Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Randall-Reilly Celebrates Its 80th Anniversary

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Randall-Reilly Celebrates Its 80th Anniversary

Article excerpt

Eight decades of operation is a milestone most companies don't come close to achieving.

But that is just what Randall-Reilly celebrated Friday at its headquarters on Rice Mine Road Northeast in Tuscaloosa.

"I hope," said Randall-Reilly President Brent Reilly to the 100 or so company employees who had gathered for the 80th anniversary lunch, "we have a chance to just be characters in this story that carries on long after us."

Such growth and resiliency is rare in today's publishing world, but President and CEO Mike Reilly credited the quality of Randall- Reilly's employees as a key element of the company's success.

But there also were some key decisions in the past that helped position Randall-Reilly to be successful

today, he said.

"We did choose highway and heavy construction and over-the-road trucking (as a focus)," Mike Reilly said, "because those are two industries that can't be put out of business by technology."

Mike Reilly began working for the publication and awards company on Aug. 1, 1975, when sales had just topped $1 million, he said. Today, the company is closing in on $100 million in sales.

The company was founded in Tuscaloosa in 1934 by Pettus Randall Jr. after the University of Alabama student was nominated for an honor society.

However, upon learning he would have to pay $5 to become a member, he sought out a meeting with then-UA President George Denny to rectify what he perceived as an injustice.

"Instead of just being upset or just griping, he took action," Brent Reilly said.

During his meeting with the UA president, Randall laid out his plan for a new, free student recognition program, with nominations coming from teachers, principals and administrators.

Denny approved of the plan and assisted Randall in starting what became known as the Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities, an honors program that still remains today.

The company operated as Who's Who, opening Award Co. of America in 1975, with Pettus Randall III taking over after the death of his father in 1976.

Then the company began dabbling in the state trade publications in Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee. …

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