John R. Gilhart, Sr. is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio where he operated a regional shopping center and 50 lane bowling center with his family from 1982 until 1994. He built his own first house as the Contractor in 1991 and found he had a passion for building construction. In 1995 he decided to move to Naples, Florida along with his wife and two young children. It was always his dream to live in Florida and what better place for the construction business and quality of life for his family then warm sunny Florida. He obtained his Florida State Certified General Contractor License and Real Estate Salesperson License in the spring of 1996. The same year he acquired several residential lots in the Village of Monterey, a single family gated bath and tennis community in north Naples. He built and sold four single family homes in two years. In the spring of 1999 he acquired commercial property at Pelican Strand, now known as The Strand and designed a Planned Unit Development known as Strand Executive Park the same year. He went on to design the first 9,000 SF office building and complete construction of the building shell and one finished out office suite in August of 2000. He moved into the rear of the finished office suite and used it as a construction office while renting out the front of the office to an independent Raymond James financial planner. He advertised his first office building and used the inquiries he received as his market research. The inquiries were very helpful in finding out what the demand was for office space. The number of inquiries for Executive Office Space were so overwhelming that he redesigned the interior of the first office building three times prior to starting the finish-out construction to accommodate such space. He went on to build out the remaining interior of the first office building which created eighteen office suites. The new office suites were mostly leased within ninety days of completion in 2001. Thinking he was on to something that was in high demand, he went on to build another 6,000 SF office building in 2002 and another 6,000 SF office building in 2003. All three buildings were connected for phone service to one central reception area to provide additional phone answering service for all office suites.
When he was originally negotiating for the property he was able to get the final one acre parcel of land under contract to purchase but did not have the funds to purchase it. One night while playing tennis with his friends he mentioned the remaining parcel availability and ask if any of them were interested in buying it and developing it with him. Nick Shirghio, owner of Fashion Fresh Dry Cleaners and Ken Trask, former owner of Conshor, Inc. said they were each interested in a third share if he would take the remaining third share. All agreed and NicKenJohn Enterprises, Inc. was formed to develop the remaining property.
Taking all of the lessons learned from the first three buildings Mr. Gilhart starting the design and permitting process of the final building. The final building was three story and 19,538 SF. The permitting process was complete in 13 months and work began. Surety Construction, a Bonita Springs based company, was awarded the contract to build the final building. The building was completed nine months later in 2005 and named Strand Executive Center. Strand Executive Park today includes Strand Executive Center which operates four office buildings with approximately seventy offices totaling 40,538 SF of professional offices and executive office suites and two other office buildings owned by ARBC, Inc. Arthur Rutenberg Homes and Tree Plateau, Inc. The combined total office space for the entire office park is 50,000 SF.