Anyone involved with the Everglades and the development of southwest Broward County knows the name, Ron Bergeron. But most don’t know his life story and how his empire all came to be.
He was raised in Davie in a home that his parents built from scrap lumber from freight boxes found in Port Everglades. Before the Army Corps of Engineers reworked South Florida’s plumbing with canals, pumps and levees, the house flooded often. During the flooding, everyone would move to higher ground and when the flooding receded, clean up and start over. His father owned a small grocery store that originally started in a chicken coop and his mother worked as a waitress. He likes to describe his childhood and “very humble.”
With just $235.12 and in his pocket, he left home and began clearing land with a machete, rope and a 1954 Mercury truck to drag off the trees. By the time he was twenty-five, he was a millionaire and lived in a trailer until he was 41 so he could invest his profits. In 1965, he launched Bergeron Land Development and bought a 1943 Ford Ferguson tractor. Shortly thereafter, with the land clearing work starting to slow, he purchased his first bulldozer and obtained one of the largest contracts at the time to build the I95 – I595 and Sawgrass, I595 – I75 interchanges. Currently, he is one of the most successful and largest development and roadway contractors in Florida.
Ron loves the Florida wildlife and budgets half of his time to Everglades conservation. Now serving as a Commissioner for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and is the Florida Wildlife Conservation Point Commissioner over the entire Everglades. He was recently appointed to the South Florida Water Management District by Governor Ron DeSantis.
He got his love for the Everglades from his grandfather, Lonnie P. Harvey, who was an Everglades game warden. Before the pre-Corps days, as a small boy, his grandfather would bring him out to show him the majesty of the River of Grass. He’s often said, “I will never forget the beauty he showed me in the woods and the environment.”
Even though Ron is an avid hunter he was the lone no vote against holding the first bear hunt in twenty-one years. And continued to lead the fight to make sure there would not be a second bear hunt. Also, while on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, he helped start the state’s python hunt, and argued for maintaining current protections for the Florida panther.