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Jax Daily Record Monday, Aug. 4, 200812:00 PM EST

Busy Autrey tells Downtown Council his story

by: David Chapman

by David Chapman

Staff Writer

Ron Autrey doesn’t have much free time these days.

The Miller Electric president and Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce Chair was the speaker at Friday’s Downtown Council meeting, but his morning didn’t begin with that 8 a.m. engagement.

Instead, Autrey had a 7 a.m. meeting with officials from six of the area’s top health providers to discuss plans to “hijack” December’s Cornerstone quarterly meeting and turn it into a healthcare symposium.

“The economic impact and capital investment by Jacksonville health providers is one of the area’s leading economic drivers,” said Autrey. “Over time, it’s lead to the equivalent of six to eight Super Bowls worth of impact.”

Cornerstone, the Chamber’s economic development initiative, has quarterly meetings generally with one keynote speaker. But, Autrey wants to alter the meeting’s format. Following the December luncheon, procurement staff from each of the participating health care providers will split up into different rooms and meet with attendees for question and information sessions about their practices as an economic booster.

“The opportunities are great,” said Autrey,

Immediately following that engagement, Autrey made it to the Aetna Building just in time to tell the group about his history with Miller Electric and lessons learned during his youth, into both of which he injected humor.

“I’ve always tried to add a little humor into the speaking engagements I do,” he said. “I enjoy meeting with organizations like Downtown Council because I get to meet a lot of new people.”

Autrey also touched on some of his history with Miller Electric, helping grow it from its bankrupt state in 1966 to an anticipated $340 million company this year and the 10th largest electrical contractor in the country.

“When I took over, it was during an extended period of flat revenue,“ he said. “I don’t particularly care for flat.”

From banking, insurance and financing in the 1970s to the many stadium lights at places like Clemson University, Florida State University the University of Florida and Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Autrey has helped the company’s revenue go from flat to stacked during his years at the helm. But he’s not satisfied — Autrey has a goal of company revenues reaching $1 billion within the next 10 years.

“It’s a large amount but I absolutely think we can do it,” he said.

He’s also eager to take part in the Chamber’s 2008 Leadership Trip to Seattle in November to get a firsthand look at the city’s booming port industry.

“Our port system is doing many things here,” he said. “We can get a different perspective from a firsthand look at the great port in Seattle and come away with some different ideas.”

Between the constant meetings, cross country trips, charitable contributions, serving as Chamber Chair and running a profitable company, Miller does make time for himself.

“I greatly enjoy doing it all,” he said. “And I do take the four day weekend sometimes, but I always have to consult my Blackberry first.”

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