school to a kindergarten class and babysat when I was a teenager. It taught me patience and responsibility, traits that I try to practice every day.

What leadership skills do you find most useful?

Communication skills and attention to detail have helped me be successful in both my work and personal life.

Keith Fletcher

Keith Fletcher
president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County

Keith “Fletch” Fletcher is president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County, the largest youth services provider in Martin County.

During his four-year tenure, the depth and breadth of services has expanded dramatically, in mental health support, workforce programming and school-based partnerships. Fletcher is a graduate of Leadership Martin, a two-time chairman of Leadership Miami, a graduate of Leadership Florida’s Connect program and served as the institute co-chairman twice.

He has previously been selected as a Top 40 under 40 by the South Florida Business Journal and was a recent recipient of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s prestigious Outstanding New CEO Award for Southeast America. He and his wife, Leyla, have two daughters, Zoe, 6, and Kaia, 4.

What leadership skills do you find most useful?

To me, leadership is the ability to create a desire in people to want to struggle for shared aspirations. The ability to inspire, to continuously evaluate and improve, to not only innovate individual but to be supportive of a broader innovation ecosystem, to collaborate, to see possibility or opportunity when others see problems. Keep focused on the 3 Ps in your portfolio – people, products and process. Leadership is, as we know, rooted in values and integrity but is contextual so you have to be able to be what you need to be in that moment, without comprising self or organization, to move the mission forward.

Tell us your favorite spot on the Treasure Coast to grab a bite to eat.

Wow. So tough. I am out and about in the community a lot. The sliders and a recent concoction at Ocean Republic Brewery always hits the spot. For quiet conversation, The Grille at Martin Landing is perfect. Lola’s is great for the best seafood. Had a fantastic chile infused espresso at Barista Creamery just last week for the first time. So I love to explore. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible food truck scene – including ours here at the Boys & Girls Clubs – and some of the incredible home cooking I have received from our friends and supporters – nothing beats Ms. Delphina’s marinated sliced avocado, conch fritters and fried shrimp right there in Port Salerno.

How do you think people would communicate in a perfect world?

Transparently, making clear motive and intention without any pretense. Focusing more on what’s right about our kids, our communities, our world and less about what’s wrong with them. With a general orientation to navigate to yes and talk about what’s possible instead of why something can’t be done. In a way that understands privilege and position and perspective but uses all those things as a way to build longer tables, not taller fences.

Chad Olson

Chad Olson
managing director of the South Florida Region for Benchmark Hospitality

Chad Olson joined Benchmark in October 2015 as general manager of Costa d’ Este Beach Resort & Spa and Cardozo South Beach. He was promoted to managing director of the South Florida Region in 2019 with direct oversight of four hotels.

Prior to joining Benchmark, Olson worked for more than 25 years in California for companies such as JRK Hotels, Joie de Vivre Hospitality and Woodside Hospitality.

What was the first leadership role you can remember being in and how did the experience shape how you lead today?

Assistant front office manager at a resort in Arizona. I was a complete failure in my approach on how to interact and lead a team but through lots of failures and the open mindedness and humble pie, I learned.

What is your favorite spot on the Treasure Coast to grab a bite to eat?

Depends on the mood but in either case, I enjoy patronizing the independent restaurants. From the casual end of the spectrum, Little Jim’s in Fort Pierce, to my favorite, Fire and Wine in Vero Beach.

What leadership skills do you find most useful?

Servant leadership, humility, risk taking and overly communicating.

Larry Lee

Larry Lee
State Farm agent and co-owner of WFLM

Larry Lee Jr. grew up in Fort Pierce, graduated from Fort Pierce Central High School in 1972 and received a degree in health and physical education from Livingstone College in 1976. He married his college sweetheart, Alice, and they have one daughter, Dr. LaTasha Lee.

Lee owns a State Farm insurance agency and he and his wife own WFLM radio station. He’s a graduate of Leadership Florida and is featured in the book The Influentials by Jon Berry and Ed Keller. In 2002, he was inducted into the Livingstone College Football Hall of Fame. And in 2004, he received the Leadership Florida Distinguished Alumni Award.

In 2012, Larry was elected to the Florida House of Representatives becoming the first Black state representative in the history of St. Lucie County. He has served on several bank boards. He is the co-founder of the Ave D Boys Choir, the Jazz & Blues Society and Boy Scouts Troop 772.

His passion for helping youth and senior citizens led him to found the Lighthouse Foundation to serve those populations on Florida’s Treasure Coast and later created the Restoring the Village Initiative to help improve the neighborhood he grew up in, Lincoln Park.

If given $50,000 to start a new business, what type of business would you start and why?

If given $50,000 to start a new business, it would be a business that helps create entrepreneurship for youth. I feel that we need to invest more in our youth.

If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what song would you choose and why?

My favorite song is Wake Up Everybody by Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes. That song has a powerful message. It was made during my senior year in college, but its message is as strong today as it was in 1975.

What was the first leadership role you can remember being in and how did it shape you today?

My first leadership role occurred during my junior year in college. I was co-captain of the football team. During my senior year at Livingstone College, while serving as captain of the team, we had the No. 1 defense in the nation among small colleges. Playing football taught me so much about teambuilding. It helped me learn how to build a successful insurance agency, a political career and a not-for-profit foundation.

Travis Leonard

Travis Leonard
CEO and managing partner of A&G Concrete Pools

Travis Leonard, who was born in New Jersey, moved to Florida in 1988 with his family.

Leonard was hired by A&G in 1999 for in-house sales and design and was promoted to sales manager in 2006. In 2008, he accepted a partnership in the company and obtained a state license in commercial and residential swimming pool construction in early 2009.

Today A&G is a leader in the swimming pool industry with more than 100 full-time employees. It constructs more than 400 pools yearly.

In 2021, he was selected by Gov. Ron DeSantis to be a St. Lucie County Fire Board commissioner. Leonard also has been on the St. Lucie County Licensing Board since 2016 and was elected its chairman this year.

He married his high school sweetheart, Genia, in 2001 and they have two daughters.

If given $50,000 to start a new business, what type of business would you start and why?

A trade school. Being in the construction industry and seeing the skilled tradesman aging and retiring each day truly scares me. They have an amazing talent and decades of experience that needs to be passed on. Having young people be able to learn a trade and be proud of that trade would make me happy.

Have you ever watched a movie and gained a new perspective on life? What movie was it and what did you learn?

Limitless. Every shortcut has its shortfalls, shortcuts to success, if they work at all they do not last long. Too often in today’s world everyone is looking for the quick buck and wind up failing. Hard work and determination, along with persistence, have allowed me to be so successful.

What was the first leadership role you can remember being in and how has it shaped how you lead today?

Through high school I worked at Capri Pizza delivering pizzas to start and quickly worked my way up to pizzaiolo. Having this position made me responsible for staff, preparing food to be ready for the evening rush, and how to get the best out of the team we had.

James Brann

James Brann
owner-operator of The Porch Factory

Born and raised in Wilmington, Massachusetts, Brann graduated from Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational High School. He moved to Florida in 1990 and attended Indian River State College night classes for business while working for a local heating and airconditioning company in the early 90s.

He is owner and operator of The Porch Factory, which manufactures and installs custom screen rooms and pool enclosures across the Treasure Coast. A past president of the Treasure Coast Builders Association, Brann is chairman of the Skilled Trades Task force. He has two daughters, Andrea, 26, and Samantha, 24.

Whom on the Treasure Coast do you most admire and why?

I admire Jeff Braun from Coastal Building Contractors. Jeff runs a successful business in a selfless way… takes care of his employees, quietly supports the community in many ways, fully supports his local and state builders association for the better of others.

What was the first leadership role you can remember being in and how has the experience shaped how you lead today?

I was a service manager at a local air conditioning business at the age of 25, working with three other managers older and more experienced than I was. My young ego had to learn to sit back so that the rest of me could listen and learn from the experience in front of me! A few hard knocks at the beginning shaped that process.

If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what song would you choose and why?

Queen – We are the Champions – it’s about determination and perseverance, fighting through battles to reach a goal.

See the original article in the print publication

Treasure Coast Business is a news service and magazine published in print, via e-newsletter and online at by Indian River Magazine Inc. For more information or to report news email [email protected]

Apr. 12, 2022|

Assuming the lead on business leadership

Assuming the lead on business leadership

Tom Kindred leads a group of IRSC Business School students

Tom Kindred leads a group of IRSC Business School students through a Contemporary Business Leadership course. INDIAN RIVER STATE COLLEGE


As I have written and been quoted saying many times, Treasure Coast Business magazine is the go-to publication for all things business across the Treasure Coast.

The regional business owners, operators and entrepreneurs who read and leverage the business information included in the magazine undoubtedly understand the importance of leadership in one’s personal life, our community, and certainly in business.

A Google search for business leadership articles and books will generate more than 60 million entries — indicating the interest in, and importance of, the topic of business leadership.

The rapid economic and marketplace growth the Treasure Coast is experiencing will produce and foster many positive outcomes, including job creation and expansion, higher wages and career advancement.

This growth will also generate entrepreneurial opportunities in the form of start-ups to support new regional industries and companies. However, this same growth and expansion will undoubtedly create new pain points and complexities, including traffic issues, increased pressure on existing infrastructure, capital access and workforce issues. Addressing and managing these issues will require leadership.

Recognizing leadership is an important topic for the region’s business community, the editorial staff at Treasure Coast Business believed it was time to lead on leadership. Multiple pages of this issue present profiles of a small sampling and examples of the hundreds of outstanding business and community leaders working each day along the Treasure Coast.

The Treasure Coast has always had a strong foundation of extraordinary business leadership in all industry sectors, including agriculture, finance, legal, real estate, education, government, nonprofits, retail and manufacturing. The most interesting aspect of these leaders is that many represent multiple generations of leaders. These individuals had mothers, fathers and grandparents who served in key leadership positions across the Treasure Coast, providing extensive experience and knowledge of the region’s legacies and history. As my father might say — these folks know the lay of the land.

I am also happy to report the prospects for a new generation of Treasure Coast leaders are promising and strong. I was recently asked to lead and instruct a contemporary leadership class for the School of Business at Indian River State College. I have always been impressed with the maturity and experience level of its students and this group is no exception.

However, I have been most impressed with this group’s willingness, desire and fearless acceptance of leadership roles within organizations where they are employed. If these students represent a sampling of Treasure Coast millennials and Gen Zs, I am encouraged and confident our region will have an intelligent, engaged, competent and innovative group of future business leaders to guide our region’s marketplace in the coming years.

Please note — the magazine recognizes there are hundreds of others worthy of being recognized for their leadership roles and contributions. This leadership profile story is designed to highlight and provide an example of dedicated individuals who are leading, out front and behind the scenes, to initiate and facilitate positive growth for the region, the business community and its residents.
Please feel free to contact the Florida SBDC at IRSC and provide us with your thoughts on who should be included in next year’s Treasure Coast Leaders to Watch.

For more information on the magazine and all the business assistance services and resources available through the Florida SBDC at IRSC, email us at [email protected] or contact Katie Muldoon at 772.336.6085.

See the original article in the print publication

Treasure Coast Business is a news service and magazine published in print, via e-newsletter and online at by Indian River Media Group. For more information or to report news email [email protected]

Apr. 7, 2022|

Treasure Coast Business News 4.5.22

Susan Rabinowitz is BOA President | Melissa Montanez is Marine Bank Vice President | Food System Connections | Bruce Roder new HPS Director

Bank of America names Susan Rabinowitz president of Treasure Coast

Bank of America has named Susan Rabinowitz as president of Bank of America Treasure Coast. Rabinowitz succeeds Doug Sherman, who has led the market the past nine years and announced his decision to retire from the company last month.

As president, Rabinowitz will be responsible for connecting the
... Read More>>

Marine Bank & Trust hires Melissa Montanez as vice president, Banking Center manager in Fort Pierce


Marine Bank and Trust has announced that Melissa Montanez has joined the Bank as Vice President, Banking Center Manager of its forthcoming full-service Fort Pierce location.  Located at 604 Seaway Plaza at the southeast corner of US Highway 1 and Seaway Drive, the banking center is expected to open in early summer of this year.

With more than 20 years of banking experience including 15 years in... Read More>>

Treasure Coast Extension presents Food System Connections virtual networking event

The next Good Food Connections meeting of the season will be held Tuesday, April 19 from 4 - 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. Good Food Connections meetings are free virtual networking events intended to help growers, distributors, retailers, food pantries, chefs, school food services, etc. make connections to strengthen our food system.

Please join us for our last event of the season on April 19. The featured presenter will be... Read More>>

Bruce Roder joins Helping People Succeed as director of Coordinated Specialty Care Team

Helping People Succeed recently announced the addition of Bruce Roder to its staff.

Roder, who will serve as Director of the non-profit’s Coordinated Specialty Care Team, has extensive experience in children’s mental and behavioral health fields. He will represent Helping People Succeed in a consortium of agencies and organizations that will work together to fill the Treasure Coast’s burgeoning need for these services.

A resident of Port St. Lucie, Roder has held... Read More>>


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Apr. 5, 2022|