Home Tags March 2018

March 2018

Financial Planning & Investment Advisory Firms 2018

Source: Business Alabama Surveys

Click here to view the complete list.

Top News Links: Friday, March 30


Leath announces major hiring initiative at Auburn

Auburn University President Steven Leath on Thursday announced plans to hire 500 tenure-track faculty by 2022 targeting a broad range of research and scholarly disciplines at the leading land-grant university. The commitment, made during a ceremony marking Leath’s installation as Auburn’s 19th president, is a key component of a comprehensive, five-year strategy to expand Auburn’s education, research, partnership and economic development initiatives. – News release

Alabama’s regular legislative session grinds to a close

Alabama lawmakers had vowed to steer clear of controversy in an election year session. They found it anyway. In a scandal-battered state, lawmakers said they were looking toward a low-key session that focused on budgets. It remained that way largely until near the end when they adjourned Thursday amid last-minute disputes over ethics legislation, the demise of a racial profiling bill and sniping over the pace of votes. – AP/USN&WR

Lawmakers close loophole in state’s drunk driving law

Stricter regulations will be imposed on drunk drivers in Alabama – a bill to close a loophole in state law passed a final vote in the House on the last legislative day. Thursday's vote was 78-14 for the bill aimed at reducing road deaths. The legislation sponsored by Republican state Sen. Jim McClendon will require anyone in pretrial diversion for drunk driving to use an ignition interlock device, which keeps a car from starting if it finds alcohol on a driver's breath. – AP/WVTM

No tax break bonuses at Great Southern Wood, but new benefits

Great Southern Wood Preserving has announced that it is reinvesting its federal tax savings in “an active and ongoing process to increase employee benefits” with the windfall from lower corporate tax rates. Among other things, the money will help lower healthcare costs for employees and provide scholarships for their dependents. – AL.com

Navy’s LCS purchase rate may spell trouble for Austal

Industry and lawmakers are concerned that plans for the Navy’s littoral combat ship may not be able to sustain the shipbuilding industrial base, leaving vendors at a potential disadvantage for future frigate production. Rear Adm. John Neagley, program executive officer for LCS, said at a 2017 House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hearing that purchasing three ships per year would be the optimal sustaining rate for industry. – National Defense Magazine

Avadian cuts ribbon on new EBSCO location in Birmingham

Avadian Credit Union recently held its official ribbon cutting at the EBSCO Industries branch location. Several Avadian employees, board members and many EBSCO Industries employees attended the event. Located within the EBSCO Industries Corporate Office on Highway 280 in Birmingham, the EBSCO branch marks the nineteenth location for the credit union in the state and the twelfth Birmingham area location. – News release

Three Georges a 100-year tradition in downtown Mobile

Becoming the owner of Three Georges Candy Shop in downtown Mobile might have been Scott Gonzalez's destiny. Gonzalez, who once thought he wanted to become an architect, appreciates history and old things – which is apropos for the owner of one of Mobile's oldest businesses. The century-old Three Georges is housed in a historic building at the corner of Dauphin and Joachim streets, built in 1866. – AL.com

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Thursday, March 29


Divided Senate OKs weakening of lobbyist controls

A divided Alabama Senate has voted to exempt economic developers from the state law that governs lobbyists. The 15-14 vote Wednesday came after contentious debate over whether the bill was an economic development necessity or creates a wide new loophole in state ethics law. The House of Representatives will decide whether to go along with Senate changes. – AP/SacBee

Ivey signs bill to encourage faster broadband statewide

Gov. Kay Ivey has signed the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act, SB149, to authorize the creation of a broadband accessibility grant program. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Clay Scofield and Rep. Donnie Chesteen, also creates the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund. – WHNT

Tim Vines named CEO of state’s largest insurer

Tim Vines has been elected as the new president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, the insurer announced Wednesday. Vines has a 24-year history with the company; past jobs have included president and chief operating officer, chief administrative officer and senior VP for health management. – AL.com

Baldwin County leads state in population growth

Baldwin County’s rapid growth revealed in recent U.S. Census estimates is attributed to the quality of life it offers, according to analysis from The University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research. Baldwin County’s population grew more than any other Alabama county last year with an increase of 5, 119 residents. – News release

UAB, TriAltus working on protein purification tech

TriAltus Bioscience today announced that it has licensed a novel protein purification platform from The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and is already working to commercialize the technology. The new purification method licensed by TriAltus works by isolating proteins in a single purification step, with ultra-high purity and yield 100 times greater than by conventional methods. – News release

Gubernatorial candidate Cobb comes with lottery proposal

Sue Bell Cobb doesn’t mince words when speaking about a state operated lottery. “I’m going to propose and work night and day to pass the Life Long Learner Lottery.” She assumes she’ll become Alabama’s next governor, a tall order considering she must win the Democratic nomination and then defeat the nominee from a Republican field that includes incumbent Governor Kay Ivey. – WTVY

Volkswagen reveals pickup possibility at New York auto show

A Volkswagen pickup? It could happen. The German automaker known for zippy passenger cars pulled off perhaps the biggest surprise of the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday by revealing a pickup concept: the Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak. The company was careful to say it has “no production plans” but the Atlas Tanoak is specifically designed to gauge the public's interest. – USA Today

compiled by dave helms

Spotlight on Coastal Gateway


ABOVE The Conecuh River is 230 miles long and flows through nine Alabama counties. 

Photo courtesy of Alabama Tourism Department/Curt Burdick

The Coastal Gateway region in southwest Alabama is made up of five counties centered between Montgomery and Mobile. They are full of excellent natural resources for both recreation and industry.

Wood and wood products comprise the largest manufacturing industry in the region. These southwest Alabama counties — Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia and Monroe — are known as the wood basket, with the vast majority of land in timberland.

“Wood products and all its existing diverse industries here is a sector we will always pursue, ” says Will Ruzic, executive director of the Coastal Gateway Regional Economic Development Alliance. “We have excellent infrastructure for this sector.”

Many of the largest companies in the wood/paper products sector have expanded, signaling a commitment to the region and its resources.

The largest single employer overall is Wind Creek Hospitality, employing more than 2, 000 people in several enterprises in Escambia County headlined by Wind Creek Casino and Hotel. Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority is also involved in aerospace and other industries. Another boost in aerospace has come from Brown Precision Inc. of Huntsville, which is locating in Escambia County. The county is located within an hour of the Port of Mobile and the Airbus campus.

Also included among the region’s largest economic sectors are metals and automotive, tourism, agriculture, health care, oil and technology. Speaking of technology, Provalus, which provides IT development, software engineering, third-party IT services and more will locate in Brewton in Escambia County and will employ 300. Several of the region’s industrial parks are now fiber-ready.

“Along with our current workforce development efforts, we are seeking those high-tech jobs, ” Ruzic says. “Provalus gives us an opportunity to expand this sector in the area.” Broadband is a priority in the cities, too, Ruzic says.

Economic developers in the region work together. “Interestingly enough, our strong economy has led to another welcome development throughout Clarke County, ” says Jesse Quillen, executive director of Clarke County Economic Development. “The exit of the textile industry from our region a few years ago left us with several hundred thousand square feet of vacant and unused buildings. I am pleased to report that over the last couple years we have been successful in repurposing this space and, fortunately, have been able to occupy well over 300, 000 square feet of space with small business and local entrepreneurs.

“We have leased space for manufacturing, warehousing, distribution as well as research and development support for our larger industries, ” he says.

In higher education, Faulkner State, Alabama Southern and Jefferson Davis community colleges consolidated into Coastal Alabama Community College, with campuses in Bay Minette, Fairhope and Gulf Shores in Baldwin County, Atmore and Brewton in Escambia County, Monroeville in Monroe County, Jackson and Thomasville in Clarke County and Gilbertown in Choctaw County. Reid State Technical College in Evergreen in Conecuh County, has undergone a significant restructuring and continues to provide technical training across many fields.

Ruzic says the area is truly a regional effort to leverage the resources it has and form partnerships to make things happen. The agency just received a regional development plan that will help tie in all of the metro areas and make sure that the right sectors are pursued for the region.

“The good news is that most all of our areas have had tremendous success in the last two years, ” Ruzic says.

Lori Chandler Pruitt is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. She lives in Birmingham.

Text by Lori Chandler Pruitt

Top News Links: Wednesday, March 28


Mobile gas station scion tapped for high-ranking energy post

Wells Griffith, who grew up working in his dad’s Mobile gas station that inspired the stage play “Society Shell, ” has been tapped by President Trump, to oversee international energy and climate strategy. — E&E News

Evonik celebrates expansion in Birmingham

German industrial firm Evonik showed off its new global Competence Center for Medical Devices Tuesday,   telling Gov. Ivey and other key leaders that the $50 million expansion will help the firm develop new medical technology systems and expand its competencies in biomaterials and medical polymers. The firm plans to add 50 employees. — Alabama Department of Commerce

$90 million expansion planned at BJCC

Birmingham’s City Council approved payments of $3 million a year for 30 years to expand and update the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, including addition of a downtown stadium. — AL.com

Auto parts maker celebrates new home in Jasper

Yorozu Automotive Alabama, which makes automotive suspension systems and other parts, officially opened its new $100 million facility in Jasper, Walker County, Tuesday. The firm has grown from 37 to 170 employees since it began operations two years ago. — Alabama News Center

Kelly Aerospace acquires Florida firm

Montgomery-based Kelly Aerospace has acquired Florida firm AeroKool, in a deal managed by Cronus Partners. Aerokool overhauls airframe heating and cooling systems. — Business Wire

compiled by nedra bloom

Selling Alabama-Made Missiles to Arabs


That was the pitch going on last week by the top U.S. pitchman for American Made, President Donald Trump, when he hosted a delegation from Saudi Arabia led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Trump held up to reporters a prop sign listing Saudi purchases and pending sales of military equipment to the kingdom.

Among those purchases is a $15 billion request for Saudi Arabia to purchase the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, made at a Lockheed Martin plant in Troy, Alabama. The State Department signed off on the sale in October 2017, as reported in Defense News.

For its own part, the U.S. has recently ordered its 10th lot of THAAD missiles, for a $459 million purchase that is part of the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill signed by President Trump on March 23 — making for a defense spending jump to $700 billion, the largest increase in 15 years.

In October 2017, Business Alabama visited Lockheed’s missile plant in Troy, following up on the $279 million Lot 9 contract for THAAD missiles. Read the article here.

Top News Links: Tuesday, March 27


Army’s Futures Command clarified somewhat in Huntsville

The Army is rolling out more details on its planned new Futures Command at a major military conference in Huntsville this week, but the city that will be home to the command is still a mystery. The command's job will be to oversee teams designed to cut through the Army's bureaucracy and deliver new weapons and technology faster to troops. Those weapons could include hypersonic warheads that can fly faster than the speed of sound. – AL.com

Huntsville mayor not worried about Remington troubles

Mayor Tommy Battle is confident the future is brighter for employees today at Remington’s Huntsville facility than it was before restructuring was announced. “I think their job is secure, because of the restructuring, because this restructuring took place, they’re going to be able to put together a stronger company with less of a debt load on it, and I think that’s important to that worker, ” Battle said. – WSFA

Many towns opting out of spring break business

Spring break. The words conjure up images of booze, parties and beachfront bacchanals. But these days, Gulf Coast destinations are clamping down on the festivities, and students who get out of line may well find themselves wearing handcuffs and posting bond. – The Advocate

Contract workers often lack HR, legal protections on the job

Contract workers and freelancers have few legal rights, compared with those hired as employees. Under federal law, a contract worker lacks the right to sue for sexual harassment or gender discrimination, for example, because workplace civil rights laws do not apply. For Nina Irizarry, this lack of legal rights stands at odds with the #MeToo campaign to openly discuss the problem of sexual harassment. – APR

Alabama tax deadline extended for some storm victims

The Alabama Department of Revenue has extended deadlines to file state tax returns for people impacted by storms earlier this month. Deadlines are extended for individuals and businesses affected by severe weather on March 19. The extensions don't apply to federal taxes. Taxpayers in declared emergency areas with returns due from March 20 through April 30 have two months beyond the original deadlines to file without penalties. – AP/USN&WR

Regions Bank wins top customer service ranking

Regions Bank is one of the top companies in the nation for customer experience, according to the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings. The Birmingham-based bank, for the fifth consecutive time, is among the Top 10 percent of hundreds of companies rated. – AL.com

BMW chooses Tennessee to test out subscription service

BMW AG will begin a car-subscription pilot in Tennessee next week, joining the ranks of automakers experimenting with new ownership models as ride hailing and smartphones upend traditional auto retailing. The service, called Access by BMW, will be offered by a local BMW dealership in Nashville starting April 2, according to a person familiar with the company’s plans who asked not to be named because the information isn’t yet public. – Bloomberg

compiled by dave helms

Top News Links: Monday, March 26


Gambling magnate Milton McGregor, 78, dies

Milton McGregor, who waged a legal war to keep his electronic bingo casino open and thwarted federal attempts to prosecute him, died Sunday. He was 78. Public relations firm Direct Communications said McGregor died peacefully in his home in Montgomery. An affable and charming fixture of the state's business and political worlds, he advertised his casino with the slogan, which he drawled in Southern baritone, “Come join us… you can be a winner too.” – AP/Journal Gazette

After much discussion, Publix opens in Midtown Mobile

Customers lined up early Saturday morning outside Midtown Mobile's new Publix, eager to flood into the store on its first day of business. “Good morning Mobile! What are you doing here on a Saturday morning?” Publix official Dwaine Stevens said to those at the front of the line, just before a ceremonial ribbon cutting. He added, “We're just as excited as you” before introducing store manager Colby Holmes and assistant manager Erica White. – AL.com

Remington files for bankruptcy, production to continue

Remington, one of the nation's oldest gunmakers, has filed for bankruptcy. The filing, first announced in the Wall Street Journal,  will allow Remington to continue manufacturing firearms with operations “not disrupted by the restructuring process, ” the company said. – AL.com

Toyota hatches new plan for New York auto show

The next-generation RAV4 isn’t the only new Toyota we’ll see at next week’s New York Auto Show. The company just announced plans to introduce the 2019 Corolla Hatch, a four-door model developed in Europe to replace the Corolla iM formerly known as a Scion. It’s aimed at well-known compacts like the Chevrolet Cruze, the Volkswagen Golf, and the Honda Civic. – Digital Trends

Auto chain company Surgere to sponsor Barber races

Surgere, an industry leader in visibility and control for automotive supply chains, has been named the official sponsor of the 2018 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama'sFan Zone during the race weekend of April 20-22 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham. The Green, Ohio-based company's sponsorship reflects the importance of Alabama to Surgere's client base and to the growing impact of Alabama's automotive industry overall. – Business Insider

PNC Bank to become official bank of NASCAR

NASCAR and PNC Bank today announced a five-year agreement that introduces the bank as the “Official Bank of NASCAR” and “Official Wealth Management Partner of NASCAR.” The agreement provides PNC exclusive status and promotional rights around retail, corporate and private banking across the country and U.S. military bases abroad. – News release

compiled by dave helms

Career Notes, March 2018

Kim Smith


JamisonMoneyFarmer Shareholder Kim Smith has been elected to the Selma and Dallas County Economic Development Authority board of directors. Bobby Bragg has been named the 2017 Charles H. Land Member of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. In addition, Angela Hamiter was presented a Distinguished Service Award from the chamber.


Tom Corcoran, of Barbour County, and Thomas Adams, of Henry County, have been appointed to three-year terms on the National Peanut Board.


Tricia Bellamy has been promoted to executive vice president and chief compliance officer for BancorpSouth Bank.

Luke Kennedy has joined Bryant Bank as vice president/commercial lender.


Motion Industries has announced the following promotions: Randy Breaux to executive vice president of marketing, distribution and purchasing; Kevin Storer to executive vice president of U.S. operations and president of Mi Mexico, and Mark Stoneburner to senior vice president of industry segments and business development.


Daniel Givan, a professor in the School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been named secretary to the board of directors of the American College of Prosthodontists. Tina Mozelle Braziel, director of the Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop in the UAB Department of English, has been awarded the 2017 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, sponsored by the Creative Writing Program at California State University, Fresno. In addition, Elizabeth Benton, an associate professor in UAB’s Department of Pediatrics, has received the 2018 Paul V. Miles Fellowship Award from the American Board of Pediatrics.


Jerry Stump has been named president and CEO of Volkert Inc. Perry Hand, former CEO, will continue as chairman of the board.

Wolfgang Kneer, of SWJ Breilmann, was presented the H. Pettus Randall III Entrepreneur of the Year award by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.

David Roebuck has joined Krebs Engineering Inc. to lead the firm’s Columbus, Georgia office.


Landon Lovell, of Mariner Finance, was named the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama’s Ambassador of the Year.

Jamie Kertis

Financial Advisor

Jamie Kertis, strategic retirement plan coordinator for Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial, has been named to the National Association of Plan Advisors Top Women Advisors list for 2017.

Shannon McClure has joined Mitchell McLeod Pugh & Williams as an investment counselor.


Alfa Insurance Executive Vice President of Operations Steve Rutledge announced his retirement. He had served Alfa for 33 years.


Russell Rutherford, of Birmingham, and Brian Smithweck, of Mobile, have been named partners at Adams and Reese.

Dennis Nunez has joined the Huntsville firm of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. In addition, the firm has promoted James Blake Bailey, Lindsey Boney IV, Michael Thomason Jr. and James Wright Jr. in its Birmingham office and David Holt in its Huntsville office to partner.

Bryan Winter, of Winter McFarland LLC, was presented a Distinguished Service Award by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.

James Gibson has been named partner at Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC. Also, R. Ashby Pate has been chosen to participate in this year’s Alabama State Bar Leadership Forum. In addition, longtime Partner Wynn Shuford has accepted a position with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Shuford had been with Lightfoot for almost 25 years.

Maynard Cooper & Gale has promoted Matthew Cannova, Alexander Feinberg, Charles Hartman, Jennifer Justice McEwen and Will Smith to shareholder. In addition, J. Hobson Presley Jr., Kevin Beatty, John Burton Jr., Kathleen Collier, Kathryn Ottensmeyer and David Ringelstein II have joined the firm as shareholders in the Public Finance and Health Care Finance groups.

Wm. Randall May has joined Moses & Moses PC in Birmingham.

Chuck Moyer


Chuck Moyer has joined Pace Runners Inc., of Birmingham, as president.

Sylvester Hester, of ARD Logistics, was presented the Minority Business Council Trailblazer Award by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.


Harrison Bishop has been appointed president of Amerex Corp. In addition, Andy Payant has been appointed executive vice president-finance.


Southeast Alabama Medical Center has named Jeremy Johnson director of supply chain management. In addition, Gary Gay has joined SAMC’s AltaCare team, which offers outpatient psychiatry and counseling.

Real Estate

Denson Dean and Brandon Hodges have joined the Pelham office of Newcastle Homes.


John Newman III, of Ugo Convenience Delivery, was presented the Rising Star Award by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.

Supply Chain Management

Huntsville-based PALCO CEO Janice Migliore has been honored as one of Women’s Enterprise USA’s Top WBE CEOs of 2017.

Wire Supplier

Marty Clark has been named CEO and president of SEA Wire and Cable Inc. of Madison.

Flashback: Mountaintop Triumph


Eye popping new Alabama buildings are the focus of a collection of stories in our March 2018 issue: http://www.businessalabama.com/Business-Alabama/March-2018/Alabama-Projects-by-Alabama-Builders/

An Alabama landmark well worth driving across the state to visit was one of a similar series we introduced in the October 2010 issue — the Tree Top Visitor Center and Mountainside Pavilion Complex at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve.

“Raising the building up pulls the building into the tree canopy, and it feels like a tree house, ” said Ronnie Collis, project manager with the Birmingham design firm KPS Group.

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve has been, for more than 30 years, a steadily growing oasis — now 1, 040 acres — in the midst of Alabama’s largest city.

“The Ruffner Mountain Nature Conservancy, which operates the preserve, came to us about four years ago, and we did a master plan for the entire park, ” said Collis. “The first stage of that plan was a new nature facility.”

Sustainability was the key word in the visitor center’s design.

“We did everything we could to make it as sustainable as possible, ” said Collis. “It embodies a lot of sustainable principles, from the way it sits on the site and catches the northern light, to the use of cover during the summer. It also collects water to use in the area. The building itself sits off the land so that it doesn’t disturb the land below it, and it uses a lot of recycled and rapidly renewable materials. So it reduces the energy that goes into transporting material long distances.”

General contractor for the visitor center was Birmingham’s Stewart Perry. Project value was $3.16 million.

The preserve started with the Ruffner Mountain Coalition, a grassroots group that sprouted, in the decade of the first Earth Day, to protect the mountain from plans for the development of an apartment complex. The coalition began with 28 acres leased from the City of Birmingham. The Trust for Public Land added more than 500 acres in the ’80s, and 400 acres were added in 2000 under the state Forever Wild program.    

Chris McFadyen is the editorial director of Business Alabama.

Text by chris mcfadyen

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