JACKSONVILLE--Two prominent Jacksonville business leaders and a UNF faculty member were recognized recently as recipients of this year’s Prime F. Osborn III Distinguished Business Leaders Awards.
Business leaders presented with the awards were: Luther Coggin, chairman and chief executive officer of the Jacksonville division of Asbury Automotive Group Inc., Edward Baker, chairman of Florida Rock Industries and Lowell Salter, long-time director of the Small Business Development Center at UNF.
The UNF College of Business Administration annually recognizes business executives for their long-term career achievements in providing leadership in both business and the community. In addition, an award is presented to a distinguished UNF faculty member for outstanding contributions in the profession. The awards are named in honor of the late Prime F. Osborn III, who was one of Jacksonville’s most prominent business leaders and served as president of CSX Railroad from its inception until 1982.
Coggin began his automotive career in 1948 at age 17 as a salesman in Birmingham, Alabama and later became general manager of a large Oldsmobile dealership in Marianna, Florida. In 1968, he moved to Jacksonville and opened Coggin Pontiac with 40 employees. He expanded his business and purchased dealerships in Orlando and Ft. Pierce. By 1997, Coggin Automotive grew to more than $500 million in revenues with 11 dealerships. Coggin sold his auto dealerships in 1998 to Asbury Automotive Group Inc., a Connecticut-based car dealership company that includes the Coggin dealerships. Today, it is the largest subsidiary of Asbury with more than $800 million in revenue, 16 dealerships and 1,200 employees.
Coggin and his wife, Blanche, have endowed a professorship and scholarships at UNF’s School of Business as well as three scholarships at the University of Florida School of Law. Coggin Automotive Group annually has supported numerous local and regional charities as well as civic and cultural organizations.
Coggin also is the newest member of the UNF Board of Trustees having been recently appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to fill a vacancy on the board. Baker graduated from Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina in 1957 and except for three years in the Marine Corps has been a mining executive for all of his professional career. He started as a sales engineer in 1960 at Shands&Baker Inc., became vice president in 1963 and president and CEO in 1967. Shands&Baker became Florida Rock in 1972 and he has been chairman of the company since 1989.
He has been on the boards of many firms including American Heritage Life Insurance Co., Barnett Bank of Jacksonville, Flint River Textiles, Regency Realty Corp. and Flowers Industries. His civic involvement in the community is extensive as he serves on the boards of numerous organizations including Jacksonville Port Authority, the Orange Bowl Committee, United Way, Junior Achievement and the Jacksonville Zoological Society. He is also a former member of the UNF Foundation Board.
Salter received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Southern Methodist University and his doctorate at the University of Arkansas. He was a faculty member at Eastern Kentucky University and Northwestern State University before coming to UNF in 1972 as a founding faculty member in the Department of Management, Marketing and Logistics. He was the executive director of the Jacksonville Business Development Center at UNF from 1978 to 1980 and was the director of the Small Business Development Center from 1979 until earlier this year. He continues to serve as director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Research and Development at UNF. Salter has been involved in numerous professional and civic organizations including being president of the National Small Business Institute Directors’ Association, which he helped establish in 1974.
Qualifications for the Prime Awards include success in business, significant contributions to community quality of life, and a commitment to the ethical practices and core values put forth by the College of Business Administration. The distinguished professor award recognizes the long-term career achievements of individuals who exemplify the mission of the College of Business Administration and serve as a role model for all faculty.
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