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On Our Radar

Six Birmingham men to know

Thomas Wilder

Reverend, Bethel Baptist Church

A day in the life of Reverend Thomas L. Wilder, Jr. may include teaching Bible study to a group of college students, visiting the sick at nursing homes and hospitals, and speaking with residents of the Collegeville neighborhood surrounding Bethel Baptist Church.

Some days—some of his best days—are spent in Aliceville, Alabama, on his 103-acre farm. It’s where Wilder spent his happy childhood and where he now goes to ground himself—driving the tractor, cutting down trees, and simply enjoying nature.

All days have a purpose—to become “better at who you are,” to never stop learning, to seek and find balance, and to serve the people of Birmingham through his many non-profit board and community engagements.

After a long, successful corporate career that included lengthy stints at Alagasco and BE&K, Wilder became the full-time pastor at Bethel Baptist in 2013 after having served part-time since 1988. Asked how he was able to give his full effort to both his corporate roles and his church commitments, Wilder credits the tremendous help of his wife, Mechelle. A driven career woman and founding partner of ARC Realty, Mechelle stayed home while the Wilder’s four children were growing up—often keeping the kids up at night so Wilder could play with them when he arrived home.

An avid reader, some of Wilder’s recent favorite books include Isabelle Wilkerson’s Caste, and You Have to Prepare to Die Before You Can Begin to Live by Paul Kix. Currently working through about eight books, Wilders notes that he frequently makes a point to re-read A Fire You Can’t Put Out by Andrew Manis, which details the life of civil rights icon and Bethel Baptist minister Fred Shuttlesworth.

After earning an MBA, a master’s in theology, a doctorate, and an honorary doctorate, Wilder continues to pursue education—he plans to earn another doctorate studying motivation theory at Purdue University.

Athens McLaughlin

Owner, Gameday Men’s Health

Family ties led Los Angeles native Athens McLaughlin back to Alabama, where he will officially launch Birmingham’s first Gameday Men’s Health on June 1 in Vestavia.

McLaughlin grew up spending summers and holidays with extended relatives scattered around Alabama—his father’s family is originally from Mobile—and attending “countless” Bama games. With one of his two college-age kids now attending the University of Alabama, the family decided to relocate from Austin, Texas.

After 17 years with LegalZoom, where he led sales and customer care teams of 300-400 people and opened the company’s Austin office, McLaughlin was ready for a new challenge. The child of entrepreneurs, he’d witnessed the hard work necessary for success, as well as the gratifying rewards. His willingness to try new things (whether surfing in Nicaragua or starting a health clinic) can be credited to his father, who always said, “Seek to expand your vision of yourself and the world; there’s more than what’s in front of you.”

McLaughlin is also quick to note the important role his mentor and friend, Frank Monestere, former president of LegalZoom, continues to play in his career. “While we haven’t worked together in four years, we speak monthly. He encouraged me to pursue the opportunity with Gameday,” McLaughlin notes.

Gameday Men’s Health’s mission—helping men in his age bracket feel their best—resonated with McLaughlin from the start.

It’s also evident McLaughlin has a passion for building teams. Creating work-life balance for Gameday’s employees is a current priority. “Don’t miss out on your life—be a whole person,” is a principle he hopes to impart to young, ambitious employees.

His only regret in starting Gameday? “I should have started my entrepreneur journey sooner!”

Zach Ivey

Investment Strategist and Financial Advisor, Savant Wealth

Growing up in Starkville, Mississippi, Zach Ivey became interested in personal finance by watching his parents operate their motorcycle dealership. “How do you sell a business?” he wondered, which led his dad to introduce him to a financial advisor.

The pursuit of an MBA and the opportunity to work in Birmingham’s then-booming banking sector led Ivey to the Magic City. He’s now worked with the founders of Bridgeworth Financial for over 20 years.

After Bridgeworth’s recent merger with Savant Wealth, Ivey holds the dual titles of investment strategist and financial advisor. He also serves on the investment committee. Providing comprehensive financial planning services for the complex needs of corporate executives and retirees motivates Ivey never to stop learning.

 “I became an avid reader when I realized I get paid for what I know!” he laughs. Recent reads include “Atomic Habits,” by James Clear, “Leonardo da Vinci,” by Walter Isaacson, and “Endurance,” by Alfred Lansing.

Outside the office, Ivey is significantly involved with his church, Briarwood, serving as an elder. He and his high-school-sweetheart wife are also resource parents for the Big Oak Ranch, where they act as an adoptive extended family for a Big Oak Ranch child one weekend a month.

When asked about his favorite aspects of living in Birmingham, Ivey’s answers all point to nature—rock climbing, mountain biking, and spending time at Smith Lake top his list of extracurriculars. “Being close to Oak Mountain is awesome for a mountain biker,” he says.

Joshua Snable

Attorney, Snable Law

Speaking with Joshua Snable, there is no doubt that he loves his job as a litigator just as much as he loves the Birmingham community.

Seeing his father work as a lawyer throughout his childhood in Birmingham made the law a natural path. After attending law school at Mississippi College School of Law, Snable immediately returned to Birmingham, where he spent over a decade as an “old school” general practice lawyer before focusing on personal injury litigation. “I love what I do, truly. I get to meet people and hear their stories. Even on the worst day, there is nothing else I would want to do,” he says.

Outside of spending time with his lovely wife and coaching his kids’ softball and baseball games, Snable’s main hobby is maintaining the historic neo-classical gem that houses his law firm. The Enslen House, a 1906 marble mansion on Highland Avenue, was purchased by Snable in 2019 and continues to be a labor of restoration love. Nearby favorite establishments Rojo, Bottega, Freddy’s, and O’Henry’s keep the law firm fueled.

While Snable’s role has evolved through the years—now he takes a broader view of the firm, assigning cases, budgeting, marketing, and keeping things on track—his motto has remained consistent: “Do Good.”  

“If you simply do good a number of times for a number of people for a number of years, you will be a success,” he says. 

Jordan Means

Owner, Revive Pro

Jordan Means’ path to owning a high-end painting company wasn't linear. He initially pursued a career in the corporate world, but something was missing. He stumbled into the world of painting and found a tangible way to impact people's lives. “It was a chance to combine my passion for meticulous detail with the joy of transforming spaces. The seed was planted, and Revive Pro was born,” he says.

Means’ background as an athlete—he played football at Hoover High School and the University of South Alabama—instilled many of the building blocks for creating a successful business, including teamwork, dedication, and perseverance.

A bout with cancer likewise provided an early test of resilience.

But when asked about his greatest teacher, Means doesn’t hesitate—it’s his mother. “She was a single mom raising three boys. I admire and strive for her work ethic, resilience, and unwavering belief in her vision for all three of us. She taught me the importance of taking calculated risks, learning from mistakes, and never giving up.”

Means has ambitious goals for Revive Pro, planning to expand the company’s services and reach beyond Birmingham.

In his limited free time, Means enjoys playing golf and reading. A recent favorite is "Shoe Dog," by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. “It's a fascinating account of entrepreneurship, resilience, and the power of believing in your dreams,” he notes.

A new father, Means has a new perspective on work-life balance and is enjoying every moment with his wife, Mallory, and baby girl.

 Jason Bajalieh

Owner, Slice Pizza and Brew

Despite coming from a restaurant family, Jason Bajalieh did not initially plan to join the business. However, his father’s untimely passing changed his trajectory by creating a desire to work side-by-side with his tight-knit family.

“My father and I worked together remodeling homes before he passed away, and my oldest brother, Jeff, owned two Domino’s Pizzas. Jeff and I always talked about taking pizza to the next level and opening our own place. After my father passed away, we decided to reopen our father’s restaurant, which had closed years earlier, and then later decided to launch our dream of a pizza and brew restaurant by opening Slice,” Bajalieh says.

Slice’s menu reflects the love of family. “The ‘Bajalieh Special’ was my dad’s favorite pizza,” he says. “I am typically just a pepperoni guy, but right now, my favorites are the ‘Hot Mama’ and ‘The Lakeview.’”

While Slice is known for its inventive pizzas and welcoming atmosphere, it’s Slice’s deep-rooted community involvement that truly embodies the Bajalieh spirit. “Dough Raisers is the heartbeat of our operation,” Bajalieh emphasizes. Held on Tuesdays, Dough Raisers provides a platform for local organizations to spread awareness about their causes by setting up information tables at Slice locations. Slice donates 10% of the day’s profits to the participating organization.

When it comes to balancing an active young family and a growing roster of restaurants, Bajalieh credits his determined and supportive wife. “When COVID hit, my son was about four months old. I worked 14-hour days for months; my wife would bring our son to Slice for family time. Without that time, I’m not sure I would have had the energy to keep going,” he says. “Balance is hard for anyone trying to succeed, but owning a restaurant or any small business is not for the faint of heart.”

  • Clothing courtesy of Mizzen+Main, now open at The Summit
  • Clothing courtesy of Mizzen+Main, now open at The Summit

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