Equality: liberal vs. conservative

Studies suggest that brains may be wired with either a utopian or a tragic view of the world, corresponding roughly to liberals and conservatives. Though we share a common language, we often intend very different things. Until we analyze what we mean by the terms “just,” “fair” or “equal,” we continue to talk past each other in political debates.

When my grandmother Florence was a little girl, she would sometimes be given five pennies for candy. She would spend a penny or two for candy and save the rest for later in the week. Her brother Frank would spend all five pennies the first day and gorge himself on sweets. By the end of the week, Florence still had a penny for candy and her brother was out of money.

Their mother did not think this was fair. She would tell Florence to share some of her candy with Frank. Florence did not think it was fair that she had to share just because he had spent all of his money.

This story symbolizes the heart of the debate over equality. Although both children began with equal opportunity, by the end of the week there was a very different result. Florence had pennies left for candy. But Frank had eaten more candy.

Florence’s view corresponds to the tragic or conservative view. Conservatives believe in equal incentives and opportunity, but they realize an equality of results is impossible.

Brother Frank would appeal to his mother’s more liberal view of the world. Utopian liberals think we need to engineer an equality of result. They believe society can only accomplish this if there are strong enough intentions to set and meet goals through centralized planning. In their view, an inequality of results is sufficient to declare something unfair or unjust.

The liberal solution would be for Mother to give each child just one penny a day, forcing a daily equality of outcome. The conservative solution would advocate that Frank stop seeking instant gratification and learn to budget his pennies.

Consider this example: Suppose you earn $50,000 working in a cubicle processing paperwork. I was offered the same job, but seeking more meaningful work, I decided to become a poet. I am no Wordsworth, so I am lucky to make $10,000 a year. Is that fair? Would you be willing to give me $20,000 a year so we have an equality of results?

Clearly there was an equality of process. We were both offered the cubicle job. But I turned it down to become a bad poet. The liberal mind leans toward the view that procedural fairness is not fair so long as disparate outcomes result. Though it can’t in this contrived example, in any other situation the liberal mind will find some other inequality of circumstances to blame for the inequality of results.

Should I be allowed to follow my dreams and become a poet even if the value that society assigns to it is only $10,000 a year? Alternatively, should I have that choice taken away from me for my own good so my value to society is sufficient to justify a higher lifestyle for myself? Or as a third option, should society take from those earning more in order to supplement my lifestyle and subsidize the production of my bad poems?

A free society allows choices that result in more unequal outcomes. Several measurements of inequality are used in economics. They are all mostly useless. A country can have a very equal distribution of wealth or income where everyone is in poverty. Or a country can have very unequal distributions of wealth where trickle-down capitalism has made even those on welfare rich by global standards.

Much political hay has been made about the top 1 percent of income in the United States. But to be in the top 1 percent of income globally, all you need to earn is $34,000. Would you be willing to suffer a 90 percent tax just because you earn more than $34,000?

On one end of the spectrum, well-intentioned utopians believe such solutions are possible with enough force of will, goals and planning. This is one reason why liberals in power make the worst authoritarians.

The more conservative tragic view works within the understanding that humans generally are selfish. There are no easy solutions to this troublesome fact. There are only systems and incentives that encourage productivity, which in turn benefits society as a whole. Within this view it is generally best to have the person making the decision, paying for the decision and benefiting from the decision be one and the same.

Complaint filed over Florida unemployment claims process

Two legal groups have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor over sweeping changes to the state’s unemployment compensation program.

Florida Legal Services and the National Employment Law Project charged May 25 that the unemployed in Florida face more obstacles to getting jobless assistance than in any other state. The changes denied unemployment checks to thousands of eligible Floridians, the complaint says.

“Florida’s revised procedures make it just about as difficult as possible for unemployed workers to access unemployment insurance now,” Valory Greenfield, of Florida Legal Services told the Palm Beach Post last week.

“The effect is that the state is blocking workers from accessing help they are qualified for and twisting the knife in the state’s ailing economy.”

The Florida Legislature Office of Economic and Demographic Research released its latest economic overview for the state June 6. The full report is available at http://edr.state.fl.us.

The report says that as much as 75 percent of the state’s 1.2 percent drop in unemployment since December is attributed to Floridians leaving the workforce. They could have abandoned their job search, returned to school, left the state or retired.

* * * * *
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s changes include a 45-question online exam and elimination of filing claims by telephone, the method most used in other states.

George Wentworth of the National Employment Law Project added that states receive federal grants to administer their unemployment insurance within certain standards.

“Florida’s new procedures force workers who already satisfy the basic eligibility requirements to jump through additional hoops in the form of complex online transactions.

“Thousands of workers are being unfairly disqualified as a result. We are asking the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate and find that Florida’s procedures are in violation of federal law,” Wentworth said.

Silverthorn Animal Clinic

If Dr. Gerald Johnson’s patients could speak, they would likely give flawless endorsements to the good doctor’s ability to change their lives. And he would probably say he already knows.

Johnson, a doctor of veterinary medicine at Silverthorn Animal Clinic, has a remarkable ability to look into his patients’ animated eyes and communicate at a level that is difficult, if not impossible, to explain. And when he discusses his passion, his own eyes moisten with emotion.

Johnson is no ordinary vet. Although he does practice traditional medicine at his clinic on Powell Road in the Silverthorn Shopping Center, he also specializes in alternative treatments.

Kala Johnston, the clinic’s owner and Johnson’s wife, said her husband is one of the few vets in the area that practices holistic and chiropractic treatments on his patients. “He’s very specialized in what he does,” Johnston said. “He’s even been to China to study.”

Dr. Johnson graduated in 1982 from the University of Florida with a DVM degree. That laid the groundwork for his practice and triggered his obsession to continue his education into other areas of treatment. He went on to obtain his certification in acupuncture by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.

He also joined the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Florida Veterinary Medical Association, the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.

After thirty years of veterinary practice, Dr. Johnson said his focus is becoming more geared toward alternative medicine. “I guess it started with acupuncture,” he said, which then led to an interest in Chinese Herbal Medicine.

His interest in homeopathic remedies, triggered by questions from clients, led to chiropractic and massage therapies. He added Chinese Herbal medicines and began prescribing diets to manage disease, especially cancer treatments and geriatrics.

“One thing led to the next and I found, overall, that it just gave me a better perspective on prescribing and diagnosing and especially helped with the physical exams.”

Running a general practice with alternative options allows Dr. Johnson to recognize different ailments and diseases from a broader view, and to treat them more effectively.

“Every kidney failure isn’t the same. Every heart failure isn’t the same. Every seizure isn’t the same,” he said. “You balance it on what you observe; bringing the body back into balance is the goal.”

And he has observed quite a bit, Kala Johnston added. “He has had some amazing cases.” She described her favorite example of one involving a kangaroo that had an issue with one of its arms. “Traditional medicine couldn’t fix it,” she said. “He did acupuncture and electro stimulation on the pet.”

Many of the patients seen by Dr. Johnson have, after only a few treatments, walked out of the clinic when they originally had to be carried in.

One of their favorite success stories involved a paralyzed Chihuahua named Topolino. The dog was paralyzed after playing ball with his owners and had to be carried to his first treatment. After just five treatments, he was running around the clinic.

“It’s very gratifying to see what he can do,” Johnston added.

The clinic, which opened only a year ago, is also molded differently than most traditional facilities. The building is designed with a comfortable atmosphere.

“We wanted it to be like a spa,” Johnston explained, “more relaxed.”

From the soothing hues on the walls to the gentle dripping of a tabletop water sculpture, there is certainly less tension inside this waiting room.

They are careful about scheduling appointments that don’t overlap.

“We don’t want people hanging out for hours waiting to see the doctor,” she said.

Even the nonporous floors in the walkways and examining rooms were carefully crafted so the patients don’t slip.

“We put a lot of thought into this,” Johnston said, “even for a relatively small practice. We wanted a more relaxed atmosphere.”

Silverthorn Animal Clinic caters to all breeds of dogs and cats but even works on birds. Johnston told a story of three separate incidents of wild birds finding their way into the clinic; a warbler, a homing pigeon, and a hawk, each with a different need that the staff treated and released.

They’ve worked on exotic pet birds as well.

Penny Berger, a resident of Silverthorn Golf & Country Club, took her lab, Gator, to Dr. Johnson after discovering the clinic was so close to her home. Gator, she said, doesn’t like to travel. After receiving his shots at a cost cheaper than she was paying at her previous clinic, Berger switched.

“They are amazing,” Berger said, “and the prices are reasonable.” She also praised the staff who she described as very friendly.

On a recent visit, Dr. Johnson gave her some all natural ear wash and suggested Happy Traveler to offset Gator’s discomfort with traveling. “We’re leaving for 3 months,” Berger said, “and we’re taking him with us.”

“We have a wide spectrum of clientele,” Dr. Johnson said. Many clients have followed him, traveling sometimes more than two hours for chiropractic, acupuncture and massage therapies. Others find him because their older or sick pets that were given no hope. “They are the old geriatric pets that are basically dying. They come to me for an alternative approach. We believe the clientele would like more quality time with their pets.”

Alternative medicine is not necessarily more expensive. “I have so many optional treatments to choose from,” Dr. Johnson said. “I can work with nearly any budget.”

Silverthorn Animal Clinic is open Monday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Biz at a Glance

Name: Silverthorn Animal Clinic

Location: 14263 Powell Road, Spring Hill

Telephone: (352) 345-4830

Website: www.SilverThornVet.com


Kim Dame is a correspondent for Hernando Today. She can be reached at damewrites@yahoo.com.

Lowman Law firm brings new life to historic building

Preserving Brooksville’s historic downtown is as simple as beautifying what already exists.

That was the idea behind the restoration of an early 1900s building that stands proud on the corner of Main and Liberty Streets in downtown Brooksville. The multi-level structure, with an interesting history of several different faces, has been a community landmark for more than 100 years.

The building was recently restored from its foundation to its roof and from all four interior walls. A pleasing “French quarter style” balcony, added to the second floor, now accents Brooksville’s old town charm. And the building’s front identifies its next legacy, in big bold letters, as the Lowman Law Firm.

Joe and Stephanie Lowman, two practicing Hernando County attorneys, collaborated with Joe’s uncle and aunt, Matt and Beverly Lowman, to renovate the downtown building into a law firm with available professional space while also expanding into other family endeavors.

The Lowmans have been civil attorneys in Hernando County for 10 years. Stephanie, who is also a stay-at-home- mom, worked primarily from her home office. Joe shares office space and works with his longtime friend and colleague, Frank Miller, Esquire on Lamar Avenue in Brooksville.

The focus of the practice is Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, and Wrongful Death.

The Lowmans decided they needed a location where the two could come together as attorneys while providing opportunities for other family businesses under the same roof.

They are a tight-knit family with deep roots in Hernando County. Joe and Stephanie are not native to Brooksville but Joe’s family dates back several generations. And Matt and Beverly Lowman own numerous lucrative businesses, including two golf courses in Hudson.

The four began the process of finding a viable location that could accommodate their short and long-term family goals. Teetering on the decision to either build new or purchase an existing structure set the epitome for Matt’s discovery of the vacant building on Liberty and Main.

It was an easy sell for Joe and Stephanie since they were already sold on Brooksville’s charm. They moved from Tampa ten years ago and live just a block down the street. “We love it here,” Joe said. “Everyone knows everyone. And it has become our home.”

“And our family is here,” Stephanie added.

It helped that the history behind the building painted an intriguing picture. “It used to be the Antique Sampler and WWJB at one time,” Joe explained. Its earliest use, they discovered through old photographs, was as a livery stable.

Brooksville is filled with open windows into its historic past, depicted in murals along many of the downtown buildings. The Lowmans discovered through old photographs that the mural on the south exterior wall of their building is an accurate representation how things used to be.

Brooksville’s deeply rooted, old southern charm is best told in preserved pieces of its history. The Lowmans wanted to share the tradition by molding their business on a historical foundation.

They purchased the building and finalized plans to restore it into the perfect blend of old historical charm and modern appeal. The process took more than two years to complete. “It became a family affair,” Matt Lowman said.

They even qualified for a grant from the city to help pay for some of the exterior restoration that could only benefit the downtown district. Joe credits City employee, Bill Geiger, as extremely helpful in assisting them in the grant process.

Joe Lowman designed the interior of the building. “He worked out everything,” Matt said, including where he wanted the offices and conference rooms to be. Matt then took Joe’s ideas to Rick Pearson of Proud Pelican Construction and had the plans drawn up.

“It was Joe’s thought,” Matt chuckled with an endearing smile. “But I designed it.”

They contracted Marc Delape of Modern Day Construction to do the renovating. It took about 9 months to complete Joe’s plans. Much of the original architecture was preserved; including the original hardwood flooring that was dated back 90 years.

“Marc did an amazing job,” Joe said.

Indeed the result is impressive. Several stylish offices and conference rooms complete the downstairs with a professional atmosphere that commands respect.

The signature feature everyone instantly notices is its balcony, which was inspired by a photograph of another building that no longer exists. “We wanted something that would make us unique,” Joe said, “something we could be proud of.”

The facility will serve as the main office for Lowman Law Firm and will host mediations and depositions. “We already have a court reporter that is going to use our building,” Joe said.

There is also enough room for other professionals to lease office space on a temporary or regular basis. Joe’s brother and brother-in-law occupy a suite for their internet marketing company, Bluleadz.

The Lowman Law Firm works on cases throughout the State of Florida, not just in Hernando County.

“We offer free consultations,” Joe said. Personal service is their promise. “We are hands-on with all our cases. If I’m representing you, it’s the most important case to you. So it should be the most important case to me.”

The family bond is difficult if not impossible to miss inside the new Lowman Law Firm. Still a work in progress as they await delivery of the interior furnishings, at least two offices currently host creative toy train ensembles.

Joe Lowman laughed. “Our kids love coming here,” he said. Luke, 7, Wyatt, 6, and Olivia, 2, are clearly behind the sparkle in his eye.

One day Matt and Beverly hope their own children will occupy space at the Lowman Law Firm. Their son, Brent, is already an attorney who is currently serving as a Marine. Their daughter, Rachel, just graduated from UCF with an Accounting Degree.

For now, Matt uses the facility to “de-stress” after a long day in the golf course business. “This is where I check my laptop, lay on the couch and take a nap,” he said.

Biz at a Glance

Name: Lowman Law Firm

Location: 31 North Main Street, Brooksville

Telephone: (352) 796-0016


Kim Dame is a correspondent for Hernando Today. She can be reached at damewrites@yahoo.com.


A tender breeze transcends over gently rolling hills near the northern tip of Hernando County, just across the county line. It is a picture perfect scene of a quiet farm with lazy pastures, a comfortable multi-level farmhouse, and a cozy barn.

The sign outside the 70 acre farm identifies the property as Sugarbrook Farm, a renowned hunter pony breeding farm. Within its white placard-board fencing and pristine pastures, serene broodmares graze effortlessly among the manicured greens.

Most of these mares have produced their share of beautiful foals, artificially inseminated by one of two prized stallions, Blue Who (Hootie) and Sugarbrook Blue Pacific (Traveller), who live on the farm. Both stallions are responsible for helping Sugarbrook Farm reach national recognition.

Beyond the barn, standing alone was Hootie, a majestic figure of gallant white. His elegant grey mane draped like silk across his muscled neck.

“Hoot hoot,” Sandy Holbrook chimed from the barn in a chirpy tone to get the stallions attention. Hootie stood statue straight for a moment; ears erect and pointed forward, until he spotted his owner. Then he dashed forward in a graceful sweep toward the gate, driven by his impervious love for peppermints.

Holbrook beamed with the kind of pride usually seen in the presence of a mother and her child. Hootie, Holbrook explained, was born on the farm 13 years ago. The scene, therefore, is particularly tender when Holbrook described how tiny Hootie was as a colt.

Standing just 11.2 hands at maturity, Hootie packs a solid form in a compact package. But his impressive bloodline is anything but small in the grand scheme of hunter pony stud service

Sandy Holbrook has been breeding hunter jumper ponies for more than 20 years. An avid competitor on the horse show circuit, Holbrook’s passion for horses rubbed off on her two daughters, Lori and Kelly, when they were growing up. In fact, it was the daughters’ showing that got Holbrook involved in breeding.

Kelly’s horse, Revelie, contracted an eye infection that eventually led to blindness, Holbrook explained, ending the mare’s competitive career. “Revelie was such a lovely show mare,” Holbrook added. “Our trainer suggested we breed her.”

The resulting foal, Rose, now 26, grazes in one of the pastures. “She has had 9 foals,” Holbrook said. “She is the daughter of our foundation broodmare, how we started into breeding.”

For years, Holbrook used outside stallions to breed her mares. But when Blue Who (Hootie) was born, everything changed. She remembered thinking, “There’s my breeding stallion. His breeding was the best in the country.”

Sugarbrook welcomed their second breeding stallion a year later, show-named Sugarbrook Blue Pacific (Traveller), now 12. Similar in markings to the infamous Traveller who was ridden into battle by Robert E. Lee, Sugarbrook’s Traveller is every bit the close replica in strength, beauty and grace.

Standing almost two full hands taller than Hootie, Traveller packs quite the impression. Yet like his resident rival, Traveller is calm, disciplined, and respectful of Holbrook who handles him with the precision of a true professional.

Holbrook is a petite woman, with a gentle voice and animated eyes. The passion she displays when she speaks of her horses dispels any doubt. She is living every moment in paradise.

But the breeding farm is a 24 hour a day under-taking. Barbara Lewis, Holbrook’s Barn Manager, works alongside Holbrook to help keep things running smoothly.

A few afternoons a week, Holbrook works in the family business, Holbrook Dentistry in Brooksville, with husband, Bill Holbrook. But Sugarbrook is her main priority.

Maintaining a functional and highly acclaimed breeding farm requires daily commitment. Ovulating broodmares are brought to the farm for the insemination. Some remain until after they have foaled, taking advantage of Sugarbrooks Foaling and Mare Care.

Those who can’t make it to the farm can have collected semen shipped to the ovulating mare. In fact, Sugarbrook Farm ships across the country.

The process is quite involved. Holbrook explained that the stallions never come in direct contact with the mares. Instead, a teaser mare is used to entice the stallions. Then the sperm is captured using an innovative technique, controlled by a licensed veterinarian, and either immediately inseminated into an ovulating broodmare or shipped overnight in protective containers.

Sugarbrook Farm’s history began on Lake Lindsey Road where the original farm was located. The Holbrooks moved to the present location ten years ago and continued to build on Sandy Holbrook’s dream.

Bill Holbrook admitted the breeding business is best left to his wife, who needed no help promoting the unique work that takes place on the farm. “I know my place,” Bill Holbrook said with a sheepish grin.

And Sandy Holbrook knows hers. “It’s my passion,” she said.

Biz at a Glance

Name: Sugarbrook Farm

Address: 13198 S. Pleasant Grove Rd.

Telephone: (352) 637-6777 or 232-2795

Website: sugarbrook.com

HMA, parent company of Hernando Healthcare, named one of World’s Most Admired Companies

Health Management Associates (HMA), parent company of Hernando Healthcare, has been named by Fortune magazine as one of the World’s Most Admired companies in Health Care.

Hernando Healthcare encompasses Brooksville and Spring Hill Regional Hospitals, Florida Endoscopy & Surgery Center, Florida Sleep Institute, Good Shepherd Medical Clinic, Hernando Endoscopy & Surgery Center and Homosassa Primary Care at Sugarmill.

“We are very proud to be a member of the Health Management family,” said Patrick Maloney, Market CEO of Hernando Healthcare. “This award is powerful evidence of the excellent support Health Management provides to enable our Hernando Healthcare team to deliver great health care to our community. It is also a testament to the dedication to patient care of the Associates and physicians at our hospitals, surgery centers, physician practices and other Health Management hospitals around the country.”

Within the category of Health Care: Medical Facilities, Health Management was named the No. 1 company in Quality of Products/Services and in Social Responsibility.

Fortune compiles the ratings each year based on a survey of businesspeople in each industry who are asked to vote for the companies they admire most. Apple was named this year’s most admired company across all industries. The list will be published in the magazine’s March 19 issue. For information on Health Management Associates visit hma.com; Brooksville Regional Hospital visit brooksvilleregional.com; and Spring Hill Regional Hospital visit springhillregional.net.

Runway of dreams

Many little girls dream of wearing a crown as they stroll the catwalk as a beauty pageant winner. Why not? We live in a society that bombards influential minds with messages from the media, their peer networks and social circles that seem to focus on beauty as the sole characteristic assuring success.

Yet, as children grow into their own individualities, reality becomes the main factor in abandoning that ideal. Many never visit it again unless they are exposed to grounded opportunities toward financial and personal success. Often in bigger cities like New York or Los Angeles, where media plays a strong role in exposure, some actually meet stardom, or, at the very least, find some connection to that stronghold.

But finding an open door of opportunity in smaller towns isn’t as likely, or so Cassandra Mandeville once believed. A stunning, nearly six-foot-tall, dark-haired beauty, Mandeville won the Miss Florida International competition in August 2011. Brooksville is Mandeville’s hometown.

Mandeville had considered modeling as a valid career choice. During her senior year at Hernando High School, Mandeville attended a College Night, hosted by Nature Coast Technical High School, where she stumbled on a table set up by Envy Models & Talent of Spring Hill.

“I took some information,” Mandeville remembered. Later, she visited the facility and enrolled in modeling classes. Her decision to enter a pageant was initiated by Suzi Hosfeld, executive director of Envy Model & Talent. “Suzi told me that a lot of the judges are modeling agents,” Mandeville explained.

Mandeville entered her first pageant in April and won Miss Crystal River. She took the Miss Florida title in November.

“She is a really big deal,” said Suzi Hosfeld. “This is the first year that Brooksville has ever won the Miss Florida title. She will now go on to represent Florida in the Miss U.S. International Pageant, which is the oldest pageant system in the world.”

Envy Models & Talent is a 30-year company with offices in Fort Myers, Naples and Spring Hill. The Spring Hill office opened two years ago on Mariner Blvd., moving to its current location on Commercial Way, north of IHOP, a year ago.

A highly acclaimed institution, Envy Models & Talent won the Agency of the Year award for eight years and was awarded Director of the Year in 2011.

“We are a model, actor, pageant training center and a placement,” Hosfeld went on. “We take our top people and we place them in work as well as placing them with agencies around the world.”

Mandeville, for example, will participate in an event called “Launch,” where she will be exposed to hundreds of top agents worldwide. “It gives a girl from a small city the opportunity to network out.”

Joshua Looman, of Spring Hill, is another Envy success story. Looman is an established musician and singer who stumbled on Envy a year ago, just two weeks before he was scheduled to leave for the Navy.

He met with Hosfeld and, at her request, performed a song on his guitar. She was immediately impressed. “She asked me to give her one year,” Looman remembered. “It was a difficult decision. It was a very ironclad decision to join the Navy.”

Still, his passion had always been in music. After giving it some thought, and with the support of his family, Looman accepted Hosfeld’s challenge.

“When I started working with her, I was a singer,” Looman said. “Not anymore. When (Suzi) got a hold of me, I was a singer, actor and model.”

Looman spent the year training and perfecting his craft. He is on his way to Los Angeles, where he will advance his education, sign with acting agents and begin his recording career.

Looman won a $10,000 scholarship to the NY Performing Arts School, which Hosfeld helped him win while he attended Launch in Chicago.

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Envy Models & Talent is actually very structured in its services. The company offers opportunities for ages three and up “to learn self-confidence, poise, manners, modeling and acting.” They cater to men, women and children in their training facility.

Hosfeld began her modeling career at age 11 and appeared in hundreds of print advertisements, television commercials and fashion shows. She is also the 1983 Miss Wisconsin USA.

Therefore, Hosfeld’s grasp of the industry is grounded.

“If you can dream it, you can do it,” Hosfeld said. But it doesn’t come without commitment and dedication.

She is also a strong supporter of education and offers college scholarships to area students.

The opportunities for Mandeville are endless. The well-versed, articulate and gracefully poised young woman is transitioning into her role as Miss Florida, preparing for scheduled appearances and events.

One of her biggest is the Miss International Competition, which is held in July. This year’s pageant will be in Orlando for the first time, generating money for Central Florida.

“We don’t have the space in Hernando County to accommodate the pageant,” Hosfeld said. Yet the county will receive national recognition, since Miss Florida is a Brooksville resident. “She will be representing our community.”

Mandeville also is scheduled to emcee the “Passion for Fashion” prom show event, presented by Kiwanis of the Nature Coast on Saturday at the Hernando County Fairgrounds.

For more information, contact Pat Herrmann at (352) 345-4427 or visit www.kiwanisnaturecoast.org.

Suzi Hosfeld is proud of what her company has accomplished for area youth. “We are in the business of making dreams come true.”

Biz at a Glance

Name: Envy Models & Talent

Address: 4078 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606

Telephone: (352) 256-9959 or (239) 822-4661

Website: www.envypageantproductions.com

Motivating success

Kimberly Burbank Pye, CEO of America’s Media Marketing, credits the company’s success to her employees. “I have a great team of people,” she said, “and you do whatever it takes to keep good employees.”

Think big. Those two words, spoken by her father from as early on as she can remember, are what motivate Kimberly Burbank Pye.
As president and CEO of America’s Media Marketing Inc., Pye is a successful, well-established entrepreneur on every level. She began her affiliation with the company during its inception as an employee in her first year of college. She will celebrate 20 years this month.

Motivating success
Pye sits comfortably in the office she built four years ago and affectionately named Burbank Place after her parents. Her well-organized desk is covered in an array of magazine titles and decorative pieces displaying inspirational quotes.
The walls exhibit additional motivational art and plaques, hinting that Burbank’s passion is indeed sparked by the powers of positive thinking.
Her father, she said, was a major player in her success. He and her mother, Lauren, raised Kimberly and her six siblings with the kind of parental support that builds healthy self-esteem, encouraging them to reach for their dreams. Robert Burbank died just over a year ago.
“I can only now talk about him without becoming teary-eyed,” Pye said.
Burbank was an iconic figure in Hernando County, owning several successful real estate businesses and property investment firms. He was also a motivational speaker. His children inherited his entrepreneurial spirit and his drive to excel.
In fact, Pye became such a vital player in the advertising company where she worked that she purchased the business nine years ago at age 29.
She has since built the business into one that’s still vibrant and competitive, despite economic challenges. It competes with large corporations in big cities like New York and Los Angeles.
America’s Media Marketing was recognized twice as an Inc. 500 Award Company. That title is given each year to 500 of the fastest-growing, privately owned corporations in the United States.
“It is hard enough to do it for one year, but to do it two consecutive years is really impressive,” Pye explained. “You have to grow exponentially.”
America’s Media Marketing is contracted by more than 70 national magazines to produce and manage their marketplace sections and/or sell direct-response advertising into the magazines. America’s Media works with national publications like Parenting, Redbook, Money, Fortune, and Better Homes and Gardens’ Do It Yourself Magazine, to name a few.
Pye began working with Oprah Magazine more than a year ago and proudly displayed her company’s efforts in the new issue.
“They actually flew down here from New York and asked if we would help them sell their ad space,” she said. “Out of the 17 ads sold in the recent Selections section, we sold 15. We were very happy with that and the magazine was as well.
“We’ve come so far. “We used to focus more on the classified ads that you find in the back of the publications. We now mainly focus on displays, full page ads and big spreads.”
The team consists of 13 players, two of whom are Pye’s sisters, Misty Burbank Prunty and Kalani Burbank Ward.
Pye believes the secret to success is finding talented and loyal employees and retaining them.
“I want them to love coming to work like I do,” she said with an infectious smile.
The longest employed, Darlene McCracken, who is the administrative supervisor, has been with Pye for 13½ years.
Besides Pye’s sisters, seven other marketing account executives complete the sales team: Debbie Vasbinder and Joyce Engler, both with 11 years; Vicki Smith, with 10 years; Jennifer McRae with seven years; Karen Johnson with two years; Lori Driver with 1½ years; and the most recent hire, Wendy Blanton, who started two months ago.
The mixture of talent and personality adds to the foundation of success here. Johnson, for example, came from the real estate industry.
“I love coming to work every day,” she said, acknowledging she has never looked back.
McRae, meanwhile, used to be in customer service and sales.
The production department consists of two graphic designers who are responsible for creating the display ads and pages for the magazines. Production supervisor Jeff Varnes has been with Pye for more than eight years. Graphic designer Sonia Stokes is a seven-year veteran of America’s Media Marketing.
The team is complete with Financial Coordinator Debbie Merritt, who has been with the company for 10 years.
Absent is the competitive aura of a traditional sales environment. Instead, everyone encourages and praises each other’s efforts.
“We’re all working for the good of the company,” said Ward. “If it is successful, then we’re successful.”
They support each other, the women said, and celebrate each time one meets a specific challenge or goal. In fact, they listen intently to Blanton as she learns the techniques and are quick to praise or coach her.
Pye regularly offers incentives for her employees, awarding prizes like cruises and shopping sprees to top producers. It isn’t uncommon for the entire team to take a shopping excursion in a limo as a thank you for their efforts.
Pye’s secret to a dedicated team, she said, is her ability to recognize that her employees are people first.
“They have families,” she said. “I have a family. I’m a mom. If I need flexibility in my life … then I want them to have it, too.”
Pye has been married to David, a deputy U.S. marshal, for 15 years. They have three sons: David, 13, Justice, 9, and Hunter, 5.
The emphasis on family is difficult to miss and is not just between the Burbank sisters.
“We are treated like everyone else,” Ward said.
In this environment, it means they are all treated like family.
Biz at a Glance

Name: America’s Media Marketing Inc.

Address: 13169 Jacqueline Road, Brooksville FL 34613

Call: (800) 647-7530

8-minute ice cream

Homemade, slow-churned ice cream is about as American as it gets. Single or double scoop, in a cup or on a cone, from the local ice cream parlor or household freezer, ice cream is a treat loved by just about everyone.

Yet most of us have little or no idea how ice cream is actually made. Those who have attempted homemade likely found the process too messy, too time-consuming and dramatically inferior in quality to the real deal.

Steve Thompson knows quality homemade ice cream. He has been making it for years in machines manufactured through Emery Thompson Machine & Supply Co., the original batch freezer manufacturer.

It is no coincidence that Steve shares the same last name. Emery Thompson was Steve’s grandfather, who founded the company in 1903 in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Today, Steve runs Emery Thompson out of Airport Industrial Park in Brooksville on Flight Path Drive. He moved the entire company into a brand new building, built to accommodate a factory and offices, six years ago. It continues to manufacture batch freezers for national and international distribution.

“We’ve put people like Haagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry’s, Blue Bell and Breyers into business,” Thompson explained. “In fact, Haagen-Dazs started off with one of our machines.”

The history behind the Emery Thompson name began with its namesake making ice cream the old-fashioned way, in a wooden churn, using rock salt and ice, in the basement of a department store on 14th Street in Manhattan. Steve explained that the process required 30 minutes of constant churning as the ice cream froze.

“He was running it 15 hours a day,” Steve said. “They had gross sales of a little over $100,000,” which equivocates to well over $1.6 million today.

Later, Emery Thompson went home to New Rochelle and invented a modern freezer that circulated salt water around the tank, improving considerably how the ice cream was frozen.

He obtained the world’s first patent and Emery Thompson Machine & Supply Co. was born.

“Today’s machine is the same concept,” Steve explained.

The batch freezer uses a spinning dasher inside the tank to scrape the ice cream and Freon gas around it to keep it cold. A milky concoction is poured into the machine and comes out through a chute as traditional, creamy ice cream.

“It now takes about eight minutes,” he said.

The machine is called a batch freezer because it is designed to make batches of ice cream at a time. While Emery Thompson did manufacture the early soft-serve machines, the company since has focused solely on batch freezers for the purpose of building inventory in ice cream shops and restaurants.

The machines are built to order and shipped throughout the world. The facility on Flight Path has a factory where the freezers are manufactured and assembled.

The units come in four sizes that make six quarts, 12 quarts, 24 quarts and 44 quarts of ice cream per batch. Steve explained that the smaller units typically act as stepping stones while new businesses grow.

“Many of our customers expand to larger sizes as their companies take off,” he said.

The factory works on several machines at a time in different stages of progress. The company ships all over the world, including Australia and the island of Anguilla.

The machines use basic ingredients that include milk, cream, sugar and skim milk.

“Skim milk is the secret left out of most homemade recipes,” Steve said. Skim milk is what gives it the creamiest consistency.

Other ingredients are added, like fruits, syrups, nuts, and preserves, depending on which flavors are on the menus.

Steve Thompson demonstrated the ease of the machines by making vanilla and chocolate pecan flavors inside the company’s meeting room.

Using an ice cream mix that is distributed locally, Thompson blended a creamy consistency that he poured into the machine. After just eight minutes, the ice cream dropped from the chute, ice cold, firm, creamy and ready for consumption.

Geez Amish Ice Cream Mix, a dry concoction that is combined with sugar, milk and cream, is what he used to build the base. Adding Hershey’s chocolate syrup and Georgia pecans during the process resulted in a flavor that was comparative to any gourmet brand.

Best of all, Geez boasts it contains only 8 percent fat, significantly lower than some national brands of manufactured ice cream.

Jim Gries of Spring Hill distributes Geez Ice Cream Mix and stumbled on Emery Thompson by accident at a local farmer’s market.

“I was giving out samples of the ice cream,” Gries said, when Thompson’s sister tried one. She was so impressed that she gave Gries her brother’s cell phone number. They came together and now promote both products as a winning combination.

In fact, Thompson has recommended Geez particularly for other countries where access to milk and cream isn’t as convenient.

“We can ship the Geez with the machines,” he said. And it remains fresh because the product comes in dry form.

Emery Thompson Machine & Supply Company has a strong history of manufacturing quality ice cream batch freezers for more than 106 years. Yet quality customer care extends beyond the machines.

In fact, Emery Thompson offers onsite workshops and training sessions to help business owners succeed.

The Emery Thompson team includes 12 players who Steve said are a major force behind the company’s success.

“These 12 do the work of the 24 we had in New York,” he said.

Included in that team is Paula Thompson, Steve’s wife and the company’s office manager, and Sadie the golden retriever who is the head of security.

Everyone seems to share the same objective, which happens to be the company’s mission statement: “To Make Money and Have Fun Doing It!”

Biz at a Glance

Name: Emery Thompson Machine & Supply Co.

Address: 15350 Flight Path Drive, Spring Hill 34604

Telephone: (718) 588-7300 or (813) 862-2776

Website: www.EmeryThompson.com

Co-op members to receive credit

Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative’s Board of Trustees authorized a $14 million dollar capital credit refund to its members.

The credit will appear on WREC’s December statement and applies to members who have had service with the cooperative for more than one year.

Capital credits are the accumulation of all prior year’s revenue after the co-op’s expenses have been paid. These credits are applied on a pro rata basis to each member’s account and represent a portion of the total monies paid to the co-op by each member.

“While WREC faces many of the same economic challenges our members face, we are very pleased to be able to return $14 million in capital credits to our members this year,” said Billy Brown, WREC’S general manager.

Capital credits are unique to the cooperative business model. Counting this year’s refund, WREC members have received more that $237 million capital credits since 1990.