Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Waste not: Florida Organic Solutions puts Hurricane Irma's spoils to use

On a typical day, Florida Organic Solutions takes in about 500 cubic yards of yard waste and begins the nine-month process of converting the plant and tree material into nutrient- rich compost. After Hurricane Irma, the Seffner facility started getting 10 times as much yard waste — more than 5,000 cubic yards of debris a day, the equivalent of about 2,500 pickup truck loads.

“We’ll sure have a lot more product to sell next year,” says Eric K. Carl, the company’s executive vice president of finance and administration.

Florida Organic Solutions, which employs 20 full time and another 20 during the busy fall and spring planting seasons, makes its compost in a 63-acre former clay pit about a mile north of I-4 between Tampa and Plant City.

Florida Organics gets its raw material from home and business owners — and through con- tracts it has with nearby municipalities. It processes the yard waste in one of two massive chipping machines, each big enough to handle entire trees. The refuse is then arranged in 100-footlong, 15-foot tall piles called windrows, where the wood loses up to 40% of its weight as it decomposes.

The compost, which is certified organic, sells for between $14.50 and $35 a cubic yard, depending on the size of the order. Customers include commercial organic farms and community gardens. The compost is also sold at home stores.

Carl, who grew up working as a “field hand” in his mother’s garden, joined the company earlier this year after a career in investment banking. “I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it, but I’m 48 years old, and all I had done for the last 20 years was mark up paper and hand it to the next guy. I wanted to do something different. It’s very hard to find a business where you can do well by doing good, but I think I’ve found it.”

Business Briefs

FORT MYERS — Wisconsin- based call center firm Alta Resources plans to fill 600 customer-service and sales positions in Fort Myers.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY — Construction is underway on a 17,751-sq.-ft. West County Annex to house staff from Charlotte County’s supervisor of elections, tax collector, volunteer clinic and social services departments.

HAINES CITY — Four of the city’s highestranking employees, including City Manager Rick Sloan, have resigned. City Commissioner Anne Huffman, elected in May, had been critical of Sloan’s management style.

LEE COUNTY — According to the latest business-climate survey conducted by Florida Gulf Coast University’s Regional Economic Research Institute, 70 of 100 local executives expect Lee County’s economy to improve over the next year, while 26 expect the economy to stay the same.

LUTZ — UC Synergetic, an engineering firm, is opening a 19,000-sq.-ft. Pasco County facility, where it will expand its local workforce from 80 to 105.

PINELLAS COUNTY — Creative Pinellas, a nonprofit arts and culture organization, has created an arts business incubator in Largo.

PUNTA GORDA — Police Chief Tom Lewis was fired. The decision followed an internal affairs investigation of the shooting death last year of Mary Knowlton, a 73-year-old Punta Gorda resident who was participating in a community demonstration of police tactics.

SARASOTA COUNTY — A proposed Atlanta Braves spring training complex in North Port won a $20-million grant from Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity. Sarasota County and North Port officials want the stadium finished in time for the Braves’ 2019 spring training schedule.

ST. PETERSBURG — City Council approved plans for a “town square” development that would bring a craft distillery, office space and artists’ lofts and galleries to city-owned land west of downtown. The Penny Hoarder, based in St. Petersburg, was named Inc. magazine’s fastest-growing private media company in the nation with a three-year growth rate of 9.3%. The company’s 2016 revenue, according to Inc., was $20.5 million. TAMPA — Bainbridge Cos., a Palm Beach County developer, plans to build a 345- unit apartment community on 12 acres it bought in Westshore.

Cognizant Technology Solutions plans to add 75 jobs. The business consultant employs 1,900 in the state, with more than half based in Tampa. Lee Elementary School in the city’s Tampa Heights neighborhood burned following a Hurricane Irma-induced power outage. Fire investigators believe the building, constructed in 1906 and lacking sprinklers, caught fire as power was restored.

Icelandair has started twice-a-week service from Tampa International Airport to Reykjavik, Iceland.

TAMPA BAY — A Confederate monument in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse was dismantled after the community raised more than $140,000 for the effort. It will be placed in a privately owned cemetery in Brandon. Meanwhile, a Confederate monument near the Manatee County Courthouse was accidentally broken when it was removed.

ZEPHYRHILLS — The city plans to build a new $6.2-million city hall.

Innovation -- Virtual Dali

St. Petersburg’s Dali Museum has partnered with Inception, a provider of virtual reality entertainment products, to create an app for its “Dreams of Dali” production. “Dreams of Dali” takes viewers inside Dali’s 1935 painting “Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus,” enabling them, virtually, to climb stone towers and navigate a shifting, surreal landscape. “We hope that Salvador Dali, known in his lifetime as what we now call an early adopter of new technology, would applaud this homage to his 1935 painting,” says Kathy Greif, the museum’s chief marketing officer.


  • M2Gen, a medical technology company in Tampa, named Timothy R. Wright its new president and CEO. William S. Dalton’s new title is founder and executive chair.
  • Judith Ploszek, acting CFO at Tampa General Hospital, has been named executive vice president and CFO at the hospital.


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