PRESIDENT & CEO, SUN STATE INTERNATIONAL, TAMPA
Horton grew up in Camden, Ark., where his parents ran a liquor store and restaurant/cafe. “My dad was always there as my role model,” he told Florida Trend. Horton was recruited by International Harvester after he graduated from the University of Arkansas. In his early career he worked in truck sales, finance, labor relations and foundry operations, where he was vice president and general manager.
Horton took the opportunity in 2000 to run the Sun State International dealership in Tampa selling International trucks, parts and service. “International certainly helped me get started,” he says.
Horton has run Sun State since 2000 and has grown the company into one of the largest minority-owned businesses in Tampa Bay, with seven locations in West-Central Florida. He was selected by American Truck Dealers as the winner of its 2020 Truck Dealer of the Year award. His daughters, Kelli and Alisan, are active in the business as well.
A longtime supporter of the University of South Florida with wife Miriam, Horton told the school that “giving is baked into our business plan.” He currently is a member of the board of trustees for USF, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and Academy Prep Center of Tampa and the board of directors for the Bank of Tampa. Horton has also served on boards for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Jacksonville branch and Goodwill Industries-Suncoast.