Face of Tradition

Meet Bud Mingledorff. In a city so steeped in tradition, it’s a tall order to call someone the face of tradition. Yet Bud Mingledorff’s pedigree as the latest in a line of his family that stretches back to the colonial era fits that epithet like a glove.

“We go back to the Salzburgers who landed here in 1734,” he said. “We were one year behind Oglethorpe.” Fleeing religious persecution in Europe, his forebears found themselves unwelcome in Charleston due to their heritage but invited into Savannah with open arms. “Oglethorpe didn’t care; he needed people,” chuckled Mingledorff.
For the family’s role in Savannah’s modern history, we look to Bud’s father and grandfather who ran Forest City Machine Shop together. With war looming in Europe in February of 1939, the pair somehow (despite having no shipbuilding experience) won a bid to build a single minesweeper. In September, Hitler invaded Poland. “The contract went from one to seven minesweepers. During the war they built 26 minesweepers and 24 submarine rescue ships, and went from 18 employees at Forest City to 4,500 employees in a year in a half. All in a shipyard being run by a 25-year-old mechanical engineer and his father.” 

Following the war,  Bud’s father restarted Mingledorff’s Inc. (an air conditioning contracting company that he founded in 1939 at the same time he was helping to form the Savannah Machine & Foundry).  During the war,  Mingledorff’s had ceased operations as the entire economy was restructured into war time production.  He was also elected Mayor of Savannah three times during the 1950’s.  Mingledorff’s, now an air conditioning distributor,  is still owned by the Mingledorff family, but is headquartered in Atlanta.

And the shipyard where it all started is enjoying a new lease on life as a state-of-the-art marine center with the biggest drydock south of Norfolk. “I’m really impressed with what they’ve done at that shipyard,” said Mingledorff. It’s high praise from the steward of a family legacy stretching back to Savannah’s founding. mingledorffs.com / 912.232.1228