James B. “Pepper” Rutland

Founder & President/CEO, MMR Group

James “Pepper” Rutland’s passions for engineering, the electrical and instrumentation business, sports, and giving back to his community have all been instrumental in his life and career.


Pepper’s journey began at LSU, where he played outside linebacker and served as defensive team captain on a football scholarship for the Tigers. He was also a member of the All Southeastern Conference Academic Team from 1971 to 1972 and was elected team captain in 1972.

Off the field, Pepper Rutland enjoyed equal success, earning his bachelor’s in construction technology and engineering as a member of LSU’s first graduating class in the construction management program.


James “Pepper” Rutland founded MMR Group Inc. in 1991. Under his leadership, the company has grown from 25 to 5,500 employees, becoming the largest merit shop electrical and instrumentation contractor in the nation. MMR is consistently recognized at the top of Engineering News-Record’s specialty contractors list, annually garners numerous awards for its excellence in construction and safe work practices and has been publicized as one of the “Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge” by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.


Pepper Rutland believes in the importance of supporting his alma mater and preparing students for successful employment in the construction industry. As a result, MMR provides mentorship and internship opportunities for students, has established several laboratories in the LSU College of Engineering and was inducted into its Society for Engineering Excellence. In addition, Pepper also joined LSU’s prestigious College of Engineering Hall of Distinction for his impact on the university and industrial construction contributions to the state of Louisiana.

Pepper Rutland’s philanthropy extends beyond LSU’s campus as a founding member of the Miracle League at Cypress Mounds, an organization teaching children with disabilities to play baseball. Additionally, he contributes to a wide range of national and local organizations, including Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, which provides enhanced cancer education, prevention and detection opportunities for MMR employees.


In 1989, James “Pepper” Rutland co-authored a piece on construction law titled, Construction Defaults: Rights, Duties, and Liabilities – Role of the Completing Contractor, which was published in the Wiley Law Library. He later wrote a book, Refining Your Tactics: Weathering a Turbulent Economy in the Energy Industry.

Pepper has also been featured as a thought leader and entrepreneur in various online publications, including:

Additionally, Rutland shares his passion for philanthropy, mentorship and entrepreneurialism as an active blogger, including:

Learn more about James “Pepper” Rutland’s professional or philanthropic work: