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Waters Less Traveled

Ecotour guide Capt. Doug Maple's days can be filled with frolicking dolphins, bald eagles and hundreds of Arctic migratory birds. Those creatures are hard to beat but, inferring from Maple, they can be topped. "If I can tell my guests are really enjoying the trip and they're asking questions, I get excited and I try harder," he says.

Doug Maple [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]
Tidewater Tours, Owner, Cedar Key
Educator: Maple is a graduate of the Florida Master Naturalist program.
Quote: "My passion has always been the coastal marsh area."
Birders: "I do try to read my guests. The real birders are easy to spot. They've got a certain way of dressing."

Maple, 58, a retired DeKalb County, Ga., law officer, moved to Cedar Key eight years ago. "Fit me like a glove," he says. For about a year, he fished and explored the local waters. Then he took a job giving boat tours to nearby islands. "I was always one of those kids who had a collection of creepy crawly things and bugs and lizards and snakes," he says.

Five years ago, he founded Tidewater Tours. Maple provides tours to the islands in the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, his most popular trip, but added tours to the shallow marsh waters and the lower Suwannee River, his favorite haunts now after doing the island tours for so long.

For the popular islands trip, he recently acquired a 32-foot catamaran. For the backwater and Suwannee trips, he has a six-passenger boat that draws just eight inches. "What makes it appealing to me, and most of the guests that choose that trip, is we go where a lot of people don't go, the road less traveled."

His daughter, Jennifer, runs a boat, but beyond that, Maple doesn't want to grow the business. "This is all I need to do."

Birth of a New Career

In October, young Conceive Magazine beat out established Ladies' Home Journal and InStyle for a prestigious industry award, the Eddie Award for editorial excellence.

Kim Hahn
Conceive Magazine

Founder/CEO, Orlando
After MBA: Wanted to work for Disney.
Still waiting: For Disney to knock on her door.
Still waiting II: For Oprah to call. "She kind of inspired me. Her life and my life have a lot of parallels."
Met her husband: At Disney, where she was a 16-year-old dancer in parades and a costumed character. He was a 19-year-old supervisor.
Parting ways: SunTrust
was "extremely supportive" of her entrepreneurial wish and bought an ad in the first issue.
How she spent her 40th: A three-day event at Disney's Grand Floridian honoring those who made a difference in her life. She handed out 70 "Oscar" statuettes to former SunTrust colleagues, college professors and so on.
[Photo: Michael Cairns]

For Kim Hahn, it was vindication of her editorial mission -- to help women interested in prepregnancy health and getting pregnant. Vindication on the financial front could begin to come this year with the 3-year-old magazine's first profit.

Combined, they would bring vindication of a larger sort for Hahn, 41. A Long Island native who moved to Florida at 16, Hahn's first career was as a banker. She earned an executive MBA at Rollins College and rose to become SunTrust Bank's top financial officer for Florida. "You would have thought the world was my oyster," she says. When she and her husband, Ernie, began trying to have children, however, she was frustrated to find magazines for brides, expecting mothers, ferret lovers and log cabin owners but no publications for women interested in conceiving. She became depressed at not being pregnant. "When it didn't happen, it rocked my world. I probably had an early midlife crisis."

She and her husband eventually adopted a daughter, Taylor Ann, six years ago. With the help of a life coach, Hahn rethought her career and set a goal of having her own business, one that suited her personality and afforded her the time she wanted to spend with her family. So she raised $250,000 from family and friends, founded the magazine and left SunTrust in 2004 just before the first edition appeared.

Ad sales have doubled for three years, though moving beyond the endemic market -- nutrition, fertility and birth-related product companies -- has proved a challenge. Buyers are women with a median age of 28; most are college graduates and working. Revenue this year will be $2 million.

She's extending the brand with a radio broadcast and two books coming out next year, and she's syndicating content.

"I wanted to be able to create something when I was on this earth that would help somebody, and banking wasn't doing it for me anymore," Hahn says.


» Terry Dale, 45, president and CEO, Cruise Lines International Association, led the association's relocation this year from New York to Fort Lauderdale. He also led the merger of CLIA with Washington, D.C.-based International Council of Cruise Lines.

» David Feder, 59, is president and general manager of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, which is undergoing a $750-million renovation and expansion ending next year that will leave it at 1,504 rooms and suites and a spa, restaurants, lounges and meeting space.
Driving for Dough

Mary O'Donnell
Inside Golf
Owner, Jacksonville
Worked previously in: Washington, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana and Texas.
Costly mistake: O'Donnell discovered customers wanted onsite parking, so she had to move within the first year ofb operation.

[Photo: Kelly LaDuke]

You're supposed to follow your passion. Mary O'Donnell hopes to find success following other people's passion.

Though not a golfer, O'Donnell last year opened Inside Golf, an indoor practice facility in downtown Jacksonville. Two large simulators covering 28 courses, right down to the barking seals at Pebble Beach, give feedback on launch angle, distance, club speed and other factors on the ball you hit.

With degrees in architecture and city and regional planning, California native O'Donnell came to Jacksonville six years ago. After working for the city, she looked for an opportunity outside government. "I wanted to do something for Jacksonville," she says.

Copying from indoor golf centers in major cities, she opened Inside Golf in 2006 as a place where people could learn golf in a supportive environment -- or just get in some practice in their time-constricted day with their own clubs.

Customers buy memberships for unlimited play or pay $25 for nine holes, $45 for 18 holes. There also are two putting areas, a driving bay and a lounge with a beer and wine license. She's introduced a ladies night, summer camp for kids and other measures to boost volume.

"It's a lot of overhead, and we need a lot of people in to help us get to a break-even point," O'Donnell says. "We're not there yet."