Excalibur Award honors business leaders

The 2010 Excalibur Award recipients: Dwight Stephenson, Laurie Silvers, Ray Titus and Jordan Zimmerman. The business leaders accepted their awards at the Excalibur Award presentation at the Boca Hotel and Club. (Gina Fontana, Sun Sentinel)

Advertising innovator Jordan Zimmerman, franchiser Ray Titus, entertainment expert Laurie Silvers and commercial builder Dwight Stephenson were named 2010 winners of the Sun Sentinel Excalibur Awards on Thursday evening.

The awards, which have recognized business achievement and civic contribution in South Florida annually since 1978, were presented at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.

Zimmerman, chairman of Zimmerman Advertising in Fort Lauderdale, won the top honor in Broward County; Titus, chief executive of United Franchise Group in West Palm Beach, took the award in Palm Beach County.

The small business leader awards went to Stephenson, founder of Fort Lauderdale-based D. Stephenson Construction, and Laurie Silvers, president of Hollywood Media in Boca Raton.

"Being a peer award makes the Excaliburs one of the finest awards anyone can get," said Howard Greenberg, president and publisher of the Sun-Sentinel.

Today, the advertising agency Zimmerman launched in 1984 with a $10,000 investment generates nearly $3 billion a year in billings and employs more than 1,500 people in 22 offices.

Among its top national accounts are AutoNation and Party City.

Zimmerman, 55, expects his agency to top $3 billion in billings annually in coming years as it grows nationally and gets more involved in social media.

Of Thursday's honor he said, "We cannot build great companies without great people. Building a business is like building a dream one rock at a time."

Titus, 48, oversees United Franchise Group's (UFG) portfolio of business-to-business franchise brands, including its signature Signarama concept founded in 1986.

Last year, UFG posted revenues of more than $450 million, and sales are forecast to grow 15 percent to 20 percent this year.

UFG has 145 employees and more than 1,000 franchise owners.

"It's a great honor to be up here representing our team," Titus said. "There's no possible way I'd be up here without them."

Former Miami Dolphins center Stephenson launched his general contracting business three years after retiring from professional football.

Today, his Fort Lauderdale company has 35 employees, and last year it generated more than $15 million in revenue.

Stephenson, 53, has a contract to build the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center and is also working on a 350-unit residence hall at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.

Stephenson credited his family and a close-knit team of business associates with helping him build a successful company.

"You don't get anywhere in life by yourself," he said.

Silvers, 59, co-founded cable television's Sci-Fi Channel in 1989 with husband Mitchell Rubenstein.

The couple sold the business, now called SyFy, in 1992 for an undisclosed sum and launched Hollywood Media a year later.

Today, the Boca Raton firm's holdings include a United Kingdom-based movie ticket business and Tekno Books, a book development business.

"I never started out in business chasing awards. I chase dreams," she said. "Getting the job done is what's important to me, and you don't get there without a lot of great people."

Staff writers Doreen Hemlock, Paul Owers and Marcia Heroux Pounds contributed to this report.

asatchell@tribune.com or 954-356-4209.