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Getting To Know You; Rodney Alsop

Rodney Alsop and his wife Alice

Rodney Alsop was raised in Hawesville, then he and his family moved to Florida after his sophomore year of high school. He visits often and says his roots are here in Hancock County.

Just recently, he traveled with his wife, Alice, to attend his 50 year high school reunion with schoolmates from HCHS, at Windward Heights Country Club on August 25th.

His parents are the late Paul & Betty Joe Alsop. Betty Joe wrote the Hawesville section of the Clarion for a number of years, and Rodney also worked at the Clarion for a summer with the late Sam Roberts.

Sam was his first little league coach, and Rodney continued to play sports through high school. He was one of the starting players for the first team that ever won the district basketball tournament at HCHS in 1971.

“We beat Breckinridge County in 3 over times in that district tournament,” he said. “It was a huge deal back then. As the youngest starter on the team, I had my best game of the year in that championship game. It was special to me.”

He also played baseball and ran track at HCHS. He continued to play basketball after they moved, at Sarasota High School, and ran track there as well. He went on to play one year of college basketball at Manatee Community College.

Coaches Denzel Mefford and Dennis Ray Snyder, Rodney said, were 2 of his favorites in Hancock County. He also said that his 8th grade teacher, Bob Kerrick, was a favorite teacher of his and many other students. “Dennis Ray Snyder, I only had him as a basketball coach for one year,” he said, “but he was a great influence.”

Rodney’s siblings are: Diana, Dorcas, Paul, Jr. and Joyce. Joyce just turned 80-years-old, he said. Dorcas and Paul, Jr. still live in Sarasota and Diana lives in Miami.

Rodney earned his Bachelor of Science at Florida State University. He worked at Florida Power & Light (FP&L) from 1980 to 2014, where he began as a meter reader, moved into customer service, and then into positions of Customer Service Supervisor, Lead Supervisor, Residential & Commercial Supervisor and Emergency Preparedness Logistics Manager for his last 10 years there.

His mentor was Homer Latham, an Area Manager for FP&L. “He was probably my biggest mentor of all,” he said. “Homer was one of the most valuable people in my life that I’ve ever worked for and been around. We still talk today. He’s 86.”

After retiring from FP&L, he and Alice moved to North Carolina. “I went to work at an emergency preparedness contractor, with the intent to build a turnkey logistics organization,” he said. “We moved to NC, because the one product that I didn’t have a good background in was tents (the big tents set-up on sites) and the portable generators.

The company that I ended up working in their office, Event Management Group, is still there today. The owner is Michelle Pender and they are one of the best generator providers in the nation. I learned all my tent and generator stuff in Clayton, NC.”

In 2014, he began working with Disaster Resource Group (DRG), out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a company he built from scratch. He was Emergency Preparedness Logistics Director, then Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, and then President before retiring in July of last year.

“Michelle Pender was like a partner with DRG,” he said. “She helped putting the whole package of turnkey logistics together. It’s basically like building a small city, and we did that in 24-36 hours. I think the largest one we ever built was in South Georgia. It was for 3,000 people. That was Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

I’ve always been proud, coming from the small town of Hawesville, to get to the level of president of a company. That’s meaningful. We’re a big company. The jobs that we did, and to be able to go out and support…I’m just proud that I was blessed enough to be able to do what I’ve done, and so many people that it helped.

The training package that we did, I developed that when I was at FP&L, and refined it going from the utility side of hiring the contractors, to being the contractor and training our folks as contractors. Because of my operational experience, I could hand you the package and you could come in and do work on the site without ever being in the business at all. We started putting that together in 2004. We had so many years of storms in FL that we just refined it and were known for it nationwide as being the leader for utility responses to emergencies.”

He was a member of the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association, as well as a member & officer of Southeastern Electric Exchange for many years.

Rodney & Alice are blessed with 2 adult children, Brian and Amanda, as well as 4 grandchildren. Alice retired from administration at Sarasota Schools when they moved from FL to NC.

They still live in Clayton, and enjoy doing yard work and gardening in their spare time. “I just stay busy that way,” he said, “and we’re very active with the grandkids. One set of grandkids is about 3.5 hours away and the other set has recently moved to Chapel Hill (nearby).

The prettiest thing I’ve done now is the fire pit in the back of our property. We have an acre and a half and a lot of that is wooded area. I built a little 4 x 4 track for the grandkids to ride 4-wheelers on. I’ve got about a mile worth of track that I’ve lined-out for them so they can ride back there and it goes down by the little creek.”

He traveled almost non-stop for his work for many years, and sometimes Alice was able to travel with him. “We traveled work-wise,” he said, “but just didn’t get to travel vacation-wise like we wanted to.”

Now that they are both retired, they’re looking forward to traveling more and when I talked to them, they were on their way to the county for his class reunion and looking forward to enjoying some of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail before returning home.

By Jennifer Wimmer

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