2019 Best of Business

Honoring Southwest Florida's top firms.

Gulfshore Business magazine’s Best of Business readers’ poll is now in its seventh year. And once again, enthusiastic participation turned out more than 6,000 unique votes cast for hundreds of businesses. Online polling was conducted at SurveyMonkey.com, where respondents were required to provide a name and an email address so that people could cast only one vote. The winners in each category are listed as well as the immediate runners-up (in alphabetical order).

— Compiled by Phil Borchmann and Justin Paprocki

ILLUSTRATION BY SINELAB

 

FINANCE/INSURANCE

Best Accounting Firm

Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Co.

With offices in Fort Myers and Naples, Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Co., P.A., offers a range of services including individual and business tax planning and preparation, litigation support, forensic accounting and human resources consulting.

Finalists

Stroemer and Co.

Wiltshire Whitley

 

Javed Kapadia—State Farm Insurance [PHOTO: Brian Tietz]

Best Insurance Brokerage Company

Javed Kapadia—State Farm Insurance

The Javed Kapadia Agency in Naples has received numerous company awards, including the Silver Club, Bronze Tablet, Honor Club and the Ambassador Club. In 2007, the office was ranked as among the top new agencies in the country. Kapadia’s career at State Farm started in 1997 as a summer intern in Bloomington, Illinois. Finalists Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners, LLC Private Client Insurance

Finalists

Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners, LLC

Private Client Insurance

 

Best Regional Bank

IBERIABANK

IBERIABANK’s Southwest Florida locations are among 191 branch offices in several states. The banking operation is a subsidiary of IBERIABANK Corp. based in Louisiana.

Finalists

BB&T Bank

Fifth Third Bank

 

Best Community Bank

First Florida Integrity Bank

First Florida Integrity Bank has seven full-service offices, with $1.5 billion in assets as of Dec. 31. Headquartered in Naples, it was founded in 2009 by banking veterans Gary Tice and Garrett Richter.

Finalists

Edison National Bank

FineMark National Bank & Trust

 

Best Financial Advisory Firm

Investors Security Trust

The independent wealth management company based in Fort Myers includes legal, investment, financial planning, and trust and estate planning professionals.

Finalists

Advanced Wealth Advisors

Touchstone Wealth Partners

 

FOOD/HOSPITALITY/ ENTERTAINMENT 

Best Caterer

Crave Culinaire

Crave Culinaire specializes in creating an exclusive culinary experience through in-home dining, private and public events, cooking classes, customized catering, food and wine pairings. The Naples-based business is also paired with the customizable space of Venue Naples.

Finalists

Artichoke & Co.

Black Salt Culinary

 

Best Independently Owned Restaurant

Artisan Eatery

The Fort Myers restaurant features a made-from-scratch menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Think flatbreads, paninis, salads and the like.

Finalists

El Gaucho Inca

Matanzas on the Bay

 

Best Power Lunch

El Gaucho Inca

This Fort Myers restaurant specializes in traditional Argentinian and Peruvian delicacies—and some Italian favorites.

Finalists

Artisan Eatery

Gather

 

Scott Saxon, general manager—Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall [PHOTO: Brian Tietz]

 

Best Entertainment Venue

Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at FSW

The 1,874-seat theater on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State University features year-round performances, including nationally touring Broadway musicals.

Finalists

Artis—Naples

Dave & Buster’s

 

Kyle Cebull, founder—Millennial Brewing Co. [PHOTO: Brian Tietz]

 

Best After-Work Gathering Spot

Millennial Brewing

Millennial Brewing is a microbrewery located in Downtown Fort Myers and established in 2016 by two millennials hoping to escape the regular 9-5. Millennial Brewing seeks to provide a comfortable environment where both the novice and beer enthusiast can have a great time, while learning more about craft beer.

Finalists

Bell Tower Shops

Gather

 

CREATIVE

Best Jeweler

Bigham Jewelers

The Naples-based jeweler is one of the largest independent jewelry stores in the country. Fun fact: The Bigham Galleria is shaped like a diamond.

Finalists

Diamond District

Mark Loren Designs

 

Best Florist

Fort Myers Florist

The family-owned shop can provide for everything from wedding and corporate events to simple Valentine’s Day gifts.

Finalists

Forget Me Not Flower Market

Naples Picasso Flowers

 

LEGAL

Best Large Law Firm

Pavese Law Firm

Pavese Law Firm, established in 1949, is a full-service law firm with offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and West Palm Beach. The firm provides a broad range of legal services for individuals, families, small businesses and large corporations.

Finalists

Becker & Poliakoff

Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt

 

Best Small Law Firm

Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz

Since 1962, Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz attorneys have provided representation to a wide variety of both commercial and private clients. Offices are located in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties.

Finalists

Kagan Law Firm

Woods, Weidenmiller, Michetti & Rudnick

 

HEALTH/EDUCATION/ CHARITY

Best Medical Center

NCH Baker Hospital Downtown

The downtown NCH location offers advanced heart, cancer, obstetric, orthopedic and other services. The facility is part of a two-hospital healthcare system provides care for more than 40,500 patients annually.

Finalists

Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida

HealthPark Medical Center

 

Best Veterinarian

Angel Animal Hospital and Boarding

Started by Dr. Pegah and Gavin Gillette about a decade ago, the North Naples facility offers veterinary care, grooming and boarding.

Finalists

Gulf Coast Humane Society

VCA Miracle Mile Animal Hospital

 

Best Retirement Community

Vi at Bentley Village

The senior living community on 156 acres in Naples features two clubhouses, an 18-hole golf course, a care center and walking trails.

Finalists

Gulf Coast Village

Shell Point Retirement Community

 

Dawn Montecalvo, president—Guadalupe Center [PHOTO: Brian Tietz]

Best Charitable Organization

Guadalupe Center

The nonprofit strives to break “the cycle of poverty through education” by providing academic and support programs to children in Immokalee. About 1,300 students take part in its core programs.

Finalists

Blessings in a Backpack

Captains for Clean Water

 

BUILDING/REAL ESTATE

Best Commercial Builder

DeAngelis Diamond Construction

The company, which was founded in 1996, is headquartered in Naples and works with a variety of public and private building types, from health care and educational centers to corporate and public spaces. The company also specializes in green building.

Finalists

Creighton Construction & Development

Stevens Construction

 

Best Residential Builder

D.R. Horton

Founded in 1978 in Fort Worth, Texas, D.R. Horton has operations in 84 markets in 29 states in the East, Midwest, Southeast, South Central, Southwest and West regions of the United States—including Southwest Florida.

Finalists

Metro Home Builders Inc.

PBS Contractors Pulte Homes

(a tie for finalists) 

 

Best Remodeling Company

GCG Construction Inc.

Since 2000, Fort Myers-based GCG Construction Inc. has been delivering comprehensive design-build, general contracting and construction management services for the health care, commercial, hospitality retail and marine industries.

Finalists

PBS Contractors

Sunrise Remodeling

 

Best Architecture Firm

BSSW Architects Inc.

With offices in Fort Myers and Naples, BSSW Architects Inc. has completed more than 120 projects in the last 30 years, including the design and management of educational systems, government facilities, public libraries, major hotels and resorts and private communities.

Finalists

MHK Architecture

Planning Studio+

 

Best Engineering Firm

GFA International Inc.

This Fort Myers engineering and geological consulting firm offers a host of services, including construction materials testing, code compliance, health and safety training, and geotechnical engineering.

Finalists

Johnson Engineering

Velocity Inc.

 

Best Landscape Company

Greenscapes Florida

Greenscapes Florida is a Naples-based, family-owned company that has been landscaping residential and commercial properties for more than 50 years in Southwest Florida.

Finalists

Green Leaf Lawn Services

Juniper Landscaping

 

Best Interior Design Firm

Interiors by Design West

The full-service, Naples firm specializes in services for private residences, clubhouses, architectural detailing, model home merchandising, comprehensive custom home renovations and more.

Finalists

Dwayne Bergmann Interiors

Studio+

 

Best Commercial Real Estate Agency

CRE Consultants

CRE Consultants is a commercial real estate services firm— with offices in Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Naples and Stuart—that has served Florida since 1998. CRE provides strategic advice and execution for property sales and leasing; property management; valuation, research and consulting.

Finalists 

LandQwest Commercial

Premiere Plus Realty Co.

 

Best Residential Real Estate Agency

Premiere Plus Realty Co.

Premiere Plus Realty Co. is the largest independent real estate company in Southwest Florida with more than 1,100 agents. The company has offices in Naples, Old Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers and Cape Coral.

Finalists

Caine Premiere Properties

John R. Wood Properties

 

Best Engineering Firm

GFA International Inc.

GFA International Inc. is an engineering and geological consulting organization in Fort Myers that focuses on environmental, geotechnical, construction materials testing, inspections and code compliance services for a broad spectrum of industries.

Finalists

Johnson Engineering

Velocity Inc.

 

COMPANY

Best Large Company

B&I Contractors Inc. Fort Myers-based B&I was established in 1960 by Gordon Harbuck. In 1963, the original articles of incorporation were created, and B&I still operates under them. An Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) was established in 1986, and ESOP now owns 100% of the corporate stock.

Finalists

First Florida Integrity Bank

Target Roofing & Sheet Metal

 

Best Small Company

Premier Plus Realty Co.

Premier Plus Realty Co. is a privately owned, debt-free real estate company headquartered in Southwest Florida.

Finalists

Javed Kapadia—State Farm Insurance

Priority Marketing

 

Best Family-Owned Business

Premiere Plus Realty Co.

The real estate business moved into the Naples area in 2003. Now, it covers all of Lee and Collier counties.

Finalists

Larson Educational Services

Sunshine Ace Hardware

 

MEETING/LODGING

Best Conference or Meeting Center (hotel)

Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa

Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs has more than 82,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space, including high-tech meeting rooms, ballrooms, courtyards and terraces.

Finalists

Hilton Naples

Ritz-Carlton, Naples

 

Best Conference or Meeting Center (non-hotel)

Hertz Arena

In addition to hosting Florida Everblades hockey, the Estero venue offers a wide variety of entertainment. Since opening in 1998, it has hosted Arena football, NHL, NBA and USBL games, and more than 300 different events, including Stars on Ice, pro wrestling and headline concerts. Naples Conference Center The center features 4,350 square feet of high-tech conference and training space, where groups can host business meetings, seminars, training sessions and special events. An onsite team will accommodate event requirements.

Finalists

Collaboratory

Venue Naples

(a tie for first place)

 

Best Business Hotel

Hyatt Place Coconut Point

The 108-room hotel sits within the Coconut Point mall in Estero and features an inhouse restaurant and bar, pool and 24-hour gym, as well as business services, free internet access and parking.

Finalists

Hilton Naples

Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa

 

Best Private School

Fort Myers Christian School

Fort Myers Christian School was established in 1979 by First Assembly of God in Fort Myers. Since 1987, FMCS has been a fully accredited PreK3-8th-grade school through the Florida Council of Independent Schools and the Florida Kindergarten Council.

Finalists

Bishop Verot Catholic High School

Canterbury School

 

SERVICE

Best Moving Company

College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving

The nationwide hauler offers its services in Naples and Fort Myers. FYI, “Hunks” is actually an acronym for Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable Service.

Finalists

William C. Huff Moving

Storage McCann’s Moving & Delivery

 

Best Staffing Firm

Spherion

With offices in Fort Myers and Naples, the nationwide company provides recruiting and staffing services, specializing in temporary and direct hire placement of clerical, administrative, customer service, light industrial and professional job candidates.

Finalists

CareerSource Southwest Florida

Express Employment Professionals

 

Best Dry Cleaners

Tide Dry Cleaners

Tide Dry Cleaners, which has locations in Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and Naples, offers drive-thru valet and 24- hour services. Tide provides inspection of garments for stains, damage, missing or broken buttons, and caters to special instructions from its customers.

Finalists

Fashion Fresh Dry Cleaning

Alterations Platinum Dry Cleaners

 

Best HVAC Company

B&I Contractors Inc.

Fort Myers-based B&I provides installation, service and maintenance of HVAC, refrigeration, electrical and plumbing systems for commercial, industrial and institutional clients in Florida.

Finalists

Conditioned Air

Florida Comfort Systems

 

Best Information Technology Company

Entech

Entech, headquartered in Fort Myers and in business for 20 years, is a full-service technology solution provider specializing in managed IT services for businesses ranging from 20 users to enterprise organizations with hundreds of users.

Finalists

ITVantage

TeamLogic IT Naples

 

Best Travel Agency

Preferred Travel of Naples

Founded by President and CEO Wilma Boyd in 1984, Preferred Travel of Naples Inc. presents a team of domestic and international travel specialists and provides worldwide leisure and corporate travel services to individual clients and groups.

Finalists

AAA Gero Travel

 

GOLF/WELLNESS

Best Country Club

Naples Lakes Country Club

Located within a 490-acre gated community, the club features an 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, along with tennis, a fitness facility, dining, spa and more.

Finalists

Bonita Bay Club

Cypress Lake County Club

 

Best Yoga Studio

Yoga Bird

Whether you’re looking for power yoga or something more relaxed, the Fort Myers studio hosts classes for all ages and skill levels.

Finalists

Gateway Yoga

Pilates, Fitness & Therapeutics

 

ADVERTISING/PR/WEB 

Best Advertising Agency

Quenzel & Associates

The Fort Myers firm works with a host of clients—from hotels to airlines to real estate companies—to provide marketing, advertising, branding and digital services.

Finalists

B3 Marketing

Pushing the Envelope

 

Best PR Firm

B3 Marketing

The Naples firm—which also has locations in Jupiter and London—represents several of Southwest Florida’s most popular restaurants.

Finalists

Dragon Horse Agency

Pushing the Envelope

 

Best Web Design

Quenzel & Associates

The firm’s web services include design, search engine optimization, ROI tracking and more.

Finalists

B3 Marketing

Dragon Horse Agency