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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Give Back

David Milly gives Hattie a tour of his beloved hometown, Huntsville, Alabama.  Both of his parents were scientists who helped send the USA to the moon.

Key Question:


Be a loving and generous person.

Q: How do business owners, the busiest people in the private sector, find time to give to causes and how do they afford to give money away that they could use to grow their companies?

A: The owners we know are involved in their churches and other charities because they are not driven by money, they are driven by big important ideas. And, they are not self-absorbed. We business owners tend to think about and worry about others and put ourselves last. This works because as we help others iimprove their lives, our life gets better on all levels.

Marc Katz, owner of Katz Deli says he gives because he stole the idea from big business. He reminds us that people who run big businesses are, "not stupid." Big businesses establish foundations and other programs to assist those in need because it always pays to be nice. His strong commitment to charities comes from studying big foundations. Other business owners we know who subscribe to this strategy talk about it as the way they launched themselves in business.

Q: Why is volunteering to work with a non-profit organization good for the soul and also such a good marketing technique?

A: Albert Black is founder of On Target Supplies and Logistics. His passion is community service and by accident he found this to be his best marketing strategy. Albert gives of himself because he loves people and love life. Yet, when you want to sell something, it is difficult to know who actually has the checkbook!

When you work on a good cause, you will meet people who will often tell you who they know and who might possibly be your next customers. Albert worked with the Chamber of Commerce and when he received an award for service, John Castle was present at the event. Today, John Castle is on Albert's board. John also leads EDS, one of the country's largest companies, and as you might guess, EDS is now one of Albert's customers, too.

Think about it

What have you given in the past? What can you give? What should you give?


Clip from: Theatrical Lighting

Huntsville, Alabama: Meet David Milly.  When he was a student at University of Alabama at Huntsville, he earned money booking entertainment and dances for his school. From his first booking, Earl Scruggs Review, a country-bluegrass band (of Deliverance fame), he knew this was what he wanted to do.

To book the lighting package for the show, he engaged Luna Tech, a sole proprietor, and they struck up a friendship. By the time he graduated in 1975 they had a partnership and then they formed a corporation to protect themselves from the liability involved with manufacturing and creating pyrotechnic special effects. David was initially a 25% stockholder in the business, yet by 1981 he negotiated a buyout of just the lighting division to be on his own.  That's a story, but this one just gets better.

At that time there was no trade association for the lighting industry. In 1987 a few of the fellows started one, Theatrical Dealers Association, and David was quick to join and serve on the board. He initiated a Small Business Development Committee. Today this national association is known as ESTA or the Entertainment Services and Technology Association. 

David has also been an active member of the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau for three decades. In this episode of the show you will meet all kinds of people who love Huntsville, who love Janet and David Milly, and love the stuff of making their community a great place to live.

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Theatrical Lighting Systems

David Milly, CEP / founder

1221 Jordon Lane
P.O. Box 2646
Huntsville, AL 35804

Visit our web site:

Office: 256-533-7025

Business Classification:
Lighting Supplies

Year Founded: 1981

Give Back

DAVID: Those last couple of days when you've been here, you've asked me how come we're having a spring jam in the fall. Well, it's not a spring jam; it is a Big Spring Jam.


DAVID: And this is Big Spring.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Theatrical Lighting Systems was named small business of the year in 1992 by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce. Why are you a member of the Chamber of Commerce?

DAVID: Why am I member of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce?

HATTIE: Right.

DAVID: These are probably the best promotion of Huntsville and community that I've ever seen anywhere. You've got to give back. I mean, if a city is good to you, you've got to give something back. Huntsville and the people in Huntsville have that attitude that they can accomplish anything. You know, this is the town that sent man to the moon. When Kennedy said, `We're going to the moon,' well, these are the people here that did it.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Since 1974, David has given time to raise money for the local Cerebral Palsy Association. Cheryl Smith is the director.

CHERYL SMITH: He just gives countless hours. He is so dedicated. He is determined that he wants to improve the lives of our children. He is compassionate around the children. Every year, he comes to the telethon and he's done so for over 25 years.


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