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BUSINESS BEAT: Company Roots: KEITH

Posted on 11 October 2018 by LeslieM

Periodic column on companies that grew up with our community

By Karen Lustgarten

When she was 13, Adolphine “Dodie” Keith remembers heading out on survey and mapping jobs with her father, William “Bill” Keith, along with his crew and watching how the work was done for construction projects.

Mr. Keith began making a mark on South Florida in 1956 when he joined the Broward County Engineering Department as a surveyor. Then, in 1972, he started the engineering firm Keith & Schnars. It would become synonymous with Broward’s growth.

His firm helped plan Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and bought the land and developed the route for the Sawgrass Expressway. It was responsible for planning Parkland and the redevelopment of Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach and Boca Raton. They surveyed 390 miles from Florida to Georgia and bought 4,000 parcels of land for a Florida Power & Light transmission line.

In 1998, Mr. Keith established Keith & Associates, his own Pompano Beach-based civil engineering, planning, surveying firm. Daughter Dodie grew up to become a professional surveyor and mapper working in that capacity for her father.

By the time Mr. Keith died in 2006, he had spent his life working towards the development and improvement of the south Florida community and giving back to it, helping improve the county’s infrastructure and way of life. Dodie Keith-Lazowick succeeded her father as company president and managing principal.

Under her leadership, KEITH, as the firm has been rebranded, has grown to include civil engineering, surveying and mapping, subsurface utility engineering (SUE), urban & comprehensive planning, landscaping, permitting, construction management and construction engineering inspection.

I work in the development field, so believe growth is good,” she said. “Dad always taught me respect for the community. I try to make projects better for both the residents and the city.”

The Ft. Lauderdale airport, a key KEITH client since her father’s early days, is a case in preservation. A huge African Baobab tree was set to be cut down when a new airport runway was being planned. Dodie proposed a slight redesign shift in the runway plans that preserved the historic tree.

Dodie helped draft the Pompano Beach 2020 business plan and Mayor Fisher’s stimulus task force. Her firm helped raise funds and advocated to pass the Pompano Beach bond referendum for capital improvement projects that will revitalize the city.

KEITH is at work on several major construction projects you are witnessing around Pompano Beach to revitalize the city. Successful advocates for permitting and approvals, staff has coordinated the site plan approval process through the city and provided civil engineering design, project management, permitting coordination, planning, surveying, construction management, infrastructure convergence and roadway improvements, assessments and recommendations.

Among the projects you notice are the following: the pedestrian-friendly Pompano Beach Blvd. streetscape, Old Pompano Area streetscape improvements, as part of the Downtown Connectivity Plan, MLK Jr. Blvd. streetscape improvements, MLK Blvd., the Pier Parking Garage, John Knox Village and in-kind site design services to preserve the Sample-McDougald historic House/Museum.

Coming up: The new Mullet Alley — turning an existing parking lot in the Old Pompano area into a lively plaza — awaiting the site plan design and development approval.

I enjoy Pompano Beach. It has a different feel than other cities and we want our own distinct city identity in South Florida,” says Dodie. “Pompano Beach is a community-based and family-oriented place. Our parks and roadway projects, for example, help give our city its own identity as a community.”

As a business community leader, Bill Keith was committed to causes he cared about such as the Broward Urban River Trails and homelessness. He was founding chair of Broward Partnership for the Homeless helping people stabilize their lives. Dodie is the 2018 board chair and a fundraiser.

Dodie’s son Alex and daughter Elizabeth serve as third generation professionals at KEITH. Alex Lazowick, a civil engineer, is executive vice president, and Elizabeth, with a marketing degree, is corporate manager, overseeing more than 100 employees in five state offices. They are committed to the company values established by their grandfather and mother. With young children of his own, Alex sits on the board of the Parks Foundation of Broward County, raising funds for Broward County parks.

The business transition plan has the 3rd generation taking over KEITH with Alex stepping into his mother’s role as president, “so, hopefully, I can sit on Pompano Beach watching the sunrise,” said Dodie.

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a bestselling author. www.multi-mediaworks.com

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BUSINESS BEAT: Companies that care: Giving back locally

Posted on 13 September 2018 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

Hundreds of companies headquartered in our readership area generously give back to their communities, making them better places to live and work. Here’s a peek at three in different cities representing different industries with a commitment to different causes.

JM Family Enterprises, Deerfield Beach

For more than 30 years, children and families in Deerfield Beach have been the recipients of many corporate giving programs financed by JM Family Enterprises, the privately-owned diversified automotive company founded by Jim Moran. Seeing a need in the neighborhood, JM Family built and funds a Boys & Girls Club with staffed after school programs, along with a forthcoming teen center to provide activities and education addressing teen needs.

Down the street is the Youth Automotive Training Center that JM built to help young people learn everything about the automotive industry — business, selling, fixing and maintaining cars. Here school drop-outs can receive their GED, life skills, job skills training and job placement upon graduation. Several have been hired at JM Lexus.

Along with other community partners, last year JM Family helped build a KaBOOM! playground in a day at the Hillsboro Community Center. The company hosts an annual Teachers Tote Supplies Giveaway there. Teachers from local schools pick up tote bags filled with school supplies they need. JM also ships reams of paper to their schools. In addition, they give away supplies at a BSO event for Back to School.

Said Kim Bentley, assistant vice president of Corporate Philanthropy, “We are continuing Jim Moran’s philosophy about sharing time, talent and resources.”

Bluegreen Vacations Corporation, Boca Raton

A timeshare properties company headquartered in Boca Raton, Bluegreen is a division of parent company BBX Capital, which has supported Florida charities since 1994 with direct funding, in-kind donations and paid employee-volunteer hours.

Bluegreen extends its “share happiness” motto to local charities helping children and families, and education causes, says Lois Marino, director of Community Engagement for BBX Capital & Retail Brand. For example: How do students in grades K-12 learn about survival business skills and workforce readiness? Bluegreen is a major donor to the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce’s Golden Bell Education Foundation, a non-profit that administers educational programs promoting business skills and workforce readiness in the Boca Raton public schools.

Where can families dealing with a crisis or serious illness get a break? At a retreat. Bluegreen partners with the non-profit Deliver the Dream to provide three-day/two-night accommodations at its timeshare properties for families and volunteers participating in the non-profit’s retreat program.

Other community non-profits Bluegreen and BBX Capital have longtime commitments to include Junior Achievement, Boca Helping Hands, Cystic Fibrosis and JDRF. (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

Share Happiness” is not just Bluegreen’s motto, says Marino, “It is in the DNA of our commitment to social responsibility and philanthropy, too.”

Danto Builders, Ft. Lauderdale

For Craig and Debbie Danto, their company giving program for people with special abilities is personal. Debbie’s grandfather founded an organization in Ohio to help his son with Down’s Syndrome partake in work, sports and social skills development.

I remember how much joy my uncle got out of it,” said Debbie. “He was so innocent and sweet, such a loving, beautiful person who enjoyed all the activities.”

Her parents continued the program as it grew and now Debbie and her husband, who’s nephew also has Down’s Syndrome, are carrying on the family tradition and legacy locally. The couple are honorary board members of Special Olympics, and board members of the Florida Design and Construction Professionals. Danto proposed to the professional organization that members approve a fundraiser for Special Olympics.

Oct. 2 will mark the 5th Annual Florida Design & Construction Professionals/Danto Builders Special Olympics Big Bad BBQ. The all-you-can-eat fundraiser with 600 attending, including Special Olympians, is held at the Danto Builder’s parking lot from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Everything is donated or sponsored by local businesses: food, wine, beverages, grills, music, door prizes, auction items. Last year, the event raised $35,000 for 6,100 Special Olympics athletes and 23 year-round sports programs. The goal this year is $50,000, says Danto. A local family’s legacy grows on.

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a best-selling author. www.multimediaworks.com

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BUSINESS BEAT: Revitalizing Pompano Beach

Posted on 09 August 2018 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

Horacio Danovich sits in a conference room at the Pompano Beach City Hall surrounded by maps, master plans and diagrams pinned to the walls. The illustrations reveal the farsighted future of Pompano Beach. As manager of the city’s capital improvement programs, he holds the revitalization development vision of the city/CRA partnership putting Pompano Beach on the desirable destination map with innovations from “Smart City” concepts. In fact, revitalization of the 260-acre downtown area will feature one 70-acre section called the Innovation District. Here, most of the city/CRA-owned land parcels are ripe and poised for development right now.

Think designed navigable waterway systems and drainage between I-95 and Dixie Highway and MLK Jr. and W. Atlantic Boulevards. Inspired by Amsterdam’s canals, residents and visitors will be able to kayak, canoe and paddleboard along the waterways. These will be bordered by landscaped biking lanes and pedestrian walkways inspired by San Antonio’s The Riverwalk.

Picture a surrounding hub of mixed-use commercial office/retail buildings, restaurants, residential dwellings and cultural attractions. The goal of this urban design vision is to develop an enjoyable, livable urban area that’s functional and attractive to businesses and residents, and promote connections between people and places with surrounding communities.

This is a unique type of urban design that does not exist in the State of Florida today,” said Danovich. “As a result, agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will have a difficult time evaluating and permitting it for its intended mixed-use.”

He estimates two years for the design and permitting process before construction can begin in the Innovation District, then another two years to build it for a grand total of approximately $750 million (for the entire Innovation District.)

Thus we caught Danovich up to his elbows in federal grant applications to the U.S. Economic Development Administration: $2.5 million toward the first $5 million for the designs of the waterway systems, roadways, bridges, sidewalks, landscaping, lighting, underground utilities and permitting.

If he builds it, will they come? Indeed, the Innovation District Project could generate an estimated 4,000 jobs, he estimates.

The city is moving very fast in the right direction, ripe for redevelopment,” says Mr. Danovich.

Among the construction companies revitalizing the pier and the Atlantic Boulevard bridge are Burkhardt, West, Murray Logan and Whiting-Turner. Brandon Rhodes, Burkhardt Construction’s project manager, described the scope of work for the bridge and some challenges with the project. The bridge renovation will feature cantilever walkways underneath, a renovated tender house, decorative fish murals, decorative Wyoming rails, new lighting fixtures and the stunning showpiece — four 50-ft. high tensile sails at each corner of the bridge.

An initial challenge is creating the tensile structure sails on large posts and the construction of a foundation for each post,” he said.

The construction requires potholing existing utilities — hand digging along with machinery down to existing utilities in-ground, then evaluating if the existing utilities are in conflict with location changes needed.

West Construction has begun a yearlong project demolishing and rebuilding the outdated Fire Station 24 that borders Pompano Beach Airpark on NE 10th street. The new two-story fire station will service both the airport and surrounding community with updated equipment and alert systems.

This project has its site challenges, such as working in a fairly tight space with FAA regulations imposing height restrictions for cranes. Nonetheless, notes Michael Lilly, project manager, “It is in a key location that will help toward the revitalization of Pompano Beach. The community really needs it.”

Pompano Beach is positioned like Ft. Lauderdale and Delray Beach were 20 to 30 years ago,” says Danovich, “except we learned from their mistakes.”

For more information about the Pompano Beach revitalization projects visit www.pompanobeachfl.gov/pages/files.

Karen Lustgarten is President of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She won awards for writing/producing videos and for website content. Karen founded a newspaper in Washington, DC and was a syndicated columnist and best-selling author. www.multi-mediaworks.com.

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BUSINESS BEAT: Leadership North Broward explores North Broward’s economic engines

Posted on 08 July 2018 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

Ever wonder what the restricted areas in North Broward’s top industries are like? What makes big businesses and government entities in this region tick and how can you get private backstage tour tickets to them? Leadership North Broward (LNB), in conjunction with the Greater Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce, is the way. This executive local leadership program is designed to inform and empower participants to greater business success by connecting with government and business decision makers in the region.

One day a month for seven months, Leadership North Broward 2018 participants have been experiencing a full itinerary of seminars, field trips and restricted guided tours through the inner workings of eight different industry sectors that impact our region economically, including tourism, public service (police, S.W.A.T. team, fire-rescue tours), health services (inner workings of area hospitals), local and regional government day, big businesses (Whole Foods docking/deliveries) and education entities.

June’s industry field trip featured transportation sites: two executive airports and Port Everglades — not the popular cruise side, but the restricted cargo side.

Did you know that 60 percent of Pompano Beach Air Park, the executive airport for private aircraft, is devoted to flight training with helicopters and small planes? It also provides aircraft rentals and charters, scenic rides, aerial photography and mapping/surveying. Steve Rocco, Air Park manager, traced the 71-year history and importance of the facility to the local area, including air ambulance and search/rescue services.

The Air Park also is home to storage hangers, aircraft sales, maintenance and avionics repairs when planes break down. And, the next time you see the Goodyear Blimp in the sky, know that its hangar home is adjacent to the Air Park.

Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport, in contrast, handles large private planes up to 737s. LNB participants were treated to an interactive presentation by the airport’s Assistant Manager Carlton Harrison and Karen Reese about the history and growth of this economic engine on June 21. Did you know that the executive airport has its own police substation, a U.S. Customs and Border protection facility, 24-hour airport security, a 24-hour FAA Air Traffic Control Tower, 24-hour aircraft rescue and firefighting services? It’s also Foreign Trade Zone 241, which means big duty-free benefits to companies here doing international business.

We were driven around this general aviation city within a city with 5,100 employees. Noteworthy was the discussion about excellent career opportunities in aviation, especially at the airport. Both executives emphasized the need for college graduates in airport-related fields and the partnerships forming with local colleges to ensure more graduates enter this field.

An escorted bus tour of Port Everglades’ highly restricted cargo area ended the day. This powerhouse port does more than $22 billion in trade with the world. We were treated to a backstage guided tour covering acres of cargo area where complex cranes and equipment were moving and stacking huge containers that come off ships.

A trip to the top of the Harbor Master Tower, the air traffic control tower of the sea, topped the day. The harbor master shared how he monitors, on multiple large computer screens, hundreds of ships coming, going and docked at the port, along with activity in and around it. The sophisticated operation in his perch with a 360-degree view was impressive.

Participant Johnathan Saluk, from American Credit Card Processing, found the experience worthwhile.

You get to see places and businesses you normally don’t see and it’s good networking with members in the group,” he said. “Every day we went out there was so much going on behind the scenes like at the docks, the satellite beacons, the new technology at the Broward Sherriff’s office.”

The next Leadership North Broward starts January 2019. Applications are accepted now. LNB costs $600 for members of the chamber and $1000 for non-members. But it is $350 for an annual Chamber membership, so you get both for the price of one and save $50! For more information/registration call the Greater Pompano Beach Chamber at 954-946-2940 or e-mail Cagnone@pompanobeachchamber.com.

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She has won awards for writing/producing videos for businesses and nonprofits, and for website content. Karen founded a newspaper in Washington, DC and was a syndicated columnist. www.multi-mediaworks.com.

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