Last year the College was honored to celebrate the inaugural Gator100, the 100 fastest-growing, Gator-owned or Gator-led businesses in the world.
With the 2nd Annual Gator100 Gala Luncheon just a few weeks away (Feb. 19), we visited with some of last year’s honorees to see the personal and professional impact making this exclusive list had on them.
The Gator100 celebrates growth, and Kemper’s (BSBA ’05) Swamp Head Brewery is certainly expanding.
Swamp Head, which is aiming to become a regional brewery, moved into a new 13,000-plus-square-foot facility last year. The larger space will allow Swamp Head, No. 32 on last year’s Gator100, to eventually produce the annual 15,000 barrels required to be classified as a regional brewery.
Additionally, Kemper, Swamp Head’s Owner and CEO, has become more involved with the College’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center. He hosted participants in the Center’s Veterans Entrepreneurship Program where he discussed the challenges of starting a business, and assisted with a business ethics convention on campus.
“It has been a lot of fun getting to reconnect with UF, talk to other people with similar ambitions and goals, and share my experiences with them,” said Kemper, who was named the Center’s 2015 Emerging Alumni Entrepreneur.
The University of Florida has always been close to the hearts of Vince (BA ’93) and Leigh Ann Horton (BSAc ’94, MAcc ’94). Their company’s inclusion on the inaugural Gator100 added to their adoration for their alma mater.
“It definitely strengthened our love for UF,” said Leigh Ann, President of AIT Life Safety in Orlando. “We’re so proud that our school would honor alumni this way. We are proud Gators, but now even more proud!”
AIT Life Safety, No. 80 on the 2015 Gator100, is a leader in commercial fire alarm/fire sprinkler systems in Orlando and Central Florida. The company has continued to grow since its debut on the Gator100. Leigh Ann said AIT’s revenue increased by $1 million, and the company has added eight employees in the past year.
Ethan Fieldman struck up a conversation with a fellow Gator100 honoree during last year’s festivities. The conversation turned toward business, and Fieldman mentioned how difficult it was for his company to ship 250,000 algebra workbooks.
It just so happened, Fieldman was speaking with Rob Hooper (BA ’91), Chief Executive Officer of shipping company Atlantic Logistics, and a Gator100 partnership was born.
“We’re not shipping experts so we needed help,” said Fieldman, Founder and President of Study Edge, No. 17 on last year’s Gator100. “He advised us to move most of our orders to freight shipping along with some other helpful tips. It saved thousands of dollars.”
Fieldman said he’s looking forward to this year’s Gator100 as well.
“We bought one table last year, but we’ll be buying two tables this year,” Fieldman said. “I had such a great time last year, and I want to bring more of my staff to recognize them for their hard work.”