Local business leaders get a ‘Power’ful history lesson

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 11, 2006

It’s similar to Olive Garden, “When you’re here you’re family.” At least that’s what Alabama Power executive vice president Alan Martin said about the company he’s been working for since 1972.

On Thursday, August 10, local business leaders and city representatives took a special Napoleon’s lunch break to eat and mingle with Martin as part of Alabama Power’s centennial celebration.

“This is our 100th year celebration and we’re proud of that. This company means a lot to me and we call our selves family. There are somewhere between 6,600 and 6,700 employees at Alabama Power, but we are still family,” Martin said. “Every employee I run into is proud to be associated with Alabama Power. I grew up in this company and we are fore this company. I reflect on what the company’s founders wanted Alabama Power to be and I wonder if they’d be proud of what we’ve become. But I don’t know.”

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However, with approximately 95 offices across the state, all of which do their share of community involvement, the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce and the city’s residents are more than satisfied with the work of Alabama Power employees.

“Alabama Power is an integral part of most every important aspect of life in the state of Alabama. Economic development does not happen without Alabama Power,” Industrial Development Board executive secretary Jay Shows said. “They are just as important in the community being responsible for Leadership Marengo, they’ve planted the trees in the industrial park, and all those bags of trash and everything else we’ve collected from around the city during Renew Our Rivers – that was the work of Alabama Power. If it involves economic development, community development and local involvement, Alabama Power is there.”

“There’s no written material that says you have to get out there and get involved,” Martin said. “It’s just a part of the culture and the fabric that makes us Alabama Power.”

After telling a crowd of approximate 35 local business owners and leaders the history of Alabama Power, Martin said he has seen Demopolis grow with his very own eyes.

“I am in Demopolis once or twice a year and I’ve seen it transition into a very beautiful place. You all have a clean, vibrant downtown and a nice quality of living. Don’t take it for granted,” Martin said to a crowd that included Demopolis mayor Cecil P. Williamson, council members Jack Cooley and Thomas Moore, Rock Tenn manager Carl Wright, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital CEO Mike Marshall and other employees, and representatives from Alagasco, South Central Bell and New Era. “Over the years, to be honest, I’ve always felt a sense of pride in both the community and the river from the people in Demopolis. ”

The event was all the brainchild of Demopolis’ IDB whose members wanted the “City of the People” to play a role in the southern company’s centennial celebration – which is officially on December 4.

“There is such a large representation of the major industries and I am thrilled,” Shows said. “To land someone of his stature is Demopolis is a great move.”

But Martin says the company is truly blessed to have a city such as Demopolis on its side.

“We are turning on the electric headlight here because I want to show what we do as a team. We consider the partnership of things,” he said, “and we don’t want the community to do well just so we can make money. We want the community to do well because we care.”

Martin said he hopes Alabama Power will be around to celebrate its 200 anniversary, although he won’t be able to come back to Demopolis then if they called, he joked. However, Martin did give local businesses a word of advice to sustain in a world of economical rollercoaster rides.

“At Alabama Power we consider the key to a successful business to be to treat the employees like family. If you’re a custodian at Alabama Power, you still call the president of the company Charles,” Martin said. “We are truly a big family and being treated like family makes everyone happy.”