Business briefs: Port tours bring in visitors

June 5, 2014 

Mac Carraway, president of Schroeder Manatee Ranch Farms LLC and turfgrass production manager Gary Bradshaw perch atop a partially loaded semi truck carrying Empire Zoysia sod, a popular lawn grass used in the southeast and Texas. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald


PORT MANATEE -- May is over, which means the tour trolley cars at Port Manatee are on summer hiatus.

Just in time to get out of the summer heat, the tour tram will be garaged until October. It's a well-earned rest for the equipment and tour guides, who took more than 3,000 visitors on in-depth tours of the port's facilities over the past eight months. The number of visitors represents 24-percent increase in tram tour traffic at the port over the previous tour season.

Held every Monday and Wednesday morning mid October through May, the tour takes visitors throughout the developed portion of the port's 1,100 acres of property. Visitors get to visit the berths where ships dock, warehouses and storage and fuel yards.

Port Manatee is the only one of Florida's 15 deepwater ports that offer regular, scheduled tours for the public, said port spokeswoman Virginia Zimmermann.

When tours do resume, those interested in taking the tram tour must make reservations at least a week in advance. Groups are limited to 75 people. Visitors taking the tour must provide their dates of birth, contact information and photo identification. Tours can be booked at

SMR Farms names Bradshaw new president

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Gary Bradshaw has been named president of SMR Farms following Mac Carraway's recent departure.

Bradshaw, 63, was previously the production manager for the farm's sod and turf grass operation before he was offered the new position.

"This is a well-oiled machine," Bradshaw said of the farm's operation. "We're just going to do what we do best and that's provide a good quality product to our customers at a good price."

Bradshaw, a Parrish resident, has been in the sod and turf grass industry for 37 years.

Lisa Barnott, spokeswoman for Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, which owns SMR Farms, declined to comment on Carraway's departure. He had been with the company since 2004.

Local realtors paint the town 'RED'

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Keller Williams Realty, of Lakewood Ranch, closed offices for its annual RED Day last month.

Since 2009, Keller Williams RED day has been an initiative to renew, energize and donate through community service projects nationwide. This year, the Keller Williams Realty office of Lakewood Ranch chose to participate by helping local children in need. Sandra Van Such, with Home Inspections Plus, introduced Keller Williams to Everyday Blessings, Inc. last year.

Everyday Blessings is a licensed nonprofit child care agency that specializes in providing care for sibling groups. It is in the process of launching a program called Springboard for older children ages 18-

22. Where previously children age out of the foster care program at age 18, the Springboard program seeks to give these young adults more options and directional training for their future.

Associates Mary Mastro and Shari Norwick orchestrated the day's projects, which included painting, cleaning, landscaping, power washing, and beautifying the Everyday Blessings campus. Once the work was done, Keller Williams invited the children of Everyday Blessings to a Hoedown Celebration at Herschberger Farms.

--Herald staff reports

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