Annual BIG Marketing & PR Event Slated for Oct. 29

All local marketing and PR rock stars out there: Looking for new tools to sharpen your craft?

Would you like to discover better ways to effectively promote a business venture while enjoying an opportunity to network with others in your wheelhouse?

The seventh annual BIG Marketing & PR Event is where you want to be Oct. 29.

Presented at the Jackson Center, the event is a day-long experience focused on providing strategy-driven marketing and public relations idea and information.

Debra Alfarone, an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and CEO of Debra Alfarone Media, a Washington, D.C.-based video coaching firm, will present the Lunchtime Keynote.

In her presentation, “How to GTFO Your Own Way So You Can Create Anything!”, Alfarone will address the labels and limitations inferred by others and hackneyed storylines people often place on themselves, challenge participants to take inspired action, and create the positive energy needed to attract the right people and opportunities at the right time and place.

Entrepreneurs, small business owners, marketing and PR professionals, nonprofit organizations, and government contractors can benefit from breakout presentations on content management, digital marketing and advertising, modern media myths, creative visual storytelling, how to use video to build brands, and how human resources and marketing can join forces for recruiting.

A networking after-party at Rocket City Tavern will cap off the day’s events.

The BIG Marketing & PR Event is sponsored by Red Sage Communications and co-hosted by The Catalyst and the North Alabama chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama.

To register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-big-marketing-pr-event-tickets-70543578743#

 

Madison Chamber Hosts Annual Tee Up Fore Business Tourney

MADISON — Many a successful business deal has been hatched on a golf course and the second annual Tee-Up Fore Business Golf Tournament sponsored by the Madison Chamber of Commerce and Polaris is everyone’s opportunity to crow a little about their business!

Wednesday is the deadline to register for the Madison Chamber of Commerce’s annual Tee Off Fore Business Tournament. (Photo/Madison Chamber of Commerce)

The Madison Chamber of Commerce is looking for 10 more foursomes for the tournament, which will be held Friday, Sept. 20, at the Sunset Landing Golf Course. The scramble play tees off at 8 a.m. to a shotgun-start.

“We welcome anyone, not just Chamber members and not just good golfers, who are looking for some fun, a laid-back networking opportunity, and many chances to win cash prizes and awards,” said Pam Honeycutt, executive director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce. “The scramble play means all you need is one good player in your group so amateurs, duffers, and beginners can mix it up with those who are good players … we are offering two flights, so there are multiple ways to win prizes.”

There will be raffles, a putting contest, closest to the pin contest, longest drive contest, and the grand prize is a $500 air travel voucher from the Port of Huntsville. Prizes will be given for first, second and last place – yes, that is correct – there will be a prize for finishing last!

Furthermore, there are two hole-in-one opportunities: Ace it on one par 3 and win a $10,000 cash prize, or hole it out on the second par 3 and win a $40,000 Genesis G70 from Genesis of Huntsville, sponsored by the Lee Co. The luxury vehicle will be on-hand to entice players to give it their best shot.

The cost is $320 per foursome and includes two golf carts, green fees, breakfast, lunch and a goodie bag for each player.

Players can sign up through Wednesday, Sept. 18. Golf attire (collared shirts, no jeans, and soft-spike golf shoes only) is required.

For information, visit madisonalchamber.com.

Fourth Annual MOMpreneur Event: Dig it, Water it, Grow Your Business

Running a successful business and being a full-time, 24/7 mom present unique challenges.

To help mom entrepreneurs effectively run their households and live their best life possible, all while operating a business, the Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship presents the Fourth Annual MOMpreneur Event.

Hosted Friday, Sept. 20, in the new I2C building on the UAH campus, MOMpreneur is designed to help business-minded moms connect and provide the resources to help small businesses grow. This day-long event features a wide assortment of presenters and panelists who will provide valuable insight, experience, and tools to help business owners shine.

Empowerment, encouragement, and education are just a few of the things that mom entrepreneurs will take away from this event. This is the event for you if you are:

  • Looking to gain inspiration and rediscover your “why?”
  • Wanting to refocus your goals and learn how to manage time to achieve those goals
  • Seeking to learn about technologies that will help you work smarter not harder
  • Committed to finding tools to help you manage and grow your business successfully
  • Eager to find time for yourself, to better focus on personal and business needs
  • Hoping to connect with like-minded mom entrepreneurs to share resources and business opportunities

In addition to breakout sessions addressing topics such as Business Relationship Building, Branding and Brand Management, Time tracking and Project Management, Goal Oriented Content Strategy, and Social Media, there will be guest speakers and a “Successful Moms in Business” Panel featuring:

  • Toni Eberhart – Strategic Communications Specialist at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing US and Urban Engine Board Member
  • Amanda Howard – Founder and CEO of Amanda Howard Sotheby’s International Realty
  • Dawn Pumpelly – Editor and Owner of “The Scout Guide – Huntsville”
  • Amber Gray – Owner, Gray Salon
  • Sonia Robinson – Executive Director of BIO Alabama and President of Dash Consulting, LLC

The afternoon will be capped by the “Happiest of Hours,” a networking happy hour where mom entrepreneurs can become better acquainted and discuss the takeaways of the day.

If you’re a mom trying to manage your home life and business venture, don’t miss this. For information and registration: http://catalystcenter.org.

The Catalyst is a 501-C-3 nonprofit and serves as a driver for economic growth and job creation in the Huntsville area.

 

 

Huntsville Aquatics Center a Splash with Visitors and City Coffers

As the city celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing the week and weekend of July 20, the state-of-the-art Huntsville Aquatics Center continued to help pump money into civic coffers and earn its high price tag.

The center, which re-opened in 2017 after a $22 million facelift of what was formerly called the Natatorium, hosted the Southeastern Long Course Swimming Championships. There were many ribbon winners among the 1,180 contestants, and city vendors also picked up some gold.

According to Huntsville Swim Association coach Matt Webber, the meet was worth an estimated $1.8 million to the community in money spent at hotels, restaurants and other daily expenses during the event.

“From the time this facility was built, the figures since 2017 are $8.4 million in revenue,” he said. “As far as sports go (in revenue for the city), it’s up there. It’s easy to get into the city, it’s a big venue. It’s among the best in the country.”

While the HAC is a drawing card, the city itself offers visitors to the various meets held there plenty of entertainment.

Swimmers leave the blocks during the recent Southeastern Long Course Swimming Championships at the Huntsville Aquatic Center. (Photo/Eric Schultz)

Mike Herndon of Mobile, who has travelled with his family to Huntsville meets for several years, said the Space & Rocket Center alone is worth the ride from the coast.

“While my younger daughter competed in the meet, my older daughter was interested in the Apollo 11 festivities during the weekend,” Herndon said. “She has an interest in rocketry and plans to study engineering in college. UAH is among the schools she is considering.

“We went to the block party downtown Friday night and then to the Space and Rocket Center on Saturday. We’d just been to the Space & Rocket Center the year before, but she still enjoyed her time there and we saw another swim family there as well.”

Herndon said the family has visited venues such as TopGolf previously, hits familiar restaurants each trip and this year went to Pints and Pixels to let the kids “play pinball and video games” while also eating.

Meanwhile, Webber said families who come for meets at HAC are “amazed” with not only the facility but the city.

“They’re amazed at how friendly the town is and how the city supports swimming,” said Webber, a Chattanooga native who has been at the helm of HSA for 10 years with previous stints as head coach in his hometown and Birmingham. “The center is unmatched, really, and this is from someone who goes to a lot of meets.”

Herndon, who also attends a lot of meets, said Huntsville has something to envy.

“It’s definitely one of the best places we go for meets,” he said. “The Aquatics Center is wonderful. While there isn’t enough parking, the shuttle service from Milton Frank Stadium is quick and well-run — they use enough buses to keep people from having to wait long, if at all. It’s pretty easy to get around (the city) and there’s plenty to do in your down time.

“Swim parents from Mobile dream of seeing something like that built in our town one day.”

 

Riley Receives Russell G. Brown Leadership Award

“Fire and Ice” was the theme of the 34th annual Small Business Awards Celebration. (Photo/Steve Babin)

Randy Riley won the prestigious Russell G. Brown Leadership Award at the 34th annual Small Business Awards Celebration presented by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

Amid the theme “Fire and Ice” and Von Braun Center North Hall decorations, more than 1,000 people attended to recognize the outstanding work businesses and individuals are doing in the community.

Riley is the CEO of Archarithms, a small, high-tech HUBZone company providing innovative products, solutions and services to the government and commercial customers.

More than 1,000 people turned out for the annual Small Business Awards Celebration. (Photo/Steve Babin)

“We are so proud of our contenders and winners, and we are thrilled to celebrate with each of them,” said Pammie Jimmar, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber’s vice president of Small Business & Events. “It is no easy task to start and grow a small business, but our community is blessed with individuals who aren’t afraid to tackle tough challenges, and Huntsville continues to grow because of their dedication.”

This year’s judging was completed by the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. The winners are:

  • Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award: Randy Riley, Archarithms, Inc.
  • Young Professional of the Year: Lauren Johannesmeyer, Google Fiber
  • Nonprofit of the Year – (tie): Greater Huntsville Humane Society, Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (TARCOG)
  • Professional Services Business of the Year: Palco
  • Culinary Business of the Year: Cyn Shea’s Café & Catering
  • Emerging Business of the Year: Outpost Technologies, Inc.
  • Government Contracting – Professional Services Business of the Year: HigherEchelon, Inc.
  • Government Contracting – Technology Business of the Year: Mission Multiplier
  • Service Business of the Year: Armstrong Relocation Company, Huntsville, LLC
  • Retailer of the Year: Haley’s Flooring & Interiors
  • Local “Creative” of the Year: Church Street Wine Shoppe
  • Medical Practice of the Year: Dunagan Yates & Alison Plastic Surgery Center
  • Woman-Owned Business of the Year: Nesin Therapy Services, PC

Governor’s Conference on Tourism Coming to Huntsville

Elected officials and tourism leaders throughout the state will gather in Huntsville for the 2019 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

The conference, which is Aug. 17-20 at the Von Braun Center, brings the state’s travel and tourism industry together for professional development, networking, and collaboration on strategies to promote Alabama as a premier travel destination.

Approximately 200-250 guests, including representatives from statewide attractions, hotels, convention and visitors bureaus, marketing firms, and other hospitality workers, are expected to be in attendance.

“The conference not only gives Alabama travel professionals the opportunity to learn from experts in tourism and marketing, but to also raise money for in-state college scholarships and reward hard work through industry awards,” said Patti Culp, CEO for the Alabama Travel Council.

Judy Ryals, president/CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the city is excited about the conference.

“2019 is such a hallmark year for our city as we celebrate the state bicentennial, the Apollo 11 50th anniversary, new dining, retail, and entertainment developments, and so much more; this is perfect timing to welcome our tourism partners to see the growth happening in Huntsville and experience everything we have to offer as a destination,” Ryals said. “We look forward to the opportunity to showcase our community’s progress to industry leaders and highlight why Huntsville/Madison County is a key asset in the state’s tourism offerings.”

In 2018, the travel and tourism industry, which includes leisure and meeting visitors, was responsible for more than 17,000 jobs in Madison County. The 3.4 million visitors also pumped a record-breaking $1.4 billion into the local economy.

While in Huntsville, the visitors will attend receptions at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Campus No. 805 and , Alabama Constitution Hall Historic Park & Museum; play a round of golf at Robert Trent Jones – Hampton Cove; and tour the Huntsville Botanical Garden and downtown.

 

MSFC Director Singer Named Humanities Fellow

MSFC Director Jody Singer

Alabama Humanities Foundation will honor Jody Singer, director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, as one of four fellows inducted into its 2019 class at The Colloquium. The event is Oct. 7 at Birmingham’s The Club.

Singer will be honored with three other people with Alabama ties who have made significant contributions in the humanities in their lives and careers: Dr. Marquita Davis, deputy director, Early Learning, Pacific Northwest for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Fred Gray, attorney and civil rights activist; Howell Raines, retired executive editor of The New York Times.

“This is our third year of The Colloquium, and each year brings us new inspiration as we hear from such distinguished people who have had such an impact, not just in our state but around the world,” said AHF Executive Director Armand DeKeyser. “To think that they all have Alabama ties makes us proud and makes this event so special.”

All four fellows will be featured in a live conversation moderated by National Public Radio’s Michel Martin, host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

Singer is the first female director of the Marshall Space Flight Center and is a former deputy director of MSFC. The center has nearly 6,000 on- and near-site civil service and contractor employees and an annual budget of approximately $2.8 billion.

She also served as deputy program manager for the Space Launch System program – the only rocket designed and tested from the ground up to return humans to deep space.

Singer spent a number of years supporting the Shuttle program. It was Singer, who was responsible for safety during the ground test program that led the agency back to flight after the Columbia accident.

She has been recognized with numerous awards during her NASA career, including NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals and two Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive Awards, the highest honor for career federal employees. She received the Space Flight Awareness Leadership Award in 2005 for inspiring the Shuttle Propulsion Office to strive for excellence and continuous improvement; and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1993 while managing the External Tank project’s business office.

A native of Hartselle, she earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama in 1983. She has completed two NASA Fellowships – one at Penn State University and another at the Simmons College Graduate School of Management in Boston.

Singer and her husband, Chris, live in Huntsville. They have three children and two grandchildren.

When Rubber Chickens Fly, You Know the Madison Business Expo & Kids Day Was a Success

MADISON — Madison celebrated its 150th anniversary mixing business with food, history, kids and rubber chickens on parachutes.

The calendar was turned back to 1869 for the annual Madison Business Expo & Kids Day.

Kids scramble to scoop up the rubber chickens. (Photo by Kimberly Ballard)

The Hogan YMCA was transformed into the Madison Station Depot as 65 Madison businesses demonstrated products, provided information and, of course, had treats for the kids.

Food trucks served up anything from barbecue to ice cream, coffee and pizza. A moving garden train choo-chooed its way along the tracks … all in preparation for the great “Chicken Caper.”

According to the Madison Chamber of Commerce’s version of the legend, business would get slow for shopkeepers in Madison Station during the dog days of summer.

To stimulate business, shopkeepers would tie coupons around the feet of dozens of chickens and toss the live chickens off the roof to the shoppers below. Those who caught the chickens to retrieve the coupon, got to keep the chicken, too – sort of a free chicken dinner!

“Chickens are birds and can fly a little, so no chickens were hurt while throwing them off the roof in 1869,” said Pam Honeycutt, the Chamber’s executive director. “It was a very innovative and effective advertising tactic back then but, probably not a good idea today.”

After putting their collective heads together, event organizers decided a more contemporary re-enactment was needed.

With cooperation from the Madison Fire Department, businesses attached coupons to the spindly legs of five dozen rubber chickens. Firefighters then dropped them from their aerial ladder to the crowd.

“We still managed to have fun, give away thousands of dollars in products and services, while creating a contemporary ‘Chicken Caper’ of our own,” said Honeycutt. “All the feedback, so far, has been very positive and the participation and support from our Chamber members is outstanding.

“That is what makes the Madison Business Expo & Kids Day so popular every year – we have a growing and thriving business community in Madison and we are here to celebrate it!”

Governor: ‘State of Opportunity’ is Competitive and Thriving

Gov. Kay Ivey was in Huntsville Wednesday to tout her administration’s accomplishments over the past year and work to garner support for an upcoming amendment to the state’s constitution that will replace the Alabama Board of Education.

The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual Alabama Update.

A packed North Hall audience hears Gov. Kay Ivey during the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber’s annual Alabama Update. (Steve Babin/Huntsville Business Journal)

The governor kicked things off by commenting on Alabama’s addition of 34,000 jobs and more than $14 billion in business-related investments during her time in office.

The state has an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, which is the second-lowest in the Southeast, but slightly higher than the nation’s rate of 3.6 percent, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

“In May, we also announced that every county in the state dropped their unemployment rate,” Ivey said. “Not only is Alabama open for business, but we are competitive and thriving and a state of opportunity.”

Also in May, Ivey signed two bills designed to boost broadband access for rural and underserved communities and commented, Wednesday, on why those were important.  She said there are currently more than 480,000 Alabamians without access to broadband services.

One bill, Ivey said, allows the use of electrical easements for broadband purposes and the other creates grants for various broadband projects.

“Delivering high-speed broadband access is critical to the education that we provide our students, to our economy, it’s essential to our health care and overall quality of life,” she said.

Then the governor spoke about the recent 10 cents per gallon increase in Alabama’s gas tax, referring to it only as “an investment in Alabama’s infrastructure.”

“About three decades have gone by without making an investment in our infrastructure – until now,” Ivey said. “This investment will translate into projects that will tackle the problems of roadway congestion, aging roads and bridges, and unsafe conditions for drivers on their way to work and school.”

Specifically related to Huntsville, the governor highlighted the first project of the “Rebuild Alabama Plan,” which was the widening of I-565 to eventually allow the expansion of the I-65 interchange.

Ivey then transitioned from talking about roads and bridges to the state’s prison system. She said the first step in bettering the prison system was to better recruit and retain the prison’s correction officers.

“Earlier this year I proposed adding $31 million to the general fund to hire 500 new correctional officers to ensure the safety of our personnel and the general public,” she said. “Today, I’m happy to announce… that we signed HB 468 into law that provides a two-step pay raise for the department of correction employees and extends an incentive program to include bonuses.”

Ivey also addressed the state’s education system and her education initiative called Strong Start, Strong Finish.

This initiative included adding $26.8 million to Alabama’s Pre-K budget, improving the computer science curriculum throughout the state and putting programs in place to help students get a job through various apprenticeships and certifications.

Citing Alabama’s current position at the bottom of “almost every ranking that measures education in our states,” Ivy asked for the support a constitutional amendment that would replace the state’s board of education with a governor-appointed commission called the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education.

 The amendment is expected to be on the March 2020 ballot.

“It’s simply time for Alabama to take the lead.  That’s the name of my new effort,” Ivey said. “Our current system simply is not working. And, if the system is not working then we can’t continue to operate with the system that we have and expect different results.

“We must have leadership that sets high, but obtainable, goals that prepare our students for 21st century jobs.”

Alana Parker of Rocket City Drywall Wears Many Hats

A wearer of many hats, Rocket City Drywall owner Alana Parker shared her triumphs as well as her challenges to a packed house for a recent Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship series “Strong Coffee, Strong Women” breakfast at the Stovehouse.

“I’m the president, but I’d like to say that I’m also the vice president, secretary, and janitor on demand,” she said.

Alana Parker, owner of Rocket City Drywall. (Steve Babin/Huntsville Business Journal)

Parker is also a recipient of three small business awards – the 2018 Female Entrepreneur of the Year, the 2019 Alabama State Small Business of the Year, and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2019 Small Business Person of the Year.

Rocket City Drywall is one of two Drywall companies in Alabama and the only locally owned and operated supplier in North Alabama. Currently, there are six drywall suppliers in the marketplace in the U.S.

“A lot of people think my competitors are Home Depot and Lowe’s,” said Parker. “They are my customers. The big competitors are much scarier.”

Not only is Parker the youngest owner of a drywall supplier in the United States, she is the only woman in a male-dominated industry. Parker was born in 1985, around the same time her grandfather started  Rocket City Drywall. Originally, the company was on Church Street, where the city’s transportation hub currently sits.

“I learned how to drive a forklift at age 8, this was before OSHA,” laughed Parker.  “We were right on a rail line. I used to climb the stacks of drywall in the train cars.

“Drywall is separated by smaller pieces, called dunnage. My job was to collect the dunnage and throw it off from the train car. As for gender role division of labor, my grandfather never let me know anything different.”

Parker was raised by a single mom in Raleigh, N.C. , but spent her holidays and summers with her grandfather here in Huntsville.

“As soon as school was letting out, my granddad would be there to pick me up for the summer,” said Parker. “My visits to Huntsville slowed down a bit in high school, when I got a car and a boyfriend.”

Parker graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2007 with a degree in English writing, but went to work for her grandfather.

Then, in 2008, the reality of working at a small business in the building industry hit … hard.

“In 2008, Huntsville was the first market to get hit with by the recession, but it was also one of the first to recover,” she said. “Rocket City Drywall took a $600,000 loss in 2010. People say that I was born with a silver spoon, but I was given a silver spoon with a $600,000 price tag on it.”

This setback forced Parker to reach out into the community.

“I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m smart enough to figure it out with help,” said Parker. “The first thing I did was reduce the company from a $6 million company to a $3 million company. This raised a lot of eyebrows.”

Now, she owns the company.

“I bought the company from my grandfather in 2016,” said Parker. “I got an SBA loan. It’s a lot of paperwork, but it provides access to capital when there are limited options.”

Rocket City Drywall had always been a residential construction supplier, but Parker had decided to expand the business to include a commercial division.  Parker spent five years developing the commercial line when tariff restrictions created a volatile market atmosphere, which made supplies often inaccessible.

“I was ready to roll out the commercial product line, but I had to sit back a year and watch and see how people reacted to the tariffs, to see how suppliers were treating customers,” said Parker. “There was no pricing security, how were suppliers going to react? Taking that year to evaluate the market was the best thing I’ve done for the company.”

As the presentation came to a close, Parker added personal bits of insight.

“I am optimistic to a fault,” said Parker. “I’ve never seen a problem that doesn’t have an answer. Stay motivated with faith and family, believe in what you’re doing. Know that sometimes, it’s going to come out of sheer stubbornness.

“The next step is just around the corner.”

breakfast at the Stovehouse.

“I’m the president, but I’d like to say that I’m also the vice president, secretary, and janitor on demand,” she said.

Parker was a speaker for the The Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurshipseries “Strong Coffee, Strong Women.” She is also a recipient of three small business awards – the 2018 Female Entrepreneur of the Year, the 2019 Alabama State Small Business of the Year, and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2019 Small Business Person of the Year.

Rocket City Drywall is one of two Drywall companies in Alabama and the only locally owned and operated supplier in North Alabama. Currently, there are six drywall suppliers in the marketplace in the U.S.

“A lot of people think my competitors are Home Depot and Lowe’s,” says Parker “They are my customers. The big competitors are much scarier.”

Not only is Parker the youngest owner of a drywall supplier in the United States, she is the only woman in a male-dominated industry. Parker was born in 1985, around the same time her grandfather started  Rocket City Drywall. Originally, the company was on Church Street, where the city’s transportation hub currently sits.

“I learned how to drive a forklift at age 8, this was before OSHA,” laughed Parker.  “We were right on a rail line. I used to climb the stacks of drywall in the train cars.

“Drywall is separated by smaller pieces, called dunnage. My job was to collect the dunnage and throw it off from the train car. As for gender role division of labor, my grandfather never let me know anything different.”

Parker was raised by a single mom in Raleigh, N.C. , but spent her holidays and summers with her grandfather here in Huntsville.

“As soon as school was letting out, my granddad would be there to pick me up for the summer,” said Parker. “My visits to Huntsville slowed down a bit in high school, when I got a car and a boyfriend.”

Parker graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2007 with a degree in English writing, but went to work for her grandfather.

Then, in 2008, the reality of working at a small business in the building industry hit … hard.

“In 2008, Huntsville was the first market to get hit with by the recession, but it was also one of the first to recover,” she said. “Rocket City Drywall took a $600,000 loss in 2010. People say that I was born with a silver spoon, but I was given a silver spoon with a $600,000 price tag on it.”

This setback forced Parker to reach out into the community.

“I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m smart enough to figure it out with help,” said Parker. “The first thing I did was reduce the company from a $6 million company to a $3 million company. This raised a lot of eyebrows.”

Now, she owns the company.

“I bought the company from my grandfather in 2016,” said Parker. “I got an SBA loan. It’s a lot of paperwork, but it provides access to capital when there are limited options.”

Rocket City Drywall had always been a residential construction supplier, but Parker had decided to expand the business to include a commercial division.  Parker spent five years developing the commercial line when tariff restrictions created a volatile market atmosphere, which made supplies often inaccessible.

“I was ready to roll out the commercial product line, but I had to sit back a year and watch and see how people reacted to the tariffs, to see how suppliers were treating customers,” said Parker. “There was no pricing security, how were suppliers going to react? Taking that year to evaluate the market was the best thing I’ve done for the company.”

As the presentation came to a close, Parker added personal bits of insight.

“I am optimistic to a fault,” said Parker. “I’ve never seen a problem that doesn’t have an answer. Stay motivated with faith and family, believe in what you’re doing. Know that sometimes, it’s going to come out of sheer stubbornness.

“The next step is just around the corner.”