Remembering an Industry Giant | Jerry Epperson


I am saddened to learn that Charlie Loudermilk has passed away. One of my wishes was to visit him another time before leaving here.

Charlie did so much for his beloved Atlanta that many never appreciated. He started Aaron Rents, turned it into a powerful company giving consumers choices they hadn’t had before, took his company public with a very impressive track record, and then watched it continue to grow.

But then he was asked, once again, to return to serve the city he loved. I forget how many years he was absent from any active involvement with Aaron Rents.

As often happens when successful entrepreneurs leave the business they started, the wheels have gone off the rails. And because it was public, every weak result was made public, and the once-strong stock fell.

I had known Charlie for years through vendors and association events, but never started writing about Aaron. I’ve proudly posted investment research on all manufacturers and retailers of public furniture and mattresses, but I was uncomfortable with renting durable goods for some reason.

I was flattered when I received an invitation to visit Charlie and flew to Atlanta. Over the next two days, he presented a most impressive vision for his company, with a detailed look at what he expected from the young American consumer, housing, financing options in an era of high interest rates and how he was determined to put Aaron Rents in an excellent competitive position with geographic expansion and his new franchise concept.

Over the next 20 years, Charlie behaved exactly as he expected, something few management teams could accomplish. He earned my respect and admiration, and I will miss him.

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WW “Jerry” Epperson, Jr. is founder and managing director of Mann, Armistead & Epperson, Ltd., an investment bank and research firm. Jerry leads their research efforts and has over thirty years of experience publishing hard and soft dollar research that focuses on demographics, consumer products, furnishings (residential and contract) and related issues. Specifically, Jerry’s furniture industry research is recognized globally for its in-depth coverage of suppliers, manufacturers and retailers.

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