Hard work, determination, commitment and due diligence – hallmarks of this administration – really work. Here are some brief updates of exciting Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. projects that are moving in the marketplace. I hope Tribal members will take a few minutes to acquaint themselves with these ventures and share our pride in these successful pursuits:
Hard Rock Energy drink is the product licensed to Enterprise Beverage Group (EBG). Hard Rock Energy’s first cans came off the line last December and the excitement and sales have continued to build since then. In the stores that we are currently in, we have become the third best-selling energy drink. This month we are beginning distribution through Gold Coast. We are the first non-alcoholic beverage they sell. They have 10,000 customers in the area from Key West all the way up to Palm Beach and are excited to bring our product to their customers. We have already begun discussion with distributors in our next target market of Chicago and look forward to equal success there.
We were able to acquire the Salacoa Valley Farms, complete our first sale and continue the operations of this historic ranch without missing a beat. We now control one of the country’s largest herd of Brangus cattle and are continuing to grow. Alex Johns maintains direct oversight of the operation and presided over this month’s cow sale. The response in the community has been tremendous. As we continue to interact with cowboys and ranchers, they are excited not only about us owning the operation, but they are also looking forward to taking advantage of a buyback program that will benefit them and allow us to continue to grow an exceptional cattle and beef program.
We were very excited with the launch of our Branded Beef program last year. In our first year of operation, our revenue was more than $800,000. This year is starting off even better. For the first two and half months we have already generated more than $400,000 in revenue and many of the customers we have been pursuing are making commitments to us. Our relationship with Cheney Brothers continues to grow and we are talking to US Foods about taking us into the Atlanta market. If you get the chance, visit Fins at Sharky’s in Venice, on the Florida West Coast, for a fine meal in a great location, at an establishment that features Seminole Beef.
We have finished our acquisition of Blue Lake Citrus, the parent company that has been producing the Seminole Pride and Noble Juices. Noble Juices are currently available in more than 5,000 retail locations including your local Publix. The business continues to grow. Both Cheney Brothers and US Foods are taking us into more and more accounts, and we are now producing the private label juice for US Foods. This takes us nationwide and increases our profitability. We are in the process of redesigning all labels to combine Seminole Pride with the Noble Brand to celebrate the relationship that we have. We are also in the process of developing new flavors and products and have started the process of producing drink mixes. Our sister company has been instrumental in helping us develop flavors that will have great market potential.
Our latest product is the water we are calling OWV (ooh-wah). It is premium spring water, sourced in historic Orange Springs. The water is a hit. In just two weeks we have sold more than 1,000 cases of water and the response everywhere has been tremendous. While the old water does enjoy the volume of the Hard Rock distribution, it is a commodity with many competitors. Our profits were only a few cents a case. The profits with OWV are many times that.
While the process has not been easy and the hurdles have not all been overcome, we are on track to acquire Valley Bank. We are going through the regulatory and legal processes and review but are on track to close the deal later this spring. This new acquisition will allow us to serve Tribal members and have greater flexibility and opportunity for growth.
Since our acquisition, we have worked hard to help Evans regain the status that it had prior to 2009. We have earned back the trust of several suppliers including, Marathon and Chevron. Additionally, we have recently won back two major accounts, Collier County and U.S. Sugar. We will continue to use our expertise and influence to penetrate new markets, supply competitive fuel and re-establish ourselves as a leading supplier of fuel.
The two stores owned and operated by the Board continue to experience phenomenal growth. The Hollywood C-Store is selling more gallons of gas than ever before, and the Board decided to double the tank capacity to meet customer demands. The Brighton C-Store has gained a lot of sales after the completion of its renovation last year. Brighton will continue to grow as the new and improved RV Park is slated to open in May.
To date, the joint venture has completed three projects. The first was the renovation of the interior of Hollywood Classic followed by The Bol Asian restaurant and the MEP upgrade at the Brighton Casino.
Three projects are currently in development: Hollywood Recreation Complex, Brighton Public Safety Building and Chupco’s Landing in Fort Pierce. The slate of upcoming projects continues to grow and the company landed its first job off the reservation, the new Gunther Volkswagen dealership.
Tony Sanchez Jr. is President of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc.