Nine UF/IFAS CALS alumni honored with Gator100 awards
Seven companies owned or led by University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) alumni were named to UF’s 2020 Gator100 during a ceremony at 6 p.m. on Feb. 28 in the Exactech Arena of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Four of the seven companies have been named to the Gator100 previously, with Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice being the only company of the 2019 Gator100 honorees to have earned this distinction for the sixth straight year. Sponsored by the UF Alumni Association, in partnership with the UF Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center, the Gator100 identifies and celebrates the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or run by UF alumni. Ernst & Young calculated each company’s compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past three years to generate the ranking.
“The Gator100 honors UF alumni from across the university who are founding and growing amazing companies around the country,” said Matt Hodge, associate vice president for development & alumni relations at UF Advancement. “It’s an incredible affirmation of the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the Gator Nation.”
The following companies owned or led by CALS alumni were recognized as Gator100 honorees:
- Engineered Design Services LLC, president and chief executive officer Craig McKenzie (No. 35)
- Greek House, co-founder and chief executive officer Karthik Shanadi (No. 25)
- Landsberg Bennett Private Wealth Management, founder Lew Bennett (No. 97)
- Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, founder, president and chief executive officer Dani McVety (No. 19)
- SkyFrog Landscape, LLC, owner and chief executive officer Jason Lee, chief operating officer Nick Pool and director of business development Tammi Wait (No. 69)
- Southeast Veterinary Neurology, veterinary neurologist and owner Michael Wong (No. 82)
- Tellus, president and chief executive officer Bradley Levine (No. 34)
The honorees’ degrees from CALS range from majors in food and resource economics to agronomy, plant science, microbiology and cell science, and more.
Jason Lee, owner of SkyFrog Landscape, LLC, became involved in the landscaping business because of his involvement in student organizations with the environmental horticulture program as a CALS student.
“Going to the National Collegiate Landscape Competition with my classmates was a great experience that helped get me involved in the department and make life-long connections. It was really a boost into the industry network for me,” Lee said.
Lee has been invited back several times by the UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department to speak to students taking a professional development class. He shares with these students that the key takeaway from college is making connections with people who will affect them for the rest of their lives, whether that’s meeting future coworkers, friends, advisers, mentors or industry resources. Lee’s business partner, Nick Pool, was his peer in CALS. Tammi Wait joined the team after an internship with SkyFrog.
The SkyFrog brand grew from the original SkyFrog Tree Service company, which was started by a mentor of Lee’s. While in school at UF, Lee helped with tree work and then built the landscape side of the company after working in the industry. The company services Gainesville and surrounding areas up to a two-hour radius from the city.
“We’re growing in all parts of our business,” Lee said. “A lot of that is from hard work and word of mouth. We’re doing quality work that is recognized by our customers and the community. We want to continue to grow at a healthy rate to provide the best service for our customers.”
To qualify for this year’s Gator100, companies must have been in business for five years or more as of Oct. 15, 2019, and have had verifiable annual revenues of $250,000 or more every year since 2016. Additionally, a UF alumnus or alumna must have met one of the following three leadership criteria:
- Owned 50 percent or more of the company from Jan. 1, 2016, through Oct. 15, 2019; or
- Served as company’s chief executive from Jan. 1, 2016, through Oct. 15, 2019; or
- Founded the company and been active as a member of the most senior management team from Jan. 1, 2016, through Oct. 15, 2019.
View the full list of 2020 Gator100 honorees at gator100.ufl.edu.