By Hannah Wallace September 30, 2009

Barb Jaeger

Owner, The White Egret

After two years on Anna Maria and nine years in Sarasota, The White Egret design center was all I thought it might be.

Then in the middle of the recession, space became available and we took the risk of condensing our office space for more retail square footage.

Being in the retail business for 25 years, I have seen ups and downs, and have learned that you can never be too confident. You must cut back in certain areas when times are slow. However, my husband and I felt that it was either time to pull back or to go all the way.

An important decision for us was also to consolidate our space by moving the warehouse to the back of the store. This move reduced time and transportation costs. The White Egret and The Egret’s Landing now draw customers from the Sarasota islands, Tampa, Lakeland and all over the world. Being positive and loving what you do is why I’m still in business.

Paul Tobio

Owner, Ryder Bikes

Two and a half years ago, my wife and I opened Ryder Bikes in Bradenton. We applied our past experiences with Fortune 500 companies to our business. Since then our business has developed a big following with cyclists from Sarasota to Tampa. We saw a need for a bike shop in downtown Sarasota, and decided to open another Ryder Bikes location at 1530 Dolphin St. The previous owners of our second location had also operated a bike shop there and had a good reputation. We hoped that their clients would continue to associate this location with bikes, because Ryder Bikes relies on word-of-mouth advertising within the biking community.

We felt that our expansion to our new Dolphin Street shop would be a strategic move, being closer to the popular biking areas of Longboat Key and the Ringling Bridge. As a result, our new store tends to attract a different clientele. The downtown store offers more services for avid bikers interested in triathlons and road cycling, whereas our Bradenton store has become more family oriented, with a larger selection of children’s bikes.

Stacy Burns

Customer Service

Kopco Graphics

In February 2003, Kopco Graphics purchased an existing 5,000-square-foot plant in Manatee County. We had two presses on site to manufacture and print labels, but our business was growing at a rapid rate; in 2008 sales grew by 20 percent. Our business has continued to grow because of a constant demand for pharmaceutical, food and vitamin labels. We felt a need for more space and two new advanced presses and decided to expand to a new 12,000-square-foot facility and hired two more employees. We are continuing to add national and international clients, ranging from the Caribbean to Europe and Russia. Kopco chose to stay in Manatee County due to the great atmosphere and wonderful client base we have developed here. Manatee County offers great support to local business through the EDC and Manatee Chamber of Commerce. ■

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