Harris: Sponsors in the Community

03 Mar

kids playing football

At one time, Mike Brown thought he would wind up working someplace other than the family business.

But Brown, owner of Harris AC and son-in-law of Harris Oil owner, Jim Harris III, realizes he has all he wants in life at the Harris company. In addition to enjoying time with his wife and partner, Kelley, and their three children, working at the business has given Brown the chance to pursue his passion for coaching youth sports in Mount Dora.

“I just love to work with kids and sports. That’s my ideal thing, to work with kids as a coach, and I’m still able to do that now,” said Brown, who previously worked for Black & Decker and DeWalt Tools. “I like meeting people and being out in the field. I’ve always been in sales, since I was in college. I’m able to accomplish everything I want to do here.”

Brown has been a coaching fixture in youth baseball, football and basketball over the years, just as Harris Oil & AC has become more than a business but also a member of the community during its 50-plus years in Mount Dora.

The company is a supporter of Babe Ruth League baseball, and the treasurer of the league is Brown’s sister-in-law, Nancy Burford, who runs the daily operations of the oil business.

Jason Short, president of the league, said Harris Oil & Air Conditioning is one of the program’s biggest supporters, both financially and by giving time. Brown previously served as a board member and coach.

“He’s patient; he explains the game. He’s a good recreational ball coach,” Short said of Brown. “He’s level headed and calm. He keeps the kids happy and they have fun.”

The company also is a booster for the Mount Dora High School Hurricanes sports teams. Brown said the company contributes funds and time to various sports programs, volunteering at events and helping out whenever it can, such as providing water and ice to runners from Mount Dora Bible High School during the hot cross-country season.

“The weekends are always booked,” Brown said.

Brown previously coached basketball at Mount Dora Bible, a private school. He also has coached basketball in the city’s league, along with coaching hoops and football in the Upward Sports youth league, a national Christian-based program with a branch at a church in Eustis. The program includes regular devotional breaks for the players during practices.

“It’s a fantastic league. I was blown away by how well-thought-out the league is,” Brown said.