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Keith King

Accounting, catfish, computer sales, document imaging?

Cleveland — Keith King is a multi-faceted person. In addition to the usual résumé categories of education, professional and personal, his includes a section for catfish, agriculture and miscellaneous, and computers and software. He’s also a certified public accountant (CPA). Those may seem like widely disparate interests but the Cleveland resident weaves them all together with aplomb.

King is president and chief operating officer of Dillard & Company, a pioneer of the farm-raised catfish industry in Mississippi; co-owner and director of Key Solutions, a computer sales and service company; and president and managing partner of Document Imaging Solutions, a records management company.

Belying his myriad responsibilities, King says, “My approach to document management is the same as my approach to most of my business endeavors — keep it simple.”

As an undeniably busy person, he admits to not having a lot of free time even though he’s well organized. “I’m energetic and in good health. I have to be,” he said. “There’s not really a dull moment because my interests are so broad. I get to interact with a very diverse group of people in the business world and I really enjoy that diversity. I know a lot of people and businesses.”

A typical day includes many phone calls, e-mails and meetings. As often as possible, he likes to begin the day at the Bean Counter Coffee Shop with a colorful group of local residents that includes former Delta State University president Kent Wyatt, professors and car dealers. “That keeps me abreast of what’s going on in the community and helps me stay grounded,” he said.

King, 42, grew up in Cleveland, graduated from Bayou Academy and went on to earn accounting and masters of business administration degrees from Delta State University. His first job out of college was as controller/chief financial officer with John Dillard and the Catfish Farmers of America.

In the mid-1990s, King, Dillard and Key Reifers entered into a business venture in Greenwood to sell and service computers. This business, Key Solutions, has grown to three more locations in 10 years — Cleveland, Clarksdale and the recently opened Madison location at Colony Crossing. King says the Madison location is doing well and he believes there will be more growth.

“My interest in technology was purely self serving. The more of it I had, the easier it made my life,” King said. “Personal computers had been out a few years when I was finishing school. I tried to adapt everything into computer systems and used it to help with all my work.”

He says Key Solutions tries to focus on the basics and is not necessarily competing with big computer companies.

“We’re about relationships with clients over a long period of time. They know we’ll take care of them,” he said. “That’s what small businesses are and that’s our approach.”

About five years ago, King became intrigued with the idea of the paperless office. He and his Key Solutions partners formed Document Imaging Solutions in 2002 as sort of a spin off of Key Solutions.

“I had always laughed at the paperless office terminology,” he said. “It’s such an oxymoron; much like the IRS’ Paperwork Reduction Act. We knew, however, that there was a convergence coming in this area. There’s so much paper and storage is expensive. I suppose this technology appealed to me because it made sense. The whole idea of document retention and management would be even more accepted as the Internet became widely used in our whole society.”

This business offers a full range of document management services and is also an authorized reseller for LaserFiche Imaging and Smead technology systems. The service area includes Mississippi, western Tennessee and Arkansas. King sees a lot of growth potential in imaging and intends to be a part of that growth.

“We will never be a truly paperless society because people like their paper. The point is not to get rid of all the paper on your desk but to archive the things you’re finished with and put them where they will be accessible,” he said. “That’s a big part of where we’re heading.”

Since 2002, King has devoted quite a bit of his time to the imaging business and scaled back some of his other activities. The catfish industry is not being neglected, though, as King continues to be involved. He even runs the imaging business office from his catfish office. He also serves on several catfish industry boards of directors and Delta Council agriculture committees.

He has never worked for the public as an accountant but feels being a CPA is invaluable to his business ventures. He keeps his CPA license current with continuing education courses that affect his business interests.

King’s main goal is to capitalize on the businesses he’s involved with, grow them and make them better. He enjoys being a Mississippian, likes the people and doing business in the state.

He is particularly interested in promoting a friendly business climate in his native Delta region. “The Delta is like a place unto itself. Those of us who live and work here are committed to economic growth and activity for everyone,” he said. “I look at some areas of the state that have taken their resources and made something of them and want to see that happen here.”

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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