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Connect & SUNZ: What’s New & What’s Next?

Let’s Connect, Bradenton!

As some of you might know by now, SUNZ Insurance  purchased the building in which Connect is a tenant. The purchase was made official on February 1st. On February 11th, Steve Herrig, SUNZ CEO, issued a press release that said they planned to “continue the expansion of Connect Bradenton with additional co-working options & updated audio & visual equipment.” It also announced their plans for the building as a whole, which includes “upgrades to modernize the space, such as exterior painting & artwork, an outdoor picnic area for tenants & their guests, parking lot cleanup & additional parking.” 

What does that mean for us as we move toward my one year anniversary as the “Macro Manager” of Connect? It means just what Mr. Herrig said; that we will continue on the path and plan to expand Connect. If that means more technology & flexible office space options in our current suite, great! If that means additional square footage in which we could provide more flexible options for designated workstations, co-working areas, meeting rooms & more executive suites, even better! The point is this, having a collaborative partner like SUNZ has been exciting & shows how they value what Connect means to our community of collaborative business professionals.

Our main source of contact is actually Glen Distefano, the CTO & head of the SUNZ Property division. He is a man of action! When people ask me what it is like working with the new ownership group, I tell them a couple of stories.

Story #1: My first meeting with Glen in the SUNZ building

I went in there with an agenda. Literally, I had printed an agenda from which I wanted to conduct this meeting. I quickly realized Glen had his own agenda. He wanted to go after the “low hanging fruit.” The items that could be taken care of immediately. Things like:

  • How do we handle our supply purchasing?
  • How should we handle our membership & ad-hoc meeting room billing?
  • What can we do about our current vendors & their billing?

By the end of our 45-minute meeting, Glen had not only addressed those items, he had provided solutions to all of them. I’m not saying he suggested solutions or promised to solve them later that week. He had already solved them. He would pick up the phone, or login to his computer & just take action. Needless to say, I was appreciative & impressed.

Story #2: I got way too excited about a water fountain

After another of my informal meetings with Glen, he asked for a list of things I would like to add, change or improve at Connect. I mentioned several things, from furnishings, lighting, user-friendly technology & a couple of small amenities to potential renovations &/or areas for expansion. Glen indulged me while I dreamed about the future & what Connect could become. He also asked me if I wanted to replace our drinking fountain with one of those “filtered water bottle-filler things.” I nonchalantly answered, “yes.” Within 24 hours:

  • We had a plumber stop by our office to look at our current water fountain.
  • He received a quote to order & install a “filtered water bottle-filler thingy.”
  • He approved that order & installation.
  • The order had been fulfilled, and the “filtered water bottle-filler thingy” was installed.

Like I said, Glen is a man of action. Just as the CEO of SUNZ, Mr. Herrig, is a man who expects action. He sets the expectation by sharing a vision and supports that vision as people take it from idea to action. That is someone who understands how people like to do business and is the type of leader that people like to follow. Everyone to whom I have spoken who works at SUNZ Insurance, from members of the executive team to the wonderful woman who works as their receptionist, shares nothing but glowing reviews of Mr. Herrig.

“I felt like I should be challenging myself to dream bigger, think more strategically & start planning for Connect’s success.”

My first in-person interaction with Mr. Herrig was an impromptu meeting of sorts, where he and a few other SUNZ representatives stopped in to check out our flexible workplace. He asked pointed questions, one after the other. He knew what he wanted to ask but didn’t seem to have any expectation as to what he wanted to hear. He was curious, inquisitive & seemed genuinely interested in my feedback. I left that interaction feeling invigorated & motivated. I felt like I should be challenging myself to dream bigger, think more strategically & start planning for Connect’s success. If that doesn’t indicate what kind of leader Mr. Herrig is, I don’t know how else to explain it.

By now, you will have noticed that I will generally refer to the CEO of SUNZ as “Mr. Herrig.” I do that out of sense of respect & appreciation for who he is, and how he has conducted himself since our introduction. I will continue to call him that until he tells me to call him “Steve.” The Connect Team (Undine, Patrick & I), Glen & Mr. Herrig will continue to dream, strategize & plan for success! You will soon find out the answers to the questions “what’s new” and “what’s next” for Connect. In the meantime, feel free to stop by and enjoy a cold & refreshing beverage from our “filtered water bottle-filler thingy.” I am still very excited about it. Almost too excited. Almost.

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