FAILURE TO FOLLOW SAFETY RULES LED TO DEATH, CHIEF SAYS
Tampa steelmaker Gerdau Ameristeel hit the national radar screen in a Wall Street Journal story last week raising questions about why workplace deaths at steel mills in general are on the rise. Among other incidents, the story mentions the deaths of two workers killed in different accidents at the same Gerdau Ameristeel mill in Jackson, Tenn. Mario Longhi, above, Gerdau's president and chief executive, is quoted saying how, in the case of a man crushed by a crane on March 24, the worker had been instructed on safety procedures implemented a year earlier that required the overhead crane to come to a stop before another worker — in this case, the victim — ascended the crane to begin his shift as operator. The man, a relatively new employee, didn't wait for the crane to stop and was crushed as he attempted to climb aboard, the newspaper stated.
Tampa chamber shakes it up
With Kim Scheeler about to exit the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, former board chairman Joe House — once the general manager of USAA Insurance and now a consultant with the Beck Group — will step in to run the group until a successor is found. In a related move, the Chamber-affiliated Committee of 100 replaced its board of directors with an autonomous board (to include Tampa's mayor). Stepping down from the board is developer Larry Richey. Chairman of the new cabinet is TECO Energy chief operating officer John Ramil.
Bank boss laments Florida loans
Tampa, Sarasota, Naples, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Walton Beach. Alabama-based Regions Financial CEO Dowd Ritter may have sounded like he was suggesting his favorite beach towns last week, but he was really listing those cities where his Regions Bank has encountered the worst real estate loans. "It is staggering for people in Birmingham to believe," Ritter was quoted in his hometown newspaper, the Birmingham News, "but resale values in some of these areas have fallen by 40 percent."
Magic's Starbucks still in game
Six Tampa Bay area Starbucks may be closing as part of the coffee behemoth's national downsizing of 600 locations, but basketball legend-turned-urban entrepreneur Earvin "Magic" Johnson's Starbucks in Tampa's Seminole Heights is not one of them. The coffee shop opened in spring of 2006 and, for now, has made the survivor's cut.
Gates' investment fuels puns
My, how the newspapers had fun with billionaire Bill Gates' taking a stake in auto retailing giant AutoNation, the Fort Lauderdale parent of Tampa Bay's AutoWay dealerships. "New hard drive," punned one paper. "Gates opts to become used car salesman," said another. Gates' initial 5.5-percent stake in the company makes him the third-largest investor in AutoNation.