The results of the nominations for Advantage Magazine’s Top 50 Small Business Influencers
We put it to you, the small business community, to come up with who you thought were the top 50 small business influencers in Jacksonville—and you exceeded our expectations.
After hundreds of nominations to sort through and multiple back-and-forth conversations between many, the list has been narrowed down to this Top 50 (in alphabetical order) and some honorable mentions that just couldn’t be eliminated.
Be sure to attend the Meet the Top 50 event on June 8 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Aloft at Tapestry Park and meet the “dream team” of influence makers that will open doors and help you make connections to push your business to reach new levels of success.
Bring your magazine along and check the box next to the influencer to be sure you’ve met every one!
Tawnia Adams, Hancock Bank
Tawnia is a “must know” because she works diligently to help all of her business clients meet their financial goals and dreams. She is more knowledgeable about the inner workings of small business than most business owners and strives to assist each company to be the best they can be by offering financial solutions that make a difference in their financial world.
Al Bagocius, The A & I Consulting Group/Creative Packaging Solutions
Al is a “must know” because he is an inspiration to small business people learning how to be successful using social media. Al would admit he’s older than the average hipster trying to make a splash in the social media world, but that hasn’t stopped him from setting the pace for many in Jacksonville. He is all about the other person, and firmly believes that good deeds will be rewarded. He is a delight to work with, a man of his word, and willing to freely share his social media knowledge to help others.
Richard T. Balog, CPA, Balog & Tamburri CPA
Richard is a “must know” because of his 25 years of experience as a CPA and his dedication to the success of small business. Not only is Rick associated with many networking groups and has many certifications, he constantly strives to bring the “best of the best” together in the business community and provide them top options to assist them with their business.
Sandra Bartow, Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce
Sandra is a “must know” because she is a powerhouse of information and connections, both of which helps her run the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.
Pat Blanchard, Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce
Pat is a “must know” because she is dedicated to the success of women entrepreneurs at every stage of their business development. She assists aspiring and existing small business owners gain access to education, capital, resources, and networks to help them become more successful. She spearheads and implements programs designed to deliver these benefits in support of women as they launch and grow their businesses.
Nancy Boyle, Small Business Resource Network (SBRN)
Nancy is a “must know” for her extensive involvement as director of the SBRN, where she provides a free resource and referral service for small business owners and coordinates activities for professional and agency members; and for the local, 30-minute, television interview show, “Speaking of Business,” devoted to discussing topics relevant to operating a small business, which she produces and hosts; and for being an adjunct professor teaching organizational behavior at the UNF Coggin College of Business.
Anna Brosche, Ennis Pellum & Associates
Anna is a “must know” because she is a person of action, and those actions are executed in a thorough, professional, and inclusive way. Anna’s ability to synthesize—groups of people, ideas, goals—to support the small business community is remarkable.
John Bryan, Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce
John is a “must know” because he is one of the top networkers in Jacksonville and a “must know” with the Jacksonville Chamber. His knowledge of who, when, where, why and how to network is second to none. Plus, he is the nicest guy you will ever meet and a lot of fun to be around.
Ellen G. Bushnell, Bushnell & Company, PA
Ellen is a “must know” because she is a highly motivated CPA who always has the best interests of her clients on the top of her “to-do” list. She does not let her clients, no matter how big or small, feel like they are just a number. They are treated with respect, courtesy, and with the utmost importance to their needs while never losing the small business advantage.
Tresa Calfee, BROOKSLACAYO Advertising
Tresa is a “must know” because she really does know everybody and everybody knows her—mostly because, above all else, she works to help businesses succeed and shares her connections specifically to do so.
Camille Clement Gregg, Outside the Box Consulting
Camille is a “must know because she is a networking queen and the best referral source when you need to do business in the North Florida business community. She either knows everyone or knows how to get to everyone. She works diligently to connect businesses, forge great relationships, and promote businesses—even those who are not clients—all of which helps the small business community flourish.
Lynne Coggin, BNI Northeast Florida
Lynne is a “must know” because as executive director of BNI, she helps businesses expand their networks, build strong business relationships, and effectively communicate their goals for business and personal growth through networking and referrals.
Sheila Collins, Collins Capital
Sheila is a “must know” because in a period of extreme financial uncertainty, not only has the company she built survived, it has prospered as never before. She is also a pioneer that blazed a path through a historically male-dominated investment management industry so other women didn’t have to. She serves as a role model for women in our industry and never shies away from what she feels is her responsibility to encourage and promote diversity.
S. Roger Dominey, Financial Design Associates
Roger is a “must know” for all of the associations in which he is a part of, the successful salesperson he is, the outstanding leader that he has come to be, and the community service initiator that people are happy to work with. Within the company, he developed a team of specialists in the areas of investments, marketing, brokerage, annuities, long term care and disability, and life insurance, to help the small business owner—all at the needs of our clients.
Janice Donaldson, Small Business Development Center at UNF
Janice is a “must know” because as the regional director of the Small Business Development Center at UNF, she assists thousands of existing and potential business owners through individual counseling, facilitating SBDC workshops, and teaching entrepreneurial classes through the UNF Coggin College of Business. She is one of North Florida’s strongest supporters of small business and economic development, and is often found at meetings and events in support of SBDC clients and stakeholders.
Barbara English, English Solutions
Barbara is a “must know” because she helps small, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses become city, state, and nationally certified and be positioned to win identified government contracts, which can be a very confusing, difficult, and challenging area for small business owners to navigate. Over the past three years, she has used her 36 years of government contracting experience to provide winning government contract insight to more than 600 small businesses in Jacksonville. Her one-on-one consulting has enabled small businesses in Jacksonville to be awarded $3.1 million in government contracts in the last 12 months. She is a winner who helps others to win!
Jen Errair, Admin 911
Jen is a “must know” because she truly dedicates herself to her clients in a very unique way. No matter the circumstances, no matter the work, she jumps in with both feet and frees her clients of the administrative headache of running a business.
Raul Espinosa, Fairness in Procurement Alliance (FPA)
Raul is a “must know” because he helped establish a procurement Think Tank at UNF and his peers in the Jacksonville business community voted him as a “Minority Champion” in 2010.
Jessica Evans, Regions Bank
Jessica is a “must know” because she can get lending done for people seeking to buy a business, expand, build, or buy equipment. She assists many clients capture the American Dream of business ownership. If it is something she is unable to do through the bank, she will suggest alternatives to them.
Deb Eveson, Allstate
Deb is a “must know” because she left a long career in financial services because she knew there was a need to serve at a personal level for those needing insurance and has become the go-to girl for all things insurance….honest, fair, supportive. She is a great example of leadership
Wilfredo J. Gonzalez, U.S. Small Business Administration
Wilfredo is a “must know” because of his diligent dedication to ensuring the small business community in North Florida has access to capital, technical, and management assistance to open a business or expand an existing one. In addition, he ensures that the issues affecting the small business community are heard at all levels of government. He is the number one advocate for the small business community in Jacksonville.
Eva Greenfield, Hometown Threads and Chair of the Chamber Councils
Eva is a “must know” because of her ability to help foster the success of business women in the Jacksonville community. As immediate past president of Professional Women’s Council, she also helps develop women leaders and enhance business relationships.
Cathy Hagan, Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Cathy is a “must know” because she is the heartbeat of the SBDC and has helped businesses in countless ways. She is always full of ideas, helps make connections to the right people if she can’t help, provides new opportunities, and gets the word out there about all the ways small businesses in Jacksonville can receive help and so much of it free. She is a tireless crusader for small business!
Brad Hollett, Accelerated Construction and ACT Architects
Brad is a “must know” because he has helped hundreds of Florida businesses connect with health care related work. He helps new business owners with special advice and referrals on everything from acquisition to construction to marketing and advertising and beyond. He is an amazing man and gives back to the community every day.
Keith Johnson, Keith E. Johnson CPA PA
Keith is a “must know” because he has a passion for the needs of small business owners and help them achieve their dream of success. He has been in practice since 1997 and has worked with organizations devoted to small business needs such as the Beaver St. Enterprise Center, UNF Small Business Development Center, and the Jacksonville Chamber Small Business Center for many years. He is also active in many professional, business, and social organizations.
Scott Keith, BB&T
Scott is a “must know” because as the regional president of BB&T, he has the influence internally at BB&T as well as in the community to make business happen! He can connect influential business people with just about anyone in Jacksonville.
Keith Kessler, Kessler Creative
Keith is a “must know” because he enjoys assisting other businesses reach their goals. Whether it’s a new business, mom-and-pop shop, or an established business looking to expand, he works with them one-on-one to ensure their expectation is his mission. He understands the pitfalls and obstacles one must face to be successful. He also understands that it never hurts to have a helping hand to lead in the right direction. In addition to working with small businesses, he also assists with non-profit organizations throughout Jacksonville.
Suzi Lemen, Dynamic Corporate Solutions Inc. (DCSI)
Suzi is a “must know” because she is a tireless proponent of small business development. She is a much requested speaker on small business, HR, and women’s business issues, and is an active member and past president or Women Business Owners of North Florida. She will begin her third year as the instructor for the e200 program which the SBA sponsors annually to help small businesses grow. She also sits on several committees including the Mayors Commission on the Status of Women.
Joe Lemire, eLYK Innovation
Joe is a “must know” because he helps business owners have a clear understanding of how their website can help them grow, as well as help design, develop and implement an internet strategy that will work for them.
Lauren Little, Edible Arrangements
Lauren is a “must know” because she is influential and very involved in the Jacksonville community and devotes time out of her schedule to assist other business leaders and aspiring leaders. She is driven, inspirational, focused, and determined, as well as a veteran.
Michael Margolies, Littlebanc Advisors
Michael is a “must know” because he leverages his extensive expertise and deep professional relationships with many of Wall Street’s most influential professionals to enable Littlebanc’s clients to meet their funding and M&A goals. He and his team provide the best financial and strategic investment services to traditionally under-served growth companies. He believes in long-term relationships and focusing on each client’s individual needs and circumstances. Michael and his team deliver quality results quickly.
Daniel McCarthy, Lifestyles Realty Web
Daniel is a “must know” because even though he is still under the age of 30, he helped form Lifestyles Realty Web and lead it into a profitable small business during what is supposed to be a “down market” where other Real Estate companies were cutting cost and some even closing their doors. He is very active in the community with charities, has been named one of the 40 under 40 by Jacksonville Business Journal, and has formed alliances with other small business owners to help all involved.
Mike McCreary, Baymeadows Moving and Storage
Mike is a “must know” because he knows who is going where, with who, and why, but won’t say! His connections and business sense are undeniable, which is why he is also the Small Business Leader of the Year 2010-South Council.
Michele McManamon, Sandler Sales and Training
Michele is a “must know” because she trains some of Jacksonville’s finest to make them better. She helps many small business owners develop winning strategies to reach the level of success they desire. She is truly amazing!
Kevin Monahan, Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Kevin is a “must know” because he is a staple in the small business community in Jacksonville. He specializes in community economic development, small business development, and nonprofit technical assistance. As special projects director and certified business analyst at SBDC, he works with small business owners through individual meetings and seminars to help them start and/or grow their businesses. He is also responsible for all nonprofit curriculum, contracts, and technical assistance.
Candace Moody, WorkSource
Candace is a “must know” because she has helped countless business owners who have come to her for advice on everything from marketing to public relations to business strategy to hiring and objectives—mainly because she is so well connected.
Janice Newton, Flippin’ Good Cookies
Janice is a “must know” because her and Michael have done an incredible job to create an image for their cookies in business, personal, and charitable contributions. No house is complete without a Flippin’ Good Cookie within reach.
Linda Nottingham, SCORE
Linda is a “must know” because her personal experience as a small business owner and her strong desire to help, guide, educate, mentor, and support other small business owners and aspiring business start-ups, makes her a very effective business influencer. She has served as a coach for SCORE for 10 years, was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the Jacksonville Urban League, and currently serves as a consultant to the Business Advisory Counsel program on behalf of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center. During the last six years, she has mentored dozens of women business owners—many of whom have since received business awards and acknowledgements for their contributions to the community.
Diana Otwell, Spectrum Signs and Graphics Inc.
Diana is a “must know” because she is extremely helpful, produces signs that are tailored to each client’s needs and provides rewarding partnerships. Her service is second to none and she is truly an asset to our local community.
Kendall S. Park, Merrill Lynch
Kendall is a “must know” because he has worked with small- and medium-sized businesses for the past 17 years advising them on everything from retirement plans to cash management and commercial lending. He provides one point of contact for his business owners who can call him and get access to everything from capital markets to investment banking. He adds a lot of value to a business owner because of his years of experience and vast amount of knowledge in knowing what business owners need.
Jackie Perry, Beaver Street Enterprise Center (BSEC)
Jackie is a “must know” because she took the reins as executive director of BSEC and has never looked back. She is a tireless advocate for small businesses and has been honored several times for her drive and advocacy for small businesses. She also serves on other boards connected to small business development, including the Chamber’s GrowJAX initiative for second stage business growth. Jackie is a wonderful example of a small business influence.
Donna Reade, Car-Tech USA
Donna is a “must know” because she leads one of the few 100% women owned auto repair shops in Jacksonville. Her business is few and far between when it comes to the quality and reliability of the firm’s services and she has made sure that the customer is truly number one. Customers do not go unnoticed when they walk in the door and as soon as you walk in, you feel at ease. It is a true example of a client relationship.
Marshall Reddy, FranNet
Marshall is a “must know” because he has great expertise in small business with a specialization in franchising. He is a long-standing committee member of SBRN and was recently added to the Board of Directors for the Ponte Vedra Chamber. He is willing to do anything to advance the small business community and is extremely well networked.
Peter Reynolds, The Griggs Group, CPAs
Peter is a “must know” because he brings leadership, knowledge, and effective strategy to the complex financial matters of high net worth individuals and closely held businesses. His dual role as an accountant and firm managing partner has helped him provide clients with accounting and consulting services as well as insight into business planning, operation management, and oversight issues. He also volunteers his time and accounting expertise to help some of his favorite charities.
Elton Rivas, Zero Confines
Elton is a “must know” because he helped establish Downtown’s first co-working space and is instrumental in helping us promote Downtown as the creative, innovative and technological hub of Jacksonville.
Ann Sabbag, Health Designs
Ann is a “must know” because she is a pioneer in the health and wellness business with a proven record of success in the small business community. She has been a long-time supporter of women-owned businesses and has a strength for connecting people. She is a native to the Jacksonville area and truly believes in the city and the development of Jacksonville and being a positive influence in the business community.
Heather Sams, HAS Art Solutions, LLC
Heather is a “must know” because she knows and works with every small- to medium-size business. She is active in numbers of associations like CREW, the chamber, IFMA, and others. More significantly, she enjoys learning about a business and promoting its success by connecting other people to it.
Dr. Judith A.M. Smith, HandsOn Jacksonville
Judith is a “must know” because she is your “go-to” person to help position your business as a community transformer. She has led Volunteer Jacksonville for 16 years and successfully brought the organization through the brand evolution in 2008 to become HandsOn Jacksonville. She provides opportunities for people to bring solutions to critical community needs that affect health, literacy, the environment, homelessness, and the arts, and other impact areas by knowing how to mobilize volunteer resources and non-profit management. Her energy and enthusiasm is infectious and she is one of those rare individuals whose passion will inspire you to do great things.
Patsy D. Underwood, Atlantic Laser Office Products
Patsy is a “must know” because she has been a role model for women business owners for at least 20 years. She was one of the founding members of the Women Business Owners (WBO) group, holding several leadership positions during her tenure, including president. Whatever her chosen project is, Patsy gives generously of her time and of her heart to make her business community a better place. She has served as a mentor to many small businesses, and has helped grow companies by providing the guidance and products they need to survive and thrive.
Vicky Zelen, Zelen Risk Solutions
Vicky is a “must know” because she is a no-nonsense, go-getter that will fight to get you the best deal for your insurance. She understands the needs of small business and will work day and night to provide service. She is also an excellent connector, matching a small business with others that can support them, and looks for business opportunities for her clients.
Nancy Alvarez-Hernandez, SBA Jacksonville
Nancy is a “must know” because of her willingness to take the time to help, regardless of the everyday pressures of her day-to-day responsibilities. She is accessible, knowledgeable, and most importantly truly able to assist in the success of small business.
Michael J. Bernhardt, Academic Dermatology Consultants, P.A.
Michael is a “must know” because after having his own practice for over 25 years, he has grown his practice from a staff of 10 to a staff of over 40 employees in the past two years. He continues to provide excellence in patient care and is expanding to further meet his patients’needs.
Sandra Brooks, BROOKSLACAYO Advertising
Sandra is a “must know” because she is a mentor to all, a connector, a brainstormer, and a pillar of the Jacksonville Business Community connecting “the giants” to the little guys.
Fraser Burns, Ocenture
Fraser is a “must know” because he is an advisor and friend to small business throughout Jacksonville. He invests in local businesses and is the founder of one of Jacksonville’s only Inc. 500 companies. Without a doubt, Fraser leads by example and is well known in our business community.
Ricky Caplin, HCI Group, Inc.
Ricky is a “must know” because he is a dynamic, young, and influential business person willing to help your organization grow and prosper. He has been very helpful and knowing him can only help a company grow.
Martin Cohen, SCORE
Martin is a “must know” because he undertook to develop small business support services in the St. Augustine area. This pioneering effort has been most successful and continues to positively impact small business development in the northern part of St. Johns County. He has extensive, practical business experience and possesses expertise in the marketing and advertising realms. Now that he is retired, he is leveraging his skills and experience to guide and mentor small businesses in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. He has partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to conduct small business counseling on a regular, scheduled basis with effective ongoing support and mentoring.
Kimberly Deas, Tioli Marketing
Kimberly is a “must know” because she is well networked everywhere and knows exactly who to match with you to help increase sales and create strategic alliances. She loves helping small businesses succeed and goes out of her way to do so.
Jack Manilla, Portofino Pools
Jack is a “must know” because he is a very active leader in many organizations: business, professional, civic, and church. He is the president/owner of Portofino Pools and the founder of the Portofino Aquatic Technical Institute. He holds numerous certifications, speaks at and moderates conferences, and is a technical consultant for the first Go Green GeoThermal commercial pool heat/cool system in northeast Florida. In the spring of 2010, Jack was retained as a technical consultant/certified instructor for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
Mayor John Peyton, City of Jacksonville
John is a “must know” because during his administration, he was a champion of small businesses. His leadership and support of the small business and minority business program has afforded companies to thrive. His unwavering interest in community outreach and genuine concern for the community was a positive for not only small businesses, but the city as a whole. He was always attentive and recognized those he worked with by name and projects.
John Ream, Connect Integrated Marketing
John is a “must know” because he provides clients access to extremely educated specialist in a consultancy role which promises lower execution cost vs. the full service agency. He’s also helped in the revitalization of Downtown Jacksonville through his commercial and residential real estate work, most notably along Bay Street where he turned an abandoned, deteriorated property into a thriving, state-of-the-art residential and retail space. John is passionate about what he does and he’s hard working, genuine, focused—he is everything you’d want in a small business leader.
Bud Sikes, Sikes & Stowe, Inc./Downtown Collision
Bud is a “must know” because he has successfully run this collision business with knowledge and wisdom, and is the best boss in the world according to his long-standing employee’s. 85 years in a family business.
Ladi Stepps, Brinmar Construction & Development Group LTD
Ladi is a “must know” because she helps create jobs in the Jacksonville community through city and private contracts. She is also the executive director of Operation Community Restore, Inc., a non-profit service agency whose mission is to keep homeless families together. She serves our Jacksonville community as a hero, role model, and business owner showing others that giving up is not a viable option.
Howard Stockdale, Jacksonville IT Services
Howard is a “must know” because of his integrity, straight forwardness, and his knowledge of the IT services business what a small business needs. His many years of business and IT experience helps him fine tune their business operations through smart technology integration and builds a solid foundation for growth and efficiency.
Tanya Waller, Computer Solutions
Tanya is a “must know” because she has assisted more than 2,000 businesses in Jacksonville and surrounding areas for over 15 years by directly lowering the total cost of ownership for their office environment by implementing proper procedures for their network. She is active with the Assoc. of Medical Office Experts, is the 2011 Small Business Leader for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce-South Council, and is a member of the Clay County Chamber, AIA, and various other networking groups.