Chamber of Commerce event to focus on veterans in business


A St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Ponte Vedra Beach (PVB) Division event on Nov. 15 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Ponte Vedra Beach will feature Joe Padlo, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and multiple combat tours, as its keynote speaker.

Padlo was named a Veteran of Influence by the Jacksonville Business Journal in 2016. He founded U.S. Military Maintenance, a cleaning and maintenance services company with a mission to employ veterans at a living wage. In 2016, Padlo’s team won’s Business Breakthrough competition, and today the newly renamed organization, Veterans Elite Services, employs 18 former military service men and women.

Padlo also founded Tidy Text, a technology platform currently in BETA that provides communication and accountability for janitorial and maintenance services. Tidy Text was recently honored at the BizTech Awards.

The 10-year Marine is also a volunteer leader with the local chapter of Team Red, White and Blue, a national nonprofit seeking to bring veterans and civilians together through physical fitness and social activities. 

The Chamber event will also feature Justine Justice, executive director of Operation New Uniform; USMC Lt. Gen. Richard Tryon (RET), who is the senior fellow in international leadership at Hicks Honors College at the University of North Florida; a board member of the Wounded Warrior Project and representatives from K9s For Warriors.

“Veterans are very important to the business community,” said Chamber President and CEO Isabelle Rodriguez. “It should not be of any surprise that the men and women who have served our country not only have the characteristics and work ethic to make great employees, but they make ideal entrepreneurs as well.”

The Chamber president and CEO cited a 2017 small business study stating that small business firms owned by veterans employed 5.03 million people, had an annual payroll of $195 billion and receipts of $1.14 trillion. Veteran-Owned Businesses and Their Owners also stated that veteran-owned firms represented 9.1 percent of all U.S. businesses.

A Salute to Veterans will be the theme of this regularly scheduled Chamber at Noon event. Beginning at 11:30 am and ending at 1 pm, admission for non-members is $35 and $30 for Chamber members. Lunch is included. According to PVB Division Director Toni Boudreaux, the aim of the event is to salute veterans and to acknowledge the important impact they are making on our business community.

To register for the event or to find out more about the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce or the Chamber’s Ponte Vedra Beach Division, please visit or call (904) 285-2004.