Sarasota fertilizer company moves corporate HQ to LWR

mjohnson@bradenton.comApril 16, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Florikan, a Sarasota manufacturer of time-release agricultural fertilizer, is moving its headquarters to Lakewood Ranch as part of a wholesale relocation of the company's operations.

Currently located just south of Fruitville Road near the Celery Fields park, Florikan has been selling off its production, manufacturing and office buildings over the past two years in preparation for the move. Company President Eric Rosenthal said the company had been looking to consolidate all of its production functions in a single building for some time, and to find "more professional office space."

Florikan's fertilizer operation is based on its polymer-coated Florikote and Nutricote brands. The company produces fertilizer for use in the professional landscaping industry, by homeowners and as components in bulk fertilizers manufactured by other companies. Double-digit revenue growth every year since 2010 and the receipt of a patent on one of its primary products are pushing Florikan to build a bigger production operation.

Florikan's production side will go into a 90,000- to 100,000-square-foot facility in Wachula, while 12 to 15 front office employees will move into 3,000 square feet of ground-floor space at 6801 Energy Court in Lakewood Ranch. Florikan signed a lease for the property earlier this month. John Kleiber and Terry Eastman of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT brokered the deal on Florikan's behalf. Debbie Anglin of Ian Black Real Estate represented the landlord, Health Trust LLC.

Rosenthal said Lakewood Ranch is appealing when it comes to hosting out-of-town

clients. The area's hotels and restaurants are a draw, as is the growth in the commercial park.

"It's exploding," he said.

Florikan employees will move into the new office in July. The company is staying on the south side of University Avenue so it can remain in Sarasota County. Florikan has been in that county for its entire 32-year history. The location will put it near where the bulk of its office and administrative employees live in Bradenton and Manatee County.

But when it came to finding a new production facility, Florikan chose Hardee County over Sarasota County because the former offered better financial incentives. The biggest is the production facility Hardee County is building for Florikan. The county's economic development council and economic development authority are putting $2.5 million into the building. Florikan will commit $2 million to the project, according to the Hardee County Economic Development Council.

Krystin Chapman, a communication coordinator for the agency, said the county's economic development organizations committed to Florikan because it brings many tiers of job offerings.

"Their jobs are diversified from production to management," she said.

The county will lease the building to Florikan on a lease-to-own basis, provided the company creates 35 to 40 jobs.

Rosenthal said filling open positions should be easier in Wachula than in Sarasota.

"We're having difficulty finding a labor force," he said. "The jobs are dusty, hot, humid."

The $12 to $16 per hour the jobs pay will be in line or higher than wages paid to workers in the Hardee County agricultural and mining industries, Rosenthal said. The company has plans to begin its Hardee County operations in late 2015.

In recent years, Florikan has gone more heavily into the production end of its business. Prior to 2007, the company did much of its own distribution, taking orders from as many as 3,000 customers. Rosenthal said the business transitioned from distribution after the Florikote patent was issued. The company now sells wholesale to only about 100 customers.

Lakewood Ranch is home to a number of corporate headquarters, including senior housing and healthcare advisor Health Trust and retailing software developer Living Naturally. Lakewood Ranch master developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch does not keep track of how many headquarters are located with the development's borders, according to Lisa Barnott, SMR communications director.

Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.

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