"Lease-A-Worker" (FT June 1995) accurately explains why professional employer organizations have become one of Florida's fastest-growing industries. In fact our firm, National Business Solutions, headquartered in Clearwater, has grown from 0 to over 7,000 employees and $180 million in revenues in just five years.
The reasons for employee pooling's popularity are simple: It provides small businesses with benefits better than or equal to Fortune 500 companies; it saves businesses an average of $300 to $800 per year per employee after fees; and it reduces administrative burdens so managers can get back to the role of running their business.
There is, however, one correction to note in your article. National Business Solutions should have been ranked fifth in number of employees and third in revenues in your list of "Florida's Largest Employee Leasing Companies."
Again, we appreciate such an informative article on this growing industry. If you ever have any questions regarding trends in the industry, please feel free to call.
Steven M. Esrick
National Business Solutions
John D. McKinnon's article, "Tears Of The Crocodile," and John Berry's column, "Rules," in the July issue of Florida Trend, both convey the message that the Florida Chamber of Commerce "found itself conflicted" over efforts to revise the state agency rulemaking process. Nothing could be further from the truth. During the past legislative sessions, the Chamber has been consistent in its efforts to reform the rulemaking process - that is, reduce the burden of rules on regulated individuals in the state, both corporate and private.
As you rightly observe in your editorial, the Chamber has pursued rules reform since 1993. We've done so because our members (two-thirds of them with less than 25 employees) continue to tell us that state rules and regulations are the number one obstacle to doing business in Florida - worse even than taxes.
The Chamber has not "whipped its members into a near-frenzy over red tape," as Mr. McKinnon asserts. Rather we have reflected our members' frustration over the lack of rules reform. This year we again took our members' concerns to the Legislature where, with overwhelming bipartisan support, CS/CS/SB 536 passed in both the House and the Senate with only three negative votes out of 160 legislators.
By implication, you suggest the chairman and vice-chairman of our Government Reform Committee are beholden to their consequential clients and not to the Chamber membership. It is clear you are not familiar with the thoughtful and thorough process by which the Chamber establishes its legislative priorities.
The Florida Chamber polls its membership on a frequent and periodic basis, the results of which provide guidance to our committees in their development of policy recommendations. Chamber staff further provides the committees with research and information relevant to policy issues. Committee recommendations are then reviewed by three additional bodies: the Legislative Council, the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors. All three must agree before a committee recommendation is adopted as Chamber policy.
This is clearly not a system dominated by "single" or "special" interests. Our Government Reform Committee, in the interest of reducing the burden of government on Florida's regulated citizens, followed this process.
Crocodile tears may have been falling in Tallahassee, but the likely source was state agency lawyers and bureaucrats as they contemplated the loss of unbridled discretion in rulemaking that exceeds delegated authority, increased legislative scrutiny of their actions and a full accounting for the cost of regulations they impose on the state's citizens and businesses.
Frank M. Ryll, Jr.
Florida Chamber of Commerce
Your Company Spotlight
article in the June 1995 issue concerning LaserSight Inc. was filled with errors and misinformation. First, LaserSight does not produce a "high-powered" laser. The uniqueness of our laser is that it produces superior results with low power (3 to 5 mJ to be exact). Secondly, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved our laser, as you indicate, but no excimer laser developed by any manufacturer has been approved for use in treating myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism in the United States. And, in fact, all of the seven excimer laser manufacturers in the world sell products internationally. Further, although we have sales in the PRC, we also have sales in Canada, Brazil and ten other countries throughout the world. LaserSight continues to be a rapidly growing force in the international laser refractive surgery market. The company's flagship product has met with approval in countries around the globe and has recently been approved to begin Phase 2a testing of sighted eyes by this country's FDA.
In addition, you indicate that FDA is "casting doubts" on our "technology claims." FDA's warning letter had nothing to do with our technology. Further, you indicate the same warning letter described "defects" that could expose patients to radiation. This is completely untrue; the issue did not involve "patients."
You quote Richard West as an authority. Mr. West works for a four-man brokerage firm that specializes in oil and gas equities. Not exactly a broad-based research house.
As for the Baskin-Palmer "review," it is a joke. Two major research projects previously done by the medical staff at Baskin-Palmer over an extended period of time and published in professional ophthalmology journals reported just the opposite results. Can I explain the difference? I honestly have no idea, other than it is difficult to conceive how a surface ablation of the cornea could affect intra-ocular pressure. If this were a problem, it would have been reported earlier with regard to the operation of "high powered" lasers which create acoustical shock waves unseen in our laser technology.
Lastly, we did not record $1.6 million of income from investments as "operating income." The $1.6 million was in the Sources and Uses of Cash Statement, not the Income Statement. It was nothing more than converting equities (stocks and bonds) into cash. It was properly categorized in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and consistent with the 1992 and 1993 financial statements.
Clearly your article implies a certain skepticism toward LaserSight's progress based mainly on the analysis of a single analyst. Given the strong performance of our stock over the past 12 months and the steady improvement of our financial results during that time, we are puzzled that an obviously successful company with growing prospects for extended growth should be the target of a negative article fraught with erroneous information and broad innuendo not supported by facts.
President and CEO
Editor's Response: Mr. Qualls is correct.
LaserSight did not record $1.6 million of income from investments as operating income; the company listed it as operating cash flow, which enabled the company to show positive cash flow for the year.
Surprisingly, Mr. Qualls twice misspells the renowned Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
Contrary to Mr. Qualls' assertion, the FDA correspondence with LaserSight does, in fact, make reference to potential harm to patients. The FDA warned LaserSight that violations noted by the agency "may be symptomatic of serious underlying problems in your firm's manufacturing and quality assurance programs."
My letter is in support of several May 1995 letters to the editor. Since the departure of [former Florida Trend editor] Matt Walsh, your magazine has taken a socialistic left turn that can be considered anti-business.
For the several years that I have subscribed to your publication, I had always eagerly anticipated the next issue and encouraged all associates I dealt with to look to you for information on Florida business. Now I am considering canceling my subscription as this magazine no longer represents the best for Florida businesses.
Your articles on growth management, water and property rights come straight from the bureaucratic opinion sheets that are killing Florida business with over-regulation and a declining profit margin.
Hopefully, Florida Trend will wake up and smell the coffee before it is too late!
P.S. Pick up a copy of the book "The Death of Common Sense," which will enlighten some of your writers. Unfortunately, I think Mr. Berry is too far gone to help.
We would like to respond in writing to the letter in your June 1995 issue entitled "Inflated Figures." In this letter, Mr. Erik H. Kirk of the Florida Physical Therapy Association contends that our projections of employment opportunities for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants are inflated. We are projecting very rapid growth to the year 2005 for these two health-care occupations.
Mr. Kirk contends that managed care will cause declines in health-care occupations both in the nation and in Florida. We totally disagree with Mr. Kirk's analysis. Employment in the health-care industry continues to expand at about 4% annually. The industry will continue to expand in Florida due to general population growth and the expected increase in the average age of Florida's population. Managed care will slow the rate of expansion for health-care employment, but will not cause declines in Florida.
Bureau of Labor Market Information
The Water Slide
In "The Water-Slide Economy" in the June 1995 issue, David F. Scott, Jr., wrote that "debate over a statewide industrial policy too often degenerates into comfortable cliches such as ?manufacturing is dirty and bad,' while ?tourism is clean and good.'"
Anyone who thinks that tourism is "clean and good" hasn't visited Panama City Beach lately. Not only do the tourists trash the city but the city itself also continues to cater to and court this clientele. As a motel employee, I much prefer to see manufacturing with stable, year-round employment come to our area so that we could cater to professionals.
Panama City Beach
In your March 1995 article entitled "Roadblock," you cite as the first of four "main reasons" Florida's land acquisitions are so expensive the fact that Florida pays landowners' fees and costs in eminent domain cases where the public agency takes property from people to build roads. You intimate throughout the article that if landowners' expenses of defending themselves against the state were not paid, land acquisition costs would not be so high in Florida roadways. You cite the state DOT's fiscal year 1992-93 payment of attorneys', appraisers' and other experts' fees at $28.8 million as an example of the problem.
First, this figure needs to be put in perspective. Florida's budget for new commitments on engineering consultant contracts for fiscal year 1993-94 was $253.3 million; the total dollar amount for new engineering consultant contracts was $249.3 million, of which $37.4 million went to three firms.
Second, transportation infrastructure costs are high nationwide and land values in Florida have increased significantly compared to the rest of the country.
Florida's eminent domain lawyers took steps in conjunction with the state's Department of Transportation to back legislative change last year to curb perceived problems with these costs. It would appear that before the ink dries on that legislative change, another assault on these landowner citizens is already being planned by the transportation industry and bolstered by an article like yours.
It is time for Florida's Department of Transportation and other government agencies to stop blaming high costs on those landowners' attorneys, appraisers and other consultant professionals who play a small part in the overall consumption of the transportation tax dollar. The transportation industry and Florida Trend should concentrate on cost-cutting in other areas which play a much larger role in consuming the transportation tax dollar.
A.J. Jim Spalla
J. Victor Barrios
John H. Beck
Editor's Response: As the footnote indicated, these figures were estimates by the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR). For further questions, call BEBR at 904/392-0171.