Neal grew up under the Carolina blue skies of Chapel Hill, NC. He is a proud graduate of Virginia Episcopal School, attended Virginia Military Institute on a lacrosse scholarship and earned a BS in Sociology from Greensboro College in 1995, where he was a 3-year lacrosse letterman.
It was during his time in Greensboro that Neal was introduced to the management recruiting industry through a summer internship at Management Recruiters of Greensboro. While there, Neal learned the old-school techniques of headhunting: identifying, qualifying and placing passive, yet talented candidates for specific positions.
In 1997, Neal relocated to Wilmington, NC as part of a start-up team for Management Recruiters of Wilmington. He focused on sourcing talent for automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. Along the way, he was exposed to world-class manufacturing methodologies to include advanced Product Development & Engineering, Lean Principals, Continuous Improvement, Bill of Materials, Six Sigma, Quality, 5S, and Just in Time.
MRI-Wilmington grew to 15 associates and became a MRI Top 10 office nationwide. Neal hired and trained all of the company’s recruiters. He was on the forefront of introducing technological advances to the recruiting industry such as on-line job boards and electronic applicant tracking systems. In Wilmington, Neal stayed close to his love for lacrosse as the head coach at Cape Fear Academy from 1997-2001 and was voted the NC high school lacrosse coach of the year in 1997.
Because eastern NC is flush with quality boatbuilders, marinas and boatyards, Neal began to recognize the potential of placing talent across the recreational marine industry. He struck out on his own in 2002, founded Brooks Marine Group and relocated to Fort Lauderdale to open the firm’s first office. The business expanded quickly and a second office was opened in Newport, RI in 2004.
While in Ft. Lauderdale, Neal played post-collegiate lacrosse for the Ft Lauderdale Flamingos, refereed high-school lacrosse and was U-11 youth lacrosse travel team coach.
After a brief stint back in NC, Neal, his wife Sara and their two young children relocated to Newport, RI in June 2010. They fell in love with Newport and Aquidneck Island, eventually planting roots in Middletown, RI in 2015. It was during those years Brooks Marine Group moved its corporate headquarters to today's location on the campus of the IYRS School of Technology & Trades in downtown Newport.
Neal is the boys lacrosse coach at Middletown High School and helped steer the Islanders to a 2017 RI State Championship. He is deeply involved with Island Youth Lacrosse and volunteers his time to help coach at area camps and clinics.
Neal has served on the Boards of the American Boatbuilders & Repairers Association (ABBRA), the US Superyacht Association and the Sailing School Vessel (SSV) Oliver Hazard Perry, RI’s Education-at Sea tall ship. He has presented at numerous industry trade shows on the subject of identifying, hiring and keeping great employees. Neal and his firm have ongoing partnerships with the IYRS School of Trades & Technology, the Landing School and other marine industry training institutions to assist their curriculum and to help students prepare for their careers.
In 2016, Neal was awarded the RI Marine Trades Association’s John H. Chafee Boater of the Year Award as a person who has contributed to the success of the recreational boating industry in Rhode Island. He joined a long line of boating luminaries...the late Ted Hood, Sr., Halsey Herreshoff, Ken Read: they are past winners who spun their boating prowess into high profile careers.
Neal is an avid golfer, a converted Patriot’s fan and struggling gardener. He is currently restoring a 1931 wooden powerboat named ‘Charlie’ which can be seen cruising Newport Harbor throughout the summer. He and his family are active supporters of Sail Newport, SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, Seamen’s Church Institute, newportFILM and Aquidneck Land Trust.