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- 2012 - September - 21st -

Ron Autrey steps up to chairman of Miller Electric Co.

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Miller Electric Co. will adjust its leadership Oct. 1 when current President and CEO Ron Autrey becomes chairman, succeeding his father.

David Long, senior vice president and director of construction operations, becomes president and Henry Brown, senior vice president and director of corporate operations, will be CEO.

“Having served as president now for 10 years, and after 38 years of employment, I will step up to the position of chairman of the board of directors of Miller Electric Company,” Autrey, 59, said in a letter Wednesday to the company’s associates. He provided a copy to the Daily Record.

He said his father, Buck Autrey, “will forever be chairman emeritus.”

Ron Autrey summarized a history of Miller Electric.

“In 1952, Mr. Henry Miller was killed in an automobile accident. He was the founder of Miller Electric Company. His death set in motion a series of events that led to this day,” he said.

According to Autrey, Miller’s second wife’s son, who was a vice president of the company, left Miller Electric and started his own company. That was the beginning of Paxson Electric Co.

“Wesley Paxson also took a few other managers and officers with him,” Autrey wrote. (Miller Electric acquired Paxson Electric Co. on Jan. 27, 1993.)

Miller Electric was saddled with debt and revenue fell below $1 million.

Miller’s daughter, Jane Wynn, continued to operate the company and chose James Dandelake to be president. That didn’t work out, he wrote.

Then came Buck Autrey.

“The young man that stood out as a promising replacement was a 33-year-old electrician that Dandelake brought into the office as an estimator and salesman. He had a license and the ability to sell work and manage projects,” Ron Autrey wrote.

“In 1966, H.E. ‘Buck’ Autrey became the third president of the company.”

Apprentice Ed Witt became a senior vice president.

“Under dad’s leadership, the company survived and began a 40-year track of continuous growth and profitability,” he wrote.

Ron Autrey said he was named president in 2003 and annual revenue had grown to $90 million. Revenue peaked in 2008 at more than $300 million and 1,700 employees. The company has 1,200 employees now and revenues this year will be $275 million, according to Autrey.

“Change brings with it great opportunity. Mr. Miller’s death was unfortunate and unexpected and it changed the lives of many people,” he wrote.

“Today we are changing again.”

Autrey said Long had been a company foreman on the State Farm data-center renovation in the mid-1980s, adding that “it was apparent to me that he was a ‘Tim Tebow.’

“The customers loved him and the men respected him,” he wrote.

When Autrey became a vice president, Long became a project manager. When Autrey was promoted to senior vice president and then president, Long followed as vice president and senior vice president.

As of Oct. 1, Long becomes Miller Electric’s fifth president.

Brown, who Autrey said has been at the company’s “forefront of technology and innovation,” will become CEO.

“Our company has grown from a struggling re-started company in 1966 to become a second-stage company, and a large contractor. We have now entered a level where we are an emerging large professional business organization,” Autrey wrote.

“This growth comes with added complexity and a new set of daily dynamic challenges. It is not a one-man show. Today more than ever we need a suitcase of skills and a talented team of executives.”

Autrey said the company has “the best executives I have ever known running the divisions of the company.”

“You are the leaders that made this company successful,” he said.

In other management changes, Autrey said Ed Witt Jr. joined the management operating committee last year. He is vice president of commercial, institutional and health care services and will become senior vice president.

Meanwhile, project manager Daniel Brown will become a vice president to focus on monitoring and improving the company’s estimating process.

“Thank you for your support over these past years,” Autrey said to the staff.

“I am confident that we have greater success and rewards ahead.”

The company is based along Rosselle Street in the Riverside area. It has a dozen offices in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas, Virginia, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Mag and David Scott make news

Margaret “Mag” Black-Scott, a Jacksonville University graduate, former JU adjunct professor and current JU board of trustees member who operates Beverly Hills Wealth Management LLC, was on the CNBC-TV show “Fast Money” on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, her husband, retired U.S. Air Force Col. David Scott, was the subject of the final Jeopardy! answer Tuesday. In 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts Scott and James Irwin drove the “Lunar Roving Vehicle” on the surface of the moon. It was the first off-planet automobile ride.

The question was: “On July 31, 1971, Air Force Colonel David Scott became the first person to drive one of these.”

The correct response was: “What is a lunar rover?”

Folio Weekly publisher Brennan leaving, Taylor returning

Folio Weekly announced Thursday that Publisher David Brennan has accepted a group publisher position with SouthComm Inc. in his hometown of Louisville, Ky.

He will oversee Nfocus, a Louisville society magazine; Louisville Eccentric Observer, the Ohio Valley’s alternative newsweekly; and SouthComm Digital for the market.

“It was a difficult decision for me, but Folio Weekly is in a good place, and I foresee big things for the publication’s future,” he said in a news release.

Brennan has spent more than a decade with Folio Weekly and the past two years as publisher.

Folio Weekly said Sam Taylor, one of the publication’s owners, will return to the role of publisher after Brennan leaves in mid-October.

The alternative weekly started publishing in 1987.

FirstAtlantic to buy Prosperity Bank branch

FirstAtlantic Bank has submitted an application to the Office of Comptroller of Currency and signed a purchase agreement to acquire a branch of Prosperity Bank in the Pablo Creek Plaza East at 3293 Hodges Blvd.

FirstAtlantic Bank has agreed to purchase deposits and loans of the 4-year-old branch and expects to hire the employees and retain all of the 1,300 deposit customers associated with the branch.  

“FirstAtlantic’s growth strategy centers on serving the banking needs of the business and professional communities and the addition of this location clearly increases our market presence and access to our targeted clients,” said Mitch Hunt, president and CEO of FirstAtlantic Bank. 

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey of Atlanta served as financial adviser to FirstAtlantic for the transaction, which is expected to close in December, subject to regulatory approval.

The acquisition is estimated to increase FirstAtlantic’s deposits by $17 million and its loan portfolio by $14 million.  

Publix branches out to N.C.

Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets Inc. announced it signed a lease for a store in the Charlotte, N.C., area in Ballantyne. The store will be part of a new division based in Charlotte.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

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