Economic yearbook 2011
Southeast - Yearbook
Stepping up to the Plate
ROOKIE PLAYER: BRS Aerospace — Since opening a factory in Pompano Beach in 2010, BRS Aerospace, a Minnesota-based maker of cargo parachutes for the military, has made strides toward its goal of reaching 337 in employment this year.
EMERGING STAR: Patriot National — Workers' comp writer Patriot National had just one employee in Fort Lauderdale five years ago when founder and CEO Steven Mariano moved the company from North Carolina. It's grown to 180 downtown and a total of 350 nationally, including offices in Lake Mary and Sarasota. Mariano anticipates 20% to 25% sales growth this year and another 40 employees downtown. Mariano, 46, who founded and sold two companies before starting Patriot in 2003, says, "We think the economy is slowly recovering, and I do mean slowly, but it is recovering."
HEAVY HITTER: AutoNation — At last, car sales are on the rebound. On the heels of strong earnings, retailer AutoNation, Fort Lauderdale's largest public company as well as Florida's and the nation's largest car dealer, is hiring. "There clearly are going to be job opportunities in Florida," says spokesman Marc Cannon. The company plans to have more than 20,000 employees by year-end nationally, up from 19,500 at the beginning of the year. AutoNation projects the industry will sell 12.8 million new vehicles this year, up from 11.6 million last year. Credit availability is improving even for subprime borrowers. The company recently finished a new Mercedes dealership in Miami and is building new dealerships in Sarasota, Orlando and Coconut Creek.
Dr. Roger J. Medel, co-founder, Mednax — 63-year-old Roger Medel, who founded Mednax in 1979, keeps a low media profile, but his company has a high profile in its two specialties, providing neotalogists and anesthesiologists to hospitals. Starting with a single neonatology group, the acquisition-minded CEO has grown Mednax, as of its last annual report, to 1,484 affiliated doctors, 1,424 contracted or employed advanced practice nurses and other clinical professionals and 2,726 other full-time and part-time employees. His powerhouse board includes Cesar Alvarez, executive chairman of Greenberg Traurig, healthcare entrepreneur Michael Fernandez and UM President Donna Shalala.
Laurans Mendelson, CEO, Heico — Airlines, just like car owners, use aftermarket parts to save on repair and maintenance. Hollywood-based Heico has done well providing such parts under CEO and CPA Laurans Mendelson, 72, and his sons, Victor and Eric. They took over the company in 1989 after a proxy fight that, "interestingly enough, we lost," Victor Mendelson says. The company expanded the aftermarket business and went into space, medical, telecom and electronics. Its market cap rose from $25 million when they took over to $1.8 billion. The company employs 750 in Florida and 2,400 overall. It's hiring, especially in engineering, and had a record $55-million profit for the year ended Oct. 31.
Christopher Miller, COO, Associated Grocers of Florida — As COO of the cooperative that supplies independent retailers,