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GrowJAX and ACG 'Companies to watch' focus
on human and financial capital

Posted on September 24, 2012


Four area business owners whose companies are designated for their economic growth and potential reflected Thursday about how they do what they do.

Their top drivers were human and financial capital or, in other words, people and money.

Ann Sabbag, president of Health Designs Inc., said it is imperative to assemble the best effective “human capital teams” to design the workplace wellness programs the company provides.

“It is imperative we get it right — 100 percent right,” she said.

Sabbag joined Adam Jorgenson, president of Pragmatic Works Consulting Inc. of Middleburg, Brad Whitchurch, chairman and CEO of Seal Shield LLC of Jacksonville, and Alan Worley, president and CEO of Money Pages, for the panel discussion.

Moderated by Carlton Robinson, executive director of the chamber’s Entrepreneurial Growth Division, the panel focused on second-stage issues.

Second-stage businesses are defined as privately held companies with 10-99 employees, annual revenues of $1 million to $49 million and a commitment to growth.

The panel was presented at a joint gathering of the Association for Corporate Growth North Florida Chapter and GrowJAX. It took place at The River Club.

The corporate growth association is a global organization of private equity professionals, investment bankers, attorneys, auditors, accountants, lenders, corporate development officers, company leaders and other financial professionals.

Robinson told the almost 65 people attending that “everyone in this room” shared a business focus that involved a commitment to Northeast Florida, customer service and a sustainable business model.

Along with people and money, the panelists talked about building and sustaining their brands and corporate reputations, developing and maintaining leadership, seeking and taking advice from mentors, generating cash flow and finding balance among work and home.

The four, in addition to Ben Gase, president and CEO of R2 Logistics of Jacksonville, are designated as “2012 Companies to Watch” by the Michigan-based Edward Lowe Foundation, which is focused on encouraging second-stage business growth.

Gase was invited but could not attend the panel discussion.

In addition to receiving the foundation recognition, Sabbag also is the U.S. Small Business Administration “2012 Small Business Person of the Year” for Florida as well as for the North Florida District.

Among the topics, questions and responses:

• Sustainability and growth requirements. Sabbag said hiring people with the appropriate skills, behavior, emotional intelligence and attitude was critical. She said another important element was to systemize the company’s processes as it grows.

• Client service models. Worley, president of Money Pages magazine, said his team meets with clients one-on-one to develop marketing ideas to help them “enhance and grow businesses.”

“We go above and beyond to be in front of our clients as much as we can,” he said.

The Money Pages magazine is published monthly and is filled with coupons for local businesses. It is mailed throughout Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Palm Coast and Amelia Island.

It also is delivered in Kingsland and St. Marys, Ga., and has licensee markets in South Carolina.

• Access to capital. Whitchurch, CEO of Seal Shield, said stage-two companies can be “a victim of our own success.”

He said determining adequate capital is a balancing act – acquiring money to grow quickly or relying on internal growth, also called organic growth.

“We got to the bottom of the well a few times,” Whitchurch said. The company worked with an angel equity firm in its early stage and Whitchurch suggests that companies find early-stage capital that understands the business.

And, he said, “the more successful you are, the more capital you need.”

Seal Shield designs, develops and manufactures medical grade, infection-prevention technology for hospitals and the home. Seal Shield reports its infection control products include patent-pending washable keyboards, mice and TV remote controls.

• What they worry about, or what wakes them up at night with a start. Jorgenson, president of Pragmatic Works Consulting, said his company is concerned with finding the right people.

Pragmatic Works is a technology company that provides training, tools and services customized for the Microsoft SQL Server stack. Jorgenson said compensation is tied to sales.

Worley said people are a concern, but also loyalty.

“You in this room, it’s important to me that you look in that magazine and get something you like,” he said.

Whitchurch said his wake-up moments come after busy days and he wakes up to “remember something I have to take care of.”

He said cash flow as well as “the time value of money and the money value of time” are concerns. He explained how orders produced in China are placed, filled and shipped and the time it can take.

They also said:

• Mentors, especially the Vistage Florida coaching, training and mentorship program, are needed.

“Not too many people tell you you’re crazy in your office,” Worley said. “But you need those people.”

• Balancing work and a personal life is important. “Living the life I intend to live,” Sabbag explained.

• As for waking up with a concern, “I didn’t know you were supposed to sleep at night,” Worley said.

Courtesy of Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor, Daily Record