Charles C. Anderson, Sr., is Chairman Emeritus of the Anderson Companies, primarily comprised of Anderson Media, a leading merchandiser for mass market retailers. TNT Fireworks, the largest distributor and merchandiser of fireworks in the U.S.; Books-A-Million, the second largest bookstore chain in the nation; and Anderson Press, a book publisher focusing on the numismatic and sports market. Mr. Anderson served on the board of First National Bank of Florence for over twenty years. He has served on the boards of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Heritage Trust Fund, was a charter member of the Shoals Economic Development Authority Board, and served on The Salvation Army National Advisory Board. He is a member of the University of Alabama President’s Cabinet and the President’s Cabinet at the University of North Alabama. He was University of North Alabama Alumni of the Year in 1979. Mr. Anderson was inducted into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame in 2002, into the Alabama Academy of Honor in 2011, into the Horatio Alger Association in 2015, into the Florence Walk of Honor in 2016, and named the 2016 Shoals Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year. Mr. Anderson graduated from Florence State Teachers College (now University of North Alabama) with a B.S. degree in marketing and a minor in economics.
Joel R. Anderson, was born and raised in Florence, Alabama, where he attended the University of North Alabama. He has spent most of his life involved in the family-owned business established by his late father, Clyde W. Anderson, a firm that evolved from the street corner newsstand set up in 1917 when Clyde was forced to leave school at age 14 to support his family. Mr. Anderson is active in a variety of civic and philanthropic activities. He has served his community as director and chairman of the board of Riverhill School and as a board member of the Riverhill School Foundation. He has acted as director of Shoals Chamber of Commerce; director of First National Bank; chairman and founder of the Florence Lauderdale Library Foundation; chairman of the Shoals Literacy Council; director of the YMCA, and the Florence-Lauderdale Industrial Expansion Committee. Mr. Anderson has also served as founder, chairman, and director of the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory and as trustee of the Cardiovascular Institute of Philadelphia. He serves on the Nominating Committee of the University of Alabama Business Hall of Fame and is on the board of directors of a New York City residential building. He serves as trustee and president pro tem elect of the University of North Alabama board of trustees. He is currently a board member of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. He is a major supporter of the New York City Police Athletic League, the Salvation Army, the United Way of Northwest Alabama, the Children’s Museum of the Shoals, the American Heart Association, and many other community organizations. His philanthropic, civic, and humanitarian endeavors have been recognized by the Anti-Defamation League when they honored him with their Distinguished Service Award on behalf of human rights, and by Brandeis University with its National Distinguished Community Service Award. In 2003 he was the first recipient of The 25 Year Club Frank Herrera Award, the prestigious national magazine industry award. In 2006 Mr. Anderson was named Shoals Citizen of the Year. In 2016 he was inducted into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame and received the Lifetime Achievement in Innovation Award from the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. For many years Mr. Anderson has provided mentoring, and many cases capital, for young entrepreneurs starting businesses in the Shoals, including a Shoals based retailer whose business grew to have stores in 14 major cities. Mr. Anderson has served as chairman and director in the Anderson Companies. Today the principal Anderson Companies include Anderson Media Corporation (which through its Anderson Merchandisers subsidiary is the country’s largest distributor and merchandiser of pre-recorded music and a major distributor of books); TNT Fireworks, the country’s largest importer and distributor of consumer fireworks; Anderson Press, a major publisher of children’s books and associated children’s products; Whitman Publishing Company, the leading publisher of books and related products for coin collectors; and Books-A-Million, the country’s second largest book retailer. Together the Anderson Companies employ over 11,000 associates throughout the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and China.
Billy Bridgeforth, is a prominent north Alabama farmer and businessman. Mr. Bridgeforth and his brother, Greg, represent senior management of Darden Bridgeforth & Sons, which grows cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans and canola using a variety of cutting-edge agronomic techniques and land conservation practices on a 3,000+-acre family owned farmed and 10,000+ additional leased acres. The farm was established in 1870 by Mr. Bridgeforth’s great-grandfather, who was born into slavery. The Bridgeforth family is credited for refining and reintroducing canola to north Alabama, a crop previously grown in North Dakota and Minnesota. Their research showed that it would grow well in a northern Alabama winter climate, and that there are profitable markets for the crop. The family business is now firmly in its fifth generation. Mr. Bridgeforth graduated from Alabama A&M with a degree in soil science and is Chairman Emeritus of the National Black Growers Council, where he advocates on behalf of black farmers in the United States and abroad. He was recognized as a “Champion of Change” by President Barack Obama, an award given to advocates for the agricultural profession who encourage the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
Chester L. McKinney, Jr., is an owner and Chairman of McCo, Inc., a management services and consulting company for multiple family holdings. These businesses include lumber production and distribution operations, both domestic and foreign. Also, they include industrial pallet and packaging operations. In addition, they include medical device recycling and regulatory services. He is a 1975 graduate of Auburn University with a B.S. degree in Industrial Management. He is a former member of the Board of Trustees of Riverhill School, having served as its Board Chairman. He presently serves on the University of North Alabama Foundation Board of Directors.
Joseph L. Beaver is the President and Chief Executive Officer of First Southern Bank and has held this position since July 22, 2020. Previously Mr. Beaver served as Senior Vice President and Agricultural Lender for First Southern Bank. Prior to joining First Southern, Mr. Beaver held the same position with Regions Bank. In his 23 years at Regions, Mr. Beaver served as a Market President, Sales Manager, Commercial Lender and Financial Advisor. Mr. Beaver is also a licensed property and casualty agent and a licensed crop insurance agent. Mr. Beaver is a graduate of the University of North Alabama, Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University, National Commercial Lending School at Oklahoma University, and Executive Development Institute at Vanderbilt University. Mr. Beaver is a Director and Treasurer for Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center and has served as a Director for the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, Muscle Shoals Board of Education, Tennessee Valley Art Association, and Muscle Shoals Park and Recreation Department.
Todd C. Ouellette, Sr., is the President and CEO of the Long-Lewis Automotive Group which includes 4 automobile dealerships and the Long-Lewis Foundation. He graduated from Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, AL and went to work for Long-Lewis Ford in Birmingham at age 19. He purchased his first auto dealership in Muscle Shoals in 1996 and turned it into what is now the largest Ford Dealership in the Atlanta Region. Since moving to the Shoals area in 1996, he has bought and sold numerous automotive dealerships throughout Alabama and Mississippi. He has been recognized by Ford Motor Company as the #1 dealer in the nation for customer satisfaction, the #2 dealer in the nation for market share and is currently in the top 2% in the nation for overall sales volume. Mr. Ouellette also currently owns (or co-owns) several non-automotive companies including, but not limited to Shoals Outdoor Sports, Hurricane Creek Lodge, LLC, CMM Finance, Inc., First Southern Bank (Shareholder/Director), numerous Land Holding and Real Estate Development Companies, and more. He currently serves on the Board for the Salvation Army and on the Board for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, where he has served for more than 15 years. He served on Ford’s National Dealer Council from 2011 to 2015, and was appointed to the University Of North Alabama Board Of Trustees in 2015 for a six-year term.
George D. Pillow, Jr., is Chairman of the Board for Geomarc, Inc., a management services firm, and active in the day-to-day operations of both Geomarc and Senators Coach, a renowned tour bus leasing company. Mr. Pillow graduated from Mississippi State University with a B.S. in Business Administration in 1969. In 1973, Mr. Pillow and his wife, Martha Ruth Robbins (Rudi), moved to Florence. Mr. Pillow went on to work for National Floor Products Company (Nafco), one of the leaders of the resilient flooring industry, during which time he worked himself up to President, and also served as a board member and President of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute. In 1994 Nafco sold to Domco, and Mr. Pillow became Executive Vice President and General Manager of Domco from 1994 to 1997. Mr. Pillow left the flooring industry in 1997 and became involved in the daily operations of Senators Coaches, a small bus business he had purchased in the mid-1980’s. Since then he has grown Senators into one of the largest companies of its type in the world. In 2004, Mr. Pillow moved Senators from Mississippi to Alabama and brought three companies, Senators, Geomarc and Five Star Coach, under one roof. Senators Coach is considered the most reputable company in its industry, and has won the industry award for most outstanding bus company every year since 2006. Mr. Pillow has served on boards including the YMCA, Salvation Army, United Way, Junior Achievement, Shoals Economic Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Pillow is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church and has been active serving on its vestry and as Senior Warden numerous times as well as serving as the Trinity Trustee Chairman. He was also Vice-Chairman of the Merrie-Woode Foundation and was selected Chattooga citizen of the year in 2016. In 2013, Mr. Pillow renovated a historic building in downtown Florence and opened Odette restaurant. Mr. and Mrs. Pillow were two of the founders of Riverhill School which opened in 1980, and remains the only independent, non-parochial school in the Shoals area. Mr. Pillow has continuously served on the School’s Board of Trustees since 1980, and has served as its Chairman numerous times. The Riverhill Foundation was founded in 1986 to support the school, and Mr. Pillow has served as Chairman of the Foundation since its inception. Riverhill School moved to a state of the art building in Florence in August of 2017.
Frank J. Niedergeses, III, is the Executive Vice President and Senior Loan Officer of First Southern Bank and has held this position since December 2017. Prior to this position, he served as Vice President and as Senior Vice President/Business Development Officer since joining the company in 2003. Mr. Niedergeses previously worked at SunTrust Bank for seven years as a consumer and commercial lender. He completed the Leadership Shoals program in 2002 and is currently a board member and former Treasurer of the Children’s Museum of the Shoals. He is a graduate of the University of North Alabama and the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.
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