Businessman McMichael says communication is key
Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series of profiles on candidates running for the Aiken County Council District 6 seat. Today’s focus is on John McMichael. Last Saturday was focused on Lynette Barton, and Phil Napier will be the focus Feb. 2.
After 38 years in the insurance industry, John McMichael returned to Aiken County in 2008 and now wants to serve the community as a candidate for Aiken County Council’s District 6.
“I’m used to looking at large budgets and revenue and having to account for them,” McMichael said. “I was born in Graniteville and can bring a unique perspective on Aiken.”
The other candidates are Lynette Barton and Phil Napier. Each is seeking the two years remaining on the unexpired term of Charles Barton, who was elected as Aiken County auditor and then resigned from the council.
After moving back to Aiken, McMichael accepted a position as the business development officer with Hutson Etherredge Companies.
The needs in District 6 are those of all the county districts, he said, with jobs and economic development the big elephants in the room.
“I don’t consider boundaries,” McMichael said. “I want to serve everyone and be available to all the people, bringing in new businesses to provide new jobs.”
He plans to work with Will Williams, the executive director of the Aiken-Edgefield Economic Development Partnership, and nurture that relationship to function more effectively. His strongest skill, McMichael said, is an ability to communicate with people.
He has talked with small business owners and “they are taxed harder than anybody else. The state is looking to help small businesses, and I’m encouraging legislators to work toward that.”
McMichael is also concerned about infrastructure and the road conditions that put a tremendous load on South Carolina’s highway systems.
He is supportive of USC Aiken and Aiken Technical College and supports adding new programs to the curriculum that would benefit local residents. ATC is moving forward already in the nuclear field, McMichael said, and such programs can provide the training that people need.
When McMichael was growing up, his father helped start the engineering department at the Graniteville Company. McMichael worked at several jobs during high school – three grocery stores and serving as a golf caddie. He went on to USCA, but admits he wasn’t much of a student at that time.
“My dad told me I would get one shot, so make the best of it,” McMichael said. With no more tuition funds available from his father, he worked for two years at the Graniteville Company’s Woodhead Plant to get the money to go back to school. He also enlisted in the S.C. National Guard and enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life. He completed his on-duty military service and returned to USCA to study journalism and get his degree.
After working in that field in Myrtle Beach, McMichael joined Kimberly-Clark then took a position with an insurance company, later getting into management training. That would include all facets of insurance – such as risk and claims management.
When Hurricane Hugo destroyed and damaged many homes and businesses in 1989, McMichael described how he used his skills in strategic planning. His company, Continental Insurance, insured about 70 percent of Charleston’s Historic District as well as other areas. He and others arranged for the restoration of some prominent homes and worked with government agencies to get the job done. He would go on to serve as national disaster manager, providing hurricane response for months at a time in other states across the country.
In 2008, McMichael and his wife Nancy visited Aiken and soon decided to relocate. He has co-chaired Aiken’s Makin’, working with and mentoring the Aiken County Chamber of Commerce’s ambassadors.
McMichael also has served on the City Planning Commission for two years. He considers the work similar to that of the County Council – reading ordinances and taking into consideration both people’s property rights and business rights.
“It was fun and challenging, with people able to come up so we could hear what they had to say,” McMichael said.