Creative Entrepreneur Finds Success in Lee County
Christopher Spiro, CEO, Creative Director & founder of Spiro & Associates, has a flair for creativity and a drive for success.
His family was one of the first to settle in Cape Coral, and his happy childhood prompted him to return to Lee County after graduating from the University of Florida. Chris has leveraged his entrepreneurial spirit with his relationships in Lee County to build Spiro & Associates Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations and Brand Architects, into one of Southwest Florida’s leading advertising, marketing and public relations agencies.
We caught up with Chris to learn about his journey, and how his community has helped his success.
1) Tell us a little bit about your experience as the CEO/Creative Director/founder of Spiro & Associates. How did you get to where you are today?
I have a flare for art — I found myself growing up always gravitating toward art classes, and yearbook and newspaper committees. My first job was setting type at the Cape Coral Breeze, in addition to working at my father’s printing plant. I got a degree in communications from University of Florida, and about 29 years ago, I was young and naïve and ventured out to start my own advertising/marketing firm, without having worked for a real agency. I went from a one-man office adjacent to my father’s print shop in Cape Coral, to our current firm in downtown Fort Myers with about 17 employees. At our peek, before the downturn in the economy we were over 30 staff members.
2) What has kept you doing business in Southwest Florida?
Southwest Florida as a whole is a land of opportunity, from the standpoint that there are so many businesses that are startups, and we have a great entrepreneurial spirit. We also have a plethora of good labor in this marketplace, available land, a progressive government that offers great incentives, and a good educational system. Overall, this is a place that was really good to me as a kid, and I wanted to come back and be a part of its growth as an adult.
3) What do you think is the best way to spend 24 hours in Lee County?
I would tell people go to the lighthouse beach on Sanibel Island and watch the sunrise – it’s a serene beach. Southwest Florida has a unique collection of boutique restaurants, so be sure to eat on the island, maybe some fresh caught grouper. Then spend your afternoon visiting one of our championship golf courses. Southwest Florida as a region has more golf holes per capita than anywhere else in the nation. Spend your 19th hole at one of our amazing downtown craft breweries, or sitting at Nevermind or Cork Soakers and listening to a live band.
4) What do you think makes Lee County a great place for entrepreneurs? How has being located here helped you succeed?
I have an analogy — people will drive down Interstate-75 on empty for the sheer privilege to buy their gas in Lee County, meaning people have a passion for doing business with people that are here. It’s mentorship mentality; people in Lee County want to see other businesses succeed. It’s a great community, and everyone looks at each other as contemporaries rather than competitors.
5) What’s your best “insiders” tip on Lee County, particularly for anyone considering moving here or for anyone new to the area?
Downtown Cape Coral has emerged as some of the best dining and entertainment in all of Southwest Florida. It’s amazing to see the chefs that come to the marketplace, and the new wines to experience there. You can do everything from simply having some tapas and a cold beer, to a formal, beautifully presented fusion-cooked meal, to listening to the latest local top 40 band at Animal House or The Beastie Bar.