Michael Zurbrigen, EURO-WALL Systems, LLC

On what winning Localpreneur  of the Year means to him: “It’s a great opportunity and it’s nice to know your peers and people from the community nominated you. That was very humbling, and the whole process gave me an opportunity to look deeper into what we do, and of course it’s great exposure for all the amazing things the team does at Euro-Wall. We’re so excited about what we do, and it’s my passion. At the end of the day it’s about self-sacrifice, the customers and  benefitting our community.” 

On achieving success as an entrepreneur: “I just knew I was born to do this. Even thinking back to when I was in high school, for example, we all wanted to order a pizza, but the place wouldn’t deliver to us because we were too far, so I asked how many I’d have to order to get them over here and that’s just how it’s always been it for me—facing a problem and finding a way to fix it, looking around at the environment and processing a way to make it better.”

Phil Mancini (left) and Michael Klauber (right) of Michael's On East. Photography by Wyatt Kostygan.

Michael Klauber + Phil Mancini, Michael's On East

On what winning Localpreneur of the Year means to them: MICHAEL: “From an entrepreneurial standpoint, it was really great to be recognized along with these great folks in this town that are forward-thinking and focused on what is best for our community. It’s really great for us to hopefully inspire some young people in the community that if you put your mind to it you can make it too.” PHIL: “I think it was nice winning the honor right now. I keep telling everyone I wish I was 20 years younger [laughs] because there’s so many great opportunities in this community and I think we’re going to lead the way here for younger people as they come up. It’s not going to slow down. To win the award and to see the future of what’s going to be  going on around here is just great.”

On achieving success as an entrepreneur: PHIL:  “Well, I think when you take a restaurant that’s been around over 30 years, right off the bat just breaking that 30-year mark alone was incredible. Does that make us feel as though we’ve made it? Sure, but do we think we have a lot left to offer? Absolutely! There’s so many exciting things happening in this town and in the food and beverage industry. We get to have a lot of ‘a-ha’ moments like pairing up with local businesses like Selby Gardens or creating new international menus each month. We’ve recently added in more vegan and vegetarian options as people’s tastes are changing. People ask all the time what kind of restaurant we are and truly it’s whatever the client wants.”

Allison Imre of Grapevine Communications. Photography by Wyatt Kostygan.

Allison Imre,  Grapevine Communications

On what winning Localpreneur of the Year means to her: “Considering the caliber of the people nominated and who have been recognized in the previous years, it’s incredibly humbling. It gives you goose bumps!”

On achieving success as an entrepreneur and her a-ha moment: “My entire adult life, I’ve been an employee, so I lead from the perspective of how I would want to be treated. That may not be the golden rule since it’s a corporate environment, but it works for us. My eye-opening moment of thinking I’ve ‘made it’ as an entrepreneur is every time I give my team a new project and it’s completed. No one asked for assistance or direction and no one made complaints, it’s just done and brilliant. They’ve taken the initiative and they’ve accomplished more than I could have ever thought. The people with whom I work with at Grapevine, everyone is ambitious and ready to carry the water. It’s truly collaborative when I say, ‘OK, here’s what we need to get done,’ and I blink and it’s done. I truly feel like Grapevine got recognized and I just got to be the one standing there with the trophy. Being an entrepreneur is half: plan your work and half work your plan: but really you just need to close your eyes and jump. It’s a beautiful marriage of strategy and reckless abandon. We never take ourselves too seriously but we always take the trust of our clients seriously, and I think that gives us the recipe for success.”

Jordan Letschert of TTJ Investments. Photography by Wyatt Kostygan.

Jordan Letschert, TTJ Investments

On what winning Localpreneur of the Year means to him: “One of the big honors of winning is that many of the fellow winners or previous winners are business owners I’ve looked up to my whole life. Just to be mentioned in the same category of those people was really fun, especially since only a few years ago I was still a police officer working on the streets. The Localprenuer of the Year award means a lot to me personally as I was born and raised here in Sarasota, so to be recognized for the things we’ve done in the community gives us a sense that we’re doing something more than just numbers and balance sheets.”

On achieving success as an entrepreneur: “It started to click when companies started calling us to partner with them. We no longer had to search for the business, rather, the business was coming to us. We joke that we’re the nice local version of Shark Tank because people come to us with ideas and we get to pick which projects we’re excited about. I like to say, ‘Everyone knows what an iPhone is, but not everyone knows about the components inside that make it work.’ And we’re sort of like that for companies—the parts inside that make them work better.”


Jake Brady of ROBRADY DESIGN. Photography by Wyatt Kostygan.


On what winning Localpreneur of the Year means to him: “It’s a big thrill—I’ve lived in Sarasota for 25 years and I love the local community. The work we do at RoBrady is mostly national and even international, so the opportunity to be recognized locally for the work we do in the town that we love is amazing!”

On achieving success as an entrepreneur: “The things we did in 2019, and the work that we did, was some of the best work we’ve ever done, but my hope is that for 2020 the work we do surpasses that. I think the ‘a-ha’ moment for me of making it as an entrepreneur would have to be attributed to the diversity of things that we’re doing both geographically and project-wise—from working with Olympic swimmers and robotics to the food and beverage industry. At the end of the day, it’s about humanizing technology and moving forward.”