October 1, 2014

Economic yearbook 2011

Florida's Biggest Private Landowners

The 10 — which own about a tenth of the state — will play a key role in Florida's future.

Cynthia Barnett | 4/1/2011

5 Lykes Bros.

Lykes Bros.
[Photo: Lykes Bros.]

Privately owned by the descendants of Howell Tyson Lykes
Florida acres: 337,000
Headquarters: Tampa

For most of the 20th century, Lykes Bros. was one of the leading business players in Florida, with banks, utilities, a steel company, an orange juice factory and the world's largest steamship line. Today, Lykes is primarily an agricultural firm, with a ranch spanning Glades and Highlands counties and operations in cattle, citrus, sugarcane and pine, as well as insurance.

Under CEO Howell Ferguson, great-grandson of company founder Howell Tyson Lykes, the company has embraced sustainable agriculture and environmental-services initiatives, such as the carbon-consulting spinoff Eco2Assets Solutions.

Lykes has entered into a long-term agreement with Verenium and BP to provide land and biomass for a commercial cellulosic ethanol facility in Highlands County, now under construction. "Biofuels are a significant economic and environmental opportunity," says Ferguson, "not just for Lykes and for agriculture in general but for Florida."

The firm, along with fellow agricultural powerhouse A. Duda & Sons, also wants to develop an intermodal logistics center in rural Glades County.

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