This Alabama businessman is giving away millions of dollars

As Christmas approaches, I am excited to share stories of philanthropists who are making a difference in their communities. Today, I want to highlight the incredible generosity of Jimmy Rane, the wealthiest individual in Alabama.

Let’s delve into his story for a moment.

The Alabama billionaire

Rane is an inspiring tale of going from poverty to wealth.

In 1970, Rane became an attorney in Birmingham, Alabama. However, his life took a tragic turn when his wife’s parents died in a car accident. In order to honor their memory and keep their legacy alive, Rane made a bold decision. He decided to purchase the company they had founded, Great Southern Wood Preserving, which specializes in the production of decks and fences.

At the time of acquisition, the business was on the verge of bankruptcy, with only $22,000 in annual sales. But Rane refused to let adversity define the future of the company. With his determination and vision, he embarked on a journey to transform Great Southern into a thriving enterprise.


Fast forward 53 years, and Great Southern is now a powerhouse in the industry, boasting a staggering $2 billion in revenue. This incredible feat is a testament to Rane’s unwavering commitment and strategic leadership. Today, the company employs 1,900 individuals and operates 15 treating facilities across 12 different states.

Rane’s remarkable success story serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders alike. It exemplifies the transformative power of perseverance, resilience, and a strong vision. Through his unwavering dedication, Rane has not only preserved his wife’s parents’ legacy but also built a thriving business that continues to thrive and make a significant impact in the wood preserving industry.

Alabama residents are familiar with Rane as “the Yella Fella,” his cowboy persona featured in his company’s television advertisements.


Rane, the wealthiest person in Alabama thanks to his successful business, understands the importance of giving back to the community. He firmly believes that “It’s about giving something back.”

In 2000, he established the Jimmy Rane Foundation with a commitment to granting college scholarships to deserving students and enhancing our communities through educational initiatives and funding.

Since its inception, the Jimmy Rane Foundation has granted a remarkable 560 college scholarships, amounting to over $5.7 million, to exceptional and deserving students. The foundation’s ultimate goal is for these students to embrace the idea of ‘paying it forward’ by extending their support to others in need.

In 2017, Rane made a generous donation of $12 million to Auburn University. The university utilized this significant contribution to establish a state-of-the-art culinary science center.

I owe so much to this institution, to my teachers, to the administrators who helped me. I try to remember them and honor them for what a difference they made in my life. Auburn is a wonderful place, and I will never be able to repay this university for the many great things that it has done for me.” Jimmy Rane

In October of last year, Rane generously donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross in order to provide aid and support to those affected by Hurricane Irma. Additionally, his valuable contributions to the Marion Military Institute (MMI) Foundation have been acknowledged and celebrated.

The applications for the 2024 Jimmy Rane Foundation scholarship are now open, and the deadline to submit your application is Friday, February 8, 2024.

Your thoughts

What are your thoughts on Rane’s philanthropic efforts? Are there any other organizations in Alabama that you believe he should extend his support to?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to share this article with others to get them involved in the discussion.

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