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Coffee Talk (Tampa)

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  • | 6:00 p.m. September 30, 2005
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Coffee Talk (Tampa)

Bursting at the seams

SCC Soft Computer Inc. has finally found a new headquarters site.

The fast-growing Palm Harbor clinical information services company started its site-selection search nearly three years ago. It seemed as if anything that could go wrong did go wrong every time company officials thought they had found right location.

Now the company has found the perfect spot, says Don Keller, SCC's education and marketing director.

Just a few weeks ago, Gilbert and Jean Hakim acquired about 110,000 gross square feet of Class A office space in the Bay Vista Center off Roosevelt Boulevard in Clearwater. The brothers - Gilbert serves as chief executive officer and Jean as president - formed an independent limited liability corporation and purchased the building at 5365 Tech Data Drive for $9.3 million from Tech Data Corp. They financed it with a $7.44 million mortgage through CWCapital LLC, a Boston-area lender.

This purchase comes at a critical time for the company, which serves some of the largest health care providers in the international medical industry.

When it moved about 10 years ago into the Palm Harbor headquarters building, the company employed about 95 people. But demand has surged for its proprietary software and integrated computer systems. Now it has about 530 workers, with more growth expected, Keller says.

Although Keller didn't provide an estimate of how many new employees SCC will be hiring, the company needs clinicians and administrative support workers to fulfill demand. It particularly needs medical personnel to help train customers how to use the company's information systems, which touts efficiencies for laboratories in the areas of hematology, chemistry, microbiology, pathology and even accounts receivables.

"We will be hiring now that we have the space," Keller says.

New CFO at H&K

Holland & Knight LLP Managing Partner Howell M. Melton Jr. has appointed a new chief financial officer to replace Herb Albritton, who resigned in June after he was demoted.

Michael R. Marget, who has held top jobs at Chicago law firms in his 25-year career, is now in charge of H&K's administrative operations, according to a Sept. 27 announcement. He'll work at the firm's Tampa office.

Does this mean H&K, the state's largest Florida-based law firm, is on the mend after turmoil over the promotion of a partner previously accused of sexual harassment?

Melton didn't return a telephone call.

The 1,200-plus lawyer firm was the subject of numerous newspaper articles in March after Melton promoted Douglas A. Wright to chief operating partner. Wright, who was reprimanded in 2004 for harassing female colleagues, resigned from the post amid the critical news coverage, but he remains a partner with the firm.

Unlike Albritton, Marget has a law degree as well as an accounting degree. He's a 1977 law graduate of the University of Iowa.

Pittsburgh bank expands here

PNC Bank has brought in another veteran banker to continue an expansion of its Small Business Administration loan program along the Gulf Coast.

Tom Kruger will originate federal SBA loans from Sarasota. Kruger has worked for more than 15 years in banking for Business Loan Source LLC, People's Community Bank of the West Coast and Wachovia Bank.

Kruger joins Kent Anderson, who opened PNC's first Florida office in Tampa about four months ago. Anderson, PNC's southeastern SBA sales manager, has 25 years of finance experience and has funded more than $40 million in small business loans.

Lawyers stick together

Lawyer-turned-banker John W. Puffer III has announced the appointment of a fellow barrister from his old law firm to the board of directors at Pilot Bancshares Inc.

Puffer, chairman and president of Pilot Bank, says Robert E. Lewis will join his board.

Lewis has been an attorney for 20 years, including stints at defunct drug retailer Eckerd Corp. and Shackleford Farrior Stallings & Evans PA.

Shackleford Farrior, a long-time Tampa law firm that merged into GrayRobinson PA in 2000, was where Puffer practiced for most of his legal career before entering banking full-time 10 years ago.

Lewis is currently general counsel at Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., a Tampa steel producer.

Pilot Bank, a Tampa unit of Pilot Bancshares Inc., has been expanding across the Bay area after recently changing its name from Terrace Bank. The bank debuts in Lakeland early next year.

Saunders moving into Fort Myers

Michael Saunders & Co., an upscale-residential real estate broker in Sarasota, is testing waters in up-and-coming Fort Myers.

Michael Saunders, the brokerage's president and chief executive officer, says she leased the office space temporarily because a sales center won't be ready on site until later this year.

Sun's rise in Bradenton

Suncoast Bank is expanding to Manatee County.

The Sarasota-based bank, which has two branches, is building a third much larger branch on State Road 64. The 8,000-square-foot building will serve as not only a banking site, but also will house some of the bank's senior managers.

The bank's target customers are young families and retirees, he says. Suncoast has told shareholders that it plans to grow by one new branch a year over the next seven years.


Find out what's happening at the Pinellas County Clerk of Court's office.

Clerk of Court Ken Burke will be the guest speaker at the Clearwater Bar Association's Oct. 13 luncheon at the Harborview Center, 300 Cleveland St., in downtown Clearwater. The event begins at 11:45 a.m.

Burke, who oversees a $40 million annual budget, won election last year, replacing longtime clerk Karleen De Blaker.


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