Profiles - Biggest Private Companies
The undisputed leader of grocery sales in Florida is expanding into North Carolina. Publix Super Markets, which already operates stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee, plans to open its first two stores in the Charlotte area in 2014 as an entry into the Tar Heel State. Meanwhile, in Florida, the 83-year-old grocery chain is aggressively marketing against Walmart with ads questioning Walmart’s claim to the lowest prices. Publix also has been remodeling some stores to target more upscale clientele. A newly remodeled Publix store in Longboat Key, an affluent beach-front community near Sarasota, features a cheese store, a larger wine section, a wider array of prepared, organic and specialty items and outdoor dining areas.
— Amy Keller
Later this year, in Davie, Rick and Rita Case, husband and wife, will open an $18-million, eight-story Volkswagen dealership, the largest Volkswagen dealership in the world. They’ll open an Alfa Romeo dealership this year, too.
The Cases, who have dealerships in Florida, Ohio and Georgia, already have four dealerships in that corner of Broward County and are accustomed to records. Rick Case says his Honda dealership is the world’s largest and holds the world record for monthly vehicle sales. His Acura dealership also holds that brand’s monthly record. He’s known for giving his home number to customers, for doubling manufacturer warranties, offering free onsite carwashes for the life of the car and other perks. This year, he expects his more than 1,000-employee operation, with the help of that new Volkswagen dealership, to hit $1 billion in sales. He says customers want to move on from their old cars, the economy’s better, employment is up and “there’s financing like never before in my 51 years in the business.”
In 2014, he plans to open the world’s largest Kia dealership in Sunrise. Case, 70, says his mentor, Jim Moran, the late Toyota importer whose JM Family Enterprises (No. 3) is a huge player in the Toyota and Lexus field in the United States, worked until the day he died at 88. Case says he plans to keep working “as long as I can. We’ve got things going on.”
— Mike Vogel
Last October, David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts, fired off a missive to his employees, warning them that he might have to lay them off and downsize the company, or even shut it down, if Barack Obama won re-election. In April, nine months into Obama’s second term, the timeshare company announced it was adding 1,000 employees in its sales and marketing centers as it ramps up its timeshare sales. The industry took a beating during the recession, when sales plummeted, defaults skyrocketed and the credit freeze cut off growth of the capital-intensive business. The economic turmoil also forced Siegel and his wife, Jackie, to halt construction on the 90,000-sq.-ft. mansion modeled on Versailles that they were building in Windermere — a saga captured in the 2012 documentary “Queen of Versailles.”
While Siegel took issue with the film’s depiction of his family life and business and has been battling the filmmaker in court, his timeshare empire appears to be on the rebound. Siegel says the company is operating “at the highest profit levels in the history of the company.” In 2012, he paid off the mortgage and restarted construction of Versailles.
— Amy Keller