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Business Observer Friday, Oct. 6, 2006 13 years ago

Corporate Report

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Gevity opens new Chicago officeTIB Financial Splitting StockHillcrest Bank Florida starts retirement branch expansionCarbiz plans store expansion, targets FloridaFort Myers site for new GMC dealershipProgress Energy pushing for efficiency programsSarasota Memorial tops healthcare consumer choiceSchifino Lee Advertising produces Networking ViewsIA Global appeals de-listing from AMEXNeoGenomics introduces new Genetic Pathology servicesSarasota Ritz to host government healthcare conference

Corporate Report

Gevity opens new Chicago office

Bradenton-based comprehensive employment management company Gevity opened a new Chicago office, which will serve as the hub for the company's newly created North Central region. Additional new sales offices this year are expected to include Austin, Texas; San Antonio; and Charlotte, N.C., with an average of one opening per month planned for 2007.

Gevity officials hope the new Chicago office will give the company a stronger foothold in its expansion into the Midwest.

"Our multi-layer growth strategy includes a focus on new market development," says Erik Vonk, Gevity chairman and CEO. "The new market team identified key locations based on market dynamics, as well as service delivery capability. Chicago fit extremely well within these parameters. ...[A]s part of our planned expansion, we created a new North Central region that will have Chicago at its core."

The new North Central region will be led by recently appointed regional vice president Zoa Norman. Norman has led startup efforts in Chicago as executive vice president of Sales and Marketing for BPO Management. Prior to BPO, she launched and grew Adecco's HR Services business to more than $20 million in revenue.

The Chicago office, at 300 South Wacker Drive, will be directed by newly appointed general manager Chuck Weinles.

TIB Financial Splitting Stock

The Board of Directors for Naples-based TIB Financial Corp., the holding company for TIB Bank, has approved a 2-for-1 stock split for shareholders of record on Oct. 9. TIB shareholders will receive one additional share of common stock for each stock held. Certificates for the additional shares will be issued to shareholders Oct. 23, and the stock will begin trading on the NASDAQ on a split-adjusted basis the following day. Additionally, the Board of Directors approved an increase in the number of common shares authorized from 20 million to 40 million.

"We believe the stock split will make the stock more affordable to the individual investor, while keeping the resulting price per share and number of shares outstanding comparable to other industry leading companies," says Edward Lett, CEO and president of TIB.

TIB Financial Corp. holds about $1.23 billion in total assets and operates 16 banking offices throughout the Florida Keys, Homestead, Naples, Bonita Springs and Fort Myers.

Hillcrest Bank Florida starts retirement branch expansion

Naples-based Hillcrest Bank Florida opened two retirement center branch offices in Naples. The two full-service branches are part of the bank's long-term strategy to create branches in retirement centers throughout the state. The two newest offices are at The Carlisle Naples, at 6945 Carlisle Court, and the Homewood Residence at Naples, 770 Goodlette-Frank Road N. Hillcrest Bank officials also plan to open a retirement center branch at The Carlisle Palm Beach in Lantana in November.

"This is a segment of the market that hasn't been fully explored locally and it is another way of introducing customers to Hillcrest, " says Ronald Rucker, president and CEO of Hillcrest Bank.

Carbiz plans store expansion, targets Florida

Executives for Sarasota-based Carbiz Inc. have charted out their growth objectives for the buy-here, pay-here automotive finance marketplace, and it's heavily focused on new-store growth. After moving Carbiz's shares from a Canadian exchange to the United States Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board, Carbiz officials are now looking to expand the Carbiz Auto Credit chain of stores from three to 15 in Florida over the next four years.

"We have the internal capacity to develop personnel through our training and consulting group, and we are poised to manage this expansion using existing infrastructure," says Carl Ritter, Carbiz CEO. "We believe Florida has excellent economics for this expansion due to the substantial service industry in the state. America's Car-Mart (NASDAQ:CRMT) operates a profitable 90-store buy-here, pay-here operation and has strong trading multiples and growth history."

Carbiz provides software, training and consulting services to the U.S. auto dealers. Carbiz has started trading on over the counter bulletin board under the symbol CBZFF.OB.

Fort Myers site for new GMC dealership

Davie-based Palm Peterbilt-GMC Trucks opened a new medium- and heavy-duty truck dealership in Fort Myers. The dealership is the company's fourth location; it has existing dealerships in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach.

"We had a parts-only store in Fort Myers for the past 10 years, but, due to the overwhelming demand ... we built a new facility to accommodate our customers," says David Weiger, president and CEO for the more than 40-year-old Palm Peterbilt-GMC Trucks.

Rocco Cavallo, formerly parts and service manager of the Fort Lauderdale location for the past 25 years, was promoted to general manager for the new Fort Myers store.

The dealership currently employs 20 people, but is already looking to add another eight or 10 employees.

Progress Energy pushing for efficiency programs

St. Petersburg-based Progress Energy Florida asked the Public Service Commission for approval to significantly expand its energy-efficiency programs. The request calls for the creation of two new programs and adding 39 new measures to existing programs. According to Progress Energy employees, this will help customers save money on their electric bills by providing financial incentives to implement energy-efficient measures and through participation in renewable-energy programs.

The Neighborhood Energy Saver program would assist low-income households in installing energy-efficient household items such as compact fluorescent light bulbs and low-flow shower heads and faucets. The second program encourages residential customers to install a solar thermal water heating system through special incentives.

Known collectively as demand-side management, the programs encourage customers, contractors and builders to use electricity more wisely and to adopt renewable energy technology.

The company says that demand-side management has saved its customers more than $750 million in energy costs since 1981 and saved more than 10 billion kilowatt-hours (of electricity - enough energy to power the city of Orlando for more than two years.)

In other news, Progress Energy has completed installation of 1.5 million digital meters for residential customers in Florida. The company began installing the meters in July 2005. In the Carolinas, installation of 1.2 million meters began in October 2005 and will conclude in the first quarter of 2007. The technology is designed to provide a less intrusive meter-reading process that is more accurate than existing process and at the same time less expensive to operate.

Progress Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Progress Energy, provides electricity and related services to more than 1.6 million customers in Florida.

Sarasota Memorial tops healthcare consumer choice

The National Research Corp. (NRC), an independent healthcare performance measurement company based in Lincoln, Neb., has named the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System a 2006/2007 Consumer Choice Award winner for the Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice metropolitan area. The award seeks to identify hospitals that consumers have chosen as having the highest quality and image ratings in 186 markets throughout the nation.

The winners, who rank highest in their Metropolitan Statistical Areas, were determined by consumer perceptions collected in a Healthcare Market Guide study, which surveyed more than 200,000 households across the U.S. It was the ninth consecutive year that Sarasota Memorial received the award.

Schifino Lee Advertising produces Networking Views

Tampa-based Schifino Lee Advertising & Public Relations created and distributed the latest edition of Networking Views for the telecommunications giant AT&T. This is the first time Schifino Lee has printed Networking Views in five languages to a worldwide distribution of 25,000 senior corporate executives.

The magazine, printed in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, was distributed in the United States, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

Networking Views was initially a customer newsletter; however, today, it's written in conjunction with The Economist Intelligence Unit, and focuses on events and trends in global telecommunications. 

IA Global appeals de-listing from AMEX

Tampa-based Japanese-telecom consolidator IA Global Inc. received notice that the American Stock Exchange is proceeding with an application to the Securities and Exchange Commission to remove the stock from the exchange. The exchange says IA Global should be de-listed because the company's shareholder's equity is less than $6 million and losses from continuing operations and/or net losses were incurred in the last five fiscal years.

The company submitted a plan on July 16 advising the stock exchange to return the company to compliance with the applicable listing standards.

NeoGenomics introduces new Genetic Pathology services

Fort Myers-based NeoGenomics, Inc. a clinical laboratory that specializes in cancer genetic diagnostic testing, released a new comprehensive testing service targeting cancer treatments and prevention and hematology, the study of blood diseases. This new offering called Genetic Pathology Solutions combines the results of cytogenetics, fluorescence in-situ hybridization, flow cytometry and morphological testing onto one comprehensive laboratory report.

"Given the accuracy of genetic testing, more oncology practices are using these services to assist in diagnosing hematological cancers," says Robert Gasparini, president and chief scientific officer for NeoGenomics.

One of the big advantageous of the new services over conventional genetic testing, according to company officials, is the overall quick turn-around-times. The company promotes the fact that because of that speed, the results of several genetic tests can be presented in one comprehensive test report, typically in about four or five days.

NeoGenomics also announced that Dr. Frank Yang, M.D., Ph.D, FCAP, has joined the company as its chief hematopathologist. Before joining NeoGenomics, Yang worked with Dr. Raul Braylan, a legendary authority in flow cytometric analysis of lymphoma and leukemia at the University of Florida. Yang's work experience includes hematopathologist and clinical assistant professor at the University of Florida, chief hematopathologist at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center and laboratory director of the Tomah VA Medical Center in Wisconsin.

Sarasota Ritz to host government healthcare conference

Alan Plush, the senior partner of HealthTrust, LLC and founding member of the Executive Board of the National Medicaid/Medicare Conference, has announced that the 11th annual national Medicaid/Medicare Conference will be held March 13-15, 2007 at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. The event is designed to offer vital information on nuance and change in Medicaid/Medicare regulation, as well as offering participants a chance to enjoy golf and fishing outings.

"The brightest and best industry professionals attend this conference annually to stay current with the issues that surround Medicaid and Medicare," says Plush.

The March Conference is produced by Founding Sponsor HealthTrust, LLC and other participating sponsors include: CapitalSource Healthcare Finance; GE Healthcare Financial Services; Capmark Finance, Inc; PRN Marshall Capital, La Salle Bank and CIT Group, Inc.

Registration and reservations can be made online at www.nmmc.us.

Etc...

• Jack Rybicki, a partner in Chastang Ferrell Sims & Eiserman LLC in Tampa, has been elected treasurer of the state support group for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, Florida Venture Forum's Board of Directors. In addition to managing the operations of the office, he oversees the firm's audit and accounting advisory services practice and business development initiatives in this market. The Tampa practice is focused on providing accounting and audit services to emerging and growth-oriented companies, with an emphasis on companies in technology-related industries.

Before joining CFSE in February 2003, Rybicki served for three years as the Chief Financial Officer of GoCo-op, Inc., a privately held provider of electronic commerce services to the hospitality industry.

• AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. is introducing nonstop service between Chicago (Midway) International Airport and Southwest Florida International Airport.

• Elizabeth "Liz" Paul, a member of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach, received the 2006 Associate Realtor of the Year Award from the Florida Association of Realtors. Paul was the association's president in 1998 and successfully merged two Realtor organizations into one. Paul is active in the local Women's Council of Realtors, including as a past president and member of the year. She has received the local association's Realtor of the Year and its Humanitarian of the Year awards. On the state level, Paul has been a FAR director for many years and served as FAR's District 5 Vice President.

• Scholfield Realty Inc. is celebrating 50 years of service from their newest location in West Bradenton at 400 59th St. W., just north of the intersection of 59th Street and Manatee Avenue.

• Largo-based Ker's WingHouse Bar & Grill will open its fourth Texas location in Mesquite. "My goal for 11 years has been the same: build up Florida and then build up the Dallas area," says WingHouse founder, owner and former Dallas Cowboy Crawford Ker.

• Southfield, Mich.-based Arcadia Resources Inc. is opening six more Arcadia Home Medical Supply centers inside Wal-Mart stores, including in Bradenton. The new locations, acquired from Companion Health Services, will join the St. Petersburg Wal-Mart location that opened in August.

The stores provide durable medical and respiratory equipment, including sleep apnea equipment, nebulizers, and other in-home health care products, in addition to patient-safety items and mobility devices ranging from wheelchairs, scooters, stairway lifts and walkers, to orthopedic support, bathroom safety items and adjustable beds.

• The Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County (EDC) elected the following officers for the 2006-07 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2006: Hugh Middlebrooks of Williams, Parker, Harrison, Dietz & Getzen, chairman; John Swart of Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty, past chairman; Dr. Sarah Pappas of Manatee Community College, vice chair; Anne Merrill of AMDS Inc., secretary; Allan Barberio of Kerkering, Barberio & Co., treasurer; and Kathy Baylis, president.

Newly appointed directors include Lindy Smith of Aladdin Equipment Co. Inc., representing the Suncoast Workforce Board; Margaret Callihan of SunTrust Bank, representing the Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau; William Herman, representing the Sarasota County Arts Council; and Pamela G. Truitt of Truitt Consulting, representing the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

• Group EFO Limited, a creative marketing agency, has moved from Weston, Conn., to Siesta Key.

 • Jacksonville-based Modis Inc., the information technology (IT) staffing business unit of MPS Group, Inc. opened new offices in San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas, and in Tampa. Following its entry into Wilmington, Del., and Austin, Texas, earlier this year, Modis now offers services in 50 market areas across the United States.

• Bradenton's Peach's Franchise LLC, the company franchising Peach's Rise & Dine Restaurants, appointed G.P. "Butch" Velie as chief operating officer and Shawn Bell as director of training. Velie is a co-founder of the company and has served as vice president and general counsel since its inception. The move is designed to allow CEO and President Gary Hoyle to focus on the company's national expansion, strategic alliances, branding and international opportunities. Hoyle will continue to be involved in franchise sales and franchisee relations.

Velie's franchising experience includes serving as vice president, general counsel of the Columbus, Ohio-based Charley's Grilled Subs restaurant chain and executive vice president, general counsel with Health Management Group Inc., an Akron, Ohio-based franchisor of weight loss centers. He also served as corporate counsel for G.D. Ritzy's Inc., a publicly owned, quick-service restaurant chain and franchisor based in Columbus, OH.

• Bonita Springs-based Airborne Inc. adds Airborne On-the-Go and Airborne Nighttime formulas to its arsenal of dietary supplement immune-boosting products.

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