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  • 07 Aug 2017 9:48 AM | Anonymous

     So your home is prepared for a hurricane or tropical storm. Great! Be proud you have checked the boxes — proper preparation pays off. But what about your business?

    As a reformed Florida surfer, I can tell you that the best (and biggest) waves occur during hurricane season from June 1 to Nov. 30. In other words, right now — surf’s up and you should be ready for it.

    For your business, two areas to focus on are insurance strategy and business continuity planning. Insurance will take care of paying you back after the storm hits and business continuity planning will make sure that the business can operate following a loss.

    Pre-storm is the time to review insurance policies to make sure they are written for your specific business needs. It’s critical to realize that once a warning is issued, insurance companies will shut down underwriting and binding of insurance. At that point, it’s too late to buy or change a policy.

    Most issues with business insurance policies stem from how the contracts are written — what is included/excluded:

    • Replacement cost versus actual cash value policy assignment: Cost to replace/reconstruct your buildings will be depreciated if actual cash value is listed.
    • Coinsurance percentage: How does this apply to your current reconstruction value? Avoid penalties with a current insurance appraisal.
    • Business interruption/extra expense: Make certain that the correct calculation method is used and contingent business interruption is added if suppliers are important to your operations.
    • Building ordinance and law: Building codes change regularly. Who will pay for reconstruction updates to meet the current code? Coverage for such updates is probably not automatically included in your policy.
    • Flood: Coverage for rising waters/storm surge is not typically covered unless your business has separate flood insurance. However, primary limits of flood insurance may not be enough to insure the full replacement cost of your building.

    Insuring owned property of your business is only one aspect of disaster planning. Best practices for business owners include a business continuity plan, which defines continuity of critical operations following a hurricane disaster. The plan includes such considerations as: how prepared are you for a disaster, what are your critical functions, are the critical parts of your business able to function in the event of a catastrophe and how will your business operate until it is up and running again?

    Communicating the strategy to employees is vital to the plan’s success. Most plans involve transferring equipment and inventory, specifics for protecting buildings and records and provisions for employee availability to help with preparations, including who will do what before and after the storm hits.

    There are some great information sources to assist with building a building continuity plan, but the plan must be specific to your business. One resource can be found at, in which Lykes executive vice president Mark Webb explains how to customize a plan by describing the five phases of business continuity strategy: Initiation, Business Impact Analysis, Recovery Strategies, Implementation and Testing/Monitoring.

    Proactive business owners will plan for adequate coverage as well as hurricane/disaster recovery to ensure their business will continue to operate after the storm. Once those boxes are checked off and a strategy is in place, get back to work! Or better yet, go grab a surfboard and hang 10.

    Josh Helmuth is risk adviser in the Sarasota office of Lykes Insurance, a Florida-based commercial insurance firm.

    Sarasota Herald-Tribune 


  • 28 Jul 2017 9:54 AM | Anonymous

    Throughout most of U.S. history, American high school students were routinely taught vocational and job-ready skills along with the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. Indeed readers of a certain age are likely to have fond memories of huddling over wooden workbenches learning a craft such as woodwork or maybe metal work, or any one of the hands-on projects that characterized the once-ubiquitous shop class.

    But in the 1950s, a different philosophy emerged: the theory that students should follow separate educational tracks according to ability. The idea was that the college-bound would take traditional academic courses (Latin, creative writing, science, math) and received no vocational training. Those students not headed for college would take basic academic courses, along with vocational training, or “shop.”

    Ability tracking did not sit well with educators or parents, who believed students were assigned to tracks not by aptitude, but by socio-economic status and race. The result being that by the end of the 1950s, what was once a perfectly respectable, even mainstream educational path came to be viewed as a remedial track that restricted minority and working-class students.

    The backlash against tracking, however, did not bring vocational education back to the academic core. Instead, the focus shifted to preparing all students for college, and college prep is still the center of the U.S. high school curriculum.

    So what’s the harm in prepping kids for college? Won’t all students benefit from a high-level, four-year academic degree program? As it turns out, not really. For one thing, people have a huge and diverse range of different skills and learning styles. Not everyone is good at math, biology, history and other traditional subjects that characterize college-level work. Not everyone is fascinated by Greek mythology, or enamored with Victorian literature, or enraptured by classical music. Some students are mechanical; others are artistic. Some focus best in a lecture hall or classroom; still others learn best by doing, and would thrive in the studio, workshop or shop floor.

    And not everyone goes to college. The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that about 68% of high school students attend college. That means over 30% graduate with neither academic nor job skills.

    But even the 68% aren’t doing so well. Almost 40% of students who begin four-year college programs don’t complete them, which translates into a whole lot of wasted time, wasted money, and burdensome student loan debt. Of those who do finish college, one-third or more will end up in jobs they could have had without a four-year degree. The BLS found that 37% of currently employed college grads are doing work for which only a high school degree is required.

  • 28 Jul 2017 9:46 AM | Anonymous

    CenterState Bank Florida Appoints Michael G. Forson as Vice President and Commercial Banking Relationship Manager

    Sarasota & Bradenton, FL., July 20, 2017 – CenterState Bank, Market President, Shaun P. Merriman, announced yesterday the appointment of Michael G. Forson as Vice President and Commercial Banking Relationship Manager. In this capacity, Forson will be responsible for developing new commercial banking relationships while maintaining excellent relationships with CenterState’s existing highly-valued business clients throughout the Sarasota and Bradenton markets. 

    In making the announcement, Merriman commented, “We are delighted to have Mike join our organization. Not only does he have a fine reputation with over 28 years of experience in the financial services industry and extensive knowledge of commercial and consumer lending and deposit services, but Mike also has over 30 years of military service as a commissioned officer in the Florida Army National Guard.” Merriman added, “His outstanding leadership and professionalism will help our organization to continue our strong growth by offering exceptional service to our local businesses and community.” 

    Forson joins CenterState Bank from his most recent position as Vice President and Private Banker at Fifth Third Bank in Sarasota. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration at Argosy University. In addition to his participation on the Goodwill Veterans Task Force, Forson has recently been appointed a Board Member of the Ringling College Library Association. 

    CenterState Bank is a Florida based community bank and one of Florida’s largest publicly traded banks providing online banking, commercial lending, residential mortgages and investment services. CenterState has a history of quality service and community focus. Our core values at CenterState focus on themes of sustainability, a long-term horizon and the career development of our team. We believe that local ownership and local management translate into a better bank. For more information on CenterState Bank, please visit,

  • 27 Jul 2017 7:05 PM | Anonymous

    Origin USA launches Complementary Installation Training to Customers

    July 11, 2017. Venice, FL

    Origin has now completed their installation training room, and it is located within their newest facility at the beginning of Commerce Drive business park in Venice, FL. They are now providing complementary instruction regarding how to install their thermally broken, aluminum windows and bi-folding doors.

    Origin windows are remarkably easy to install, and the objectives of the training include both building confidence regarding the successful installation of Origin windows and bi-fold doors, and imparting important knowledge of Origin products to customers and installers.

    As a gesture of a potential partnership, all equipment and tools needed for the training will be provided on site by Origin. Students will be engaged in hands-on scenarios simulating real-time window and door installations. Upon training completion trainees receive a certified installer certificate, reference installation manuals, and will be featured in Origin’s certified installers database.

    The company prides itself on short lead times and the ability to provide high quality bi-fold doors at a price near high-end, in-line sliders. Origin also offers their doors in any color, offer numerous safety features, and have thermal insulation numbers that previously were only achievable with vinyl.

    The doors have full Florida product approvals, and Origin is geared to sell to the trade. Origin is encouraging potential partners nationwide to ask for information, quotes, and hope they will visit one of their 37 showrooms.

    The installation training itself is completely complimentary. However, customers are asked to pay for their own travel expenses. Training is one day in length, and lunch will be provided to students. The schedule for 2017 is listed on their website, and additional dates are available upon request. Visit for more information.

    Questions? Contact:

    Nicole Rolph, Marketing Manager

    770 Commerce Drive, Venice, FL. 34292

    Office: (941) 484-4861

  • 24 Jul 2017 9:52 AM | Anonymous

     VENICE — Executives from PGT Innovations Inc. will ring the closing bell next Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

    The leadership team at PGT, the Venice-based maker of hurricane-resistant windows and doors, was invited to signal the 4 p.m. end of trading to acknowledge the company as one of the newer members of the Big Board.

    Shares of PGT, traded under the symbol “PGTI,” transferred from the Nasdaq Global Market to the NYSE in late December. They hit a 52-week high of $13.25 on Friday.

    That move coincided with the company adding “Innovations” to its name, a new brand that PGT said reflected looking to the future of the industry and the next generation of products, as well as uniting its three manufacturing brands — CGI, PGT Custom Windows & Doors and WinDoors.

    “As our company continues to grow, we believe that our listing on the NYSE will further raise the profile of our company and strengthen the value of our brand,” president Jeff Jackson said in a statement. “It reflects the changes we are making in our organization to expand our opportunities for growth and increase value for our shareholders.”

    The executives have some experience. Last October, they rang the bell at the Nasdaq to mark the company’s 10-year anniversary as a public company.

    In addition to Jackson, PGT executives heading to the stock exchange include Rod Hershberger, CEO and board chairman; Debbie LaPinska, vice president, human resources; Brad West, senior vice president and chief financial officer; Danielle Mikesell, vice president, market and innovation; Brent Boydston, vice president, sales; Bob Keller, vice president, PGT Windows + Doors; and Daryl Hendricks, vice president, CGI & WinDoor.

    Sarasota Herald-Tribune

  • 20 Jul 2017 10:25 AM | Anonymous

    Three-day operation was designed to protect consumers, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says.

    Herald Tribune - link to article

    SARASOTA COUNTY – Nine unlicensed contractors were arrested last week in a sting operation designed specifically to protect consumers, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says.

    Operation Freelancer IV is an investigation by the police department into individuals who “advertise home repair services that require a license to complete,” the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said. The three-day sting operation resulted in 11 felony and seven misdemeanor charges.

    Working closely with the Sarasota County Building Department, the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, detectives contacted contractors to complete an assignment that legally required a license.

    The DBPR database was checked to verify their status as licensed contractors upon their arrival at a “predetermined residence,” according to a news release.

    Many of those taken into custody have had previous run-ins with the law. Between the nine of them, there are 40 prior felony or misdemeanor charges, including eight convictions.

    The apprehension of misleading repairmen has been a concern for the Sheriff’s Office for the past five years. Detectives are assigned to investigate tips received from people who encounter contractors who lack the required licenses, permits or certification.

    Sheriff Tom Knight said that the risk of unlicensed contracting work is extremely high and that his police department is doing its best to crack down on offenders.

    “Consumers are exposing themselves to financial and physical risk by allowing these people to enter their home, unlicensed, and in some cases, with criminal histories,” he said. “Let this be a warning to criminals who come into our community and illegally solicit services, that their behavior will not be tolerated.”

    The nine people arrested were:

    ■ Charles Cochran, 55, Port Charlotte

    ■ Richard Hayez, 67, North Port

    ■ Joseph Hopp Jr., 56, Bradenton

    ■ Timothy Jewell, 56, Sarasota

    ■ Jonathan King, 41, Englewood

    ■ Mark Lamoureux, 69, North Port

    ■ Terence Miller, 56, North Port

    ■ Raul Morey-Arenas, 58, Sarasota

    ■ David Pond, 43 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

    To check a Sarasota County license, call the Customer Service and Permit Center at 941-861-6678 or 941-861-3029. To report someone you suspect is acting as an unlicensed contractor or performing work without a permit, call 941-861-5000. For more information visit

  • 13 Jul 2017 4:24 PM | Anonymous

    David Weekly Homes Closes on School Ave. Site


    Land near Payne Park that long served as the site of controversy surrounding the appropriate density of development could finally see a project break ground. A site plan and development agreement for David Weekly Homes to develop 135 residential units on a site on School Avenue won approval from Sarasota City Commissioners to move ahead.

    Michael Saunders & Company Commercial announced last Thursday that the homebuilder had closed on a purchase of the site, days after the city commission voted unanimously in favor of the project. “People will be very pleased to see this project finally come to fruition,” said Lee DeLieto, Sr., MSC broker/associate.

    Martin Frame, land acquisition manager in the Tampa and Sarasota markets for David Weekly Homes, told Sarasota city commissioners at a hearing in May that the project, titled Payne Park Village, will include a mix of townhouses, cottages and villas. Four-story units will overlook Payne Park, with single-family cottages and villas inside the project.

    The site has been grounds for historic struggles between neighbors and developers about the proposed densities on the site, and neighbors in May said this site plan represents the end of a 10-year endeavor to find a plan that can be embraced by neighbors and property owners.

    David Weekly Homes purchased a little more than eight acres out of a nine-acre site owned by developer Ron Burks, who initially planned a much more dense development that incited political upheaval. Burks then worked with neighbors on a plan with less intensity, but that project ultimately never moved forward. Less than an acre of the original property remains in Burks' hands and still can be used for commercial development.

    DeLieto says the major difference between this project and past development proposals is that the tallest buildings on site will only be four stories. “The construction costs for a townhouse, especially in a subdivision, are substantially less than building tower buildings,” he says. He credited Frame and consultant Joel Freedman with planning a project embraced by neighbors.

    City commissioners did express a strong concern about the price of homes, but officials from David Weekly Homes told them that every effort would be made to keep the price of the units toward the center of the project closer to $300,000, while many homes in that part of the city sell for $400,000 and up. Freedman said at the May hearing that the company would like to break ground by the end of this year if possible.

  • 13 Jul 2017 3:55 PM | Anonymous

    Grapevine Communications Announces Multiple Leadership Promotions

    Britney Guertin, Heidi Cook and Tammy Dumer Named to Director Positions

    Sarasota, Florida – July 13, 2017 – Grapevine Communications, the area’s leading fullservice advertising, marketing and public relations agency, proudly announces the promotion of three key staff members.

    Britney Guertin, who has served as the company’s Public Relations & Social Media Associate since March 2016, was named Director of Public Relations & Social Media.

    Heidi Cook, formerly the agency’s Special Projects and Events Manager, was named the Director of Operations. Tammy Dumer, who joined the company in 2008 as Bookkeeper, was named the Director of Finance.

    “At Grapevine, we believe in positioning our team to best anticipate and serve the needs of our clients,” said Grapevine President Allison Imre Perkowski. “Britney, Heidi and Tammy are proven experts in their respective fields and have been vital to the growth of our company. We are thrilled to recognize their contributions with promotions to leadership roles.”

    A graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, Guertin has extensive marketing, PR and social media experience with a range of industries, from retail and dining to real estate. In her new role, Guertin serves as the media point of contact and leads the public relations and social media team in developing, implementing, and monitoring content on behalf of Grapevine and its clients.

    Cook brings over three decades of agency experience in production management, media planning/buying, client relations, project management and office management. As Director of Operations, she manages the implementation of the company’s new automated systems, evaluates procedures for efficiency and accuracy, and ensures Grapevine’s team upholds its top-performing business processes.

    Dumer has an accomplished career in finance and accounting that spans more than two decades. As Grapevine’s Director of Finance, she manages the agency’s accounting processes, financial-related activities and reporting systems.

  • 07 Jul 2017 3:25 PM | Anonymous

    Four Best Practices that can help you keep your commercial auto insurance expenses under control.

    1. Focus on Fleet Safety

    The drivers and the fleet you put on the road are key considerations when an insurer assesses your commercial auto risk. Implementing a proactive Fleet Safety Program will create a strong foundation for controlling your risks and exposures from potential fleet auto accidents. A Fleet Safety Program will help establish standard safe driving procedures and expectations, thereby reducing your risk of liability, and will also communicate management’s commitment to the safety of your drivers and other motorists.

    Combating distracted driving by implementing a Distracted Driving Policy as part of your overall Fleet Safety Program should also be a top priority for all companies. Organizations that fail to create and enforce policies prohibiting employees from using their phones while driving put workers in jeopardy and increase employer liability, according to the National Safety Council. Policies should be practical, enforceable, and designed to protect employees and employers in all possible scenarios. A best-practice cellphone policy should cover all employees, both handheld and hands-free devices, company vehicles, company cellphones, and all work-related communications. The National Safety Council offers a free policy kit with information you can use to establish or strengthen your company’s policy.

    In addition to a Fleet Safety Program and a Distracted Driving Policy, companies should utilize Vehicle Usage Agreements for both company-owned vehicles as well as personal autos. Vehicle Usage Agreements outline the conditions and expectations a company imposes upon its drivers while operating a company-owned or personal vehicle. These policies should clearly define which uses of the vehicle are appropriate and which are not, as well as other requirements of the vehicle custodian, and the expectations of drivers while operating their own vehicle for business purposes.

    Remember, both the drivers and the fleet you put on the road are key considerations when an insurer assesses your commercial auto risk. That’s why you must also have stringent Driver Selection criteria. Here are 10 tips on how to best execute the driver selection process. It is critical to run Motor Vehicle Records for all company drivers. This should be done annually at a minimum, but quarterly checks are recommended. We recommend continuing to monitor driver records after hire, and implementing a continuous driver training program.

    2. Invest in Safety Technology

    Insurers like to see fleet management and safety technology such as telematics systems, dash cams, cell blockers, systems that track real-time data and driver behavior, and rear-view cameras and sensing equipment. Studies show that telematics and other new technologies reduce the frequency and severity of losses. Monitoring drivers improves driver behavior when it comes to complying with speed limits and reducing rapid acceleration and hard-braking events, saving fuel. Other benefits include tracking routes, charting more efficient routes, and lowering miles driven across the fleet, which reduces fuel and maintenance costs and contributes to lower claims.

    Remember, feedback from technology must be acted upon. Disregarding the data received from technological fleet monitoring systems can lead to a form of liability called a “negligent entrustment.” The feedback from fleet technology must be consistently reviewed, and action must be taken should any driver violations be discovered.

    3. Know Your Loss Experience

    Implement standards for after-crash procedures, accident reporting, and accident investigation. The information garnered from having these procedures in place can be critical in identifying potential poor driver behaviors.

    Review your auto losses on a quarterly or semiannual basis. Look to see whether there are trends in the types of accidents (rear-end, side-swipe, backing, etc.), times and days of the week the accidents took place, the routes in which the accidents occurred, types of vehicles involved in the accidents, and the employees involved in the accidents. If trends are identified in any of these areas, implement safety training to specifically address the trends and recalibrate routes and drivers, if necessary.

    In addition to negatively impacting your Commercial Auto premium, any auto losses that result in injuries to your employees affect your premium further by increasing your Workers’ Compensation Experience Modification Factor, which could affect your ability to procure competitive coverage at all. Work with your broker and claims adjuster to stay on top of your losses, and make sure all claims stay on track and do not languish.

    4. Partner with Your Insurance Advisor

    Organizations who partner closely with their insurance and risk management professionals to understand these risks – and the consultative support and tools available to manage them – will be better positioned to protect their employees, fleets, and businesses. With rates at an all-time high, commercial auto policyholders should consider utilizing a consultative approach and tools to better manage their transportation exposures.

    If you missed out on the recent Auto & Fleet Solutions Seminar, please contact Dave Wissel or Joe Thompson with Gulfshore Insurance for more information on how you can become a better risk.

  • 29 Jun 2017 11:10 AM | Anonymous

    J.E. Charlotte Construction Celebrates its 10-year Anniversary

    Venice-based J.E. Charlotte Construction Corp., a commercial construction company that offers a full range of construction management services, recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary on June 5, 2017. Since opening its door, J.E. Charlotte Construction has grown from six employees to the 12 it currently employs. The commercial construction company has completed over 200 projects, totaling more than $150 million worth of work. J.E. Charlotte Construction’s first project was to construct the Galleria on Venice Avenue office building, which is where the company has been headquartered since 2009. The company has completed projects, such as renovations to the Plantation Golf & Country Club in December 2013, the Players Club Longboat Key, Residents Club at Country Club East, two locations for Bayside Pet Resort & Spa and the Siesta Key Daquiri Deck. Backed by more than 30 years of experience in the commercial building industry, J.E. Charlotte Construction Co rp.’s provides a full range of construction management services. J.E Charlotte’s specialties span a range of commercial applications, including the healthcare, retail and country club and recreational industries.

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