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  • 14 Feb 2018 3:16 PM | Anonymous

    Guignard is a family-owned surety bond agency that offers an honest approach to business, one of the many reasons it is celebrating 40 years in business. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Jack Guignard, an experienced surety professional, founded Guignard in 1977. Since then, Guignard has made its mission to deliver reliable, professional and sincere service to every client. With Jack’s son, Bryce Guignard, serving as current president after 25 years at the agency, the combined experience of the Guignard family, along with that of its seasoned team, provide a strong stewardship for the business. 

    As a surety agency, Guignard serves as the facilitator between clients needing bonds and the surety companies that provide them. Because it works with multiple sides of the industry, Guignard’s team not only understands the process, but they respect it and are dedicated to finding the right solution for clients. The agency prides itself on fostering relationships, and that commitment goes beyond the normal workday. “We’re not just an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. company, we’re available whenever the client needs us,” says Guignard partner, Margie Morris. Guignard is comprised of more than 175 years of combined surety company and agency experience, as well as a trusted network of more than 20 surety partners to fulfill any bond request. 

    When working with clients, Guignard knows that integrity and relationship-building are key. A genuine dedication to helping people find the right solution is seen with each project. That’s why the approach to every contract is the same, “regardless of three zeroes or 9 zeroes on the balance sheet,” says Margie Morris. Guignard employees, many of whom have over 25 years of experience, offer the same expertise to all clients, whether it’s a startup company or a tenured business. 

    “We treat each client with white gloves, and we walk alongside them at all levels of the contract process.” – Margie Morris, Partner 

    Guignard’s dedication doesn’t end with its clients. In fact, it begins internally with a strong company culture. With a positive, family-oriented workplace, Guignard understands the importance of a work/life balance and it offers a flexible environment for employees. As a family-focused team, Guignard also cares about the wellness of its employees. A current health initiative is aimed at increasing office exercise, with the goal of collectively walking the equivalent of the Earth’s diameter within one year. Enjoying almost 30 years at Guignard, senior account executive, April Lively, appreciates the level of trust between employees and management. “There’s independence and freedom to do my job and they know it’s going to be done well.”

    “From the top to the bottom of our agency, you’re going to find a greater sense of ownership. We all take pride, and we all act like owners.” – Bryce Guignard, President

    To those looking to enter the industry as a surety professional, Guignard offers wise advice about respecting the process. The agency places a firm importance on assisting clients before gaining dollars. “Focus on doing the job of presenting good deals for everyone involved,” says Bryce Guignard.

     In addition to supporting clients and employees, Guignard supports charitable organizations in both a corporate and personal capacity, championing arts in Central Florida and participating in the causes their clients care about, such as the Central Florida Zoo, the Red Cross, Dancing for Diabetes, Kids House of Seminole, the American Cancer Society and more. 

    Celebrating 40 years in business prompts Guignard to look toward the next 40 years and beyond. “We’ve excelled because we focus on our core business — surety bonds. We spend 100% of our time doing that, which make us unique in the industry,” says Guignard partner, Paul Ciambriello. 

    We’ve got a great foundation and we want to continue building on that.” – Bryce Guignard 

    With a solid foundation guiding the way, the agency expects to continue providing excellent surety solutions along with its goal of expediting the bonding process through the use of the latest technology. With offices in Longwood and Tampa, Guignard is keeping an open mind to more expansions, and the next generation of agency employees. 

  • 14 Feb 2018 2:50 PM | Anonymous

    Public Hearings Privately-Initiated Comprehensive Plan Amendment No. 2017-G; for Hi-Hat Ranch 2050 DOCC 
    and Zoning Ordinance Amendment No. 134

    Date: March 1, 2018

    Location: Robert L. Anderson Administration Center, County Commission Chamber, 4000 South Tamiami Trail, Venice, Florida

    Time: 5:00 p.m., or soon thereafter

    The Sarasota County Planning Commission, acting as the Local Planning Agency, will hold public hearings to consider a proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment and a Zoning Ordinance Amendment.

    Comprehensive Plan Amendment No. 2017-G: A privately-initiated amendment to the Primary Components of Chapter 8, 2050 Resource Management Area VOS Policy 2.1 and 2.6 of the Comprehensive Plan relating to Timing/Phasing of Development and Master Development Plan Options.

    Zoning Ordinance Amendment No. 134: A privately-initiated Amendment, amending Section 11.3 and 11.4 of the Code relating to Application Submittal Requirements and Definitions.

    The proposed amendments to policies and regulations are to allow for a two-step process for the future development of properties located south of Fruitville Road and north of Clark Road as defined in the Amendment as the "Central

    Village Planning Area" and generally shown on the map below: Following the public hearings, the Planning Commission will forward its recommendation on the proposed Amendments to the Sarasota County Commission.

    You are invited to appear, be heard, and submit relevant evidence. Copies of the petition and supporting documents are available during normal business hours in the Planning and Development Services Department at 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, Florida. Copies of the petition and supporting documents will be available to view or download at www.scgov.net, Keyword: Planning Commission two Fridays prior to the public hearings.

    You are invited to comment on the request by attending the public hearings or submitting your written comments to:

    Planning and Development Services Department

    1660 Ringling Blvd, 1st Floor

    Sarasota FL 34236


    Please call 941-861-5000; TTY: 7-1-1 or 1-800-955-8771; or

    email: planner@scgov.net or adacoordinator@scgov.net with your



  • 09 Feb 2018 8:06 AM | Anonymous

    Kerkering, Barberio & Co., Certified Public Accountants, has announced that participating employees donated over $15,000 to the United Way Suncoast in 2017. Kerkering Barberio and its members are strong supporters of the United Way and conduct annual campaigns to raise funds for the organization. In 2017, the firm exceeded its fundraising goal. Kerkering, Barberio & Co. is one of the largest independent certified public accounting firms in Southwest Florida. The firm has been serving clients since 1972.

  • 25 Jan 2018 6:10 PM | Anonymous

    J.E. Charlotte Construction Corp., a Venice-based commercial construction company, has been awarded the contract to construct a 28,000-square-foot building for PGT Innovations. The one-story building will connect two of PGT Innovations’ existing glass processing plants located on Technology Drive in North Venice, creating a large continuous space for operations. With construction scheduled to begin this month, the new building is planned to enhance safety, quality, productivity and efficiency as glass moves through the processing stations that are used to produce impact-resistant and energy-efficient glass for PGT Custom Windows + Doors brand products. Slated for completion in fall 2018, the project will add production space, as well as a 1,150-square-foot compressor room. A 3,100-square-foot exterior canopy area will also be constructed as part of the project. Designed by Hall Architects, the new space is expected to increase the capacity for housing processed gl ass units before they move to the next phase in the manufacturing process, allowing the company to maximize its production capabilities.

  • 25 Jan 2018 5:55 PM | Anonymous

    Steve Padgett and Stu Henderson last month purchased the architecture and interior design firm Fawley Bryant Architecture. The move coincides with the retirement of Mike Bryant, a founding partner in the firm with Rick Fawley, who died in 2015. The new owners have a combined 24-year history at Fawley Bryant Architecture. Padgett, who previously served as the firm’s executive vice president, will now be a firm principal and the managing partner. Henderson will also be a principal and will continue his role as director of design. The firm currently employs 20 full-time staff members.


  • 12 Jan 2018 4:31 PM | Anonymous

    SARASOTA, Fla., (January 12, 2018) – GATES Construction has begun site development at a new Wawa, located at 5301 Clark Road in Sarasota. Set on two acres of land, GATES Construction will clear the project site and get it pad-ready. Site development will include grading and utilities and above & below ground storm water management. Wawa stores are located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida. They offer fresh, built-to-order foods, beverages, coffee, and fuel services. Bohler Engineering is providing engineering services.

    The project is being constructed for JBCC Development. JBCC is a full service real estate development company based in Sarasota with retail projects throughout the State of Florida.

    As Florida’s premiere builder, GATES Construction serves its clients from offices in Bonita Springs and Sarasota as a full service general contracting firm providing construction management and design-build services with a diversified project portfolio in all types of commercial, institutional, industrial and multi-family construction projects. GATES also operates in North Carolina and the Republic of Panama. For more information on GATES, please call (239) 593-3777 or visit the website at www.GATESinc.com.

  • 12 Jan 2018 8:07 AM | Anonymous

    Kellogg & Kimsey, Inc. has been selected as the Construction Manager and General Contractor for a new corporate office building in Sarasota, Florida for Codeware, Inc. Partnering with Carlson Studio Architecture for the new 26,854 sq. ft. office building, the team will work together to create an exciting space for the engineering software firm. Currently leasing space in Sarasota, the driving force for the new building is due to massive growth in the mechanical engineering software market and the desire to continue supporting their client’s needs in various industries around the world.

    The first floor will feature a 835 sq. ft. conference room with a connecting breakroom and an outdoor patio. Both floors will incorporate a mix of different size offices with unique and open collaboration spaces for employees. The second floor will utilize almost a third of the space for an on site fitness center, with men’s and women’s locker rooms for employees to have a great work/life balance. The 2 story building will be built with a steel structure using composite concrete slab on deck over bar joists. The foundations are spread footings with a slab on grade. The exterior skin is metal stud framing clad in an Exterior Insulated Finish system.

  • 03 Jan 2018 6:25 PM | Anonymous

    Contractors optimistic about growth, but still face labor woes

    Construction firms in Florida expect to keep growing in 2018, but they will continue to struggle to find workers.

    A survey of state contractors found that 85 percent anticipate increasing their payrolls by up to 10 percent this year, the Associated General Contractors of America reported Wednesday.

    And nearly 70 percent said they are having a “hard time” filling both salaried and craft workers positions right now.

    That’s no surprise in the Sarasota-Manatee region, where residential and commercial builders have lamented for several years that they can’t find enough labor for their projects.

    “My members are still finding it difficult to fill jobs, not just skilled jobs,” said Jon Mast, CEO at the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association. “This is a continuing saga.

    “Larger builders are finding relief by hiring ‘shell contractors’ that can build their product through the framing stage. This helps them keep up with closing schedules. Smaller builders and those that build custom homes still enjoy having consistent labor as they pay more for the service,” he said.

    Mary Dougherty, executive director at the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, said the labor shortage is a constant refrain among those in the local construction trades.

    “It is causing prices to increase and jobs to be delayed,” she said. “A lot of folks, with the labor shortage, aren’t bidding on certain jobs. They just don’t have the manpower to bid on them.”

    In Florida, nearly half of the companies surveyed by AGC said they had increased base pay to retain or recruit workers, while 62 percent said they provided new incentives or bonuses. Nearly a third said they paid more overtime.

    Mast said the labor squeeze also has impacted builders at the government level.

    “What has gotten worse is the shortage being felt by our local building departments,” he said. “They are short staff due to retirements and the additional workload due to the increased economy. Permits are increasing, which causes more inspections. Some of my members are months behind on getting closings completed due to the lack of building inspectors.”

    The regional construction workforce has been growing. In November, 24,600 workers were counted in the Sarasota-Manatee construction sector, a gain of 2,000, or nearly 9 percent, over the year, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

    But that remains well off the peak of 31,800 in April 2006, which then plunged to 14,900 in 2011 during the economic downturn, when projects stalled and building all but ceased, forcing workers to find other ways to earn a living.

    Nationwide, 75 percent of construction firms plan to expand their payrolls in 2018 as contractors are optimistic that economic conditions will remain strong amid declining tax rates and regulatory burdens, according to the survey from AGC and Sage Construction and Real Estate. Despite that general optimism, many firms report they remain worried about workforce shortages and infrastructure funding.

    Locally, the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange plans to hold its second “Construction Rodeo” this spring to teach the 25 percent of graduating seniors who are not college bound about construction-related career opportunities.

    “We’re trying to introduce them to what a career in the trades can mean for them now and to later become a business owner,” Dougherty said.

    The BIA is working with the Future Builders of America and the National Association of Home Builders’ Student Chapters to get local coursework designed for construction in local secondary and post-secondary schools, Mast said.


  • 01 Jan 2018 6:40 PM | Anonymous



    Another great year.

    So say Michael and Drayton Saunders. And Ben Bakker. And Janet Robinson.

    The reviews are in. It’s a great time for the region’s commercial real estate market.

    Maybe not rating an A+, but the market descriptions belie the letter grades from these industry insiders.

    “Overall, 2017 was another great year for the commercial real estate market in the Sarasota/Manatee/Charlotte County area. B rating overall.” — Michael Saunders, founder and CEO of Michael Saunders & Company, and Drayton Saunders, president.

    “A solid B. Fantastic year-over-year returns.” — Ben Bakker, lifelong Bradenton resident, vice president of the family-owned HJB Properties and a commercial Realtor with MS&C.

    “I would give it a B or C as the last three years have been really hot in the primary and secondary markets.” — Janet K. Robinson, the commercial director for the Tampa Bay region of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT. She has worked in this commercial real estate market since 1996.

    Saunders, whose Sarasota-born-and-based commercial real estate division continues to lead the region in contracts, specifically cited three reasons for the B grade:

    • “Office vacancy rates have stabilized, but rents continue to have room to increase.”
    • “Downtown Sarasota Class A rental rates increased 6.4 percent from a year ago. Landlords are taking full advantage of the strong market conditions and continue to aggressively push asking rates upwards, especially in Class B properties.”

    (Class A buildings are the most prominent in location, construction, accessibility, desirability and professional management with highest rents. Class B buildings are a little older with average rents and construction finishes but still good quality management.)

    • “Industrial: Rents have remained constant and for the fifth straight quarter, vacancy rates continue their low numbers, reaching 2.7 percent, and the metro has posted nine consecutive quarters of positive absorption.”

    In specifically describing Manatee County and Bradenton, Bakker said vacancy rates are dropping.

    Robinson also points out the bright spots: “The prices have risen in all portions of our market, including land, office, industrial, retail and multifamily. The vacancies have gone down considerably in all of these sectors.”

    Both Saunders and Bakker hold similar views. “Even with the tight office/industrial market and rising rents that could support new construction,” Saunders said, “new office/industrial development without preleasing will be limited by funding constraints and competition from multifamily developers for the same sites.

    “Downtown’s residential construction explosion will be a great positive to the downtown commercial and retail submarket. The growing live-work-play environment in downtown will remain a draw for people from all over the region.”

    Bakker described the industrial sector as performing “extraordinarily well” with vacancies getting snatched up and thus putting upward pressure on the prices of vacant land in Manatee County as sites for new construction.

    “We’re probably due for a leveling off in a new years,” he said.

    Brian Alford, a Tampa-based commercial real estate market economist at CoStar Group, a research and data firm with offices across the United States and Europe, regularly issues detailed reports on key commercial real estate sectors: retail, office, apartment and light industrial.

    Retail business

    Alford’s take on retail, supported by charts and statistics, credits the Sarasota-Manatee’s flourishing tourist industry and rising population for the strong demand since 2012. “This has combined with muted new construction over this same period to gradually compress vacancies to a level below the historical average,” he writes in a 2017 analysis.

    At the same time, investment activity in retail space has been “extremely robust,” averaging more than $210 million annually since 2014 — “well above the historical average,” Alford notes. Yet new construction has been way down since 2010, “averaging less than half of the metro’s historical norm,” he said.

    “In addition to having one of the higher population growth rates in the nation, Sarasota’s retail/wholesale trade has been one of the fastest growth sectors, with job increases of approximately 18 percent since 2015,” Alford said. “These have combined to fuel a steady retail demand, which is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.”

    Apartment sector

    The apartment market appears to be contradictory. In the midst of a supply boom, formerly sound rent growth has been squeezed to a level below the historical average even though demand has been potent enough to keep vacancies below the historical average, Alford said. More than 3,500 units have been created since 2014, and 1,100 units are under construction.

    “As typical for most Florida markets and despite the construction boom, Sarasota remains undersupplied,” he said. “Since 2010, household growth has outpaced housing starts and apartment growth combined.”

    Jon Mast sees a growing market. The chief executive officer of the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association said demand is high for multi-family housing with the supply increasing because of several condominium and apartment complexes being developed in both Manatee and Sarasota counties. “Multi-family housing, both condominium and apartments, are considered commercial and a strong part of my members portfolios,” he said.

    Saunders sums up the market’s bright position. “In 2017, the Sarasota/Manatee/Charlotte County condominium and apartment project market remained very strong and healthy, especially in downtown Sarasota. Downtown Sarasota saw a boom in development along with multiple new proposed projects. With land becoming less available throughout the area, land prices continued to increase each quarter.”

    Investors poured tens of millions into apartment complex purchases in 2017, apparently bullish on rates of return. Four sales alone amounted to $223 million.

    Office market

    “The office sector is the most interesting to watch,” Bakker said.

    Technology and mobile communications have inalterably changed how the work world works, especially on large-scale employers. “Nobody needs these giant footprints anymore,” he said, citing Bank of America’s departure of a Bradenton high-rise because more and more customers have turned to online banking. “People can get more work done on the run,” Bakker added.

    Still, Alford said, “Sarasota office demand has been exceptionally strong.”

    Surprisingly, this is the region’s largest employment sector. Office workers represent 20 percent of the entire workforce, Alford said. The education and health services sectors are the prime drivers, he said. One reason: The abundance of medical offices to serve seniors since some 40 percent of the population is age 65 and above.

    “Office construction has been significantly down during this cycle, averaging less than 10 percent of the metro’s historical annual construction levels since 2010,” Alford has found. “The lack of new supply and strong demand has seen net absorption greatly outpace deliveries in recent years, markedly compressing vacancies to levels approaching historic lows.

    “In addition, the tightening fundamentals allowed landlords to push rents throughout much of the recovery, hitting a cyclic and historical peak in 2015. Investment activity has significantly increased in both volume and price since 2011, averaging over 30 percent higher annually than the metro’s historical average sales volume.”

    CoStar reports that as of mid-December, there was only one office property currently under construction, the 40,000-square-foot Sabal Palm Plaza in downtown Sarasota. The building was 75 percent preleased to Sabal Palm Bank and Gilbane Building Company.

    The current vacancy rate stands at 5.7 percent with the year’s rent growth at 2.3 percent, according to CoStar. The company predicts the 2018 vacancy rate will drop to 5 percent and rent will rise 2.1 percent.

    A future gem

    Perhaps Sarasota County’s crown jewel in commercial real estate in 2017 only caters to the imagination at this point. But as blueprints and renderings go — and the promising future economic wallop — the imagination runs wild.

    The Atlanta Braves broke ground on a planned $100 million stadium complex in the West Villages in September, intending to open the major league baseball team’s spring training headquarters in February 2019.

    The West Villages Improvement District estimates this commercial development’s 30-year economic impact on the region at more than $1.7 billion.

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