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Sounding the Cry

In August and September of 2004, Florida was hit by a number of tropical events; namely Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne. The first hurricane was Charley. This storm caused extensive damage from Punta Gorda to Orlando and crossed directly over Arcadia, FL. After seeing the news reports, my heart went out to those people and I called on Rotary leaders in that area to see how I could assist. Local Rotary Club President, Susan Rachles let us know where the worst hit areas were. I drove down with my son, Ben Jr. and we brought our chainsaws and some other tools for the work ahead. After a few days of cutting downed trees and tree limbs, Ben Jr. and I returned home to Gainesville. The next

The Essential Element

Over the years, my businesses have kept me quite busy, especially early-on. Indeed, I’ve spent countless hours on the road often leaving early in the morning, not completing my travels until late in the evening. I found that to get it all done, I’d have to fly from one location to another, sometimes in the same day. Because flying commercially was limiting, I often found myself chartering a plane to get to the various locations. It got to a point some years ago that I bought a plane and hired a pilot just so I could travel at a moment's notice. Although the plane was helpful, the most essential element I found in all my entrepreneurial endeavors had to do with the people I surrounded my

A Man and His Legacy

My Mom and Dad were the most influential people in my life. While I was a child, they took care of me, taught me right from wrong, and gave me the tools I needed to take care of myself. But, throughout my life, there was another adult who positively influenced me and helped me become the man I am today. That was A.T. Andrews. I first came to know Mr. Andrews when I was in elementary school in Waldo. He was my 4-H leader and one of the coolest people I’d ever met when I was the ripe old age of 10! He was always upbeat, fun, and he was the first adult I’d ever met that didn’t treat me like a kid. Mr. Andrews had a manner that was unique and encouraging. Rather than telling me I was doin

Hardest Decision

As a kid, I was very blessed to have had both of my parents very involved in my life. Yes, there were some times that I thought they were ‘involved’ too much, but as I grew older I came to appreciate the time they spent raising my three siblings and me. As soon as I would get home after school or ball practice, both my mother and father, would be there, inquiring as to how my day at school went. Not having a TV in our house (which according to my Dad would be the ruination of the mind), after dinner we would do our homework and then play cards as a family, taking turns being the partner of either Mom or Dad. Although we didn’t have much, we had an abundance of love. And in that sense, my c

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