Enriching the State
A dozen companies win Governor Business Diversification Awards.
In September, Florida recognized 12 companies for diversifying and enriching the state’s economy through job creation and community involvement and investment. The Governor’s Business Diversification Awards honored companies in five categories: Business expansion, entrepreneurship, export excellence, innovation and newcomers.
Chuck and Cindy Todd — and their Empire Zoysia grass.
Turf grass supplier, Webster
Chuck and Cindy Todd, founders
Chuck Todd is on a mission to promote Empire Zoysia grass, a variety developed in Brazil and introduced in the U.S. in 1999. The grass costs 20% to 25% more than other common varieties such as St. Augustine, but Todd says the turf pays for itself in about a year through lower fertilizer and pest control costs. It is hearty, drought tolerant, resistant to most insects, including chinch bugs, and does well in all parts of Florida. “It really is a grass that’s good for the environment,” he says.
Circle C works with landscapers, developers and entire communities such as The Villages to incorporate environmentally friendly turf and a line of ornamental plants developed in Australia.
Circle C Farms and a new landscape management unit, Circle C Landscape Services, together employ 16 full-time and six part-time workers. Todd says sales grew twentyfold from 2004 to 2005 and then doubled in 2006.
The Churnicks’ MagicFrost system
Edible ink photo printing systems, Williston
Lew Churnick, president
Patricia Churnick, vice president
PhotoFrost has created a system that prints high-quality photos with edible ink on icing sheets for cakes, cupcakes, cookies and even chocolates. The system, called MagicFrost, includes inks, icing sheets, a printer that doesn’t require a computer, and other supplies. It sells for $649 to bakeries and bakery distributors in 30 countries. Three years ago, the White House purchased a system. “Hand decorating 20 cakes a week is a lot,” says Patricia Churnick. “With the photos on the cakes, you can do a lot more cakes in a lot less time.”
The Churnicks developed the system in the mid-1990s when they ran a retail cake-decorating supply business in Arkansas. In 1997, they began selling online and in 2003 moved the business to Florida.
PhotoFrost, which employs seven and is doubling the size of its facility, also sells preprinted icing sheets on its website, PhotoFrost.com, for $12.95 to individuals who send a scanned photo by e-mail, a CD or a print. Churnick is working on new systems of printed appliques and transfers of design shapes that can be peeled off and applied directly to cakes, saving time for wedding cake decorators.
Other winners of the Governor’s Business Diversification Awards
» Health Management Associates, Naples
» Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin, with Florida offices in Orlando and other locations
» Gulf Breeze-based e-mail security firm AppRiver
» Tampa’s Advanced C4 Solutions, a provider of joint, tactical and strategic communication to the military and government
» Stuart-based Elliott Energy Systems
» Winter Park-based Genicon, a manufacturer of laparoscopic surgery devices
» Harris Corp. of Melbourne
» Boca Raton’s DayJet Corp.
» Viera’s One Senior Place, an elder-services marketplace
» Germany’s Phoenix X-ray Systems, which has an office in St. Petersburg