Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of the Year® 2011 Florida Award Recipients Announced

Exemplary Entrepreneurs Were Honored at Program’s 25th Anniversary Gala

TAMPA, Fla.--()--Ernst & Young LLP has announced the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011 Florida Award recipients, with presentations made at a gala event on June 16 at Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. Award recipients were selected by an independent judging panel made up of previous award recipients, leading CEOs, private capital investors and other regional business leaders.

“Ernst & Young has honored outstanding entrepreneurs like this year’s award recipients for the past 25 years,” said Patrick Gramling, Ernst & Young partner and Entrepreneur Of The Year Florida program host. “These business leaders have accomplished so much and contributed a tremendous amount to the community. They are certainly an inspiration for the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

The Florida Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Mike Jackson, chairman and CEO, AutoNation, Inc., Fort Lauderdale.

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011 Florida Award recipients are:

Central Florida

  • Financial Services category – Peter R. Kassabov, chairman and CEO, Digital Risk, LLC, Maitland

South Florida

  • Distribution and Manufacturing category – Mark A. Llano, president and CEO, Source One Distributors, Inc., Wellington
  • Emerging category – John J. Flynn, founder, president and CEO, Fleet Advantage, Fort Lauderdale
  • Health Care category – James E. Patrick, CEO, National Healing Corporation, Boca Raton
  • Real Estate and Construction Services category – Jose R. Mas, CEO, MasTec, Inc., Coral Gables
  • Retail and Consumer Products category – Rick Case, founder, chairman and CEO, and Rita Case, vice chairman, Rick Case Automotive, Fort Lauderdale

West Central Florida:

  • Business Services category – Michael K. Ferris, president and CEO, Valet Waste, LLC, Tampa
  • Consumer Services category – Joseph Acebal and Richard Mikles, co-founders and co-CEOs, Ideal Image Development Corporation, Tampa
  • Corporate Innovator category – Mindy Grossman, CEO, HSNi, St. Petersburg
  • Technology category – Ron Roma, CEO/owner, Healthesystems, LLC, Tampa

Ernst & Young in Florida also presented two young entrepreneurs with its Youth Scholarships. Mason Bailie and Derek Ruffner, both seniors at Stranahan Senior High School, Ft. Lauderdale, recently won the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) South Florida Youth Biz Plan Challenge for their webhosting business, Haikura.

“We’re continuing our commitment to recognize and support Florida’s future entrepreneurs, working with NFTE to honor students who embody the entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrate the ability to successfully launch and manage a business,” said Gramling. “Mason and Derek truly represent our future and we are pleased to recognize them with our Youth Scholarships.”

The Entrepreneur Of The Year Program honors entrepreneurs regionally in June, leading up to the national awards in November. Additionally, venture-backed companies that win an Entrepreneur Of The Year Award regionally are also eligible for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Venture Capital Award of Excellence on a national level. The overall national winner then moves on to compete for the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in June 2012 in Monte Carlo.

This year, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Program celebrates its 25th anniversary. The program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 140 cities and more than 50 countries throughout the world. Awards are given to entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

All regional honorees are invited to the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards gala, hosted by Jay Leno, on Nov. 12, 2011, in Palm Springs, Calif. The gala is the culminating event of the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum®, the nation’s most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. For more information on the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum, please visit


Founded and produced by Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are sponsored nationally by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Florida platinum sponsors include Carlton Fields, Fifth Third Bank and Tribridge; silver sponsor RFB Communications Group and media sponsor Smart Business Network.

Contact information

For more information about the program, please contact Beverly Eha, Ernst & Young Florida program manager at or visit

About Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential, and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 140 cities in more than 50 countries.

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 141,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

Ernst & Young refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young LLP is a client-serving member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited operating in the US. For more information about our organization, please visit


RFB Communications Group
Suzie Boland, 813-259-0345

Release Summary

Ernst & Young LLP has announced the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011 Florida Award recipients.


RFB Communications Group
Suzie Boland, 813-259-0345