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Leading companies honored during event at Jackson County Club.

Fast 40 awards luncheon draws record crowd

Jackson — It was standing-room only at this year’s Fast 40 awards luncheon, held October 20 at the Jackson Country Club to honor Mississippi’s fastest-growing private companies.

The record crowd enjoyed networking time, food and a report on the rebuilding efforts on the Coast in addition to the awards presentation ceremony.

“This is a group of the finest entrepreneurs this state has to offer,” said Joe D. Jones, publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal, which presents the event in partnership with the accounting firm KPMG, LLP , and the law firm of Brunini Grantham Grower and Hewes. PLLC. “I know I’m honored to be associated with such an august group. Success tends to draw a crowd.”

The winning entities not only brought company personnel to bask in the glow of their success, but also family and friends. John Taylor Paschal of TEMTCO Steel brought his mother (Edith Paschal) and his wife (Suzanne Paschal), who were delighted to learn that TEMTCO rated first in this year’s Fast 40 class.

Joe and Lynn McGee of Joe McGee Construction Company in Lake were there to honor their daughter, Jennie Simmons of Simmons Erosion Control Inc.

“I tell everybody that for the last couple of years or so, I’ve been working for Jennie,” quipped Joe McGee with a proud smile.

Mitch Stennett and Sandy Holifield of the Economic Development Authority of Jones County were there to join in honoring the county-based restaurant chain Catfish One.

“This is a great program,” Stennett said. “It’s wonderful for these companies to receive this kind of recognition.”

Many of this year’s honorees were no stranger to the Fast 40 program. KPMG’s Mark Peach pointed out that nine of this year’s winners were also winners in 2003, the last year the bi-annual program was held. And one company — Merchants Food Service of Hattiesburg — has won every year the awards program has been presented.

“That’s extremely impressive,” Peach said, who echoed Jones in saying how thrilled he was to be associated with the winners.

Attendees were given a detailed account of the rebuilding plans for the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Henry Barbour, executive director of the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal. Barbour gave an itemized list of the efforts of the commission, and stressed that those in attendance would play a pivotal role, perhaps the most important one, as the Coast looks to rebound from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

“I would urge you to participate in this effort,” Barbour said. “You are the kind of companies that are going to help us rebuild our Mississippi Gulf Coast. It’s going to require a tremendous infusion of private capital to recover from folks like you. The time is now. We all have to be involved.”

The awards ceremony followed Barbour’s speech. All 40 companies were recognized with a video and narrative, which was produced by Jackson-based EyeVox.

The Fast 40 program traces its roots back to 1996, when the event was launched to give recognition to the fastest-growing private companies from throughout the state. The criteria for the program is that companies must be independent and privately held, have revenue of at least $1 million in 2004 and have three complete years of operation and have its home office and principal place of business in Mississippi.

KPMG receives nomination information and financial data from the companies. That information is then analyzed and revenue data verified by personnel at KPMG and the staff of Brunini, Grantham, Grower and Hewes.

Robbie L. Bell, vice president of business development at the MBJ, said she was pleased with this year’s Fast 40 event, and is already looking forward to the next event. “When several hundred leaders from successful and fast-growing companies gather from all parts of the state, there is always going to be an extra charge of energy in the room. I think everyone who attended the Fast 40 awards luncheon would agree that it was a very stimulating event.

“We will hopefully gather again in October 2007, and along with our partners KPMG and the Brunini law firm, will continue to reveal the state’s 40 fastest growing companies.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

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