Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Apex co-founder Aurelio Llorente Jr. found his American dream

WELLSWOOD — In his first few years as an American, Aurelio Llorente — whom everyone called "Junior" — may have questioned his decision to come here from Cuba.

He was 19 when he left Cuba in 1961, part of the wave of Cubans who fled their home after Fidel Castro took control. After brief stops in Jamaica and Miami, the Llorente family settled in Tampa.

Just a couple of years later, young Mr. Llorente was drafted and sent to Vietnam.

About a quarter of his life as an American had been spent in an Asian war. But Mr. Llorente ended up becoming an almost stereotypical example of the American Dream.

With his brother Roger, Mr. Llorente founded a business supply company that grew from a tiny operation with one customer to a company with several locations that has thrived for decades, even in the face of competition from such giants as Staples and Office Depot.

Mr. Llorente passed away May 24 from complications of heart surgery. He was 68.

He and his brother had founded Apex Office Supply & Furniture in 1981. Mr. Llorente worked at Apex every day until he went into the hospital six weeks ago. Mr. Llorente's passions were business and family, and the two were inseparable in his life.

After he came back from Vietnam, he attended the University of South Florida and studied engineering. He never pursued an engineering career, though, and instead went to work at his father-in-law's wholesale food business.

Meanwhile, his younger brother Roger worked for an office supply company in South Florida. In 1981, he approached Mr. Llorente with the idea of starting their own company. They opened Apex in a 1,500-square-foot space near the airport. Apex offered office supplies, but did it without a storefront. It was just a warehouse and everything was sold to corporate clients.

"The business, when it first opened, was very, very small," said Alma Llorente, who was married to Roger Llorente. "It looked almost like a garage. They had one customer and one driver."

A natural businessman, Mr. Llorente paid close attention while working with his father-in-law in the wholesale food business.

"My husband knew the office supplies, and Junior knew business," Alma Llorente said. "He could be a shrewd businessman."

At first, Mr. Llorente kept his job with the food wholesaler, and his brother ran Apex during the day. Mr. Llorente would go to Apex at night and tend to business matters. By the time Apex moved to its current location, on Howard Avenue near Hillsborough Avenue, the business had grown to the point where Mr. Llorente could devote all his working hours to it. When his brother died in 1997, Mr. Llorente became the sole owner.

Apex now also has a furniture showroom on Kennedy Boulevard and locations around Florida.

"He definitely enjoyed life," his son said. "He loved work, but he loved going out. He loved good food and a good wine and good friends."

In addition to his son, Mr. Llorente is survived by daughters Sara and Marisa, his brother Roberto and two grandchildren.

Marty Clear writes life stories about Tampa residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Top 5 at noon: Gasparilla Bowl moving to Tampa; Lee Roy Selmon’s closing in Tampa; and more

Top 5 at noon: Gasparilla Bowl moving to Tampa; Lee Roy Selmon’s closing in Tampa; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:GASPARILLA BOWL MOVING FROM TROPICANA FIELD TO RAYMOND JAMES STADIUMThe Gasparilla Bowl is heading across the bay. The annual college football bowl game is moving from Tropicana Field to Raym...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Bayport Pier reconstruction on hold as Hernando commissioners grapple with budget shortfall

Bayport Pier reconstruction on hold as Hernando commissioners grapple with budget shortfall

BROOKSVILLE — The concept of a multimillion dollar budget crisis and the reality of one are two very different things, as Hernando County Commissioners learned Tuesday.Faced with an $11.5 million shortfall going into the new budget year, they discuss...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
NFL owners approve team-by-team anthem policy, will allow players to remain in locker room

NFL owners approve team-by-team anthem policy, will allow players to remain in locker room

ATLANTA — NFL owners approved a new national anthem policy Wednesday that gives individual teams the authority to set their own anthem-related rules and permits players to remain in the locker room during the playing of the anthem, the Washington Pos...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
State baseball: Carrollwood Day comes up a run short in semifinals

State baseball: Carrollwood Day comes up a run short in semifinals

FORT MYERS — Carrollwood Day's first appearance in the Class 3A state tournament ended with a 3-2 loss to Tallahassee North Florida Christian on Wednesday morning at CenturyLink Park.The Patriots (24-4) gave up three runs with two outs in the t...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Forecast: Relative calm before Invest 90L threatens to deluge Tampa Bay this weekend

Forecast: Relative calm before Invest 90L threatens to deluge Tampa Bay this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — While rain chances will decrease over the next two days, it is only a relative calm before a broad low pressure system moves into the Gulf of Mexico, producing strong storms across an already drenched Tampa Bay for Memorial Day weeke...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Rays put Jake Faria on DL, call up Vidal Nuno

Rays put Jake Faria on DL, call up Vidal Nuno

The Rays, as expected, are placing RHP Jake Faria on the 10-day DL with a left oblique strain that he sustained during Tuesday's game.Somewhat unexpectedly, they are calling up LHP Vidal Nuno to take his place.Nuno, 30, has pitched parts of five seas...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

At Bay 3, developers of Tampa’s Armature Works transform old industrial space into new co-work offices

TAMPA — The name of the new Bay 3 co-working space at the Armature Works goes back to World War I, when the red-brick warehouse overlooking the Hillsborough River was the maintenance barn for Tampa Electric’s streetcar system.As the name suggests, it...
Updated: 1 hour ago
CareerSource Pinellas bought a science center. Now the bill is coming due.

CareerSource Pinellas bought a science center. Now the bill is coming due.

In 2014, Tampa Bay jobs chief Edward Peachey sought to save the failing Science Center of Pinellas County.He asked a small panel of CareerSource Pinellas board members to let him acquire the educational center for $100.The Science Center, he said, ha...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trash fees to appear on tax bills in the Spring Hill mandatory zone

Trash fees to appear on tax bills in the Spring Hill mandatory zone

BROOKSVILLE — County commissioners knew what they were in for.Inundated with emails and phone calls before Tuesday’s meeting, and facing an unhappy crowd of customers from the county’s garbage hauler Republic Services, county officials tried to get a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Commandos to unleash fury in downtown Tampa, but it’s just a demonstration (w/video)

Commandos to unleash fury in downtown Tampa, but it’s just a demonstration (w/video)

TAMPA — Machines of war will unleash their fury in downtown Tampa on Wednesday afternoon, but it’s just a demonstration.Special operations forces from around the world are scheduled to stage a mock confrontation of good guys versus bad guys from 1:30...
Updated: 1 hour ago