Eleven companies owned or led by UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) alumni were named to the University of Florida’s 2021 Gator100.
During a year of uncertainty and change, UF alumni have been leading thriving business and finding innovative ways to overcome the challenges put in their way. Each year, the UF Alumni Association recognizes the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or run by UF alumni by naming them to the Gator100.
“We are so pleased to see College of Agricultural and Life Sciences graduates excelling as entrepreneurs and as leaders in industry,” said CALS Dean Elaine Turner. “CALS alumni have consistently been a part of the Gator100 since its inception in 2016.”
The following companies owned or led by CALS alumni were recognized as Gator100 honorees:
- Engineered Design Services LLC, president and CEO Craig McKenzie (No. 2)
- Healthy Steps Nutrition, founder and CEO Nicole Aucoin (No. 11)
- Bearbottom Clothing, founder and CEO Robert Felder and chief marketing officer Josh Firestone (No. 21)
- CEPRA Landscape, LLC, vice-president Brandon Ray (No. 22)
- Landsberg Bennett Private Wealth Management, founder Michael Landsberg and co-founders and principal financial officers Lew Bennett and Anthony Dubbaneh (No. 35)
- Greek House, CEO Karthik Shanadi and chief marketing officer Luke McGurrin (No. 43)
- Tellus, CEO Bradley Levine and chief technology officer Chris Pernicano (No. 45)
- Marmer Construction, Inc, owner and CEO Martin Wohl (No. 66)
- Encore Mechanical, LLC, president John Reynal (No. 74)
- Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, founder and CEO Dani McVety (No. 87)
- SpiderBoost, president Armando Martinez (No. 97)
This year marks the seventh consecutive year Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice has been recognized in the Gator100. They are the only company to make the Gator100 list seven times.
“We’re thrilled to be recognized alongside so many other fast-growing Gator businesses,” said Bearbottom Clothing’s Felder, a food and resource economics alumnus. “My experience at UF and CALS played a large role in helping shape our business, especially due to the fact I started Bearbottom while at UF. We have big plans for the future and are honored by the support of the Gator community.”
The honorees in this year’s Gator 100 graduated with CALS degrees in the following five majors: food and resource economics, dietetics, microbiology and cell science, landscape and nursery horticulture (now plant science), and agricultural and biological engineering (now biological engineering).
Greek House’s CEO Shanadi, a food and resource economics alumnus, employed current CALS students during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many companies were unable to have interns during the uncertain times, leaving students desperate for work experience and internship credits, Greek House launched a remote sales and marketing internship to provide students with these necessary experiences.
“When the pandemic took the world by storm, we wanted to provide our customers and campus ambassadors an opportunity to get more work experience,” Shanadi said.
In the first year of launching the remote sales and marketing internship, Greek House had more than 1,000 students complete the program. There are more than 5,000 applicants for the summer 2021 intern cohort and, of those applicants, Greek House is expecting to welcome close to 300 interns to the team.
“This internship teaches students the No. 1 most sought out skill by employers, which is sales and marketing,” Shanadi said. “Students also receive hands–on training in how to use a sales tool, develop lead lists, reach out to potential clients, and close business. Each student is paired with a manager who mentors them to success through the program.”
Greek House is one example of a successful Gator business that provides valuable experiences to current UF students.
To qualify for Gator100, companies must have been in business at least five years as of Oct. 30, 2020, and have verifiable annual revenues of $250,000 or more each year from 2017 to 2019. The company must be Gator–owned, led by University of Florida alumni or have former students who served as a chief executive for the period of Jan. 1, 2017, through Oct. 30, 2020. Additionally, the company must operate in a manner consistent with the values and image of the University of Florida.
View the full list of 2020 Gator100 honorees at gator100.ufl.edu.