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Posted on Jun 18, 2013 in Community

Men of Influence

We honor a diverse group of men this month who in their own way are making their own impact in our local part of the world through their leadership in philanthropy, business, professional practices and advocacy.

Al Dunlap
Story: John Sotomayor

A colorful man, Al Dunlap has led an extraordinary life. A legendary businessman and world-famous CEO (Scott Paper, Lily-Tulip, etc.) and renowned best-selling author (Mean Business, 1998), Dunlap made a name for himself in the high stakes world of mergers & acquisitions during the late 80s to mid 90s. He was most known for merging companies such as Scott Paper and Kimberly-Clark, turning it into the second largest consumer products company after P&G.

Dunlap was also world-renown for saving companies in trouble, such as the holdings of Kerry Packer, a media mogul and Australia’s richest man. Packer’s business was losing $20 million a week. Packer needed Dunlap to restructure his conglomerate, comprised of 401 separate companies. Packer had gotten involved in too many non-compatible business practices – ranging from steel to farming – so that some prospered while others were neglected and thus, hemorrhaged money.

Dunlap knew the core of the Packer fortune was media. With 68 magazines, it was one of the finest media empires in the world. He also had consolidated press holdings and the leading television channel. Dunlap fixed the problem by returning the focus to the core product – the media.

He did the same for Lily Tulip, American Can and Scott Paper. Together with his good friend and mentor Sir James Goldsmith, Dunlap would purchase corporations that were in trouble and fix them. They included Diamond International, Grand Union, and Crown Zellerbach.

Dunlap has met everyone – including Ronald Reagan, Lord Rothschild, Mikhail Gorbachev, Arnold Palmer, Bobby Goldsboro, Donald Trump, Justice Clarence Thomas, Muhammad Ali, Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher. In addition, Dunlap completed a five city international speaking tour with General Schwarzkopf and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Dunlap has been featured everywhere. During his life, Dunlap graced the covers and was profiled in numerous magazines including People, Fortune, Florida Trend, Business Week, Georgia Trend, Newsweek, The Bulletin and World Trade, to name a few. He has also been featured on Dateline, Nightline, Pinnacle and numerous other television shows.

Dunlap’s success can be directly attributed to his decisiveness, discipline and determination. He earned three scholarships – to West Point, Dartmouth College and Brown University. He opted for the United States Military Academy at West Point. After graduation he was a qualified paratrooper and executive of a nuclear missile site.

Known for his cheeky sense of humor, Dunlap loves to regale his friends with humorous tales. That includes the origins of his notorious nickname – Chainsaw Al. The nickname originated from John Aspinall, a famed British zoo owner and gambling club owner. He meant the nickname, “Chainsaw Al” as a compliment told at a party but was later taken out of context by the American media. Aspinall referred to Dunlap as “Chainsaw” as he explained because he saw Dunlap as a sculptor who trimmed away the dead branches to reveal a masterful work of art. Dunlap jokes the name “Chainsaw Al” was so unflattering, his own mother would not take his calls.

“When you lead, you will be criticized, but if you believe you are doing the right thing, you accept it as part of leadership,” said Dunlap. “If you cannot take the criticism, you are not fit to lead.”

Dunlap learned this from Sir Goldsmith who has said to him, “My Dear Boy, when you accomplish extraordinary things in life, leave it to others to cast dirt upon you. Consider it a compliment.”

That was then. Nowadays, Dunlap and his lovely wife of 45 years, Judy, turned to a peaceful life of philanthropy in Ocala, where they reside with their two beloved German Shepherds, Brit and Cadet, not only sharing their wealth but also his view on life – that life will knock you on your butt, and when it does, get back up and back in the game.

In recent years, the Dunlaps have devoted their lives to philanthropy and animal rescue. The Dunlaps have an animal rescue farm with more than 75 animals that they have rescued and will be cared for their entire lives.

Together, the Dunlaps have donated $5 million to build the Dunlap Cancer Center in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic in memory of Judy’s mother in her hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The Dunlaps are $15 million donors to FSU. He and Judy donated $5 million to the Albert J. and Judith A. Dunlap Student Success Center, $5 million to the Al Dunlap Football Practice Fields, and most recently, $5 million as the lead gift for the Albert J. Dunlap Indoor Athletic Training Facility. Both he and Judy have also earned Honorary Doctorates at FSU and have given commencements speeches to graduating seniors.

Al and Judy Dunlap hold an annual Christmastime event for 100 underprivileged children in Marion County, in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Department. They enjoyed a luncheon, entertainment by a magician and a visit from Santa Claus with a bag of gifts.

“The kids come in downtrodden and leave feeling good,” shared Dunlap. “Of all the things we do, that makes us feel the happiest.”

Tom Ingram, Ron Zook, Rusty Branson, Jay Musleh
Story: David Moore

Everyone knows Gateway Bank of Central Florida is not your typical bank. That’s why it is called “the new old fashioned bank.”

It is a new bank, having opened in 2007 here in Ocala, offering all the conveniences of modern day banking. But it is old fashioned in its role as a true community bank, taking in local deposits from people they know and lending it out to people and businesses they know in our community, with all the decisions made right here in Ocala.

In the five years it has been operational, Gateway Bank has become a center of influence in the community with both its unique building and its people.

Newest among the Gateway people is Ron Zook, a heavy hitter in the sports arena as former head coach for the Florida Gators football team. Zook is the bank’s new Community Relations/Business Development officer.

“Ron is a shareholder and a customer so he brings that perspective to the table,” said Tom Ingram, CEO of Gateway Bank of Central Florida. “With his background in coaching and particularly in recruiting, and with his great people skills and his love for the community in Ocala, we thought it was a great fit to get him involved in the bank. He has a passion for community banking and truly wants to make a significant impact in helping Gateway become a high performance Community Bank.”

Zook, who most recently was head football coach at the University of Illinois where he was Big Ten and National Coach of the Year in 2007. Along with his duties at Gateway Bank, Zook is seen throughout the football season as a CBS football analyst.

“I’ve known Tom for a long time and I’ve watched these guys grow this bank,” he said. “I am excited to be a part of this. When you walk in the door here, you feel it. Whether it’s the first person you to talk to, the chocolate chip cookies or the cup of coffee, whatever it is, you realize this is not your typical bank.”

What sets this bank apart from others is its role as a truly local community bank, Ingram said. “We’re big believers in the community bank model. All the decision-making is done locally under this roof. And everything doesn’t have to fit a box. We can make our own decisions based on our knowledge of the people, the community and the market. I think that’s very important.”

Gateway Bank has also set the standard in opening its building to the community, allowing local organizations to hold meetings and special events there, and allowing local artists to show their works. “We’ve had hundreds of community organizations have their meetings here and we’ve had more than 75 events,” Ingram said. “Our building has definitely been a point of influence in the community. It’s enabled us to give back in a way that is unique.”

It’s actually a strategy that has worked well for the bank. “It’s a great way to meet new people and a great way to get them under your roof and introduce them to our style of banking,” Ingram said.

Because it is a community bank, those employed there are encouraged to be active in their community by volunteering and supporting local causes.

“We have a responsibility to give back to our community,” said Rusty Branson, Bank President, who serves on such boards as College of Central Florida Foundation, Childhood Development Services, the Southeastern Youth Fair and Ocala/Marion Chamber and Economic Partnership. “You can’t just sit on the sidelines. You’ve got to get in there with your time and talents and do what you can to help the community.”

One of the ways employees give back is through a campaign that allows them to wear jeans on Friday in exchange for donating $5 to a special fund. During weekly staff meetings, employees suggest causes to support and everyone votes on it. An average donation is $250, which is then matched or exceeded by the bank.

Supporting more than 75 charities, Gateway has raised more than $200,000 since 2007.

Jay Musleh, SVPSCO for Gateway, won election to the Ocala City Council last year. He said that would not have been possible without the support of his employer.

“Gateway Bank has been very supportive, not just of me, but of anyone who volunteers their time and efforts in any community organization,” he said. “I’ve been involved in banking quite a few years and never worked with a bank that is as committed to the community as Gateway Bank.”

George E. Mathis III
First Vice President, Investments, Raymond Jame
Financial Planning, Wealth Transfer Strategies and Estate Planning
Story: John Sotomayor
Photography: Chris Redd

Similar to the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald character, Jay Gatsby – the young, mysterious millionaire in the 1925 American classic “The Great Gatsby,” George E. Mathis, III is a self-made successful businessman who turned his zest for life into experiences worthy of a Fitzgerald novel. An avid traveler, within the past year George has been to Greece, Turkey, Amsterdam, Paris and Kenya.

This year, George will visit South America and Fiji. World traveler and explorer aside, George is known best by those who know him personally as a hard worker that values life’s everyday blessings and strives to enhance the lives of those around him.

While in Africa, he spent several days with indigenous tribes learning about their customs and needs. George shared the memory he treasures most was the kindness bestowed upon him by a tribal princess who awarded him with their most valued honor after he donated money to purchase a herd of livestock.

George is a firm believer in sharing life’s experience with those most important to you – family, friends and clients. He has skydived with clients, shark dived and hot air ballooned with friends, as well as zip lined in Costa Rica.

Ask those who know him well and they will tell you the same, George got his sense of adventure and work ethic from his father. George E. Mathis, II was an engineer who worked tirelessly until he retired. Alas, he never had the chance to enjoy the fruits of his labor as he was diagnosed with cancer and passed at the early age of 57. In his final conversations with his son, George II passed on his wisdom about living life to the fullest and sharing his good fortune.

Taken to heart, George III’s passion for giving back to his community and those less fortunate is evident on nearly a daily basis. He’s an avid supporter of March of Dimes, breast cancer awareness and the American Cancer Society – a personal cause for George in memory of his father. Most recently, George and several clients whom have each battled cancer attended the Cattle Baron’s Ball in Ocala. George raises scholarship funds each year as a board member for the Jacob Casey Foundation. Established in 2008, shortly after Jacob Casey was killed in an auto accident, the Foundation hosts various annual events to raise money for athletic and academic scholarships for underprivileged students.

George greatly appreciates the service that countless men and women provide to our country every day. Whether it is sponsorships for memorial events such as Veteran’s Day golf tournaments or clothing drives to help those who have returned home and are reentering the workforce. Each year George also helps gather necessities for donation to a local charity, such as the Back-pack Scramble in The Villages, that delivers personal products to homeless children and families in Marion County. He has also donated twenty bicycles and two car loads of toys for Toys for Tots over the holidays, and collects clothes for the needy in Africa.

Recently, George began a new limousine service company, Luxury Concepts. From the outset, George decided that he would help charity functions and charitable foundations by providing the limousine service as a means to achieve their goals.

George’s primary focus though is his wealth management business. He has actively managed assets for more than a decade and his clients always come first. As a First Vice President, Investments with Raymond James, George and his assistant, Jamie Losito, strive to offer clients nothing but the best customer service and customized investment plans for their individual needs and goals. “It’s a nice feeling,” said George, “to be able to assure a family that generations to come will be taken care of. It is one of my greatest pleasures to help my clients achieve their goals and aspirations.”

George discovered what it takes some a lifetime to figure out, that ever important delicate balance between each of his responsibilities. Those who know him would agree – being an influential and active member of our community is a characteristic he absolutely holds in high regard.

Dr. Ravi Chandra
Story: John Sotomayor and Kim Sandstrom
Photography by Chris Redd

In the age of modern medicine where doctor care consists of a five-minute exam and a “quick fix” prescription to satisfy the symptoms not the source, it is refreshing to experience the level of intimate, thoughtful care demonstrated by Dr. Ravi Chandra of Surgical Specialists and The Vein Center.

Despite his grueling 14-hour-per-day schedule, Dr. Chandra is always composed as he tends to his patients with his exceptional patient-centered care. He credits his ability to accomplish this through his well-adjusted balance between his outer world and inner peace.

Yes, inner peace.

“Inner peace is perhaps the most the most important element in my work as a surgeon,” said Dr. Chandra. When people go to him for treatment, they depend on him to have an open caring approach as he tends to their needs. Without inner peace, he could not be the listener they require so he could best assess their medical needs.

It is because of this highly spiritual identity that Dr. Chandra serves as a man of inspiration to others. He is able to balance the different elements of his world – as man, husband, father, healer and community advocate and contributor.

Outside of his medical practice, Dr. Chandra is husband to Dr. Tina Chandra, whom he met and fell in love with 17 years ago in Tennessee. He is father to Rayna Chandra, a student at Grace Episcopal School and gifted dancer.

Dr. Chandra and his family have devoted countless hours and other contributions toward charities and community organizations in Marion County such as Dancing with the Doctors, United Way, The American Heart Association, Go Red, The Boys and Girls Club and the Indian Cultural Center.

A devoted family man and avid traveler, Dr. Chandra enjoys traveling with his family to the far regions of the earth, experience exotic cultures, fascinating people and worldly vistas. Their next adventure? Africa!

Of course, after taking in all they could from a memorable journey, the Chandra family is always happy to return to their home – Ocala/Marion County.

It is here; after all, that Dr. Chandra feels he contributes most to his life’s work and passion – healing those who are sick with his skills as a surgeon. Not only does he help people in the operating room, but also in the classroom. Dr. Chandra hosts seminars to share his basic health ideas to maintain healthy bodies.

Instant gratification is not the answer, he warns. To do so, means you are merely masking pain and deferring disease management. Instead, Dr. Chandra belives that a complimentary approach combining eastern and western medical philosophies produce the optimal results. Where appropriate, he recommends alternative methods with the focus on patient safety and healing, in combination with advanced western medicine. And no matter what obstacles life presents you with, always approach them with inner peace.

David McKenzie
Story: David Moore

“My strengths are a positive outlook and the ability to be flexible,” says David McKenzie of the traits that surely serve him well as the new president of Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala. “I encourage that in my staff. Find the good in everything. There’s no such thing as a problem. It’s just something that we’re looking for a solution to.”

McKenzie just completed his first year at Trinity. In that capacity, he serves as chief executive officer of the private school, overseeing fundraising, staff development and strategic planning, as well as the principal, academics and day-to-day operations. Originally from Philadelphia, McKenzie brings 41 years of education work experience.

As far as academics, McKenzie said the school continues to improve and is moving forward into the electronic age, eliminating textbooks and notebooks. Enrollment was at 490 students for the 2012-2013 school year and is already at 551 for the fall.

McKenzie encourages each member of his staff to get to know the students as individuals. To that end, every teacher is expected to moderate at least one student group or club, and to attend at least five activities each year.

“Most do more than one group and they go to many more than five activities,” he said. “But we expect them to go and support the kids at concerts, tournaments, games, plays and all the things that happen at a high school. It’s a lot more fun being in education that way and it’s wonderful for the students to see your support.”

McKenzie has also encouraged a greater commitment to community service at Trinity.

The school has adopted several area nursing homes, and students visit residents on a regular basis, adopting those who do not have regular visitors. A group of Trinity High boys go regularly to one of the homes to play pool or a game of cards with the men who live there.

“We’re asking them to go forth and to minister to those in the community who are in need,” he said, noting the school’s theme is “Everything we do is for the glory of God.”

McKenzie and his wife Mary have been residents of Ocala for just one year and are impressed with the spirit of our community. “I feel I died and went to Heaven,” McKenzie said.

“Our high school wasn’t built for the diocese. The community – Catholics and non-Catholics alike – built it. They are the people who built the school – it is phenomenal. That doesn’t happen everywhere, and the people in Ocala should be proud of what they do.”

Most would agree his enthusiasm for the school and community are contagious.

“I am privileged to go to high school every day and more than that I have the honor of attending Trinity Catholic. I just am so positive about it. I feel that rubs off on other people. I think that anyone who’s been at the school will tell you that’s the case.”

Chef Alabaugh
Story: David Moore
Photography by Chris Redd

Rick Alabaugh, executive chef at the popular Ivy House, can be described as the chef’s chef. He displays a creative genius that has other chefs clamoring to learn his secrets. Alabaugh’s contributions to Ocala/Marion County have literally redefined how and what we eat.

His influence at Ivy House can be experienced in the daily specials offered at the restaurant known for southern cooking. “The kind of food we do here at the Ivy House blends together and stays together like an emulsified vinaigrette. It’s not like oil and water that separates. This really works.”

That’s why you can experience a goat cheese crusted filet, served over shingled yellow and green squash atop a risotto, right next to the Ivy’s House’s famous Krispy Chicken. You can enjoy a slice of Buttermilk Walnut Pie right along with Crème Brulee.

Alabaugh entered Ocala’s culinary scene in 2001 as executive chef at the new Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club. What people learned quickly is that he has a passion for great food and he loves sharing what he knows with others, whether it is through cooking shows or hands-on cooking classes.

As executive chef at the Vail Cascade Hotel and Spa in Colorado, Alabaugh created an internship program for culinary students at Johnson & Wales University. “I worked with 120 students during that time and I got to influence and guide them,” he said, noting he stays in touch with 20 that are still executive chefs.

Alabaugh is truly an award-winning chef, with awards in all the cities he has worked. For Ocala Magazine, Alabaugh won Best of the Best chef eight years in a row. Considered the “man to beat” in 2005, Alabaugh defeated local notable chefs Felix and Randall White in an Iron Man Chef competition. He also won local Culinary Combat competitions in 2009 and 2010. And you can expect the Ivy House at the 2014 Taste of Ocala.

He also believes in giving back to the community, which is why he contributed his culinary expertise for an annual fundraising event for Grace School, where his children attended. The event was so successful – more than doubling the previous year’s profits – he continued to partner with them for four more years. He’s also contributed his talents at events to benefit Blessed Trinity Catholic School and the Children’s Home Society, among others.

When Alabaugh and his family moved to Ocala more than 10 years ago, he had no idea he would make such a mark on the city. If you consider yourself a foodie, you have definitely heard of Rick Alabaugh.

“I believe dining should be an experience. It is not only hard work and dedication that guide my culinary style, but also my belief in producing food that is pleasing to the eye as well as to the palate.”

Dr Raidh Fakhoury
Story: David Moore

When Dr. Riadh Fakhoury established his Chiropractic Clinic in Ocala back in 1985, it was just him and an office assistant.

Fast forward 28 years and you’ll discover the Fakhoury Medical and Chiropractic Center, a new one-of-a-kind integrative medical facility that combines medical, chiropractic, interventional medicine, massage and rehabilitative care, all under one roof. Including physicians, there are about 35 employed today.

The conversion to a multidisciplinary office has expanded the Center’s ability to take care of its patients. It has proven to be very successful and in musculo-skeletal care and the treatment of traumatic injuries by increasing the scope of care for the patient.

Dr. Fakhoury’s commitment to great patient care has remained constant over the years.  “We work diligently to give the best care possible to the patient, with the best environment and the best staff,” he said. “We are constantly improving our system, making it more efficient and more effective. The more effective we can make health care, the more positive it is for the patients.”

And satisfied patients are helping this unique facility to thrive, with about 95 percent of its business coming from referrals. “We’re very proud of that,” he said.

Community service is also important to Dr. Fakhoury. He and his wife, Manal, are known for their charitable and philanthropic work locally.

“You have to give back to your community,” he said. “It really does make such a difference. Everyone can participate in their own way by donating their services, their time, or in any other way that they are able to help.”

Some of the organizations they have helped support include United Way of Marion County, the YMCA, The Boys and Girls Club of Marion County and Pace Center for Girls.

“It’s always nice to find one or two or three community services that you are passionate about and be involved in that,” he said. “It’s a very positive return not only to those you are helping, but also for yourself”

Family is also very important to Dr. Fakhoury. In fact, he says it’s the love and support of his family that has helped him be successful. That includes his wife and their five children, but also his brother, Dr. Jamal Fakhoury and parents. “My brother is also a chiropractor and our parents were very instrumental in getting us started,” he said. “They helped us financially and they encouraged us. Without the support of my family, we would not have been able to achieve what we have.”

Relationships with others are also key to one’s success, he said. “Your relationships with other people will help you reach the goals you’re trying to obtain. When you are meeting your goals, stay in touch and give back to the community that helped you.”

Clinton Hart
Story: Kelli Hart

Similar to Vince Papale’s road to success, Clinton Hart has an Invincible story all of his own. This now retired 8 year NFL Veteran defied the odds to make a name for himself amongst professionals like Brian Dawkins and Ladanian Tomlinson. Now, settled in Ocala, Hart has transitioned his competitive spirit and passion for fitness in to a successful, growing business that is surely in a league of its own.

Raised in Webster, Florida, Hart had very few options when it came to recreational activities. His parents recognized in him a natural athletic ability. Excelling in all arenas, Hart found his niche with the pigskin and led his high school victoriously as Team Captain and Quarterback.

Foregoing the common “university to pro” path, Hart enrolled at Central Florida Community College, now the College of Central Florida, where he played baseball and was eventually drafted by the Anaheim Angels in the 2000 MLB Draft. Hart passed on this offer and continued his pursuit of a career in the NFL.

Catching the eye of scouts and agents during his 2-year stint in the Arena Football League, and earning a “Player of the Year” award, Hart was invited to try out for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2001. With no university experience or stats, the Eagles signed Hart in 2002. In 2003, after an Achilles injury to starter and Pro-Bowler Brian Dawkins, Hart found himself in the starting safety position for nine of the season’s 16 games.

Upon being waived by Philadelphia in 2004, Hart was immediately signed to the San Diego Chargers’ roster. During that time, he led special teams in tackles, was voted Team Captain, earned the Walter Payton Man of the Year award and ended his career in 2009 recording a high of 10 interceptions, 334 tackles and two touchdowns.

Since retiring, Hart has not stopped training. In 2012, he founded Healthy Harts Fitness, or HHF, which yielded over 200 members in the first few months.

Hart has proven that you can achieve a goal, even when faced with adversity. That drive motivates others to reach their optimal level of fitness and health, regardless of the obstacles. His clients are confident in his experience level and unique qualifications, such as training with some of the world’s best athletes, coaches and fitness experts. His knowledge cannot be matched, nor his experience duplicated.

HHF offers a variety of specially designed classes and individual training options that guarantee results regardless of age, weight or interfering injury.

In addition to HHF, Hart gives of his time speaking to youth and contributing to local charities. Amongst other career awards, Hart was named Ocala Magazine’s Most-Fit Male, selected for Forty Under 40 and he received the College of Central Florida Alumni Award.

Lewis E. Dinkins
Story: Kelli Hart

From suit and tie to blue suede shoes, Mr. Lewis E. Dinkins is a man of many spectacular personalities.

Born in Dunnellon, Florida and raised on Blue River Run, Lewis Dinkins is a lover of nature, the law and his Lord.

A studious young man, Dinkins graduated from Dunnellon High and went on to become the first Student Body President ever at Central Florida Junior College, now renamed the College of Central Florida. He later attended and graduated from Stetson Law School in St. Petersburg, Florida, which prepared him for his 50 years of specialized practice in the area of Criminal, Probate and Real Estate Law.

Dinkins has proven to be a leader and contributor in his community having served as past President of the Marion County Bar Association and the Ocala-Silver Springs Rotary Club. Dinkins also served as a previous chairman of the Republican Executive Committee.

For a decade, Dinkins was named a State Committeeman for Marion County and is currently on the Nominating Committee for selecting judges to fill the Fifth Judicial Appeals Court, per his nomination by Governor Rick Scott.

Dinkins is presently the President of a local non-profit corporation named, “Spirits Aflame Inc.” that serves to meet the needs of those less fortunate.

A member of The Church at the Springs, Dinkins proudly leads a bible study group.

Dinkins has received both the Veterans of Foreign War award and the title of an Ocala Royal Dames Royal Knight. Likewise, he is on the Board of Trustees for the Francis Marion Military Academy.

On a lighter side, Dinkins does an astounding Elvis impersonation and has performed his routine at several functions including the Foster Children’s Fundraisers, 50’s themed celebrations, Cancer Research and Salvation Army Fundraisers. And when he is not suited up in his Elvis attire, you may spot him driving about town in his “Captain America Truck” that his son, Mark, custom designed and painted for him through his business, BELARTE’ INC. and as a Father’s Day gift.

A huge family man, Dinkins has been married to wife Kathryn for close to 50 years. Lewis and Kathryn have two children, Michelle Dinkins, Buck and Mark Dinkins, and grandson, Mason.

A selfless man, Dinkins has a reputation for always lending a helping hand to others, despite battling his own personal health issues. He spends nine hours each night on kidney dialysis, but doesn’t let that slow him down. Not in his accomplishments, his involvement or his faith. His motto is that “It is not what you CAN’T do, but what you CAN do with the Lord’s help and guidance in life.”

Parnell Townley
Story: Raven McMillan

From one small town to another, Parnell Townley, the eldest of six children, has proved to be an example to his siblings and the citizens of Ocala in big ways.

Hailing from Boone County, West Virginia and transplanting to Ocala in 1963, Parnell became the self-proclaimed “first employee” of his father’s business, Townley Engineering & Manufacturing Co., Inc. The Townley family made a name for themselves here where he and his father began to develop the mining products that got their business started.

Parnell’s brother, Toro, says, “Our father used to always tell us, ‘to be successful at anything, you have to be able to come in early and stay late,’ and Parnell epitomized that.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the family business and as they celebrate their half-century of success, they attribute much of the company’s growth to its “first employee.” The company is now thriving in six locations across North America and ships product to customers in major mining, energy and power companies around the world.

“He got the business started for all of us in this generation,” Toro, recalls. “And following Parnell set the bar high as far as his standards and his work ethic. He is the ultimate individual in regards to hard work and service.”

Although Parnell took a step back from the company in the mid-‘80s to pursue his career in politics, he remained active in his support and his role as a director. But for 12 years, he set his business responsibilities aside to focus on serving the community in the role of County Commissioner.

Aside from his business savvy and political leadership, Parnell has contributed to the community through various organizations. He helped get the new library judicial center running, has been an involved member on the March of Dimes board, Humane Society of Marion County, Boy Scouts of America, Kiwanis Club of Lake Weir, Ocala Lions Club, the United Way of Marion County Board of Directors, Pennies for Parks, and more.

For over 30 years he served on the Board of United Christian Church and Ministerial Association, in Cleveland, Tenn. as an Executive Director. Several members of the Townley family shared that in addition to being a great businessman and upstanding community leader; Parnell’s faith in God is outstanding. Yet another standard of his that they say has blessed all of them.

In his spare time Parnell takes pride in raising his Angus cattle and adding to his collection of antique cars.

Parnell has become an example for his family in every way from handling business to handling family matters. His dedication to his wife and children is unquestioned, his faith in God is unwavering and his commitment to everything he does is untouchable.

Jennifer, Parnell’s daughter, says her dad taught her the acts of being humble, forgiveness, and compassion for others. Parnell is very proud of his grandson, Airman Tyler Woodyard, USAF.

Parnell’s son, Scott states he watched his father give 100% in raising his family, co-funding Townley Manufacturing, and being an elected Commissioner of Marion County. He says, “I am extremely proud of my father and hope to follow his lead.”

FMC Wealth Management
Story: Raven McMillan
Photography by Chris Redd

Although they joke about being “glorified stockbrokers”, Jay Fratello, Scott McArthur and Todd Craig take their business at FMC Wealth Management Group seriously. The men behind the acronym have cultivated over 20 years combined experience to exercise the resources of a big firm, while maintaining a hometown feel.

“We love the people in Ocala,” Jay says. “That’s why we decided to keep our business here.”

Unlike other financial management companies, the men at FMC focus wholeheartedly on the client’s best interests no matter the size of the account.

“We treat the little guys like the big guys. We’re very accessible, and we encourage clients to keep in touch personally or professionally.”

They pride themselves on the focus they provide to their clients. Every client gets a full account review in person, and again, preferably, every 90 days. In between they reach out to clients about changes in the market or their portfolios. It’s their service schedule that really sets them apart.

Each one of the guys at FMC handles a little bit of everything, but each partner has his own designation. Jay is the firm’s Certified Financial PlannerTM, Scott is their Chartered Retirement Planning Consultant and Todd serves as the Accredited Asset Management Specialist. While one focuses on asset allocation, another may be focused on risk and yet another on estate planning/insurance issues.

“It’s kind of complicated,” they say. “But it all works. We have different personalities, but we’re all easy going and very easily relatable to our clients.”

Aside from serving the Ocala citizens in a financial capacity the firm is also involved in the community through volunteer work and support of various programs. Scott and Todd both coach baseball teams for their sons. Jay just finished up a term as chairman on the YMCA Board of Directors and is a former board member of Fine Arts For Ocala (FAFO). As a whole, the company is heavily involved in the YMCA scholarship campaign and fully supports veteran causes, especially those for disabled vets.

On the social side, Jay, Scott and Todd invite their clients to “Wine Wednesdays”. Once a month the guys open their office doors (and a few bottles of wine) to give their clients the opportunity to socialize and unwind. Recently they’ve moved their engagement downtown to The Corkscrew where they’ve made and bottled wine with clients, all the while getting to know their clientele a little more.

“We have a blast!” Jay says. “We’re fun people to do business with, but we are competitive, even amongst each other. People depend on us to manage their life savings, and we take it very seriously. The focus is always: What’s in the best interest for them? And when our clients win, we win.”

Randy Keuntjes
By Kelli Hart
Photography by Chris Redd

Described by those who know him best, Randy Keuntjes is both a generous family-man and enthusiastic businessman. A transplant from Green Bay, Wisconsin, both Keuntjes and his wife of 34 years, Sue packed up their three children in 2000 and moved to sunny Florida, where their children could train and compete nationally in the sport of Motocross. To make training even more attainable and convenient for all who love the sport, he bought and started Hardrock Cycle Park. According to Keuntjes, “We fell in love with Ocala and the people here.”

Today, he and Sue call Lake Weir home, but come fall, Keuntjes will have us all calling Lake Weir our favorite place to get away! Together with an investor, Keuntjes is resurrecting Eaton’s Beach, bringing to life an amazing eatery, club and marina with floating docks, an activity area and the best blend of Florida Southern and Louisiana Cajun Creole style dishes you’ll ever taste.

Eaton’s Beach patrons can cool off and grab a delicious bite inside the 4,000 square-foot main restaurant. Above the eatery, you will find a 1,700 square-foot horseshoe shaped upper-deck. Boaters will enjoy a custom built dock well equipped with 16 slips. This investment and transformation will help the community of Lake Weir by providing jobs, revenue and a familyfriendly atmosphere for generations to come.

Eaton’s Beach isn’t Keuntjes’ first business venture. In his mid 20’s, he started a construction equipment company in the basement of his home in Green Bay.

After expanding operations to cover the state of Wisconsin, he decided to sell his business. Ever since, he’s been investing in and starting multiple, successful businesses to include a current partnership with son, Jared. Together, this father and son duo own Pro Closet Designs in Ocala.

Keuntjes’ reputation for success in business is best described by his daughter, Angie. “Everything my father touches turns to gold.”

But owning successful businesses comes last to Keuntjes, behind his faith and his family. Although a very busy man, Keuntjes’ greatest pleasure is spending time with his two beautiful granddaughters that call him “Pooh-Pa”. Ava and Aspen, daughters to Dustin and Amanda Keuntjes, have placed him in competition for “Grandfather of the Year”, which gives him great pride.

Likewise, Keuntjes finds encouragement through his bible study groups and the amazing staff at Church at the Springs, where both he and Sue are faithful members. When it comes to his business, marriage, parenting or friendships, Keuntjes has a phenomenal “self help” book that he abides by in making his decisions. That book has published more than any other – the Bible. “I have been blessed beyond anything I could ask for with a wonderful family, friends and opportunitites in my life. When I rely on God, all things are possible.”

Adventurous as he is successful, Keuntjes enjoys snow skiing in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, touring the United States on his Harley with wife Sue and of course, riding the waves of beautiful Lake Weir. And although rumored to be quite the prankster, he is serious about his commitment to his community and looks forward to revitalizing history through your new Eaton’s Beach Sandbar & Grill, of which you are all personally invited.

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