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The year ahead: Business outlook for 2018

REAL ESTATE (Developer)

Managing Director, Encore Capital Management, Boca Raton

Neil Eisner Neil Eisner

“We’re seeing strong growth of qualified people coming for a myriad of prices. Compared to some other regions of the United States, the price value is still very strong. We’re seeing a strong influx of Chinese. We’re seeing a strong influx of Venezuelans, Brazilians. I would say we feel pretty good that the market will continue. I call it steady as she goes through ’18 and ’19.”

Encore Capital Management’s projects include Mirada, a 5,200- home development in Pasco County near Tampa, Creekside, a 690-home development in St. Johns County near Jacksonville, and Beachwalk, approximately 800 homes in St. Johns County. In Orlando, it has Encore Club at Reunion, 792 homes sold largely to vacationers and investors.

REAL ESTATE (Full Service Sales)

Mike Pappas Mike Pappas

President/CEO, Keyes Co., Miami

"The Millennials are dominating the first-time home buyer market and have a strong wind at their back with interest rates remaining at historical lows.”


Orlando Office Managing Shareholder, Gunster, Orlando

“Orange County and Orlando lead the nation in job growth. Our employment numbers are just so strong. We’re going to see significant demand in the residential sector, including single-family. All of my multifamily developer clients are very bullish on 2018.

I think everyone would agree retail is in a period of redefining itself. I predict we will continue to see a lot of mixed-use development. Great real estate is great real estate. What we’re seeing in retail is the demand for secondary and tertiary is what’s soft.

Industrial is as hot as it can possibly be right now. I think the office market will continue to grow in 2018.”

REAL ESTATE (Developer)

President, Minto Communities USA, Tampa

“We think 2018 will be a great year for us. It just seems like we’re seeing more people down here a little earlier.

We opened up our new community in Palm Beach County, Westlake, that will have 4,500 homes. We had over 3,000 people there on the weekend. It was backed up a mile in both directions trying to get in to park. It’s a long time since Palm Beach County opened up something that affordable. We were able to open up under $300,000, which in Palm Beach County is a feat.

We have our 3,000-unit Latitude Margaritaville in Daytona. We’ve had over 100,000 people register for more information. Future projected expansion of additional 3,000 home sites for a total of 6,000. Our first phase of 378 homes seems to have more demand than we have supply.”

RETAIL (Outdoor Gear)

Kevin COOK
Co-Owner, South Outfitters and Coastal Paddle Co., Pensacola, Gulf Breeze

Kevin and April Cook opened their 300-sq.-ft. Coastal Paddle stand-up paddleboard store in the Pensacola area in 2010. They’ve added South Outfi tters, carrying branded merchandise, and now have a total of three stores.

“I try to forecast, but really it just comes back to all you can do is have faith and go to work and try to serve your customers the best way you know how,” Kevin Cook says.


David Gott David Gott

David GOTT
General Manager, Sawgrass Mills, Sunrise

2017 was a very strong year especially as compared to 2016 and late ’15. We saw quite a rebound particularly with our South American customers. People from Argentina were notable. We’ve been having an exceptionally strong sales year. That was offset a bit by Hurricane Irma. We did end up losing a few days of business. We’re having a wonderful year of new stores. We’re kind of unique due to the sheer size of this property. The 380 shops are on one level. We’ve kind of sharpened our focus onto dining a little bit. We have a pretty robust roster of 14 full-service restaurants.

Looking toward 2018, we’ll be breaking ground on an AC by Marriott hotel. It’ll be a first quarter of ’20 opening. A 170-room hotel. That opens up lovely opportunities for shop and stays.

We’re seeing some growth in some new tourism markets. We’re seeing some traffic out of the UAE that’s undoubtedly related to Emirates airline’s once-daily service from Fort Lauderdale to Dubai. We’re seeing more travelers from India and China.”

TOURISM (Resort)

General Manager, Gasparilla Inn & Club, Boca Grande

The Gasparilla Inn & Club, in business since 1913, is owned by the William Farish family. The resort has played host to many notables, including Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, Katharine Hepburn, the Bush family, members of the DuPont family, and others.

Jon Reecher said, “We’re in our 104th season. 2016-17 was our best season ever as far as revenue and roomnights go. I think 2017-18 will be strong. I think people actually are looking for unique and different experiences.”

TOURISM (Construction)

Kevin MAYS
Director of Development and Construction, BTI Partners (Grove Resort & Spa, an Orlando condo-hotel), Fort Lauderdale

“The hotel is a conglomeration of many different owners, and it’s run by a management company. Owners buy two- and three-bedroom condos. To the vacationer, it feels just like a hotel resort. We just opened up in March 2017. We’ve had a ton of international buyers out here. It’s about 75% international. China has been a huge market for us. China and Brazil both have been large.

We have three phases, and each phase is about 300 units. We’re sold out of the first phase. It exceeded our expectations.

We’re very eclectic in who stays here from an international level as well as a domestic level. It’s been very vibrant.”

HEALTH CARE (Hospital)

Lars Houmann Lars Houmann

COO, Adventist Health System (Adventist is the parent of Florida Hospital), Altamonte Springs

“We’ve had a lot of downward pressure on revenue from the rate side of things — what we’re paid. The hurricane impacts of Irma were a pretty hard hit for us. It hit all markets. It racks up into the tens of millions for us in business impacts in Florida.

We won’t have bad results, but it has been a year that’s involved a lot of attention to managing costs and adjusting to less-than-expected volumes in different parts of our market and constant vigilance on the operating margin.

In 2018, we’re going to expect some unfortunate growth in the uninsured. There’s going to be a lot of activity in the merger and acquisition of the smaller independent hospitals and communities that have their own freestanding hospitals.

As it stands now, the family is spending almost 2. 5 times on health care as they’re spending on food. I don’t know how long that will keep going.

The navigational point we all have to steer toward is, we all have to use less health care and use it more efficiently and create networks that can deliver health at a lower cost and with better outcomes. It is that march away from fee-for-service medicine to value-based payment.”

FINANCIAL (Insurance)

Doug Wiles Doug Wiles

Chair, Florida Association of Insurance Agents; President, Herbie Wiles Insurance, St. Augustine

“Despite the hurricanes, Florida still enjoys a healthy insurance market. The fiscal outlook for most insurance companies is fairly good, certainly not perfect, and not what it was a couple years ago, but given the storms and damage we’ve had, we’re optimistic. The storms and some other issues, assignment of benefits in particular, are going to cause some homeowners and business insurance rates to increase. It’s just a matter of when that will occur and what levels we’ll see.”


Rita Lowman Rita Lowman

Chair, Florida Bankers Association; COO, Pilot Bank, Tampa

“We are very pleased with the year we’ve had. We’re seeing a nice uptick in the market. We’re seeing some nice lending trends in Hillsborough and Pinellas, and our SBA lending is thriving,” Lowman says of Pilot Bank. “The regulations can be quite burdensome. We’re (the association) not asking for regulations to be dropped by any means — just having some relief. Every $100,000 we spend on a compliance officer or someone in that BSA compliance role — that’s a million dollars we could be lending out in our communities.”

FINANCIAL (Accounting)

John Anzivino John Anzivino

Estate and Trust Principal, Kaufman Rossin, Miami

“The biggest thing we see is a lot of people on the sidelines as far as estate planning (awaiting Congress to act on possibly eliminating the estate tax.)

We remind them of the current opportunities, which are huge. We continue to have people moving to south Florida with lots of wealth. We used to get maybe 2% international estate planning things. Now it’s a third or more.

We’re focused more on business consulting, helping clients make their businesses more efficient. They outsource their accounting department to our firm. It’s all computerized. It’s all electronic. They understand what’s going on in their business much better.”

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