A Punta Gorda conglomerate recently acquired Collier Enterprises, a Naples-based real estate investment and development firm founded in 1976 by grandsons of Barron Gift Collier Sr., the namesake of Collier County.
The Tarpon Blue Family of Companies, which owns and operates a variety of entities that focus on the acquisition and management of agricultural, development and natural resource assets across the nation, purchased Collier Enterprises in early October for an undisclosed amount, according to a company statement. Collier Enterprises manages a broad portfolio of businesses engaged in real estate investment and development, agricultural operations and private equity investments.
Following the sales process between the companies’ shareholders, Collier Enterprises’ management, corporate entities and names of all operations will remain the same, said Ken Smith, president and CEO of Tarpon Blue Companies.
“While Tarpon Blue’s acquisition will bring no great change to (Collier Enterprises’) diverse and storied portfolio of companies and assets, we recognize the important responsibilities before us. For both the transition and future, we are committed to serving as responsible stewards of the remarkable legacy created and carried out for more than a century by the Collier family and, in the same manner, affirm our responsibility to the environment and all communities affected by this transition,” Smith said. “Our strong heritage in agriculture, and history of successful and responsible land and resource management and development, will ensure that the assets, companies and employees will continue to be strongly supported through the highest standards.”
Miles C. Collier and Barron G. Collier II founded Collier Enterprises 46 years ago. Originally conceived as a real estate development firm, the local company grew significantly and became more diversified in subsequent decades.
“While we are all incredibly proud of our family’s stewardship of these lands and properties across a storied history, we wish the new owners positive results,” said Miles C. Collier. “We sincerely hope they will enjoy building a legacy with these properties in their own way.”
Christian Spilker will continue in his leadership role as president of Collier Enterprises. “Although ownership is changing, this transaction ensures continuity of both the management and development of those assets,” Spilker said. “This is a positive step for all stakeholders in (Collier Enterprises), and I would like to thank the exiting shareholders for their immeasurable contribution over decades to the communities of Southwest Florida and beyond.”
Smith, formerly chief operating officer and executive vice president for Alico Inc., has known Spilker and others at Collier Enterprises for many years so the entity-based sale transpired organically. “We all had worked together as large landowners over time and just had known each other,” he said. “We worked on it for a while and closed it (Oct. 6) actually.”
The sale will not affect Collier Enterprises’ plans to develop new communities between Golden Gate Estates and Ave Maria in rural Collier County. In fact, plans for the Town of Big Cypress and its neighboring villages of Bellmar, Longwater and Rivergrass made the deal more attractive, Smith said.
“They had a tremendous set of assets across the board and definitely the villages is a part of that,” he said. “That family has done a tremendous job in everything they’ve done over time, clearly, so that surely was one of the attractive pieces.”
Collier Enterprises made business headlines last fall with major sales of two of its most well-known properties in the Naples area. Naples-based Hoffmann Family of Companies acquired Old Collier Golf Club, an 18-hole championship course on nearly 400 acres in North Naples, for more than $45 million. The previous week, tech billionaire Michael S. Dell’s MSD Partners purchased the exclusive Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club on 28 waterfront acres in Naples for $16.625 million.
All of Collier Enterprises’ employees wanted to join Tarpon Blue, Smith said. “They have a talented team. They’ve done a lot of work getting it to where it’s at. We intend to let them continue down the path that they’ve been on and let them do that,” he said.
“The reality is what we really want to do here is grow the platform from here and look at other investments across the U.S. that may fit in this kind of space because that’s what we’ve all done our whole career. (Spilker) is going to lead that effort and be instrumental in everything we do. It should be business as normal from their perspective and the market’s perspective. Nothing’s going to change there.”
Although the corporate acquisition of Collier Enterprises closed the week after Hurricane Ian made landfall, the deal had been in the works for months. “We started negotiations on this deal some months ago and completion has happened at a time of great trauma for many in Florida,” said Smith, whose Fort Myers home was damaged by the hurricane. “Our thoughts and prayers are with every Floridian who has lost loved ones and experienced loss or damage to property and possessions in this unprecedented event for Southwest Florida.”
In addition to Collier Enterprises Management, the Tarpon Blue Family of Companies includes Tarpon Blue Agriculture BRP LLC, Tarpon Blue Land & Resource Management Inc., Tarpon Blue Silver King I LLLP, Tarpon Blue Real Estate Services LLC, Tarpon Blue Insurance Advisors LLC and Babcock Ranch Eco-Tours.