Seven Named to Alabama Business Hall of Fame

From left to right, top row to bottom row: Robert Baron, Cecil Batchelor, Marcus Bendickson, Jay Grinney, Lonnie Johnson, Joe Ritch and Stan Starnes.

Seven standouts of Alabama business recently were named to the Alabama Business Hall of Fame, class of 2020.

The inductees are: Robert Baron of Huntsville; Cecil Batchelor of Russellville; Marcus Bendickson of Huntsville; Jay Grinney of Birmingham; Lonnie Johnson of Atlanta, Georgia; Joe Ritch of Huntsville; and Stan Starnes of Birmingham.

Bob Baron is the CEO and founder of Baron Services, an industry leader in weather forecasting and warning systems. The Huntsville-based company features a portfolio that includes weather radar, storm tracking software and climatological data analysis tools. The U.S. National Weather Service recently tasked Baron Services with the job of upgrading the nation’s radar network with the company’s products.

Cecil Batchelor is the chairman of CBS Banc-Corp and chairman emeritus of CB&S Bank, based in Russellville, Alabama. His 56-year banking career is defined by success in establishing and leading banks throughout the state. After becoming involved with Russellville’s Citizens Bank, now CB&S Bank, he founded First Federal Savings & Loans in Haleyville. Over time, First Federal Savings & Loan merged with First Federal of Alabama in Jasper, now known as Pinnacle Bank.

Marcus Bendickson is the retired CEO and former chairman of the board of Dynetics Inc., a leading provider of high-technology, mission-critical services and solutions to government and commercial customers. Now a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, Dynetics has over 2,500 employees throughout the United States providing responsive, cost-effective engineering, scientific and IT solutions to the national security, cybersecurity, space and critical infrastructure sectors.

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Jay Grinney is the former president, chief executive officer and director of HealthSouth Corp., now known as Encompass Health. The company, based in Birmingham, employs about 44,000 dedicated employees and offers post-acute healthcare services through its national network of rehabilitation hospitals, home health agencies and hospice agencies.

Lonnie Johnson is a lifelong serial entrepreneur and innovator. Growing up in Mobile, his innate scientific curiosity led him down a path that would include inventing advanced defense and aerospace technologies, as well as a beloved summertime toy. Johnson’s career started at the United States Air Force and NASA where from 1979 to 1991 he worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter, weapons projects and the stealth bomber program. Currently, Johnson is involved in developing new battery and fuel cell technologies.

Joe Ritch is an attorney in the firm of Sirote & Permutt P.C. and a civic leader who has done much to elevate the Huntsville area with his involvement in a number of organizations. As chairman of the Tennessee Valley Base Realignment and Closure Committee, he coalesced a group of 13 communities in north Alabama and south-central Tennessee to promote and advocate for Redstone Arsenal at a time when the facility was under strategic review by the United States Army.

Stan Starnes is executive chairman of ProAssurance Corp., one of the top casualty insurance carriers in the country. During his time as CEO, from 2007 until 2019, ProAssurance transformed from a physician-centric, regionally oriented insurance company to one that took a healthcare-centric approach on a national level. And as a result, the company returned over $2.1 billion to shareholders while growing their equity by 37 percent.

The Alabama Business Hall of Fame was established in 1973 by the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business to honor those who brought lasting fame to the state through their business contributions.

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