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One rink wasn't enough for skating aficionados

By CHRISTINA K. COSDON, Times Staff Writer
Published August 3, 2007

[Bill Serne | Times]
Carol Hubbart hugs daughter, Joanna, 8, and son, William, 9, at the family's Sunblades Ice Skating Center in Largo. They bought the rink in February and are planning a larger one next door.

Imagine trying to keep up with five children in year-round ice sports - figure skating and hockey classes, equipment, training and competition. It was enough to inspire parents Carol and Kevin Hubbart of Palm Harbor to buy their own rink.

They are the new owners of Sunblades Ice Skating Center at 13940 Icot Blvd. in Largo. They purchased the business in February and have been making improvements and renovations to the 32,730-square-foot building constructed in 1986.

Buying the business was "a wonderful decision," said Carol Hubbart, "and boy do the children love it."

Son William, 9, and daughter Joanna, 8, are serious figure skaters, she said. Seven-year-old Nicholas is just as serious about hockey and Christopher, 4, and Jennifer, 2, are still learning.

Until the Hubbarts purchased it, the rink had been owned and operated by the Wasilewski family.

"Most of the people who work here are the original employees," said Carol Hubbart, who is a pediatric nurse but now devotes most of her time to the business.

Sunblades has 36 full-time and part-time coaches and trainers. The rink's general manager, Howard "Howie" Buck, has been with the business since it opened in 1986. His sister Karen Michels has been marketing manager for the past eight years.

The center's ongoing activities include recreational skating, hockey and figure skating schools, group and private lessons for all ages and classes for children with special needs. The Tampa Bay Lightning used to practice at the center and it is home to the Tampa Bay Jr. Lightning youth ice hockey club.

"Our ice is busy all the time," said Carol Hubbart. "We've had to expand our training sessions and hours."

So, the next project - a second rink - was a natural progression for the Hubbarts.

They are in final negotiations to purchase an acre-plus property next door with plans to build an Olympic- and National Hockey League-sized rink. It's to be designed and built by the international firm of Ice Rink Events, which designs, manufactures, and builds rinks worldwide for Olympic competitors and ice show performers as well as commercial operations.

"We would like to start construction in the fall or early winter," Carol Hubbart said. "It would take from six to eight months to complete the project."

When the new rink is finished and work on Sunblades is complete, the Hubbarts will have invested some $3-million, said Kevin Hubbart, a commercial real estate attorney for Subway Development of Tampa Bay. The couple also has an option to purchase the Sunblades property, he said, and expects they will.

Suncoast Roofers gets a new chairman

Curt Barker has joined Suncoast Roofers Supply as company president. Bill Tamayo, previous president and chief executive officer, has assumed the position of company chairman. An industry veteran, Barker will lead the company's day-to-day operations.

He most recently was a vice president of GAF-Elk, one of the largest manufacturers of roofing products. Before the merger of GAF and Elk, he was an officer and senior vice president of sales and marketing for ElkCorp. He has an undergraduate degree in communications from Purdue University and an MBA in business management from the University of Dallas.

Suncoast Roofers, at 4592 Ulmerton Road, is among the top 100 privately held companies in Florida. Established in 1975 in Clearwater, it has 14 branches statewide and more than 300 employees. The company specializes in residential and commercial roofing design and supplies for roofing and building contractors.

Museum hires new development director

Diana Allan has joined the Gulf Coast Museum of Art as director of development. She will be responsible for the museum's annual benefit event, grant writing, sponsorship opportunities and overall management of the development department.

She previously worked as annual giving officer at St. Anthony's Health Care Foundation and manager of annual giving at All Children's Hospital Foundation. She has a degree in marketing from the University of South Florida.

The nonprofit museum, at 12211 Walsingham Road, Largo, is adjacent to the Florida Botanical Gardens and Heritage Village. It is supported by members, the Fine Arts Society and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs through the Florida Arts Council.

New name, Web site for technology vendor

Technology Paradise Corp. of Largo has changed its name to TechPalooza Corp. and launched a superstore Web site at

The company provides a way for manufacturers and distributors of computer technology hardware, software and electronics to market more than 300,000 products to consumers. The company, based at 13785 Walsingham Road, has six distribution centers around the country.

Upcoming business classes and seminars

- How to Start a Business meets noon to 2 p.m. each Wednesday at the Pinellas County Business Development Center, 13805 58th St. N, Suite 1-200, Clearwater. The introductory workshop offers information on how to conduct feasibility studies and develop business plans, how to obtain licenses and permits to be a legal business in Pinellas County and more. Free. Advance registration requested. To speak to a business counselor, call 727 453-7200

- Understanding Entrepreneurship meets the first Thursday of each month at the Pinellas County Business Development Center, 13805 58th St. N, Suite 1-200, Clearwater. Find out if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur and discover the challenges and rewards of owning your own business. Evaluate your business acumen, strengths, weaknesses and readiness for an entrepreneurial endeavor. Free. Preregister by calling (727) 453-7200.

- A small business seminar on How to Utilize the Internet to Help your Business Profit is planned for 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 10 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 4052 Tampa Road, Oldsmar. Hans Hess, chief executive officer of Creative Business Solutions, will be guest speaker. The seminar is for startups, business managers and owners or anyone interested in learning more about the Internet. Presented by the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce. Cost is $24 for nonmembers, $15 for members. Price includes continental breakfast. Register online at under the calendar of events or call (813) 855-4233. $5 late fee at the door.


News of businesses and business people can be faxed to the Business Digest at 445-4119, e-mailed to or mailed to Business Digest, 710 Court St., Clearwater, Fl 33756. We are interested in new and unusual businesses, promotions, expansions, commercial sales and major new contracts. Photos can be mailed or e-mailed by jpeg file.

[Last modified August 3, 2007, 09:38:06]

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