Executives with Sarasota-based Boar's Head rarely speak publicly on the circuit of lunch panels held around town.
It follows a long-held belief at the company to remain in the background. So much so that executives have refused repeated requests for media interviews — even, Coffee Talk hears, for trade publications that write about their industry: Deli meats and cheeses.
But rare as it might be, when Boar's Head Chief Financial Officer Steve Kourelakos recently spoke on a panel that discussed economic development strategy for downtown Sarasota, he uttered a refrain common among Gulf Coast business leaders. The message: Local governments should be careful about raising taxes on businesses, from impact fees to permitting costs to property taxes.
“It directly funnels up to something that could make you less competitive,” says Kourelakos, one of three local executives on the March 31 panel hosted by the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.
“If the costs go beyond a certain level, it will make other areas more attractive,” he said.
Added Kourelakos: “It's a numbers game. When you make a decision to move somewhere and spend money, these things matter.”
Boar's Head has about 130 employees who work in the company's downtown corporate headquarters, which covers two floors and a penthouse suite in the Sarasota City Center building on Main Street.
Kourelakos, who spoke briefly to Coffee Talk after the event, says the company is happy in its current space in Sarasota — in spite of the occasional head-scratching decisions made by local government leaders.
But while Kourelakos generally lauds downtown, he loathes one aspect of the area: The cost of a hotel room.
In fact, when Boar's Head employees and senior executives from other offices visit the headquarters, they stay in one of two corporate apartments that are east of downtown or in one of the airport hotels. Anywhere but downtown.
“There is a millstone around our neck,” joked Kourelakos after the panel, “which is that we don't like to spend that much money.”