One to Watch: Buddy Runnels

Photo by Scott Holstein
Davage ‘Buddy’ Runnels

By Wendy O. Dixon 

Most people in Northwest Florida know him as “Buddy,” the founding partner of Sterling Companies and Cornerstone Development, and the chairman of Coastal Vision 3000, an initiative to create a branded regional identity encouraging national awareness and continued economic growth.

What many may not know is that the local folks he grew up with still call him Davage.

“Why Grandmama labeled me ‘Buddy’ I don’t know,” Runnels says. “I guess she gave me that name because nobody ever heard of a kid named Davage.”

A lifelong resident of Destin, Davage “Buddy” Runnels says that what makes Destin so special is the values shared by the people of the community.

“We are God- and family-oriented,” he says. “We are dedicated to helping each other.”

Runnels found a way to show his appreciation to active duty and retired U.S. troops in the Panhandle by creating the Freedom Classic golf tournament.

“I wanted to express our thanks for their dedication to serving our country,” he says. “We need to support our men and women.”

Runnels adds that the real reason people come to this region is because of the way the locals treat people.

“We say ‘thank you’ and ‘good morning,’” he says. “God really did spend a little more time on Northwest Florida."