Johnson, Logan, Rane and Stitts are 2024 Business Alabama Lifetime Achievement winners

The 5 will be honored at the Business Alabama Awards in March

Business Alabama will honor five distinguished people as Lifetime Achievement recipients at the Business Alabama Awards on March 1.

Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award will be Lonnie Johnson, researcher, entrepreneur and inventor of the SuperSoaker water gun; Don Logan, former CEO of Southern Progress and chairman of Time Warner’s Media and Communications Group; James W. Rane, president and CEO of Great Southern Wood Holdings; and Frank and Pardis Stitt, co-owners of the Stitt Restaurant Group.

The five will be honored as part of the Business Alabama Awards. At the luncheon, awards will also be given for Large Company of the Year, Small Company of the Year, CEO of the Year, Startup of the Year, Project of the Year, Alabama Ex-Pat and Philanthropic Project of the Year. The inaugural Business Alabama Awards were given last year.

Here’s a look at this year’s Lifetime Achievement winners.


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Lonnie Johnson

Johnson, a member of the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, invented the SuperSoaker water gun, which has recorded sales of more than $1 billion. He holds more than 140 patents and has authored publications on spacecraft-powered systems. Born and raised in Mobile, Johnson received three degrees, including an honorary doctorate, from Tuskegee University. He is president and founder of Johnson Research & Development Co., a technology incubator with the mission to find solutions to the world’s sustainable energy and environmental challenges. Johnson also runs a STEM Activity Center that mentors grade-school students. Johnson, who is married and has four children, lives in Atlanta.



Don Logan

Hartselle native Logan, who lives in Birmingham, was chairman and CEO of Southern Progress, chairman of Time Warner’s Media and Communications Group (overseeing AOL, Time Inc., Time Warner Cable and Time Warner Book Group) and owner with his two sons of the Birmingham Barons and the B.A.S.S. organization. Logan graduated from Auburn University with a mathematics degree, later earning a master’s from Clemson University and honorary doctorates from Auburn, Clemson and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Among many other honors, he is a recipient of the Henry Johnson Fisher Award, the magazine industry’s highest honor, and the Auburn Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award and is a member of the Alabama Academy of Honor. He and his wife, Sandy, live in Birmingham. They have five grandchildren.


James W. Rane

Rane is chairman, president and CEO of Great Southern Wood Holdings, producers of YellaWood brand pressure-treated pine products. A native of Abbeville, where he still lives, Rane received degrees from Auburn University and Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. He has also been awarded an honorary doctor of laws by Troy University and has completed several advanced programs at the Harvard Business School. Among the many organizations he’s involved with, Rane is a member of the Auburn University board of trustees. Rane is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Johnny Stallings Award for his work on behalf of people with special needs. He is president of the Jimmy Rane Foundation, which has given college scholarships to more than 600 students.  



Frank Stitt and Pardis Stitt

Frank Stitt is an award-winning chef. Pardis Stitt is a board member of Pepper Place Farmers Market, founding member of the Birmingham chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International and former board member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. Together, they are co-owners and operators of the Birmingham-based Stitt Restaurant Group, which runs Chez Fonfon, Bottega and Highlands Bar and Grill, the latter of which received the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurant in 2018. Frank Stitt grew up in Cullman, honing his kitchen skills with, among others, the legendary Alice Waters at Chez Panisse restaurant in California. He traveled throughout the French countryside, including working in vineyards in Provence and Burgundy, before returning to Alabama. Frank Stitt’s many culinary honors include membership in Esquire Magazine’s Restaurant Hall of Fame, the Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Foodways Alliance and the Alabama Academy of Honor. He is the author of two acclaimed cookbooks, “Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill” and “Bottega Favorita: A Southern Chef’s Love Affair with Italian Food.” Pardis Stitt, who grew up in Birmingham amid the food-centric culture of her Persian family, focuses on front-of-house operations for the Stitt restaurants. “Without her, the Highlands is not the Highlands,” Frank Stitt told The New York Times in 2013. The Stitts live in Birmingham.

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