Monday's Afternoon Update
What You Need to Know About Florida Today
Battered But Still BuildingDusky Marine has been making boats in South Florida since 1967. Like other local boat manufacturers, this family-owned business was hit hard by the recession, forcing Dusky to cut production and lay off workers. "Four years ago we had about 100 workers, and now we're down to about 25," said Michael Brown, the son of Dusky's founders, Ralph and Pat Brown, as he walked through the company's plant in Dania Beach. During the years prior to 2008, Dusky — which manufactures and sells custom boats for fishing, diving and cruising ranging from 14 feet to 33 feet — used to make about 100 to 200 boats a year, Michael said. Last year, the company manufactured "around 60 to 70 units." "We're taking in a lot more service work now, but we're still making boats and selling them," said Michael, after taking care of a customer who drove from Tampa to pick up a new Dusky. At the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last year, Dusky sold four boats and five more as a result of contacts made during the event. "We're struggling, but we're working," he added, pointing to several boats currently under construction. "We're looking forward to the Miami show." Dusky was able to survive for several reasons beyond the reductions in personnel and production. Dusky boats, whose prices range from about $2,500 to around $200,000, makes customized boats and has built up a strong customer following. [Source: Miami Herald]
Meet Jennifer Hagenbuch, the new community bank president for Wachovia, now owned by Wells Fargo. Read how she is banking on small business.
COLUMN: How to Be No. 1 to Businesses and Schools Alike
What exactly would it take to propel Florida up the rankings to No. 1 in education quality and No. 1 for low taxes for business?
Can any state possibly lead in both? Or must one come at the other's expense?
To find out, Florida Today's Matt Reed picked apart national rankings and budget documents and buried himself in data.
The sum of which made clear: With two or three big moves, Florida could easily catch Maryland's No. 1 school system and South Dakota's No. 1 tax climate for business, as ranked by Education Week and the Tax Foundation.
For now, though, we lack the political will to win. [Source: Florida Today]
Progressive Offers Pay-As-You-Drive Insurance for Fla. Motorists
Flo, the perpetually perky Progressive Insurance spokeswoman, hinted it was coming during a Super Bowl commercial that aired locally.
And today it's official: Progressive is rolling out a usage-based insurance discount in Florida, saving drivers who agree to be tracked up to 30 percent based on how, when and how much they drive. The program, called Snapshot, gives customers a tiny device to plug into their vehicles to capture driving habits for 30 days. Drivers rack up discounts if they travel during times when crashes are less likely, drive less overall or make few sudden stops.
"We're very excited. Florida is our largest market, and this is a major milestone for us," said Richard Hutchinson, Progressive's general manager for usage-based insurance.
[Source: St. Petersburg Times]
Miami-Dade Restaurant Workers Complain about Working Conditions
While thousands in South Florida are planning to dine out with their sweeties for Valentine's Day, a group representing restaurant employees wants the public to know the perils facing many industry workers. A report being released Monday by Restaurant Opportunities Center of Miami, the local chapter of a national restaurant workers' organization, paints a picture of a dramatically stratified industry, where there are only a limited number of "good jobs." Instead, many restaurant workers face low-wage jobs, the report says, with "long hours, few benefits, and exposure to dangerous and often-unlawful work-place conditions.'' The report is based on surveys of 580 Miami-Dade restaurant employees, which were done with the help of Florida International University. [Source: Miami Herald]
Osteryoung: Problems Arise When Employees Are Friends
You work so closely with your staff and it is very easy for them to become your very close friends. However, this can cost you much, even your marriage. Dr. Jerry Osteryoung relates his experience helping a couple that runs a motorcycle shop in northeastern Florida. They have been in business for over 10 years. Four years ago they hired an employee named Sandy to be in charge of the accessory department. She was great at selling these products and after awhile took over the purchasing of all the merchandise for this department. A friendship blossomed between the wife and Sandy. For a while, all went well. Eventually, friendship and business started getting in the way of each other.
Read Dr. Osteryoung's column in Florida Trend.
» Economy Not a Thorn in Side of Florists