March 31, 2023
The makings of a jobs boom
Manufacturer Heico, based in Hollywood, has increased its work force 33% since 2010.

Southeast Florida Roundup

The makings of a jobs boom

Manufacturers are helping to fuel employment growth in south Florida.

Mike Vogel | 5/27/2015

In 2007, New Jersey-based Girard Equipment, tired of the cost of doing business in the Northeast, relocated with about a dozen employees to Vero Beach in Indian River County. Since then, the company, which makes pressure release valves, has grown to 90 employees at its manufacturing facility and at a foundry it opened as an affiliated company in Fort Pierce in St. Lucie County.

Manufacturing employment has surged in southeast Florida since 2010 as the region began emerging from the recession. The growth in Broward is driving the industrial real estate market there, which also benefits from spillover from Miami-Dade. Farther up the coast, manufacturing increases have been more dramatic in percentage terms, though off a small base.

The growth owes to many drivers. One has been the aircraft industry. Hollywood-based Heico has seen its Broward work force increase 33% since 2010. Most of the growth has been organic, says co- President Victor Mendelson. Once primarily an aircraftrelated company, Heico now makes products for the aerospace, defense, electronics and industrial markets. In Stuart in Martin County, Triumph Aerostructures’ Vought Aircraft Division has grown to 330 employees from 245 at yearend 2010 thanks to additional work for Boeing for its 737s and 777s.

Girard, a 63-year-old company, is “very nichy,” says President Timothy Girard. Its valves are used on tanker trucks in the oil, chemical and food industries. It’s a growing field, but the company’s biggest growth has come overseas. In 2013, it won a Governor’s Award for Export Excellence. Its products are exported so many places, he says, it’s easier to name where they aren’t. “Probably Antarctica, but there’s probably a few things down there we have,” Girard says.

Profile: Stewart Materials

Jupiter-based Stewart Mining in March changed its name to Stewart Materials. The business was founded in 1982 by fifth-generation Floridian Nick Stewart, who still is CEO, as a sand and fill supply company. Now with 38 employees, it describes itself as one of the largest suppliers of “inland-sourced, process-controlled” materials in Florida. It supplies materials for beach rebuilding, golf courses, roads and construction for projects as varied as athletic fields and the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee. In Collier County in recent years, it has supplied 330,000 cubic tons of sand for beaches. It won’t disclose revenue.


  • Seacoast Banking hired Stephen A. Fowle, former CFO of Delaware-based financial institution WSFS, as executive vice president and CFO, replacing William Hahl, who retired.
  • Carmichael Hospitality Partners hired Debra Saccavino, general manager of the Renaissance Hotel in Boca Raton, as general manager of its new Sawgrass Grand Hotel & Suites, a 291- room hotel in Sunrise.
  • Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan hired Douglas E. Jensen, most recently vice president of finance at Atlantis Paradise in the Bahamas, as CFO.

Business Briefs

DAVIE — Broward College started a film production program.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Port Everglades, the county’s seaport, says it is moving closer to obtaining federal approval for deepening and widening its channel and turning basin to accommodate post-Panamax cargo ships. > Spain-based ferry company Balearia Ferry Express replaced a 460-passenger ferry that shuttles between the port and Grand Bahama with the 1,000-passenger Bahama Mama, serving U. S. tourists and Bahamas residents and carrying their cargo, containers and vehicles. The ferry company saw a 34% increase to 121,321 passengers in 2014. The new vessel is expected to make 300 voyages a year to Grand Bahama and carry more than 200,000 people.

HOLLYWOOD — Tennesseebased armor and military apparel maker Short Bark Industries closed its Hollywood facility and laid off 156.

JUPITER — Researchers at Scripps Florida, working with scientists from the University of Miami and other institutions and supported by the National Institutes of Health, found a new compound that blocked HIV infection in monkeys, raising the possibility that it could be used as a vaccine against AIDS. The study was published in the journal Nature. > Scripps, Max Planck Florida and Florida Atlantic University will share resources and facilities as they work on research and education at FAU’s Jupiter campus. The three institutions will allow undergraduate and graduate students to enroll in unique degree programs at the campus in collaboration with Max Planck and Scripps Florida. > Max Planck also launched a brain-research training program, the International Max Planck Research School for Brain and Behavior, in collaboration with FAU, the University of Bonn and the Center for Advanced European Studies and Research. Max Planck says it will be a doctoral program that will accept applications later this year for fall 2016.

PALM BEACH GARDENS — New York hedge fund Sky- Bridge Capital, with $12.5 billion under management, opened a local office and also paid to be the brand behind the city of West Palm Beach’s bike-sharing service.

SOUTH FLORIDA — Dublin, Calif.-based Ross Dress for Less opened stores in Pompano Beach and West Palm Beach. > United Airlines plans to lay off 69 workers at Palm Beach International Airport, 148 at Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood and 115 at Miami International.

WEST PALM BEACH — Hotel REIT Chatham Lodging Trust and Island Hospitality relocated their headquarters from Palm Beach to downtown’s Esperante Tower. Chatham owns stakes in 130 hotels totaling 17,858 rooms. Island is a third-party management company operating more than 140 hotels under 18 brands.

WESTON — Supplements company Vital Pharmaceuticals, which operates as VPX Sports, plans to lay off 143.

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