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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Nov. 12, 2004 16 years ago

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

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This week's items: New owners and market for ClarkeBank spars with analystNational tenant foretold for palm reader shopQuay negotiations continue

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

New owners and market for Clarke

Tim Clarke is stepping aside from the advertising firm he founded 18 years ago. In January, ownership of Sarasotais Clarke Advertising and Public Relations will transfer to Bill Pierson, agency president; Patricia Courtois, account service vice president; and Art Mahoney, business development director. All of the new owners have experience running advertising agencies in other markets.

The changes are part of the firmis plan to become more of a national player. In addition to opening a satellite office in Denver, Pierson says the agency will take steps to become highly specialized.

iOne of the great things about this area,i he says, iis that we have the opportunity of being in one of the epicenters of the affluent aging population. We are in the middle of becoming very concentrated on this groupis buying habits and how to market to them. Another area that will allow us a big national foothold is the whole concept of products and services that make home work better and easier.i

One of Clarke Advertisingis largest clients is Ocala-based Closetmaid, which manufactures and sells home storage and organizational products.

iThese are not glamour products; they just make peopleis lives work better,i Pierson says. iWe are going to concentrate on a couple core competencies that will transcend the geographic boundaries.i

As for the Denver office, Pierson confesses that part of the reason for that satellite office relates to a former advertising agency he ran for eight years in the market.

iIt is a little bit selfishness,i Pierson says. iI was born there. (But) I do see it as a great, compatible place to do business.i

Company officials say Clarke will remain with the firm for at least two years working on business development.

Bank spars with analyst

A SunTrust Banks Inc. spokeswoman doesnit hide her employeris feelings about Pinellas County banking analyst Richard X. Bove.

iWe hate him,i Susie Findell says flatly.

Hate is such an ugly word. But how else would you describe this relationship?

Bove says SunTrust executives no longer return his telephone calls, even when he is calling Atlanta to offer them an opportunity to present their side for his increasingly critical research reports.

iThey think itis personal and all this crap,i says Bove, who works for Punk Ziegel & Co.

There is a smidgen of truth to that. Bove, the consumer, used to bank at SunTrust. But he switched to Wachovia, for the same reason Bove says hundreds of other Floridians left SunTrust. He was tired of getting hit with new fees for banking services that used to be free.

Howis that for doing your own market research?

SunTrustis purported attempt to squeeze every last dime of profit from its customers, which Bove says ceased about 18 months ago, is the main reason that its Florida share of deposits has been dropping. It has declined to 10.21% from last yearis 10.96%.

To its credit, SunTrust brass is trying to make amends. iOur argument is itis too late,i says Bove.

Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp., which abandoned their own the-customer-is-always-wrong thrust a good year before SunTrust, is way ahead in stroking the Florida retail banking consumer. Both SunTrust rivals have the state market share gains to prove it.

While BB&T Corp. and Fifth Third Bancorp move aggressively into Florida, another industry analyst, Steven C. DeLaney at Ryan Beck & Co., says SunTrust is scouting for possible acquisitions in the Carolinas.

Bove has further alienated SunTrust by linking the departure of key Florida executives, including George Koehn, to the vanishing deposits. Koehn, SunTrustis 61-year-old Florida chief executive who previously headed the bankis Tampa operation, says his leaving is a routine retirement.

There is also an exodus of lower-level suits, particularly in the booming suburbs north of Tampa, which Bove finds peculiar. A few of those SunTrust veterans are turning up at community banks, where Bove doubts they are as well compensated.

That suggests to him that those bank officers did not leave voluntarily.

iThe bank says this is all coincidence,i says Bove. iI just put the facts out there for people to decide.i

Findell told GCBR that she had no further comment from SunTrust, which saw its stock fall nearly a dollar to around $71 during early trading on Nov. 10.

National tenant foretold for palm reader shop

At the center of development row sits a closed palm reader shop. But the rumors are wrong, the building, at 211 Tamiami Trail N., bordered by the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and the Splash Sun & Fun is just awaiting a new tenant.

iNo, we havenit been sold,i says Wesley MacAllister, secretary of Kanadiana Enterprises Inc., the company that owns the building.

MacAllister says that the palm reader, who had leased the space for the past 12 years, left in the middle of the lease about a month ago. iI think we are more than close to getting a national tenant for the space. We would entertain purchase offers though.i

Quay negotiations continue

Patrick iPaddyi Kellyis Irish American Properties, is still negotiating to acquire property surrounding the Sarasota Quay. iI think we should know where we are a month from now,i he says.

Kellyis organization is in negotiations with Noah Rosenberg, owner of the Splash Sun & Fun, at 231 N. Tamiami Trail, the individual owners at the 48-unit El Vernona condominium and the owner of the office building to the northern end of the Quay parking lot.

Rosenberg says that if his Tamiami Trail store is sold, he would direct his Sarasota customers to an existing store on Stickney Point Road.

Correction

A real estate story in the Oct. 22-28 edition listed an incorrect parcel. It should have said John Dart, a partner with the Sarasota law firm of Ruden, McClosky, Smith, Schuster and Russell PA, which represented Roundabout Properties, says the Quay ownership has the southeastern parcel, known as the Quayside Motel, under contract for $2.875 million.

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