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Stefan Muehlbauer | Why Naples?

Feb 02, 2018

It was July 2001 and I had just graduated from the University of Miami. Tiffany, my soon-to-be wife, and I had decided to leave the United States to follow an opportunity in investment banking in Germany. Germany was a big adventure for both Tiffany and myself, and we looked forward to broadening our horizons for the coming 2 years. At least that was the plan.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

As we all know, life never goes according to plan and two years turned into thirteen. Starting as a junior analyst, I had worked myself up to become Chief Operating Officer at a booming investment bank. Personally, we had settled in with a huge dog, a 200-year-old farmhouse and a daughter. Life was moving in the fast lane.

While I was working my way up the corporate ladder Tiffany was busy building our boutique marketing, and business development agency, Arma Communications. We bootstrapped it, starting small from our spare bedroom, and eventually growing and expanding until we were teaching a list of clients from around Europe and the United States how to grow, manage and market their business.

A New Chapter Begins

By the time I was 35, I was ready for a change. I’d had the opportunity to manage great teams at prestigious banks, help make deals that created countless jobs, and dealt with some of the biggest investors and CEOs from around the world. What was missing, however, was personal time and a family life for more than a few hours at night.

In 2013, as our daughter, Mackenzie, was approaching school age and Arma Communications was strongly expanding its US client base, we had to make a decision: Continue our European adventure for the long run or take the plunge and find a different balance and quality of life, while growing Arma Communications beyond a tiny boutique agency in the United States.

The prospect of a new challenge and new adventures was very tempting. But where to go? Tiffany was raised in Texas and Virginia, I had grown up in New York, but neither of us had any roots in those places. My family (first my grandparents and then my parents) had vacation homes in Naples since the early 1990s. But Naples? That didn’t seem like a wise business or life choice. After all, wasn’t that the place we jokingly called “God’s Waiting Room” while going to University in Miami?

Looking for Paradise

Always the analytical ones, we started with a blank slate and an open mind. We scoured the Internet, searching for the perfect place for life and business anywhere in the continental United States. We did know exactly what we were looking for – our own personal utopia – we just didn’t know where to find it.

One of our key priorities, given that our company has team members and clients in both Asia and in Europe, was to move to a location that was relatively central between the time zones. It also should be easy to reach via airplane and a location our clients would love to visit, rather than us always going to see them. This already started to narrow our location search down a lot.

Next on the wish list: Moderate climate. Living in Germany for 13 long winters and 13 short summers, we knew that we were done with cold weather. This eliminated a large part of the northern United States and for the first time put Naples on the list of potential locations. Great weather and direct flights from Ft Myers and Miami to Germany where important.


But seriously? Naples?

Sure, Naples ticked all the boxes, and we knew our international clients would love to come visit us there. But there was more to expanding a business than pretty beaches and sunshine nearly 365 days of the year. We also wanted to expand our client base locally in the region we moved to.

We wondered, “Could this be done in Naples?”

As we kept scouring the internet for economic development statistics and business climate information, we were once again surprised that Naples popped up on the list of potential homes. With its booming economy diversifying from tourism and construction to more innovation and technology, Naples seemed to have it all.

The last, and certainly most important factor in narrowing down our search for the perfect place to call home for our little family was quality of life. After all, this move was just as much about finding higher quality of family life as it was about growing our business.

One key factor we looked at was the low crime rate. While crime comes as part and parcel of living in any city and will never be eliminated, knowing you live in a place where you can feel safe walking down the street at night held a high degree of attraction. Once again, Naples with its incredibly low crime rate hit the mark.

With the first day of Kindergarten rapidly approaching, the quality of the school system was important too. Once again Naples checked the box, with an excellent public school system, modern facilities and a diverse student body.

And because this was a family decision, we were also searching for a place where we could enjoy our time together as a family. Who doesn’t like visiting beaches, taking day trips, enjoying a nice meal out and experiencing new things? Once again, Naples shined on the list.

Sink or Swim

We have been in Naples for nearly five years now and the city has welcomed us with open arms. We are so thrilled to be a part of the community here, having both gone through the Leadership Collier program and serving on a variety of boards.

Our business has expanded by leaps and bounds; attracting clients from abroad, across the US, and also locally. Our clients from abroad not only want to visit us, but some of them are even in the process of building up small US-Subsidiaries based here as well as establishing publicly-held companies with Naples as their home base. We have built a great team of people at Arma Communications Inc. locally and internationally as well.

Our family life is happy and healthy too. Our daughter is thriving at Osceola Elementary School and we have met amazing friends.

Every once in a while, friends and colleagues who have never been here still ask me: “You moved where? Naples? Isn’t that just for retiring?”

But I know they are wrong! Naples is for thriving.

About Arma Communications Inc.
Arma Communications, founded in 2001 is a marketing and business development consultancy based in Naples, FL.

Our team of professionals in the fields of marketing, web design, business development and content creation help small and mid-sized companies expand and market their businesses physically and across the internet.

Founded by Stefan and Tiffany Muehlbauer, Arma Communications has grown to include more than 30 team members in 5 countries across the globe.

Arma Communications Inc.
1926 Trade Center Way #2
Naples, FL 34109

Learn More Here: www.armacommunications.com  or 239-260-5711