August 1, 2014

Corner Office

Memories to Last a Lifetime

Lynda Keever | 4/1/2009

Lynda Keever
Lynda Keever, Publisher
My April 2nd retirement date is finally here, and it’s time to reflect and also to look ahead. It’s very difficult for me to do this without taking a look at some of the events and happenings that brought me to Florida Trend. As I look back on my work as legislative aide and analyst, vocational school teacher and running my own advertising agency, it’s obvious that all those experiences helped me build up to my magazine career. What a ride it’s been.

I was named to the publisher’s position at Florida Trend in 1991, as the country suffered through a recession. As coincidence would have it, I’m leaving amid another recession, one even more challenging. In between, I’ve enjoyed what I believe is the best publishing job in Florida. What has continually kept me engaged in the job is how fascinating Florida, its citizens and business community are.

As many of you know, I’m a fifth generation Floridian. I’ve had the privilege of living in Ellenton, where I was born, then Bradenton, Tallahassee, Coconut Grove, South Miami, Pensacola, Panama City, Tampa and now in St. Petersburg. Each of these places has its own special charm, and I have fond memories of all of them.

For most of my 18 years at Florida Trend, I traveled about 40 weeks each year to almost every town in Florida. I’ve given over 600 speeches in many of those towns and cities. I particularly remember the first speech I gave to the Florida Economic Development Council in September 1991. The title was “Keeping Business in Florida’s Future,” and I challenged the group to stay focused on the importance of economic development. That challenge may be even more relevant today.

As it turned out, economic development and education became real passions for me over the years, and I’ve served on many statewide organizations to support those agendas: Florida State University Foundation, Enterprise Florida, Florida Research Consortium, Leadership Florida, Collins Center for Public Policy, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Volunteer Florida Foundation, Volunteer USA Foundation, Sterling Council, Florida Education Foundation and the Florida Economic Development Council. I’ve had the opportunity to travel on official trade missions seeking international business opportunities in Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland, Great Britain and France. My time as publisher spanned the administrations of three of Florida’s great governors: Lawton Chiles, Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist ?— different ideas and different approaches, but all passionate about our state.

Two of Florida Trend’s most meaningful projects for me were the launch of our magazine for high school students, Florida Trend’s NEXT, and Florida Innovation magazine. I envisioned NEXT as a way to mentor teens through the pages of the magazine and as way to present the wide variety of choices that lead them to successful jobs, higher education or career-technical training.

Launching Florida Innovation was significant because getting the word out about Florida’s research commercialization and tech transfer successes is an important step in the transition of our state’s economy. With the internationally acclaimed research institutes that have already come to Florida, combined with the exciting research being done by our colleges and universities, Florida is poised to take advantage of national and international partnerships and collaborations that will transform Florida into “The Innovation State.”

It’s been easy to accomplish big goals and grow our family of magazines with the dedicated group of professionals working here at Florida Trend. I attribute so much of our company’s success to the talented staff.

There’s been a recurring theme in speeches I’ve given in the last few years, offering advice to our state’s young people and college graduates: “Don’t burn any bridges; make sure you can go back if you want to; and thank those who helped you along the way.” I owe many thanks to so many people, especially to my boss Andy Corty, who’s always there when I need him. His instincts and business acumen are well honed, and his advice and counsel have helped keep Florida Trend on a steady path.

I know that I’m leaving the magazine in good hands. I’ve been working with our new publisher, Bruce Faulmann, for four months, and he’s already implementing lots of innovative new ideas. He’s a strong leader and consensus builder who embraces the important role Florida Trend has played for the past 50 years as the essential chronicle of Florida business.

I certainly plan to stay engaged with Florida Trend with a consulting assignment to wrap up a couple of projects over the next few months. My husband, Bill Eshenbaugh, and I are teaming up to expand on his expertise in the commercial real estate field and as a top asset manager for the Resolution Trust Corporation in the early 1990s. Our new Tampa-based business, USAsset Management, will assist financial institutions in securing and selling their foreclosed properties. I spent 10 years as the publisher of a real estate magazine before coming to Florida Trend, and this is a great opportunity to build on my connections with the real estate community.

In challenging economic times, strong companies with a solid base, good products, dedicated staff and excellent customer service will survive. Florida Trend is certainly one of those companies, and I am confident that the Trend family of publications will thrive and prosper.

To our readers, thanks for all your support for the magazine and for me. I leave with 18 years of lasting memories.

If you’d like to send me an e-mail, go ahead, and Florida Trend will forward it to me. I’d like to hear from you.

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