"I wanted to become an athletic director," he recalls. After obtaining his college degree, taking a job as a manager at an Atlanta health club seemed to be a good start for the West Virginia native. But an interest in business won out and Steele went to work for the Norrell Corp. staffing company, then for Staff Mart (now Spherion).
In 1998, while at Staff Mart, Cobb Electric Membership Corp. became one of Steele's call center clients. "It grew to be a very large account in a very short period of time," he said.
To negate rampant staff turnover inherent with a temporary workforce, ProCore was formed in 2000 as a subsidiary of Cobb Energy Management Corp. Steele was hired as president with the challenge of setting up call center services for Cobb EMC.
The initial call center was set up in a meter repair shop in the basement of Cobb EMC. ProCore then began providing call services to other utilities such as Oconee EMC, Greystone Power, Hawaii Electric and the cities of Marietta, Cartersville and Acworth.
In 2005, the company acquired the original Fields Furniture Building and moved its headquarters to Cobb Parkway and subsequently opened ProCore staffing Solutions, a contract labor services division. The division provides ancillary services like trimmers and lineman, and customer service representatives to utility companies.
"They are full-time employees of ours with benefits," he said. The division now has 80 employees.
He said in 2011, when a completely new board of directors at Cobb EMC was inducted following allegations of financial misconduct, the EMC no longer wanted to own for-profit companies.
A business broker was hired to sell the company, and in February 2013, Donnelly Communications - an Atlanta-based provider of custom call centers - purchased the company.
Steele says Donnelly's retail client base complements ProCore's utility base.
"This acquisition fits perfectly because of the growth and development opportunities Donnelly's infrastructure can provide to our clients," he said.
"The acquisition will enable Donnelly Communications to balance the seasonality of their retail business with the late spring and summer utility business supported by ProCore Solutions," said Steele. "There is a great value there."
Karen Carlisle, in charge of communications and development for Nobis Works, the Marietta-based company that serves youth and adults with disabilities, calls Steele "a ball of fire."
Steele has served on the organization's board of directors and Carlisle has since become a client. "Whether providing generous philanthropic gifts or terrific customer service, Greg and his team have been the best of partners," said Carlisle. "He is one terrific guy on so many levels."
ProCore has 220 employees, and Steele said he will hire 20 new employees in the next month for the peak summer season.
"It is refreshing to be tied to an organization that is looking to grow," he said.
"The future of what we are trying to do collectively is pretty exciting for everybody."
COBB EXECUTIVE PROFILE: GREG STEELE
u TITLE: President, ProCore Solutions, a division of
Donnelly Communications Inc.
u AGE: 53
u EDUCATION: Bachelor of arts, multi-disciplinary studies, North Carolina State, 1986
u FAMILY: Wife – Heather; Daughter – Anna; Sons – Evan, Jack
u FIRST JOB: General Manager - Highwoods Health and Racquet Club.
u HOBBIES: Hunting, fishing, cooking
u LESSON LEARNED THE HARD WAY: Spend more time listening and less time speaking.
u ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Playing team sports, running a business and being part of a family are all very similar. Every position plays an important role. Never underestimate the value of another person’s role.