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Business Observer Friday, Sep. 21, 2007 14 years ago

Corporate Report

Florida Bank Group buys Cygnet FinancialGeoPharma's acquisition of Dynamic Health delayedBradenton cigar distributor lands Royal AgioTech Data division inksBreece Hill, Double-Take dealsArtisTree Landscape listed in Inc.'s Top 5,000TIB Financialissues six-cent dividendProgressive Employer Services listed in Inc. 5,000Beasley Broadcast Groupissuing dividendSun Hydraulics offers new dividendEnglewood Bank VP becomes NorthStar Bank CFOi9 Sports franchise adds 100th adds businessesPort Manatee agrees to deal with Logistec for mobile craneChicos comparables down, August sales up

Corporate Report

CORPORATE REPORT by Sean Roth | Real Estate Editor

Florida Bank Group buys Cygnet Financial

Florida Bank Group Inc., a Tampa-based financial holding company,  has completed its acquisition of Cygnet Financial Corp. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Cygnet Private Bank of Ponte Vedra Beach. The purchase mainly consisted of FBG stock.

As of June 30, Cygnet had total assets of $104 million and operated one office in Ponte Vedra Beach. Cygnet Private Bank will operate for a while as a separate FBG subsidiary, but eventually, the banking operations of Cygnet Private Bank will be combined with those of FBG's Bank of North Florida. On a pro forma basis, the combined banks will have assets of about $150 million.

"The northeast Florida market continues to be an attractive growth market, and we look forward to expanding our business and consumer relationships," Corey Coughlin, FBG president and CEO, said in a press release.

Florida Bank Group Inc. currently has three wholly owned subsidiaries: Bank of St. Petersburg, Bank of North Florida and The Bank of Tallahassee.

GeoPharma's acquisition

of Dynamic Health delayed

Largo-based GeoPharma Inc. says its plans to buy Dynamic Health Products have been pushed back to later next month. The company originally announced it planned to close on the purchase Aug. 31, but says that "certain considerations" have slowed down the closing.

At the same time, the company also reports its stock buy-back program has been delayed because of blackout periods and what it refers to as "pending important news announcements." The board had planned to buy up a million shares of stock.

"We firmly believe that the market is not recognizing the proper value of GeoPharma as a company," Jugal Taneja, chairman of the board, said in a press release. "If GeoPharma continues to trade at these levels and there are no regulatory ramifications to the company, we will obviously look to purchase shares in the open market."

The company also scheduled a second quarter earnings and guidance for the remainder of its fiscal year of 2008, which ends March 31, 2008, for a meeting on Nov. 14.

GeoPharma is a pharmaceutical company specializing in the manufacturing and distribution of over-the-counter, nutritional, generic drug and functional food products.

Ultroid Technologies 

appoints new operations head

St. Petersburg-based medical manufacturer Ultroid Technologies Inc. has added Don Wilmoth as president of field operations.

Ultroid CEO Michael Cao said Wilmoth was added because of the company's need to develop product name recognition. 

"Ultroid benefits through Wilmoth's understanding of the distribution side of marketing and the promotion of Ultroid's rising star," Cao said in a press release. Wilmoth was previously Blue Medical vice president.

Ultroid Technologies Inc. produces the painless non-surgical Ultroid Hemorrhoid Management System.

Bradenton cigar distributor

lands Royal Agio

Starting next month, Bradenton's DomRey Cigar Inc. will become the exclusive distributor of the Royal Agio Cigar brands Panter and Mehari's in the United States. DomRey Cigar currently distributes the Cuvee, Cusano, and Perfect Cut brands.

"They sell about 800 million sticks a year," says Clif Randolph, manager of public relations for DomRey Cigar. "Of that, about 10 million is sold in the U.S. It was just a great opportunity for us. They're probably the third largest producer in the world."

Royal Agio approached DomRey, which operates a 10,000-square-foot flex building in Manasota Industrial Park, according to Randolph.

"We have a humidor that covers two-thirds of that building," Randolph says. "It's really a state of the art distribution system. We will likely wind up staffing up because of this."

Tech Data division inks

Breece Hill, Double-Take deals

The Advanced Infrastructure Solutions Division of Clearwater-based IT-product distributor Tech Data Corp. has expanded its data backup and disaster recovery solutions offering with distribution agreements with Breece Hill and Double-Take Software. "AIS is strategically assembling the channel's broadest and most comprehensive array of data center solutions based on industry-standard technologies," Senior Vice President and General Manager Pete Peterson said in a press release.

ArtisTree Landscape

listed in Inc.'s Top 5,000

Venice-based ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design has earned a national ranking on Inc. Magazine's Top 5,000 List at number 3,292 in the county and number 49 in the Environmental Services industry in the country.

TIB Financial

issues six-cent dividend

Naples-based financial services company TIB Financial Corp. reported its board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of six cents per share of its common stock. The dividend is payable Oct. 10, to TIB Financial stockholders of record as of Sept. 30. This cash dividend, when annualized, represents twenty-four cents per share. The bank reports total assets of $1.4 billion and 19 full-service offices.

Progressive Employer Services

listed in Inc. 5,000

Sarasota-based PEO Progressive Employer Services, was named to Inc. Magazine's 5,000 list of the fastest growing privately held companies in the nation. The company was ranked 2,585, and posted a three-year growth rate of 134%.

To qualify for the list, private companies must have been founded prior to 2003 and reported revenue of at least $2 million in 2006.

Beasley Broadcast Group

issuing dividend

Naples-based radio broadcaster Beasley Broadcast Group Inc. announced that its board of directors has declared a quarterly dividend of six-and-a-quarter cents for each share of its Class A and B common stock. The dividend is payable Oct.19 to shareholders of record Sept. 28.

Beall's board grows

with former RadioShack CIO

Evelyn Follit will join Beall's Inc. board of directors in December.

Follit currently operates Follit Associates, a corporate executive career strategies and executive coaching practice. Until February 2005, Follit was senior vice president-chief organizational enabling services officer and chief information officer for RadioShack Corp. Before joining RadioShack, she served in various leadership roles at ACNielsen, Dun&Bradstreet, ITT and IBM.

Follit has received numerous awards including being named as one of the 50 most powerful people in retail I/T by "Executive Technology" magazine in 2003, and in 2004 and being named a co-recipient of the Society for Information Management's "CIO of the Year" award.

Sun Hydraulics

offers new dividend

Sarasota-based Sun Hydraulics Corp. announced a nine-cent-per-share dividend on its common stock. The dividend is payable Oct. 15, to shareholders of record as of Sept. 30.

Sun Hydraulics is a designer and manufacturer of high performance screw-in hydraulic cartridge valves and manifolds.

Colonial Tampa bank officer

becomes lending CEO

Lee R. Martino has been promoted to president and CEO of lending for the commercial, mortgage and private banking lending activities for Colonial Bank's West Coast Florida region. In addition, the association services division will continue to report to Martino, and his office will remain in the Colonial Bank Tampa Bay office, located at 400 N. Tampa St.

Martino has been serving as Colonial's director of association services since 2004. He was responsible for budgeting, sales and operations of the division that processes payments for more than 700,000 condo and homeowner units throughout the bank's five-state footprint. In addition, Martino managed the lending function for that line of business.

"Lee has the experience and leadership qualities to excel in his new position," Robert E. Lowder, Colonial BancGroup chairman, CEO and president, said in a press release.

Previously, Martino served in multiple capacities with First Union/Wachovia, including market president for Pinellas County.

Englewood Bank VP

becomes NorthStar Bank CFO

Robert "Todd" Ernest has joined Tampa-based NorthStar Bank as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Ernest was previously senior vice president and information officer at Englewood Bank, where he supervised the accounting, technology, bookkeeping, proof, maintenance and security operations. He oversaw the bank's conversion to a new accounting system, an updated Internet banking application and an enhanced bill payment system.

He also formerly served as controller, senior vice president and chief information officer with American Bank and Trust of Polk County; CFO, CRA and compliance officer at First Exchange Bank of Mannington in West, Vir., and compliance and CRA officer with City National Bank of Fairmont in West, Va.. He has also been adjunct professor of Computer Information Science at Webber International University and was co-author and a contributing author for a number of books on information technology as well as fraud detection and prevention.

i9 Sports franchise

adds 100th company

Brandon-based i9 Sports Corp. has announced the opening of its 100th franchise location. Jeff and Katie Kraft in Chesterfield County, Va., purchased the latest i9 Sports franchise. The Kraft's total initial investment was about $60,000 in exchange for the rights to operating the i9 Sports name with 10 youth sports in a 350,000-population territory.

The franchise deal included classroom and field training, on-going support, equipment and supplies, proprietary software, custom website, a marketing game plan focused on increasing brand awareness, and bulk volume discounts on a several items from insurance to jerseys.

Since launching the franchise in late 2003, i9 Sports boasts more than 100,000 members in 25 states with kids participating in leagues and camps for flag football, soccer, and basketball.

The company plans to open another 80 to 100 franchises in the U.S. over the next two years. In addition, i9 Sports officials are said to be working on gain trademark approval in 31 countries in order to establish itself as an international youth sports franchise brand over the next four years.

Tampa-based Momentum Franchise Systems Inc. owns the two amateur sports league franchises: i9 Sports and Amp'd Athletics.

adds businesses

The Sarasota-based online real estate search Web site has added 2.3 million business to its free Web site.

The addition is designed to allow homebuyers to see not only a potential home site, but also the nearby businesses.

"Next to the home itself, neighborhood businesses are a critical part of that decision-making process, and we make that information easier than ever to find," John M. Beck, company founder and president, said in a press release. also provides information on schools, police and fire departments and the homes of sex offenders.

Port Manatee agrees to deal

with Logistec for mobile crane

The Manatee County Port Authority has backed buying the port's first mobile harbor container crane in partnership with Logistec USA Inc. The crane will allow the port to start servicing containerized traffic and is expected to have a significant impact on port operations.

Under the terms of the acquisition and operation agreement, Logistec will purchase a $3.9 million Gottwald crane and deliver it to the port. Once the crane is certified as operational, the Manatee County Port Authority has 90 days to pay Logistec half of the total purchase price. The port's half will come from a state transportation grants. 

Logistec has in turn agreed to lease back the crane from the port for more than the authority's monthly purchase costs for the 15-year life of the partnership affectively guaranteeing the port income from the deal. The agreement also includes a profit-sharing plan designed to allow Port Manatee to earn additional revenue based on the crane's monthly hours of operation.

The crane, which is expected to be operational before the start of the 2007 melon season in November, will be titled to the authority and is capable of working at multiple berths. 

Chicos comparables down, August sales up

Fort Myers-based specialty retailer Chico's FAS Inc. continued its mixed-bag results for August with sales increasing, but comparables continuing to decline.

The company reported that its sales for the four-weeks ended Sept. 1 increased 6.3% to $118.8 million from $111.8 million reported for the four-week period ended Aug. 26, 2006. Comparable store sales for the company-owned stores decreased 9.3% for the four-week period ended Sept. 1 compared to the same four-week period last year ended Sept. 2, 2006.

On a thirty-week basis, total sales increased 11.3% to $1.01 billion from $906 million reported for the thirty-week period ended Aug. 26, 2006. Comparable store sales for the company-owned stores decreased 4.3% for the thirty weeks ended Sept. 1 versus the thirty-week period last year ending Sept. 2, 2006.

Chico's FAS operates 967 women's specialty stores under the Chico's, White House | Black Market and Soma Intimates names.


August Sales (dollars in millions)

Comparable Store Sales Percent Increase

Fiscal 2006 Fiscal 2007 Total Sales Fiscal Comparable

$111.8 $118.8 6.3% (7.3)% (9.3)%

Year-to Date Sales (dollars in millions)

Comparable Store Sales Percent Increase

Fiscal 2006 Fiscal 2007 Total Sales Fiscal Comparable

$0.91 $1.01 11.3% (3.8)% (4.3)%

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