By Annie Rhoades
Professor, financial analyst and beer bottler typically do not go in the same sentence to describe one’s career, but alumnus Richard White’s (BBA 86, MBA 87) set of skills is anything but typical.
A native of Starkville, White graduated from Starkville Academy with a strong desire to move away to receive his college education.
“I knew I wanted to go away for school,” White said. “I was sold on Ole Miss the first time I drove up Sorority Row.”
White enrolled at Ole Miss in the fall of 1982 with an interest in the university’s banking and finance program.
“I knew what I wanted to major in,” White said. “Even though I didn’t start off my career in banking, I had always been interested in finance and banking.”
A member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, White was dedicated to his studies and found time to participate in the Ole Miss Rugby Club.
“I’ve been going back to rugby reunions now for 15 plus years,” White said. “I think the amazing thing for me is all of my fond memories are really from those last 15 years getting to go back for alumni [matches] and seeing the campus.”
White graduated in 1987 and accepted a job as a professor with the University of North Alabama (UNA). After teaching for four years, he began working in banking and finance for companies including Merrill Lynch, Bankers Trust of Madison, Ala., and his present company Teledyne Brown Engineering.
“I used to rail about stockbrokers, bankers and defense contractors when I taught at UNA, “ White said. “Now I’ve done all three of those, so I’ve learned never to say anything bad about anything because it’s a guarantee you’re going to be doing it next week. I’m a financial analyst, but I still get to teach macroeconomics on an adjunct basis at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.”
White knows he would not be the professor he is today without the influences of former Ole Miss Finance Professor Dr. Phil Malone.
“I had him as both an undergraduate and graduate student, and he was a tremendous influence on me,” White said. “One of the things he made us be responsible for was pretty much anything that happened current-event wise in the world of finance. That’s one thing that really stuck with me – you can teach out of a book, but when there’s a story you’re hearing today and you can see how that fits into the academic realm, there’s a better chance of it sticking. I definitely got that from him.”
While teaching and working for Teledyne in 2012, White’s career took an unexpected turn when he stumbled upon the idea to start bottling beer.
At the time, the craft beer industry was growing leaps and bounds in Alabama and quickly caught his attention. After reading a book titled, “The Economics of Beer,” White was sold on the idea and soon began conducting market research.
“I was sitting in the Blue Pants Brewery taproom in Madison with two friends who were Georgia Tech engineers,” White said. “We talked to the owner and he said, ‘Yeah, we’ll pay you if you were to come in, and take the beer out of the tank and put it in a package.’ We originally thought we would package some cans, and then all of our local customers in Alabama were saying they would rather it be in bottles. That’s how the first bottling company Beer Dynamics was born.”
After a year-long run with Beer Dynamics, White and two brothers, Mike and Gary Jordan, formed their present bottling company Best In Glass LLC in November 2014.
Currently bottling beer in Alabama and North Carolina, the company’s ultimate vision is to become a turnkey solution for craft brewers nationwide offering services ranging from bottling to accounting.
“My vision for the business is to do everything for the brewer except brew it, and sell it,” White said. “People I run across in the industry don’t have a traditional business background. They make really great beer, but they struggle with some basic financial concepts. I would love to be the service provider for craft brewers that can lease them equipment and run their accounting systems all while making it affordable. Brewers often have a way to put it in a bottle, but we give them a choice to do it in an easier, more cost-effective manner. If I’m able to help the brewer be successful, and we get to drink beer and get paid – that’s a pretty good deal.”