Atlanta entrepreneur Maceo Brown, 67, poured his life into young people

CEO of System 5 Electronics succumbs to cancer
Maceo Brown was an Atlanta CEO who poured his life into mentoring young people. He died recently from cancer.

Credit: Courtesy of the Family

Credit: Courtesy of the Family

Maceo Brown was an Atlanta CEO who poured his life into mentoring young people. He died recently from cancer.

When a young Keith Strickland came out of prison after serving time for selling drugs, his attorney introduced him to Atlanta entrepreneur and businessman Maceo Brown.

It changed Strickland’s life.

“Mr. Brown made himself available to me. He made himself a friend, made himself family,” said Strickland, 40.

“But I wasn’t the only one he did this for,” he said. “Mr. Brown took a chance on me and many other Black youth. He helped us to see that there was another way.”

Inspired by the mentoring Brown offered, Strickland started and runs a nonprofit organization that creates youth mentoring programs.

Maceo Brown, CEO of System 5 Electronics Inc., grew up in southwest Atlanta in a family life decidedly different from many of the young people he chose to help. His mother taught school; his father was a postal worker.

“He has always been concerned about the many young people in our community growing up without male role models,” said Alicia Hutchinson-Brown, his wife of 34 years. “He wanted to create opportunities and give them hope. He wanted to help them understand that the American dream is alive and well, and to teach them how to grasp it.”

Brown died last Wednesday from prostate cancer. He was 67.

He founded System 5 Electronics Inc., and grew it into the largest Black-owned security and alarm monitoring company in Georgia, according to the company.

John Hurt, who owns 11 McDonald’s restaurants in metro Atlanta, hired Brown in 2002 to add alarm systems to secure his restaurants. Brown and Hurt became lifelong friends and business partners in 2004 in a real estate venture with two other businessmen, Southeastern Development Legacy Group. They eventually bought out their two partners. “We bought and sold real estate with much success,” Hurt said. “In 2008, when the economy tanked, Maceo and I were standing tall.” They dissolved that venture five years ago, Hurt said.

Brown was a die-hard sports fan when it came to his Atlanta teams, said Hurt. “Maceo always got season tickets for all the teams,” said Hurt. “He believed in working hard and playing hard, having fun with your life,”

Brown created Maceo’s Kids (Mentoring Aspiring CEO’s) to pair African American youth with mentors to foster their entrepreneurial spirit. One way he helped youth was through sponsoring golf tournaments to connect youth from the community with local CEOS. That experience stood out for Keith Strickland. “I went from being in the streets to shaking hands with CEOs on the golf course. Mr. Brown helped me transition through all the phases through my life.”

Brown received numerous honors for his business and mentoring achievements, including Atlanta Business League Hall of Fame inductee and Corporation of the Year Award, Concerned Black Clergy of Atlanta Business of the Year Award, the Herndon Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and Invest Atlanta’s Southside Champion Award. He was also appointed to the Board of Councilors for the Carter Center, according to the company.

Brown is survived by his wife, and three brothers, all of metro Atlanta: Milton Woodward; Wendell Brown and Thomas Brown, the former sheriff of DeKalb County.

A memorial service will be held starting with a viewing from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral, 212 Riverside Parkway, Austell.