Brand Bank Chairman to Speak Jan. 30 to GABB

Michael Coles

Michael Coles, chairman of Brand Bank and namesake of the Kennesaw State University College of Business, will speak on Jan. 30 to the state’s business brokers about principles for success in business.

His Jan. 30 speech to the Georgia Association of Business Brokers, the state’s professional group for buying and selling businesses, will start at 10:30 a.m. at the Atlanta Realtors Center at 5784 Lake Forrest Dr. NW, Atlanta, GA 30328. The meeting will be preceded at 9:45 a.m. with a free networking session with coffee and pastries sponsored by GABB Affiliates Susan Kite and Kim Eells, both Vice Presidents of Government Guaranteed Lending with the Brand Bank.

Deeply involved in the community, Michael Coles is a transformational leader, accomplished entrepreneur, education advocate and motivational speaker.  He is living proof that there are no limits to what we as individuals can accomplish. His GABB presentation is “The 10 Lessons That Have Guided My Business Life.”

After a successful 19-year career in the clothing business, Michael tested his entrepreneurial skills in 1977 when he co-founded Great American Cookie Company with an investment of only $8000.  Shortly after starting the company, he was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident and was told by doctors he would never walk again unaided.  As Michael recovered thru a self-designed rehabilitation program he took the Company from its first store in Perimeter Mall in Atlanta to hundreds of stores nationwide and at the same time set 3 coast-to-coast cycling records.  When Michael started the Company there were three major cookie companies in business; one had almost 100 stores and the other two had fifty each.  When he sold the Company in 1998 with sales over $100 million, Great American Cookie Company was the largest franchisor of cookie stores and the other three companies no longer existed.

Michael’s commitment to community service led him to run for public office in 1996 as the Democratic nominee for the House of Representatives in the Sixth District and in 1998 he won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, challenging Senator Paul Coverdell.

In 2003 Michael accepted the corporate reins of Caribou Coffee Company as Chairman, CEO and President.  Over the next five years Michael more than doubled the size of the company extending the brand reach domestically and internationally.  In September 2005, he successfully took the company public on NASDAQ under the symbol CBOU.

Coles was one of the founders of Charter Bank & Trust and served as its Chairman, taking the bank public and selling the publicly traded company to Synovus Bank.

Appointed by Governor Roy Barnes in 1999 to chair the Georgia Film, Video and Music Advisory Board, during his four years as Chairman, Michael took it from $170 million to over $1.5 billion in economic impact.

Having contributed much of their time and resources to education, the arts, environment and philanthropic organizations, Michael and his wife, Donna were honored as the Georgia Philanthropists of the year in 1995.

Michael was appointed by Governor Roy Barnes in 2001 to serve on the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

Michael now serves as Chairman of Brand Holding Company and Chairman of Brand Bank.

In recognition of Michael’s success, leadership and benevolence, Kennesaw State University, under the authority granted by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, declared that the institution’s School of Business be named and known in perpetuity as the Michael J. Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State UniversityIn 1999 Michael received the Honorary Doctor of Human Letters Degree from Kennesaw State University.

As Entrepreneur in Residence for the Coles MBA 2013 Spring Semester, Michael led a class entitled “Concept to Counter”, allowing students to grasp the concept of taking their creative thoughts and ideas to the marketplace.

Michael received the National Women’s Political Caucus Good Guy of the Year Award for his work on behalf of women’s issues.  He joined the ranks of past recipients, including Ed Asner, Alan Alda and former Vice President and U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Walter Mondale.

Michael continues to serve on numerous non-profit boards. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Donna and they are the parents of three adult children and seven grandchildren.

The GABB is the state’s only association of professionals who work to facilitate the purchase and sale of businesses and franchises. The group includes business brokers as well as lenders, attorneys, business appraisers, insurance agents, environmental specialists and other professionals. GABB’s member business brokers work with businesses of all sizes to help them through all steps of selling their company: valuation, marketing, financing, and closing. Aspiring business owners also work with business brokers to purchase existing businesses at a fair price.

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