FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business


55 Years of Florida Trend

Optimism

Florida Trend’s first issue featured a stylized rocket and numerous references to the federal missile program, which had produced 15,000 jobs in the state. The issue’s lead story was on Florida’s “Negro Labor Force,” a statistic-heavy piece chronicling the migration of African-Americans out of rural counties. In an article on the state’s industrial prospects, Trend cited the opinion of B.R. Fuller, executive director of the Florida Development Commission, that, “In the fiercely competitive interstate poker game to attract new industries, Florida apparently holds all the aces in the deck.”

Power Broker

Trend’s founder, Tampa businessman Harris Mullen, developed a special relationship of sorts with legendary Florida businessman and power broker Ed Ball, who was pictured on the magazine’s third cover. Ball ran Alfred I. duPont’s business conglomerate in Florida, which included banks (Florida National), a railroad (Florida East Coast) and paper mills (St. Joe Paper Co.) along with real estate and insurance businesses. Though he disputed his influence, Ball was feared widely. He drank a whiskey toast each evening — “confusion to the enemy” — rarely spoke to reporters and even less rarely provided detailed information about his business affairs. Mullen got exclusive interviews with Ball on several occasions including in 1958, 1967 and 1977. Ball died in 1981. Mullen died in 2008 at age 84.

Prescience

Sam Gibbons, the 16-time congressman from Tampa who was featured in an Icon interview shortly before his death in 2012, was a state senator in November 1960, when he told Trend: “I think the best thing that could happen to the Democratic Party would be for a strong Republican Party to challenge them. Because there really is no Democratic Party in Florida. To be a party, it would need party discipline, party patronage and a party philosophy. The Democrats in Florida have none of these.” He added that harder-fought and longer campaigns resulting from a two-party system “would not be all to the good. It would bring the national party platforms and policies as issues into local campaigns, where they can have no real meaning.”

Familiar Refrain

A quote from a National Association of Manufacturers representative in Florida Trend, complaining that “so many of our prospective employees have little or no understanding of the basic economic principles under which the free enterprise business system operates, and in which most of them will spend their working lives.”

The item went on to report that a survey had asked Florida high school students to complete the sentence: “The American business system cannot function without …” with one of four choices.

The results: 52% of the students picked “more government planning and control.” Only 28% chose “keeping the profit incentive alive.” 12% chose “reduction of taxes on business.”

Liquid Assets

In recent years, Florida Trend has been closely identified with coverage of water-related issues. The magazine’s recognition of the importance of water goes back much further, beginning with this cover story in 1966. In the course of growing by some 4 million people between 1946 and 1966, Trend wrote, “through all those years, the saying has been: ‘One of the greatest things about Florida is its limitless resource of clean water.’ Well, it’s not limitless. And a lot of it is no longer clean.”

Political Pairings

Florida Trend has a long history of provocative political coverage. The cover on the left shows Don Tucker, speaker of the Florida House, and Dempsey Barron, president of the Senate, playing chess. It anticipated a slightly different pairing of two political figures, Gov. Lawton Chiles and Associated Industries President John Schebel.

Women CEOs

A Trend cover in the 1960s showed several unnamed women at work at an electronics company, but the first women CEOs on the cover appeared in the December 1976 issue. Among the three women pictured on the cover was Joyce Beber (on left), an ad executive who co-founded the Beber-Silverstein Group in Miami. The firm did a campaign for the state of Florida with the tagline, “The rules are different here” and also did ad campaigns for hotelier Leona Helmsley, who hired and fired the firm four times. Coincidentally, Beber’s daughter Jennifer, president of the company today, was featured on Trend’s cover in February 1997 (on left) — also in a group of three women.

Temper, Temper

The January 1980 cover story featured the tempestuous owner of the New York Yankees, who owned American Ship Building in Tampa. Acknowledgement of Steinbrenner’s generosity as a philanthropist competed with his reputation for a quick temper. From the story: “He yells a lot,” one former Steinbrenner public relations representative recalls, reflecting further, “A lot.”

High Flier

David Paul, CEO of CenTrust Savings, took over a $2-billion S&L that was losing $9 million a month and built it into the biggest S&L in the South, with $6 billion in assets. The savings and loan industry tanked later in the decade, and CenTrust failed in 1990 at a loss of $1.7 billion. Paul went to prison for making personal use of millions of dollars in company funds and became an icon of the S&L-collapse era. In July 2010, Paul spoke with Florida Trend, saying, “To say that I stole $2.5 million out of a bank that I and my family and two close friends owned 85% of is absurd. The public thinks that, but it’s not true. I wasn’t broke when I came down here. I already had made $150 million.”

Legal Eagles

This cover is noteworthy for its portrayal of Chesterfield Smith, founder of the firm that became “Florida’s law firm,” and a young Bill McBride, who rose to become managing partner of Holland & Knight and run unsuccessfully for governor. McBride died last December.

Celluloid

Among the many Florida Trend stories on filmmaking in the state was this one, which pictured model/actress Cindy Crawford being made up for a scene in a forgettable movie called Fair Game. The photograph drew a number of letters, both supportive and critical, including one from a reader who said she would cancel her subscription, if she had one. The issue was Trend’s best-selling issue ever on the newsstands.

Aqua Men

Two recent Florida Trend covers featured men either actually or apparently standing in water. In May 2000, Lew Lautin, a wetlands mitigation banker, appeared to be face-deep in a swamp. That image was created using a carefully constructed platform. In May 2007, Jerry Maxwell, general manager of Tampa Bay Water, actually stood in the bay. The story detailed his agency’s difficult experience with a desalination plant.

Record Holder

Jeb Bush’s record established him as one of Florida’s most influential governors. The March 2006 issue was the third time he had been pictured on Florida Trend’s cover — the most ever by any politician.

Students

Education-related coverage has become a hallmark of Florida Trend in recent years. This cover from August 2006 profiled students from the U.S., Korea, Germany and several other countries and examined the courses they were taking and their overall high school experiences.

Boom

The cover story, featuring the McGowan family, recent arrivals in south Florida, profiled Florida’s average daily population growth and the demographics of the new arrivals to Florida who fueled the real estate boom. The story has an almost ominous tone seen against the coming housing bust and recession. In a sidebar, Jeb Bush was quoted warning of the need to engineer solutions to the impact of growth on the ecosystem: “I don’t think God created Florida with 17 million growing to 25 million people in mind.”

First Floridian of the Year

In 2010, Florida Trend began naming a Floridian of the Year in its January issue. The first was Eduardo Padron, president of Miami-Dade College.

Fish Monger

Earlier this year, Florida Trend profiled artist-conservationist-entrepreneur Guy Harvey, who’s out to make his fish-decorated apparel a nationally known brand.