Electrical Engineering Alumnus Keeps Successful Career Moving

Finding success in the corporate world takes hard work, wise decisions and tenacity. University of Mississippi electrical engineering alumnus Kevin Brown has all of these, along with a career to prove it.

Since graduating from UM, the Jackson, Tennessee, native has more than 25 years of appliance manufacturing experience in the U.S. and abroad, including gas and electric cooking, refrigeration, ventilation, dishwashing and outdoor products.

Recently, Brown became president of Viking Range LLC, a Middleby Corp. company based in his hometown of Greenwood, where he is responsible for the overall operations, sales and engineering initiatives.

“Kevin has been an effective and respected leader with Viking customers, employees and vendors over the past several years, and he has proven time and time again that he can deliver results,” said Selim A. Bassoul, chairman and CEO of Middleby Corp.

Under Brown’s direction, a redesigned line of Viking products was manufactured under new, rigorous quality-testing processes. This redesign of every product in a short time resulted in significant improvements in reliability and performance across all Viking product categories.

“I am proud to lead Viking into a new era with our redesigned and award-winning residential technologies,” Brown said. “Viking is a well-known, established brand, and we now have everything in place to move forward and grow with our new product offerings and by expanding our domestic and global reach.”

Other than the achievement of growing his family, Brown said that funding and achieving his degree in electrical engineering remains the one that has been the most fulfilling.

“Attending Ole Miss engineering was a great experience for me,” he said. “Since I had to hold a full-time job while attending school, having smaller class sizes with dedicated attention was a significant part of my ability to manage the course load and work.

“The teachers not only knew our names, but they also knew about our other school activities and strengths and weaknesses.”

While attending the engineering program, Brown worked full-time, starting on the assembly line at Whirlpool Corp. in Oxford. He collaborated with the School of Engineering to support the beginnings of a co-op program, persuading the administration to allow him to be considered an intern at Whirlpool and using a project there as his senior project.

“Dr. (Charles) Smith would go up to the school on weekends and late at night so that I could complete all of my labs needed to graduate,” he said. “The impact this had on me was significant, and I will certainly never forget this. I was blessed to have him as my adviser, professor and friend.”

Richard Gordon and Eldon Miller were also among Brown’s favorite Ole Miss professors.

“Dr. Miller made even the advanced math classes fun and improved comprehension and retention with his teaching skills and enthusiasm,” he said. “As busy as he was, Dr. Gordon had an open door office policy and made all feel welcome. His excitement for the material, approachability and support were great.”

While many couples meet in college and marry after graduation, Brown and his wife, Patsy, reversed that process.

“We started dating in early high school,” he said. “She was planning on going to Ole Miss when we graduated. The plan was for me to transfer (from the University of Memphis) to Ole Miss.

“I got a full-time job, played percussion in the band to cover out-of-state fees, made a move to Oxford and transferred into electrical engineering. We married one year before I graduated.”

Brown also has earned credits towards his Master of Business Administration and his BlackBelt Operational Excellence and LeanSigma Design for Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing certification.

Starting with his job at Whirlpool, Brown earned continuous promotions there and elsewhere. He held management positions at Maytag Corp. and Whirlpool Corp. in Jackson, Tennessee, before moving to  Viking Range. During this time, Brown gained extensive experience in critical areas needed for robust product development and operations, including company operations management, lean manufacturing and process quality principles, design engineering for U.S. and global markets, and project management.

“While completing my electrical engineering degree and working full time was challenging, it was an invaluable lesson in life,” Brown said. “From a technical standpoint, it solidified the importance of noticing the noise and controlling variation. From a personal standpoint, it taught me tenacity, hard work and to never give up on yourself and your goals.”

Brown’s professional affiliations include serving on the United Way of Leflore County board of directors, campaign chair for United Way of Leflore County Birdies for Charity, Greenwood Leflore United Way Allocations Committee, Division United Way Campaign chair and co-chair Division United Way Campaign.

The Browns reside in Greenwood with their son, Garrett, and daughter, Mary Helen, where they are members of First Presbyterian Church.

“Our son is a senior left-handed pitcher who is wanting to join Ole Miss baseball team,” he said. “Our daughter is a junior high school cheerleader in her first year. My wife and I enjoy experiencing parenting, spending time with our family and going on dates together.”


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