J.A. Hall of Fame: Naples entrepreneur Phil McCabe named 2012 laureate

File photo of Phil McCabe, owner of The Inn on Fifth and other Fifth Avenue South properties in Naples.

File photo of Phil McCabe, owner of The Inn on Fifth and other Fifth Avenue South properties in Naples.

Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida has added two new laureates to its Business Hall of Fame.

This year’s laureates are Richard B. Akin and Philip J. McCabe, who were officially inducted at a dinner Tuesday night in their honor at the Waldorf Astoria Naples, off Seagate Drive in Naples.

The event attracted a crowd of about 600, including more than 60 Collier County students, from fifth to 12th grade who are involved with Junior Achievement. Junior Achievement is dedicated to educating young people about business, economics and free enterprise.

Akin is president/CEO of Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida and Philip J. McCabe is CEO and owner of Gulf Coast Commercial Corp. and founder of the Inn on Fifth and McCabe’s Irish Pub & Grill in Naples.

The prestigious award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who serve as role models for youth through their professional accomplishments and commitment to the community.

"We have two very good laureates, who balanced each other out very well," said Anne Frazier, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida. "They come from totally different backgrounds, two different industries, and they are two different personalities."

The two men were chosen from a list of about 30 candidates this year.

— Phil McCabe came from a blue-collar family — and a blue-collar community in Boston.

His mother, Eva, a stay-at-home, and his father, Bernard, a school teacher, weren't risk-takers. But they taught Phil McCabe, their youngest child, and their other four children to be independent and self-sufficient.

By the time he was a teenager, Phil McCabe realized his destiny to become an entrepreneur.

"I was built to be an entrepreneur. My DNA is entrepreneurship period, from top to bottom, inside and out," he said.

For all his successes as a developer and hotelier in Naples and all his philanthropic efforts that have benefited local children, he's been added into Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida's Business Hall of Fame in Collier County. He said he's humbled by the recognition.

McCabe has built and operated three hotels in Collier County, including the Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples, which he continues to run and is in the midst of expanding.

He's developed and opened a handful of restaurants: McCabe's Irish Pub & Grill, the Garden Court Cafe, Windows on the Water, McCabe Brothers Steak House and Boston's Restaurant & Sports Bar.

He's invested in both commercial and residential projects in Collier County. He counts Botanical Place, a 218-unit condominium in East Naples, as one of his successes.

He shared his successes and failures with local students attending the recognition event on Tuesday night. He told the students, who aspire to be entrepreneurs, to stick with what they know.

Eager to start his career, McCabe didn't go to college. In 1967, he joined the U.S. Air Force at 19 and became a specialist in Russian missile analysis. After an honorable discharge, the CIA recruited him for work in northern Iran, on the border of Russia.

At 27, he left the CIA and spent his life savings of $25,000 to buy a bankrupt hotel in Maine, transforming it into a multimillion-dollar enterprise.

"The average person would have said, 'Man this is it. I'm staying put, but Phil McCabe? No. He had to resign from the CIA and go off and start his own business," he said with a chuckle.

McCabe readily admits some of his projects and investments didn't pan out, including his first and only retail shopping center in Collier County.

"I didn't know shopping centers," said McCabe, 65, the CEO and owner of Gulf Coast Commercial Corp. "My career was flawless, until the financial crisis and then I experienced failure. And fortunately for me, I was blessed to be able to absorb the failures in my balance sheet. And move on."

McCabe's name quickly rose to the top from a list of about 30 who were considered for the hall-of-fame recognition this year, said Anne Frazier, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida. He's a good role model, who has made a difference in the community and has changed the landscape of Collier County, she said.

"He's really, certainly made his mark on Fifth Avenue and he's a great supporter of many local charities and organizations as well," Frazier said.

He continues to make his mark on downtown Naples. In September of last year, McCabe broke ground on a $15 million expansion of the Inn on Fifth, which will add 32 new luxury suites across the street and an executive boardroom, along with 12,000 square feet of retail on the first floor. The new rooms will be ready to welcome their first visitors in late December.

McCabe relocated to Naples after 12 years in the hospitality business up North. He's been here 28 years.

He's a father of two boys and he's directed most of his charitable giving to children through such organizations as Champions of Learning, formerly known as the Education Foundation of Collier County, and Fun Time Academy.

As far as his career as an entrepreneur goes, McCabe said: "I wouldn't change anything."

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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