My name is Millie Batson, and I like to think of myself as “The Seal Girl”, since my dad, Jerry Whitlock, was (and still is) known as “The Seal Man”. I was born into the seal industry almost 36 years ago as my dad and mom were starting their first seal business in their basement. I can remember being in Kindergarten and learning to count and then coming home and having to count o-rings to make kits…and to this day sometimes I still come into work and have to count o-rings or make seal kits!! It’s in my blood!! I have dreams about seals!!! Although I was born into this industry, I didn’t always think this was my career path. I graduated with honors from a small private school that I attended from kindergarten to 12th grade. From there I enrolled in a local technical college and earned the title of Master Cosmetologist and took a job as a production assistant and makeup artist with a small media company. While I loved working in and still love that industry it just wasn’t “home”, so I came on board full time with EPM about 15 years ago to sit under my dad and learn the ins-and-outs of the corporate world, marketing, and the seal industry from him. Unfortunately I had less time to learn from him than any of us expected as he passed away suddenly just over 5 years ago. But here I am, sitting in his office, behind his desk, and in his chair to carry on his legacy.
Dad used to call me “girl Friday”, which Webster defines as “a woman entrusted with a variety of jobs in an office”. I don’t know that I ever really appreciated that title for how he meant it years ago but have come to know now exactly why he called me that…because the list of jobs I have been entrusted with grows daily! I am the logistics manager, coordinating freight all over the world. I oversee the accounting department, mostly just coaching and teaching now, but stepping in as the credit manager when needed. I dabble in marketing and advertising. I work in the warehouse. I am the receptionist when others are away from their desks . I organize and arrange catering for weekly lunches and special events. I make sure supplies are always stocked. I am trained on military contracts. I am that girl that is behind the scene in almost everything that goes on at EPM. But most of all, I stand behind my mom as her #1 supporter in continuing this business without my dad.
I have been married to my best friend, Chris, for 10 years, and together we have a 4-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. Chris is a firefighter for the City of Atlanta, which keeps him away from us for 24 hours at a time…but he loves firefighting, and much like seals for me, his job is “in his blood”! He was recently honored by the City of Atlanta with a Challenge Coin for his heroism in entering a burning house while off-duty and rescuing a woman. He and his buddy were featured on all the local news channels. He truly is our family’s everyday hero for the sacrifices he makes. When we manage to have some time off all at the same time we enjoy traveling or going out of state on big game hunting adventures or traveling around the state fishing. Yes, we are teaching our kids about wildlife conservation, so they are also growing up as junior hunters and fishers! Maybe one day we will write a book about all of our adventures, but for now…we are making memories!!!!