To underestimate her would be a big mistake. Big, huge, mistake.
Elaine Myrback doesn’t mince words. She’s not interested in following the status quo and she has no time for nonsense unless it’s intentional.
She loves a good bourbon and plays hip-hop songs throughout her in-home, surround-sound system.
She’s been buying real estate since she was 19 years old. Her latest project is a farm, in Ocala, where she has horses and is learning to drive a tractor.
She’s come a long way baby, and she has worked ridiculously hard to get there.
As chief executive officer of EMS Consulting, in Tampa, she’s grown that business to be more than $20 million in annual revenue and has her sights set on expanding new lines of business. Tell her it can’t be done. She loves it when people do that.
Mostly raised in the Tampa Bay area, Myrback attended the University of South Florida and, from there, jumped right into corporate America. She had employment offers from several Fortune 100 companies, accepting a role with ADP, in Tampa.
“I stayed in Tampa because I had to watch over my family and my mother,” says Myrback. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t go too far away.”
Myrback’s father had passed away while she was studying at USF, so she felt compelled to stay closer to home.
At the age of five, Myrback’s dad had a stroke. Her family was still living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the time. They moved down to Florida, settling in Tarpon Springs.
“We moved to Florida because the weather was warmer. It was best for him. We started over and my mom was, basically, raising four kids alone,” Myrback recalls. “We grew up just making it, because I had a mom who was taking care of my dad, she couldn’t really work, but she was a very good stock market investor.”
After college, Myrback went on to work with ADP for seven years. She married her husband, Doug, in 1991, and then she took a job as division vice president of sales and marketing for the National Data Corp., in Atlanta.
This was the beginning of a more glamorous corporate life for Myrback. One she thoroughly enjoyed.
“They flew me in and picked me up in a limo. I was like, this is really cool. I’m 29 years old [at this time],” she recalls.
In that job, she ran North and South America and rolled out banking products for the company. Then ADP called her back to do strategic alliances. She was also senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Kodak, for a time.
All of this provided Myrback with years of corporate experience. She was soaking in the various methods of management and seeing, first-hand, what made for great teams and what didn’t.
Meanwhile, in between excelling in her professional track and learning the art of conducting business over fine wine and dining, she missed home.
“I woke up one morning and I hated life. I was not happy,” she says. “I just felt like I had something else I wanted to do. I wanted to go out on my own.”
She got a severance package for a year and she used it, at that time, to start her own business, EMS Consulting, in 1998.
Raised in Tarpon Springs, Myrback was eager to get back to the coastal living of Tampa Bay.
“The water was calling me back,” she says. “I really wanted to be back, near the Gulf and I wanted to buy my dream boat, which we did, and a beach house,” she adds, like it’s no big deal.
After 14 years in the corporate world, Myrback admits there was a learning curve starting her own venture.
“I liked it because I was able to bring the best parts of my corporate experience into the company, as far as structure, support and respect, and then we were able to really have fun, also,” Myrback says. “I love entrepreneurial opportunities and relationships. That’s what gets me going. I love to compete. I like to be the best.”
As the business grew, it evolved.
“Every five years I’ve had to re-engineer the firm, ” she says, adding that changes in technology, service offerings and customer support are segments that always need to be reevaluated and improved upon.
“I believe that the way we treat our customers has given us the success that we have. We’re in the multimillions now and are truly the darlings of the Salesforce ecosystem,” she says.
EMS Consulting is heavily focused on the financial services industry but also services businesses in the health care and higher education space. In fact, higher education was a main focus for EMS, at one time.
“We owned 30% of the market for the largest universities. We were servicing all their student and financial systems,” Myrback recalls. “I was ready for a change.”
EMS began pitching to banks on a smaller scale but once the company really began to understand the language of banks, it became a huge opportunity for the business. EMS is now in the business of facilitating mergers and acquisitions by integrating banking systems and technologies.
“We can integrate all of your core systems. We know everything about you, every move you’ve made,” she explains.
This expertise, coupled with an unwavering dedication to customer service, has led EMS to have clients like First Horizon, Cadence Bank, SouthState Bank and First National Bank of Omaha, to name a few.
This year, EMS is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has annual revenue between $20 million and $25 million.
What’s next for this Tampa-based, woman-owned, and led, “Salesforce Darling?”
“I’m going to expand into a data company. We’re into Snowflake, at the moment, and I’m very excited about growing the practice,” Myrback says.
With the company on solid footing, it allows Myrback the time, and space, to enjoy her many hobbies and toys and, if she takes a liking to you, chances are she’ll bring you along for the ride.
Myrback is one of those people who accepts every calendar invitation, much to the dismay of her executive assistant, Lauren Adamek-Gibbons.
“I will be like, ‘No, you can’t be at both of those places at the same time!” says Adamek-Gibbons; she and Myrback laugh at this. It’s a joke that they are both in on, together.
Myrback is tough, no doubt, and holds high expectations of herself and her team, but she’s also a big softie and truly enjoys helping people and changing lives for the better.
“I like to get people to a point in their lives where if I’m not around, or they don’t work with me any longer, they can carry on and do something similar with vigor and have their own levels of success. It’s a really touching journey for me,” Myrback explains.
There’s a unique quality to Myrback. People are drawn to her and, if she is drawn to you, she will take you under her wing and “adopt” you.
That was the story of Myrback and Adamek-Gibbons.
“She was this cute, little bouncy girl and I remember saying, ‘I really like you, when can you start?’ And she was like, ‘What?’ I told her, ‘I’m going to change your life,’” Myrback recalls from their first meeting, with a gleam in her eye.
Adamek-Gibbons has, now, been her executive assistant for about 12 years. It’s a professional relationship that has evolved into friendship. And, it was how Myrback got introduced to one of her many hobbies, Arabian Horses.
“How do you become a millionaire owning horses?” Myrback says, sharing a joke. “Start as a billionaire.”
Out of curiosity, one day, Myrback asked Adamek-Gibbons, “What is it you do on the weekend?” Turns out, Adamek-Gibbons was a horseback rider and was working with a trainer to go amateur; she had to wait a few years to compete because she previously competed as a professional.
In the meantime, Myrback decided to get into the horse business. “I was like, girl, we’re going to buy some Arabians.” And that was how Myrback started in the horse-trading industry.
Myrback and Adamek-Gibbons now travel to a handful of shows every year. Currently, Myrback has six horses, one Percheron and one Belgium, and four Arabians. Only the four Arabians compete.
It started off as a joke, “What’s next Elaine, a farm?”
Myrback, ever the “mess around and find out” risk-taker, did just that.
Forty miles north of Ocala, Myrback has purchased a sweeping 108 acres of land to build her dream ranch.
“I always have to have a project,” she admits. “You know what they say about idle hands.”
Myrback has many great loves, but few as great as the love for her daughter, Alexis.
“When we first got married, we traveled a lot,” Myrback says. “We are big into Bordeaux wine so we went to Bordeaux and France, probably seven or eight times. We went to New Zealand, Tahiti and Bora Bora. Why not? We had nothing keeping us at home, at the time.”
In 2000, the Myrbacks pulled back on their “work hard, play hard” mentality and stayed home to raise their daughter.
Alexis has since grown up and graduated from the University of Florida. Not falling far from her mother’s professional path, she is working for Deloitte Consulting in, you guessed it, the Salesforce space.
“She’s learning about the sacrifices you make when you’re in consulting. Your life is never your own,” Myrback says. “It’s always the customer. Night and day.”
Myrback is clear that her method was always to guide and support her.
“I’m going to coach you through it all. I’m going to give you all your options. You’re not going to like everything I tell you,” Myrback says she used to tell Alexis. But, today, “she’s become really mature, a force in the industry.”
With her daughter out and starting her own life, Myrback, obviously, needed another project to distract her from the empty nest.
Since real estate is a longstanding passion of hers, Myrback focused on building her custom dream home, in South Tampa.
“I’ve been buying real estate my whole life,” she says.
The Myrback’s also have a home in Pass-a-Grille, in Pinellas County, where they keep their boat.
If it sounds like Myrback is having a good time, good. That’s the point. She is, and then some.
“When you asked me about my childhood, it was very stressful. I had a sick father and watched my mother struggle. It was really hard,” Myrback shares as she tears up, dropping the tough exterior she often projects. “I knew I wanted to truly focus on being successful to help my family.”
Providing for the people she loved was the driver behind the drive Myrback developed and maintained. The luxuries she now enjoys, and shares, are the reward. She’s not shy about it. To her, it’s a fantastic reminder of where she comes from and how hard she has worked to be where she is today.
“There were naysayers,” Myrback says. “I’m always like, ‘Oh yeah? Watch me.’” ♦
MORE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ELAINE MYRBACK
Her hardest lesson has been to learn to let go. “I’m a control freak and I want to be the best at everything I touch.”
Words of wisdom: “Trust in God and your own confidence level, no matter what you’re facing.”
She has a special place in her heart for organizations that help survivors of domestic violence including the Spring of Tampa Bay. She also supports cancer organizations like the Pink Market and Turning Point. And, she loves to do surprise things for people going through a rough time. She prefers to not publicize those things.
She has an impressive collection of wine and bourbon. She likes the good stuff. During the TBBW visit, she shared a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve.
She is also a boating and Tarpon fishing fanatic.
Photos by Pamella Lee