2015 Members

Emad Abduljaber


Upon high school graduation, Emad Abduljaber immigrated to the United States from Kuwait in pursuit of the American Dream. He soon graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and embarked on a distinguished career in sales. During his nine-year sales career with Circuit City, Emad received the company’s “Salesman of the Year Award” seven times.

Emad’s entrepreneurial background began in 2004 when founded a beauty supply business called Unique Hair and Beauty Supply. Later, he developed an interest in wholesale and seized the opportunity to enter the paper industry in 2013. Emad’s current business, Prime Paper Distributors, specializes in supplying thermal and janitorial paper products to the trade. His goal is to build loyal customers by providing the highest level of personalized customer service, along with a broad selection of the best paper products available.

Emad describes himself as ambitious and hardworking small business owner who constantly strives to learn more about his industry and about being an entrepreneur. He enjoys volunteering his time as a Sunday school teacher and organizing events to benefit children. Emad speaks two languages and is working on a third. He and his wife have three children and reside in Jacksonville, Florida.

Erica Benson


Erica Benson is passionate about helping people get just the right style for their pet while keeping the animals happy and comfortable. She and her mother and business partner, Lynn Lamoureux, own and operate Green Dog Spa, a pet grooming salon focusing on the natural approach to animal health and nutrition. The salon provides grooming as well as healthy food and treats for the family pet.

Erica holds a master’s degree in communication from Florida State University. She is also certified through the National Dog Groomers Association of America in the non-sporting and sporting groups. This certification process is not required in the grooming industry, but it was important to Erica to learn as much as possible about maintaining the safety of animals and delivering the highest level of care to her customers’ best friends. She encourages her team members to follow her example. Pet grooming is truly Erica’s passion, and she finds creative and personal growth opportunities in running the business.

The team at Green Dog Spa takes every opportunity to give back to the community. They partner with local businesses including Pawfection Bakery, City Dog Photography and Lulu’s Collars, Etc., and they donate grooming services to several local community groups like K9s for Warriors. Erica is also an active member of Women Business Owners of North Florida.

Peter Booras


Peter Booras has been a pilot, a massage therapist, a computer consultant and a medical practice owner, but none of his past experiences have been as rewarding as his current endeavor. Peter and his wife, Anne, own Bravo School of Dance & Theater, a dance studio teaching ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop and contemporary/modern dance to children and teens. Peter describes running the dance studio as being “rewarding to his soul.”

While his background is varied, entrepreneurship has been a common theme in Peter’s career path. He acquired his pilot’s license at age 21and started an airplane detail service at age 23. In 1990, he started a computer consulting business and has been active with web design, web hosting and network consulting ever since. Peter began working in the physical therapy rehabilitation business and opened his company, Physical Therapy First, Inc., in 1994. He operated three successful physical therapy clinics in Jacksonville for 13 years, during which time he attained his neuromuscular massage therapy license. Peter was also a drummer and the manager of a successful local band that toured around the southeast region of the United States, producing two CDs with world­wide sales.

Peter and Anne opened Bravo School of Dance & Theater in 2006. Combining Peter’s business experience with Anne’s dance background, they are focused on attracting the most qualified instructors and fostering a love of dance among their young students.

Josh Cordle


When Josh Cordle joined his uncle at his masonry business in Yulee at age 18, he was the newest employee who had to learn the ropes and work his way up the ladder. Today, he owns and operates the growing business, which specializes in building brick projects ranging from mailboxes to homes to schools.

Josh started at Cordle Masonry as an entry-level employee. He spent his first year on the job paying close attention to all aspects of the business, from how to read blueprints to how to bid on projects. Soon, Josh was the lead mason and a job supervisor, and he was running the business’ field operations business for his uncle.

Josh purchased Cordle Masonry in 2009, and the thriving business employs as many as 22 people at a given time. Josh now employs a foreman to oversee projects so that he can focus more of his time on growing and managing the business. He is joined in the business office by his aunt, who has helped with office functions since the business was established.

In his free time Joshua likes to enjoy the outdoors with his wife, Michele, and their two dogs, going hiking and camping.

Florence Diapo


Florence Diapo is the President of Allergen Free Shop, an online retailer selling vegetable-tanned shoes, boots and handbags. Florence’s leather products are eco-friendly and contain no chrome, toxins or other allergens, making them suitable for people with multiple allergies.

Florence holds a master’s degree in nursing from San Juan De Dios College of Nursing in Manila, Philippines. She worked as a nurse in the United States until she was diagnosed with a latex allergy, which made it impossible to work in a health care setting. Later, she discovered allergies to two chemicals used in traditional leather tanning, potassium dichromate and chrome.

In need of a career change and desperate to find products that she could wear without pain, Florence started her online business, Allergen Free Shop, in 2011. She now imports European leather goods, which do not use harsh chemicals. Florence plans to expand and open a brick-and-mortar retail store in Jacksonville in 2015.

In addition to providing allergy-free products, Florence educates her customers about their allergies and offers support to those who are newly diagnosed with any allergic diseases. She describes her online business as a new way to connect with and care for those with health issues and to be a patient advocate, even though she can no longer work in a traditional health care environment.

Florence loves Jacksonville, where she has lived for 30 years. She has two grown children who live nearby, and she enjoys shopping, eating out, and spending quality time with friends.

Gary DiStefano


Gary DiStefano is the chief executive officer of both Rhino Pro Floors and the new franchise, Garage Living. Gary got his start in business by helping to grow his father’s flooring company into being part of a successful franchise group. In 2008, he opened Rhino Pro Floors, providing commercial and residential concrete floor coatings. As Rhino Pro Floors has enjoyed solid growth in improving garages on the first coast, Gary saw an opportunity to add new garage organization products to his mix. He purchased the first United States franchise of Garage Living and plans to open a showroom in April 2015.

Rhino Pro Floors is a market leader in fast-curing, ultra-strong concrete coating for garage floors, walkways, patios, warehouses, offices and retail showrooms. They also offer overlays and traditional flooring. Garage Living offers everything needed to create an organized, custom garage interior, including cabinetry, wall organizers and overhead storage, garage doors and car lifts. Gary’s team is trained to help their clients thoughtfully select the perfect products for their space and also to install and maintain them. Gary understands the value in creating usable and functional spaces, which are extensions of the home or office. After more than 20 years in the flooring industry, Gary feels that he is poised for success by making Northeast Florida beautiful, one garage at a time.

Gary is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He and his wife, Melissa, live in Atlantic Beach, where Gary spends as much time as possible scuba diving.

Bobby Dooley


Bobby Dooley is the chief executive officer of Precision Cleaning & More, LLC, a licensed, bonded and insured cleaning service, which serves both residential and commercial clients. Bobby and his wife, Ashley, founded the business in 2006. At Precision Cleaning & More, cleaning is viewed as more than just a service. Bobby and his team know that having a clean, sanitized and organized space creates a sense of serenity, reduces stress and fosters a lighter, more positive environment at home or at work.

The Precision Cleaning & More client experience begins when a team of professional, uniformed employees, who are background-checked and drug-tested, arrive in a branded company vehicle. With more than 15 years of cleaning industry experience, Bobby ensures that his team treats each client’s location like it was their own. With this approach, Precision Cleaning & More has grown to service homes, new construction and existing commercial and government buildings. They offer residential maid service, move in and out cleaning, new and post-construction cleaning, commercial and janitorial cleaning and more.

Bobby and Ashley live in Jacksonville with their two sons. They enjoy attending church, playing backyard football and attending local sporting events. Bobby is also a race car driver, and he looks forward to racing in the 2015 season at Florida’s short tracks, including the NASCAR home track, New Smyrna Speedway.

Dana Edmonds


Dana Edmonds’ greatest passion is serving others through her words and actions. As the franchisee of The Tutoring Club of Jacksonville, she pursues that passion daily, as her business provides individualized instruction in math, reading, writing, study skills, and SAT and ACT preparation for children and teens.

Through tutoring sessions, The Tutoring Club of Jacksonville helps improve school grades and raise the academic level of students. Dana’s business success is directly related to the success of her student clients, and this is a point of pride and daily gratification for her. The Tutoring Club of Jacksonville has been named “Top Ten New Franchise of the Year,” as well as “Top 20 Franchise” and “Top Growth Franchise” since its opening in 2009.

With her passion for people, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit, Dana piloted a foundation called “Yes I Did!” in the fall of 2013. “Yes I Did!” celebrates people and their achievements and provides inspiration through positivity.

Dana is a graduate of the University of North Florida. She and her husband, Steve, have two adult children and live in Jacksonville.

Marco Fortini


As founder of Optimum Spring Manufacturing, Marco Fortini oversees the company’s day-to-day operations, as well as the technical and business strategies. An entrepreneur and system architect, Marco balances technology, creativity and people to constantly develop solutions for his clients.

With the support of his family’s knowledge and experience in the spring manufacturing industry, Marco founded Optimum Spring in 2007. Today, his service-oriented company produces the highest quality custom wire springs and distributes them worldwide to companies such as Goodyear, Rolls Royce, IBM and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force.

He believes that patience and careful planning have allowed for smooth transitions and helped to create the stability that the business enjoys today. Marco enjoys solving the short- and long-term challenges that the spring manufacturing industry offers and is passionate about learning, expanding and working in a team environment.

Marco attributes his company’s success to his customer-centered philosophy with a steadfast commitment to personalized service and support, as well as offering the highest quality and most consistent products, fast delivery and competitive prices. This philosophy enables all Optimum Spring employees to work comfortably and enjoy their customer and supplier interactions while they help make the community a better place.

Dr. Joanna Frantz


Dr. Joanna Frantz is the owner of In Motion Physical Therapy and a practicing physical therapist. Joanna holds both a doctoral and master’s degree from the Washington University School of Medicine Program in Physical Therapy, which is regularly ranked as the top physical therapy program in the United States.

Joanna, who has spent most of her career in outpatient orthopedic physical therapy, was initially trained in outpatient neurological rehabilitation. She brings this strong understanding of the neuromuscular pathways to orthopedics to create a comprehensive treatment philosophy, which addresses the body as a whole and uses the most relevant techniques for each patient. Joanna mainly specializes in rehabilitation for the active, aging adult population. She helps her patients, who are recovering from impairments such as joint replacements, back pain, postural difficulties, and gait and balance disorders, return to an active, healthy lifestyle.

In Motion Physical Therapy is in its eighth year in business, and they now offer “In Motion Aquatic Therapy.” The aquatic therapy program takes place in a heated, handicap-accessible indoor pool, in which each patient works one-on-one with a physical therapist.

Joanna is an active member of the JAX Chamber and the state and national chapters of the American Physical Therapy Association. She was named the “2012 Small Business Leader of the Year” for the Jacksonville Beaches Division of the JAX Chamber. Joanna spends her free time with her family enjoying the beach, rollerblading with her dogs and teaching her daughter about the world around her.

Dr. Joanna Frantz


Dr. Joanna Frantz is the owner of In Motion Physical Therapy and a practicing physical therapist. Joanna holds both a doctoral and master’s degree from the Washington University School of Medicine Program in Physical Therapy, which is regularly ranked as the top physical therapy program in the United States.

Joanna, who has spent most of her career in outpatient orthopedic physical therapy, was initially trained in outpatient neurological rehabilitation. She brings this strong understanding of the neuromuscular pathways to orthopedics to create a comprehensive treatment philosophy, which addresses the body as a whole and uses the most relevant techniques for each patient. Joanna mainly specializes in rehabilitation for the active, aging adult population. She helps her patients, who are recovering from impairments such as joint replacements, back pain, postural difficulties, and gait and balance disorders, return to an active, healthy lifestyle.

In Motion Physical Therapy is in its eighth year in business, and they now offer “In Motion Aquatic Therapy.” The aquatic therapy program takes place in a heated, handicap-accessible indoor pool, in which each patient works one-on-one with a physical therapist.

Joanna is an active member of the JAX Chamber and the state and national chapters of the American Physical Therapy Association. She was named the “2012 Small Business Leader of the Year” for the Jacksonville Beaches Division of the JAX Chamber. Joanna spends her free time with her family enjoying the beach, rollerblading with her dogs and teaching her daughter about the world around her.

Michael Griffiths


Michael Griffiths is the owner and director of operations for Any Lab Test Now, a direct-access laboratory services company providing a wide range of lab tests, like medical and wellness testing, toxicology and DNA analysis. Michael has a background in health care, and he manages all aspects of his business. Because patients do not need insurance or a doctor’s referral to order a lab test from his company, Michael feels that Any Lab Test Now allows individuals to take control of their health.

Michael is a graduate from the electrical engineering program from the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. Before opening Any Lab Test Now, he spent 20 years as a commodities trader for several public power companies in the southeast United States.

Michael is committed to being involved with community and professional organizations. He is a member of the JAX Chamber and the First Coast Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and he has served on the board of directors for both the Arlington Council and the Health Council of the JAX Chamber. Michael is the current chairman of the community involvement committee for the Health Council, and he has done volunteer work for Hubbard House, We Care, The Sulzbacher Clinic, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Michael lives in the Mandarin area of Jacksonville. In his free time, he enjoys boating and playing golf.

Andrea I. Hart


Passionate, determined and driven are a few words describing Andrea I. Hart, the CEO of Agapelife Health Group, LLC, dba BrightStar Care of the Beaches & Ponte Vedra. BrightStar is a medical staffing and home care agency offering in-home care and home health services to adults and children. BrightStar has provided services to Jacksonville’s largest corporations and medical facilities. Under the leadership of Andrea and her husband Royce, BrightStar has experienced explosive growth and employed more than 100 caregivers in the Northeast Florida area.

Andrea has more than 17 years’ experience in the area of health, including behavioral health research (stateside and abroad), health education, corporate health and wellness, spirituality and health, and health care management. Andrea is committed to inspiring others to live their best life now in her career and in the community. In 2010, Andrea founded Virtuous Excellence, a faith-based nonprofit organization, whose mission is to provide empowerment, education and growth to women and adolescent girls.

Andrea has an educational background in psychology and pre-medicine, and she holds a master’s degree in public health and a ministerial degree in pastoral care. She is attending the University of North Florida, pursuing a doctorate of education in educational leadership with a specialization in health care policy and management. Andrea was a college athlete and All-American sprinter. She is an avid runner and enjoys playing tennis in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Royce. Andrea is an inspiring writer, speaker and author. Her work can be found online and in print.

James K. (Jimmy) Johns


James K. (Jimmy) Johns founded Solid Rock Engineering Consultants Inc. in 2004. The firm performs the civil engineering planning, design and permitting services needed for construction projects throughout the Southeastern United States. These projects include new and expanding industrial, commercial, residential, educational and nonprofit developments.

With more than 20 years of professional engineering and business development experience, Jimmy takes pride in delivering great results. He credits his team’s innovative ideas and meticulous attention to detail in helping save his clients time and money. By doing projects right the first time, they avoid costly problems during construction and for decades to come. Jimmy refers to this philosophy as “civil engineering from the ground down.”

Jimmy has been practicing civil engineering since 1992. He received his civil engineering degree from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in applied physics from Jacksonville University. He is very active in various civic and industry organizations. Jimmy was selected the 2010 Downtown Council Small Business Leader of the Year for the JAX Chamber.

Jimmy lives in St. Johns, Florida with his wife Kathy. Their three daughters have graduated and now work in Florida, Mississippi and South Korea. Fortunately, they enjoy traveling in their free time. Jimmy is an active member in the Rotary Club of Mandarin, the Jax Chamber, JAXUSA, Fruit Cove Baptist Church, Habitat for Humanity and Echota Cherokee Tribe.

Rosalind Marshall Jones


Rosalind Marshall Jones is the chief executive officer of Jacksonville’s Best Caregivers. Rosalind has grown her company from a one-woman operation to employing more than a dozen workers in a few short years. Rosalind started in the caregiving business by helping a friend who needed part-time help remaining independent. As her relationship with her friend deepened, so did Rosalind’s knowledge of the caregiving business. Seeing Rosalind’s success, other friends who were also caregivers began asking for her assistance with business office functions. Having the courage to take the next step in her business, Rosalind began recruiting patients and employees of her own in 2009.

Inspired by her mother’s business and character, Rosalind has grown as a CEO and has taken Jacksonville’s Best Caregivers to become one of the top quality in-home care service for seniors in the Northeast Florida region. Whether helping seniors with their independence, assisting injured patients back to self-reliance or providing assistance near the end of life, Jacksonville’s Best Caregivers focuses on providing the safest personalized services for each client.

Rosalind is a graduate of Southern University A & M College and University of Phoenix, and she was an instructor at Louisiana State University. Rosalind and her husband, Dr. Floyd B. Jones, live in Jacksonville and spend most of their free time giving back to the community. They are actively involved in their church, Unity Christian Fellowship Ministry, where her husband is the pastor. They also run two other businesses: Alpha & Omega Quality Cleaning Services and Unity Development Center.

Saundra Jones


When Saundra Jones founded her air conditioning, heating, ventilation and commercial refrigeration (HVAC & R) company in 2002, she had a background in business but no real experience in the HVAC & R industry. Today, Alpine Air, Inc. has grown to serve more than 4,000 clients, and Saundra can often be found on the job sites assisting her personnel. Being a woman HVAC & R business owner with extensive knowledge of the industry’s products, parts, systems, procedures, air quality, air distribution and business efficiencies, puts Saundra in a very unique position in Northeast Florida.

Alpine Air specializes in service, repair, installation and maintenance of all brands of residential, commercial and industrial/process HVAC & R equipment. Saundra and her husband, A.J., who also works in the company, believe that having the best-trained staff sets the business apart in the eyes of her clients, so the Alpine Air team is factory trained and background checked. Saundra touts this approach in her company’s tagline, “We sweat, so you don’t!”

Saundra describes her path to success as having led the business through start-up, survival, restructure, and growth. She holds an associate degree in applied sciences in business administration and is a strong supporter of the advancement of women in all areas of business, often serving as a mentor. Saundra supports organizations that strive for advancement, independence, financial growth, and the entrepreneurial spirit.

Saundra lives in Jacksonville with her husband and co-worker, A.J., daughter Sydney, nephew John, and their variety of pets.

Curt Kinder


Curt Kinder is the managing engineer at Greener Solutions Air, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) company putting to work decades of building, management, accounting, engineering and HVAC experience to deliver high performance, deep energy conservation solutions to both new and existing homes and light commercial buildings.

In his lead role at Greener Solutions Air, Curt wears many hats. Among them are “Efficiency Guru” and “Chief Skeptic.” With 22 years working on factory automation and 20 years as a professional engineer, Curt is considered one of the top energy efficiency specialists in the region. Greener Solutions Air delivers projects that are data-driven and based upon the latest building science and energy performance tools, instruments, and systems. In addition to their HVAC projects, they also routinely conduct blower door tests and investment-grade energy audits.

Curt’s expertise allows him to truly address the building as a system, incorporating building envelope improvements to insulation and infiltration, fenestration, as well as premium HVAC systems, the latest water heating technologies, high-efficiency lighting and cutting edge pool pumps. His surveys, audits, and projects encompass every energy center within and outside the building.

Curt received his Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. An avid boater, Curt holds a current U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license. He assists the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit by patrolling Black Creek and other boating hot spots around Clay County during weekends and holidays.

Nikki Lewis


Nikki Lewis is co-owner and vice president of Advanced Cardiac Training (ACT), Northeast Florida’s leading provider of official American Heart Association ® training.

Nikki and her business partner, Tricia Booker, founded ACT in 2011 as a resource for health care professionals and workplace safety advocates. ACT has since grown into the region’s largest independent provider of CPR, first aid and emergency cardiac care classes. Last year, more than 3,000 students earned their American Heart Association® certifications at ACT’s state-of-the -art training facility in Jacksonville Beach.

Nikki says that being able to give her students the confidence to know what to do in an emergency situation is a special gift and is the main reason she started her business. It also provides daily motivation to give ACT’s students an outstanding educational experience.

Nikki is a lifelong resident of Jacksonville. She is a 2005 graduate of the University of North Florida’s Coggin College of Business Administration. While earning her degrees, Nikki became a certified real estate appraiser, and she has worked as an appraiser since 1998 at Hileman Appraisal Group. In 2008, Nikki became a real estate sales associate for Boselli Clark Realty. Nikki and her husband, Duke Lewis, have two school-age children, Bryce and Kendal.

Kirt Lynch


Kirt Lynch is the owner of Lynch Cycles, and in 2015 he will open an adjoining motorcycle-themed restaurant, called A1A Biker Café. Lynch Cycles is a specialty motorcycle and dirt bike shop, which sells and distributes motorcycles and parts and services an array of vehicles, including four-wheelers, scooters, off-road bikes and, of course, motorcycles.

By age 13, Kirt was an entrepreneur, with a paper route, a lawn-mowing business, and experience in firewood sales. In his teenage years, Kirt earned significant experience as a mechanic’s apprentice and a body shop technician. When he got his first motorcycle at age 15, he knew he was hooked. Kirt opened his first motorcycle dealership before college.

A well-known racer in the motocross field, Kirt has raced up and down the east coast, in every county in Florida, and on the Isle of Man in Europe. Although he has been racing and running dealerships for nearly half a century, Kirt has always dreamed of opening a bike-themed restaurant.

This dream will come true in 2015, when Kirt opens A1A Biker Café, which will adjoin his current dealership on Mayport Road in Atlantic Beach. An art and sculpture student in college, Kirt has custom fabricated all of the café’s furniture from old motorcycle parts. He expects the café to be “the number-one biker dining destination” in Northeast Florida, which will bring in new customers, foster loyalty from current customers and create an exciting new income stream for his twenty-year-old business.

Jeremy MacDonald


Jeremy MacDonald founded First Coast Industrial (FCI) in 2011. He is an expert in providing material handling and industrial supply solutions, which help his clients to increase safety awareness, reduce operating costs and increase company revenues. FCI supplies industrial clients with forklift parts, pallet rack and shelving, dock equipment and accessories, safety equipment, industrial warehouse products and locker, workspace and storage products.

Jeremy attributes his company’s success as a vendor for large companies like Interline Brands, CEVA Logistics, Honeywell, Henry Schein and Trend Offset Printing, along with eight federal contracts, to his dedication to providing a genuine and positive customer experience with every single engagement.

Jeremy has spent 25 years providing unmatched, unwavering and genuine customer service across several industries. To stay inspired in his business, he reads a quote every day by Mahatma Gandhi, as it speaks to his philosophy on service. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Jeremy graduated from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Transportation/Logistics in 2000. He is a member of the Propeller Club of Jacksonville and a current member of the board of directors of St. Paul’s Catholic School in Jacksonville Beach. Jeremy had dreams of playing professional golf, which did not quite come true, but he is an avid angler and member of the Florida Lure Anglers Club in Jacksonville.

Doug Mueller


Doug Mueller and his wife, Tomoko, moved from Japan and settled in Jacksonville in 2003. During his years in Japan, Doug grew fond of the Japanese food and culture. While he looked for opportunities for entrepreneurship in Jacksonville, Doug knew he wanted a business based on the Japanese lifestyle of eating fresh and nutritious food products. He and his wife found a shortage of Japanese style food options that were as fresh and varied as those available in Japan.

Doug aspired to introduce Jacksonville to true Japanese sake and culture, specifically the phenomenon of “izakaya,” which is the Japanese equivalent of a tapas bar. With a plan to develop the business incrementally, Doug and Tomoko opened Circle Japan, a store dedicated to introducing people to true Japanese food and beverage, in 2008.

The business continues to evolve, and the focus remains on introducing an ever-increasing circle of adventurous Jacksonville explorers to true Japanese food, premium sake, beer and culture.

Mark Murphy


Mark Murphy is a health and wellness enthusiast who walks his talk. His patients at Murphy Chiropractic Health Center benefit from his healthy lifestyle example and his extensive knowledge of nutrition and wellness, as well as his chiropractic expertise.

A Jacksonville native, Mark holds a degree in exercise science from the University of Florida. While in college, Mark developed an interest in endurance training and wellness. These interests motivated him to continue his education at the Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida, where in addition to becoming a doctor of chiropractic, he received advanced training in human nutrition and physiotherapy.

After working in other local chiropractic offices, Mark founded his own practice, Murphy Chiropractic Health Center, in St. Augustine in 2011. Alongside his wife, Jennifer, who is also a chiropractor, Mark practices a subluxation based chiropractic technique with a focus on nutrition. This allows him to see every patient as an individual, and treat each patient as a whole.

Mark can be found kayaking on the St. Johns River or surfing the coastline. He has completed the Gate River Run, the Jacksonville Marathon, and the MS Bike Tour across Florida. These accomplishments have allowed him to apply his knowledge and understanding of the human body towards his patients’ health.

Wayne Nolan


Wayne Nolan founded Nolan Plumbing & Irrigation in 1985, growing the business from a handful of customers to now serving more than 4,000 clients today. Nolan Plumbing & Irrigation solves complex problems with advanced technology designed to lower energy costs and water usage. Wayne’s areas of expertise in residential and light commercial projects include plumbing; lawn sprinkler systems; outdoor living accommodations; hardscape, landscape and landscape lighting; drainage and flood protection; pump and well installation; water filtration and treatment systems; backflow protection and water auditing.

Customer service sets Nolan Plumbing & Irrigation apart from the competition. Wayne insists on treating his customers the way he wants to be treated, and he instills this value in his team members. The Nolan Plumbing & Irrigation team also maintains a reputation for quality workmanship with local officials and inspectors, which is a plus in the industry. These qualities have earned Wayne the loyalty of his long-time customers who continue to refer him to their friends and colleagues as a result.

Always current in state-of-the-art water servicing, Wayne is a leader in using green technology. He holds an undergraduate degree in business, is a graduate of two Small Business Administration programs and holds certifications in several areas of plumbing and irrigation. Stressing the importance of mentoring others, Wayne uses his vast experience and training to help them whenever he can. He and his fiancé, Daphne Shaffer, live in the Whitehouse area of Jacksonville.

Cynthia O’Neal


Cynthia O’Neal started her business, U.S. Flag Supply, in Jacksonville in 2007. The company supplies flags, flagpoles, flag accessories, flag-related decorations and display cases. The company’s reach has grown to now serve retail customers; local, state federal government; all military branches of service; veteran’s organizations and many of the country’s top companies.

Cynthia’s entrepreneurial spirit was in plan long before U.S. Flag Supply came to be. After a stint in the Caribbean, Cynthia owned a business in Puerto Rico, which provided all of the flags, soft signage, decorations and medals for the 1993 Central America and Caribbean Games, as well as the FIVB Volleyball World Tour and the Opsail Tall Ships Tour. During this time, Cynthia was the flag vendor for well-known companies including Bacardi, Coca Cola, the Tourism Board of Puerto Rico, the San Juan Museum or Art, the U.S. Army (South) Headquarters and many more.

A native of Arkansas, Cynthia attended the University of Arkansas, where she studied theater, costume design and theatrical makeup. She worked as a theater costume designer and makeup artist and as an artist and stylist for movies, videos and photo layouts. With Cynthia’s background and artistic experience, her clients know that she has a good eye for design and quality of the flags and accessories she provides.

Dr. Patti Peeples


Dr. Patti Peeples is a health economist, educator, marketer, pharmacist and entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. She is the founder and chief executive officer of HealthEconomics.Com, a top-ranked resource portal that serves as the global CONNECTED COMMUNITYTM for individuals involved in healthcare value, including those in health economics, outcomes research, pricing, reimbursement and market access. She is also principal researcher at HE Institute, a healthcare consulting agency devoted to improved patient outcomes. Patti has served in senior positions in medical affairs, health outcomes and product management and has worked for major pharma organizations including ALZA, Novartis and Xcenda. She is on multiple boards of directors, including the American Foundation’s Board of Grants for Pharmaceutical Education and the advisory board of CreateHealth.io, a digital healthcare customer insight company. She is a frequent speaker at major industry conferences on healthcare value.

Patti is the author of dozens of peer-reviewed publications on cost-effectiveness of healthcare interventions and patient-reported outcomes, and she holds a Ph.D. in Health Economics from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, and a Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Marketing and Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the University of Mississippi. She completed an administrative pharmacy residency at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Patti lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and is mom to 15-year old twin boys. In her spare time, she is an avid cyclist, and she founded an outdoor adventure group for teen-agers to inspire appreciation for nature, community and connection.

Robert Richendollar


Working for a national wholesale pet supply distributor taught Robert Richendollar many important lessons. Among them were both best practices and a few areas where he saw room for improvement. Robert put all of this knowledge to work when he founded his own wholesale pet supply company, called R&R Distributors, in 1993.

R&R Distributors supplies independent pet stores, feed stores, groomers, kennels and veterinarians with more than 5,000 product SKUs from dozens of manufacturers. The company handles its own fulfillment from a large warehouse in Jacksonville and offers nationwide shipping in the both United States and Canada. They also offer e-commerce order fulfillment for outside companies, providing a diversified revenue stream.

In order to compete successfully with larger, national distributors, Robert focuses closely on personalized service for each client. He travels to their stores himself in order to stay connected with their needs and to ensure he is offering them the right products for their customers. Robert’s motto is “working in partnership towards a common goal,” and he lives this idea each day.

Robert lives in Jacksonville and spends his free time relaxing with family and friends.

Janeen Damiano Sara


A chance visit to a cupcake bakery during an anniversary trip to San Francisco made a big impression on Janeen Damiano Sara. Inspired and determined, Janeen returned to her hometown of St. Augustine and opened LuLi’s Cupcakes within just three months of that visit in 2008.

Today, LuLi’s Cupcakes is a local favorite, and the bakery has been voted “Best Dessert” and “Best Bakery” in St. Augustine for five years in a row. LuLi’s Cupcakes offers unique and delicious cupcakes, specialty cakes, cake pops, French macarons and other trendy desserts from their retail location. They also operate a food truck, called Lil’ LuLi’s, which expands their reach to different parts of town. In the works is LuLi’s too Café, a larger space which will offer breakfast and lunch items, in addition to Janeen’s yummy desserts.

Janeen holds a bachelor’s degree from Flagler College. She serves on the board of Young Life, a St. Johns County non-profit youth organization. She also works closely with several charities, including the Junior Service League of St. Augustine and All American Air Charitable Foundation. LuLi’s donates weekly to the St. Augustine Food Bank and also supports EPIC Behavioral Healthcare, the Humane Society, Betty Griffith House and St. Gerard House for pregnant, unwed mothers.

In her spare time, Janeen enjoys writing children’s and teen books. She has published one book called “Where’s Lily?,” a playful story about her unruly and feisty daughter. Janeen her husband, Matthew, and the feisty Lily live in St. Augustine.

Ramesh Seerangan


Ramesh Seerangan is the chief technology officer of Digital Capstone, a global information technology (IT) company providing mobile application and software development, website design and application integration. He is responsible for the Digital Capstone’s management and operations. With more than 20 years of experience in IT operations, software development, strategic planning and product management, Ramesh is involved in all aspects of the company’s business development, client progress and contract negotiations. He oversees all projects and provides quality assurance and control.

Digital Capstone specializes in IT solution, technology, consulting and outsourcing services. Combining solid business domain experience, technical expertise, deep knowledge of latest industry trends and quality-driven delivery model, they offer progressive, end-to-end web solutions to clients in healthcare, finance, manufacturing, government and media.

As an accomplished senior executive, Ramesh has a strong working knowledge of both strategic and tactical plan development for complex IT projects. He leads a team of 25 highly-skilled IT professionals in multiple offices and manages each project personally to ensure that his clients’ expectations are exceeded.

Ramesh and his wife and two children live in Jacksonville. In his free time, Ramesh can be found in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes. He is an avid tennis player, runner and children’s soccer club volunteer.

Mike Serig


Mike Serig takes recycling seriously. His innovative company, Earthscapes Design Build, LLC, founded in 2011, takes granite material, which would otherwise be discarded as waste, and repurposes it into stylish, high-quality pavers, fire pits, tiles and crushed stone products used to beautify homes and yards. The company also provides customized landscaping design service using natural stone products and other landscaping materials.

Because granite is one of the world’s strongest stones, boasting a compressive strength four times that of normal concrete, Mike is both confident in his product’s durability and proud to operate a business that reduces waste, rather than adding to it. He loves to see the final transformation that his product can create in a client’s home.

Prior to starting his own business, Mike has managed other successful start-ups, including a local concrete company, which he helped to grow from five to 50 employees, maintaining operations in multiple states. In his position as a regional manager for a different concrete company, Mike managed multi-million dollar industrial, government and high-end residential construction projects. His duties included strategic planning, budgeting, pricing strategy, vendor negotiation, revenue projection, fiscal planning and recruitment. Mike continues to build on his considerable industry background as Earthscapes enjoys impressive year-over-year growth.

Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University. He is a men’s ministry leader at the Orange Park campus of Celebration Church and volunteers as vice president of housing logistics at Mercy Support Services. Mike lives with his wife and two daughters in Orange Park.

Mike Sharpe


Mike Sharpe is the president of Eye Envy Optical and Sunglasses, a vision care and sunglass retail business with locations in Fernandina Beach and Yulee. Mike has created a business model combining licensed, professional vision care with a high-end retail component, which allows him to compete with discount optical chains and stand-alone optometrists’ offices. This model also provides a new way for independent eye care professionals to do business.

Eye Envy Optical provides comprehensive eye exams for adults and kids, including contact lens fittings, treatment of eye conditions, and cataract and glaucoma consultations, through on-site independent optometrists. They also sell sunglasses and ancillary products from their two main brands, Costa del Mar and Oakley. The success of Mike’s Fernandina Beach store, which opened in 2004, paved the way for him to open a second store in Yulee in 2014.

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Mike also worked as an air traffic controller for the Federal Aviation Administration for 23 years. He has two sons and lives in Fernandina Beach. Mike enjoys fishing and volunteering with the board of directors for ARK of Nassau.

Greg Sheppard


Among his colleagues, Greg Sheppard is known as the “Go to Guy.” Having built a reputation as an expert in the global IT delivery and supply chain management industry, Greg started his business, I-On Logistics, in 2012. He uses his vast experience to help large companies manage and improve their logistics programs in the United States and abroad.

I-On Logistics is a supply chain management and e-commerce consulting firm based in Baker County. Greg’s expertise includes extensive program management experience in global IT delivery, project execution, new business and customer implementations and international team management in Canada, Latin America and Asia. With Greg’s trained eye, he helps his clients to improve their bottom lines with cost reductions, gross margin enhancement and better utilization of working capital while achieving their strategic goals.

A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Greg is committed to improving his community and serves on several boards and civic organizations. Greg’s major goals for I-On Logistics are to bring gainful supply chain employment to rural Northeast Florida and to drive greater collaboration between business and government organizations. Greg lives in Baker County. In his free time, Greg enjoys driving his 1950 GMC pickup truck and hobby farming with his Oliver tractors.

Bruno Hegner Silva


Bruno Hegner Silva is a lighting specialist, designer and industry consultant and the owner of Illuminearth® Lighting and Controls. Illuminearth provides retail and custom lighting solutions and products to designers and architects for residential and commercial projects.

Bruno started his first small business at age 13, working as a DJ in his home country of Brazil. When he moved to New York as an older teen, jobs as a technician for fashion and award shows and concerts and as a contractor specializing in custom electronics for nightclubs and other venues sparked his imagination and laid the ground work for his current enterprise.

The satisfaction and excitement of working light and sound projects for such names as Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones and Hard Rock Café led Bruno into the architectural and lighting design field, where he worked as a national sales director. In 2011, Bruno started Illuminearth, and he now enjoys working closely with the trade and designing and manufacturing his own lighting projects from his home base in Northeast Florida.

Bruno has served on many non-profit boards. He lives in St. Augustine with his wife and business partner, Leslie, their three sons and three rescue dogs. In his free time, Bruno enjoys playing golf, reading, exercising and spending time with family and friends.

Eric Summers


After enjoying early success in his diving career, which included both the offshore industry and inland marine construction, Eric Summers was positioned to branch out and offer his services on a wider scale.

Eric founded Underwater Mechanix in 2011. Underwater Mechanix is a team of skilled divers, who are members of the Association of Diving Contractors International. Underwater Mechanix manages a wide-range of marine construction projects including underwater power plant maintenance and repairs, erosion and sediment control, ships husbandry, vessel salvage, marine construction, underwater welding services, underwater cutting and demolition.

As a graduate of the Commercial Divers Academy International, Eric has worked as a diver in the Gulf of Mexico in the oil and gas industry, and also as an inland diver, working on nuclear power plants in Japan and Korea and various projects in Africa and Europe. One of Eric’s most memorable projects was the installation of a mooring system off the coast of Wake Island.

Underwater Mechanix has recently expanded its client base to include the U.S. Coast Guard, Jefferson County and Port Everglades. Eric expects the government contracting division of his company to expand in the near future.

Eric lives in the Mandarin area of Jacksonville with his wife, Keonnia, and two children. Eric enjoys fishing, boating and kayaking in his free time. Eric and his family attend Celebration Church.

Sheryl Taylor


Sheryl Taylor is the chief operating officer of Comprehensive Therapy Center of Jacksonville (CTCJ). She has more than 15 years of experience as a director, consultant and educator in a variety of health care environments including hospitals, community health care centers and public health departments. Sheryl has significant program development and management expertise, holds a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is certified as a group fitness instructor.

CTCJ is the only comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facility (CORF) in North Florida. Their physical and respiratory therapists are committed to delivering compassionate, holistic care to help patients with their rehabilitation and overall health needs. CTCJ specializes in treating people who are medically deconditioned, living with breathing disorders, managing strains, sprains, sport injuries or recovering from surgery, motor vehicle or work accidents.

Sheryl operates the business with her husband and business partner, Thaddeus Thompson, the company’s owner and president. Thaddeus is a licensed physical therapist with more than 15 years of health care experience managing rehabilitation services, neurology, neurosurgery and orthopedics. Sheryl credits their complementary skill sets in creating a solid foundation for business growth.

Cathy Thomasson


Cathy Thomasson is the owner of Sidney Cardel’s, a home décor and decorative accessories store in Jacksonville Beach. The store is known throughout the community as the go-to-place for all your home shopping and accessorizing needs and for carrying unique and one-of-a-kind finds.

Cathy always knew she wanted to own a store. In 1981, after graduating from Florida State University in fashion merchandising and fashion design, she told her mother that one day, she was going to have a store named after her. “Really?” her mother replied, “I would be honored.” Thirty years later, Cathy feels honored that this dream became reality. Sidney Cardel was her mother’s pen name, and Cathy always loved it and always knew it would be the name of her store.

Prior to opening Sidney Cardel’s, Cathy was a key account sales rep in the home, decorative accessory and gift industry for more than 20 years. Her knowledge of sales, customer service, product development and design trends serve her well as a retail store owner. Cathy has also been a freelance artist for years and her work is seen in many venues throughout the beaches.

Cathy is a member of The Women’s Board and volunteers her creative talents for numerous philanthropic charities and events. A native Floridian, Cathy is a sports enthusiast and loves everything to do with fashion, music and living at the beach. Cathy’s daughter, Cara, works alongside her in the business.

Darly Thoppil


Darly Thoppil is an occupational therapist and the president of Revive Rehab Inc., a rehabilitation facility that provides physical, occupational and speech therapy services. Darly holds a degree in occupational therapy from the University of Bombay, in India, and she has 20 years of experience in inpatient rehab facilities, skilled nursing homes, assisted living facilities, school systems and outpatient clinics.

Darly’s extended training to John Barnes’ myofascial release treatment motivated her to open her own facility in 2010. Today, Revive Rehab specializes in pain management and uses the John F. Barnes myofascial release approach, a holistic, innovative and highly effective approach for the evaluation and treatment of pain, also recognized by many in the field as the most effective form of health care therapy. The joy she sees in her patients’ faces when their pain has vanished keeps Darly motivated and provides daily job satisfaction.

Darly loves to educate the community on innovative techniques that treat and manage chronic pain. She teaches regularly at Osher Life Long Learning Institute and provides seminars at various senior centers and assisted living facilities.

Darly and her husband live in Jacksonville Beach. In her free time, she loves to walk on the beach and relax by listening to the waves and feeling the cold breeze on her face.

Shai Tzabari


Shai Tzabari (pronounced “shy”) believes that he was destined to own a community-based healthy food company. His outgoing personality, natural penchant for networking and promotions, fondness for being part of the community around him and his childhood experience of old-world food traditions are all assets to the owner of Olive My Pickle.

Olive My Pickle is an all-natural, non-GMO food company producing pickles, hummus, olives and pickled vegetables. On any given day, Shai and his wife and partner, Charlotte, can be found at area farmers markets or at the Riverside Arts Market selling their food to loyal customers. After earning a strong following at farmers markets, Olive My Pickle products are now sold at Native Sun Natural Foods Market in Jacksonville, and they will soon be carried at regional Whole Foods stores in the southeast United States.

Shai credits his Eastern-European, Israeli-immigrant grandparents with instilling a love of food and the connection that good food can foster among a community. A six-year career in the Israeli Air Force taught Shai skills that he uses each day for operations and logistics management, which he considers core components of the business’ success to date. And their experience in construction as well as organic farming have contributed to a shared skill set that Shai and Charlotte draw from as Olive My Pickle continues to grow.

Shai was recently named the 2015 Small Business Leader of the Year for the JAX Chamber. He and Charlotte live in Springfield with their two sons.

Vicky Zelen


Vicky Zelen is the president of Zelen Risk Solutions, Inc. (ZRS), an independent insurance agency specializing in commercial property and casualty insurance. A Milwaukee native, Vicky’s first part-time job while in high school was at a local insurance agency. She worked on the service side of the business for several years, including several years with one of the world’s largest insurance brokers. Vicky decided to capitalize on her years of insurance industry experience and start her own agency in Jacksonville in 2003.

Today, ZRS serves over 800 business-owner and individual clients. ZRS offers a full line of coverage, including property, general liability, worker’s compensation, commercial auto, professional liability (errors and omissions), directors’ and officers’ liability, contractors’ equipment, homeowners, auto, boat and motorcycle insurance. She and her team can write insurance for a broad range of industries, including contracting/construction, restaurants, manufacturing, service, golf courses, real estate investors and more. The team at ZRS is equally comfortable serving businesses with one employee all the way to multi-million dollar companies, and each client receives the same level of service and commitment.

Vicky is currently the president of Women Business Owners of North Florida (WBO), and she is active in many other organizations, including Rotary of West Jacksonville, the Small Business Resource Network and the Northeast Florida Builder’s Association. She was named a “Top 50 Business Influencer” by Advantage Business Magazine in 2011 and 2014. Vicky resides in Mandarin and enjoys being on or near the waterways, traveling and spending time with friends and family.