September 21, 2014

Up Front, the Publisher's Column

An issue of elites in Florida

Andrew P. Corty | 6/27/2014

Welcome to Florida Trend’s annual compendium of the largest companies in Florida. We list the top 350, divided between publicly traded companies, where valuation information is readily available, and private companies, where information is harder to come by.

Miami’s World Fuel Services, a petroleum distributor, tops the public list, with Pinellas County firms Tech Data, a computer distributor, and Jabil Circuit, a manufacturer, right behind. Rounding out the top 10 are well-known names — AutoNation, Carnival, NextEra Energy (FPL), CSX, Office Depot, Hertz and Wellcare. Together, these 10 have revenue of $178 billion. Wow!

The top private companies are just about as large. Sun Capital Partners, a private investment firm in Boca Raton, leads that list, followed by Publix, H.I.G. investment company, JM Family Enterprises (Toyota distributor), Southern Wine & Spirits, Southeastern Grocers (Winn-Dixie), Brightstar, Oasis, Florida Crystals, NASCAR and energy company Oxbow.

All together, the Florida Trend list includes 98 companies whose revenue exceeds a billion dollars each. While Florida is predominantly a state of small businesses, we have lots of giants as well.

To accompany this year’s list, our editorial team spotlights the automotive dealership industry.

Auto sales have rebounded sharply from 2008 and 2009. In fact, Florida dealers sold almost 1 million vehicles in 2013, a testament to the recovering economy and the size of the state’s population. Indicating the importance of this industry, the sales tax on those vehicles topped $3 billion, or 15% of Florida’s total sales tax collections.

Florida is home to some huge dealer networks. AutoNation, with $17.5 billion revenue, tops the list by far.

Associate editor Lilly Rockwell explains that franchise laws protect dealers by regulating competition among new-car dealers. And, of course, they rely on antitrust rules preventing manufacturers from selling their cars directly to the public. In fact, that’s the bone Tesla is picking with many states because Tesla would prefer to control the whole process.

 

Please also take a look at the special Legal Elite section. Florida Trend invited all in-state Florida Bar members to name attorneys whom they hold in highest regard. The list is indeed elite, with fewer than 2% of Bar members making the cut. There’s also recognition of Hall of Fame attorneys who have won numerous times, a listing of Up-and-Comers and a separate list of the most respected lawyers in the government and non-profit sectors.

 

Jason Garcia joined Florida Trend last month after 13 years as a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel, where he covered Disney, tourism, the Florida Legislature and local government. He’s a dogged reporter and a gifted writer. We welcome him and his expertise.

 

We enjoyed a long weekend at Ponte Vedra for a family celebration. In addition to the fine sports, beach and restaurants at the resort, we dined at Roy’s on Jacksonville Beach. A special menu page and a smart waitress made the experience superb.

 

Fitness update: The heat and humidity aren’t holding me back from running/jogging. Sweating feels mostly good. And Fifth Third bank exec Cary Putrino saw me on the stationary bike at the gym, so I have a witness. He wouldn’t lie, even for me.

— Andy Corty
Publisher
[acorty@floridatrend.com]

 

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