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Biggest firms' CEOs offer diverse backgrounds

Who's running these Times 10 companies? Here are a few things you probably did not know about those at the helm of these 10 area public corporations with a combined market value currently topping $23 billion.

Robert Dutkowsky, 55, Tech Data: The CEO who runs Tampa Bay's biggest company by revenue grew up in Upstate New York, was read to every night by his mother and got so scared watching the original War of the Worlds movie he's never liked science fiction since. His first job? Cleaning a hometown theater after the movie was over. Like his father, he worked for IBM, and even became IBM CEO Lou Gerstner's executive assistant. That's when he realized he, too, could be a chief someday.

Tim Main, 52, Jabil Circuit: At Jabil, he runs the Times 10 company with the largest number of and most globally scattered employees. The MBA-educated Main worked for the Bank of Detroit, which happened to be Jabil's lender back when the company was based in Michigan. Jabil recruited Main as a manager in 1987 when the company boasted all of two U.S. plants with 500 employees. Then plants were added overseas and an international challenge was born. But is it more of a challenge than his long-ago summer job, when he was pedaling his bike frantically down a Kentucky road, dodging shotgun pellets? That's when he realized there must be an easier way to make a living than selling Bibles and other books door to door.

Alec Cunningham, 43, WellCare Health Plans: He's been at WellCare five years, but less than six months as CEO. Surprisingly little has been said about him — or apparently by him — for someone who's running a multibillion-dollar enterprise. WellCare's prone to keep its head down and stick to its business in recent times. But here's what we do know: His base salary was $360,000 until named CEO, when it became $650,000, with an extra $200,000 cash bonus for the promotion. Earlier, he worked on the Oklahoma governor's staff and then at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. His undergrad degree is from Oklahoma State, his MBA from the University of Southern California.

Mario Longhi, 56, Gerdau Ameristeel: He's Italian with Brazilian roots, graduating in metallurgical engineering from Instituto Maua de Tecnologia, Sao Paulo. Before joining Gerdau, he had a successful career at Alcoa, where he became vice president, heading global operations. He's bounced between Cleveland and Brazil before settling in Tampa. Oh, yes, today is his 56th birthday.

Sherrill Hudson, 67, TECO Energy: A Miami businessman with accounting credentials, he was picked for TECO's top job when Robert Fagan left, leaving a power company in need of corporate and financial overhaul. Hudson's done the job well, and he still manages to commute back to Miami. TECO gave Hudson a housing and travel allowance of $5,000 per month, and for a while even let him commute via corporate aircraft. In 2009, the incremental cost to the company for such use was $47,610, at least until TECO sold its corporate aircraft late last year.

Paul Reilly, 56, Raymond James Financial: He was president of Raymond James a year ago, but the CEO title officially became his this month with the handoff by 40-year veteran chief executive Tom James, who remains chairman. Reilly is polished and well prepped to take charge with a very similar game plan to a predecessor he will continue to work with. "Tom James," Reilly told one industry publication this month, "is like Sam Walton. Go to a Wal-Mart meeting today and people still talk about him." Still, Reilly's arrival is long anticipated. In this year's annual St. Petersburg Times survey of area businesses, Reilly was second in voting only to Sykes Enterprises CEO Chuck Sykes as an emerging leader.

Mindy Grossman, 52, HSN: We already know she runs a mean retail business. But did you know she got a recent standing ovation in New York? At the 32nd annual Outstanding Mothers Awards luncheon at the Pierre hotel, Grossman brought the audience to its feet for her heartfelt thanks to her mother, who recently died within three days of her father. Her mother always told Grossman, who was adopted, how special she was and, the HSN chief added, "that I could do anything and be anything. She was my biggest supporter and fan from day one." One of her key to-do goals: keeping the HSN channel on plenty of cable systems.

John Byrnes, 51, Lincare: He may be the most inaccessible, invisible CEO among the Times 10 public corporations. But he had a great 2009, despite the recession, with the board awarding him a nice bonus of $1.6 million, stock awards, salary and perks like golf memberships. Total package? A heady $19.7 million in 2009, more than any of his Times 10 peers, in a year of lower Lincare revenue and earnings — and way up from his $6.6 million compensation package received in 2008.

Powell Brown, 42, Brown & Brown: The leadership torch was officially passed last summer when J. Hyatt Brown — speaker of the Florida House from 1978 to 1980 and after a nearly 50-year insurance career — handed control of the insurance brokerage to his eldest son, Powell. Perhaps the best insight on Powell the new dollar-conscious CEO comes from Dad, in remarks to a business insurance magazine: "All of our kids, when they got to be 12, had to get a job and had to work all summer just like I did six days a week. … They had to work and then they had to save their money and invest it. So all of them have been very focused on accumulation and not spending."

David Dunkel, 56, Kforce: Back when his company was called Romac, he liked to take some of his managers on a retreat to his 350-acre mountain farm in New Hampshire that looks down on the lake where they filmed the Fonda-Hepburn movie On Golden Pond. He also introduced the new corporate name Kforce by running $4 million or more in commercials during the 2001 Super Bowl. "No guts, no glory," he said back then. Between Romac and Kforce, he's been chief for close to 30 years.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at

Biggest firms' CEOs offer diverse backgrounds 05/22/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 24, 2010 2:21pm]
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