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Venture

Robert Trigaux

Gordon takes majority stake in Tampa's Enporion, shares ownership with employees

12

October

GeorgeGordonEnporionKenHelle06 Wake up and good morning. Tampa CEO George M. Gordon is taking the plunge from professional manager to corporate owner. This morning Gordon's officially announcing that he is the new majority owner of Tampa-based Enporion, a private, online supply chain management solutions and services company founded by power companies and serving the electric utility industry. (Gordon photo by Ken Helle of the St. Petersburg Times.)

The good news for Enporion's 22 other employees? Thanks to Gordon, they also become equity owners in the company. "This is exciting," Gordon told me in an interview. None of Enporion's employees were owners before, including Gordon (who's been CEO since July 2001). Employees may have had incentive stock options and wanted to see the company do well.

But this, says Gordon, 62 and an ex-U.S. Navy officer, is different. "Now you want to throw yourself into it. It’s a reflection of my belief that this team can fuel tremendous growth moving forward."

Gordon and the other employees now control over 90 percent of the company's shares. He first told Enporion staff about his intentions in July and last Wednesday, at 9 a.m., told employees the deal was done.

Enporion, based on Harbour Island, was founded in 2000 by seven utilities. Six -- Allegheny Energy, CMS Energy, PPL Corp., UGI Uitlities, Ameren and Allete -- sold off all their stakes in the company. The seventh, Britain's National Grid, will retain a small share. The company generates revenues of between $5 and $10 million, Gordon says.

Gordon relocated from Silicon Valley and joined Enporion in what proved to be a trying year. The Sept. 11 attacks occurred two months after arrival, and Houston-based Enron collapsed into bankruptcy later in 2001, throwing the power industry into chaos. Many power companies -- Tampa's TECO Energy and, to a lesser extent Progress Energy -- found themselves shifting from a major diversification-deregulation strategy to refocusing anew on bread and butter power generation and distribution.

Like most business, Gordon says, Enporion has fewer employees than it did a year ago (the company once had 50 on staff) and the company has even trimmed its paychecks. But Gordon says Enporion is profitable and thinks the worst of the recession is over.

"Things are starting to pick up," he says, "but we have a long way out of this mess."

Gordon's also a high profile player in the regional technology scene as a past chairman of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum. And when he's not renovating a 1920's Spanish revival home in St. Petersburg, he and wife Donna are now training for a marathon (George's first) at Walt Disney in January.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 12:26pm]

    

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