Products and Industries You Don’t Identify With Florida

When you say “Florida products” to most Americans, most will think oranges and grapefruit, perhaps winter vegetables, motor homes and trailers, and lots of beach items like boats and water skis.  Florida’s economy is much more diverse today and some things are just unusual.

 CAVIAR production in Russia has been so seriously crippled by pollution, poaching, and huge prices that other places in the world are raising sturgeons. One of those places is Florida where Russian sturgeons grow in farms like the Ever Farm in Pierson and Healthy Earth in Sarasota.  With Florida’s fancy touristy restaurants there is an instant market for Florida’s eatable black gold.  One day Florida might produce more caviar than mother Russia.

floridatraveler CAVIAR

 PRIVATE AIRPLANES are made in Florida by firms like Piper and Embraer (a Brazilian firm).  Florida has more business jets than England, France, and Japan combined.  Only monster Texas with its oil guys has more private jets. There are 87,000 Florida workers in 2,000 aviation and aerospace firms.

FLORIDATRAVELER john travolta house and airplane

Plane is in: John Travolta is home.

           Many of the 80,000 servicemen stationed in Florida leave to join these firms. Airplanes have to be serviced, tested and get new parts.  There are even airplane oriented residential communities in Florida where pilots like actor John Travolta fly up to his front door.

NUDIST COLONIES are part of Florida’s economy. Florida is the center of nudist colonies in the United States with the headquarters of the American Association for Nude Recreation in Kissimmee, just minutes down the road from Walt Disney World. Lutz (Pasco County) is sometimes called “the nudist capital” with its many camps, including the 111 acre resort complex at Lake Como.  Most Floridians do not know that Haulover Beach near Miami Beach was voted one of the ten best nudist beaches in the world.

FLORIDATRAVELER lake-como-a-family-nudist

Lake Como Nudist Has RV and tents, motel and condos etc

IT EQUIPMENT is associated with California, but the first mass personal computer started in Boca Raton (IBM PC).  Florida has 4,200 digital media firms, 14,100 software companies, large photonics clusters, 300 MST centers, and 7,300 telecom firms since Miami is a center for communications with Latin America.


Tech Data Complex Is Huge

          Tech Data, started in Clearwater, Florida, in 1974 by Edward C. Raymund is the largest distributor of IT products and services in the world.  It is Florida’s second largest public corporation.  Jabil Circuit of Saint Petersburg is the third largest contract manufacturer in the world, with 175,000 employees in 90 plants in 23 countries.


On The Huge Mormon Ranch

CATTLE RAISING began in Florida in 1521 before any other state existed and Florida has the third largest number of cattle of any state each of the Mississippi. Florida is a cow-calf state raising a million calves each year to be shipped to Western states to fatten up.  The largest brood cow herd in the nation is the Deseret Ranch outside St Cloud and it is owned by the Mormon Church.  There are 125,000 milk cows serving the state.

THE WINE INDUSTRY started in Florida outside Tallahassee by Frenchman Emil DuBois in 1890. Prohibition and disease ultimately ended Chateau Du Bois, but his White Chateau won awards and spread across the South fostering a Southern wine industry.   By the end of World War II the wine industry started again in Florida and now contains 27 wineries, 12 major vineyards open to the public, and 8 pick your own grapes places.

FLORIDATRAVELER Lakeridge_winery_vinyards1_sm

Vineyard Outside Clermont, Florida

In 2010 Lakeridge Winery garnered 42 medals from eight different international competitions including the Los Angeles Wine Competition, where the Sunshine State has made giant inroads.

SALES AND RENTAL CARS crowd the highways of Florida.  On a busy weekend night in South Beach the majority of the automobiles on the streets are rentals.  With little long range public transportation, Florida is a drive-happy consumer state.  Florida doesn’t make cars, but we certainly buy and rent them.   The largest auto retailer in America is Fort Lauderdale’s AutoNation which also owns a few rental car firms like Alamo, National, Value, Spirit, and Snappy.

FLORIDATRAVELER autonation fort lauderdale

Home To America’s Global Auto Dealer

    Founded in 1996 by H. Wayne Huizenga, who once started a company called Blockbuster, AutoNation is spreading across the globe.  Not bad considering Huizenga started his entrepreneurship with a small waste one truck disposal firm called Republic.  Speaking of rental cars, I should mention that Hertz now makes its headquarters in Estero, Florida, population 18,000.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE is a major part of the $150 billion in goods that flow into and out of Florida’s seven large hub airports and its many ports.  Miami is 11th in the world in cargo, but when one looks at Miami’s location, it is clear Miami is the airplane gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean.  It is international trade, not domestic, that fills up the Florida trade cash register, which includes $73 billion in merchandise exports.

FLORIDATRAVELER international trade

Florida Is The Start of Our Latin American Trade

ALLIGATOR HUNTING is not a major industry in Florida, but I thought some of you might be wondering about the reptiles.   You must be licensed but you don’t need a hunting license since most people use a snare and even a big knife.  If you shoot a gator, it will sink into the muck.  Gator meat is more profitable today than alligator hides.  When is the last time you saw someone with alligator shoes or purse?


About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as an Emeritus college professor, he moderates the FHIC at
This entry was posted in attractions, business, environment, florida history, florida vacations, mcbobleonard, travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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