After working the past 45 years for the company that shares her name, Executive Vice President, Pat Merryman, is retiring from Sonny Merryman. During her long career, Pat has served in many executive leadership roles including spearheading the company’s highly successful storage trailer and container division. What began as an offshoot of the company’s more renowned school bus business, the storage trailer/container division has grown into a vast commercial enterprise with more than 1,200 rental units. The customer base includes mass retailers, such as Wal Mart, construction and vocational contractors of all types, and everyday people who need short-term accessible on-site storage for home remodeling and other household projects.
“I would have never dreamed nearly fifty years ago when it was just me, my parents and one or two other employees, our company would have developed into what it is today,” says Pat. The company is one of Virginia’s largest equipment dealers. In addition to the company’s headquarters near Lynchburg, Sonny Merryman operates three additional locations in Hampton Roads, Greater Richmond, and Northern Virginia. All total, the company employs nearly two hundred. “I am particularly proud our company is an ESOP (Employee Stock Owned Program) and that our loyal, dedicated employees share in our success and growth,” boasts Pat.
Vice President for Trailer Operations, Joe Helms, worked closely with Pat for more than thirty years. “Pat is extremely task -oriented and driven to get things done…right now. She certainly possesses the robust Merryman work ethic along with a strong commitment to customer service and satisfaction. She is quite adept at collections, too,” says Joe with a wry smile.
Pat is easily recognizable for her bigger than life personality and booming voice – much like her late father, Sonny. She shares many of his traits – most notably a genuine affection for children. She always has candy, or a small gift and a bright, cheery smile for little ones who stopped by her office.
Pat is highly respected for her many generous contributions to the Central Virginia community – both of her time and resources. She has served on numerous area boards including CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), The Lynchburg Business Alliance, University of Lynchburg, and First National Bank among others. In 2019 Pat was honored by her treasured hometown of Rustburg to serve as the Grand Marshall of the community’s annual Christmas parade. She is also well known as an avid patron of the arts and has been an instrumental benefactor in the revitalization of The Academy in downtown Lynchburg. She regularly attends musical and performing arts events not only across Virginia but around the world. Pat has travelled to all corners of the globe, including Antarctica, and plans to travel even more now that she has additional free time.
Everyone who knows the Merryman family is aware of their deeply rooted affiliation with Virginia Tech. Pat is no exception. She is a loyal supporter of all things Hokie – including the Moss Arts Center, the Corps of Cadets, student scholarships, and of course, Tech’s athletics teams. She is a proud charter member of the university’s Women in Leadership and Philanthropy (WLP) organization. “Pat has found significant satisfaction and joy in her life through her connections at Virginia Tech,” says company Vice-President for Sales & Marketing, Dean Farmer. Support for higher education is the pillar of the Merryman family’s many charitable endeavors. “Hokie spirit is definitely in Pat’s heart and soul,” adds Dean.
Her decision to retire was not an easy one. “This company and the people I work with are my family. It has been a magnificent ride, and a lot of fun, too, but it is time for me to step aside. The company is in good hands. There is only a bright, bright future for Sonny Merryman,” Pat says with a slight tear in her eye. The Merryman name will carry on within the trailer/container division. Pat’s nephew, Lee Merryman, will assume many of her responsibilities. Although Pat will no longer be a daily fixture in the office, she will remain active as a member of the company’s Board of Directors.
Best wishes, Pat. Thanks for all you have accomplished for our company and the community you have served so admirably. You will be missed by Sonny Merryman employees and the many customers and friends you have made during your memorable career.
Look for Pat next time you are in an airport, visiting an exotic destination or at a show. You are most likely to hear her first!