More than 20 years ago, Al Hanser attempted to retire to Sanibel Island after a career in investments in the Midwest. There was only so much time he could spend cleaning the garage, so his wife urged him to get back to work.
Thus, Sanibel Captiva Trust Co. was founded in 2001 and since has grown from one employee to about 65. The company manages $4 billion in assets across the west coast of Florida and beyond.
Hurricane Ian accelerated Hanser’s plans to broaden the trust company’s scope to mainland Lee County. Because there have been so few people on the islands after the Sept. 28 storm’s devastation, the company set into motion a plan to establish a footprint in Fort Myers, signing a 10-year lease with perpetual 10-year extensions at an abandoned bank building at Bell Tower shopping center in south Fort Myers.
Between now and October, that vacant office space will be renovated, with about $1 million being spent between the trust company and its Bell Tower landlord.
By July, its new Sanibel headquarters should be open at 2450 Periwinkle Way at a former Bank of America building, which it bought for $3.8 million in October 2021.
Until July and October, part of the team will continue borrowing office space from the RE/MAX Realty Group at 7910 Summerlin Lakes Drive, with the bulk of employees continuing to work from home.
“This is where we’re going to bring our operations,” Hanser said of the building at 13525 Bell Tower Drive, which was purchased for $2.75 million by a group of investors in April 2022.
“We’re bringing all of our portfolio managers,” Hanser said. “We’ll continue to operate from Sanibel and Captiva, but this will give us the chance to open in Lee County and serve the people of Lee County with their investment needs and trusts and wills and family offices, [which] is a big part of our business too.”
While much of the business world migrated to working remotely and has stayed that way since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Hanser wants to revive the office culture of his company.
“The culture is what sets us apart,” Hanser said.
Until then, Chris Honeywell, vice president of IT and cybersecurity for the trust company, is overseeing the Bell Tower building renovations. The company is waiting on repair of the building’s air conditioner and woodworkers to fix some of its interior framing.
“No matter where we’re at, we can do our jobs,” Honeywell said.