Monday, December 9, 2019

Bob Massey Carries On Family Tradition of Autos, Real Estate And Rotary

When you mention the Massey family, and you are a Jacksonville native like me, you first think of the Massey Auto Dealerships. But if you are newer to the Northeast Florida market, you may know them to be in commercial real estate as Massey Properties. And then when you think of the last two generations of Massey’s, you can’t help but think of their work with Rotary. I had lunch with Bob Massey, who I have known from South Jax Rotary Club for years. But I didn’t realize that he has carried on the family tradition, not just with Rotary, but also as president of Massey Properties and as a partner in the Orlando Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep/RAM dealership. Armed with accounting and real estate experience with two national firms, Bob moved back to Jacksonville from Dallas to help his family transform their former auto dealerships around the state into a successful real estate business. I have found that if you need information regarding auto dealerships, commercial real estate or taking an active role with Rotary, Bob is certainly the “go-to” guy. His website is Bob is on the right in this “Lunch with Les” photo.

Monday, November 25, 2019

ReStores Managers On A Mission For Habijax

Keith Coles and Mike Calder, store managers for the HabiJax ReStores are on a mission. Mike was a Wall Street broker and a restaurant owner in New York. Keith has over 35 years in every kind of retail position for Kohl’s, Kmart and Roses in Chicago. But they both wanted to go after a mission. They found it in Jacksonville - Mike at the 5800 Beach Boulevard store and Keith at the 6260 103rdStreet store. Their mission is to apply their retail talent to making the ReStores a primary destination for building supplies and making the stores profitable enough to help finance homes built by Habijax. “While we accept donations of slightly used goods, we are now also buying new merchandise to provide quality and consistency for products ranging from rugs to mattresses to paint to tools,” Keith reported. “And we feel this retail environment is a big win for everyone. Contractors and customers can get the lowest prices in town. By reselling donated items we send less to the landfill. And our store profits help build homes for those who couldn’t normally afford one,” Mike said. Before you go to a big box store, you should check out the ReStores or visit Mike is on the left and Keith is on the right in this “Lunch with Les” photo.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Central Bank Selects Chris Tomlinson As Senior Vice President GGL Loan Officer

Chris Tomlinson has been selected as Senior Vice President GGL (Government Guaranteed Lender) Loan Officer for Central Bank announced John Thompson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Central Bank.
Tomlinson, based out of Central Bank’s St. Augustine branch, will be working primarily in the Northeast Florida market, offering customized financial services through SBA Lending Express, 7A and USDA lending vehicles to area businesses.
Prior to joining Central Bank, Tomlinson served as the Market Executive North Florida Region for Abundant Solutions Finance. He started his banking career in 2005 in Gainesville, Florida, as a financial business specialist with Wachovia. He has served in various commercial banking positions with financial institutions including BBVA Compass, Bank of America and Chase.
“Companies located in North Florida and those moving to North Florida are seeing a need for government supported financing to assist their growth and expansion plans,” explained Thompson. “Chris has had extensive experience with every type of government loan. He knows the pitfalls and he knows how to expedite the process to give our customers a real advantage with their lending issues. We are very fortunate to have Chris join Central Bank.”
Central Bank (, with headquarters in Tampa and branches in Winter Park and St. Augustine, Florida, is a full service, independently owned Florida community bank offering personal and business banking services. Central Bank has a 5 Star rating from Bauer Financial Rating Agency.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Turning A Manufacturing Company From $1.3 Million To $26 Million Leads To Purchase Of Sports Teams

If you think hockey is tough, try getting 50+ products on the shelves in Wal-Mart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and L.L.Bean. That’s what Andy Kaufmann, the new owner of the Jacksonville Icemen hockey franchise, did to build a company from $1.3 million to $26 million in 6 years. Andy started a Jacksonville based manufacturer from scratch by branding a product line, with a different twist - selling outdoor and camping equipment under the “survival” brand and using unique packaging. His branding strategy, along with his management style of leading left to right, instead of top to bottom, allowed him to sell his company, UST Brands, and then change his life direction to owning the Fort Myers Miracle minor league baseball team and now the Icemen. His favorite product breakthrough was an outdoor lantern that was powered to stay lit for 30 straight days, which won a Popular Mechanics award. He tells entrepreneurs, even if their product or service is common or average, determine a different way to brand and market their business. In addition, always try to offer a solution to a problem. Visit his teams’ websites at and Andy is pictured on the left in this “Lunch with Les” photo.    

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

UNF Business Dean Dawkins Focuses Academics On The Needs Of Northeast Florida Businesses

When you consider hiring a University of North Florida graduate, consider this 1) 80% of graduates stay in the region after graduation; 2) they tend to have a stronger work ethic because 60-70% work their way through school; and 3) UNF entering freshman average a 4.31 GPA, second only to UF at 4.34. Much of the credit for preparing this workforce for Northeast Florida businesses goes to Mark Dawkins, Dean of UNF’s Coggin College of Business (CCB). His mission is to understand the business community’s needs for skilled labor, provide the appropriate curriculum, implement an effective internship for hands-on experience, and now, to provide investment and start-up resources through its new Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI). Just look at a few of CCB’s results to date: the establishment of Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Management, M.S. in Logistics & Supply Management, M.S. in Business Analytics; Faculty engagement with companies such as the Mayo Clinic and Crowley Maritime; and Securing the $1 million Coggin grant for the CEI. If you have any need or interest in UNF Business, contact Mark at

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

WJXT GM Bob Ellis Offers More Than TV Broadcast For Marketing Solutions

“The metrics of success is not ratings, it’s in the selling of products and services” - that quote coming from the vice president and general manager of WJXT-TV, the top rated news station in the market. GM Bob Ellis is one of the most creative TV broadcasters I have ever met. He doesn’t see his job as selling TV advertising; he offers out-of-the-box solutions to businesses using platforms consisting of broadcast, digital, mobile and streaming capabilities. With his news content, 24/7 availability and his CW17 network, he can successfully target niche audiences with impressive cost efficiency. Part of WJXT’s success has resulted from their decision 18 years ago to drop their CBS affiliation. They have the freedom to do unique marketing, ranging from airing the Publix/Bold City Showcase high school football games, to the promotion of the annual local Spelling Bee to initiating the Jax Best online resource for Visit Jacksonville. “People don’t realize that more people are watching TV than ever before in history,” Bob reported. He is available to speak to groups about the current media landscape in the Jacksonville market. For more information, go to Bob is on the right in this “Lunch with Les” photo. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Jacksonville Attorney Robert Harris Divides Time Between Legal And Real Estate Career

Most people know Jacksonville native Robert Harris as a pillar of the legal community, but many don’t know that Robert spends a quarter of his time as a real estate executive. Robert’s legal credentials include serving as a member of the prestigious Judicial Nominating Commission, appointed by the governor; partner of the Harris Guidi Rosner law firm; and a former member of the state attorney’s office. But Robert also has a real estate broker’s license dealing in multifamily, single family and commercial real estate. His strategy is to focus on multifamily properties in the high renter demand areas of San Marco and St. Nicholas. He enjoys solving tenants’ problems quickly, which results in low renter turnover, and in turn, reduces costs associated with clean up and renovations. The versatile attorney, with over 44 years in the profession, has his general litigation practice headquartered in San Marco. Robert, who is also known for his huge, outdoor annual holiday party each year, is a leader in the San Marco Merchant’s Association. For more information on his firm, go to Robert Harris is pictured on the right in this “Lunch with Les” photo.