Rick and Liza Looser have spent the past two-plus decades building the Cirlot Agency, the marketing, public relations and corporate communications firm in Flowood.
“We’ve come in for the last 21 years, from the early days sharing an office in the four or five different configurations and buildings we’ve been in over the last 25 years,” Rick Looser, Cirlot’s president and COO, said. “I don’t think we’ve ever been more than half a dozen steps away from each other’s office. Unlike a lot of folks who can leave their colleagues behind when they walk out the door every day, our drive (to and from the office) is about as long as we’re apart.”
The Loosers achieved another milestone when they were both inducted into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame at a ceremony held at the Marriott Hotel in Jackson last week. The three other inductees — Mid-Delta Home Health and Hospice founder and CEO Clara Reed of Belzoni; Harry M.Walker, Jackson Metro president for Trustmark National Bank; and, James A. Coggin, retired president and CAO of Saks Inc. in Jackson – were also honored at the event sponsored by the Junior Achievement of Mississippi.
Celebrating its 20th year, the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame seeks to honor outstanding business leaders for their contributions to growth and development in the state. Past inductees include Tupelo businessman Jack Reed and Mississippi Chemical founder Owen Cooper.
“It was very suiting,” Liza Looser said of her induction with her husband. “I think if anybody should get it, he should get it first. It was fun that we got to share that experience together because we built the company together. It’s an honor we will always cherish.”
Rick Looser said, “It was fitting. I would not have had it any other way.
“A hall of fame is only as good as the people who are in it. The title wasn’t nearly as intimidating as when you pick up the program and look at the past winners of this distinction. It is a Who’s Who of business men and women. We’ve got some unbelievably admirable company there.”
Mid-Delta’s Reed thought she was the target of an unsolicited sales pitch when she picked up phone several weeks ago and was told she’d been selected.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I didn’t give him a chance to complete his sentence because I thought he was a telemarketer.”
Reed started a small healthcare company in 1978 that has evolved into a full-service provider offering a broad spectrum of programs tailored to patients who require in-home care.
“I’m very proud and very humbled,” Reed said. “All the staff and people in the communities who allow us to serve their patients and to serve families, everybody who’s touched Mid-Delta, I accept it for them. No man is an island to himself. It takes a team, and that’s what we have.”
Trustmark’s Walker has been a regular in the audience at previous Business Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. He has admired past recipient and, he said, never dreamed he would be one.
“It’s one of those things you never plan on trying to be a part of, but when you’re asked, it’s quite an honor,” he said.
The only drawback?
“They don’t let people in when they’re 30,” Walker said, laughing. “That’s the only bad thing. You have to be older to get there.
“It’s a great list of people who have proceeded all of us. Some of our mentors are in that group, some who are no longer with us. As a business person in this market, I looked up to all those people and respected them all in their various capacities.”
Coggin shares Walker’s admiration of past inductees. He has worked with Reed and Cooper and was startled when he learned he’d be joining them.
“I was extremely surprised, to begin with,” Coggin said. “Secondly, I was honored a great deal. Third, I was humbled by the fact that there were tremendous giants of industry among the past laureates.
“I never expected to see myself in the Business Hall of Fame. When it started there were some real major leaders of the business community selected. I never expected to be a part of it.”
Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at firstname.lastname@example.org .