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Klondikes reporting for duty

By late November, some lucky U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia should be munching ice cream bars made in Clearwater. Last week the Isaly Klondike Co. donated 225,000 Klondike bars and sandwiches to provide a refreshment break in the Saudi desert.

The bars are being shipped by truck to Oakland, Calif., where they will loaded onto a U.S. Navy ship later this week.

James Cross, an Isaly vice president, said it took the company about five weeks to make all the arrangements required to keep the ice cream frozen for its journey.


Seidman hints regulators may ease up on banks

William Seidman, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), made a creative suggestion last week at the American Bankers Association's annual meeting in Orlando. It's one that Florida bankers might like.

He said that perhaps banks should be allowed simply to ignore for a while the problems with their bad real estate loans.

Basically, regulators would suspend certain rules until the economy improves and real estate values are on the rise. (The term for this extension is "forbearance.")

Presto: the loans look good and bankers breathe easier.

There is a precedent, said Alan Whitney, a spokesman for the FDIC. In the 1980s, some banks in the Midwest with bumper crops of bad farm loans were allowed to continue operating normally even though they weren't within regulatory guidelines.

While Seidman's suggestion has a nice ring, regulatory action isn't his call. Comptroller of the Currency Bob Clarke and his corps of regulators are walking with hobnail boots over bank loan portfolios. "I don't think we've seen the worst of it," said Kathryn Hart Bissette, a bank stock analyst with Interstate/Johnson Lane in Atlanta.


GTE getting Tampa

ready for the big game

It's a telecommunications nightmare.

A new corporation arrives in town and demands phone lines immediately for more than 1,000 employees.

That is no hypothetical situation for Larry Hodge, the man responsible for making sure the Super Bowl XXV coaches' calls get through on Super Sunday. The game will be played Jan. 27 at Tampa Stadium.

GTE Corp., the parent of GTE Telephone Co. of Tampa, will set up a special network that will link eight locations, including four Tampa hotels and the stadium.

The company, which began planning the venture in May 1989, will set up more than 500 single- and multiline phones, 125 pay phones and 150 cellular phones.

This Super Bowl will require about twice as much work as the last one played in Tampa in 1985, Hodge said.

At that time, there were no cellular phones or facsimile (fax) machines. And, he said, the number of reporters, particularly from the foreign press, has increased substantially. Many of them have their own telecommunications needs, often depending on the types of personal computers they carry.

GTE won't say how much the company gets for its four-year contract with the National Football League.


Long-range vision pays for

mutual fund shareholder

In these days of market timing and stock-market speculation, Kurt Fromer of St. Petersburg stands out as a genuine long-term investor. He's been a shareholder in the Guardian Fund for 38 years.

"Kurt Fromer was among a small group of investors in the 1950s who had the foresight to put money in an investment few had heard of: mutual funds," said Roy Neuberger, the 87-year-old founder and chairman of Neuberger & Berman Management Inc. of New York, which manages the Guardian Fund.

Neuberger started the Guardian Fund in 1950 as one of the first no-load mutual funds, back in the days when the industry was in its infancy. Today the Guardian Fund has $570-million in assets, and Neuberger & Berman has a whole family of funds and $18-billion under management.

In celebration of the fund's 40th anniversary, Neuberger & Berman tracked down about 100 of its early shareholders, Fromer among them.

Fromer, 72, says he was living in Long Island, N.Y., working as a technical engineer when his uncle told him about the fund.

"I watched the stock market and whenever I had a chance, I added to the fund," he said. The market had some pretty bad years over those decades, but Fromer says he always had faith it would come back.

Neuberger & Berman says a $10,000 Guardian Fund investment in 1950 would be worth about $1-million today, assuming reinvestment of dividends and capital gains, but not including the impact of income taxes. Fromer says his shares in the fund are worth less than that, but he's not complaining.

"It's done so well," he said.

Fromer, who moved to St. Petersburg in 1985, says he also owns other mutual funds.


Company's foods make

pets taste bad to fleas

When a London-based company wanted to introduce its line of pet products in the U.S., its officials looked for cities with a lot of dogs and a lot of fleas.

The market research led them to Tampa-St. Petersburg.

James Doohan (better known as "Scotty" on the original Star Trek series) was in the bay area last week with Frank Gannon, president of Mark & Chappell Ltd., to launch a marketing campaign for several products, including a flea and tick preventer. If successful, they plan to introduce the dog and cat products in local stores.

The flea and tick preventer, called Protect-um, is ingested by the pet and changes the animal's odor, said Gannon, a former pharmacist who now is president of Mark & Chappell. The smell is "alien" to the fleas but attractive to humans, Gannon said.

The ingredients for Protect-um are natural and will not harm the animal, said Gannon, who keeps the mixture a secret.

Doohan, who recently purchased an interest in the company's North American division, said he uses the Mark & Chappell's products on his dog. "The flea collar just doesn't do it," he said.

Veterinarians in the area who were contacted say they haven't heard about the company but want to know more. A spokesman said the products have been approved by the state and have a money-back guarantee.

Mark & Chappell is selling Protect-um along with two other products for cats and dogs in a package for $19.95. For more information, call 1-800-332-2600.


Expert says travel outlook

good, despite downturn

Despite rising costs and fears of an economic recession, Americans will continue to travel, said several experts at last week's Travel Outlook Forum sponsored by the Tampa/Hillsborough Convention and Visitors Association.

"Drinking and traveling are two things Americans will always do," maintained John Stachnik, president of Mayflower Tours, which operates escorted bus trips to U.S. locations, including Florida.

That piece of news was especially welcomed by another panel member, Thoms Stork, director of marketing for Tampa's Busch Gardens, owned by Anheuser-Busch Cos.

"If drinking and travel are two things that never go away, I'm in the right business," he said.


Area TV stations winning

this election year

While critics complain about political ads that are unfair, misleading or downright dirty, not everyone is grousing.

A column in Advertising Age, a trade publication, says political ads have boosted ad sales in some of the nation's top 20 TV markets.

The Tampa Bay market fell in the "tight" category, which is good for local TV stations. That means air "time is available but demand keeps prices stable." The leading ad buyers in the Tampa Bay TV market are "financial services, automotive companies, retailers, fast-food restaurants and politicians. . . ."