By Zachary Gabe & Jarin Eisenberg in Collaboration with Robert Keimer
Bob Keimer is an Adjunct Instructor at the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business at the Florida Institute of Technology. Bob teaches business start-ups and marketing to undergraduates, and he has been facilitating “Essentials of Business Development 2” in Florida Tech’s Online MBA Program since August of 2008. By Bob’s estimates he has reviewed more than 500 business plans since that time. Completing a formal business plan is the major requirement for Essentials 2 and counts toward almost half of a student’s course grade. While the thought of reviewing so many business plans might seem like a burden to some, Bob says that it’s “absolutely exciting”. “In every class, there are 6 to 8 students for whom this assignment is “real”—they intend to use that business plan to start a business”.
Bob knows the excitement and challenges of business start-ups first hand. Bob is one of the founding investors in Airgonomix, LLC, a business he and his partners started in 2008. They have developed the “Personal Air System”, a low cost, wireless room-level temperature control system for commercial office space. Bob says, “It’s the ‘light switch’ concept for individual room temperature control”. The system improves user comfort and increases energy conservation by driving down building utility costs. Airgonomix is in the early stage of development with 2 beta systems operating successfully in Indialantic and Rockledge. Bob and his partners are seeking next stage funding in order to get to commercial launch.
Bob’s business start-up and teaching experience has proven a great fit for a successful Florida Tech initiative to assist Aerospace workers impacted by the termination of the Shuttle Program. Bob is the Program Coordinator for Florida Tech’s “Entrepreneurial Training Services” (ETS) Program. ETS is a comprehensive business-training program designed for former Aerospace workers who are interested in entrepreneurship and are considering launching their own businesses. The ETS Program is delivered through Florida Tech’s Women’s Business Center and it provides the participants with extensive business training, mentoring, and networking opportunities. ETS participants have the opportunity to make a formal business presentation before a group of local entrepreneurs and business professionals. Bob states that the ETS “graduates” resoundingly agree that the feedback provided by members of the local business community is one of the best features of the Program. During the last 2 years nearly 200 Aerospace workers have been involved with the ETS Program and Bob estimates that 20 to 30 ETS graduates have either started or are in the process of starting their own businesses.
Prior to teaching at Florida Tech and the launch of Airgonomix, Bob worked extensively in the swimming pool distribution business. He held senior management positions and responsibilities for several different regions while at SCP Distributors (NASDAQ: POOL). Over a 10 year period Bob generated no less than 20% CAGR in sales and net income while working in three different regions. Prior to SCP, Bob was Marketing Manager, then Vice President, at Bicknell Huston Distributors, an $80M, 11-branch distribution business based in the Northeast. Bob began his career working in his parents’ family business where he helped build a $5M construction, service and retail company.
Bob is happily married, and just this past June, he and his wife, Liz, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. He and Liz have two children. Bob’s daughter, Nicole, is a graduate from Northeastern University. She lives in Brooklyn where she works for one of the leading flash sale sites, “Ideeli.com.” Bob’s son, Brian, recently joined the Orange County, Florida Fire Department. He lives in Orlando and works as an EMT and Fire Fighter.
Bob earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University. Bob’s hobbies include playing basketball early Saturday mornings with some fellow FIT colleagues and alumni. They consider it a “victory” to be able to run up and down the court with the “young guys” and to be able to walk off the court “injury free”. Bob enjoys reading, and two of his favorite authors are Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams. He also has been a classroom volunteer for Junior Achievement at one of the local high schools for over ten years.
Bob is passionate about entrepreneurship. “I have the good fortune to be able to work with many high school students, undergraduates, graduates, and working professionals who have an interest in exploring the possibilities of starting their own businesses. Entrepreneurship reflects the best of our free enterprise system and provides tremendous opportunities for personal and professional achievement.”