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Before loading the truck, have a destination

The Mississippi Animal Rescue League (MARL) began its odyssey to a new shelter facility more than 10 years ago, and the Promised Land is just around the bend. During the last week in April ,MARL will relocate to its new home on Greenway Drive, just off Highway 18 in South Jackson. And, what a journey it’s been.

Since shortly after its formation in 1969, MARL has called South Drive home. Our little cinder block building located on an acre or so of city property served us well for many years. Over 10 years ago, the board of directors realized that MARL had outgrown that location and began making plans to relocate.

A number of false starts plagued early efforts to build a new shelter. We had nearly worked out an agreement with Jackson’s Mayor Kane Ditto to joint venture with the city to house Jackson’s animals when the mayor unexpectedly lost his re-election bid. New Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson said he wanted to pick up the project and move forward, but nothing ever came of our negotiations. Though this paragraph is short, it covers about five years of frustrating negotiations with city officials before, at last, we threw up our hands in defeat and decided to go it alone.

With impeccable timing, MARL was blessed by the arrival of two charitable foundations that agreed to fund a huge portion of the cost of building the new shelter. We can never adequately express our gratitude to the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation and the Ed and Ruby Morgan Foundation for their encouragement and financial support. Clearly, without their investment our beautiful new shelter, located on over 50 acres of land, would not have become a reality.

The hurly, burly of moving MARL reminds me of all the tribulations we endured in 1996 when we moved the Mississippi Business Journal from Amite Street to our current location on Galaxie Drive. Aside from the financial complications involved in buying a building, packing our stuff was hard and tedious. We learned a lot in that move.

I noticed that some employees simply tossed their office equipage into boxes without much thought being given to organizing things for the move. Other, more meticulous employees carefully sorted their stuff and labeled their boxes so that, when unpacked, everything would be in place. The latter group got back into business much faster than the careless packers. There’s a lesson here for the MARL staff that I hope they’ll heed and pack carefully to avoid headaches on the other side.

Looking back, one aspect of the MBJ move was, indeed, humorous. However, it was not funny at the time. Arranging financing for the building got bogged down in bureaucracy and wasn’t in place when our moving day came. On the very morning of the move, I prevailed on the generosity of the building’s owners, Maris, West and Baker ad agency, to let us move in without having first closed the deal. In fact, as our staff loaded the Mississippi Business Journal on the truck, they had nowhere to unload it.

Maris’ attorney advised against letting us move in but I am a very persuasive guy and Maris, West are a great bunch of folks. I never thought I would admit this publicly, but I pushed the bank into acting on my loan request by threatening to rob a liquor store if they didn’t make the loan. I highly discourage this strategy and wouldn’t have followed through on my threat anyway. I don’t think.

Moving a business, or an animal shelter, is tough to do well. As with any business undertaking, an investment in planning on the front end saves time and improves efficiency on the back side. And, always, I repeat always, have a destination lined up before you load the truck.

Thought for the Moment

Freedom is the right to be wrong; not the right to do wrong.

— politician John G. Diefenbaker (1895-1979)

Joe D. Jones, CPA (retired), is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.
By JOE D. JONES, CPA (retired), MBJ Publisher


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