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Innovation + Job News

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WellCare Contributes $1M To Step Up For Students

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. is offering scholarships to improve health and educational opportunities for students in need.

WellCare announced its participation in the Step Up For Students scholarship program, contributing $1 million to help provide K-12 students coming from low-income families or poverty circumstances the opportunity to participate in learning environments tailored to their scholastic needs. Since 2004, WellCare has contributed $9 million for 2,400 students throughout Florida.

"WellCare always has a health focus, but we understand that you actually have to touch people’s lives to improve their health. When we start young, we know that we will have healthier adults in our community. Start young and build their futures and potential through these scholarships," says Denise Malecki, Corporate Communications Manager.

Through the Step Up For Students initiative, students are given the opportunity to excel in their educational environment by being able to participate in private schools or out-of-district public schools that may be more tailored to their individual learning needs.

A significant long-term benefit of the program is the potential break in cyclical poverty situations and the creation of successful life paths for children in challenged economic circumstances.

The program recognizes the differences in children’s learning styles and aims to give families choices in their child’s education -- an option that many financially stable families may already have.

Since the program’s start, more than 331,000 scholarships have been awarded.

"For 11 years, our program has been helping our state’s most disadvantaged and academically vulnerable children access the schools that best meet their needs. The program exists to promote equal educational opportunity, so all of Florida’s children have a better chance at a successful future. We are grateful to WellCare for heling us make this mission a reality," says Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill.

For more information on WellCare, visit them online. For information on Step Up For Students and how to get involved, visit their website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Denise Malecki, WellCare; Doug Tuthill, Step Up For Students

Accuform Signs Grows In Brooksville, Globally

Family owned and operated Accuform Signs makes signs and other products that inform, protect and motivate employees in the workplace.

"The products are designed to help people think more about being safe," says CEO Wayne Johnson.

The company was founded by Johnson’s parents, Ron and Veronica Johnson in 1976. Originally in New Port Richey, they began with just one type of custom product. Since then, the company has grown to 296 employees and a three-building campus in Brooksville.

Wayne Johnson began working for the company in a sales role in 1977 and eventually worked his way up the ranks to CEO. He is also Managing Partner, along with his brother David.

He is the recent recipient of Ernst & Young’s 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Award, in the Family Business category.

"We’re really a big, giant family so it was kind of appropriate to be in that category," says Johnson.

The award was based on a successful track record, as indicated by the company’s doubling in size every five years. "Hernando has been a great place for us to accomplish a lot of that growth because of the strong workforce availability," says Johnson.

Other award criteria included financial stability. The company was able to finance most of its growth without incurring debt and is currently exporting products to Canada, Mexico and Latin America.

A third criteria was culture and company environment. The company has been nominated for and won several “best places to work” awards locally because of its strong commitment to its employees.

Accuform's newest products focus on lock out tag out safety. These products help people control hazardous energy, such as locking out power while certain equipment is being used. They’re also developing new graphic materials that can cling to any surface -- even concrete block walls.

The company is planning another expansion with a 304,000 feet facility in 2014.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Wayne Johnson, Accuform Signs

Gator Cleaning's New Brand Sees Growth, Adds Jobs

When Marcus Meyer opened Gator Janitorial Services in 2004 it was a one-man operation. 

His company has expanded its services and staff, and changed its name to reflect its broader range. Gator Cleaning Solutions provides commercial cleaning services, including floor care, windows and construction cleanup in addition to general cleaning. And Meyer and his wife and partner, Erin, recently hired a quality assurance specialist and plan to add more sales staff.

"Up until now, it’s been myself and our first hire making cold calls, etc.," says Marcus. "Hopefully we’ll bring on our first sales rep soon. And if growth goes as we plan, we want to bring on another one. As the sales team brings in new business, we can then add another QA specialist as well as an account manager. So we're anticipating 20 to 25 new hires. full-time, part-time and contracted cleaners."

Marcus attributes the growth to word-of-mouth and a consistent commitment to personal service.

"Through the years of having the company, it’s always been the personal touch," he says. We get a large amount of referral business. I still have clients I had as an individual from the very beginning. We get a large amount of referral business. Even through the down economy, we’ve enjoyed a 35 percent growth rate."

Adds Erin: "We pride ourselves in our constant research of products and services. We use state-of-the-art equipment and eco-friendly products. With our healthcare and education clients, we strive for high satisfaction scores and low infection rates. For our business clients, its about their image. We help create and maintain that."

Marcus says he has noticed more demand for services recently, which may be indicative of an improved economy.

"I do feel that the economy is improving," he says. "I can tell because our clients are asking for more frequent cleanings again. For a while there, they'd gone down to two or three a week. Now they're asking for five times a week again. They’re reinvesting in their image, which is what we help them do."
Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Sources: Marcus and Erin Meyer, Gator Cleaning Solutions
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