Al Blackburn founded Southern Professionals in 1979, calling on drug and food chains in the Southeast. For over 30 years, he led national manufacturers towards growing and attaining their sales goals, earning him the awards of Broker of the Year and Million Dollar Year Broker. His wife, Bobbie, worked tirelessly alongside Al as the company’s Financial, Administrative, Office and Merchandise Manager. In 2016 Al passed the reigns of Southern Professionals to his son Bert, who continues to grow and expand the company, and moved into the next chapter of life retirement.
So, what are Al and Bobbie up to these days? Being retired has freed up more time to spend with their 4 children, 10 grandchildren and their first great granddaughter. Al’s 93 year old mother also lives near them, allowing frequent visits with her. Their family currently has 5 generations of Al’s lineage alive! Family has always been important to Al and Bobbie and continues to be so even more during these retirement years.
Al and Bobbie are very involved with their church and are thankful for the church and its ministries and friendships. Bobbie is the chairman of the Strategic Planning and the Nursery Committees. Al continues his 18 year leadership as Director of the Men’s Ministry, sings in the choir, and shares the gospel through solo singing. Al is also serving as an officer on the Alumni Board of his alma mater, Georgia Military College. These responsibilities keep the Blackburns very busy!
Being retired has also given them time to travel. Al’s least favorite thing about working was having to deal with the rigors of flying and navigating airports. Now that a pleasure trip is on the other end of that flight, it’s not so bad. Recent travels have included a trip to the White House and an extended stay in Italy. They are looking forward to more travel, and hope to plan trips to Turks and Caicos, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales soon.
There is a big change on the horizon for Al and Bobbie, as they are in the process of selling their beautiful Dawson county farm and downsizing to a smaller house near the Woodstock, GA area. They have loved their life on the farm, full of dogs and cows and horses, but are excited about giving up the responsibility that it entailed. As Al said, “I’ve got the cowboy out of my system now”.
Do they miss Southern Professionals? Of course! Bobbie misses the people, and the comfort of a daily work routine. Al misses the people and personal relationships the most. Watching young people come into the business, learning the business, and then moving up within their companies was very rewarding. They have met some of the most interesting people in the brokerage business, some who will be long lasting friends. Says Al, “You go through good times and bad times together and you really find out what people are worth who are the quitters and who are the standers. The success of seeing your product do well and being part of that success was very rewarding!”
Al shared that he is glad to be retired, especially since the business is in great hands with Bert’s leadership, surrounding himself with capable, godly people who have excellent work ethics. We wish Al & Bobbie all the best as they continue to enjoy retirement!