Meet three chief executives of companies named within our 2015 list.
#8 WCI Communities CEO: Keith E. Bass
When Keith Bass became president and CEO of WCI Communities in late 2012, the company was rebounding from a bankruptcy declared four years earlier.
Bass, a veteran of the Florida real estate industry, liked what he saw in the company. It was a luxury homebuilder in a state with strong demand for high-end homes. Although it had gone through turbulent times, he didn’t think the company really needed to rethink what it had always done.
“There wasn’t a whole lot that needed to be fixed,” he said. “It’s not like we were building something that wasn’t resonating.”
WCI is once again making strong gains in the housing industry. Revenues were at $407 million last year, up about 28 percent from the year before. The industry trade publication Builder ranked it 56th on its list of biggest builders nationwide in 2015. Three years ago, it didn’t crack the top 100.
“We’re better than we’ve been in 20 years,” he said.
Bass has overseen the resurgence of WCI while refocusing its mission. Its specialty is active-adult communities, luxury second homes and move-up houses. He’s trying to stay away from some of the issues that got the homebuilder into trouble. It won’t be as involved in condo tower development as heavily as before. And, it’s sticking to Florida.
WCI once had communities up the East Coast, but after selling the out-of-state properties during restructuring, its sole focus is on Florida. At the end of last year, it had about 12,600 home sites, and it’s continuing to expand statewide with new developments on the east coast as far north as Jacksonville.
With Baby Boomers continuing to flock south, Bass sees plenty of opportunity in the Sunshine State.
“There’s not a need or push for us to go outside Florida,” he said. The bulk of WCI’s communities are in the Naples-Fort Myers area, and Bass still sees Southwest Florida as prime territory. However, the days of constructing massive new developments are numbered, as attractive contiguous land is limited. He sees home prices in Collier County, in particular, continuing to climb as demand remains strong and supply starts to slow.
“What draws people to Southwest Florida won’t change,” he said. “It will just get better.”
Image by Craig Hildebrand
The Healing Touch
#39 Saluscare Inc. CEO: Kevin Lewis
Treating individuals with mental health and/or substance abuse issues often requires care beyond standard hospitalization. Kevin Lewis, CEO of SalusCare Inc., says in the past, when patients were hospitalized overnight for an incident that stemmed from substance abuse, the next day “they would be seen by a doctor, they would be lucid and they would be fine, and then they would be released with a suggestion to seek help. Which they rarely would do.”
SalusCare has provided a more effective solution. The Lee County-based mental-health and substance abuse facility birthed from a merger between Lee Mental Health Center Inc. and Southwest Florida Addiction Services in 2013.
Today, it treats more than 17,000 patients per year in seven area locations and serves as the largest, most comprehensive treatment program of its kind in Southwest Florida.
“Now, we can move [patients] immediately into the right care, rather than the wrong care and redirecting them,” Lewis says. “That’s a very exciting prospect for patients and families.”
SalusCare derives its named from the Latin roots of “Salus,” meaning health, hope and prosperity—the three key ingredients to the facility’s success.
“We really are in a mission to providing both hope and then help to individuals,” Lewis says. “Hope because it doesn’t have to be this way. Help because if I am going to work with somebody, I should help them achieve their goals. And then ultimately recovery.”
Lewis says the 2-year-old company’s slight increase in revenue this year—from $27.5 million to $27.8 million—was expected.
“As a company that does participate in public funding ... we have been at a very stagnant part for several years,” he says. “In great part the challenge has been ‘How do you maintain a capable staff and things like that without additional resources?’”
Florida ranks No. 48 in the nation in per capita funding for mental health care. According to Lewis, the national average per person is approximately $120. “Florida funds are at just under $40 per person,” he says.
While public funding is a battle Lewis and other health care professionals continue to face, SalusCare is undergoing changes to boost its revenue for the next fiscal year.
“We’re looking for a significant potential increase next year. We’ve made some decisions in terms of investments and staff that will position us, and there’s clearly need in the community,” he says. “You’re going to see us make more of an effort to integrate into the primary health care system. There’s increasing recognition that the high-cost high-utilizing patient many times in the primary health care system has a behavioral health care disorder.”
Behind every decision Lewis and his team makes is the question, “Is this good for patients and families?”
The answer, he says, not only helps finalize business decisions, but it reinforces the company’s mission and changes the lives of those immersed in it.
Image by Craig Hildebrand
#46 Allyn International CEO: Allen Trevett
Allen Trevett explains Allyn International’s explosive revenue growth in 2014 as nearly 25 years in the making.
Customer relationships over the last 10 to 15 years, and since its founding in 1992, have enabled Allyn to expand via word of mouth and become a logistics powerhouse, he says. In 2014, the Fort Myers-based professional services firm’s revenue shot up to $17.1 million, a 47 percent increase from 2013.
“The primary thing has been the sustained commitment to high-quality service, integrity and focusing in on the core services that we have,” he says. “It is attributable to a number of years of pursuing that path and just kind of all came together at the right time for us.”
Allyn’s 375 employees in North America, Europe and Asia support clients ranging from local businesses to Fortune 500 firms in industries such as power generation and renewable energy, electronics, heavy duty trucks, industrial materials, oil and gas, and road construction, modular building and medical equipment, as well as not-for-profit organizations and government agencies.
In 2014, Allyn coordinated 11,270 air shipments, 4,873 ocean shipments, 29,300 ground shipments with transportation spend of $106.6 million and client savings of $9.4 million.
Allyn’s expansion continued in 2015, with a new office in Korea, doubling its China office, rehabbing its Prague facility to accommodate more staff, and expanding in Fort Myers with a second location—a new 10,000-square-foot building on College Parkway. The company continues to operate on its eight founding values: excellence, integrity, enjoyment and wellbeing, focused growth, contribution to the community, prosperity and creativity. To live those out, the company conducts annual customer surveys and invests several hundred thousand dollars in employee training annually. Allyn’s staff in Fort Myers—about 100 workers—has raised money for The Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, and United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties.
While Allyn, which also has employees in Philadelphia and New York, shows its commitment to Fort Myers through volunteering and growth in facilities, Trevett remains focused on international opportunities. The company is considering new locations in Southeast Asia.
“When we originally started, we had a lot of trepidation in operating outside the U.S. but it’s really provided us a lot of balance and a lot of opportunity that we wouldn’t have.
When the economy here goes down, very often the economies somewhere else in the world aren’t going down as dramatically,” he says. “We continue to grow globally.” GB