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Entrepreneurs hold Mississippi

As I See It

Last week, several of Mississippi’s leading entrepreneurs were honored in New Orleans at the annual Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards program. We are honored to serve as the Mississippi media sponsor for the combined Louisiana/Mississippi competition.

I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know some of the finalists. Successful business leaders fascinate me and this year’s field included some interesting folks with interesting stories to tell. We published a special section last week in the Mississippi Business Journal outlining the accomplishments of this years’ Mississippi finalists.

The Mississippi finalists came from several different industries located in several different parts of the state:

• James Green Jr., president of PeopLoungers, located in the Northeast Mississippi town of Nettleton. The company is a leading manufacturer of motion furniture.

• Mickey Holliman Jr., president of Furniture Brands International in St. Louis and its Tupelo subsidiary, Lane Furniture Industries. Furniture Brands is the world’s largest home furnishings manufacturer.

• Billy Roberts, president of AmFed Companies located in Ridgeland. AmFed is a diversified group of insurance and financial service companies and is the state’s largest provider of workers’ compensation administrative services.

• John Lee, president of Mississippi Products Inc. in Jackson. His company is a full-service distributor of a variety of medical and industrial supplies throughout the Southeast.

• Bill Hudson Jr., president of Hudson Salvage Inc. headquartered in Hattiesburg. Hudson’s is a retailer specializing in surplus and damaged merchandise.

This group represents the some of the best of the state’s entrepreneurs and they join other Mississippians who have won the prestigious Ernst & Young award over the years. Collectively, these entrepreneurs provide the spark that drives our economy, creating jobs and opportunities for thousands of Mississippians.

The awards program is a gala affair held at the New Orleans Hilton Hotel. Ernst & Young and the other program sponsors go to great pains to produce a top-notch program that does justice to the accomplishments of the finalists and celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit throughout the U.S.

Among the finalists, Bill Hudson, Jr. of Hudson Salvage was selected the winner in the retail category. The competition to become a finalist is ferocious. To win the category is even tougher. We congratulate all of the finalists in their accomplishments and especially Bill Hudson in being named Entrepreneur of the Year in the retail category for the combined Mississippi/Louisiana competition.

Bill will go on to compete at the national Entrepreneur of the Year program in Palm Springs, Calif., in November. Jay Leno of “The Tonight Show” will host the California awards program. Undoubtedly, a good time will be had by all.

Most of us with an interest in business news are aware that small business is the engine that creates most of the jobs. Without small businesses taking risks, failing and trying again and again, our economy would be nothing like it is today. Though plagued by excessive government regulation and taxation, entrepreneurs survive and succeed. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who take the risks, suffer the failures and keep on keepin’ on until they succeed.

Why do people leave the relatively safe haven of working for others to strike out on their own? A quest for independence? Financial freedom? A belief that they can do things better than others? A need to “run the show?” All of these things play a part in the drive of entrepreneurs.

Perhaps the best explanation comes from President John F. Kennedy’s reasoning for going to the moon when he told the nation we should undertake the goal “because it’s there.”

Whatever the reasons Mississippi entrepreneurs do what they do, we at the Mississippi Business Journal applaud their efforts. In many ways, the future of our state is in their hands.

Thought for the Moment —

You never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.

— Irish proverb

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.


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