Zeagle Systems, Inc.
For information on Zeagle products, visit www.zeagle.com.
In the lobby of Zeagle Systems, Inc. hangs a picture of owner Dennis Bulin with famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, whose passion for the water helped innovate modern underwater diving in the 1940s.
The picture is essentially a portrait of two pioneers of the scuba-diving industry, a relatively small, close-knit community that shares a love for diving.
Bulin, who launched Zeagle in Zephyrhills in 1979, is known for revolutionizing the design of scuba vests (or buoyancy compensators), which divers use to control their buoyancy while diving.
A Wisconsin native who moved to Florida in the 1970s, Bulin also is respected for building Zeagle from a small company that catered mainly to local dive shops into an industry leader with daily orders of its scuba vests, masks, fins, snorkels, and myriad accessories, from around the globe.
"I never did any diving until I came to Florida," Bulin said. "My parents had moved here, and I would come down to Skydive City (in Zephyrhills); I was more into parachuting back then."
Zeagle also manufactured parachute equipment until the early 1980s. Ironically, Bulin's parachuting experience translated to scuba diving ingenuity when he first designed a back-mounted scuba vest.
"We designed it based on skydive technology," he said. "That's what made our company different. The (scuba vests) were easier to move around in, and our Ripcord Weight Release System made it safer to carry and release weight in an emergency."
The company grew rapidly. Bulin was able to hire a sales force that demonstrated Zeagle products at dive shops and trade shows around the country. Soon, Zeagle merchandise - produced in its 20,000-square-foot factory off Chancey Road, just west of U.S. 301 - was being shipped to Europe, Russia, throughout Asia, China and around the United States.
Eventually, Zeagle's reputation for manufacturing dependable, cutting-edge products extended to the U.S. military. Recently, Zeagle engineers helped design Scuba regulators for use in an emergency escape system that is used on a new class of U.S. Navy submarines. The company also has designed products used in police and fire and rescue operations.
Zeagle engineer Jim Fox said the company's reputation for developing dependable, safe, high-quality products has been well-earned.
"It's a small industry," Fox said. "There are about five or six companies in the world that do this, and people recognize the Zeagle name. That's how we get contracts like with the Navy. They'll call, and say, 'Our guys love your stuff; can you help us?' "
After more than 30 years, Bulin continues to grow his business and now employs 40 full-time workers.
"We're always working on improvements and new designs," he said, holding up a ladies' scuba vest with purple accents. "It's still a challenge."
And, it's still his passion.
A global leader in fertilizer manufacturing and distribution, CF Industries is the second-largest nitrogen fertilizer producer in the world and the third-largest phosphate fertilizer producer among public companies. CF Industries owns and operates world-scale nitrogen and phosphate plants and serves agricultural and industrial customers through its best-in-class distribution system, according to the company's website.
Headquartered in Deerfield, Ill., just outside Chicago, CF Industries, Inc. can produce about 2.1 million tons of phosphate fertilizer products a year.
The company began phosphate operations in Florida in 1969. Two years later it purchased its existing manufacturing facility just outside Zephyrhills - a complex that has been expanded significantly since then. CF Industries utilizes the CSX railway to ship containers 24-7 directly to the Port of Tampa from its plant south of Zephyrhills.
A chain of retail shipping and receiving stores with hundreds of locations, Goin' Postal started with a single storefront on Zephyrhills in 2002. The company offers its customers access to main carriers such as FedEx, UPS and the United States Postal Service, as well as offering services such as copying, faxing, mailbox rentals, cards, unique gift items and office supplies.
The company is owned by Marcus and M.J. Price. Information can be found at www.goinpostal.com.
Touted as Florida's No. 1 skydiving center, this facility on the southeast portion of Zephyrhills Municipal Airport is a popular destination for skydiving enthusiasts from across the globe.
The operation boasts a well-stocked pro shop, 14 acres of land that provides ample camping grounds and a respected instructional school for beginner and experienced jumpers.
Information about Skydive City can be found at www.skydivecity.com
Nestlé Waters North America
Headquartered in Greenwich, Conn., Nestlé Waters does a $3.4 billion bottled-water business in the United States. In Zephyrhills, the company produces the popular Zephyrhills brand of bottled water, which has resulted in the town's moniker, "The City of Pure Water." The Zephyrhills plant employs over 400 workers and is a full-service, 24-7 operation producing and shipping over 1,000,000 bottles of water a week.
The source for Zephyrhills Spring Water's local bottling plant is the nearby Crystal Springs Preserve, which the company has developed into an environmental education center that annually attracts more than 50,000 students, teachers and parents who learn about watershed stewardship and protecting Florida's natural habitats.