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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 30, 2004 18 years ago

Entrepreneur of the Year Finalists (Sara/Mana edition)

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Nine Sarasota and Manatee entrepreneurs have been selected as finalists for the Gulf Coast Business Review's Entrepreneur 2004 Award.

Entrepreneur of the Year Finalists (Sara/Mana edition)

Nine Sarasota and Manatee entrepreneurs have been selected as finalists for the Gulf Coast Business Review's Entrepreneur 2004 Award.

A winner and two runners-up will be announced May 14 at GCBR's seventh annual award luncheon, to be held at the Hyatt Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts.

This year's list of nominees includes the leaders of five Sarasota companies, two Bradenton companies, one Ellenton company and one Palmetto company. There are two real estate developers, two construction firms, two employee leasing entrepreneurs, an alcoholic beverage distributor, as well as a software entrepreneur and a pharmaceutical entrepreneur.

The list also includes familiar names from GCBR's Entrepreneur 2003 finalists list, including three from Sarasota: home builder John Cannon, distributor William Carey and employee leasing entrepreneur Steve Herrig. Bradenton pharmaceutical distributor Nick Generalovich, a 2003 runner-up, joins this year's list of finalists as well.

Winners will be chosen on the basis of their company's performance over the past three years, taking into consideration the economy and significant challenges confronted by the entrepreneurs. The winners are selected by GCBR's editors.

The lead sponsor for this year's Entrepreneur 2004 event is Northern Trust Bank, a four-time lead sponsor. Co-sponsors include CPA Associates; John Cannon Homes; Lee Wetherington Homes; Startup Florida; University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee; Vengroff, Williams & Associates; and Walters, Levine, Brown, Klingensmith & Thomison PA.

To make reservations for the luncheon, call Karen Hormuth, (941) 362-4848.

The finalists:

× John Cannon, John Cannon Homes Inc., Sarasota. Revenues for the company reached $72 million in 2003. The company's average annual growth from 2001 to 2003 was 54.5%. Cannon says this expansion is the result of the demand for John Cannon homes in markets such as Hillsborough, Charlotte and Pinellas counties. Currently 65% of Cannon's home developments are built outside of Sarasota County.

× William V. Carey, Central European Distributing Corp., Sarasota and Warsaw, Poland. This distributor of primarily Polish vodkas in Poland claims 30% of the market share in that country. Annual revenues have grown 55% in the last three years.

× Nick Generalovich, Vanguard Advanced Pharmacy Systems, Bradenton. Generalovich discovered in 1991 a niche in the pharmaceuticals industry, the pharmacy needs of assisted living facilities, and began filling it. Since 2001, his company has experienced average annual growth of 40%.

× Steve Herrig, Progressive Employer Services, Sarasota. Although many professional employer associations have struggled in recent years, Progressive's average annual growth since 2001 has been 67.5%. In 2003, revenues were $209 million. In August, Herrig named former Chief Financial Officer Michael Corley president. Corley will handle day-to-day operations of the company, freeing Herrig to focus on strategic issues.

× Lawrence Kemick, Kemick Construction Co., Ellenton. Kemick's custom homes, built throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties, are among the most energy efficient in the industry. The houses typically use 30% to 70% less electricity than code requirements. Company revenues reached $12 million in 2003. Kemick anticipates at least $30 million in revenue this year.

× Bill Mullis, Employee Leasing Solutions, Bradenton. In its first year of business, the company turned a profit and has since grown exponentially. Focusing on small- to midsized-blue collar companies, Employee Leasing Solutions has experienced average annual growth of 142% since 2001. Annual revenues for 2003 exceeded $299 million.

× Jay Tallman/Tom Brown, U.S. Assets Group, Sarasota. The boutique development company offers its clients luxury living along Florida's coasts. Projects in recent years include Beau Ciel on the Sarasota bayfront and en Provence on Longboat Key. The company experienced average annual growth of about 62.5% since 2001. Last year's gross revenues: $50 million.

× Jeff Wenger, Tax Technologies Inc., Bradenton and Haworth, N.J. In January 2000, three partners each invested $7,000 to start this Internet-based tax compliance and audit software company. Though the company started in New Jersey, it opened a "technology headquarters" in Bradenton in the fall of 2001. The company, which specializes in U.S. tax treatment for foreign operations of domestic companies, boasts nine Fortune 100 companies as clients, including three Fortune 10 companies. The company's average annual growth from 2001 to 2003 was 86%.

× Alan Zirkelbach, Zirkelbach Construction, Palmetto. Zirkelbach continues to vertically integrate the company he founded in 1996. Zirkelbach Construction boasts its own in house attorney, certified public accountant, and engineering and architecture staff. Average annual growth has averaged 58% since 2001. Last year's revenues topped $30 million.

The nominees:

× Randy Beeman, Beeman Lights, Sarasota

× Joan Brown, Pools By Joan Brown, Sarasota

× Charles & Kim Githler, InterShow, Sarasota

× Barney Guarino, Tempra Technology, Bradenton

× Stephen Heese, Chris Craft, Sarasota

× Bill Hicks, HQInc., Palmetto

× Richard Karp, Advanced Masonry Systems, Sarasota

× Lawrence Kemick, Kemick Construction Co., Ellenton

× John Kummer, BIPT, Sarasota

× Jack McClellan, Bay Village of Sarasota, Sarasota

× Pat Neal, Neal Custom Homes/Neal Communities, Bradenton

× Kjell Purnell & Christine , PTC Banking Systems, Bradenton

× Ed & Betty Rosenthal, Florikan E.S.A. Corp., Sarasota

× Ron Simkins, Art Lambert, Dean Lambert, John Lane and Chris Cudzilo, Lexjet Direct, Sarasota

× Drew Stamp, Quest Solutions Inc., Sarasota

× Barbara Tiffany, Manasota Flooring Inc., Sarasota

× Darrell Turner, Turner Tree & Landscape, Bradenton

× Carlos Valeiras, Gemesis , Sarasota

× Norm Worthington, Copy Talk LLC, Sarasota

× Dieter Zoellner, Dieter's Sod Service Inc., Bradenton.

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