Economic yearbook 2011
Port St. Lucie/ St. Lucie County
Stepping up to the Plate
ROOKIE PLAYER: Donkboard.com — Ronald Lewis believes there's a niche for a luxury, cruising skateboard — wheels, for instance, with a diameter two to four times that of standard skateboard wheels — that retails for around $550. To serve that niche, he founded Donkboard.com in Port St. Lucie last year. "The response has been incredible," he says. Lewis, who has a degree in nuclear medicine, has a day job in medical imaging.
EMERGING STAR: Mann Research Center — About a year from now, the first building at the Mann Research Center at Tradition in Port St. Lucie, a 100,000-sq.-ft. medical office building, should be coming out of the ground, a building that will support Martin Memorial's planned hospital, and its 400 jobs. Mann Center President John DelRusso says there's nothing concrete for now on when the 22-acre center's true ambition — life science R&D buildings — will come up. Given the financial situation in California and other factors, DelRusso says, Florida is in an enviable position. "Honestly, the action's here," he says. The center will be about 400,000 square feet.
HEAVY HITTER: Liberty Medical Supply — The Port St. Lucie-based home delivery supplier of diabetes testing supplies and other chronic condition products and prescription meds has been a steady employer. The unit of New Jersey-based Medco Health Solutions, under President Joan Kennedy, employs nearly 2,000 on the Treasure Coast. "We have had stable employment and foresee that into the future," says Medco spokeswoman Jennifer Leone Luddy.
Ben DeVries, executive director, Treasure Coast Research Park — After two years, Ben DeVries nearly has an approved land plan for 1.324 million square feet of research, labs, offices and other facilities at the Treasure Coast Research Park, a collaboration of the state, county, local school district and the University of Florida that at buildout will have 3.3 million square feet of buildings and 850 acres for plant testing and development. UF and the USDA already have facilities in the park. DeVries says roads and other infrastructure will come this year, and he has a letter of intent with a solar panel maker to locate there.
Russ Knowles, owner, Remetronix — In 1992, Russ Knowles began managing Remetronix, a New Jersey company that installs medical equipment such as X-ray machines. In 2000, he bought the company and moved it to Port St. Lucie. Knowles expects $15 million to $20 million in revenue this year, thanks in large part to demand in international markets and to a growing sideline restoring electronic equipment damaged in fires and floods. His company in February began work on its largest contract, a $500,000 job fixing equipment in a damaged peanut processing facility in Argentina. He employs 120 globally, including 25 in Port St. Lucie. "This year we do anticipate growth," he says.
Mike Adams, owner, Adams Ranch — Mike Adams, 55, is the third generation of his family to run the 50,000-plus-acre Adams Ranch operation, based in St. Lucie, though the family also manages land in Osceola, Okeechobee and Madison counties and in Georgia. Primarily a cow-calf business, the ranch is in the top 15 nationally in brood cows. It does limited exporting of its heat-tolerant stock to Belize, Panama and other countries and has the Braford brand started by his father, as well as composite breeds that are closer aligned with today's U.S. market needs and more fertile. With beef exports growing and American consumption up coming out of the recession, cattle prices are strong, Adams says. Agriculture, unlike development, has held up in the recession. Citrus took a wallop from the 2004-05 hurricanes and then canker, which cost Adams about half his 1,500 acres of groves.