I can tell you that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
I recently spoke with two men who truly reflect the excitement and energy that come from developing a business idea and working to make it a success.
What surprised me was that both men had retired after long, successful business careers, only to re-enter the world of business because they were lured by new opportunities.
One is Bob Daley, a longtime player in the marine industry and former president of the corporate Freedom Boat Clubs. He had moved to Sarasota to retire and then learned that the family investment group in Cincinnati that owned Freedom wanted to sell. That’s when his creative juices started to bubble, and he decided to give up a leisurely life of sun and fun for a chance to take over the company and make it grow.
You could hear the exuberance in his voice as he talked about the challenges ahead -- a still sluggish economy and a marine industry trying desperately to pull out of the recession.
He’s smiling all the way.
The other entrepreneur -- who also is refusing to walk into the sunset and simply relax and enjoy his retirement -- is Ken Hall, the new chief executive officer of Maelstrom Marine.
Hall has an impressive background of involvement in the design, engineering and production operations of the marine industry, as well as being a part of strategic finance and corporate management. His bio says he successfully masterminded the turnaround of fledgling lines such as Pro-Line Boats, Donzi Marine, Phoenix Yachts and SportCraft Boats and built them into brand leaders.
An admitted workaholic, Hall had some health problems and decided at 60 it was time to give retirement a twirl.
But after six years he realized, “I had no business retiring,” especially after getting excited about a new invention that he expects will make a big splash on a number of fronts: an electric water propulsion motor that looks like a miniature aircraft jet turbine engine.
It’s stimulating talking to true entrepreneurs and being energized by their enthusiasm.
You end up believing they could conquer the world.
They certainly make the world go round.