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  • | 5:00 a.m. March 5, 2014
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+ Rock star exec hums in new role at Datum Corp.
The fast growth at Datum Corp., a Lakewood Ranch-based IT services and software consulting firm, hit a new stratosphere with its latest executive hire.

The firm named Rob Campbell chief strategy officer in February. Campbell’s business claim to fame is twofold. In the early 1980s he was a product market manager at Apple, where he worked directly for Steve Jobs. He was also a marketing director at Microsoft in the late 1980s, when he worked with Bill Gates. There’s also this nugget: Campbell co-founded a firm in 1983, Forethought, which developed the programs PowerPoint and FileMaker.

Now Campbell will help Datum grow into new markets, and, eventually, get outside private equity funding. Datum, with clients that include breakfast-brunch-lunch chain First Watch, doubled sales in each of the past few years, says CEO Tom Frost. The 2014 first quarter has been the 11-year-old firm’s best first quarter ever, Frost adds, and it could grow sales up to 40% this year.

Campbell, after being pulled out of semi-retirement, previously helped run Sarasota-based Voalte, an IT company with a focus on smartphone apps that help nurses communicate better. (Voalte recently announced it received a $36 million capital investment from a New York private equity firm.) Campbell mentored Voalte’s co-founder, Trey Lauderdale, and was the firm’s CEO from 2008 to last March.

It was a mentor-mentee relationship that connected Frost and Campbell. The pair met through CEO roundtable sessions sponsored by GrowFl through the Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County. They had lunch together a few times, when Frost peppered Campbell with questions. Frost then floated “a trial balloon” about a Datum job Campbell’s way late last year.

“When he saw the growth potential, he decided to come on board,” Frost says.

Campbell says he’s received “quite a few” similar requests — not surprising, given his successful track record. But Campbell, 61, says he admires Frost’s ability to build Datum organically and how he’s positioned the business in the marketplace, where it partners with clients on all things IT, not just troubleshoots. Campbell adds that because he’s been where Frost is, he can provide some guidance on how the Datum executive can work on his business, not in it.

“I think I can help Tom avoid some obstacles and find some opportunities he might not see,” Campbell says. “My role is to help him look up and look out.”

— Mark Gordon

+ Construction industry gets Texas-sized competition
A $420 million construction firm from Houston, one of the 150 largest contractors in the country, wants in on the Florida recovery.

Satterfield & Pontikes, No. 148 in Engineering News-Record’s 2013 list of the top contractors in the U.S. by revenues, has opened an office in Lakewood Ranch. The firm has offices in Dallas, New Orleans and San Antonio, and is on a select preferred-builder list for Wal-Mart in Texas. The company, with a national client list that includes Delta Airlines at JFK Airport, has also been lauded in its home state for its utilization of new technology in the construction industry.

Craig Campbell, a familiar face to many in Sarasota-Bradenton construction circles, heads up the local Satterfield & Pontikes office. Campbell spent more than a decade in executive roles in the area, where he worked for DooleyMack in Sarasota and later Palmetto-based Zirkelbach Construction. Satterfield & Pontikes recruited Campbell to Houston in late 2012.

But the firm’s plans changed quickly, when Wal-Mart executives asked it to bid for work in the Sunshine State. Wal-Mart requires contractors to have an office within 500 miles of a jobsite. So Campbell’s move to Houston became a short stint.

Although Wal-Mart was the impetus, Campbell says the goal is to make Satterfield & Pontikes a player in the Southeast, a firm that can compete with giants such as Beck and Skanska. He envisions a split in which 30% of the division’s work is for Wal-Mart, while 70% goes toward other clients, especially in retail and health care.

“If Wal-Mart hadn’t spoken to us about expansion, I’d still be in Houston,” Campbell says. “That said, this is a regional office.”

Campbell is already back in the networking game, with organizations such as the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange in Sarasota-Bradenton and the Associated Builders and Contractors Gulf Coast chapter in Tampa. He’s close to signing a few deals for work, one in Pinellas County and another in Manatee County. He projects a busy summer for the firm.

“I really believe in the decision to open this office,” says Campbell. “There are a lot of positive indicators out there.”

— Mark Gordon

+ Berkshire Hathaway acquires real estate company
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty has expanded its reach in the Sarasota area by acquiring Cristello & Co. Real Estate.

The transaction, which adds sales professionals and team members to the statewide company, represents Berkshire’s ongoing growth strategy. It follows the recent acquisitions of Elite Preferred Realty in the Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch areas in November, and of Main Street Realty International, in Orlando, in December.

“Cristello & Co. Real Estate is well respected throughout Sarasota and is known particularly for its exceptional leadership, prime location and more than 30 years of experience in the Sarasota markets,” said Rei Mesa, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty. “The firm’s stellar reputation and loyal client base speaks for the skill and service of this fine team Jessie and Gail Cristello will continue at the office as top-producing sales professionals.”

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, formerly Prudential Florida Realty, serves 17 counties with 41 offices and more than 1,500 agents.

The full-service brokerage, founded in 1999, is a wholly owned subsidiary of WCI Communities Inc. It ranks 36th industry-wide for sales volume, according to RISMedia.



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