Alabama loses industry recruiter to sudden death

David Echols (Courtesy: Alabama Development Office)
David Echols (Courtesy: Alabama Development Office)

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Passionate, determined, a love for his family; sentiments that describe David Echols, the Senior Project Manager for the Alabama Economic Development Office.

"It was a shock," said friend and coworker David Hutchison, Director of Business Development at the agency.

A shock that Echols died so suddenly. We're told Echols had just finished mowing his lawn at his Montgomery home when he came inside, sat down and collapsed Sunday evening.

"David's job was to help recruit industry to Alabama," Hutchison said.

And recruit he did.

David Echols' legacy includes Hyundai, Mercedes and the Toyota engine plant in Huntsville. There is a story about David Echols that perhaps many outside the business community may not be aware of.

Ellen McNair knows it well saying he 'got the call from a national consultant.'

That consultant represented Hyundai. After scratching Montgomery off the list of potential sites in the beginning, it was David Echols who convinced the consultant to give Montgomery another look.

"He submitted another site with 1,500 acres," said McNair, Vice President of Corporate Development for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.

That was nearly 10 years ago. Today, Hyundai calls Montgomery home, home to more than 3,000 jobs according to its website and scores of suppliers nearby.

"And I would say hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investments," said Hutchison.

David Hutchison says he and Echols were close. They often played golf together and worked hand-in- hand when it came to recruiting industries. Hutchison remembers his friend as being very serious about his job along with a sense of humor.

"He enjoyed a good joke," said Hutchison.

And yet so dedicated to his craft. Just a few weeks ago David Echols went to work not realizing it was a state holiday.

"He called me around mid-morning and said no one's here. It must be a state holiday," McNair remembers with a laugh.

A 22-year veteran at the Alabama Economic Development Office, David Echols was 53.

Friends of David Echols say he had some health issues about 3 years but felt he had fully recovered.

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