Achieving and Giving Back

I’m not sure there’s anything more refreshing after a day’s work than snipping a few mint leaves from the backyard garden and then adding some rum, sugar and fresh lime juice to make a mojito. And when it comes to rum, there’s no more of an iconic company than Bacardi, which has its North American headquarters in Coral Gables.

A few months ago, I was introduced to Marlene Mitchell Gordon, the smart, personable general counsel of Bacardi North America who is on the cover of this month’s issue. We lunched in the company cafeteria, which was full of cheerful employees and healthy fare. (Alas, no fountain of mojitos.) 

Marlene gave me a tour of the headquarters, which features displays that talk about the company’s history. Bacardi was founded in 1862 by Facundo Bacardi Masso, a Spanish wine merchant who immigrated to Cuba. Bacardi was innovative by filtering rum through charcoal and aging it in white oak barrels, which made it mellow, creating the first white rum.

As for the Bacardi bat symbol, an 1890s painting of “El Ron del Murcielago,” or “The Rum of the Bat,” hangs in the company’s museum area. Bats were considered a sign of good fortune in Spanish culture. 

Bacardi has a cool company heritage website, which includes a graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Michael Allred that talks about the role Facundo’s son, Emilio, played in the war for Cuban independence.

Bacardi is now the world’s largest privately held spirits company with 200 brands, including Grey Goose, Martini vermouth, Dewar’s Blended Scotch Whisky and Bombay Sapphire. 

Marlene is on the cover of this issue because her story is all about overcoming obstacles and giving back. She grew up in an impoverished, rural area of Jamaica where she had to walk miles to school. A major source of inspiration was her mother, who won a scholarship to study hotel management in Germany. This helped pave the way for her family to eventually move to the United States and for Marlene to graduate from Northwestern University Law School and clerk at the same firm as Michelle Obama.

Marlene has worked at some of the most prominent companies in South Florida, but more importantly, she is a great role model to give back to the community. As our cover story by Joseph Mann Jr. outlines, she has had a major impact in helping mentor women and has found a way to help children in Jamaica with a foundation dedicated to her mother.

The next time I sip a mojito, I’ll raise a toast to her efforts.

Losing a marine industry icon

As I was getting ready to select pictures for the CEO Connect feature in this issue, I was shocked to hear about the death of Frank Herhold, the executive director emeritus of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. Frank, who was 76, died at his home on Dec. 5.

Frank played an incredible role in not only leading the association for two decades, but helping the public – and members of the media, like myself – understand how important the marine industries are as an economic engine in our economy. He was always ebullient when talking about how the marine industries really make our region unique from a global standpoint.

Frank was named 2007 Citizen of the Year in Fort Lauderdale and Commodore of the 2010 Winterfest Boat Parade. He stayed very active in the community even after retiring from the association in 2010.

I chatted with him at the media kickoff breakfast for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and he was enthusiastic about working with Stiles, the Fort Lauderdale construction, development and real estate company. I remember saying what a great fit he would be with Stiles since waterfront real estate is one of the region’s top assets.

Frank also attended SFBW’s CEO Connect with Bob Moss. Unfortunately, our last contact was all too brief – a quick handshake as he was on his way out the door.

If you want to contribute to Frank’s legacy, the association’s Education Fund plans to set up a scholarship program in his name.

Kevin Gale

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.