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Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

Robert Trigaux

Robert Trigaux joined the Times as a business writer in 1991. In 2000, he began writing a business column three times a week. He served as business editor from 2005 to 2008, when he resumed his role as business columnist. While at the Times, he has covered a range of beats including banking and finance, technology, telecommunications, energy and economic development. He has received various awards for business writing, including two Green Eyeshades from the Society of Professional Journalists, a commendation for column writing from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and a first place in business columns from the National Association of Newspaper Columnists.

In the late 1970s, Robert started his business journalism career in New York writing for various business publications covering topics from technology to the furniture industry. At the American Banker, a daily national newspaper, he covered the financial industry in New York and London, then served for eight years as its bureau chief in Washington, D.C. He holds an economics degree from Colgate University.

Phone: (727) 893-8405

Email: trigaux@tampabay.com

Blog: Venture

Twitter: @VentureTampaBay

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  1. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Seventy-nine Tampa Bay area companies made this year's Inc. 5000 list of the nation's 5,000 fastest growing private companies. The fastest here: St. Petersburg-based personal finance website The Penny Hoarder. The firm ranked tops locally with a 3-year growth rate in revenues of more than 9,000 percent....

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  2. The Penny Hoarder tops 79 fastest growing Tampa Bay companies on Inc. 5000

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Penny Hoarder on Wednesday further cemented its reputation as one of the country's fastest growing companies. The personal finance web site business ranks 25th nationwide and tops in the Tampa Bay market for growth on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing businesses.

    The Penny Hoarder, now seven years old and based in downtown St. Petersburg, recorded $20.5 million in revenues in 2016, representing a three-year growth rate in revenues of 9,396 percent. The company's performance is a marked improvement over its standing on last year's Inc. 5000 list where it ranked 32nd nationally with $7.5 million in revenues and a 3-year growth rate of 6,934 percent....

    Vishal Mahtani (left), vice president of business development, Alexis Grant (center), executive editor, and Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, celebrate the news with their staff  Wednesday of making the new Inc. 5000 ranking of fastest growing companies in the country. They enjoyed champagne during a catered lunch at their office in downtown St. Petersburg after ranking 25th nationwide and tops in the Tampa Bay market for growth on the just released 2017 Inc. 5000. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times ]
  3. Trigaux: How 15 major companies in Tampa Bay are performing halfway through 2017

    Business

    Given record stock market levels achieved this summer, should we assume corporate earnings must be doing pretty well in the latest quarter ended June 30? Tampa Bay's certainly had its winners, both in larger companies based here as well as those with a big local presence but headquartered elsewhere.

    But there are plenty of other companies prominent in the area whose performances are generally steady if not stellar. And there are still others of note that are struggling and have watched their stock prices decline thus far in 2017 — despite the Dow starting this year at 19,882, and now trading close to 22,000....

    MIDDLE OF THE ROAD: Tampa's Bloomin Brands, parent of Outback Steakhouse and three other prominent chains, has struggled to revive sales and profits in the casual dining sector. Outback has shown some recent signs of life, which Bloomin' execs say is due, in part, to a simpler menu and more emphasis on steak items including this "center cut sirloin" offering. Is this the long awaited turnaround? [Courtesy of Outback Steakhouse]
  4. Trigaux: Loss of HSN's Mindy Grossman shrinks ranks of top women CEOs to one

    Business

    Mindy Grossman, former CEO of HSN in St. Petersburg, no doubt got tired defending the TV/online retailer's tepid performance in recent times.

    Well, her new gig ought to pep her up.

    On Friday, Grossman, 59, held her first quarterly earnings conference call as the new CEO of the rapidly rebounding Weight Watchers International. The once outdated company has been reawakened by investor and now company pitchwoman Oprah Winfrey. So much so that after only weeks on the job CEO Grossman basked in Friday's conference call as Weight Watchers International shares skyrocketed more than 25 percent in one day by the close of trading....

    Liz Smith, CEO of Tampa's Bloomin' Brands, the parent of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming's restaurant chains. [Courtesy Bloomin' Brands]
  5. Trigaux: Both cool and growing, downtown St. Pete debates how to sustain its magic

    Economic Development

    ST. PETERSBURG — Is it this city's extraordinary waterfront? Still more museums on the way? A spreading arts community? Downtown's housing boom?

    Perhaps it's the reborn pier on the way? The possibility of Major League Soccer? The hope the Tampa Bay Rays may yet opt to stay? The world-class aura of Johns Hopkins? Its embrace of diversity? Choosing local shops and restaurants over chains?...

    Five business leaders discussed how to protect the economic momentum enjoyed by downtown St. Petersburg and the growing number of districts in the city that benefit from St. Pete's success. From left to right, Richard Hughes of Clear PH Design; Tim Clemmons, principal at Mesh Architecture, Jonathan Daou of Eastman Equity Holdings, Alan Delisle, chief economic development administrator for the city of St. Petersburg; and Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. The panel spoke at an Urban Land Institute gathering Thursday in downtown St. Pete. [Photo courtesy of Stuart Rogel]
  6. Trigaux: Blind to runaway costs, nuclear power industry abandons another nuke plant

    Energy

    You know nothing, nuclear power industry.

    At least when it comes to deciding when and how to build a new nuclear power plant.

    Florida's nuke industry has already been there, flubbed that. Duke Energy wanted a new nuclear power plant in Levy County north of Tampa. The project began a decade ago only to get shelved when it became uncomfortably clear the plant would soon drown in massive cost overruns....

    A containment building for unit two of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, S.C., is shown during a media tour of the facility in September 2016. In August of 2017, the power companies building this plant acknowledged it was no longer economical to continue its construction and will shut down the project after spending billions of dollars. [Chuck Burton | AP]
  7. After shaky year by new cable TV-Internet providers, Charter may be acquisition target

    Business

    Charter Communications, which arrived in Tampa Bay in May of 2016 via its acquisition of Bright House Networks, may find itself the target a buyer with deep pockets.

    News reports Monday say Japan's telecommunications giant SoftBank Group Corp. is considering an acquisition offer for cable TV-Internet provider Charter. Only days before, Connecticut-based Charter shot down the possibility it could purchase Sprint Corp., the U.S. wireless carrier already owned by Softbank. Under that scenario, a Charter-Sprint combination would then become part of Softbank....

    SoftBank founder and tech billionaire Masayoshi Son may make an offer this week to purchase Charter Communications, the nation's second largest cable-TV-Internet provider and the recent buyer of Tampa Bay's Brighthouse Nertworks. [AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko]
  8. Trigaux: Do we all need PhDs to fight scams, frauds and rip-offs?

    Business

    There are days when it feels like our school priorities are all wrong. Literature? Math? Computers? Nah. What everyone really needs to survive in the 21st century is a PhD in fighting the rise of increasingly creative consumer scams, frauds and rip-offs.

    Few trends seem to be growing as fast, suggests the new annual consumer agency survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators. The 53-page report details the ten biggest consumer complaints for all of 2016 but also cites examples of emerging schemes that could become the major rip-offs of the future....

    As solar panels become cheaper and more popular, consumer agencies are starting to see a rise in consumer complaints about misleading and deceptive solar offerings. Solar scams are noted in a national report on major consumer complaints issued this week by the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators. [William Levesque, Times]
  9. Trigaux: Closing Iron Yard coding school hits area tech hard but leaders talk of options

    Business

    The coming shutdown this fall of the Iron Yard software coding school in downtown St. Petersburg — announced this month as part of a national closing of all 15 Iron Yard locations — remains a shocking event to a Tampa Bay technology community that dreams big of becoming a major player in the Southeast if not the nation.

    Ask local technology leaders: How do we reignite the pipeline of workers with at least core coding skills after Iron Yard shuts its doors? Seek another coding school? Build one from the well regarded Iron Yard instructors here? Start another from scratch? Rally the local colleges to step up?...

    Of all the Iron Yard locations, the local one in downtown St. Petersburgl was one of the best performing schools with a near 100 percent placement record, says Linda Olson, a founder of the Tampa Bay WaVE group that helps area entrepreneurs. "I do hope another code school operates in Tampa Bay in the near future." [Photo courtesy of Amor Fati Photography]
  10. Duke Energy Florida again ranks last in J.D. Power satisfaction survey

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — Another J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey, another last place annual ranking for Duke Energy Florida.

    As sure as the sun rises in the east, Duke Energy Florida once again ranks last in residential customer satisfaction when compared with 12 other large electricity providers in the Southeast. Duke Energy Florida has ranked last in these annual J.D. Power rankings, issued every July, since arriving in Florida after acquiring Progress Energy....

    Duke Energy Florida president. Can he improve the utility's customer satisfaction ratings?
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times file photo]
  11. Trigaux: Florida's jobless rate looks great — but 25 other state rates look even better

    Economic Development

    No debate here: Florida's unemployment rate continues to drop — even as more people move to Florida and enter the workforce. What's not to like?

    The trick, of course, is to gauge where the Sunshine State stands in comparison to the other 49 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the nation as a whole.

    That U.S. comparison is easy. Florida's jobless rate in June fell to 4.1 percent, down from 4.3 percent in May and from 4.9 percent in June 2016. The national unemployment rate, which Florida has closely tracked in recent months, actually rose to 4.4 percent in June from a 16-year low of 4.3 percent in May, but was down from 4.9 percent a year earlier. June's national uptick was viewed as a positive sign more people are entering the workforce, as the labor-force participation rate increased to 62.8 from 62.7 percent the month before....

    Who remembers the remarkable lines of hundreds of people looking for construction work in Tampa back in March of 2010 at a job fair at the Encore construction site near downtown Tampa? Now the construction industry is struggling to find skilled workers to meet building demand. [
JOHN PENDYGRAFT | TIMES]
  12. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people actually like?

    Sorry, there's no prescription currently available to clear the fog of uncertainty ahead for health insurance....

    Tommy Inzina is CEO of BayCare Health System in Clearwater. [Courtesy of BayCare]
  13. Trigaux: At struggling Frontier Communications, the bleeding cannot go on forever

    Business

    Look at Frontier Communication's performance so far this year and this image might come to mind:

    Wile E. Coyote stepping off a cliff. While holding an anvil.

    The cartoon's funny. Frontier's plight is not. After spending more than $10 billion to buy Verizon's FiOS business to provide Internet, cable TV and landline phone services to homes and businesses in the Tampa Bay, southern California and other markets, Frontier's business is struggling mightily....

    After spending more than $10 billion to buy Verizon's FiOS business to provide Internet, cable TV and landline phone services to homes and businesses in the Tampa Bay, southern California and other markets, Frontier Communication's business is struggling mightily.
[MONICA HERNDON | Times file photo]
  14. Trigaux: Often out of spotlight, 44 biggest private Tampa Bay companies reveal their clout

    Corporate

    They are a business backbone in Tampa Bay we hear little about, at least compared to the high-profile likes of Raymond James Financial, HSN or Bloomin' Brands. Few have household-recognizable names, but a handful boast brands well-known to most.

    Combined, the top 44 of them employ nearly 60,000 people, mostly in this metro area. Together, their combined revenues top $25 billion.

    "They" are the major private corporations whose headquarters reside in the Tampa Bay market. They are not publicly traded, though plenty of them are big enough to become public companies if they wanted to do so. ...

    is keen on in-house vocational education. Employees can learn best practices in electrical contracting in its 16,000-square-foot campus-style facility in St. Petersburg. Here, employees are taught the latest skills in handling advanced electrical rooms.
  15. Trigaux: As Florida citrus industry wanes, it's time for a Plan B, and Plan C and D

    Agriculture

    The latest citrus industry story coming out of Tallahassee is even grimmer than the usual coverage of a state orange crop beset by disease, overpriced land for groves and a dwindling consumer thirst for OJ.

    "The final forecast of the 2016-2017 season for Florida's struggling citrus industry shows the orange crop falling 16 percent from the previous season — which, itself, had been at a five-decades low."...

    Back in 1971, when citrus was king in Florida, industry promoter Anita Bryant greeted fans at the Dick Mills Clearwater Showroom. Bryant, then famous for singing "Come to the Florida sunshine tree" jingle, was there to promote all things citrus. Those days are fading fast. [Norman Zeisloft, Tampa Bay Times]