Five area business leaders, ranging from a defense industry entrepreneur to the chief executive of the largest corporation based in the Tampa Bay market, will be inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame next month.
The annual event celebrates business leadership in the area and helps support the work of the Florida Council on Economic Education in improving the economic understanding and financial skills of young Floridians.
The event will be held April 5 at the Tampa Convention Center, Last year's event drew more than 600 attendees.
This year's inductees include:
* Bob Dutkowsky, CEO of Tech Data Corp.: After more than a decade running the $26 billion-revenue technology product distributor, Dutkowsky just completed a $2.6 billion acquisition that will push Tech Data into the Asia-Pacific market and make it one of the largest public companies based in Florida.
* Greg Celestan, CEO and founder of Tampa defense company Celestar: The West Point graduate and past chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce has been a leader in organizing the defense industry in this market and supporting the broad military presence based at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base.
* Tom Pepin, CEO of Pepin Distributing Co.: He's run a successful beverage distribution business but also stands out for his broad philanthropy, including the support of Pepin Academies focused on teaching those with disabilities.
* Thom Stork (in memoriam), former CEO of the Florida Aquarium: A master of tourism marketing, he helped revive the Florida Aquarium in Tampa and served with distinction for many years promoting Busch Gardens. He was also involved on the boards of the Tampa Downtown Partnership, the Florida Tourism Commission, Visit Florida, Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Chamber of Commerce. He passed away in January at the age of 68.
* Carlos Fuente Sr. (in memoriam), former president of Arturo Fuente Cigar Co.: The family patriarch drove his company, run from a restored cigar factory in Ybor City, to become one of the world's largest handmade cigar businesses. He passed away last summer at the age of 81.
The business hall of fame has been honoring area inductees since 1988.