ATLANTA, July 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Association of Progressive Rental Organizations (APRO) has announced that William Kenneth (Ken) Butler, Jr., Aaron's, Inc. Chief Operating Officer, is the 2012 recipient of the Ernie Tally Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120727/CL47881 ) (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090423/CL03821LOGO ) This annual distinction given by APRO, a nonprofit trade association that serves as the international voice for the rent-to-own industry, was presented last night during the 2012 APRO Convention and Trade Show in Memphis. According to APRO president Robert O. Briley, Butler was chosen as this year's honoree for his exemplary career that spans nearly four decades. "Lifetime achievement recognizes the top of our class, and Ken has certainly proven himself as a deserving recipient of this award," Briley said. "During his 38-year career with Aaron's, he has revolutionized the way our industry does business. He has been the face and voice of the company, connecting with everyone at the store level up to the corporate executive team. He is open, down-to-earth and approachable, and knows how to maintain that perfect balance between being motivating and challenging. Ken is an excellent example of someone who has worked his way up through the ranks of a company to become a driving force behind that company's success. Aaron's is lucky to have Ken as one of its leaders and our industry is better as a result of the work he's done. Congratulations to Aaron's and especially to Ken for this outstanding achievement." Aaron's CEO Ronald W. Allen said, "We are extremely proud that one of Aaron's own has earned our industry's highest honor of the year. Our founder, Charlie Loudermilk, received this award four years ago for being a pioneer in the business, and it's only fitting that Ken should follow in his footsteps. He has been instrumental over the last four decades in shaping our company into what it is today. His passion and perseverance is unwavering, and he continues to set an excellent example for each of our 12,000 associates. On behalf of Aaron's, thank you Ken for your contributions to this company and for being a cornerstone of the foundation on which we grow and thrive." Butler began his career with Aaron's in January 1974. Shortly after, he was promoted to store manager – the youngest in the company's history. He continued to work his way up through the company and was named chief operating officer in 2008. During his tenure with Aaron's, Butler influenced the evolution of the rental ownership model from weekly to monthly, resulting in Aaron's unique distinction in the industry and its standing as a leading national retailer. About Aaron's, Inc. Aaron's, Inc. (NYSE: AAN), the nation's leader in the sales and lease ownership and specialty retailing of residential furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, has more than 1,985 Company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada. Founded in 1955 by entrepreneur and current Chairman R. Charles Loudermilk, Sr. and headquartered in Atlanta, Aaron's has been publicly traded since 1982. For more information, visit www.aarons.com. SOURCE Aaron's, Inc.