Join us in beautiful Tampa Bay for 7th annual Florida Companies to Watch at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. Join us on Saturday, October 14, 2017 as we award 50 growing second-stage companies headquartered in Florida. Companies to Watch was developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation as a unique way to recognize and honor second-stage companies that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace with innovative strategies and processes, making them “worth watching”. Presented by GrowFL, in association with Edward Lowe Foundation, Florida Companies to Watch is an awards program like no other. We all have a compelling story to tell. We encourage you to tell yours!
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All of the Companies to Watch Award Winners have very compelling and inspirational stories to tell! Here are a few highlights of our past winners!
Engineering & Computer Simulations Inc. (ECS)
Waymon Armstrong is co‐founder and chief operating officer of Engineering & Computer Simulations Inc. (ECS) – an Orlando‐based firm that defines innovation in the leading‐edge field of modeling, simulation and training. Armstrong has more than 90 employees to help, but 18 years ago he started ECS with a vision, a lot of passion and his personal life savings. After three years, the company was not generating enough revenue to pay him even a small salary. Armstrong had remortgaged his home, invested the last of the life savings, and incurred $300,000 in credit card debt. His accountant encouraged filing for bankruptcy, but Armstrong continued and ultimately landed ECS’s firstlarge assignment for the U.S. military. CLICK HERE to read more.
Interested in Hearing Waymon’s Inspiring Story In Person? Join us for The CEO Forum Tampa Bay on June 20th. CLICK HERE to Register.
Aleef Adam, founder of DirecLogix, credits his father with providing the nudge that was the tipping point in his decision to launch DirecLogix in 2005. “Our family has always been entrepreneurial,” Adam said. “My dad has his own businesses that he has operated. After I had worked for several large companies like Hewlett Packard and Lucent Technologies, he gave me the push I needed to consider starting something on my own. He’s been successful in business and management so when he suggested I take the leap, I paid attention.”
Adam did not take a blind leap, but made a calculated choice after completing due diligence and research. “I spoke with some former colleagues and customers about why large enterprises might want to work with a startup like DirecLogix to fulfill their IT solutions,” he said. “It came down to the ability to execute, working relationships and a deep understanding of their business. Because DirecLogix could demonstrate those benefits, they were willing to work with my new company.” CLICK HERE to read more.
Hell’s Bay Marine, Inc. dba Hell’s Bay Boatworks
Chris Peterson, owner of Hell’s Bay Boatworks, has years of experience both on the water and in the office that he uses to guide his company alongside his wife, Wendi. Together, they lead their company, which is comprised of a number of highly skilled members dedicated to creating the finest skiffs available. Everyone at Hell’s Bay is passionate about the boats they create, and it shows in their finished skiffs.
Each skiff is built to order and crafted with the finest materials and a cutting edge design. Each client receives personal customer service. The choice of many of the greatest anglers around the world, they stay on the cutting edge of technology, while coming to know each of their customers. Hell’s Bay works to support a healthy ecosystem, and is involved in organizations like the Coastal Conservation Association, The International Game Fish Association, The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. CLICK HERE to read more.
Wicked Dolphin Distillery
JoAnn Elardo, founder of Wicked Dolphin Distillery, is a serial entrepreneur of broad and varied scope. Having worked in the film, video and finance space, Elardo owned and operated a large shoe distribution company in Europe until she sold the company and moved to Florida in 2008.
“I moved to Florida because I needed a break from the cold Eastern Europe winters,” Elardo said. “At the time, I had some investments in commodities and in particular sugar. One evening I was analyzing my sugar commodities while drinking a cocktail made from a lousy rum. I asked myself why isn’t someone making a good Florida rum and that is when I decided to start Wicked Dolphin.” CLICK HERE to read more.
Joe Parris, co-founder of VALiNTRY Services, is a serial entrepreneur in the staffing space who started VALiNTRY for the chance to innovate again. “When we sold our travel therapy staffing company, we sold to a company that is owned by the largest IT staffing company in world and we stayed on to manage our division,” Parris said. “However, we lost all our resources and ability to innovate. We believe innovation is the lifeblood of any organization and you are either growing or dying as a company and because we were no longer able to innovate and grow, we decided to move on.” CLICK HERE to read more.