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Trendsetters: Trade & Transportation

[Photo: Daniel Portnoy]

Pedro “Pete” Pizarro

Telefonica USA
CEO, Miami

High school sport: Baseball

Missing: Softball, which he has played throughout his adulthood but not much in the last 18 months because of time constraints.

Languages: English, Spanish, conversational Portuguese
Education: INSEAD University Graduate School of Management senior executive program, Fontainebleau, France, 2003; Northwestern University, MBA, 1992; University of Miami, bachelor’s, accounting and finance, 1983
Well-traveled: Pizarro has worked in nearly every country in Latin America but primarily Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. In addition to spending half his time traveling for work, Pizarro was selected to take a U.S. Department of Defense tour of military operations in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

Telefonica USA provides global telecom and IT service to U.S. multinationals operating in the Americas and Europe. It also serves the small and medium-size business market in the United States and Puerto Rico and is building in a new mass market area, the international communication needs of Hispanic immigrants in the United States.

A Cuba native whose family moved to Los Angeles when he was a baby and to Miami when he was 10, Pizarro attended Miami Dade College and the University of Miami before becoming an auditor with what’s now KPMG. Since then, for a variety of employers, he has worked as an executive or CFO on turnarounds and expansions in fields as diverse as retail, groceries and IT.

As chairman of the Beacon Council, the Miami-based economic development organization, Pizarro wants to see the council’s $1-million marketing budget — dwarfed by economic development marketing spending in Houston ($40 million) and Atlanta ($23 million) — rise to $2.25 million through private sponsorships and matching government funding.

He also looks forward to a new strategic planning study of the area’s future. “I have a thing I always say, ‘You can’t fight market forces,’ ” he says. “You have to figure out what your competitive advantages are, which is what we are doing now.” He’s optimistic that Miami can reap the benefits of foreign investment and the city’s attributes as a base for Latin companies expanding into the United States. Says Pizarro, “All the arrows are pointing in the right direction.”

Sky's the Limit

[Photo: Daniel Portnoy]

Rangel Fernandez

Aircraft Transparencies Repair
Owner, Hialeah

Father/son: A Cuba native, Fernandez came here by boat in 1980 with his father, Ivan, an engineer. He remembers going with his father to the flea market to sell shoes. He became his dad’s partner in the furnishings business in the 1980s, and they are partners in the windshield repair business. “I’ve been working with my dad since I was 9.”

A decade ago, a change in consumer tastes put Rangel Fernandez and his Hialeah acrylic home furnishings factory in a difficult situation. “It was rough and tough. I had to lay off a lot of people,” he says.

Fernandez looked for a related field and drew on aviation repair, a field he had studied in technical college and worked in briefly before joining his father at the furnishings factory. Following his research, Fernandez converted the factory from furnishings to restoring aircraft windshields for air carriers. Windshields are laminates of bonded layers of glass and polyvinyl butyral. As they wear due to exposure to routine but extreme temperature shifts when aircraft climb and descend, the layers separate.

Fernandez’s company has an FAA-certified, patented process to make the window solid again, saving aircraft owners typically 40% over a new windshield. Sometimes the savings are more. He says a 737 main windshield costs $7,000 new but can be restored by his 12-employee company for $1,900.

Fernandez says sales this year will reach $4 million, and he hopes to grow to $6 million to $9 million in sales in two to three years.

Through the assistance of Enterprise Florida, he has been able to travel to shows in Europe, Australia and Dubai to expand his business. “That’s a huge help that Florida’s given me,” Fernandez, 37, says. He wants to open franchised locations abroad to lower shipping costs.

Bumpy Ride

[Photo: Gregg Matthews]

Cheryl Stone

Florida Hospital
Medical technologist, Orlando

Metroplan Orlando
Consultant/transportation disadvantaged program

Medical technologist Cheryl Stone’s path to transportation advocate began with her own difficulty getting to work on time. Stone was infected by polio as a child and uses a wheelchair and a car outfitted with hand controls to get around. But following surgery on her arms, she needed paratransit — a shared-ride with no fixed route — to get to her job at Florida Hospital in Orlando. Those who can’t use mass transit because of their age, disability or other challenges rely on paratransit.

Stone found paratransit unreliable and came to realize the problem was larger
and more complex than her issues with an individual service provider.

She educated herself about the transportation problems of the disabled — everything from scheduling a paratransit trip to get to work on time to the uselessness of an “accessible” bus if getting to it requires crossing a wide grass swale in a wheelchair.

Stone has become an advocate and consultant for the transportation disadvantaged program for Metroplan Orlando. She has served on the state Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, is board president of the Central Florida Center for Independent Living and recently was appointed to Gov. Charlie Crist’s Commission on Disabilities.

Recovered from her surgery, Stone, 56, drives herself around again but remains committed to the issue. “I didn’t go into this with any great ideas of changing the world or anything. I was a pretty average person frustrated at trying to get from point A to point B.”