Middleton has signed on with Astrum International Corp. He will be senior vice president for international affairs for Steven J. Green, chairman and chief executive officer of the conglomerate.
"My last day at the White House is [Feb. 17]," Middleton says. "I'll start the new job immediately."
Well, not quite. Middleton is planning to take a three-week trip around the world before his new job begins.
"I'm going to go to Asia, then the Middle East and beyond," Middleton says. "I'm going out to meet people I have built relationships with."
Traveling in his new line of work could be constant. Middleton, according to a press release, will "direct global strategic planning and assist in the management of international operations."
The job also will include putting together foreign trade delegations and bringing them to the United States and taking delegations from the U.S. to other parts of the world.
"What we want to do is put together a global enterprise that will be involved in all kinds of deals," Middleton says. "One reason we want to do it is because the opportunity is there. It's a win-win job."
Middleton will remain based in Washington, though Astrum International has offices in most major American cities. His plans include adding an office in Little Rock.
"I plan to set up a small Little Rock office to handle whatever business is there," Middleton says. "That office will handle phone calls, things like that. The Arkansas piece of this is not monetarily driven. I want that office to be helpful to those in the international marketplace. I want to see Arkansas companies prosper."
Middleton says he is excited about his future but he's glad he worked at the White House.
"Working directly with Mack has been a very positive and wonderful experience," Middleton says.
Middleton was considering a similar move before he landed this job.
"Had I not joined Steve, I was thinking about setting up my own business - on a much smaller scale, of course," Middleton says.
Green also heads International Realty Investors, Auburndale Properties Inc. and Heron International N.V. The companies are links that form an international industrial development chain.
"Stephen does a lot of different things," Middleton says. "For most people, being Samsonite CEO would be enough. My role is going to be serving in the same capacity for all of those companies. I'll be a field general for the business aspect of all those companies. I'll probably spend a good deal of my time with International Realty Investors."
Saying Green does a lot of different things is a bit of an understatement. Samsonite and American Tourister are subsidiaries of Astrum International. But that's just a hint of the breadth and width of Green's companies.
International Realty Investors is a global real estate company. It has been involved in such projects as the restoration and expansion of the huge GUM department store on Moscow's Red Square.
Auburndale Properties Inc. is a real estate management company backed by a $240 million fund to develop warehouses, industrial parks and distribution centers in Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Heron International, based in London, is a real estate and development company. Its backers include Warner Brothers Inc., Rupert Murdoch's The News Corp. and McCaw Cellular Communications Inc.
Middleton, 32, has the background for his new role. He earned a bachelor's degree in banking and finance from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, completed a year of study at the London School of Economics and Political Science and earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas.
Middleton's new position will include a position among the board of directors of the Green Family Foundation. He will work with the foundation's domestic civic programs. n