The San Diego 500, The Book of Influential Business Leaders, is the market’s most comprehensive product of people you should know in the business community. The 500 includes business leaders and executives who have founded or are running significant companies in terms of number of jobs, key products and services, experts who raise the level of the industry here and beyond and those who lead in the business community. The 500 is selected by the San Diego Business Journal newsroom.
J. Neal Blue
CEO and Chairman, General Atomics
J. Neal Blue and his brother Linden built General Atomics (GA) and its affiliated companies into the powerhouse defense contractor that remains one of the region’s largest employers and a world technology leader. The company is based in La Jolla and also has a massive manufacturing facility on the east edge of Poway, where it builds the Predator drone. His son is now CEO of GA Aeronautical Systems Inc. Blue is intensely private and makes few public appearances; one acquaintance describes him as a recluse. In 2013, he accepted the International von Kármán Wings Award – recognizing great feats in aviation – during a ceremony at CalTech in Pasadena. The Blues bought General Atomics from Chevron in 1986. GA’s portfolio of business encompasses aviation, uranium mining, nuclear engineering, real estate and oil-and-gas exploration. The brothers also own Cordillera Corp. The brothers also own jetCenters of Colorado, a fixed base operator providing fuel, food, hangar space and other services to small plane pilots at Denver’s Centennial Airport, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins.
ALMA MATER: Yale
FAMILY POLITICS: His mother, Virginia Neal Blue, was the first woman elected to executive office (treasurer) in Colorado.
COVER SPREAD: He and his brother were on the cover of Life Magazine based on their 110-day tour of Central and South America in a single-engine Tri-Pacer in 1956.
PASSION FOR PLANES: Neal has supported the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center as well as the San Diego Air & Space Museum.