Face time

Past winners of Style’s Business Woman and Man of the Year share cover memories.

A popular attraction each spring for Akers Media is the much-anticipated gala parties to see who will win the reverse drawings to be on the May magazine cover as Lake & Sumter Style’s Business Woman of the Year and the June cover as Business Man of the Year. Past winners share their recollections of what it was like to grace the cover: 

Famous beard

“Because I was on the cover, I can’t shave my beard off,” Bryan Smith, the 2018 Business Man of the Year and owner of BP Smith Construction, says with a chuckle. “Most people recognize me from the cover and relate it to my beard, and when I go to the bank, which is quite frequently, the connection is made. It was a standing joke of people wanting my autograph. I think the exposure was what it did (best). When I was on the cover, we had really just started the company and we were about a year into it. There are doctors’ offices that still have that issue, so they keep them around! About a couple months ago, somebody took a picture of the cover and sent it to me, and I thought it was funny. But people do keep them and they’re still sitting around in businesses and it’s great because that’s where people see the magazine the most.” 

‘There’s the cover model’

Lisa Elliott appeared on the 2014 cover as Business Woman of the Year, working as the director of Central Florida Pet Crematory in Belleview and helping pet lovers throughout Lake and Sumter counties secure a final resting place for their furry friends.

“For about a year after the magazine came out, wherever I would go, people would introduce me as ‘There’s the cover model,’” Lisa says, adding that being on the cover was good for business. “We’re still here 16 years later.”

Making memories

Joe Ziler, president of Kevco Builders in Eustis, touts his appearance on the 2013 cover as a memorable experience. 

“The cover was accompanied by a well-written article by James Combs titled ‘Home’ Boy,’” Joe recalls. “The article was a walk down memory lane for me all the way back to my childhood influences in construction, most notable my lifelong friend Mr. (Roy) Teter who passed away at 96 the year after the article.”

Moved up 

Rose Connell says it was exciting to do a photo shoot and interview for her 2018 cover, representing The Villages Insurance. Since being the cover girl, Rose has moved up in her company from private risk management advisor to personal lines executive manager.

“I absolutely enjoyed the experience and loved being the cover girl,” Rose says. “I definitely had a lot of comments from clients that we do business with and company partners. I ran into people I hadn’t seen in years and they’d mention it, saying, ‘I saw you on the cover of the magazine!’”

‘A lot of fun’ 

Joe Ciceri, owner of Leesburg-based Electrical Works, was the winner of the 2017 Business Man of the Year, though he’s the first to admit he’s not crazy about photo shoots.

“It definitely generated more business and helped brand the company more,” he says. “It was a great experience and a lot of fun.” 

Entrepreneur cover 

Michael Brashear, owner of five Anytime Fitness gyms in Lake and Sumter counties and one in Key West, was on the cover in a business suit in 2016. 

“Most (people) see me in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops. The photo shoot definitely showed the entrepreneur side of me,” Michael says. “I did get tons of recognition from the community being on the cover.” 

Teasing continues 

Ted Waterman continues to bask in the limelight since gracing the June 2019 cover.

“I’ve gotten teased every time somebody sees me,” says the top man behind Umatilla-based Waterman Construction Corp., which he and his wife, Gina, started in 1993.

“It was a fantastic experience and the photo shoot was a lot of fun,” Ted says. “Seeing myself on the cover was pretty cool and flattering. And we did get some new jobs from it, as a matter of fact, so the exposure was all good. We’re really blessed and we’re really happy.” 

Business Woman and Business Man cover winners

2019 Connie Mahan and Ted Waterman
2018 Rose Connell and Bryan Smith
2017 Danielle Daugherty and Joe Ciceri
2016 Marilou Stone and Michael Brashear
2015 Jennifer O’Keefe and Dr. Karsten Weber
2014 Lisa Elliott and Ryan Veraghen
2013 Missy Ziler and Joe Ziler

About the Author

Originally from Anderson, Ind., Theresa worked for The Herald-Bulletin for many years. After experiencing a winter with 53 inches of snow, her late husband asked her to get a job in Florida, and they headed south. Well known in the area, Theresa worked with The Daily Sun and The Daily Commercial prior to joining Akers. “I finally have my dream job. I’ve wanted to work for a magazine since I was a teenager, and I’m very excited to be here,” Theresa says. “There is such positive energy at Akers that it’s infectious.” Theresa has three grown daughters—Julia lives in San Francisco, Emily is in Austin, Tex., and Maria is at the University of Central Florida.
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