Business visionary: A business owner, company executive or industry leader(s) whose creative approach has/is resulting in growth in the local economy and/or jobs. This may include any type of business, large or small.
▪ George Feldenkreis, founder and chairman, Perry Ellis International
▪ Keith Koenig, co-founder and president, City Furniture
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▪ Alberto Perlman, Beto Pérez and Alberto Aghion: co-founders, Zumba International
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Here’s what their nominators wrote about these finalists.
George Feldenkreis fled Cuba in 1961 with $700 in his pocket. He got his start as a small importer of guayaberas in 1967; 32 years later, he took over New York fashion house Perry Ellis International. Today, the publicly traded company is best known for casual fashion lines Perry Ellis, Original Penguin, Jantzen, Savane, Cubavera and Rafaella. Feldenkreis, who recently stepped down as president, retains chairmanship. Over the years, he has served as a trustee of the University of Miami, and on the board of directors at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the American Friends of Rambam Medical Center. The company employs more than 1,000 people.
Welcoming change with innovation, City Furniture President Keith Koenig has created a top U.S. furniture retail company with more than 1,100 employees and a 26-store statewide network. His visionary, humble leadership solves challenges and fuels growth to benefit South Florida’s economy and community — from work with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and Broward Workshop to the firm’s major support for Habitat for Humanity and many other charities. An early adopter and trendsetter, he established the free Health & Wellness Clinic at his million-square-foot Tamarac headquarters that boosts efficiency while helping City Furniture’s people and their families thrive. His is one of the nation’s first furniture retailers to build sustainable, LEED-certified showrooms and one of Florida’s first private companies to invest in a large delivery fleet of clean-burning compressed natural gas trucks. Bullish on Florida, he used Lean Management improvement processes to prepare for expansion that’s powering the company’s job growth.
Alberto Perlman, Beto Perez and Alberto Aghion of Zumba: Alberto Perez fell in love with dancing at age 7 by watching a VHS tape of the 1978 movie Grease, starring Travolta. At age 16, he was teaching aerobics classes for $1 an hour. In 2001 with $4,000, he and two childhood friends — also Albertos — started Zumba Fitness in one of the partners’ living rooms. The South Florida-based dance-exercise craze Zumba has become a global powerhouse, with about 12 million people young and old taking Zumba classes weekly at 110,000 locations in at least 125 countries. The privately-held company yields revenues through an instructors academy, instructors courses, brand merchandise including clothing, footwear, workout DVDS, video games, original music and lifestyle magazine.