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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006 13 years ago

Coffee Talk

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What's the future for Source Interlink? Sarasota County is considering nearly tripling its impact-fee assessments on new developments, despite the sluggish housing market.MarineMax, left out of Boating Industry magazine's annual top 100 listCoffee Talk realizes, obviously, that no one who reads the Review can be categorized as a bad boss. Still, the results of a Florida State University study on the employee-employer relationship are telling, in terms of what it means for employee performance and retention.Here's another indication that Florida's growth is pushing inland: Naples-based TIB Financial is opening a TIB Bank branch in Sebring. Gary Hoyle expected to be busy when he announced plans earlier this year to take the Peach's Rise and Dine breakfast/lunch concept national on a franchising basis.

Coffee Talk

+ Source Interlink suspense builds

What's the future for Source Interlink?

Investors are wondering why it's taking so long for the Bonita Springs-based distributor of magazines and DVDs to map its future. In March, Source Interlink hired Deutsche Bank Securities to analyze its prospects and perhaps a sale, though company officials have remained tight-lipped.

One analyst on a recent earnings conference call noted dryly that it's taken longer to get the results of the Deutsche Bank analysis than it has for the Iraq Study Group to come to its conclusions.

"Our board remains engaged in our review of strategic alternatives," Source Interlink Chairman Michael Duckworth told analysts. "Since that process is continuing, I will not speculate on the potential outcome at this time."

Duckworth is a lieutenant of California billionaire Ronald Burkle, Source's largest shareholder. Duckworth replaced company founder Leslie Flegel, who resigned in November.

On Dec. 12, Source Interlink reported net income fell 21% in the third quarter to $4.8 million versus the same quarter last year because of higher debt, consolidation and tax expenses. Revenues rose 12% to $476 million. The stock (symbol SORC) fell 9% to $8.13 on Dec. 13, the day after the company released it earnings.

+ Interested in 180% impact fee hike?

Sarasota County is considering nearly tripling its impact-fee assessments on new developments, despite the sluggish housing market.

Such a jump would place total impact fees on a new home at more than $17,000. The road impact fees alone on a single-family home would rise from $2,874 to $8,060, a $180% leap. Medical offices would triple to more than $29,000 per 1,000 square feet, while restaurants would more than double to $18,449 per 1,000 square feet.

If you would like to have a say on this proposal, a public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 19, at Venice City Hall. County commissioners eagerly await your thoughts.

Too good to be number one?

Executives and store managers for MarineMax, the Clearwater-based national boat dealer, are no different from countless other business folks: They like to be number one.

But the publicly traded company, which had $1.2 billion in revenues in fiscal 2006, has performed so well, both in sales and service, that it can't be number one anymore. At least not on Boating Industry magazine's annual Top 100 list, a compilation of North American-based companies considered by some to be the Bible of boat builders. The firm is so far and above its competition, it's been permanently "retired" from the rankings, which were published late last month.

Says the Maple Grove, Minn.-based magazine, in a statement: "Having passed the billion-dollar mark for total revenue in the last year, MarineMax is now six-times larger than any other dealer in this year's ranking and has the revenue to fuel countless business initiatives not otherwise an option for smaller dealerships. Perhaps on a store-by-store basis, dealers could compete with a single MarineMax location, but as a corporation, its inclusion in the Top 100 creates a contest that would most likely find MarineMax atop the list every year."

Glenn Sandridge, MarineMax's vice president of marketing, tells Coffee Talk that from "a purely selfish standpoint," he and MarineMax wanted to retain the crown. But after speaking with the magazine's editors, Sandridge says, MarineMax went along with the forced retirement, reasoning that it makes sense to allow other companies a chance at the top spot, as any exposure for the industry will ultimately help MarineMax.

Still, executives with the number two firm on the list - another Gulf Coast firm, Anna Maria Island-based Galati Yacht Sales - aren't so sure they want the top spot the easy way. Mike Eiffert, Galati's CFO, says "we want the company to be judged on the merits." Galati Yacht Sales is a privately owned 35-year-old family business with 175 employees spread over eight Florida stores.

The Top 100 list is based on qualitative and quantitative data. In addition to revenue growth, magazine editors and judges look at factors such as overall business operations, customer service and marketing. In total, the 100 companies on the list represent more than $2.88 billion in retail sales, or nearly 8% of the $37 billion marine market, the magazine says.

As a consolation for dethroning MarineMax, the magazine created a "Best in Class" list, which automatically included MarineMax this time. The firm, however, will have to re-apply for that distinction every year.

And MarineMax doesn't intend to float away, now that's its place on the Top 100 list is no longer available. Sandridge says company executives will still maintain their high standards and store managers are still driven to reach sales goals by internal competition. The company has an annual Top Gun award given to the store manager with the best revenues, and the winner has yearlong bragging rights.

"We've never competed against other dealers," Sandridge says. "We compete against ourselves."

Spoken like a true number one.

-Mark Gordon

Top boating companies

Florida companies are heavily represented in Boating Industry magazine's Top 100 list of North America's best boat dealers. The list, published in late November, uses a combination of sales growth and customer service and marketing techniques to come up with the rankings. Florida has 16 companies on the 2006 list, with six from the Gulf Coast, including one each from Anna Maria, Longboat Key and Marco Island.

Here's how the Florida ranked companies ranked:

1. MarineMax, Clearwater

2. Galati Yacht Sales, Anna Maria

18. Parker Boat Co., Inc., Orlando

21. Marina One, Deerfield Beach

34. Liquid Sports Marine, Orlando

36. Cannons Marina, Inc., Longboat Key

40. Thunder Marine, Inc., St. Petersburg

43. Marine Connection, Inc., W. Palm Beach

52. Legendary Marine, Destin

62. Jet Ski of Miami & Fisherman's Boat Group, Miami

80. Quality Boats of Clearwater, Inc., Clearwater

82. Apopka Marine, Inc., Inverness

85. Islamorada Boat Center, Islamorada

91. Mount Dora Boating Center, Mount Dora

96. Trapper Custom Marine, Marco Island

100. SunDance Marine, Inc., Fort Lauderdale

+ Big problems for bad bosses

Coffee Talk realizes, obviously, that no one who reads the Review can be categorized as a bad boss. Still, the results of a Florida State University study on the employee-employer relationship are telling, in terms of what it means for employee performance and retention.

The survey, to be published in an upcoming issue of Leadership Quarterly, was conducted by an associate professor and two doctoral students in FSU's College of Business. The group surveyed more than 700 people in various roles and jobs about how they feel their boss treats them. Among the results:

• Thirty-one percent reported their supervisor gave them the "silent treatment" in the past year;

• Thirty-seven percent reported their supervisor failed to give credit when due;

• Thirty-nine percent noted said their supervisor failed to keep promises;

• Twenty-seven percent said their supervisor made negative comments about them to other employees or managers;

• Twenty-four percent reported their supervisor invaded their privacy;

• Twenty-three percent indicated their supervisor blames others to cover up mistakes or to minimize embarrassment.

Add all of that together, the researches concluded, and what's left is "more exhaustion, job tension, nervousness, depressed mood and mistrust." Those employees, the survey said, were also less likely to take on additional tasks, such as working longer or on weekends, and were generally less satisfied with their job.

+ TIB Financial makes the move inland

Here's another indication that Florida's growth is pushing inland: Naples-based TIB Financial is opening a TIB Bank branch in Sebring. That's in Highlands County, smack in the middle of the state and due east of Bradenton.

TIB Financial has its roots in the Florida Keys and has been growing up the Gulf Coast, opening branches and acquiring existing banks. However, TIB President and CEO Ed Lett says population and economic growth has been pushing inland too. "Migration to the center of the state is currently accelerating and being driven by the lower cost of living as compared to much of coastal Florida," he says.

In fact, TIB has had a residential-loan production office in Sebring for about five years and the new branch is an expansion of that facility.

TIB Financial reported $1.3 billion in assets and recently agreed to acquire The Bank of Venice for $16 million in cash and stock. The company is publicly traded (symbol TIBB, recent stock price $17.42).

+ Cranor the sailorman

shivering some timbers

John Cranor, the head of the New College Foundation and an experienced leader of several fast food companies profiled in the March 24 Review, is taking his expertise to the land of Popeye.

He doesn't intend to increase his daily ration of spinach, but he will serve on the board of Atlanta-based AFC Enterprises, the parent company of Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, the national fast food chain. Cranor, a Sarasota resident, has served as CEO of both Long John Silver's and KFC. He's also worked in executive roles with PepsiCo. and Wilson Sporting Goods.

Cranor's current day job is running the New College of Florida Foundation, a nonprofit venture that receives and invests funds for the Sarasota-based liberal arts school. Cranor, a Vietnam veteran, has an MBA from Harvard and is a member of New College's Class of 1964, the schools' first graduating class.

+ Peaches are selling like hotcakes

Gary Hoyle expected to be busy when he announced plans earlier this year to take the Peach's Rise and Dine breakfast/lunch concept national on a franchising basis. But the veteran entrepreneur and CEO (see Review, 9/15/06) has even surprised himself with the level of interest coming in to Peach's Bradenton headquarters.

The latest to buy into the Peach's concept is Joseph Spates, a Dallas-based entrepreneur who owns stakes in several other franchises, including CiCi's Pizza, through his PR&D of DFW Inc. Spates and a partner also have the rights to open 100 Firehouse Subs franchises in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. "This isn't his first rodeo," Hoyle tells Coffee Talk.

Spates read about the franchising efforts at Peach's in a September issue of Nations' Restaurant News. A few phone calls and research trips later, Hoyle says, the pair was signing initial franchise agreements. Spates was awarded a minimum of 20 locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area - those would be the first Peach's in Texas.

Hoyle says Peach's has been busy on some other fronts, too. The first franchisee-owned restaurant in Sarasota opened late last month in the Landings, a strip mall connected to a large housing development. And Hoyle tells Coffee Talk he expects to have announcements early next year on store openings in the Columbus, Ohio area, under earlier franchise agreements.

Hoyle says the franchise concept has been an easy sell as restaurateurs like the simple formula, which includes not having to be open dinner hours. "Everybody coming forward for us gets it," says Hoyle. "They understand the beauty of this lifestyle and the restaurant industry."

What's Ahead

Jan. 25 - The Southwest Florida Real Estate Outlook conference will feature Florida economist Hank Fishkind and other speakers who will discuss the commercial real estate market from 7 a.m. until noon at Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers. The conference is sponsored by the CCIM commercial real estate organization. Cost is $50 for members; $60 for nonmembers. For more information, visit http://southwestfl.ccimnet.com or call Tim Becker at 239-390-1241.

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