Future looks bright for Daytona sunglass maker Costa; new HQ set to open next year

The future looks bright for Daytona sunglass maker Costa. As sales grow, the company is getting set to expand its operations with the opening of a new HQ next year.

DAYTONA BEACH — Ray Ferguson died in June at age 82, but Costa Del Mar, the sunglass company he founded in 1983, continues to grow.

Today, the company is one of the world’s largest makers of sunglasses and employs approximately 350 workers here.

After having grown its operations here in 2016 by adding a distribution center in the former auto parts plant across the street from its headquarters on Mason Avenue, the company is looking to expand yet again.

Local developer Mike Cotton, whose Center Point Business Park at 2361 Mason Ave. currently serves as the headquarters for Costa, is constructing a new 44,000-square-foot building down the street.

That building, going up at the corner of Dunn and Mason avenues, is set to become the new headquarters for Costa Del Mar in the fall of next year.

Costa will continue to lease space in the two buildings it currently occupies at Center Point, converting its present corporate offices into additional manufacturing facilities

“We’re on a very good growth trajectory,” said Michelle Crockett, the company’s vice president of operations. “We do everything from marketing to sales, manufacturing and distribution.

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Brown & Brown steps up hiring plans

DAYTONA BEACH — Brown & Brown’s planned 10-story downtown headquarters tower is slated to be completed by October 2020, but the insurance brokerage giant will likely fulfill its pledge to create at least 600 new jobs locally well before that date.

Chairman J. Hyatt Brown told a gathering of local business leaders and elected officials Wednesday night that his company plans to relocate profit centers here from the Detroit and Boston areas, which will create a total of 700 jobs.

The planned $30 million headquarters campus on North Beach Street, which is expected begin construction later this year, and the new jobs the company is bringing “will be a catalyst for the downtown area,” Brown told attendees of the Volusia County Association for Responsible Development’s annual dinner.

“All of what’s going to happen down there is going to happen explosively,” he said, adding that he knows of other developers who are considering projects that will create housing in downtown Daytona Beach that will boost business for Beach Street restaurants and shops and allow Brown & Brown employees opportunities to live within walking distance of the planned headquarters campus.

The company has pledged in its agreements with the state and Volusia County that the new jobs it will create locally between now and the end of 2022 would pay an average of at least $41,300 a year, well above the current average wage for workers in the county.

Brown told The News-Journal that his company intends to begin relocating those profit center operations here before the completion of the future headquarters campus. “We can’t afford to wait that long,” he said.

In order to accommodate those additional workers, Brown & Brown is already working to reconfigure its current five-story 75,000-square-foot headquarters building at 220 S. Ridgewood Ave. to increase its capacity to between 450 and 500 people, up from just over 300 currently.

The company also recently leased temporary office space in the Martin & Klayer building on the corner of Palmetto Avenue and West International Speedway Boulevard and also has a leased office space on Clyde Morris Boulevard.

Brown & Brown, which employed approximately 350 workers in Daytona Beach when it announced its plans for its future headquarters on Sept. 1, now employs approximately 400 people locally, including more than 20 new trainees, Brown said.

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Daytona’s Brown & Brown buys property for new Beach St. headquarters

DAYTONA BEACH — Brown & Brown’s plan to build a 10-story downtown headquarters tower overlooking the Halifax River is a big step closer to becoming a reality.

The insurance brokerage giant recently completed its $4.25 million purchase of the vacant 10.5-acre development site on North Beach Street.

The company also has begun making good on its pledge to create more than 600 new jobs locally by the end of 2022, adding approximately 40 jobs since July 2017, according to Chairman J. Hyatt Brown.

The newly created jobs are to pay an average of at least $41,300 a year, according to the pledge, which if met would qualify the company to receive $4.5 million in economic incentives from the state and county.

Brown & Brown, which expects to pay $30 million to build its planned headquarters, not counting the cost of the lots, is also in line to receive a $9 million reimbursement from the city and county for infrastructure improvements, provided the office tower is at least 175,000 square feet.

Company officials say they are looking to build a tower in the 180,000 to 200,000-square-foot range.

“We’re moving as fast as we can,” said Brown, who added that the company has set October 2020 as the target date for moving into its new headquarters.

Redeveloping the two side-by-side empty lots is expected to help revitalize the north end of downtown Daytona Beach, which is surrounded by run-down houses and aging commercial buildings.

“I think the Brown & Brown move … is the renaissance that Beach Street needs,” said Kent Sharples, president of the CEO Business Alliance, a group of local business leaders dedicated to improving the local economy.

“It’s going to have a huge impact — you bring that many people at the salaries they’re going to be making,” said Sharples, whose group’s members include Brown. Those workers, both the projected new hires as well as workers who will be moving from the company’s current headquarters at 220 S. Ridgewood Ave., are expected to boost business at nearby restaurants and attract more eateries and shops, as well as the potential development of new apartments and/or condominiums, he said.

Beach Street merchant Sheryl Cook, who co-owns Tom Cook Jeweler and serves as vice chair of the Downtown Development Authority, said Brown & Brown’s new headquarters, when it opens, is “going to have a great impact on downtown. It’s going to bring a lot of jobs — more people eating lunch at restaurants, shopping and also needing a place to live.”

Just seeing the site being redeveloped will be a big improvement, Cook said. “That site has been in deplorable condition for a long time. It’s an eyesore.”

Jack White, a local developer who with his wife Kelly, a City Commissioner, own several commercial buildings in downtown Daytona Beach, said the Brown & Brown project is “a huge boost” in confidence for the area.

“It gives people a renewed belief in downtown,” he said.

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