by Mike Vogel
Updated 3 yearss ago
Manuel Mencia [Photo: Daniel Portnoy]
“We came from nowhere in the mid-1970s, a very minor player,” says Mencia, Florida’s top international business development executive, “to one of the regions of the United States where, when you think of international business, it’s one of the ones you think of.”
Similarly, when you think of international business development in Florida, you think of Mencia. The Cuba native worked for the old Florida Department of Commerce and the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s economic development organization, before joining Enterprise Florida in 1996. He’s the only remaining senior vice president from the founding group.
Carry-on only: Can live a week out of “my trusty Travelpro.” “I believe in Murphy’s Law. The day you most need that suit in the suitcase is the day they send it to the Czech Republic rather than France or Belgium or wherever it’s supposed to be.”
Bio: Left Cienfuegos, Cuba, for Miami in 1962. All grandparents were Spaniards. His father, a dentist, worked until 80. His sister is renowned dancer Marielena Mencia. Has been married for 26 years to Carol.
On going up Rio’s Sugarloaf Mountain or to Christ the Redeemer statue: “Even if you’ve done it before, it’s still an amazing experience.”
California in number of exporters and second to none in the percentage of small- and medium-sized exporters. Though he once made the national press for saying you can trace Florida’s emergence in trade “to when Fidel Castro started reading Karl Marx at the University of Havana,” Mencia also credits Florida’s geography, governors and 14 deepwater ports along with immigrants.
At 57, he doesn’t plan to stop. “In the end I believe there’s no greater gift than getting up in the morning and truly, truly wanting to get to work.”
RRB Systems International
Police equipment entrepreneur Roy Bedard, 41, dates his exporting to 1998 in Mexico. In the fragmented U.S. market, a 1,000-person force is big; he sold Mexico’s federal police on his product — and it purchased 7,000 units. A champion martial arts expert and then police officer, Bedard trains police, corrections, military and private security personnel to use his Rapid Rotation Baton and other products.
Ultimate Aircraft Composites
Aviv Tzur and co-investors took control in 2003 of Ultimate Aircraft Composites, a repairer of parts made of composite materials in commercial and military aircraft. One-third of the 40-employee company’s approximately $8-million in revenue comes from international sales. The Israel native, 46, and U.S. citizen is active in the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s economic developer, and has been on numerous Enterprise Florida trade missions.