August 12, 2022

Family Business

Trendsetters - Dec. 2005

Mike Vogel | 12/1/2005
Home on the Range

RANCH HANDS: Back row: Amanda and Cliff Lightsey, Charlotte and Layne Lightsey, Lori and Barrett Chandley (holding Gabe), J.B. Wynn, Marcia and Cary Lightsey, and Jessica (holding Hattie) and Clint Lightsey. Front row: Peyton Chandley (center, daughter of Lori and Barrett) and twins Bailey and Morgan Lightsey (daughters of Clint and Jessica).
Owners / Lightsey Cattle Co.

LINEAGE: The Lightseys originally settled in South Carolina in 1730. The family has been in cattle for 12 generations.

FAMILY: Layne and his wife, Charlotte, Cary and his wife, Marcia, a total of six children and eight grandchildren.

CARY QUOTE: "All of our family love it. It's hard work, but they love what they're doing."

WHEREABOUTS: The Lightseys' holdings are scattered about Polk, Highlands and Osceola counties and in Georgia, to which they've turned because of soaring Florida land prices.On just one jewel of an island among the Lightsey family's 14,500 acres thrive bald eagles, sandhill cranes, gopher tortoises and 25 other endangered species. Also thriving are cattle. The Lightseys combine the environment and ranching so well that they've won praise from environmentalists and an environmental stewardship award from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. "They're unique," says Jim Murrian of The Nature Conservancy's Florida chapter, for their interest in ranching as a livelihood, their celebration of its culture and their enhancement of natural resources.

The first Lightseys came from Georgia in 1858. The sixth generation here, brothers Layne, 55, and Cary, 53, run the business, which includes another 15,500 acres they lease. Ranching provides half their income. The rest comes from citrus groves, timber, sod and seed, camping, and guiding hunts and ecotours. A smidgen of their environmental credits: Working to reintroduce bald eagles in other states, habitat restoration and fuel- and water-efficient irrigation. Their pride is the 1,063-acre Brama Island in Lake Kissimmee. In December, they sold development rights on it to the state for $3 million. The conservation easement allows the state to protect it from development while allowing the Lightseys to ranch and fund trust accounts and estate planning.

After their father, Doyle, died in 1973, it took the Lightseys 20 years of farming converted pasture and some lean times to pay the inheritance tax. To save their heirs that pain but keep the family ranching, they will sell conservation easements on 80% of their lands. "Then they have no choice. It's the cattle business or nothing," Cary says of future Lightseys. "We may be the only ones left. We may be in a zoo or something. We found at a young age, it's not the money that counts. It's what makes you happy."

School Days

From left: Ben Fruitman, 10; Renee Goldman; Jacob Goldman, 4; Richard Goldman; and Brent Goldman

Owners / Sagemont School

BRENT: "We're very entrepreneurial."

RENEE: "A school isn't like a widget factory. I think we've created a quality school, a nice place to be and happy people. That's very fulfilling. We're not just businesspeople trying to make money."Renee and Richard Goldman set one condition in 1996 as they weighed whether to start a private elementary school: Their son Brent, a high school teacher and assistant football coach with a doctorate in education administration, had to sign on as headmaster.

They started with 23 kids. Now they have 750 students at Sagemont lower and upper schools in Weston and another 1,500 attending their University of Miami Online High School. There's also a cyber-curriculum company.

The Goldmans moved to Florida from Pittsburgh in 1977. Richard spent 20 years as dean of graduate education at Nova Southeastern University while Renee ran their Another Generation preschool company, which grew to 1,300 kids before they sold it in 1997.

Annual tuition at Sagemont runs from $9,500 to $12,200. Four of the Goldmans' five local grandchildren attend. The fifth is a 1-year-old. Combined, Sagemont, the online school and curriculum company employ 190 and have $8.5 million in revenue.

Renee, 62, is president of the companies and is the Sagemont lower school admissions director. Richard, 63, develops partnerships like the one with UM for the online school. Brent, 37, runs day-to-day operations and is happy he met his parents' condition nine years ago. "I look forward to Monday, which is a nice thing when you have a job. I love kids and making a difference in people's lives."

A Second Chance

Jon Yob had the classic entrepreneur's industrious start, helping at his father's business at age 5, earning his real estate license at 18. At 20, he bought a metals recycling plant in Tampa to generate cash for real estate investing and get a toehold in business.

CEO / Creative Recycling Systems

CHILDREN: Natalie, 9; Alexis, 6

COMMUNITY: On the board of Joshua House, a home for abused, abandoned and neglected children in Hillsborough County; Prevent Blindness Florida; Recycle Florida Today; Kids Charity.

COMPUTERS: More than 1,000 donated to various causes, including laptops the Red Cross used in Hurricane Katrina.In 1989, life took an unexpected turn. Heavy equipment at the recycling plant fell on him, and he nearly bled to death. After recovering, he plunged into volunteering and was restless at work. "I wasn't -- I don't know if fulfilled is the right word -- it wasn't demanding enough intellectually," he says.

He noted the growing volume of electronics being discarded and in 1994 founded Creative Recycling Systems. "It was an opportunity to do something in a place (where) there weren't all these experts and answers already."

He says his brothers Joe and Carl have been there from the start. As many as 12 family members have worked at the company. The 67-employee company was named the University of Tampa's Florida Family Business of the Year in 2003 and MassMutual's National Family Business of the Year in 2004.

CRS plants in Florida and Georgia this year will recycle 2 million pounds of TV and computer monitor leaded glass and a half-million computers. Precious metals recovered can run $2.50 to $3 per unit. Volume is such that Yob is automating facilities.

Yob, 43, won't disclose financials but says revenue has grown 40% per year for three years. He plans to expand to other states.

"I'm in God's hands," Yob thought as he was being rushed to the hospital in 1989. "I've really tried to do good things since then. I feel like I'm a better person. It's been very important to me to give back to the community."

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