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Business Observer 02.17.11

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  • | 5:00 a.m. February 16, 2011
  • East County
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+ O’Brien Family Farms celebrates grand opening
O’Brien Family Farms celebrated its grand opening from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 12, at the farm, 16505 S.R. 64 E.

Tom O’Brien, second-generation farmer and president of O’Brien Family Farms, recently opened the newly constructed farm stand and educational center. The farm stand features hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables that customers can pick themselves or buy freshly picked.

O’Brien has been working in the wholesale sector of the agriculture industry in Manatee County for more than 30 years

“We are trying to maintain the heritage of American family farming, which is getting tougher to do,” O’Brien said. “We want to educate children and families about the importance of our country being able to feed itself and also about good nutrition.”

The new farm stand carries 90% local produce grown at O’Brien Family Farms where customers can pick their own or buy in bulk.

+ Sandi Ansilio joins Soda Group
Keller Williams Realty announced last week that Sandi Ansilio has joined The Soda Group at Keller Williams Realty-Sarasota Lakewood Ranch.

Ansilio will focus on residential real estate sales, primarily representing buyers, and will establish the New Homes Division for The Soda Group.

Ansilio has 32 years of experience in real estate and new homes marketing, at one time representing numerous builders, developers and new residential communities in the Pittsburgh, Pa., area. Her background and experience emphasized marketing and advertising, including generating business for the company and marketing to agents and builders.

“Sandi’s vast experience in new homes and general real estate marketing makes her ideal for establishing our New Homes Division,” said Jim Soda. “We look forward to forming relationships with builders and developers in Sarasota and Manatee counties.”

A native of Pittsburgh, Ansilio was vice president of marketing for Prudential Pittsburgh for 12 years. She then opened her own marketing agency, Sandi’s Marketing Strategies, and handled the Metropolitan Pittsburgh Parade of Homes for two years.

For more information, contact The Soda Group, 6710 Professional Parkway, Suite 301, at 840-1168, 961-5857 or online at

+ Sanborn Studios announces sponosorships
Sanborn Studios last week announced commitments to several charity events this year.

The Lakewood Ranch-based business will be a Silver Sponsor for the Alpha Phi Alpha Foundation of Manasota’s annual golf tournament May 21 at University Park Country Club. Money raised provides academic scholarships to deserving students in the Sarasota and Manatee school districts.

The studios also will sponsor the 2011 Sarasota Exotic Car Fest that benefits the Child Protection Center. Events will be from Feb. 15-20.

“The Sarasota area has been kind and welcoming to us,” Sanborn Studios President Karinne Behr said. “We feel it is our duty to return the favor — and what better cause than helping our children?”

Sanborn Studios is a full-service TV/film production company with offices in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

+ GCBX elects officers, new board members
The Gulf Coast Builders Exchange announced its new officers and board members during its 59th Annual Meeting, Installation and Awards Banquet Feb. 10 at The Polo Grill and Bar.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Billy Buzzett, Secretary of the Florida Department of Community Affairs, who spoke to more than 375 GCBX members in attendance.

Lem Sharp, senior vice president/regional manager of Mills Gilbane, assumed the chairmanship from outgoing Chairman Bill Jarvis, vice president of Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty.

The following individuals were also reelected to the Board of Directors for three-year terms:

• Bill Jarvis, Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty
• Russ Bobbitt, Purmort and Martin Insurance Agency LLC
• Jack Cox, Halfacre Construction Company
• Lem Sharp, Mills Gilbane
• Alan Zirkelbach, Zirkelbach Construction Inc.

The Ronald G. Kauffman Volunteer Recognition Award was awarded to Linda Cavalieri, of Karins Engineering Group Inc. Cavalieri was recognized for her dedicated service to GCBX and her volunteer efforts for 2010.

Richard “Dick” Stehle owner of Climatic Conditioning, was honored posthumously with the Lifetime Achievement Award in a special ceremony.


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