At a dinner Nicole Kemp says one of the great things about her job as National Transportation Manager for Levi Strauss is that she “gets to wear jeans every day.” Hmm — definitely makes sense if you happen to work for the country’s oldest and largest maker of blue jeans.
She manages all of the transportation needs for the company throughout America, from its 3 key distribution centers in Canton, Henderson, Nevada, and Hebron, Kentucky. Levi Strauss is one of the largest employers in the Jackson area, with more than 400 employees working in 3 shifts, so there is a powerful economic impact on Mississippi. The company also owns Dockers, which has been a great brand for years, appealing not only to older folks but now, increasingly, to a younger set who are discovering the line.
Born and raised in Columbus, Nicole is a fifth generation Mississippian who is totally committed to the Magnolia State and its future. She’s lived in Madison for the past 10 years and has worked for Levi Strauss for 9 years. She holds a master’s degree from Belhaven, and has been a recipient of Mississippi Business Journal awards as a 50 Leading Businesswoman and a Top 40 under 40 business leader.
“It’s a great company to work for,” she said. “We have many employees who have been with the company for 15 years or more, so we must be doing a lot of things right.”
She indicated she’s seen improvement in business lately, and the company is anticipating continued business progress.
In addition to her professional career at Levi Strauss, Nicole has a second passion: working to promote the Republican party to younger voters and professionals. In that regard, she recently organized a meeting at the Governor’s Mansion for younger people, an event she defined as “an unqualified success.”
In attendance at the event were the governor, Congressman Harper and numerous other Mississippi political luminaries.
“We seem to have a big gap in the Republican party in the 18-40 age group,” she said. “I think it’s really important to let those younger professionals get to know the party and what it stands for. I know a lot of younger people feel somehow disconnected, and the goal is to get them connected.”
She said the attendance was excellent, “just about filling up the Governor’s Mansion.” She plans to have a table at HobNob this year to help promote the cause.
Nicole sees voting as a “sacred right” and believes that it’s important to get younger folks involved in the whole political process “if we hope to make a difference in this state and nation.”
She foresees a bright future for Mississippi.
“It’s hard to beat our people,” she said. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
As she sees it, Mississippi is perfectly positioned for future growth, in terms of geography, great port and shipping facilities, freedom from ice and snow, and low cost of doing business.
“We can definitely overcome the negative brand image that some outside of Mississippi hold about our state,” she said. “What’s important is to work together to change that image, and above all, not to give up.”
With her obvious enthusiasm and determination, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Nicole in a political leadership role down the road.
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