The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 43 - July 28, 2010


LaPensee celebrates 25 years

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

From left, Mike LaPensee, Karen LaPensee, Greg LaPensee and
Shawn LaPensee are ready to help with your plumbing needs.

Twenty-five years ago there was just Mike LaPensee and his old Datsun truck providing plumbing services to Anna Maria Island. Today not only does he have a new truck, he has 20 of them or at least LaPensee Plumbing & Pools does. On Aug. 1, LaPensee Plumbing & Pools will be celebrating 25 years in business, and although Mike LaPensee has recently retired, LaPensee Plumbing & Pools continues to be a thriving family affair.

During the course of 25 years Karen and Mike LaPensee have gradually built their business based on quality products and a reputation for customer service. Through the years they added services, high end merchandise and a living showroom unlike any in Manatee County. Now with the addition of their two children working full time in the business and 23 employees, LaPensee Plumbing & Pools is continuing to branch out and respond to the needs of the community.

As president of LaPensee Plumbing & Pools, Karen LaPensee continues to run the day-to-day operation of the business. In addition, she is active in the Anna Maria Chamber of Commerce and has also been a loyal organizer of the annual Anna Maria Tour of Homes. Greg LaPensee is vice president and in charge of all company services, remodeling projects and is licensed for both plumbing and gas installations. After graduating from Florida State University, Shawn LaPensee started updating the company’s marketing plan with an eye towards future growth, and has recently launched a detailed and improved website.

However, the hallmark of LaPensee Plumbing & Pools is the building and interactive living showroom they opened two years ago. The showroom is unique in that the displays are functional with flowing water and the ability to demonstrate showers, sinks, toilets, tubs and other products. The showroom is not only a great place to get remodeling ideas and make decisions, but it’s so attractive you’ll have trouble tearing yourself away.

Beautiful vessel sinks, special bathroom vanities, kitchen sinks and cabinets, pedestal sinks and a vast selection of bathroom and kitchen faucets are on display. There is also a selection of low flow toilets and over 20 living showerheads making the showroom a truly educational experience.

In addition to LaPensee’s full menu of plumbing services, including the only 24-hour emergency water truck on the island, installation of tankless water heaters and irrigation, they offer both residential and commercial pool services. According to Greg LaPensee, the company has four employees in its pool division who can handle maintenance, pumps, pool remodels as well as pool cleaning.

He also points out LaPensee is licensed to install natural and propane gas and reminds everyone that natural gas is already available on many parts of the island with more gas lines scheduled. Natural gas has a financial savings over propane for pool heating, indoor and outdoor cooking and a variety of other applications.

Mike LaPensee may be putting his feet up, relaxing and volunteering with the Rotary, but the rest of the LaPensee clan are hard at work making sure they provide the same quality service LaPensee Plumbing & Pools has always been known for. Whether you’re looking to replace the bathroom faucet or the entire bathroom, visit their living showroom and learn about the glamour of living with flowing water.

LaPensee Plumbing & Pools

401 Manatee Ave., Holmes Beach
Monday – Friday
8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Weekends by appointment
MasterCard, Visa
& Discover Cards Accepted

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Government bond bubble – or not

Investment Corner

The slide in U.S. Government bond yields to below 3 percent during the recent stock market correction once again brings up the topic of whether global government debt is the next speculative bubble waiting to burst and disappoint investors. With the long-term average yield of U.S. 10-year bonds a little north of 5 percent and record highs in the mid-teens back in the early 1980s, it is easy to make the case that rates will rise from here. This would cause existing bond prices to drop and a large group of investors left to feel the pain once again. Here’s a chart showing this wild range of treasury bond yields over the last 30 years or so.

But one nagging issue has me wanting to re-think the situation. Speculative bubbles are rarely acknowledged by the majority until after they have been popped and then everyone likes to say, “See, I told you so." At present however, there is no shortage of advisors and investors predicting doom and gloom for those buying 10-year government debt and earning less than 3 percent annually. Their theory is that rates will have to rise over the coming years as the debts of developed world economies continue to build to support the economic stimulus and social safety net programs.

The logic is there, it makes sense, and in principal I am on board with the expectations principal I am on board with the expectations that interest rates must rise. Some of the smartest fund managers we know also subscribe to this theory and these are people with 40 plus years of experience in some cases. The question remains though, if so many expect this trend to begin in the near future, why is there such demand for long-term treasury bonds right now?

One possible explanation is that after two major stock market declines in 10 years and the worst real estate collapse in memory, investors are very gun shy and are plowing money into investments like treasury bonds more for safety than for profits. In other words they are more worried about “return of their capital” rather than the “return on their capital." History has shown this flight to safety to be a mistake in the long run, but nonetheless, you can understand it a bit when considering what investors have been through in the last decade.

The demand for safety has translated into a flood of investor dollars, both by individuals and institutions, which is keeping bond prices near record highs and corresponding bond yield rates at record lows. This benefits those wanting to borrow money, such as for a home mortgage, but hurts savers who use CDs, money markets, etc. to generate income.

The question is how long this condition will last. Many predict higher rates (and lower bond prices) in the next year or so. But playing devil’s advocate, I would point out that many predicted rising interest rates in Japan over the last 10 years. The predictions have not come to pass in the world’s second largest economy.

I think you have to be prepared for rising rates and falling bond prices at some point, but it may be a little early (judging by the popularity of the consensus opinion) to say it is an idea whose time has come. Stay flexible and don’t let predictions drive your investment process. Invariably, predictions are wrong at least 50 percent of the time.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing. Visit


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