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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 15, 2012 10 years ago

Bay entrepreneurs represent

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Two from Tampa Bay named Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs of the Year for Florida.

TAMPA — Rhonda Shear, president of women's intimate apparel retailer Shear Enterprises, is on a roll.

After winning the Business Review's Entrepreneur of the Year award in May, Shear won the Retail and Consumer Products category for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year awards for Florida.

Tampa Bay was well represented at the awards, which were announced at a gala Thursday night in Orlando. Charles Puccini, president and CEO of Odessa-based Bauer Foundation Corp., won the award for the Real Estate and Construction category, and Jabil Chairman William D. Morean, and CEO Timothy L. Main received the Florida Lifetime Achievement Award.

Shear, who jokingly refers to herself as a “bimbopreneur,” grew revenues from $4.7 million in 2009 to $74.5 million in 2011. At a reception for award finalists in May, she thanked HSN CEO Mindy Grossman, whom she called her inspiration.

Puccini, whose company is a leader in complex foundation and excavation work, attributes his company's success to shifting its business model to government work in the recession. “That's the thing about the federal government,” Puccini told attendees at the May reception. “If they don't have money, they just print it.”

Puccini and Shear will go on to the national Ernst & Young awards in November. The U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year Overall Award winner will then go on to compete for the worldwide award.

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year is a worldwide awards program highlighting entrepreneurial activity and leaders in more than 140 cities and more than 50 countries.

Shear and Puccini were among several finalists named from the West Central Florida area for the Florida Ernst & Young award. The others include:
Charles Murray, PPi Technologies Group in Sarasota;
Bobby Harris, BlueGrace Logistics in Riverview;
John Jerger Jr., American Traditions Insurance Co. and Modern USA Insurance Co. in Pinellas Park;
Richard Sanchez, Advantica in Clearwater;
Oscar Horton, Sun State International Trucks in Tampa; and
Steven MacDonald, myMatrixx in Tampa.

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