With a team of six lobbyists and over 30 years of experience, Tallahassee-based Smith, Bryan & Myers has built a strong reputation on proactive, client-oriented service, ranking the firm No. 8 on Sunshine State News list of Top Lobbyists in the Sunshine State.
Matt Bryan, president of SBM, has an extensive background in Florida politics. He started his career off as an aide to former Gov. Bob Graham in the '80s, eventually serving as a consultant to Grahams campaign for governor. Bryan also served as a special assistant to Democratic Lt. Gov. Wayne Mixson.
Vice President Jeff Hartley has over two decades of experience in lobbying. Hartley began his career in Florida politics through managing Republican House campaigns, where he had significant responsibilities, including coordinating all fundraising and policy efforts, as well as media events and direct mail buys.
SBM represents a wide variety of clients from the health care industry -- the Florida Hospital Association and United Healthcare Services, to name just two -- but other clients in 2013 included the Florida Bar and the Corrections Corporation of America.
In total, the firm represented 50 different clients with an average annual retainer of $44,000 per client. Tthe firm brought in $2.2 million in legislative fees last year, or about $367,000 per lobbyist.
Although SBM has a good deal of clients, Bryan told Sunshine State News that getting as many clients as possible isnt the firms overall goal.
Were not out to be the biggest firm in the business, he said. We choose our clients very carefully and we like to develop long-term, deep relationships with them.
Bryan says being selective about their clientele allows the firm to provide better service.
We ... can be more responsive because we dont have 150 clients, he said.
Bob Asztalos from the Florida Health Care Association told Sunshine State News one of SBMs best assets is its professional balance.
Theyve got a real nice balance between worker bees and someone like Matt, who can think at a 30,000 feet level, said Asztalos. His firm brings a really nice balance between someone who can keep you focused on the big picture and then also do the work.
When it comes to on-the-job challenges, Matt Bryan explained term limits can prove to be a tough predicament for lobbyists. In order to combat the difficulties that come along with a revolving-door of politicians at the Capitol, SBM aims to target legislators even before they become elected officials.
Youve got to start working sometimes well before they get to Tallahassee, he explained. We develop very good relationships with them and its necessary in order to succeed in a term-limited environment were in.
Making sure the firm is ahead of the curve requires thoughtful planning and never settling for the same-old lobbying practices.
"The process is ever-changing, so you can never sit pat with the hand you have," said Bryan. "You have to always, constantly be looking down the road and figuring out how you need to change your business to succeed for your clients."
Sunshine State News staff and researchers analyzed thousands of Floridas legislative lobbying compensation reports filed within the databases and official records maintained by Online Sunshine and the Florida Lobbyist Registration Office in Tallahassee.In order to determine SSNs rankings, we considered a combination of three factors: a firms total billings, a firms average client annual retainer and the sum of a firms total 2013 fees divided by the number of lobbyists it employed last year.