MY FIRST JOB

The Nelco Companies' Ginny Dorris launched her career as a bookkeeper.

Accounting for Success

Ginny Dorris is founder and CEO of The Nelco Companies, a Manatee County-based professional employer organization, which, with 12,000 to 15,000 leased employees, is the second-largest woman-owned business on the west coast of Florida, and the 48th largest privately owned business in Florida.

"Shortly after I graduated from high school, I was hired by a St. Louis, Mo. company that sold motors for washers and dryers and other appliances, primarily to companies like Sears Roebuck. They hired me to reconcile their accounts receivable. I did it to get some practical experience and to see if I was going to enjoy it, because I originally wanted to go into nursing.

"It was interesting, because the way Sears worked, the company might ship motors to several Sears, and another Sears would pay for them. I found that I really enjoyed the challenge of finding the problems [in bookkeeping] and fixing them; it's what got me into accounting. I used it to pay my way through college. This was a full-time job, and I did most of my college at night; I got a B.S. in accounting from St. Louis University.

"After I graduated from college, I set up bookkeeping systems and did auditing out in California, which was fascinating. Then I opened up an accounting practice here in Bradenton in 1974. My daughter has worked with me in accounting since she was 12 years old, and she's now president of The Nelco Companies.

"Being a female accountant wasn't unusual in those days, but being a female troubleshooter was. When you're blonde and enjoy flying and riding horses, they don't take you seriously. I counteracted that by being the best."

Now Hear This

Overheard at Sarasota County's 2005 Excellence in Industry Awards banquet at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota:

"I can honestly say I don't want to win any more awards."

-ADP Group's Bruce Franklin, upon accepting the Service Company of the Year award and joking that the company's growing recognition and accolades have it splitting at the seams with new employees and projects.

"I'm not going to mention any of my employees' names. They're not available for rehire."

-Mike Miller of Waterford Companies in Venice, after his company won the Industry of the Year award.

BUZZ WORDS

DIGITAL AMNESIA: The result of being so overwhelmed by the availability, speed and volume of digital information that you can't remember any of it (or where you might have put it on your hard drive). Source: Buzzwhack.com

OHNO-SECOND: The fraction of time (slightly longer than a nanosecond) that it takes to recognize you've just goofed. The perfect example is that moment of horror when your eye spots the key in the ignition as the car door is being slammed shut. Source: Buzzwhack.com

I-MAIL: E-mail sent to peers, subordinates, supervisors, etc., that excessively use the pronoun "I." Such messages usually extol the achievements of the sender for completing a given task-whether it be a special project or a routine assignment. Source: Buzzwhack.com

SNEEZERS: People who help spread an "ideavirus," which is a nifty marketing concept created by author Seth Godin. By "sneezing," they infect others who then go out and buy Seth's latest book. Once upon a time it was called "word of mouth." Source: Buzzwhack.com

FIVE QUESTIONS

Tony Souza's background in historic preservation has lessons for Sarasota's future development.

Past Experience

The Downtown Partnership's mission is to create a better, more vibrant downtown for everyone, and its new executive director, Tony Souza, believes that to do so, we must preserve the best of the past.

Souza comes to Sarasota after 10 years as executive director and CEO of the Waterfront Historic Area League, an organization responsible for the restoration of Bedford Landing in Massachusetts. With many civic awards in preservation and degrees in building construction and historic preservation, Souza sees numerous possibilities in downtown Sarasota to preserve the best of its history while allowing progress and construction to continue.

1. Why is historical preservation so important to a city's economy? It gives a sense of place, a sense of pride. It's also a great planning tool; people want to come to a downtown that is unique. If you only have mall stores in a downtown, then downtown becomes a mall. You want to mix high-end national retail with local retailers to give it an urban flavor.

2. What are some historical preservation possibilities you see in downtown Sarasota? We're in the preliminary stages of investigating. We may be looking into the creation of a historical district downtown. It's best to be proactive. For example, the Kress Building and the Gator Club on Main Street are wonderful buildings (and the owners are not planning to tear them down). The Art Deco period, the '20s and '30s and '40s, that's the period of Sarasota; that's the same period when New York was burgeoning as a city. It has a unique style.

3. Any interesting examples of the adaptive reuse of old buildings here? Hundreds. The old Sarasota Times building is a great rehab of an old building for a new use. A lot of buildings on Main Street, even though they're remodeled, you can just peel back the layers. There are some beautiful storefronts that if they were in New York City or Boston, people would stand in line to restore them. Sarasota's history is based on modern architecture, and allowing new architects to put their stamp on this century is a wonderful thing.

4. How has the city of Sarasota done in the area of historical preservation? A good job. The Federal Building, for example, is a fabulous restoration. The restored Veterans Memorial Auditorium was a good job. They do have someone who works in historical preservation at City Hall, and that's forward thinking. Compared to other cities, we're on the better side than worse.

5. What examples should Sarasota emulate? The city I come from, New Bedford, Mass., the whole downtown is a historical preservation district. That doesn't mean you can't tear down or remodel. It just means you take a second look before you do it. Ybor City in Tampa is a good example of such a district. Charleston, Savannah-these downtowns flourished because of historic preservation. We have it in our hands to make a difference. The vibrancy of a city is seen through its built past.-Anu Varma

BUSINESS CALENDAR

DECEMBER 1

Greater Sarasota Chamber partners meeting 8 to 9 a.m. at the chamber boardroom, 1945 Fruitville Road, Sarasota. Call 955-2508 ext. 234.

DECEMBER 7

"Good Morning, Greater Sarasota!"networking breakfast, 7:30 a.m. at a location TBD. Free for Greater Sarasota Chamber members, otherwise $5. Call 955-2508 ext. 231.

DECEMBER 8

Greater Sarasota Chamber Business Connections 5 p.m. at the Meadows Country Club, 3101 Longmeadow, Sarasota. $5 for members, $20 for non-members. Call 955-2508 ext. 231.

Manatee Young Professionals networking social 5 p.m. at Mangrove Grill, 102 Riviera Dunes Way, Palmetto. Info at www.myponline.com.

DECEMBER 9

Downtown After 5 live music on Lemon Avenue and Main Street, downtown Sarasota. 6 to 9 p.m.

DECEMBER 14

Manatee Chamber Holiday Coffee Club breakfast, networking and door prizes, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Bradenton City Auditorium, 1005 Barcarrota Blvd., Bradenton. Call 748-4842 ext. 122.

DECEMBER 15

Third Thursday Cocktails at the Cà d'Zan 6 p.m. at the famous Ringling residence, 5401 Bayshore Road, Sarasota. $5.

DECEMBER 20

Greater Sarasota Chamber new member briefing 4 p.m. at the chamber boardroom, 1945 Fruitville Road, Sarasota.

DECEMBER 21

Manatee Chamber Business After Business 5 p.m. at First Priority Bank, 4730 S.R. 64 E., Bradenton. No charge. Call 748-4842 ext. 122.

CRUNCHING NUMBERS

SRQ AIRPORT BY THE NUMBERS

Number of nonstop destinations: 14

Airport property acreage: 1,100

Runways: 2

Runway 4/22: 5,009 feet

Runway 14/32: 9,500 feet

Terminal size: 240,000 square feet

Annual budget: $17.87 million

Revenues from major airlines (includes landing fees, gate rental and counter rentals): $7.94 million

Revenues from airline-related activities (rental cars, parking lots, concessionaires): $5.14 million

Non-aviation revenue: $996,843

Annual property taxes paid to Sarasota and Manatee counties: More than $300,000

Annual local economic impact: More than $960 million

Local tax dollars that subsidize the airport: 0

Passenger increase from 2004 to 2005: 19.5 percent

Compiled by David Higgins.

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