Spirit of Entrepreneurship Honorees
The Junior Achievement eagle award is a rotating trophy, which is presented to the Spirit of Entrepreneurship honoree at the JA Golf Classic each year.
The Spirit of Entrepreneurship honoree embodies the JA mission through a record of business achievement, demonstrated business excellence, vision and innovation, inspiring leadership, and community-mindedness.
2018 Joe Cirulli, Gainesville Health and Fitness
Photo courtesy Business in Greater Gainesville
Joe Cirulli has led life focused on two things: helping people become healthy and building an inspiring, thriving company culture.
Never wavering in his vision or efforts despite adversity—from working for companies that went bankrupt to living on his last 12 cents in his car—Joe's quest always has been to inspire human potential. At 24, he started Gainesville Health & Fitness with only $1,700. Today, GHF is one of the most well-known and respected health clubs for the world.
GHF's visionary goals, like Joe's own, are well-known among company staff. Focused, aligned efforts leading the company's vision, developing leadership and motivating team members continually propel GHF to reach its true potential.
GHF's many accolades include guiding Gainesville, Florida to become "The Healthiest Community in America," featured on the cover of INC Magazine, and becoming the only Florida company named one of "The Best Small Companies in America, 2016" by Forbes. Joe was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 for contributions to his industry. www.ghfc.com
2017 Freddie Wehbe, Make It Happen!
Photo courtesy Business in Greater Gainesville
Freddie Wehbe earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Florida Tech in Melbourne, worked for NASA, and started Gator Domino's by turning one unprofitable store into one of the most successful franchises in the company. He was the first person to win the company's U.S. manager of the year three times and was a regular winner of Domino's Golden Franny Award for the top 1 percent of store owners.
With 20 years of management experience, he sold the business and opened Make It Happen! an improvement management, branding and consulting firm, offering expertise in activation, marketing, branding, and improvement management. www.wehbemarketing.com
2016 Rich Blaser & Darin Cook, Infinite Energy
Rich Blaser is the co-CEO and co-founder of Infinite Energy. The company started in Gainesville, Florida, and supplies electricity in Texas and natural gas in Florida, Georgia, New York and New Jersey.
Mr. Blaser founded the Young Peer Mentorship Group in Gainesville to support young entrepreneurs. He is active in the community, and in 2015, he received an Impact Award from Business in Greater Gainesville.
His passion for education is mirrored in Infinite Energy's corporate citizenship program, which focuses on educational initiatives from early learning to university.
Mr. Blaser graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Finance.
Darin Cook is the co-CEO and co-founder of Infinite Energy, which supplies electricity in Texas and natural gas in Florida, Georgia, New York and New Jersey. Founded in 1994, Infinite Energy is now one of the largest privately owned companies in Florida.
Infinite Energy's corporate citizenship program focuses on education, and Mr. Cook is involved in several local initiatives. He is active in mentorship groups for UF entrepreneurial students and veterans and also participates in the Take Stock in Children scholarship program.
Mr. Cook earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Statistics from the University of Florida.
2015 Kirk Klein, Koss Olinger
Kirk Klein is a Managing Partner at Koss Olinger Financial Group with 13 years of financial experience counseling affluent individuals and businesses. A Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Practitioner and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Mr. Klein is a specialist in comprehensive financial planning, including the use of investment and insurance strategies to accumulate, preserve and transfer personal wealth. He is an authority on business continuation and estate planning in closely held family businesses and was named in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine's "Who's Who of Florida Certified Financial Planner ® Professionals".
Mr. Klein is a graduate of Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Marketing. An accomplished public speaker, he is a frequent presenter and guest lecturer for business and professional groups on topics about retirement, estate and financial planning. He is a qualifying member of the financial service industry's Million Dollar Round Table and a member of the Financial Planning Association.
It is not solely business that fuels Mr. Klein, it is also his passion to give back to the community. He is the past Chairman of the Board of Junior Achievement and has served on the boards of several other organizations such as the Rotary Club, Leadership Gainesville Alumni, and the YMCA. He is also active on the Finance Committee at Trinity United Methodist Church. He and his wife, Michelle have two daughters. www.kossolinger.com
2014 Randi Elrad & John Pastore
John Pastore and Randi Elrad, Crime Prevention Security Systems & Custom Home Entertainment
Crime Prevention Security Systems is a family owned and operated business with over 100 employees and branches in Gainesville, Orlando, and Jacksonville. They have been named one of the top 100 Security Companies in the U.S.
John and Randi founded Crime Prevention Security Systems in 1975, and have since developed the company into a full home technology integrator.
Randi and her team were awarded the 2012 Ethics in Business Award by the Gainesville Rotary, and the 2011 Large Business of the Year award by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.
John's involvement in the local community and building-related industries includes membership in the Builders Association of North Central Florida, Marion County Building Association, and the Boys and Girls Club of Alachua County. His community leadership includes serving on the boards of both the Alarm Association of Florida and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. www.cpss.net
2013 Jim Islam, Florida Food Service
Jim began his career in food service with Garden Food Company in Detroit, MI. After serving in various positions at Garden Food Co, Jim became president and shareholder of Florida Food Service in 1975.
Florida Food Service has been a family owned company since its origination in 1948. Although the generations have changed, it is still family owned and operated. Jim has three sons that are employed in different capacities within the company.
Florida Food Services takes pride in the fact that all of its upper level managers have been with the company for more than 20 years. The 90 employees of the company boast an average of 15 years of service amongst them and help the local economy grow. The future depends on the Florida Food Service family.
Jim holds a BS in Marketing from Wayne State University. www.ffsinc.com