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Honoree Headshot

Michael Caldwell

Managing Partner
Black Airplane

Location: Woodstock, Georgia
Founded: 2017
Industry: Technology

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Michael Caldwell is a managing partner at Black Airplane and also the mayor of Woodstock, the 28th-largest city in Georgia. Both Homes.com and Money Magazine have listed Woodstock as one of the best places to live in America.

“Serving in this capacity in addition to my private sector leadership opportunities and my eight years previously served in the state legislature has been an incredible honor,” Caldwell said. “My fellow mayors in Cherokee County appointed me to serve on the Atlanta Regional Commission, and the opportunity to work with leaders from across the region to allocate funding and engage in long-term planning has given me additional venues through which I can make a lasting difference for my community and for Atlanta and Georgia’s business environment.”

Black Airplane is a creative software development firm that builds apps and websites for clients ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Employee turnover has been a prominent issue in industries across the country, and the tech sector is no different. Tech agencies saw turnover of 65% on average, but Black Airplane outpaced its peers with just 12.5% personnel turnover.

Caldwell credits the company’s commitment to “invest in each other” for keeping turnover relatively low.

“Our constant focus is to build a team of professionals who are always striving to invest in one another both personally and professionally,” he said. “In my office, I have a bookshelf dedicated to family photos from every employee. This eclectic collection of 4-by-6 frames showcases more than 90 men, women and children that represent the 26 families our collective work provides for.”

In recent years, Caldwell partnered with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development to establish the North Atlanta Venture Mentoring Service in Cherokee County. This is the first and only MIT-trained entrepreneurship mentoring service in the state, and it focuses on group mentoring.

“My goal in the program is to teach the ‘next generation of titans’ to think critically, evaluate market conditions and apply their own style to win,” Caldwell said. “I’m proud to serve as the mentor chair in the program and on several venture teams.”

Ultimately, Caldwell says his leadership abilities are contingent on trust and building belief in your leadership from those around you.

“The currency of leadership is trust, and the most successful leaders in today’s age must earn the trust of their team members,” he said. “Today’s successful leaders lead with integrity and lead by example, and in turn, they build trusting, collaborative teams that are destined to succeed.”

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Georgia is among the most competitive, impactful business environments in the nation, and being recognized as an industry leader here is humbling. I have so enjoyed getting to know my fellow Titans and hope to continue to add value to this prestigious network.

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