Southwest Fla.: How Bad Is It?
“I’m in a certain niche, and that’s Gulfstreams. Our service center business is holding steady. I have noticed that some of my customers who were flying airplanes are not flying them as much because of the cost of fuel. And we’ve had a few customers that are getting out of their airplanes because they can’t afford them. Last year, jet fuel was in the $3.50 to $4.50 a gallon range. It’s now in the $5 to $8 range. I would say we’re not going to see a big uptick (in profits) this year.”
— Vincent Wolanin,
chairman and founder,
PrivateSky Aviation, Fort Myers
“Of the 200 businesses in downtown New Port Richey, most are retail shops and restaurants. It has been a little bit leaner this summer. I think the retailers are nervous about the upcoming holiday season. They’re gearing up for it a little earlier, in October instead of November. They’re trying to get a little bit more creative in their purchasing so they don’t overpurchase but also try to expand their sales.”
— Judy DeBella Thomas,
New Port Richey Main Street Inc.
“I don’t mind saying that the housing cycle has an ebb and flow — and we’re at an ebb now. That means prices are lower. Oddly, I have a new house that will be less expensive than a house I offered at the Peridia Golf and Country Club in 1989. My average home price in July 2005 was $550,000. The average price as of August 2008 is $325,644. We’ve sold 128 homes so far this year, more than 2007, so our sales offices are still active. We’re simply selling more at a lower price level.”
— Pat Neal, president,
“I wouldn’t mislead anybody and say we’re in double-digit growth or anything, but we think we’ll end the year up about 1% in same-store sales. My theory is it might have to do with the lower average check area that we’re in. Our average check is under $8. Maybe the average-check restaurants that are at $40 or $60, maybe the economy would be affecting those brands differently.”
— Kenneth L. Pendery Jr.,
First Watch Restaurants, Sarasota
“Florida has a very strong medical device industry, second only to California in the number of facilities (about 600 across Florida). And the Tampa Bay area accounts for about 34% of the total state activity in medical devices. We seldom see the economic swings, and we’re not seeing a downturn now. At NDH Medical, our growth remains strong. We’re exceeding our target of 15% compound annual growth. Most of our colleagues in the industry are extremely busy right now.”— Geary Havran,
president, NDH Medical, chairman, Florida Medical Manufacturers’ Consortium,