March 26, 2019


Mike Vogel | 2/1/2002
Meeting Programs
Fits Him to a "T"

Simon T. Bailey
Director of sales / Disney Institute, Celebration
First saw his wife, RenEe: While she was singing in the choir.
A favorite pastime: Reading.
Recommended reading: "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert T. Kiyosaki; "Vernon Can Read! A Memoir" by Vernon Jordan; and "Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography" by Sidney Poitier.

Simon T. Bailey, Disney Institute sales director, calls back in the November week that saw Walt Disney Co. close some guest rooms at the institute. Blame the tourism slowdown. And how was Bailey holding up? "Very well, actually," he says.

And not just because Bailey, 33, and his team continue selling programs to corporate clients for staff training at other Disney hotels. Nor is it that pixie dust has clouded Bailey's reason. Instead, look to the middle initial T that Bailey shares with his son, Daniel. It stands for Theophilus -- the "friend of God" for whom St. Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts of the Apostles. It's a fitting name when your father, grandfather and two of three brothers are ministers. Bailey himself earned a bachelor's and master's in theology.

Degrees notwithstanding, the Buffalo, N.Y., native chose a business career. By age 22, he was manager of the year at a Hyatt in Atlanta. In 1992, he helped open the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport. He later worked as national account manager for the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau before joining Disney, where he sells corporations on having their employees learn the Disney way to train managers, instill loyalty or ensure quality service.

And he's a believer in the Disney your-heart-in-your-dreams story. "I work at a company where if you can dream it, you can do it," says Bailey, the first African-American sales director for the Walt Disney World resort. "I see myself as president of Walt Disney World some day and chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Co."
Meanwhile, Bailey is excited that Disney is expanding its professional development offerings. And for challenging times, he holds to St. Paul, who after floggings, a stoning, shipwreck and imprisonment, still wrote that all things work for the good for those who love God. "I'm standing right on Romans 8:28," Bailey says. "God's word at the end of the day is going to stand."

Production Studio
Hitting the Big Time

Eugene Rodriguez
Owner / Big Time Productions, Miami
Residence: Ocean Drive. "I live a very nice, peaceful life," he insists.
Regular folks: Lauren Hutton. "She's great. She's a Scorpio. She's very loyal to Florida."
Been around awhile: "I met (Niki Taylor) when she was 14," working on a Burdines shoot.

Eugene Rodriguez, founder of Miami's Big Time Productions, tells a story about the time the season's hottest pink shoe slipped from a model's foot and into the ocean during a magazine shoot. The boat captain sent someone overboard to find it and averted what "would have been an enormous crisis," Rodriguez says.

A crisis over a shoe? Rodriguez then walks you through the economics of all the other models and photographers and money that were waiting on that shoe, and pretty soon you at least understand how they would see it as a crisis.

Rodriguez, a pioneer of Miami Beach production, made his mark with a smart understanding of the industry's needs. He leases space to others, who pay a few thousand dollars a day to shoot fashion spreads, album covers and commercials. He won't disclose revenues.

In 1988, he staked a claim in then-unheralded South Beach. He rehabilitated run-down properties just enough to serve as premium photo sets. He rehabilitated the buildings further in the off-season. And now that surrounding property values have soared, he is selling.

It's urban redevelopment through glamour and fashion. "Frankly, it's real estate-based," Rodriguez says. As is Rodriguez. The Miami native's parents developed shopping centers. In his own work, he credits luck, a vision of what photographers want and an affection for historic buildings. "There's a certain beauty in decay," he says. "I love slums."

Lately, he's smitten with an area due west of Miami's developing arts district. So smitten that he's doubled Big Time's capacity to 200,000 square feet. And it's a better area than South Beach for parking and equipment. Among other buys for his complex, he purchased an old ice plant and rehabbed it as a film studio and his headquarters -- Ice Palace Film Studios. "We did Ricky Martin's last cover there. We had Lenny Kravitz in there," he says.

Film, TV
Shooting for the Stars

Todd Roobin
Chief, Jacksonville Film & Television Office

Job: Since, 1990, heads the office that sells Jacksonville as a place to make movies and shoot commercials and advertising spreads.
Films shot in Jacksonville: G.I. Jane, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Devil's Advocate, Gold Coast.
Big buzz: The recent filming around Jacksonville of Basic, starring John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. Roobin says it brought work for local actors, extras and "many, many vendors." The average high-end film spins off $95,000 per day into the economy, he says.
Now they're buddies: Basic's Jackson and Roobin golfed a few rounds together. "We had a little team bet going."
The bread and butter: Commercials, corporate films, training films.
Area asset: Location variety. Jacksonville's been a stand-in for a major metro, New England, the Amazon and the Philippines.
Bio: A Jacksonville native, 40, and Florida State University grad, he started at MTV in New York in 1986 in the heyday of vee-jays and Robert Palmer. "I'm dating myself."
Economic impact of the film and entertainment industry: $125.3 million in Jacksonville in 1999, according to a state study. The impact on south Florida was $2.5 billion and on Orlando was $745 million. Florida's total was $3.9 billion.

TOURISM: Spreading the Word
9-11, as everyone knows, put a big hurt on Florida tourism. Here are some leaders trying to resuscitate it:

D.T. Minich responded to the WTC attack by putting on the road most of the 18 staffers at the Lee Island Coast Visitor and Convention Bureau in Fort Myers and the three based in Europe. By November's end, they pitched Lee County in 52 cities in five countries and at 46 trade and consumer shows. "We've done a lot since Sept. 11," says Minich, 38, who joined the bureau as a PR intern out of the University of Kentucky. He became executive director in 2000. ...

Lee Tiger, 51, a Miccosukee who also markets Seminole attractions, joined tourism agency Visit Florida on a trip to London to push Florida. "It's the old ripple effect," says Tiger, a member of the state tourism commission and Visit Florida. "You throw a pebble in the water, and it ripples out." The son of the Miccosukee's original chairman, Tiger spent years in California with his Native American rock band. He focuses now on nature-based and heritage-based tourism. ...

Visit Florida board chair Fred Lounsberry, 49, traveled the nation and world to assure tour organizers that Florida remains a great destination. "The whole issue is to be out and market the state at the right time and the right place so that it doesn't fall on deaf ears," says Lounsberry, senior vice president for sales at Universal Studios Recreation Group in Orlando, Universal's worldwide theme park unit. An Iowa native, he returns every summer to the family farm to wind down. ...

"Flexibility is the key word," says Thom Stork, vice president of marketing for SeaWorld. Stork has been studying emerging patterns of travelers -- who's coming from where -- in deciding how to market. He also was cheered by the response of firefighters, police and rescue personnel to Anheuser-Busch's free admission offer to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. As he entered the Capitol during a special legislative session, a state trooper shook his hand. Other troopers applauded. "It's been very well-received," says Stork.

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