By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Terry Persell was born and raised in Limestone County, and graduated from Clements High School in 1980. As a junior, he actually got a job driving the school bus! No stranger to hard work, after high school he worked on a farm where they raised hogs, corn, and wheat. He worked for the Bobby Terry Company, and married Shelia in 1983. They quickly had three kids, Blake, and then the twins, Christie and Matthew. Life was busy and good. In addition to working full-time, Terry and his brother Lynn built houses.
In 1987, Terry was hired by Steelcase, and spent 17 years in production. In 2004, he was promoted to being what was known as a zone leader. He had a squad of 5-8 people for and to whom he was responsible, and it was there that he really began to learn the leadership skills that he feels are needed for stepping into the role of License Commissioner.
Terry was on the Limestone County School Board from 1992-1996, and was the representative for the Elkmont area as well as West Limestone.
In 2009, Terry began to work in the Shipping Department at Steelcase, and again was promoted to zone leader in 2011. He has kept that position from 2011 to the present. In both positions as a zone leader, he took a number of classes in leadership and management. The classes covered several topics, including increasing production, conflict resolution, and what they called the “5-s” approach to increasing output and quality of life at work. They are – sort, shine, standardize, straighten, and sustain, and I’ll explain how he wants to make those skills transferable and applicable to the Limestone County license office.
The “sort” is a reference to having a place for everything and everything in its place, and Terry will tell you that he learned how important sorting is from his years at Steelcase. “Shine” has to do with making things brilliant and keeping the office presentable. “Standardize” means making sure transactions are being made in a way that is consistent. “Straighten” is keeping everything in order, and “sustain” means making sure everything is done according to procedure, using a systemized approach.
“My priority is getting things done efficiently,” Terry told me, “and I am always going to be looking for better ways to do things.” One of the things that Terry learned, when he took the conflict resolution unit at Steelcase, was that you have to be willing to hear about a problem from all sides, and do your best to get the full picture before you take any corrective actions. He also wants to make sure that everyone is cross-trained, that anyone can do any job in the office.
I asked Terry, “Why are you running?” He quickly replied, “I like serving the people of Limestone County.” He went through about a 3-week period of soul-searching and prayer, as well as conferring with his family. “I was about 95% sure that I was going to do it, but my kids sealed the deal,” he said. Shelia was already on board, but when his kids told him “he had to run,” that was it. He was also careful to express his gratitude to his parents, Eugene and Janice Persell, for the excellent work ethic and desire to serve God and others with integrity and hard work.
Another set of experiences that served to prepare Terry for the License Commission position was being a member of the Limestone County Cattleman’s Association. It is one of the many ways he has been able to meet and connect with people in the community.
Terry and Shelia are also small business owners. There is building in Clements just off Hwy 72 near Seven Mile Post Road. It is on Poplar Creek Road, and is known as Popular Place. On Sundays, it serves as a church. The rest of the time it is available for rental for family reunions, receptions, bridal and baby showers, and in Terry’s own case, his kick-off reception for his run for License Commission was held there.
Terry says, “My professional and political experiences have prepared me to now serve as your License Commissioner. When elected, I will work effectively to streamline and ensure quality service, to make the best use of technology, and to guarantee a friendly and professional experience for all citizens of Limestone County. Please go vote in the Republican primary on June 5, 2018!”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner