October 23, 2017

Celebrating 50 Years

Fla. Companies, Organizations Turning 50

Other Florida companies, schools and organizations celebrating 50 years.

Matt Nelson | 9/1/2008
Cape Canaveral, May 1958
Redstone missile at Cape Canaveral in 1958

» Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne) — Founded by Jerome P. Keuper as Brevard Engineering College to help fuel the new space industry.

» NASA (Cape Canaveral) — The nation’s public space program was established July 29, 1958, by the National Aeronautics and Space Act in response mostly to the Soviet’s Sputnik launch, which ignited the space race.

» Caspers Co. (Tampa) — Fritz Casper opened his first McDonald’s three years after Ray Kroc took the chain national. Prices then: 15 cents for a hamburger, 10 cents for fries. Today, Caspers owns 51 McDonald’s restaurants.

» Shands Hospital (Gainesville) — It opened in 1958 as the University of Florida’s teaching hospital. It was converted to a non-profit in 1979 by the Florida Legislature.

» Blue Springs Park (High Springs) — Ruth V. Kirby opened the 250-acre natural spring park, which was an engagement present from railroad tycoon Ed C. Wright. Entrance fee then: 10 cents. Now: $10.

» Eckerd College (St. Petersburg) — In 1958, the Legislature granted the charter of Florida Presbyterian College. The University of South Florida passed on the waterfront property for Tampa instead. The name was changed in 1972 after benefactor Jack M. Eckerd.

Conch Train Tour

» Conch Train Tour (Key West) — More than 15 million visitors have taken the tour since 1958.

» WUFT-TV 5 (Gainesville) — When the public TV station was started by UF’s College of Journalism and Communications, it was used only to broadcast instructional programs.

» WJCT-TV 7 (Jacksonville) — WJCT filled its first month with national educational programming. In 1967, it became a Public Broadcasting Station.

» Bullock Tice Associates (Pensacola) — Ellis Bullock founded and built a single practice around creative residential design. Today, the firm is one of the largest architectural and interior design companies along the north Gulf Coast.

Other 50-Year-Olds

» Florida Citrus Nurserymen Association (Fort Pierce)

» Medley Enterprise (Miami)

» Cox Air Conditioning and Heating (Clearwater)

» Naples Flowers (Naples)

» FBS Business Systems (Tampa)

» GAC Contractors Inc. (Panama City)

» Consolident Dental Health Group (Miami)

» Tri-City Electrical Contractors (Altamonte Springs)

» Abbey Carpet & Floor (Naples)

» WEDU-TV (Tampa)

» Barnett Inc. (Jacksonville) — What began as the Barnett Tube Fitting and Valve Co. is now one of the nation’s leading distributors of more than 15,000 plumbing, HVAC, electrical and hardware products, according to its website.

» Ajax Building Corp. (Tallahassee) — Its work can be seen all over the state, including on university campuses. It began with 12 employees and now boasts more than 300.

» Allen Morris Co. (Coral Gables) — The real estate firm is one the biggest in the Southeast with $5 billion in sales since 1958.

» Air Flow Designs (Orlando) — The cooling and heating company boasts installation of more than a half-million units in Florida since 1958.

» Central Florida Office Plus (Gainesville) — The office supply store started the same year that Haloid Co. changed its name to Haloid Xerox, which invented the first photocopier a year later.

» Crook & Crook (Miami) — The marine supplier and tackle shop says it serves fisherman in more than 100 countries with help of its website

Go to LinksIs your company turning 50 this year? E-mail us at We’ll include it on our online list.

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