Alumni spotlight- Ben Logan
By Jamie Kornegay
Sometimes life comes full circle - like when a high school student develops an interest in building and engineering from his vo-tech classes and then, years later, returns to manage the construction of a new school building at his alma mater.
That's how it happened for Ben Logan (Class of 1979), who attended all twelve grades at Grenada School District. Inspired by the drafting and design classes he took at Grenada High, Logan attended Holmes Junior College and finished with a Bachelor of Science in construction engineering and management at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Today he serves as president of Carothers Construction, a large national company based in Oxford, Mississippi. He manages projects all over the United States, including airplane hangars, office buildings, prisons, dormitories, roads, schools, and classified government facilities.
Many of Logan's high-profile projects will be familiar to Mississippians. He worked on the Joe Frank Sanderson Center for Recreation at Mississippi State University and the Sutton Hall Administration Center at Mississippi Valley State University. He oversaw construction of the Chancellor House Hotel, Thad Cochran Center, and Coulter Hall, all on the University of Mississippi campus. One of his most memorable projects was a series of aircraft hangars, built in Florida and South Carolina, to house the U.S. Department of Defense's new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
And then, of course, there was the construction of the Grenada Upper Elementary School, which Carothers completed in 2000.
"Throughout my college and working career, I always felt the public education I received at Grenada had provided me with an excellent background and the ability to compete and succeed at any level," says Logan. "I can honestly say that, even after working on a national scale for many years, with professionals from every imaginable background and educational level, the preparatory foundation from Grenada, and secondary education from Holmes and USM, was everything I needed to be successful."
Logan - son of long-time Grenada residents Dean and Agnes Logan and brother to siblings Hershel and Cheryl - held many jobs during high school. He worked in grocery stores and factories, and then for architects, carpenters, and engineers.
The long hours and overtime made school work a challenge, but Logan believes it's an essential challenge for students who want to succeed in the workforce. "Having the opportunity to work with adults at an early age is very important," he says. "It helps develop both a strong work ethic and an understanding of the real world. These are both key to a successful career and will aid in your career choice."
After college, Logan found no shortage of job opportunities in the construcion and engineering business. His first post-college position was with Centex Corporation in Dallas, the largest general contractor in the U.S. at that time. His job required him to move around the country, from Texas to Oklahoma to Ohio, and then he joined Carothers Construction and moved back to Mississippi in 1989.
Logan returned to Grenada with his wife Jeannie, a Vicksburg girl he met at USM and married in 1985. For years, Jeannie worked with GSD, teaching kindergarten, second, fourth, and fifth grades. They have three daughters, all Grenada High graduates - Meg (2006), Beth (2008), and Kate (2010).
"Grenada was a great place for me to grow up, and our own children had a similar small-town experience growing up here," Logan says. "I remain hopeful that Grenada will grow and offer more job opportunities in the future for our young people. We need to retain the many talented young people our community produces."
Logan's best advice to current GSD students is to be prepared. "Having a resume with both excellent grades and real-world work experience is invaluable," he says. "Being able to effectively communicate verbally during an interview, or with your supervisor and colleagues, is imperative. Email and text are not always the best ways to communicate, especially with an employer."
One of the challenges he had to overcome after high school was the shift to computers. "Most of us who finished school prior to 1980 were caught in this transitional phase and had no formal training with computers in our early years," Logan says. "Today, almost everything we do in construction administration is computerized, although construction does lag behind most industries in this regard."
He adds, "I do feel that learning both the manual and longhand version, as well as the computerized version of mathematics, accounting, and other disciplines, is very beneficial. I would encourage students to study and learn both, as much as possible."
While diplomas and degrees are essential to finding the top jobs, Logan says, it takes extra effort to climb to the top. "No matter what career you choose, being the first one to work and last one to leave will guarantee your success," he says. "Most employers recognize and reward those who invest themselves in the business. Dedication and hard work always win out."
Two of his favorite inspirational quotes come from Thomas Edison: "Success is 1 % inspiration and 99% perspiration," and, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
Says Logan, "Both quotes reiterate one of the enduring truths I have learned - that the highly successful people I know are always some of the hardest working people I know. I don't expect that to change anytime soon."