Profiles - Biggest Private Companies
Oddly, Ring Power, the Caterpillar dealer for north and central Florida, got its start in shrimp boats. After World War II, accountant L.C. “Ring” Ringhaver found himself in charge of a shrimp trawler manufacturer in Florida. He thought Caterpillar made the best engines and became the heavy equipment company’s biggest engine customer in the state. When Caterpillar wanted an engine dealer here in the 1960s, it asked Ringhaver.
When the owner of Caterpillar’s north Florida dealership passed away, the company again turned to Ringhaver. His sons, Lance and Randy, took charge of the business with his passing in 1976.
Today, under Randy Ringhaver, Ring Power has its headquarters in St. Augustine, 18 branches in Florida, with regional facilities in Tampa and Orlando, crane and forklift sales and service in Pompano Beach and Miami and eight facilities outside of Florida serving specialized industries and customers.
— Mike Vogel
Bad backs are good business for the Laser Spine Institute, an outpatient facility that offers minimally invasive laser surgery as an alternative to conventional back surgery to correct neck and spine problems. Since opening in 2005, the center has treated more than 30,000 patients, reportedly at $30,000 per procedure, and has opened locations in Scottsdale, Ariz., Philadelphia and Oklahoma City. CEO Bill Horne says he helped build the chain after undergoing an endoscopic surgical procedure in 2004 that relieved 30 years of neck pain. Horne, who had previously served as CEO and chairman of Outback Sports, was so impressed with the outcome of his procedure that he joined his surgeon, James St. Louis, to become his business partner. They launched LSI as an alternative to traditional back and neck surgeries. While the Laser Spine Institute touts a 97% patient satisfaction rate on its website, not everyone is sold on the outpatient clinic’s laser approach. In January, professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, filed a $50-million
lawsuit against LSI, alleging that the multiple procedures surgeons performed on him were “unnecessary and ineffective” and contributed to “significant bone loss and increased spinal instability” that prevented him from working. Hogan’s suit came on the heels of a 2011 article by Bloomberg News that cited more than a dozen other lawsuits against Laser Spine Institute.
— Amy Keller
Hong Kong natives Tony and Connie Leung met in Canada while in college and started their business there — growing produce for restaurants. In 1980, they came to Florida and found a 160-acre tract in Hillsborough County to grow specialty Asian produce such as Chinese cabbage. They relocated permanently along with their firm, Sanwa (it means “new generation”) Growers.
Leung opened distribution centers in Sanford, Atlanta and Tampa serving restaurants and businesses, and a farmers market that’s open to the public. Sanwa doesn’t do much growing in the fields anymore — no more herbs and vegetables, just palm trees. Tony and Connie are semi-retired from the family-owned business.
— Mike Vogel