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.

Friday, August 23, 2019

SafetyNet of Florida Offers Precautions For Sudden Cardiac Arrest During Football

Paul Bateman, president of SafetyNet of Florida, a company that provides CPR and First Aid training throughout North and Central Florida, warns of increased chances of young athletes of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) during football practice and games.
Citing information from The Sports Institute of the University of Washington College of Medicine, Bateman reports that about one or two in every 100,000 young athletes experience sudden cardiac arrest each year. Most victims are males and more than half are African American. Plus more than two-thirds of the athletes who died from SCA are football and basketball players.
SCA is not the same as a heart attack. It is the result of a structural or electrical disorder in the heart that can lead to potentially lethal arrhythmia. The first sign is usually a collapse during a practice or game.
During games and practices, schools need to have an action plan in order to take precautions to minimize the risk of death. SafetyNet offers a 5-point plan every school should use.
1)    Know the location of AEDs (automated external defibrillator) near the games fields;
2)    Make sure you are in a cell area where you can call 9-1-1;
3)    Make sure trainers and coaches are trained in CPR and AED use;
4)    Know the emergency routes to the game field;
5)    Designate staff members to meet and direct emergency responders and to stay with the athlete even to the hospital in case a parent is not president.
Bateman, former Battalion Chief for the Putnam County Fire Department, is the founder and president of SafetyNet. His company provides all levels of CPR and AED training to Florida businesses, manufacturers, the medical profession and to schools and organizations. For more information, visit


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Judge Wilkinson Informs The Community On Complexities Of The Judicial System

The judicial system in Northeast Florida, as it is all over the country, can be a complex and confusing process. For individuals and businesses, the system doesn’t go a rapidly as we would think. That’s why you have to give credit to Circuit Court Judge Gary Wilkinson for his efforts to inform the community on this complex process. In his off time, Judge Wilkinson volunteers as a teacher for courses on the judicial process at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), part of the Division of Continuing Education at the University of North Florida. Judge Wilkinson points out various causes that affect the process, such as the fact that any time an attorney files a motion, a judge may not see it unless or until a hearing is scheduled. With thousands of cases per judge, there is not enough time for a judge to review every legal action in a case until a hearing. If you would like to know more about how our courthouse works, you may want to sign up for one of the many interesting courses offered at OLLI. For more information, visit And be sure to thank Judge Wilkinson for taking extra time to inform the community about our judicial system. The Judge is on the right in this “Lunch with Les” photo. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Woody’s BBQ Franchise Owner Jack Dunsmoor Credits His Success To A Great Management Team

Good management and a culture based on pleasant attitudes have been the key to success for Jack Dunsmoor’s Woody’s Bar BQ franchises. Jack, a 45-year veteran of the restaurant business, has been watching the pressures placed on his fellow restaurateurs due to employee turnover and the $15 minimum wage issue. “I meet with owners of other franchises from time to time and we compare notes,” Jack reported. “Employee issues are the reason you see some of these chains going to self-serve technology and automated kitchens.” But Jack believes the real answer lies with his management team. His managers have been with him for many years (average turnover is 2 ½ years). He supports and encourages them, treating them like family, which in turn, cultivates an environment based on providing customers with the best possible dining experience. Restaurants, including his, have done well this year with the improved economy. Jack began his career with Quincy Steak House, and then went on to Firehouse Subs, the Times Grill, and then owning two Woody’s, one on Powers Avenue and one in Macclenny. In this “Lunch with Les” photo, Jack is pictured with his management staff at his Powers Avenue location.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Safety Council CEO Catherine Sutton Brings Innovative, Cost Saving Training Programs To Northeast Florida’s Industry And Construction Workers

The most innovative and cost efficient program in the safety training industry is being introduced to Jacksonville by the CEO of the Northeast Florida Safety Council (NEFSC) Catherine Sutton. A model originated in the Gulf Coast region with Houston, Baton Rouge and the News Orleans Safety Councils, Catherine has established a 20-computer (soon to be 30) Training & Assessment Center on the NEFSC campus. Its mission is to build safe workplaces through proctored online, hands-on and instructor-led training for beginning as well as experienced industry and construction workers. They have the capability of delivering general safety training as well as comprehensive customized instruction, in lab or on-site. Between compliance training, certification and documentation of an employee’s training skills, they can save a business thousands of dollars. Along with the Center, Catherine has incorporated COSS® (Certified Occupational Safety Specialist) and PowerSafe (utility contactors training) programs that were never offered in Northeast Florida. They are currently conducting 100-150 assessments a month and expect that to increase to 500. For more information on business environmental, health and safety programs, follow NEFSC on Linkedin. Catherine Sutton is on the left in this “Lunch with Les” photo.