He Was Laid off Mid-Program. He Graduated with a New Business.

When James “Opie” Fair started the Executive MBA program at Neeley, he was well-established with 11 years experience as area and branch manager for a modular building company, where he managed budgets across seven states. After working in this industry for more than 25 years, he was eager to gain knowledge that could benefit both his career and employer. He never expected to be laid off two months before his 12-year anniversary.

But life happens, and Opie found himself in the middle of an EMBA program without a job.

Unemployment didn’t last long for an action-oriented person like Opie – who is also a veteran of the Texas Army National Guard. He had the immediate opportunity for consulting work with a few of his classmates. That soon evolved into a new business venture with three other EMBA grads: Kevin Grace and Dustin Dvorak from Opie’s Class of 2015, and Mike Field from the Class of 2014.

Through class projects and conversations at various networking events, the men realized their strengths, combined, were the perfect toolset for a new company. Opie serves as COO of the venture, Agile Management Enterprises, which buys and revitalizes telecom networks. They are now completing their first acquisition.

It turned out Neeley’s EMBA program was exactly what these four entrepreneurs needed, and for Opie – who was voted Outstanding Class Member by his classmates – it was something that enabled him make the leap from branch manager to entrepreneur.