• 66°

PowerSouth names building for Avery

PowerSouth President and CEO Gary Smith (left) stands with Larry Avery, retired Vice President of Power Delivery, at the entrance to the new Larry Avery Building on the company’s headquarter campus.                                                        Courtesy photo

PowerSouth President and CEO Gary Smith (left) stands with Larry Avery, retired Vice President of Power Delivery, at the entrance to the new Larry Avery Building on the company’s headquarter campus. Courtesy photo

When Larry and Mary Avery came to Andalusia in 1977, they thought they would be here for just a few years.

Instead, Avery spent his career here with Alabama Electric Cooperative, later PowerSouth. When he retired last month as vice president of power delivery, PowerSouth’s board announced they were naming a building for him.

“I thought I would probably work here for a few years,” Avery said of his plans when he moved here. “Before I came here, I worked at Alabama Power and we lived in Birmingham. It was a different culture, a different environment.

“I think I saw an ad in the paper for some place called Andalusia,” he recalled. “We were going down to the beach, so I looked it up on a map to find it and we came back through Andalusia so I could interview.”

He began his work here as a district engineer, working with all of the member systems.

“Most of them did not have engineers in house, so engineering was supplied at AEC,” Avery explained. “There were not that many people working at AEC, and the engineering staff was very lean. I had an opportunity to do a lot of different things.”

Within the next year, Wayne Body left AEC, and Avery had an opportunity to move up.

As population and business in South Alabama and Northwest Florida grew, so did the company. Increased power demand meant new facilities and transmission lines,

“I was fortunate to get in on the ground floor of a lot of that,” Avery said.

Throughout his career, Avery has been known as an ambassador of sorts. Early on, there was a great emphasis on public service, and it resonated with his roots.

“I grew up in a small community,” he said of rural Bibb County. In the country, people worked for each other, and shared the bounty of their gardens.

He began his education in a one-room schoolhouse, but went on to service in the Coast Guard and to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering degree from Texas A&M, and a master’s degree in engineering from UAB. He is a registered professional engineer in Alabama and Florida.

Of the board’s decision to name the building for him, Avery said he had “no clue” before his retirement party.

The Larry Avery Building was completed in December 2012. The new building is a two-story, 19,000-square-foot complex in building four’s original location at PowerSouth headquarters. The building houses the Information Systems, Safety and Training Departments, as well as a new PC Training Center.

The construction project was one of the largest undertaken at the headquarters campus since an expansion completed in the mid-1980s.

“Naming the new building after Larry is a highly deserved honor that speaks to his impact on PowerSouth and our community,” says Gary Smith, PowerSouth president and CEO. “He has had a tremendous and long-lasting influence on both engineering and operations, while guiding the Power Delivery Division with strong leadership for more than three decades.”

Avery said it was “a very kind gesture, and I am really appreciative. Every now and then, I pinch myself to make sure it’s true.”

A long-time member of the Andalusia Kiwanis Club, Avery also has been a key player and board chairman of Andalusia’s Community Christmas, an active member of First Baptist, and a proponent of youth sports.

For now, he’ll remain active in community projects, but the Averys have some long-range retirement plans.

One is to build a house in Fairhope, where they plan to live next door to their daughter, son-in-law, and three of their grandchildren.

They also will travel, largely in the United States, and Avery plans to continue participating in mission trips to the Ukraine. Later this year, he plans to attend the Gideons International convention.

First, he said, he has to get the basement straightened out.