Minority businesses to watch


Treasure Coast Minority Businesses to Watch 2022

Workshops provide Treasure Coast owners with tools to succeed


Americans often start their own businesses to circumvent obstacles related to lack of education or experience needed to succeed in the formal economy.

Most minority-owned businesses operate under the premise of owner/operator and struggle to gain access to capital that will help sustain the business over a long period of time.

Historically, in comparison to other racial groups, Black and minority business owners possess fewer personal assets such as home ownership or stocks/bonds to generate startup capital for their businesses.

Scores of studies have shown that this deficiency results in less training, sharing fewer resources, important industry related information, and less human capital transfer over generations, according to the 2019 article Struggles and Strategies of Black Women Business Owners by T.M. Jackson and P. Sanyal in the Journal of Business Anthropology.

To help mitigate this circumstance on the Treasure Coast, the Florida Small Business Development Center at Indian River State College offers free resources available to minority business owners and entrepreneurs to help overcome most of these obstacles.

The SBDC routinely hosts workshops that cover such topics as business startups, QuickBooks, digital marketing consulting, international trade strategies and access to capital. If used properly, assistance from the SBDC can potentially better position minority owned businesses for long-term success and sustainability.

Another bonus for minority business owners is SBDC’s partnership with Indian River State College, which has satellite campuses throughout the Treasure Coast that host these workshops.

To learn more about how to start or grow an existing business, please visit the; email the Florida SBDC at [email protected]; or call IRSC at 772.336.6285.

Chauncelor Howell is president of the Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce.

Maria Chambers

CNC Jamaican and Soul Food Restaurant

To provide the best food possible, that surpassed our customers expectation. Moreover, the restaurant creates superior customer service every time.

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?
Keeping the door open on a daily basis.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Faith in getting out doing what has to be done, regardless of what’s happening around you. Love what you do and you try and make it happen.

What led you to own your own business?
The love of doing what I do, having been in the industry with more than 40 years experience.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
CNC Jamaican Restaurant

Belinda McNeal-Chambers

Garden of Hope Learning Center

The mission of Garden of Hope is to transform lives by providing hope and aspiration, support underserved communities and under-represented populations, and to promote academic excellence through quality resources and wraparound services that address the individualized needs of the whole child and family members.

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?
The most challenging part of doing business every day is not having sufficient resources to meet the needs of the community.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
The essential element to achieve and maintain a healthy work-life balance is my personal relationship with the Lord. My spiritual relationship not only helps me maintain a balance, but it consistently reminds me of who I am. Therefore, success moves from just a component of hope or a simple desire to an expectation.

What led you to own your own business?
My desire to open my own business derived from my passion for teaching and serving. I believe that all children can and will learn. I also understand that in order to build capacity within the community we must embrace the family structure. My expectation is to meet the needs of the community and the people we serve by providing intensive wraparound supportive services to address the complex needs of the family. There is greatness in Fort Pierce.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
Eric Walker Patio Furniture Repair Service. I am so proud of you.

Al Johnson

Jackson Hewitt Tax Service

Jackson Hewitt provides year-round support to hardworking clients with innovative, low-cost tax solutions.

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?
Prepared 4,000-plus tax returns this season. This was accomplished via relationship building.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Goal setting and time management.

What led you to own your own business?
Motivated by my father.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service

Gary Palmer

Gary Palmer Sax |

Providing clients a pleasurable musical experience.

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?
As a musician, due to COVID-19 protocols, it’s been difficult to do live performances.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
I bowl in several leagues for enjoyment.

What led you to own your own business?
Being a musician and recording artist, you want to ensure that your brand is important to you as well as your customers. I’ve created a corporation for that reason.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce

Kourtney Rincon

The Warrior Her Podcast

Access to information and a willingness to take chances will yield life changing results.

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?
The most challenging part of doing business is learning to embrace continuous change. You have to be willing to move quickly, use data to your advantage and be OK with pivoting when necessary.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Work-life balance for me is more about taking care of myself first. For me, that is working out, being creative, reading and weekly therapy sessions. I believe in a holistic approach to self-care and focusing on mental, physical and spiritual care of oneself to have the healthiest balance. I know when I’m out of alignment and can quickly identify where I need to improve when I find myself feeling overwhelmed.

What led you to own your own business?
I’ve always known I wanted to be my own boss but I wasn’t sure what that looked like. After opening a CrossFit gym in 2018 and failing miserably, I learned valuable on-the-job experience and that I had a passion for business. I want to create a legacy for my family and positively contribute to my community.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
Admired Image Beauty Salon, Bos Crab Spot, Jones Old School BBQ, Nails by Jasmine, Nailbar Studio, Poppin Curls & Beauty Bar and Island Girl Wings n Things

Bianca Lewis

Bianca’s Cleaning

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?
I was born and raised in Colombia, South America, with no college education but with dreams and passion to do better. After a few years of working in the medical field, I noticed the offices were not clean to the standard of medical offices, so Bianca’s Cleaning was born.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
I am customer-service oriented, organized and communication is the key.

What led you to own your own business?
The lack of college degree and to give my two girls a better future.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
The 22 employees of Bianca’s Cleaning team, all who are Hispanic.

Tessa Adams

Phatz Chick N Shack

We are the best buffalo wings restaurant in the nation. Phatz provides the best food, atmosphere and wing sauce in the nation. Stop by and grab anything from Chicken N Waffles to one of our delicious Tender Salads to our amazing Shrimp Tacos. And you can’t forget about our World-Famous Finger Lickin Wing Sauce that can be used on everything but mainly on the wings.

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?
The most challenging part of doing business for me is finding willing workers with good work habits. All I really need for you to do is show up and be willing to learn. One thing I do know is how to teach you to do the job right.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
I have learned to trust the process I have put in place and to trust my leaders to carry out the vision of the company.

What led you to own your own business?
I had my son right out of high school and knew I did not want to be another statistic. I went to cosmetology school and after completing that I worked for someone for a couple of years. I learned the business, opened my own salon and ran it for 28 years. When I met my husband, we bought a building with a fully equipped restaurant to open Phatz Chick N Shack and it has been up hill ever since. I love creating jobs and teaching.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
I would like to give a shout to three minority owned businesses … Kinfolks Chicken and Waffle, Tasty Links and Sunrise City Café. They are great people, great owners and truly have a passion for what they do each and every day.

Jerome Rhyant

Tree Trimmers USA LLC

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?
Starting a business is a significant achievement for many entrepreneurs, but I have found that maintaining one is the greater challenge. There are many common challenges every business faces, whether you are running a large or small operation. These include hiring the right people, building a brand, developing a customer base, identifying my weaknesses and hiring the right people to compensate for what I don’t do well. Great teams build dreams.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
We often think about work-life balance as a trade-off between time spent at work and time spent on other non-work activities. The idea of balance is easy enough to explain, but what does it mean? I find time to spend with family, friends and hobbies. Plan to combine work activities with leisure, social or fitness activities. I enjoy singing, playing music and ministry as hobbies.

What led you to own your own business?
After completing high school, I took a year off, prior to going to college. I took a summer job working for a body shop, where I had some prior experience and I enjoyed doing body work. I worked for two weeks and was told that I had a great attitude and good work ethics, but the owner didn’t think the paint and body work industry was a good fit for me. I was fired and was heartbroken for more than two weeks. I made a promise to myself, that I would never allow anyone to ever break my heart again over a nine-to-five job. I purchased a Cutlass car that I painted, remodeled and sold. I was successful in buying three other cars, one at a time, remodeling and reselling them for a profit. I began to recruit my former high school coaches, Coach Green and Coach Farinella. I talked them into hiring me to paint their cars. Prior to college I discovered I had a few things working for me, I could talk and I could sell. I was born to be an entrepreneur. After quitting college in 1982, I returned home and started a company, Today’s Painting, and have never looked back. I chose to hold on to my commitment to me.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
I want to give a shout out to a good friend and mentor, Vernon Dixon the owner of Dixon’s Check Cashing.

Chauncelor Howell

Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce |

To serve as a business resource, a voice, advocate, of any entity with a focus on Black and minority business matters.

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Time management is a must and cannot be understated if a healthy work-life balance is to be achieved.

What led you to own your own business?
There was a gap that needed to be filled within the region at-large.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
As the TCBCC’s founder/president, I do not have a favorite minority-owned business, as I equally support them all.

Julissa Mercado

The Skin Spot

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?
When I moved to Florida without knowing anyone to pursue this career, I knew it wouldn’t be nothing short of challenging. I left everything I knew in New Jersey to follow a dream that I had no idea would actually take off. I funded everything with loans and borrowed money to open up the shop I have today. By a year and a half, I was able to clear my debt and invest in a piece of equipment that I only dreamed of ever affording. The tasks I undertook were challenging in themselves, but mentally I had to truly believe I could do it. And I did.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
When opening the shop, I feared not having security so much that I had no idea how to balance life and work. All I knew was if I keep working I’ll get closer to where I need to be. I found myself sick, overworked and burned out. I quickly learned that having boundaries for myself was the only way I’d be able to have longevity in what I do. My life hacks include extending myself the grace to take breaks when I need it and to ask for help when I need it as well. I make sure I get enough sleep; I take supplements to keep my gut health in check; I take lunch breaks, and actually use them to eat. Once I learned to take care of myself first, I was able to take care of people from a space of wholeness, which ultimately helped the business succeed.

What led you to own your own business?
After completing my undergraduate degree in women’s and gender studies, I knew I wanted to work predominantly in service to women, and more specifically women of color. This community has been historically under serviced and self-care was never an emphasis in the community I grew up in. Skincare became the vessel in which I was able to serve that community in the best and healthiest way.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
The Braid Dr and Poppin Curls and Beauty Bar.

Sergio Zeligman

Panda Contractors

Panda is in business to improve the lives of their customers by providing the highest quality products and workmanship and creating the best possible experience for them. Panda is also in business to improve the lives of their employees by providing personal and financial growth opportunities for them and creating long term profit growth, profitability and stability for the company.

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?
Right now the most challenging part of doing business every day is the availability and increasing prices of materials. We understand that the economy is not the best and we need to be able to purchase and receive materials promptly and at competitive prices to meet our customers’ expectations.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Work hard while at work and simply enjoy your life after work with the family. As a family-owned business it is important to dedicate time to your family.

What led you to own your own business?
Coming from a family that always had our own business it was just a matter of finding the business that fitted me. Been a civil engineer and a general contractor, it was just a matter of doing what came natural to me. I have always enjoyed creating and serving our community. Making our customers smile is our logo and it is exactly what we try to do every day.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
We use Rocha Lawn Care as our landscape company. They are very reliable and honest.

Stanley Campbell

Eagle Force Associates Inc. and Martin Downs Golf Club & Resort

Our mission is to assist our clients in the design and deployment of intelligent systems, where man and machine interface and applications are designed to optimize the performance of each by providing the heavy lifting for many of the most difficult problems in computer science.

What is the most challenging part of doing business every day?
The most challenging part of doing business each day is learning how to say no to every opportunity that comes over without being dismissive. This is very important because you never know who will bring the next great opportunity. The way I approach this issue is to listen attentively. Evaluate the terms, conditions, means, methods and modalities of the opportunity and to state the reasoning behind why the opportunity may not be for me. Make it an educational moment in time, funding, ROI, governance, etc.

How do you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Make the job fun, inclusive and understood at home. Build in recreation, travel and intelligent growth. Bring the family along when possible and leave the job at the office when possible.

What led you to own your own business?
Thinking that I consistently had great ideas and the discipline to follow them through.

What minority-owned business on the Treasure Coast do you want to give a shout-out to?
State Farm Insurance, H&R Block, WFLM 104.5 the Flame and Treasure Coast Lexus

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]

Jul. 1, 2022|

Charging forward

St. Lucie Battery and Tire on a roll

Doug Miller, president of St. Lucie Battery & Tire

Doug Miller, president of St. Lucie Battery & Tire, relies on having the space to warehouse one of the most varied tire inventories among independent tire dealers in the United States. Doug has led the company since taking the reins from his father, Joey Miller, a dozen years ago. MICHAEL P. SCHNEIDER

St. Lucie Battery & Tire experiences growth spurt during tough economic times


St. Lucie Battery & Tire, at 54 years old, is about to experience another growth spurt.

Even without adding any stores, the Fort Pierce-based privately held company with 235 employees is poised to become one of the top 50 largest independent tire dealers in the United States as private equity and consolidation take out some of those with more than the company’s 17 outlets service centers.

Doug Miller, company president, says it’s a reasonable aspiration that in the next decade, St. Lucie Battery & Tire will double its number of outlets, and further diversify into commercial and agricultural centers in the state’s interior. Sixteen of its locations are in cities near the Atlantic coast from Sebastian to West Palm Beach, with a commercial and ag center in Okeechobee.

But, Miller, 51, says the company has no ambitions to become a national or even statewide Goliath.

“I can see fill-ins from West Palm Beach moving back north. We just added another location in Sebastian. I see [expansion] in Sebastian and further expansion into the Indian River County market, as well as possibly expanding our location in Okeechobee and, quite possibly, more rural markets, where our super center model plays well.”

In particular, he mentioned new full-service operations in rural but fast-growing cities, possibly in Clewiston, LaBelle, Sebring, Lake Placid, and others where farming and larger commercial vehicles need service, batteries and tires.

Battery comes before tire in the company name because batteries came first. Now, tires and tire services account for about half the company’s revenue, which Miller declined to disclose. Batteries and auto parts account for another quarter of the revenue, and labor makes up the rest, he said. Oil changes are not central to the business. Miller said most of the oil change customers are already in one of the shops for tire service.

The company’s revenue has doubled in the past decade, and average growth has been 10%, lower for 2020, the year when the economy was hit by COVID-19 shutdowns. No workers were laid off during the crunch caused by the virus. After a dip in 2022-23 2020/2021, revenue is seen rebounding to up 12% to 15% annually, Miller said. His business is somewhat insulated from economic downturns, because as consumer spending power weakens, people hold onto their vehicles longer, meaning more maintenance and replacement tires are needed. The average age of a U.S. car rose to 13.1 years in 2021, and pickup trucks to 11.6 years, for a combined 12.2 years, up from a combined 10.5 years in 2010, according to S&P Global Mobility.

St. Lucie Battery & Tire

St. Lucie Battery & Tire recently opened a new location in Sebastian, its 17th site. If the economy continues to pressure consumers, as experts predict, many will hold onto their vehicles for a longer period of time, meaning more visits to repair shops and tire dealers.

Doug Miller’s father, company founder Joey Miller, 80, has largely stepped away from day-to-day operations. Joey Miller was in the battery business in 1968, Doug Miller said. He says he knows that because his father was selling batteries already when the oldest Miller offspring, Mickey, was born that year. So the business goes back 54 years, even though it ceremoniously marked the half-century mark last year. By the time the business was incorporated in 1976, it had been selling tires for a few years. It was called St. Lucie Battery, which many people called St. Lucie Batteries, until about 1986 or 1987 when the “& Tire” was added.

Mickey Miller is the company’s executive vice president. Its general manager is Jeffrey Deans.

The business is still headquartered at its original location on western Orange Avenue, which in early June suffered an intense fire that destroyed less than a fifth of the company’s tire inventory.

“Eighteen-inch steel I-beams were twisted and sagging. The metal roof [of the shipping and receiving area] was melted,” Doug Miller said, adding that the intensity of the fire was increased when an area storing small batteries caught fire. The fire was mainly in an office section of the business. No one was injured, but there was more than $2 million in inventory and building damage, he said.

The fire caused a “fairly significant business disruption, but we’re going to figure it out and come through better than we are now,” Miller said.

One of the reasons St. Lucie Battery & Tire will rebound rather quickly is that it has three additional locations with warehousing space, he said.

y Miller, center, founded St. Lucie Battery & Tire

Joey Miller, center, founded St. Lucie Battery & Tire and brought his sons into the business when they were still young. Doug Miller, left, is now the company president, and Mickey Miller, right, is the executive vice president. This photo was taken about 2008.

The first store was its sole one until 1982 when the company opened a Port St. Lucie store on Hancock Drive, followed by a downtown Fort Pierce location around 1985.

An April 1987 newspaper display ad announcing the grand opening of another Port St. Lucie store shows the company logo looking much the same as it does today, with a quote in italic-type separate from the logo: “You need a good price, but you also need honest, reliable service…” Today, the logo on the company’s website includes a shortened version of that same message: “Home of Honest, Reliable Service.”

Mickey and Doug were essentially raised alongside batteries and tires at their dad’s first shop at 5500 Orange Ave.

“My brother and I were fitted for brooms at a very young age,” he said.

“I think it was 1975 or 1976 when my dad built his first real shop. He started in the family’s chicken barn.”

Joey Miller and his family lived in a house “right next to the shop, behind his little grocery store,” said Doug Miller, a 1988 graduate of John Carroll High School.

By 2000, Doug Miller had bought the downtown Fort Pierce store from his father, then opened new outlets in Vero Beach and Melbourne. The Melbourne one was a casualty of the 2008-2010 recession. The company’s sales slowed then, but it was strong enough to take advantage of below-market leases to expand its footprint.

“After the recession was over, 2011-12, I opened three stores in one year. That was Sebastian, the Bayshore Boulevard [Port St. Lucie] store and Jensen Beach and we just kind of kept on rolling,” Miller said.

It was during this time that Doug Miller pretty much took the reins from his father as leader of the company, and became its majority owner. The bigger company and locations with storage capacities made it versatile, he said. Tire customers don’t want to wait for a shipment to come in.

They want same-day service, and the tires are usually in stock or can be borrowed from another company store.

There is a fleet of about 45 St. Lucie Battery & Tire trucks, including 10 dedicated to tire, battery and auto parts delivery to other stores or direct to the bigger customers at farm or work sites. Since its early days, 24-hour roadside service has been a feature, and there are about 20 service trucks, Miller said.

Goodwill among customers is important, and Miller says the company has thrived on that since its founding. Supplier relations are also key, which proved vastly profitable at the onset of the ongoing global supply chain problems.

After getting a tip from a rep of tire distributor Penn Tires who said foreign shipments were about to be scarce, Miller significantly hiked his purchases, leaning on the company’s warehousing ability.

When the supply chain issues hit, independent tire stores that rely on just-in-time inventory often left customers waiting, Miller said.

“We continue to be all-in because the supply chain is not fixed and it’s not going to be fixed anytime soon,” Miller said. “I don’t see normalization until, maybe, the end of 2023.”

St. Lucie Battery & Tire’s signature location

St. Lucie Battery & Tire’s signature location may be its third store, in downtown Fort Pierce, which opened in the mid-1980s. In 1998, the plain concrete building was fitted with a new roof of Spanish-style architecture matching neighboring historic buildings and serves as a gateway to the core downtown shopping district.

The ability to keep high inventory levels differentiates St. Lucie Battery & Tire from other independents. In the 2021 rankings of the largest U.S. independent tire companies’ store count, it was 67th, according to the publication Modern Tire Dealer. Only the biggest one, Discount Tire, with 1,100 stores, offered more tire brands than St. Lucie Battery & Tire, which had 16 stores last year.

The company is often celebrated for its civic activities, which in recent years has included providing landscaping, sod and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity homes. Miller says he will continue to support Habitat, but much of the company’s efforts along those lines will shift toward building affordable housing, primarily for St. Lucie Battery & Tire workers.

The first round of five living spaces, houses that will be lease or lease-to-own with financing help from the company, and a rental duplex will go up in the next year, Miller said. After that, he hopes to build two or three houses per year. This is being done in the face of a housing cost crisis that makes it difficult for the average worker to make ends meet. It will also prove to be a good recruitment vehicle at a time when the highest-level auto and tire technicians are tough to get.

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]

Jul. 1, 2022|

What you should know before you sign a business lease

What you should know before you sign a business lease

The City of Port St. Lucie is hosting a free workshop dedicated to educating business owners on the ins and outs of signing a business lease, and how to prepare and protect your business while working towards expanding. Before You Sign the Lease is a quarterly workshop for new and expanding businesses that guides entrepreneurs on the City’s requirements and factors when selecting a business location. Speakers will include staff members from the City of Port St. Lucie Planning & Zoning, Building Department, Business Tax Division, Office of Economic Development and the St. Lucie Chamber of Commerce.

Location is one of the essential aspects of developing your business. Whether you’re planning to buy, build, lease or expand your organization, this free Lunch and Learn workshop helps with the process. Business owners will learn integral parts of developing their business, such as understanding government regulations, occupancy and zoning requirements, Florida building codes and reviewing the business tax and approval process. Lunch will be provided at no charge, thanks to our workshop sponsor, Engineering Design and Construction.

The program will take place on Wednesday, July 20, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You may pre-registration at is required for attendees. Space is limited. The session will be held at the City of Port St. Lucie City Hall, 121 SW Port St. Lucie Blvd., Building B, Training Room.

Offered through the City’s Office of Economic Development, Before You Sign the Lease is among several programs designed to prepare business owners to launch and build new companies in Port St. Lucie. For more information, call 772-873-6374 or email [email protected].



About the City of Port St. Lucie

The City of Port St. Lucie is proud to be a hometown where people live, learn, work and play, and celebrate all of life’s opportunities. With 217,523 residents, Port St. Lucie is Florida’s seventh largest city by population (South Florida’s third largest city). The City occupies an area of 120 square miles in St. Lucie County on Florida’s east coast, about 50 miles north of West Palm Beach, halfway between Miami and Orlando. The City provides most traditional municipal services including law enforcement, water and sewer and public works. For more information, please visit



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]
Jun. 23, 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|

Tips for Managing Cash Flow

Tips for Managing Cash Flow


Michael Bernard

What’s the No. 1 reason small businesses fail? Cash flow, not lack of profits.
About 80% of small business failures happen because of poor cash-flow

Mike Bernard, a consultant at the Florida SBDC at Indian River State College and a financial specialist, says he hears it all the time from his clients: “My business made a profit last year, but I don’t have any money to pay my bills.” Bernard notes that many of his clients have sizable sums of their operating cash tied up in Accounts Receivable or Inventory.


Remember, cash flow is not the same as Profit. Are you profitable but still struggling month to month in managing cash flow? You are not alone. Managing when money enters and exits a company is crucial to
business survival and growth.

Bernard, a Financial Analyst, stated, “A lot of businesses can sell their products, but they don’t understand their working capital cycle. A company, as we teach in our Profit Mastery seminars, can sell itself right out of business.” As businesses continue to grow, they must control their cash flow. For example, business owners get excited when they get a government contract. However, they need to understand the specific terms attached, like not being paid for 60 to 90 days. Meanwhile, you have to buy inventory and pay your fixed overhead
expenses. Can you sustain that?  If you cannot and do not get additional capital, sometimes it is better not to pursue the contract. What else can you do so your business does not become a statistic? The first and perhaps most important is to set aside time in your week to think about your strategy and try to understand your financial information. Small businesses are so much into day-to-day operations that they do not think enough about the cash flow cycle. You have to be constantly vigilant about looking
for ways to improve your cash flow. It is the lifeblood of your business.

“A business owner needs to regularly review and analyze the business’ financial statements and working capital cycle,” said Bernard. “Is this the best you can do, or are there additional strategies and tactics to generate and improve cash flow?” Bernard also notes, a thorough review of the business’ payables and receivables can uncover opportunities to shorten the operating cycle.

A Few More Ideas:
- Every industry has its own set of Metrics. The FSBDC at IRSC has a database of
these metrics to help you analyze how you are doing compared to your industry.

- Make it a daily routine to review the business’ actual daily cash balance.

- As you recognize potential cash flow problems, create strategies that correct the

- Accounts Receivable: Consider granting discounts for prompt payment. Such as 2 – 10 Net
30 (2% discount if paid in 10 days, or full payment in 30 days). Also, ensure that your terms are not too long and that your receivables are quality accounts to keep delinquencies down.

- Accounts Payable: Be careful on the payables side, also. Buying inventory that does not move becomes stale and then obsolete.  In addition, this time, you want terms on your side – as long as possible to pay and negotiate
volume discounts.

- Inventory: Compare inventory turn rate to the industry average (Metrics) to see how you compare. Remember, inventory that does not turn fast enough is money left on the shelf that could be in your pocket. Have a sale for slow-moving inventories or donate it to a non-profit for a tax write-off, and negotiate just-in-time contracts so that you can
keep as little inventory on hand as possible.

- To increase cash flow from sales growth, open newer, less costly distribution
channels, increase prices where you can and introduce new technology to help
reduce sales costs.

- Spend and collect with care.  Watch overhead costs, always negotiate on price.
Give credit very carefully but collect very aggressively.

This article is provided by the Florida SBDC at IRSC, the small business development Center within Indian River State College’s School of Business. The center’s team of business experts works one-on-one with hundreds of entrepreneurs and business owners each year by providing confidential, no-cost consulting. The center’s mission is to help treasure Coast businesses grow and succeed.

Jan. 10, 2022|

PSLBW Install New Board

Port St. Lucie Business Women Install New Board At Holiday Gathering


Photo Credit: Diane Gallagher, Diane S. Gallagher Photography

Past President (2006-2008) Marilyn Lawless, Vice President Devon Dwyer, President Jessica Parrish, Secretary Elaine Anderson, Treasurer Stephanie Morgan, Past President (2003-2004; 2011-2012) Marsha Thompson


The Port St. Lucie Business Women ( ended their 41st year with the Installation of new Board members at its holiday party on December 2 at Meating Street Seafood & Steakhouse in Tradition. Outgoing President Donna DeMarchi  welcomed members and their guests to celebrate the remarkable women of the organization.

Snowflakes were the theme of this year’s Installation because, “Each snowflake is unique, intricate and beautiful, like all of us,” said President DeMarchi. “And when snowflakes join together, they provide greater coverage, just as the Port St. Lucie Business Women members who accomplish so much more when they join forces and work together for our community,” she added.

The evening’s highlight was a candle-lighting ceremony, led by long-time members and past presidents Marsha Thompson and Marilyn Lawless. “We take great pride in the accomplishments of our organizations and all of our members,” said Thompson. “We look to next year’s officers to lead us wisely and with distinction.”

Each newly elected Board member lit a candle after Thompson and Lawless rotated reciting the responsibilities of their particular positions. A red candle was given to incoming president Jessica Parrish because red symbolizes courage, long life and good health. “It is the strongest color of all hues – a quality needed for unwavering determination to succeed,” said Lawless. She continued, “The office of the President is one of great responsibility because the success of this organization depends to a great extent upon the attitude and skills of the presiding officer.” After lighting the candle, Parrish placed the red candle on top of the candelabra.

From this candle, all other candles, which were lit by incoming Board members Devon Dwyer, vice president; Elaine Anderson, secretary;  and Stephanie Morgan, treasurer. Each officer pledged to faithfully perform all duties belonging to their elected offices. “Your candles are a symbol to burn bright for the coming year,” said Thompson.

The Port St. Lucie Business Women is a 41-year-old, 501 (c) (6) non-profit professional organization dedicated to promoting the interests of businesswomen and serving our community. For more information, visit Follow their Facebook page for updates about events, programs and community involvement.

Dec. 6, 2021|

Is Your Business Ready for Holiday Foot Traffic?

Is Your Business Ready for Holiday Foot Traffic?



With the holiday season upon us, and one that includes supply chain challenges and labor shortages, “rebound shopping” will occur as many felt they missed out on retail experiences over the past year. But the main tip we’ve taken from news stories over the past few weeks is that starting early is a must. According to a RetailMeNot survey, 83% of holiday shoppers indicate they’ll get started before Thanksgiving and 30% say they’re starting even earlier than they did last year.

Other holiday shopping trends of import this year include simplified methods for returning items and also free shipping. So how can businesses and organizations set themselves apart in this unique holiday season? With an effective visual communication strategy for all by keeping these three things in mind:

1. Signs for savings

While some may have some extra funds due to limited time getting out and about over the past year, most savvy shoppers are still looking for a great bargain. From hanging signs to window graphics and festive cutouts, retailers can entice customers by visually communicating any deals or shipping discounts. A-frames can also grab the attention of passersby in a retail space who might just stop in because of the savings a store is offering. Banners and banner stands can also assist with your communication strategy this holiday season.

2. Signs for holiday foot traffic

With very little time and a need to move quickly through a shopping space, retail establishments can set themselves apart by incorporating signs with their customers top-of-mind. Stanchions can assist with crowd control for checkout lines while well-marked areas for different services can help shoppers move throughout the space and complete their holiday needs in a timely manner. Signs can also help highlight and point the way to departments and gift sections that might be a little off the main traffic path. It just might help them find the perfect gift they were searching for!

3. Signs for seamless pickup options

If curbside pickup or options to order online and pickup instore aren’t in your business vocabulary, it’s time to re-shape your plan. Click and collect options hit their heyday in 2020, and their popularity means they’re here to stay. The National Retail Federation discovered that Buy Online Pickup In Store actually improved shoppers’ experience for 70% of those surveyed as it increased convenience. 90% of customers claimed they were more likely to choose a store based on experience. With experience as a large part of why someone might choose your store over a competitor, invest a few moments in a holiday audit by walking around your store to assess any areas that might require more signage for a positive shopping experience.

The holly jolly time is fast approaching. Are you ready for the early onset of holiday shoppers that have been advised not to postpone checking off their list this year?

Nov. 29, 2021|

Port St. Lucie Business Women install new board at holiday gathering

PORT ST. LUCIE – The Port St. Lucie Business Women ended their 38th year with the Installation of new Board members at its holiday party on Dec. 6 at the Legacy Golf and Tennis Club in PGA Village in St. Lucie West.

Installation Committee member Elaine Anderson welcomed members and their guests to celebrate […]

Dec. 11, 2018|

Real Stone & Granite Receives MIA Accreditation

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Real Stone & Granite, the area’s top custom fabricator of granite and marble, has earned the coveted designation of Accredited Natural Stone Fabricator by MIA+BSI: The Natural Stone Institute. Accredited Natural Stone Fabricators are companies that fabricate and install natural dimension stone. “It is a testament to the hard work […]

May. 15, 2018|

CEO of New Horizons Announces Retirement

FORT PIERCE — John Romano, CEO of New Horizons of the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee, will retire at the end of 2018 after thirty years of service to the community’s nonprofit provider of mental health and substance abuse services.

During Romano’s career, New Horizons has grown throughout Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie Counties […]

Apr. 13, 2018|