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East County Wednesday, Jul. 28, 2021 11 months ago

Search for Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance leader begins again

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Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance would covet a leader who would stay longterm.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

In March, when Dom DiMaio verified he was interested in the Manatee County Administrator's position, some members of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance wondered whether he would remain that organization's CEO and president for much longer.

Sure, the county job, which eventually went to School District of Manatee Board Member Scott Hopes, was a gem and would have been a step up for DiMaio. No one could have blamed him for pursuing the position. But did it indicate DiMaio, who took over the Alliance in April 2019, was job hunting?

On Monday, the Alliance announced DiMaio was leaving to become president of RITE Technology of Sarasota. RITE Technology's website said "since 1989 it has provided the Gulf Coast with business solutions (such as copiers and printers) to meet document workflow demands."

Jay Heater: Side of Ranch

No doubt DiMaio is a talent. He was the Synovus Bank Division CEO for Central Florida before he left to lead the Alliance.

That decision made it seem he wanted something a little more fun since he obviously could have made more money in the banking industry. But now copiers and printers?

The COVID-19 pandemic wasn't fun for anyone, especially a group where networking is at the forefront.

"I wouldn't have wanted anyone other than Dom to have gotten us through that time," said Amanda Parrish, the Alliance's chair of the board. "The Alliance is a better organization because of his leadership and passion."

It is a fact, though, the business world offers bigger and better opportunities for talented people. At the same time, the Alliance board must be asking itself some hard questions, such as whether the pay and benefits package is enough to keep a great leader longterm.

Heather Kasten, who proceeded DiMaio as the Alliance president and CEO, left after a five-year run to take the same position with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

"We're definitely looking for a longterm leader, someone who can lead this organization into the future," Parrish said. "We feel this is an extremely attractive position. We feel the pay, the benefits, the notoriety of the job in the fastest growing community in the nation, all make this an attractive position. Hands down, this will attractive top level candidates."

That being said, Parrish said the Alliance's board members have been discussing "unique benefits" they can offer to make the position even more attractive.

DiMaio will transition out of his role with the Alliance in August and Vice President Dan Sidler will take over his duties until the position is filled. Although a search committee has been formed, including Parrish, she said a timeframe hasn't been established to hire a new CEO and president.

Parrish said having a strong leader in Sidler will allow them to take their time in finding the strongest candidates possible.

The Alliance certainly needs a leader who can grow the membership. When DiMaio took over, the organization had 615 members but has lost approximately 100 members since, mostly due to the pandemic. Without DiMaio, Parrish said the situation would have been worse.

"Obviously, for any organization, turnover is something you want to avoid," Parrish said. "We're all sad to see Dom go. But I am excited. We are going to have a positive leader who is passionate about our mission.

"We are looking for a mix of mindsets and skillsets, someone who has the business acumen, but also who has that presence to form connections. Someone who has been a leader."

She said she is blessed to have fellow search committee members who have experience in the process.

"We will find amazing candidates." 

 

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