After a brief announcement from the Upstate SC Alliance last week that president and CEO Hal Johnson would resign Dec. 31, Johnson announced Tuesday that he would take on a new position created for him at commercial real estate firm NAI Earle Furman.
“Nothing ran me out of the Upstate Alliance,” Johnson said. “It was purely my opportunity to say, ‘Here’s a company that has an incredible family culture and a culture of teamwork, people working together to build relationships.’ … It was a good time for me to take that next step.”
Johnson said there is currently no one under consideration to replace him at the Alliance.
“I’ve put a succession plan in place; [Upstate SC Alliance Vice President] Jennifer Miller and I will work on transition until Dec. 31,” he said. “The executive committee will meet and likely put together a search committee after that. I think they really want to take their time to do a proper search because it’s what’s right for our region and for the organization.”
Johnson said he first discussed the idea with NAI Earle Furman several years ago, but the timing was not right for either party. He declined to discuss when the deal finally had been made.
The newly created position, chief development officer, will involve “connecting the dots” among the firm’s various commission-based services so that clients get a full-service experience in-house, Johnson said. He plans to build on relationships built while working in economic development in the Upstate.
This marks Johnson’s return to the private sector after 17 years. He had previously worked with the Orangeburg County Development Commission and the state Department of Commerce.
“What really cranks my tractor with the NAI Earle Furman group is this particular organization has been recognized for creating new and unique opportunities inside this office that have been benchmarked throughout the entire network,” Johnson said. “This [position], too, will probably be a benchmark for NAI Earle Furman globally, and we are excited about that.”
Johnson said leaving the Alliance would be difficult “because it’s been my baby.”
“I just can’t explain the honor,” he said. “I will cherish every moment of my time here.”