International business just isn't the same.
Back in the early '80s, Manny Mencia was working for Florida's department of commerce and one day had duty ushering a high-ranking Argentine military official around town. A discussion in the lobby of a prominent South Beach hotel was loud enough for eavesdroppers to hear.
"The general was lamenting about how the state department misunderstood Argentina and wouldn't allow the sale of sophisticated fighter planes to his air force," remembers Mencia, now head of international trade development at Enterprise Florida. "Then someone taps us on the shoulder and it's the bellboy and he says, 'General, I couldn't help but overhear you concerning your need for F-4 fighter planes. In my spare time I'm a bellboy, but when I get off, I can get you those planes,"'
The encounter says plenty about the renegade days in the international business sector in South Florida, said Mencia.
"It was full of generalists," he said.
Today, large niche players have helped the make the sector mature -- and South Florida, with growing world trade presence in all three counties, has grown up to become the capital of northern Latin American business. The international business …