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Stephenie Davis, 37

A friend and mentor pushed a manufacturing CEO to ninja status.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 5:00 p.m. October 12, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Stephenie Davis, right, with her mentor, Karyn Roeling.
Stephenie Davis, right, with her mentor, Karyn Roeling.
Photo by Mark Wemple
  • Class of 2023
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Stephenie Davis, the president and CEO of Davis Industrial, and her mentor, insurance executive Karyn Roeling, are members of a mutual admiration society.

The two women rave about one another — Davis crediting Roeling with helping guide her as she built her business and Roeling praising Davis for the grit and effort it took to grow and expand.

“She's my mentor because she's awesome and great at what she does,” says Davis. “And she's just a genuine, caring, empathetic person (who) taught me a lot of things over the years in terms of business and personal life and everything in between.”

Davis bought the conveyor manufacturing company that now bears her name in late 2008.

Before starting in the conveyer business, she worked several jobs in other industries. She recently told the industrial publication Rubber News that there wasn’t much support so she “just had to figure it out on my own.”

But the opportunity to buy the company eventually presented itself and she jumped on it.

“I meticulously crafted a business plan and submitted it to the (Small Business Administration), while persuading my parents to serve as guarantors in case of default,” Davis told Rubber News. “The SBA granted approval on the first draft, although it took numerous revisions for the bank to agree to lend me the required funds.”

The company has grown to 50 employees and along with its facility on U.S. 41 in Tampa it has an office in Medley, a town in metro Miami.

Davis says lessons learned over the years from Roeling include harnessing the power of empathy and the power of asking questions when making business decisions. On a more practical level, Roeling also taught her the importance of joining and taking leadership roles in industry organizations.

To that end, Davis sits on the executive board of the National Industrial Belting Association, a trade group for those in the conveyor components industry.

“Karen, she's so active in the insurance world and really has pushed herself to become an insurance ninja — self-proclaimed, but she's definitely an insurance ninja — and I look to be that in my business, to be that ninja for my customers,” Davis says.

“I like to get involved and get active, and that's really something that she showed me over the years.”



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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