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Posts Tagged ‘Mississippi Business Journal’

Chick-fil-A has customer service down to a science

March 13th, 2012 Comments off

It’s interesting to see how much attention the business world’s service industry, in general, gets for being surly, cantankerous and, in many cases, uninterested.

Yet, things never change.

We complain to ourselves, our spouses or our friends about specific instances at specific businesses, then — more times than not — we continue to patronize the business as if nothing ever happened.

Carlie Kollath at the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo recently wrote a column on the subject. She says that in the current economic times, it is particularly important to keep customers happy and coming back.

First impressions are more important than ever for businesses. Consumers like me are rethinking how we spend money. We don’t buy a new outfit every weekend. And, we have cut back on dining out every night of the week.

But we still shop and eat out.

And when we do, we want businesses to want our business. We want them to be excited that we have chosen to spend money with them instead of someone else.

Yet, I’ve found a lack of enthusiasm in Tupelo lately in the retail and restaurant sector. The main breakdown has been how I am greeted when I enter the business.

I’ve been ignored as employees text on their cell phones. I’ve been talked down to for asking about something I saw on the company’s website that I can’t find in the store.

>> READ KOLLATH’S ENTIRE COLUMN …

It reminds me of a column written by a colleague and friend of mine, the late Tony Lanius, from when I worked at the Daily Journal way back in the stone ages, late last century.

Tony had made a dinner run for the copy desk one evening and encountered some troubles along the way with poor service and a general lack of effort and concern from the staff at a couple of different restaurants along Gloster Ave. To say that Tony was a little unhappy about the experience would be like saying that Mount Everest is kind of tall.

From there, Tony penned his column that got lots of attention across North Mississippi.

The bottom line is it doesn’t take much to be nice. A pleasant disposition, a smile and a few good manners will get you a long way, even if there are other things that aren’t necessarily perfect.

That’s why it’s always nice to do business at Chick-fil-A. You all know what I mean. It’s  the “My pleasure” at the end of the transaction that really gets you — it really classes up the joint. There is always a smile and a good attitude from everyone that permeates each restaurant.

Plus, getting great service, when you don’t always get great service elsewhere, makes visits to Chick-fil-A that much more special.

So, it bears repeating that a smile and a good disposition will get you a long way, whether economic times are good or not. But a smile and good economic times are preferred, if we get a choice.

Arts Alive set for May in Jackson’s Smith Park

March 8th, 2012 Comments off

Arts Alive will take place May 4-5 at Smith Park in Downtown Jackson.

The music, arts and crafts festival is a free festival that promotes both performing and visual arts. It also stimulates the Jackson Metro area to support and boost downtown and it raises awareness of homelessness and supports local charitable organizations such as Stewpot Ministries.

It’s hosted by Galloway United Methodist Church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral, and Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle

For more information on Arts Alive, go to www.artsalivejackson.com

HEY JIM HOOD … and all you other losers — quit robocalling my house!!!

March 1st, 2012 1 comment

My 7-year-old daughter is sitting in my lap last night while my wife and 6-year-old son were cuddled up on the couch as we watched, the recently released-at-home movie “Hugo”.

Then, I hear our home phone ringing on the other side of the house.

So, I make my daughter scoot over. I get up, wander through the kitchen and through the living room, looking for the ringing phone, hoping it doesn’t wake up the 2-year-old.

I finally find it, but it was too late.

“Damn telemarketers!” I think as I look at the 800 number on the Caller-ID screen. I grab the phone and carry it back with me to the TV room, where my daughter had abandoned me for the comfy confines of the couch with her mom and brother.

About 15 minutes later, it rings again.

“DAD!” everyone yells.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I whisper, walking into the kitchen to answer the phone.

No, it wasn’t a telemarketer. It was a robocall from Attorney General Jim Hood. The recorded voice was saying something about how he was mad at the legislature — like I didn’t already know that.

This was a total waste of my time.

I started to call the A.G.’s office this morning and ask him what was so important that he had to call during my family time — which I don’t get nearly enough of — and then not even have the courtesy of actually being on the other end of the phone.

It’s not just Jim Hood. Anybody running for office likes to interrupt your life without having to interrupt theirs.

I’m not so naive not to realize that robocalls are an effective way for politicians to communicate their one-way, trumped-up message.

Yet, robocalls are rude and intrusive and interrupt my time with my family.

So, Jim, the next time you have something to say, take out an ad in the newspaper. I am much more likely to see it there.

Mississippi’s impact on the Academy Awards as well as the arts world

February 29th, 2012 3 comments

Morgan Freeman at the Governors Ball following the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

At one point during the Academy Awards presentation last week, I was taken aback by the indelible mark Mississippi and Mississippians were making on the film industry at that very moment.

Sure everyone knew about “The Help”, and wondered if the Kathryn Stockett book, then turned into a movie could pull the upset and win for Best Picture. And yes, we all were keenly aware of Octavia Spencer winning an Oscar for her role in that movie.

But, there was more — much, much more.

Our own Morgan Freeman — a winner of an Oscar for acting and a cast member of three Best Picture winners, not to mention his best movie, “Shawshank Redemption,” which is recognized as one of Top 100 movies of all time — was the leadoff hitter for the show as a presenter.

“The Muppet Movie” (remember Jim Henson) won an award, and then the academy recognized Mississippi natives James Earl Jones (that’s Darth Vader to my kids and Terrance Mann to me) and Oprah Winfrey (no description needed) with Oscars.

Their awards were part of the Governors Awards, which were launched three years ago.

With Mississippi in the midst of boosting its image among film big shots as part of a Creative Economy campaign, the state couldn’t have had a bigger and more positive night in the spotlight.

I don’t have any particular numbers to back this up, but I would suspect that Mississippi — per capita — had a bigger impact on the Academy Awards in 2012 than any other state in America.

Add that to our world-wide impact on literature as well as the music industry and there is a case to be made that Mississippi should be considered to have had the most positive historical influence on arts in America — ever.

Canton officials should come out of their caves

February 27th, 2012 Comments off

In some parts of Mississippi, humans never evolved from cavemen.

That is the case in Canton, where city leaders’ lawsuit against Nissan North American for the right to annex the nearby vehicle production plant is scheduled for trial in August.

Canton officials say legislation approved in 2000 that prohibits the city from annexing the plant for 30 years without the automaker’s written consent violates the equal protection clauses of the U.S. and state constitutions.

A federal jury trial is scheduled for Aug. 6-17.

Nissan agreed to make payments in lieu of taxes to the Canton school district and to Madison County. Madison County uses the Nissan funds to make payments on bonds used for public infrastructure improvements for the plant.

Nissan has operated the $1.4 billion Canton plant since May 2003.

It should be remembered that before the plant was built near the city, the city had wanted to annex the land, but Nissan threatened to back out of the deal.

What makes these same city leaders think Nissan doesn’t feel the same way today. It seems Canton’s needs are served much better with Nissan being where it is.

Would Canton be better off annexing the land with an empty Nissan plant on it?

For the love of Pete, somebody take Southaven mayor Greg Davis out behind the woodshed

February 15th, 2012 Comments off

Southaven mayor Greg Davis addresses questions during an interview from his home in Southaven this week. Southaven aldermen say they want an internal audit of city finances to get a more in-depth look than the one provided by the routine annual audit. The Commercial Appeal reports a newly formed committee plans to initiate the review in the wake of ongoing questions over Mayor Greg Davis' spending. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Stan Carroll)

Seriously?

Greg Davis wants to pin blame on his alderman for him being an idiot?

The only thing the Southaven Board of Aldermen should have done differently in the last several months is for one of them to have taken their mayor out behind the woodshed for a lesson in humility and humanity.

Apparently, Southaven mayor Greg Davis believes he has done nothing wrong in regard to deals involving a Florida condominium he co-owns with a developer who has received more than $3.4 million through real estate dealings with the city since 2008, a fire station that could cost taxpayers up to $4 million because of an unusual no-bid contract negotiated by Davis, and other recently reported transactions.

Why?

Because, he says, the city’s aldermen approved all transactions.

>> ORIGINAL POST: Embattled Davis blames alderman for approving transactions …

I suppose if the alderman had known ahead of time that the mayor had been running around using the city credit card on items from a Canadian sex shop (and why wasn’t it an American sex shop?) or was dropping $1,000 tips at a Ridgeland restaurant as he picked up the tab for state legislators, then maybe they would have stopped, dropped and said, “No way we are taking this deal you piece of garbage.”

By the way, has anyone wondered which legislators went to dinner with Davis that night?

As it stands, the aldermen are guilty of believing everything Davis ever said during his political campaigns about truth, family and the American way.

Well, that will never happen again.

Davis has used all of his political capital and probably all of his personal capital as well.

Remember, Davis was absent from city business on a 30-day leave for medical treatment when most of the dealings were uncovered and is under criminal investigation for misuse of city funds after being ordered by the state auditor to repay about $170,000.

And for all of the group therapy and extensive psycho-education he picked up during his 30-day leave, I am not even going to insult your intelligence by reprinting Davis’ quotes, blaming everyone but himself in this fiasco. He even believes he has done what is in the best interest of the citizens.

So, which is it?

The aldermen should have known he was a lying, cheating sack of, uh, beans, or he is a good, upstanding guy that is doing the work of the people.

As for those credit card reimbursements that led to the repayment order from the state auditor, Davis said he could not discuss it because of the ongoing state and federal investigation.

“I just want the public to be patient and wait because all the facts will come out,” Davis said.

After everything else that has come out, you really think he wants more to come out now?

My guess is Davis doesn’t believe in karma.

Please, somebody, one of you aldermen do the right thing and teach the mayor a lesson.

Then again, maybe some time in jail would be good for the mayor. I suspect that would be a much more — how should I say? — educational experience.

To ID tax-and-spenders is to look past the label provided by opponents

February 9th, 2012 Comments off

Labels are a hard thing to get rid of.

In real life, they have that sticky adhesive that is bound to ruin any piece of clothing if gets attached.

In the political and perceptive world, labels are much the same.

During the last election cycle, many Mississippi Democrats were labeled as free spenders for voting on particular tax measures.

With that in mind, emotions were high last week in a debate about — you guessed it — taxes.

Several Democrats said opponents sent mailers claiming they voted for a large number of tax increases, unfairly counting times they voted to raise or renew taxes requested by individual cities and counties.

Last week, the bill was to renew a 2 percent tax on Hancock County hotels for two years to fund tourism promotion. The bill passed the House, 69-44.

So, does that mean those who voted for the bill are big government, nut-job liberals? Probably not.

We have created such stereotypes in politics, that the ethics and morals of actual people are being questioned, based on votes like last week. And that vote — if you want to label it — was pro-business.

It will provide needed funds for communities to promote themselves to bring more tourists in, therefore bringing more money to the businesses and families in Hancock County.

Therefore, should the 44 who voted against the bill be labeled as anti-business?

Just asking.

>> Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018

UPDATE: Rooster corralled — It’s been a bad week for roosters, exotic animals

February 7th, 2012 Comments off

In a Sun Herald story this morning, it was reported that Carl the Downtown Rooster, who roamed Ocean Springs streets since last summer, has been relocated to Vancleave, where he has a pen and the companionship of six hens.

Two women who work at a local grocery store found a home for him with nice pens and six hens to oversee.

Malcolm, the other surviving downtown rooster, also known as The General, is living in an attorney’s storeroom, waiting to be adopted as well.

A flock of about 10 roosters showed up in July and seemed to belong to no one. Only 2 roosters — affectionately known as Carl and The General — are still alive and had become a novelty in the downtown area of Ocean Springs.

Sounds like a good opportunity for some lucky family to adopt a famous rooster!!!

ORIGINAL POST IS BELOW ….

Everything from chickens and roosters to tigers, wolf hybrids, leopards, and cougars are under fire this week in separate stories across the southern portion of Mississippi.

In Ocean Springs, alderman Chic Cody says the city has to address the rooster issue once and for all.

Cody’s comments came Monday after a woman told the Mississippi Press that her 2-year-old daughter was scratched on the arm by one of the roosters last week.

It’s the seventh reported incident of a run-in between the roosters and children since November.

Sarah Fountain, the child’s mother, now wants the roosters confined or relocated and the city of Ocean Springs to cover her medical expenses.

“We need to decide about the roosters once and for all, one way or the other,” Cody said.

ZOO OWNERS ASK JUDGE TO RETURN ANIMALS

Down in Collins, the owners of the Collins Zoo have asked a judge to return 11 animals seized for relocation on state wildlife officers in January.

The owners, Gus and Betty White, are asking the Covington County Circuit Court to review a justice court order that led to the Jan. 25 seizure of tigers, wolf hybrids, leopards, cougars and a Rhesus macaque by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

The Whites’ attorney, A. Regnal Blackledge, tells the Hattiesburg American that the state violated a regulation that calls for a “reasonable period of time” to correct deficiencies in facilities housing what are legally defined as “inherently dangerous animals” following an initial inspection.

He says the rule provides that after the period allotted for corrections, a follow-up inspection is in order.

Betty White said when MDWFP officials inspected her facility in October, she didn’t hear from them again until January, when a court order for seizure was already in place.

Why a Newt Gingrich presidency might help Mississippi

February 3rd, 2012 2 comments

Just sitting on your couch and listening, some of Newt Gingrich’s latest ideas might seem to be a little — OK, a lot — off the wall.
Amazingly enough, some of Newt’s ideas might actually be good for Mississippi’s economy in general and the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, specifically.
In fact, many of Newt’s ideas aren’t new at all — specifically the one in which the Republican presidential candidate wants to create a lunar colony that he says could become a U.S. state.
Gingrich has been hammered everywhere, from the far right to the far left and everywhere in between, as having read too many science-fiction novels. But mainstream science experts, including some Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney supporters, say Gingrich isn’t off the mark at all — at least where it comes to having a “first permanent base on the moon.”
Returning to the moon and building an outpost there is not new. Until three years ago, it was U.S. policy and billions of dollars were spent on that idea.
Since 1969, staying on the moon has been a part of many president’s plans, including George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush.
That’s where Stennis Space Center comes in. George W. Bush, proposed a unar outpost, phased out the space shuttle program and spent more than $9 billion designing a return to the moon program.
Stennis had been a part of testing the rocket boosters for the shuttle program. Losing the shuttle program might have been devastating for Stennis.
Yet, NASA has already chosen Michoud, just across the line in Louisiana, to construct components of a next-generation, heavy-lift rocket being designed to transport astronauts to destinations like asteroids and Mars. Stennis, meanwhile, is test-firing the engines that will power that vehicle beyond low-Earth orbit and into deep space.
And the lunar colony?
George Washington University space policy director Scott Pace, who was NASA’s associate administrator in the second Bush administration and is a Romney supporter, said the 2020 lunar base date Gingrich mentioned was feasible when it was proposed in 2005.
The fact is it was President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel the program. Pace said it would be hard to figure out when NASA could get back to the moon, but that such a return is doable.
Neal Lane, former head of the National Science Foundation and White House science adviser during the Clinton administration, told the Associated Press that Gingrich’s proposals aren’t crazy, although he may disagree with some of them. Gingrich’s ideas and actions are “very pro-science,” said Lane, who credited Gingrich with protecting federal science research from budget cuts in the 1990s.
“He’s on the edge of mainstream thinking about big science. Except for the idea of establishing a colony on the moon, it’s not over the edge,” added Syracuse University science policy professor Henry Lambright.
NASA, understandably, wants to stay out of presidential politics and chooses not to comment on this particular issue.
However, there is no doubt a renewed interest in the space program — regardless of its genesis — could help the long-term health of NASA and Stennis, specifically.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018

Pepper fair, kind and a true example of a life well led

January 25th, 2012 Comments off

Allen Pepper had a genuine love of people.

It came across every time you ever saw him.

Tall and slim, with a chiseled faced that seemed to never show the burden of the decisions he made daily as a federal judge, Pepper had a way that eased folks in trying times, delighted them in good times and inspired them in times of need.

Judge Pepper, 70, died Tuesday when his heart that had given so much to so many over the years gave way in a heart attack.

>>> RELATED: SEE MAIN MBJ STORY ON JUDGE PEPPER’S DEATH

“The Northern District has lost a Judge of impeccable character and a man of great personality. He was the most fundamentally decent man whom I have ever known. He was a dear friend and a beloved colleague. We will not soon get over Allen’s passing,” said Chief Judge Michael P. Mills, in a statement released by the court late Tuesday.

And he was better than that.

Mississippi has lost a great, great man — one that I can only hope that my son will grow to be like.

A Belzoni native, Pepper went on to Ole Miss to college, where he also earned a law degree.

He ended up in Cleveland where he ran his law practice for years before being appointed to the bench in 1999 by President Bill Clinton.

Donna Barnes, of Tupelo, a judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, said Pepper’s “service to the bench, the bar and the public was exemplary.”

Mills said he and the other three judges will divide Pepper’s case load with special priority to the criminal cases. Pepper can be replaced only by a presidential nomination and U.S. Senate approval.

However, it is Pepper, the man, that will never be replaced.

He raised his family, loved his wife and led his life in a way that is an example we all should aspire to.