Make us your home page


Robert Trigaux

Former HR employee at Jabil Circuit sues firm for workplace discrimination

Wake up and good morning. The Venture blog does not report often on work discrimination lawsuits, in part because they are, unfortunately, way too common in the Tampa Bay courts (and the rest of the country). But the recent suit filed by Tampa's Sangita Land, a human resource compliance manager, is notable because it claims she was fired from her HR job because of a white male culture at one of the region's major corporations: Jabil Circuit in St. Petersburg.

I've covered Jabil for many years and, based on gender in the senior ranks, Jabil's long been pretty much an all boys organization though it's shown a few signs of broadening opportunities there in recent years. Then again, a lot of U.S. companies are male-dominated like Jabil. In this case, Land claims she had been recruited by a number of firms in 2009, including Raymond James Financial, but chose to take a legal compliance job in the HR department at Jabil. Her early review, according to the lawsuit, was glowing and Land received a "4.4 out of 5" job rating -- which is high based on Jabil's performance system. …

Full Story

From RNC: Election views from an Ohio CEO, Jabil's CEO and aboard 147-foot yacht 'Cracker Bay'

stephenspoonamoreceoabsmaterialsrnc2012.jpgWake up and good morning. More than one CEO aired their views of the upcoming election during the Republican National Convention in Tampa. First up: Serial entrepreneur Stephen Spoonamore (photo, left), chief executive of ABSMaterials in Wooster, Ohio, who we got a chance to chat with while attending the Huffington Post's panel discussion (moderated by Tom Brokaw, read more here) on jobs at Ybor City's Cuban Club on Wednesday. Spoonamore says he's not much of a political follower and is in town because Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, involved him in some business policy groups and because ABSMaterials (which provides chemical analysis, pollution services (read more on that in the New York Times) and security products) also does business with SOCOM -- U.S. Special Operations Command -- based at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base. (Photo courtesy of ABSMaterials.) …

Full Story

Reporter's economic notes from wandering the Republican National Convention so far


The recently opened Center for Advanced Medial Learning and Simulation, or CAMLS, in downtown Tampa is getting plenty of attention as an event site during this week's Republican National Convention. Above, CAMLS CEO Debbie Sutherland in one of the training facility's trauma OR rooms. Photo: Daniel Wallace, Tampa Bay Times

Wake up and good morning. With the Republican National Convention now in full swing, here are five items for business readers that help capture at least some of the flavor of this metro area trying to show off its economy. …

Full Story

Again, innovative HSN CEO Mindy Grossman makes Forbes list of world's most powerful women

Wake up and good morning. A St. Petersburg CEO and resident, HSN's Mindy Grossman, is once again on the Forbes annual list of the 100 "most powerful women" in the world. Grossman, 54, ranks 96th, low on the list perhaps but impressive not only to make it all but to repeat it for the third time. She also made the list in 2011 and 2009.

Not bad when she's competing with the likes of Angela Merkel, who as Germany's leaders is pretty much calling the shots in the European economic crisis. Or Hillary Clinton, a perennial powerhouse in politics. Or Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates, and CEOs Ursula Burns of Xerox, Meg Whitman of HP and new Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer.

It's not as if the list of the 100 most powerful women is otherwise swimming with Floridians...

In addition to strong TV and online retailing execution, Grossman's also pushing HSN into new territories, including the pursuit of female gamers with the creation of HSN Arcade. As Grossman told Forbes: "We're going into new areas of business, creating a cross between media, tech, retail and entertainment. It's just the beginning."

Here's one of the best advice lines of Grossman: Hire Tiggers, not Eeyores. …

Full Story

Fast growing bench strength: More than 70 Tampa Bay companies rank on new Inc. 5000 list


Fast growing area businesses are dominated by IT and web application companies. But not always. Ranking at No. 3947 on the 2012 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies is Largo-based Atomic Tattoos. Above, Clay Montgomery (left) and Steve Cannon show how their company increasingly operates in mainstream shopping malls like Westfield Brandon. (Photo, 2009, Cherie Diez, Tampa Bay Times)

Wake up and good morning. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fastest growing private businesses in the Tampa Bay area? We got a taste of those firms last week when the paper version of the 2012 Inc. 500 was published in the September issue of Inc. magazine. Read my Sunday Tampa Bay Times column on those few area companies that were among the fastest growing private companies nationwide in the top 500. They include BlueGrace Logistics of Riverview, along with Tampa's Streamline Defense and Qoncert. It should be noted that the online version of the Inc. 500 includes Lutz-based Yagoozon, an Amazon-related online retailer, at No. 238. (See below) …

Full Story

Let HSN co-founder Roy Speer's passing remind area entrepreneurs: Mental toughness counts


St. Petersburg's HSN continues to show share value to investors during tough economic times. The locally headquartered company would not even exist without the inspiration and bulldog tactics of co-founder Roy Speer. The chart above shows HSN's stock performance since it was spun off from the parent company controlled by Barry Diller. Now HSN is on its own again.

Wake up and good morning. Roy Speer, co-founder of Home Shopping Network, passed away Sunday at the age of 80. Read Tampa Bay Times writer Andrew Meacham's obit about Speer. What I want to briefly salute here is Speer's role as one of Tampa Bay's early entrepreneurs, a guy with a bull-in-the-china shop style whose legacy -- today's HSN Inc. -- is one of this metro area's leading companies with $2.5 billion in market value and a reputation under current CEO Mindy Grossman as a sharp competitor on the global stage. …

Full Story

Jobless uptick in Florida muddies economic message in state one week before RNC arrives

mittromneyap.jpgWake up and good morning. Yes, Florida's unemployment rate is on the rise for the first time in a year, climbing to 8.8 percent in July from 8.6 percent the month before. And, more disturbing, Tampa Bay's metro-wide jobless rate rose to 9.4 percent from just 9 percent in the same period. Read more here from the Tampa Bay Times.

Wrong way, Florida.

We're not alone. Forty four states recorded unemployment increases in July and a good dozen states now have higher jobless rates than Florida. Only two states and D.C. had rate declines, and the remaining four states stayed the same. Not exactly a message of momentum there. But take a look over the past year and the numbers, though modest, seem better. Florida added 69,900 jobs between since July 2011 and Tampa Bay's enjoyed nearly a third of those gains, adding 20,500 jobs. And over that year, Florida is tied with Nevada and Mississippi with the biggest decline -- 1.8 percentage points -- in unemployment.

How do we stack up to other states?

* Here's how we rank in actual jobs created in the past year compared to other job gainers (July 2011 to July 2012): …

Full Story

Management bench strength: Tampa Bay boasts two top nationally ranked CEOs

aleccunninghamwellcare.jpgWake up and good morning. Two area CEOs are getting a big thumbs up as quality managers from a service that measures management capability. It's impressive. Both Alec Cunningham (left), CEO of Tampa's Wellcare Health Plans, and Tim Main (right) CEO of St. Petersburg's Jabil Circuit, rank among the "Best Mid-Cap CEOs" nationwide, according to a service from The ranking is elaborated upon here by The Motley Fool.

jabiltimmainjohnpendygraft.jpgThe rankings go beyond the typical and simplistic measures of a CEO based on just return to shareholders or improvement in share price. Chiefist uses a broader range to evaluate CEO talent.

What are the odds two Tampa Bay area companies of mid-cap size manage to get their CEOs on a top ten list? Kudos to these two managers who steer companies in ultra-competitive fields. My only parochial longing is that the Tampa Bay business community could benefit in more tangible ways from these executives by sharing their talent with the regional economy. That's the trick, of course. These guys are no doubt so well regarded because they are hyper-focused on running superior firms.

- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times

Full Story

What happens as more seniors retire with mortgages then opt to 'go naked' in coverage?

citizens-property-insurancelogo.jpgWake up and good morning. Two converging trends are noted in the press that can't be good.

First, more baby boomers are retiring while still paying mortgages on their homes. And some will continue paying into their 90s. So says this story in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The financial planners quoted in the story say keeping a mortgage can be useful in some cases, especially for seniors who need mortgage deductions to reduce taxes or if the financial pressure to pay off a mortgage early is too great.

What financial planners don't spend enough saying is how much homeowners insurance, required for those with mortgages, will hurt seniors in the coming years. …

Full Story

As Duke Energy's Rogers meets PSC today, tradeoffs in energy choices gain focus


The Crystal River energy complex, which includes a nuclear power plant and multiple coal-fired plants, is No. 1 in a new Natural Resources Defense Council ranking. Read on... (Photo: Will Vragovic, Tampa Bay Times.)

jimrogersceodukeapphoto.jpgWake up and good morning. Today's the day executive coup-winner Jim Rogers (AP photo, right) -- "old" Duke Energy CEO now CEO once again of "new" Duke Energy -- appears in Tallahassee before the Florida Public Service Commission. The issue? What to do with the crumbling Crystal River 3 nuclear power plant that Duke just inherited thanks to its purchasing Progress Energy. So, CR3: Repair it or retire it? Love it or list it? …

Full Story

St. Petersburg firm pushes edge on delivering product prices geared to individual shopper

Wake up and good morning. What happens if one supermarket shopper walks an aisle and gets offered one set of tempting prices for many goods while another shopper goes down the same aisle and sees different prices? That level of personalized pricing -- based on sophisticated databases of customer buying habits -- is already being tested in some supermarkets and surely will be heading our way on a grander scale soon.

One of the company's leading the charge on this techno-marketing shift is St. Petersburg-based Catalina which calls its expertise "precision marketing" based on tracking billions of consumer purchases each year. Mining such data is retailing's future and Catalina's on the cutting edge of that specialty. …

Full Story

Courts, federal regulators deliver fresh blow to fate of Duke-owned Crystal River nuclear power plant


Will the Crystal River 3 nuclear power plant, shuttered for years, ever produce electricity again? (Photo: Will Vragovic, Tampa Bay Times)

NOTE (Aug. 15): An earlier version of this blog posting mischaracterized the federal court decision impact on the NRC's ability to issue licenses for nuclear power plants. The version below has been corrected. 

Wake up and good morning. The Crystal River nuclear power plant in Citrus County north of Tampa Bay just can't get any respect. Built by St. Petersburg's Florida Power Corp., then owned by Progress Energy in a 2000 acquisition of Florida Power, the nuke plant's future now belongs to new owner Duke Energy. Duke inherited "CR3" after a tumultuous and, frankly, bumbling purchase of Progress Energy that featured a Machiavellian coup at the highest executive ranks that has hurt Duke's credibility as well as alienated utility regulators who will judge Duke's request for higher rates in the coming months and years. …

Full Story

Deja vu? HCA hospitals in Florida again target of federal probe into questionable medical practices


HCA, which runs 163 for-profit hospitals and provide 5 percent of all in-patient care in the United States, saw its stock drop modestly Monday after news reports about the U.S. Justice Department investigating the hospital chain for performing medically unnecessary heart surgeries. Is this the start of a big HCA problem or a brief stumble?

Wake up and good morning. HCA's never too far from news of questionable practices. This time, the New York Times reports some Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA -- including 10 hospitals mostly in Florida with HCA's Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco County among them -- serve cardiologists who are unable to justify many of the heart procedures they are performing. …

Full Story

Exploring job creation: High-powered panel one of many focused on economy during RNC in Tampa

judithrodinceorockefellerfoundation.jpgI'm back after a summer break...

Wake up and good morning. There's a ton of interesting and overlapping events happening during Tampa's Republican National Convention and a lot of them have to do with the economy. As in how to fix it. How to generate more and/or better jobs. How to become a more efficiently run country. A lot of those events are the usual political pap. But we'll start focusing on some of the events that may have some compelling content and, because the RNC is in town, will definitely have some fresh voices with stature.

One event that caught my eye is the Aug. 29 luncheon at Ybor City's Cuban Club with a panel hosted by Tom Brokaw on job creation. This panel, which includes a "job creation exhibition," will also be held later in Charlotte, N.C., during the Democratic National Convention. Among the panelists are:

* Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Why? Because the governor will be speaking at the RNC about the Ohio economy, a perennial basket case in recent times but now boasting a state unemployment rate lower than the national rate. Read more about his economic optimism here. …

Full Story