Northwest Florida Roundup
Tough lessons: The BP oil spill taught PMI a lesson in diversification
The April 2010 BP oil spill revealed a glaring weakness in the customer base of PMI, the Fort Walton Beach-based professional employer organization.
“In 2010, over 36% of our clients were in hospitality,” says D.C. Mickle-Bee, who had taken over as CEO the year before for the company, which manages payroll, human resources and other services for companies that choose to outsource those functions. “We had to quickly redistribute our industry mix because we were getting hammered. The hospitality industry was hit very hard by the oil spill.”
Mickle-Bee responded by diversifying — PMI now operates in 14 business sectors — and expanding aggressively into south and central Florida.
Today, hospitality clients constitute only 16% of PMI’s customer base. The company has increased its revenue from a low of $95 million in 2011 to a projected $244 million this year, says Mickle-Bee.
Most recently, the 46-year-old Alabama native has moved the company into a new field that focuses on training employees in technical skills, such as welding. PMI’s most prominent training client is Chicago Bridge and Iron, one of the world’s largest builders of infrastructure for the oil and gas sector.
PMI has a 92% client retention rate, and growth has prompted a recent move to a 45,000-sq.-ft. building on seven acres in Fort Walton.
Under Mickle-Bee’s leadership, PMI also has increased its sponsorship of numerous community and charitable events, says Ted Corcoran, CEO of the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, which named PMI “Corporate Business of the Year” in 2014.
Doug Coleman has been promoted to CFO at AppRiver, a Gulf Breeze-based email and web security provider. Other executive level promotions include Michael Hamstra, vice president of marketing; Chris Cain, vice president of software development; and Jeff Malone, vice president of sales.
APALACHICOLA — A decades-long dispute involving Georgia, Alabama and Florida over the Apalachicola- Chattahoochee- Flint river system may be moving toward settlement. Recently, 56 stakeholders in three states unanimously approved a “sustainable water management plan,” says James McClatchey, a member of the Apalachicola Chatahoochee Flint Stakeholder’s Group. McClatchey says the agreement could eliminate lawsuits over control of the river and its tributaries.
CRESTVIEW — The Okaloosa Industrial Air Park has become the county’s first certified park through Gulf Power’s Florida First Sites program. The 134.7- acre park is adjacent to the Bob Sikes General Aviation Airport.
FORT WALTON BEACH — The city of Fort Walton Beach and Miami-based Venture Hive plan to establish a center for veteran entrepreneurship. The public-private partnership will give veteran-owned tech businesses access to Venture Hive’s entrepreneurship education and training programs. The city Has allocated $500,000 to the initiative and will provide renovated space to house the Venture Hive Fort Walton Beach Accelerator.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Alcoholic beverages on the city’s beaches will be banned during spring break.
PENSACOLA — One Palafox Place closed on a deal to buy 4½ acres in the Pensacola Historic District. Led by managing investor Robert B. Switzer, the group purchased the property for $7.5 million. Plans call for extensive renovations and development of mixed-use commercial and residential properties. > Pensacola-based Gulf Power has received approval from the Florida Public Service Commission to purchase wind energy from a wind farm that will be built in Oklahoma. The agreement is the first of its kind in the state. Called Kingfisher Wind, the wind farm will be built in central Oklahoma. Construction of the $55-million DeepFlex manufacturing facility at the Port of Pensacola stopped this spring after Brazilian financiers backing the project withdrew. Two-thirds complete, the facility is designed to manufacture under-sea flexible pipe for the oil and gas industry. Port Director Amy Miller says she expects construction to resume eventually. The DeepFlex facility would be the largest capital project ever built at the port.
PERRY — The Perry City Council plans to pursue a $700,000 community development block grant for the first phase of its downtown canopy project. The project is part of the master revitalization plan adopted in the summer of 2012 for Perry’s historic downtown business district that also includes the development of Rosehead Park.
TALLAHASSEE/LEON COUNTY — The 15-year-old Tallahassee Regional Airport terminal is getting a makeover, starting this summer. The renovation is expected to cost between $10 million and $12 million, with more than half paid by the Transportation Security Administration. Completion is expected by early March, says Aviation Director Chris Curry. > The 4,55-acre Honey Lake Plantation Resort and Spa is on the market for $22.2 million. Owners also are offering a 1,000-acre parcel, the Hooking Bull, that can be purchased separately for $3.5 million.