One day nearly a decade ago, Marcus and Erin Meyer realized their dream of opening their own business, kickstarting Gator Cleaning Solutions out of their garage. Not long after, it would move to a new home the couple bought in Land O’ Lakes, before finally taking up 2,500 square feet of warehouse space in Odessa.
They employ eight people in their corporate office, and more than 80 people on cleaning crews that now include restoration services, carpet and grout cleaning.
They have provided plenty of jobs in the cleaning industry, and because of that, they are one of eight companies honored by the Pasco County Economic Development Council at its Industry of the Year Awards at Saddlebrook Resort.
“The reason why we were nominated in the first place is because there was a lot of focus on job creation, which is great, because we’ve created a lot of jobs,” Erin Meyer said. “And we’re still growing. It’s exciting — a little nerve-wracking at times, but it’s fun. There are days I’m pulling my hair out, and days I’m doing a dance.”
Pasco EDC honored Gator Cleaning with one of two service and distribution awards, the second going to A&K Energy Conservation in Dade City. They both were chosen from more than 30 nominees, who were judged based on growth in areas like technology, innovation, job creation, capital investment and community service.
While some companies were born and grown up in Pasco, others were attracted by what the county had to offer and relocated here. DataMentors LLC started 15 years ago in Tampa, but relocated to Wesley Chapel seven years ago on land they purchased on Oak Myrtle Lane.
“It’s kind of nice looking out the window and seeing trees instead of concrete,” said Bob Orf, the chief executive of DataMentors, which was honored with the technology award Tuesday night. “We took a little bit of a risk when we bought the land. There was no road to it when we purchased the property. We were the first building in this area, and it’s worked out terrifically.”
DataMentors is a data management company that requires a secure location for its many servers. The company started with five employees, but now has 36, working in areas like programmers and technicians.
“We do a lot of recruiting right out of colleges like the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida,” Orf said. “There are not a lot of high-tech companies in Pasco, but you know, we’re happy to be here, and be one of the pioneers here.”
Half the employee base lives in Pasco, while the other half commutes in from Hillsborough County, Orf said. That’s great for him, however, because the “reverse commute” — driving in the opposite direction of rush-hour traffic — makes working in Pasco quite appealing.
“We don’t have a lot of turnover here,” he said. “Almost a third of our employees have been with us at least 10 years. And, you know, we try to do what’s right for our employees, because that’s a win-win for us.”
Other winners at the Pasco EDC event included:
• MedActive Oral Pharmaceuticals of Odessa won the new business award.
• Rochester Electro-Medical Inc., of Lutz, and Seaway Plastics Engineering Inc., of Port Richey, both won manufacturer of the year.
• Pasco-Hernando State College in New Port Richey was given the special contribution award.
• Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative of Shady Hills was given the special recognition award.
Published September 3, 2014
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