Montgomery Business Journal

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Summer 2016


MONTGOMERY – Melissa Thurber has joined the Starke Agency as chief financial officer, and the company hired William Van Hooser as employee benefits/life adviser.

Thurber most recently was the chief financial officer at Raycom Media, one of the nation’s largest privately owned broadcasters. She worked nearly 20 years for Raycom Media.

“We are pleased that Melissa Thurber has joined the Starke Agency team,” Starke Agency President Bolling “Trey” P. Starke III said in a statement. “Melissa brings a broad array of accounting experience to our agency. She has been involved in over 80 acquisitions in her previous role.”

She is an Atlanta native, who graduated from Auburn University at Montgomery with a master’s degree in finance. She has a 27-year career in planning and financial operations management. She is experienced in treasury management, organizational development, debt financing, forecasting, accounting, budgeting and competitive analysis.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work in a professional, family-owned business with a solid reputation in the community and a passion for winning,” Thurber said in a statement.

Van Hooser, a graduate of Auburn University, has three years of experience working with Traveler’s and has worked with multiple independent insurance agencies across the state.

“William has accomplished himself in high school, college and in the workplace,” Starke said. “His leadership skills will prove valuable and should give all of our customers confidence moving forward.”

Van Hooser has handled a broad range of risks for a large variety of private companies and nonprofit organizations.

“Starke is a great company, with strong leadership and a well-established reputation for excellence,” Van Hooser said in a statement. “The opportunity to work for a company like Starke doesn’t come around every day.”


MONTGOMERY – Local insurance consulting agency Team Assure hired Dax Anderson as the director of consulting and marketing.

His primary role will be as client liaison, establishing new relationships and working with schools and districts to assess coverage and insurance needs. Anderson will also handle Team Assure’s marketing outreach as the company is involved with the Wounded War Heroes project, including their yearly hunting trips and cabin retreats.

“We are very excited to have Dax join us and we feel that our business of consulting accident medical insurance with school boards and businesses will grow even stronger with his added expertise,” Team Assure President David Larson said in a statement.

The firm’s parent company is Planned Benefit Services.


MONTGOMERY – Auburn University at Montgomery has named Tobias Mense as chief information officer.

He was a senior technology officer for advanced technologies, a unit of SummaSource at AUM, and is an alumnus of the university. Mense will oversee the university’s newly-formed office of technology, which includes AUM’s Information Technology Services (ITS) and advanced technologies. Mense will serve as a member of the university’s senior staff and report directly to the AUM chancellor.

“This reorganization positions Auburn Montgomery to create efficiencies on campus and for our external clients and partners,” former AUM Chancellor John G. Veres III said in a statement. “It also increases the opportunity to better support the new technology initiatives currently taking shape in the Montgomery community. Tobias’ leadership in his previous role has well prepared him to lead the university’s interactions with programs like the River Region cyber initiative.”

Under Mense’s direction, ITS and advanced technologies will continue operating in their present capacities. Mense will also focus efforts to grow AUM’s relationships and collaborations with the newly created Air Force Cyber College and the Montgomery Internet Exchange. Having one point of contact overseeing all technology programs will enable AUM to better leverage its IT knowledge to serve the campus, community and outside clients.

Mense brings more than 10 years of experience in technology management and operations to his new position. After beginning his AUM career as an IT technician in the university’s library in 2007, Mense served as senior IT consultant and then lead senior IT consultant in advanced technologies/AUM Outreach. Before coming to AUM, Mense worked as a management assistant in IT–Systems at Deutsche Telekom AG in Münster, Germany.

He received a bachelor’s degree in information systems and a master’s degree in business administration from AUM.

“I am honored to have this new opportunity to serve this great university, my alma mater, and the River Region,” Mense said in a statement “Working in multiple capacities for AUM’s advanced technologies unit acquainted me with the operations of state and private organizations, and I hope to employ this knowledge to enhance the learning and work experiences for students, faculty and staff and to better position AUM and the River Region as a leading technology hub.”


MONTGOMERY – Gloria C. Campbell has joined Health Services Inc. as the corporate compliance officer.

A life-long resident of Montgomery, Campbell has 31 years of health system experience. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in management.


MONTGOMERY – The staff of Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum is growing to assist in the museum’s efforts to increase its educational programming.

Two employees were added: D. Keith Worthington, who will serve as operations manager; and Madeline Burkhardt, who will serve as the museum’s adult education coordinator. Donna Beisel, a current employee, has been moved into the position of K-12 education coordinator.

A former adjunct professor of business management with Central Texas College, Worthington previously served as program manager with Appleton Learning, as well as a secondary assistant administrator. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Winston-Salem State University and a master’s degree in education from the University of Phoenix.

Burkhardt received a bachelor’s degree in art history with a minor in Italian studies at Auburn University. During her senior year at Auburn, Burkhardt worked as the gallery intern at Fieldwork Projects. She worked for six months as the intern and volunteer coordinator at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts after graduating college.

Beisel has been employed as the scheduler at the Rosa Parks Museum for more than a year. Originally from Northeast Tennessee, Beisel moved to the Montgomery area almost 18 years ago. She graduated from Auburn University at Montgomery with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education-language arts, and taught public school for 13 years.


BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Power board of directors has elected Patrick Murphy as vice president with responsibility for economic and community development.

Murphy succeeds Ken Novak, who has been named vice president with responsibility for the company’s Southeast Division.

“Patrick has been a key player in recruiting business and bringing jobs to the state,” Mark Crosswhite, chairman, president and CEO of Alabama Power said in a statement. “His experience, knowledge and skills are a tremendous asset to us and to the state’s overall economic development efforts.

“Ken has built a great legacy of economic development successes, and his leadership skills will be of great value to the company in his new role in our Southeast Division.”

Murphy most recently served as manager of the company’s economic and community development department, which is responsible for recruiting companies to the state, and for company programs that support Alabama community efforts to compete more effectively for business and industry.

Murphy joined the company in 2011 as a senior project manager in the economic and community development department. Before coming to Alabama Power, he served as senior vice president of economic development for the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA), where he led all economic development recruiting, business retention and expansion efforts in the seven-county Birmingham metropolitan area.

Prior to the BBA, Murphy served as vice president of the Birmingham-area Metropolitan Development Board, where he focused on external recruitment, area business development and project management. Murphy also worked as a site location consultant and real estate broker for the Hart Corp. in Atlanta and as a project manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Novak was elected a vice president at Alabama Power in 2011 with responsibility for economic and community development. Prior to his election, Novak served as manager of economic and community development for the company. He has 34-plus years of experience in the company and more than 23 years of economic development experience.

Novak began his career with Alabama Power in 1981 as junior engineer in Birmingham.

He progressed through supervisory and management positions in the construction department and in the company’s headquarters before joining the economic and community development department.

Novak has worked with companies across various industry sectors including automotive, aerospace, plastics, metal fabrication, steel, chemical, distribution and food processing.

In his new position, Novak will be responsible for company operations in the Southeast Division, based in Eufaula. The division comprises all or part of 14 counties in the southeastern area of the state.

Novak has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Murphy is a graduate of Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in finance.


BIRMINGHAM – John H. Sherman has been elected president and CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. UNITED Inc. He succeeds Claude B. Nielsen, who will continue to serve as chairman of the board of directors.

Sherman worked as a route helper in 1975 at Augusta Coca-Cola Bottling Co., a division of Coca-Cola UNITED. He officially began his Coca-Cola career in 1977 as a part-time clerk in the route accounting department of the Atlanta Coca-Cola Bottling Co. while enrolled at Georgia Tech.

After graduating from Georgia Tech, he joined Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), rising to region manager with responsibility for CCE’s Alabama and South Georgia franchises. In 1990, Sherman joined Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED as director of marketing in the east region. Prior to his election of president and CEO, Sherman most recently served as senior vice president and chief commercial officer of Coca-Cola UNITED. He helped oversee the company acquire 18 franchise territories in five states from March 2014 to April 2016, including the addition of 2,800 employees and 36,000-plus customers.

 “Over the past 38 years, John has been involved in virtually every aspect of our business,” Nielsen said in a statement. “His field experience with UNITED, deep understanding of our local operating business model and passion for our competitive business are paramount in growing our business and cultivating strong and enduring relationships. These, in conjunction with John’s unwavering commitment to our purpose and values, serve as a solid foundation for leading Coca-Cola UNITED.”


MONTGOMERY – The law firm of Webster, Henry, Lyons, Bradwell, Cohan, & Speagle P.C., announced the addition of Scott M. Speagle as a named partner.

Speagle has been a partner at the firm for six years and represents small and large businesses in all commercial matters around the Southeast in federal and state courts, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the American Arbitration Association.

The firm has offices in Montgomery, Birmingham, Auburn and Mobile.


MONTGOMERY – Rebecca Baker recently joined the Longleaf Wealth Management group at UBS Financial Services as a financial adviser.

She received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Alabama, a master’s degree in business administration from Auburn University at Montgomery and is a certified public accountant.

Baker worked in public accounting for 10 years before she entered into the wealth management industry. After two years of practicing as a financial adviser at Morgan Stanley, Baker joined Senior Vice President Philip Young and Account Vice President Matthew Murphy at Longleaf Wealth Management. The staff has more than 75 years’ combined experience in the financial industry.

“Adding Rebecca’s skills to our team enhances our ability to deliver holistic wealth management to our clients,” Young said in a statement.            

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