McCullough enjoying life in the private sector

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Published: November 17,2008

The first four months of this year, Glenn McCullough spent nearly every waking hour selling himself.

He did his best to convince voters in Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District that he was the best candidate to succeed Roger Wicker in Congress after Wicker was tapped to fulfill Trent Lott’s unexpired term in the U.S. Senate.

McCullough’s campaign highlighted his experience as mayor of Tupelo and his work as chairman of the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

McCullough eventually lost in the Republican Primary to Southaven Mayor Greg Davis. The campaign had grown bitter, but even though he lost the election April 1, McCullough did not lose his sense of humor.

“I guess it’s appropriate to have a runoff for Congress on April Fool’s Day,” McCullough said, laughing.

While his political sales pitch was unsuccessful, McCullough is extremely confident in his new product – the State of Mississippi.

McCullough has been a partner in Ardillo McCullough and Taggart since 2006. AMT is a Ridgeland-based firm that specializes in business development and executive counsel whose clients include SeverStal and Eurocopter.

It’s a high-energy operation at AMT.

“I have to paddle really quick to keep up with Nick and Andy,” McCullough said.

The economic development field, in an economy that is not in the best of shape, can be a trying proposition. McCullough chooses to meet the challenge with a heavy dose of optimism, saying he’s “bullish” about Mississippi’s economic future because there is a silver lining to a down economy.

“I think this is a time of opportunity to figure out ways to gain the value advantage,” McCullough said. “Business is good, and we will keep working hard everyday and try to build Mississippi’s economy.” To reach that end, Mississippi has to take advantage of the leadership role it has assumed in the automotive industry, with the Nissan Plant in Canton and the forthcoming Toyota plant in Blue Springs. Biotechnology, which most economists see as a growth area long-term, could be a major economic engine for the state, McCullough said, with the pharmacology research departments at Mississippi State and Ole Miss leading the way.

SmartSynch, a Jackson-based company that uses its SmartGrid Intelligence to bolster efficiency for utility companies, recently named McCullough to its board of directors. In a release announcing McCullough’s appointment, SmartSynch CEO Stephen Johnson said the company would draw heavily on McCullough’s 25 years of experience in the utility industry to “help SmartSynch maintain a leadership role in the development of a 21st century smart grid.”

In a tough economy, businesses have to constantly evaluate and implement methods of reaching maximum efficiency while keeping production cuts to a minimum. Businesses that help other business do just that is something that could thrive in a soft economy.

“There’s an example, in a down economy, of a business that’s growing,” McCullough said. “We’ve got to find ways to be more energy-wise, and that’s what SmartSynch’s business model is based on — using electricity efficiently and monitoring and measuring how (utility companies) use every kilowatt hour in powering the consumer.”

McCullough has been in and out of the political arena for most of the past 15 years. He didn’t rule out running for office again, but it would take a perfect situation for him to jump back into politics.

“I really enjoy the private sector,” said McCullough, who still makes his home in Tupelo. “We had a great experience in Tupelo as mayor and then working at TVA. I don’t think you ever want to slam any doors shut.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@ msbusiness.com .

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