Friday, April 22, 2011

Classmate, Marty Davidson.

Another reason we should be proud to know him.

Meridian Star

April 22, 2011
Marty Davidson to receive Ellis Island Medal of Honor

By Jennifer Jacob Brown /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Meridianite Marty Davidson is slated to receive the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, a national award sponsored by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, in New York on May 7.
Davidson is the chairman and owner of Southern Pipe and Supply Company.

According to the NECO Web site, the award is designed to, "pay homage to the immigrant experience," as well as individual achievement.

"The honorees are remarkable Americans who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage," the Web site reads. "We honor them because they create a better world of all of us in the future by the work of today."

Davidson will represent the immigrant experience through his Jewish and Russian heritage.

Notable past honorees include Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Gen. Colin Powell, Sen. John McCain, Attorney Gen. Janet Reno, Rosa Parks, Elie Wiesel, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Joe Dimaggio, Yogi Berra, Muhammad Ali, Walter Cronkite, Quincy Jones and many others.

Davidson will be the second Mississippian to receive the award. The award will be given during a ceremony on Ellis Island. Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States from 1892 to 1954.

Marty Davidson's family first settled in America in the early 1900's when his grandfather, Russian-born Louis Davidson, immigrated. Louis Davidson started the company that would become Southern Pipe and Supply, a plumbing supply company that is now in its 72nd year of operation and its fourth generation of family management.

Louis Davidson started a junk company in Meridian called St. Louis Junk Company. The company started selling bathtubs, and in 1938, Louis Davidson opened Southern Pipe and Supply with his sons Sammie and Meyer.

Marty Davidson, the son of Meyer Davidson, started working at Southern Pipe when he was five years old and continued working summers until he left for college. He began working for the company full-time in 1962. In 1968, he purchased the company from his father.

In that same year, Klu Klux Klan members bombed the home of Meyer Davidson because of his public stance against the bombing of synagogues and churches in Mississippi.

Forty-eight years later, Southern Pipe and Supply has grown from four branches in three states to 93 branches in seven states. In 2010, it was ranked as the seventh largest distributor of plumbing supplies in the United States and the second largest regional distributor by Supply House Times.

Davidson's son, Jay, is now the president of the company.

NECO feels that the story of Southern Pipe exemplifies the type of immigrant story that could only happen in the United States, where an immigrant's journey from Russia evolved into a family company the size of Southern Pipe and Supply.

Davidson has previously been awarded the local Hartley D. Peavey Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence, Neville Humanitarian Award, and Meridian Star Citizen of the Year Award, and is honored in the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame.

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