Inspiration for 2010

After reading in Kim Cartlidge’s “Economic Outlook 2010” (page 20) that industry leaders believe that our region will continue to struggle through the first half of this year, I appreciated the realism but didn’t exactly feel inspired about facing the new decade.

Then Carol Tisch sent in her story featuring Ed Marin, the CEO of Soicher-Marin, a top national manufacturer of wall décor, who just moved his multimillion dollar company to south Manatee County from Los Angeles County and plans to hire about 40 people. Marin says a key reason for the move was the business-friendly climate of our region. For those of us who often complain about the business climate in Sarasota and Manatee, that’s a welcome outsider observation. His comments are a reminder that the grass is not always greener elsewhere—and especially not in California. You can read about Marin and his company in “Deck the Walls” on page 30.

You’ll find more inspiration in our story “Best Green Businesses” on page 36. Most of our winners are new companies, and these talented entrepreneurs didn’t spend time talking about the uncertain economy when I interviewed them. I promise you’ll be astounded at the type of products we’re developing in this region.

And since it is the beginning of a new year and a new decade, I asked standout local business leaders to share their mottos for success.

Al Carlson, who runs Sun Hydraulics, e-mailed me from the Dusseldorf Airport Sheraton where he was waiting to catch a flight home. His advice? Prepare for better times at the bottom of a business cycle. “[This] will yield dividends for those committed to doing the right things long term by investing in the future,” he insists.

Jim Vett, general manager of Vanguard Advanced Pharmacy Systems, a company that provides pharmacy services and medications to assisted living facilities, recently won a Manatee EDC Excellence in Industry award. Vett had three New Year’s resolutions for other businesses: First: Work smarter, not harder. “Last year, every week we examined a different business process, and we included all the employees. We asked: ‘How can we do this better?’ In some cases we had breakthroughs. It gave our employees a real sense of purpose,” he says. He also advises companies to find creative ways “to increase morale” and to “measure everything,” starting from the number of phone calls you get.

Finally, I called the irrepressible John Saputo, owner/president of Gold Coast Eagle Distributing and a legend in the beer distributor business. Without hesitating, he practically shouted, “Stop whining, and go get the business that’s out there. Stop thinking about the 12 percent who are unemployed and get the

88 percent who are still working and have money in their pockets.”

OK, now I’m inspired.

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