Ed Chiles turns over CEO role for The Chiles Group. Here’s who replaced him

The Chiles Group has a new chief executive officer, and for the first time since the company’s founding in 1979, it is not Ed Chiles.

The new CEO, Chuck Wolfe, brings more than 20 years of executive leadership experience to the job.

Most recently, he was a partner in Wolfe Kinkennon, a management consulting firm.

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Ed Chiles samples the arugula at Geraldson Farm Market. Bradenton Herald file photo

As CEO of The Chiles Group, which owns three restaurants, an organic farm, an aquaculture businesses and Gulf Coast real estate, Wolfe leads the company’s executive team and directs efforts to broaden its strategic vision and develop new projects.

“He has made a tremendous impact and moved the needle on everything he has done,” said Chiles, who remains as chairman and president of the company.

The Chiles Group employs more than 350 people at its Gulf Coast restaurants: The Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria; Beach House Waterfront Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach; and Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, 760 Broadway St., North Longboat Key.

In announcing the leadership transition, Chiles described Wolfe as a longtime friend and a natural leader. Wolfe had worked as a consultant to The Chiles Group over the past two years, leading Chiles to offer him the CEO post.

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Ed Chiles stands on the beach by his restaurant, the Sandbar, which was undergoing extensive renovations to the dining room in 2013. Bradenton Herald file photo

With Wolfe overseeing the company’s strategic agenda, Chiles said he can spend time focusing on big-picture projects.

“I’ve known Chuck since he served as an aide to my late father, Lawton Chiles, governor of Florida from 1991-98,” Chiles said. “He has a reputation for succeeding at anything he sets out to do.

“As CEO, Chuck will help us grow, better define our business plans and put us on solid footing as we chart the company’s future for years to come. We are lucky to have someone of such high caliber as Chuck join our team.”

Wolfe, 57, said he is excited to take the helm of The Chiles Group.

“I welcome the challenge of leading a company with diversified business interests ranging from restaurants to farming to aquaculture and real estate, all run with a commitment to sustainability,” he said.

“I also look forward to helping the company tell its unique story about being an environmentally responsible corporate citizen.”

His long-standing professional relationship with Chiles, the company’s commitment to sustainability, and the family atmosphere of The Chiles Groups were all factors in his decision to make a career change, he said.

Born in West Palm Beach, Wolfe is a 1985 graduate of Stetson University. He has worked in the private sector, in government and with nonprofits.

With the City of Miami on the verge of bankruptcy in 1996, Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed Wolfe as executive director of the oversight board tasked with helping steer the city back to financial stability.

The following year, Chiles again leaned on Wolfe’s leadership abilities and appointed him to oversee the implementation of a program created in the wake of Florida’s $11.3 billion settlement with four major tobacco companies.

Wolfe led the settlement-funded Florida Tobacco Pilot Program, an anti-tobacco media initiative that produced the provocative but effective “Truth Campaign” targeting youth aged 12 to 17.