Former Gov. Perdue, partners start new business

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue and three partners, he appointed to state positions while in office, have launched a new venture, Perdue Partners LLC.

The company is an Atlanta-based global trading company that will facilitate U.S. commerce, emphasizing export of U.S. goods and services, according to a news release.

The other partners are David Perdue, former CEO of Dollar General and Sonny Perdue’s cousin; Trey Childress, who was Gov. Nathan Deal’s chief operating officer until he stepped down Friday; and Heidi Green, former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“We are going to really focus on U.S. manufacturers but also small to midsize service companies as well,” David Perdue said during a conference call Monday. “We feel like the large companies already do this and know how to do it. All the mid-cap firms are the ones we are targeting. ... to try to help them understand the minefield of how to export their products.”

Right now, the company has the four partners and a business manager, Green said. The office is set up at 3110 Maple Drive N.E. in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, which is the same location of Gov. Perdue’s earlier campaign office.

In 2007, Gov. Perdue appointed Childress director of the state Office of Planning and Budget. Green, who was appointed by Perdue to her previous post, assumed that post in July 2010.

Also last year, Gov. Perdue appointed David Perdue to the Georgia Ports Authority, which he will continue to serve. Both Perdues say the position does not create a conflict of interest, even though companies Perdue Partners works with could use the Port of Savannah for importing and exporting goods.

“As a Fortune 500 CEO, I was also on several public boards at the same time, which is a direct analogy to this, and we learn very early when you are dealing with public companies you have to make sure you are aware of any potential conflict of interest and we’ll do the same thing here,” David Perdue said. “I don’t anticipate any problems, but certainly you can rest assured we will have our full attention on it.”

Sonny Perdue also said that just because he firmly supported the dredging of the Port of Savannah when he was in the governor’s office, it was not related to this business venture.

“It’s something that has been important for Georgia and Savannah for so many years,” he said. “I recommended the appropriation of the money long before this idea was ever conceived.”

Perdue Partners does not expect to hire any more employees during the startup phase.

“We are going to let the market dictate where we go and with whom we do business,” Sonny Perdue said. “We will also let it dictate how large we grow organically rather than just with other companies who are actually manufacturing the goods.”

Not only will the company work with U.S.-based businesses that want to export, but it expects to work with companies in other parts of the world that want to come to the U.S., David Perdue said.

But Sonny Perdue said the company does not foresee helping companies that want to move out of the U.S.

“Obviously, what we believe is that the consumption worldwide for U.S. quality-branded products will be growing in the future,” he said.

During his eight years in office, “what I saw happening was the reversal of off-shoring, we saw some home-shoring during my term. So I don’t believe our forte will be facilitating companies moving elsewhere.”

Green said the group is going to do with a private business what they did on the public side.

“We are excited about this venture,” she said. “We believe it can bring value as we work very hard to continue the efforts that Gov. Perdue started eight years ago to grow jobs, and we see enormous opportunity for companies in Georgia and companies across the United States and internationally.”