“It didn’t hit me until they started talking about the process, about the committee they put together to review 275 applications,” said Sellers, a firm Vice President who manages Neel-Schaffer’s operations in Alabama and South Carolina. “But to know I was one (of 40) selected out of 275, that was very humbling. … I can’t say enough about how much this means.”
Chris Sellers didn’t quite understand the magnitude of the honor he received last month from the Birmingham Business Journal until the day of the awards luncheon.
Sellers was named to the Business Journal’s prestigious Top 40 under 40 list for 2014. He and the other 39 were honored during a luncheon held Feb. 27 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Birmingham. About 300 people attended the luncheon. NeelSchaffer’s table included Chris and his wife Jennifer Sellers, Chris’s parents, Ricky and Marsha Sellers, Neel-Schaffer Chief Operations Officer Joey Hudnall, Neel-Schaffer Vice President Dick Burleson (Hoover, Ala.), and two top Neel-Schaffer clients from Hoover, the city’s executive director, Alan Pate, and Pate’s assistant, Tim Westhoven.
This is the 30th year the Birmingham Business Journal has selected its Top 40 under 40. As the Journal wrote:
“This one marks a big milestone for what has become the most coveted award for Birmingham young professionals. … When perusing through the past lists, it was very interesting to see which former honorees stood out in the crowded list of nearly 1,200 previous winners. Frankly, there have been quite a few who have not only fulfilled the potential that led to their selection as a Top 40 – but went far above and beyond over the past three decades.”
“This is a testimony to what Chris has done in his career,” said Hudnall. “Chris has made a difference in his profession in what he does, day-in and day-out.”
Sellers joined Neel-Schaffer in 1999, soon after graduating from Auburn University with a degree in civil engineering. He worked for eight years in Neel-Schaffer’s Birmingham office, designing sanitary sewer lines and pump stations. In 2007, he was promoted to Engineer Manager. In 2012, Sellers was made a Vice President and is now responsible for the management, operations and marketing of three Neel-Schaffer offices in Alabama and one in South Carolina.
Since diamonds are the recommended gift for 30th anniversaries, the Business Journal held a photo shoot with the 40 honorees at the new Regions Field baseball park in downtown Birmingham. Sellers is pictured on the cover of the issue, wearing a suit and a big smile while wielding a baseball bat.
Carrying the sports theme into the interviews, each of the 40 was asked to name their top sports hero.
Sellers chose Tony Dungy, who was the first black football coach to win a Super Bowl, in 2007 with the Indianapolis Colts.
“Coach Dungy has always handled himself with class,” Sellers says in the magazine. “He won the right way, through hard work and perseverance.”
Sellers said the honor has already paid off in several networking opportunities, which is what his boss likes to hear.
“He’s in an elite group,” said Hudnall. “This gets his name and our company’s name out there that much more, and that’s a positive.”