“I’m a family man, and I bring that sense of loyalty, value, and care to everything I do.”


Third-Generation Entrepreneur & CEO


For Abb Payne, family is at the forefront of all that he does. “My family has deep Mississippi roots,” Payne said, “And we take hospitality seriously.” At the Payne Companies, Payne and his family manage a diverse portfolio of businesses and charitable funds aimed at making communities better. “We’re pretty devoted to doing business in a better way, a more sustainable way, that leaves room for future generations to keep paying it forward.”

Abb Payne—a brainy kid who grew up to be an entrepreneurial investor with a mind for business growth—attributes his fastidious, focused demeanor to his hardworking, service-oriented grandmother. Today, Payne’s efforts and ventures would make his grandmother proud. Young but seasoned, relentless yet relatable, Payne allows his stellar business leadership record to speak for themselves. Payne’s passions for learning, leadership, and growth have made him the quintessential business expert and philanthropist to follow.

The Payne family has always valued hard work and a spirit of service. Abb’s mother figure—and greatest influence—was his paternal grandmother Maxine Payne, a widowed businesswoman, realtor, and philanthropist whose sole passion was serving others. “Even though she was in her late seventies when she was raising me, she had this inexhaustible energy. I remember she was principled. She didn’t suffer any fools. She kept me in line, but she also had a soft spot for me.” Maxine Payne was the first female realtor in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She organized and coordinated the Meals on Wheels program and served as director of the Mississippi AARP. She took action for what she believed was right, and young Abb, in his formative years, had a front-row seat to her ambition, principle, and pluck.

When Payne speaks about his grandmother, it is almost as if he believes every good thing about himself can and should be attributed to her, this saint of a woman who, to this day, looms large in his life. Of course there’s his father, Wilford Albert (W.A.) Payne, a successful Mississippi businessman who, among other ventures, began a series of home health agencies across the Southeast. W.A. always encouraged Abb to make good grades, work hard, and leave things better than he found them. So, after graduating from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Payne went to law school at Florida State University.

“I hated it,” Payne said. “But I couldn’t just quit.”

No, he couldn’t just quit. Because in Abb Payne’s world, which is just as much Maxine’s world, quitting is not an option. So instead of dropping out of law school, Payne found a way to simultaneously pursue a JD and an MBA. “Once I got to Florida State, I realized that the business world, not the legal world, is what fascinated me. I wanted to learn everything I could about building better businesses, so I figured a law degree wouldn’t hurt.” Payne says all of this so matter-of-factly, as if there could have been no other way to make his career debut. “When I came back to Mississippi, I was ready to take over my father’s home health business.”

Plenty of sons take over their father’s businesses. What Abb Payne did with W.A. Payne’s series of home health care offices involved more than succession and management. Payne grew a local business into Camellia Home Health and Hospice, a regional stronghold that he sold in 2018 to Encompass Health, a publicly traded company.

“If it was mine to run, I knew I needed to grow it. That’s just what you do with any business you run…”
When Payne sold Camellia Healthcare, which was voted Best Place to Work in Mississippi for several years running, he found himself wanting to pour his time, energy, and expertise into the Payne Companies. “I wanted to honor my family’s entrepreneurial and charitable spirit, which is why I created a place where those two ventures could come together and work in harmony.”

For Payne and his family, the Payne Companies allow them to grow and give, all within a sustainable model designed to strengthen the communities they love so much. “At the end of the day, it’s about doing what we can to create a better life for people,” Payne said, “whether that’s our people or the place we’re from. It’s about doing everything in our power to ensure that tomorrow is brighter than today.

“At the end of the day, it’s about doing what we can to create a better life for people.”