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    Lightning protection firm moves and expands

    By CHRISTINA K. COSDON

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 5, 2001


    CLEARWATER -- Lightning Master, a Clearwater-based company specializing in lightning protection, has just moved its corporate offices and U.S. production plant into new quarters, tripling its size.

    Hospitals, offshore drilling platforms, television stations, coal mines, colleges and airports are among the worldwide customers of the company, which was established in 1987 in Brooksville and has been based in Clearwater for the past decade.

    The company had "long outgrown" its former 10,000-square-foot location at 1920 Sherwood St., company president Bruce A. Kaiser said.

    When a 30,000-square-foot building at 1351 N Arcturas Ave. became available, Kaiser bought it for two reasons: It had the space he needed and it was across the street from the Clearwater Executive Airpark, where he plans to keep the company's twin-engine turboprop Piper Cheyenne. Hangars large enough for the plane are under construction at the airpark and should be completed in a few weeks, he said.

    "A large part of our business is customer response, getting out there quickly," he said.

    The plane now is kept in Tampa, and precious time is lost driving back and forth across Tampa Bay, Kaiser said. Kaiser, whose background is in aviation sales, flies the plane himself to jobs in Texas, Chicago and New England and on the East Coast, he said, but takes commercial flights to the West Coast.

    Kaiser bought the building, which has a manufacturing facility and two floors of offices, for $1,075,000 in December. In addition to the Clearwater manufacturing plant, which makes grounding products, surge suppressors and structural lightning protection products, the company has a joint-venture manufacturing operation in the seaport town of Yantai, Shandong Province, in China.

    It has a regional sales office in Milwaukee, a corporate communications office in Maryville, Tenn., and an overseas marketing office in Alexandria, Egypt.

    Lightning Master works with customers in the planning and construction stages, as well as with sites that are fully operational. It provides site surveys, system design and engineering services, component manufacturing, installation and continuing system upgrading and maintenance services.

    The company has 27 employees and expects to hire 12 to 16 more this year. Lightning Master is a privately held corporation. Kaiser declined to discuss its annual revenues but said the company is "on a good growth rate."

    Internist certified as medical director

    Dr. Carl Suchar, medical director of Mariner Health and Drew Village Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, has received certification as medical director from the American Medical Directors Association in Columbia, Md.

    The internist has had a private practice for 18 years in Clearwater. He is a graduate of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery in Des Moines, Iowa, and completed his residency in internal medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

    Accountant joins Clearwater firm

    James LaManna, a certified public accountant, has joined the accounting firm of Lewis, Birch & Ricardo, 1401 Court St., Clearwater, as a staff accountant in the audit department. He has a master's degree in accountancy from the University of South Florida.

    Outreach director elected to Council on Aging board

    Katherine Brandt, outreach director of Hospice Institute of the Florida Suncoast, has been elected to the board of trustees of the Florida Council on Aging. Elected to serve a three-year term, she will represent region five, which includes Pinellas and Pasco counties.

    The council's mission is to serve the state's diverse aging interests through education, advocacy and information sharing. The institute is the education and research arm of the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast in Largo.

    Engineering, construction projects

    Zarra Boyd engineering, survey and planning firm at 1480 Beltrees St., Dunedin, has been hired by the Pinellas County School Board to provide surveying and engineering design services for parking and drainage improvements at Blanton Elementary School in Kenneth City and Lakewood High in St. Petersburg.

    * * *

    Bandes Construction Co., 1368 Spalding Road, Dunedin, has been awarded a $1,707,489 contract to build a 20,000-square-foot environmental services building and warehouse for the city of Largo, a $1,937,767 contract for an expansion of the Palm Harbor main Post Office and a contract for construction of a new two-story building. The firm just completed a 4,000-square-foot fire station for the Palm Harbor Special Fire Control District at a cost of $822,403.

    * * *

    Creative Contractors, 620 Drew St., Clearwater, has been hired to build an assisted-living community clubhouse in the Aston Gardens retirement community in Tampa. The 24,000-square-foot project is valued at $3-million and is to be completed in September.

    Wright's hires nurse liaison

    Registered nurse Alicia Creighton has joined Wright's Health Care and Rehabilitation Center, 11300 110th Ave., Largo, as nurse liaison and case manager. Her 26 years of experience include work in emergency room care, rehabilitation, home health care and a private physician's practice. She is a graduate of St. John's Hospital School of Nursing in Pittsburgh.

    - News of businesses and business people can be faxed to the Business Digest at 445-4119 or mailed to Business Digest, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. We are interested in new and unusual businesses, promotions, expansions and major new contracts. Photos can be sent, but not all will be used and they cannot be returned.

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