The initial core group of 21 local businesses has been set, and the Gateway Business Leaders chapter of Business Network International has begun its 6-week training period.

If all goes according to plan the new BNI chapter will host its “Launch Party” on May 22, 2015.

There are BNI groups all over the planet, and the organization boasts 170,000 business members world-wide. In Southwest Florida, BNI’s website shows 49 chapters formed with 5 more (including Gateway Business Leaders) at the forming stage.

If you’re unfamiliar with BNI, essentially it’s a networking group. Every BNI chapter is made up of local business managers – each of whom represents a company that specializes in one service category. The members within each chapter then work to generate leads for each other.

For example, the Gateway Business Leaders chapter has David Tyree with Advance Solar & Air who is in the Heating & Air Conditioning category, as well as Mark Hemming from Majestic Lawn Care who of course is in the Lawn Care category. If Tyree was ever fixing someone’s A/C unit and the homeowner happens to mention needing a new lawn service, Tyree would take the opportunity to introduce the homeowner to Hemming and his company, Majestic Lawn Care.

The idea being that the cross-promotion among members generates business for everyone in the group.

According to BNI SWFL Area Director Consultant Dorothy Saviste, Gateway’s local chapter is off to a fast start.

“We are excited about the Gateway Business Leaders Chapter. They have formed in record breaking time. The dynamic group of people who are forming this chapter are anxious to get started tracking the business they are already passing,” said Saviste.

One business owner who’s in the Gateway chapter that we recently spoke with told us that even though the group is in the training stage he’s already had customers walk through his door as a result of his BNI group participation. This business owner said extremely positive things about the group but we weren’t “on the record” so we’re choosing not to name the person we spoke with. However, this business owner was pleasantly surprised with how serious and accountable BNI is. He offered nothing but praise for Gateway Business Leaders and couldn’t be happier that he’s involved.

Someone who we did speak with on the record is James Kockler of JamKo Force Networks.

Kockler’s company represents the group’s Computer Networks category and he was already a BNI member with a Fort Myers area chapter. However, JamKo recently set up a new business office here in Gateway so Kockler decided to make the switch to the Gateway Business Leaders chapter.

“I have been a member of BNI since November of 2013. It was a tough decision to transfer from the Radical Networkers chapter into the Gateway Business Leaders chapter, as my previous chapter had brought a great deal of success to my business. JamKo had recently opened our main location in the heart of Gateway, looking to fill the void for a computer company in the community. After visiting Gateway Business Leaders and seeing the enormous potential for growing my business with such a strong core group of people in Gateway, the decision just made sense,” said Kockler.

JamKo offers IT and VoIP services and their slogan is ‘We speak to you in English, not geek!’

Their new office is located at 12220 Towne Lake Center, unit 85. (For geographical reference, it’s the same building that the Boulevard Tavern is in.)

If you’re interested in joining the Gateway Business leaders chapter, new members will be able to join once they complete their training and host their May 22, 2015 launch party. Details of the launch party will be announced soon.

In the meantime if you would like more information, please contact Morgan Grimes (who is the chapter rep in the Residential Real Estate category) at

Saviste can be reached by emailing

Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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