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2018 • March 9, 2018


SPECIAL MAGAZINE EDITION: » DOUBLE FOCUS: Agribusiness & Made in Mississippi

Myra Mirrors more than a ‘gadget PAGE 37

Heartland a catfish giant PAGE 38

Congratulations Jim! We are honored to be a part of your success.

James M. Richards, Jr. President & Chief Executive Officer of KLLM Transport Services

Empire Truck Sales and Southern States Utility Trailer Sales would like to congratulate Jim Richards for being named a top CEO in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal. We appreciate your hard work, dedication and service. Jim Richards has over 30 years experience in the trucking industry and serves as the KLLM’s President & CEO. Mr. Richards has held various positions during his tenure at KLLM. Prior to becoming President & CEO, he served as KLLM’s Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Richards holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Southern Mississippi.

FROM THE EDITOR A member of the Mississippi Press Association


CEOs are the straw that stirs the business drink in Mississippi


his issue of the Mississippi Business Journal is dedicated to the top chief executive officers of the businesses and corporations of Mississippi. Our mission for this event is simple: to recognize and honor highly deserving CEO’s from large, mid-size, and small companies. Each of those categories is very well represented. During the past Ross Reily year, we received nominations, letters of support, and calls from many sources, including business professionals, peers, government leaders, and employees from lots of companies who told us they had the best boss in the world. We’ve been gratified by the great response, and we’re delighted to be able to recognize and honor a group of true winners. These are the folks who drive business, create jobs, earn profits for shareholders, build new facilities, and make major contributions to our state, its communities, and its people. Business is indeed the driving force for our state and nation, and these people are the driving force for business. These CEOs are those who give meaning to the

• March 9, 2018


term “high achiever”. Having said all of that, the MBJ’s CEO Awards is not all you Myra Mirrors will be seeing in this edition. We also have a regular Focus of the MBJ, which this week is a double focus of Agri-Business and Made In Mississippi. And then there is the list. One of the things the MBJ is known for is its lists. We print a business list associated with almost every Focus we print in each edition. This week, that list is manufacturers and producers. There is also lots going on in the typical business world and we aren’t letting that slip through the cracks. You are still getting the best business news from the only fulltime, state-wide business publication in Mississippi, This includes, stories, profiles, newsmakers, lists, ribbon cuttings, columns and more. SPONSORED BY

SPECIAL MAGAZINE EDITION: » DOUBLE FOCUS : Agribusiness & Made in Mississippi

more than a ‘gadg et PAGE 37

Heartland a catfi sh giant PAGE 38

» Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross. or (601) 364-1018.

200 North Congress, Suite 400 Jackson, MS 39201-1902 Main: (601) 364-1000 Faxes: Advertising (601) 364-1007; Circulation (601) 364-1035 E-mails:,,,,

Website: March 9, 2018 Volume 40, Number 10

ALAN TURNER Publisher • 364-1021 TAMI JONES Associate Publisher • 364-1011 ROSS REILY Editor • 364-1018 FRANK BROWN Staff Writer/Special Projects • 364-1022 JACK WEATHERLY Staff Writer • 364-1016 VIRGINIA HODGES Account Executive • 364-1012 TACY RAYBURN Production Manager • 364-1019 CHARINA RHODES Circulation Manager • 364-1045 MARCIA THOMPSON-KELLY Business Assistant • 364-1044 Subscription Services (601) 364-1000 Mississippi Business Journal (USPS 000-222) is published weekly with one annual issue by MSBJ 200 N. Congress St., Suite 400, Jackson, MS 39201. Periodicals postage paid at Jackson, MS. Subscription rates: 1 year $109; 2 years $168; and 3 years $214. To place orders, temporarily stop service, change your address or inquire about billing: Phone: (601) 364-1000, Fax: (601) 364-1035, Email:, Mail: MS Business Journal Subscription Services, 200 N.Congress Street, Suite 400, Jackson, MS 39201 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mississippi Business Journal, Circulation Manager, 200 North Congress Street, Suite 400, Jackson, MS 39201 To submit subscription payments: Mail: MS Business Journal Subscriptions Services, 200 North Congress Street, Suite 400, Jackson, MS 39201. No material in this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written consent. Editorial and advertising material contained in this publication is derived from sources considered to be reliable, but the publication cannot guarantee their accuracy. Nothing contained herein should be construed as a solicitation for the sale or purchase of any securities. It is the policy of this newspaper to employ people on the basis of their qualifications and with assurance of equal opportunity and treatment regardless of race, color, creed, sex, age, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or handicap. The Mississippi Business Journal, is an affiliate of Journal Publishing Company (JPC), Inc.: Clay Foster, president and chief executive officer. Entire contents copyrighted © 2018 by Journal Inc. All rights reserved.

Mississippi Business Journal – 3

Mississippi Business Journal March 9, 2018 Volume 40, Number 10


2018 CLASS ROBERT J. BARNES, Priority One Bank ....................................9 RON BARNES, Coast Electric ......................................................9 DAVID B. BLACKBURN, RJ Allen ............................................ 10 VICKY BRATTON, Home Builders Association of Jackson .......... 11 CAROL J. BURGER, United Way ............................................... 11 JOHN D. CALHOUN, PH.D., IMS .............. ............................12 SURESH CHAWLA, Chawla Hotels, Inc .....................................13 SCOTT CHRISTENSEN, Delta Regional Medical Center.............13 MAGGIE CLARK, Maggie Clark Media ....................................... 14 JAN C. COLLINS, Madison County Business League and Foundation...15 BRIAN CUCCIAS, Huntington Ingalls .........................................15 BILLY DORGAN JR., Krispy Kreme .......................................... 16 GREG L. DURRELL, Durrell Design Group..................................17 JOEY F. GARNER, TEC .............................................................17 JEFF GOOD, Mangia Bene ......................................................... 18 JOHN M. HAIRSTON, Hancock Bank ...................................... 19 DAVID HOLLINGSWORTH, Goodwill Industries of Mississippi 19 WILLIE JONES, Dependable Source Corp of Mississippi .............20 HANK LOTT, MCS, Inc...............................................................21 DEBORAH W. MARTIN, Service Specialists .............................21 RICHARD H. MCNEEL, JBHM Architecture .............................. 22 HAL MILLER III, Mississippi Trucking Association ...................... 23 ADAM MITCHELL, Mitchell Distributing ................................... 23 DR. CLYDE MUSE, Hinds Community College ........................... 24 CHRIS NEWCOMB, Newks Eatery ............................................ 25 CARL D. NEWMAN, A.A.E, Jackson Municipal Airport Authority .. 25 ROGER PARROTT, Belhaven University ...................................26 DR. ROBERT W. PEARIGEN, Millsaps College ........................ 27 JIM RICHARDS, KLLM ............................................................. 27 DAN ROLLINS, BancorpSouth ..................................................28 JASON S. SIEGFRIED, Southern Pine Electric ..........................29 DR. LYNN TINCHER-LADNER, Phi Theta Kappa ...................30 BOBBIE K. WARE, Mississippi Baptist Health Systems...............31

4 – Mississippi Business Journal

FOCUS ON Made in Mississippi Cathead sustains substantial growth .......34 Myra Mirrors more than a ‘gadget’..... 37 »

FOCUS ON Agribusiness Heartland a catfish giant ......................................................... 38 Higher yields and lower input costs helping ag .........................40 LIST Manufacturers and Producers ............................................44-45


Q Regions Bank..................................................................................................................


Q People


Q Account Services Group...........................................................


Q Victor W. Carmody, Jr. P.A...........................................................................


Q People


Q Mansell Media....................................................................................................

Have your business listed here! Contact your advertising representative at 601.364.1000

Congratulations Dr. Muse on being named a 2018 Top CEO! We appreciate your service to Mississippi and dedicated leadership of 40 years to Hinds Community College!

In compliance with the following: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972 of the Higher Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and other applicable Federal and State Acts, Hinds Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability or veteran status in its educational programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies: Dr. Tyrone Jackson, Vice President for Utica Campus and Administrative Services and District Dean of Student Services & Title IX Coordinator Box 1003, Utica, MS 39175. Phone: 601.885.7002 or Email: Congratulations to Dan Rollins, CEO of BancorpSouth Bank, who was recently honored as one of the recipients of the 2018 Mississippi Business Journal Top CEO Awards. This award recognizes leaders around the state of Mississippi who have demonstrated excellence among the top executives in their ďŹ eld and have made a profound impact on their company and community.

Congratulations, Boss!

Brian Cuccias President Ingalls Shipbuilding

The men and women of Ingalls Shipbuilding congratulate our president, Brian Cuccias, on being chosen as one of Mississippi’s Top CEOs. Under his leadership, Ingalls continues to provide the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard with the highest quality, most advanced warships in the world. He also helps Mississippi’s largest industrial employer maintain a culture of inclusion for today’s employees, and for future JHQHUDWLRQVRI0LVVLVVLSSL¶V¿QHVWVKLSEXLOGHUV

Here’s to a

great leader. John Hairston President & Chief Executive Officer

Hancock and Whitney Bank congratulates our own John Hairston as one of Mississippi’s Top CEOs for 2018. We salute him as an outstanding corporate and community leader and a passionate champion for the core values that have kept us strong since the 1800s.

Thank you, John, for carrying on our century-old legacy rooted in strength, stability and integrity.


Whitney Bank uses these trade names: Hancock, Hancock Bank and Whitney. Whitney Bank, Member FDIC.


Robert J. Barnes Priority One Bank


obert Barnes, president and CEO of PriorityOne Bank, was recently elected to the Independent Community Bankers of America’s Federal Delegate Board. In addition to helping shape and advocate ICBA’s national policy positions and programs, Barnes’ duties include being a liaison between independent community bankers in Mississippi and ICBA staff and leadership in Washington, D.C. He will also work to recruit new members to ICBA. When Barnes became president and CEO of Priority Bank in Magee in 2011, he was determined to make the community bank more competitive in a market served by 27 other banks, all with 103 branch offices. Barnes, a 32-year veteran employee at the bank, focused as CEO first on streamlining its existing services, by paring seven varieties of consumer checking and consumer savings accounts down to four types. From PriorityOne’s side, the pipeline connects product referrals to the appropriate department, and the system can reassign a business record should an employee leave or retire. Right now, potential account prospects total $25 million to $30 million, with $30 million to $35 million for loans.

Ron Barnes Coast Electric


on Barnes is president and CEO of Coast Electric Power Association, headquartered in Hancock County. Barnes leads the cooperative that serves 80,000 meters in Pearl River, Hancock and Harrison counties. Prior to his position with Coast Electric, he served for 21 years as the company’s Vice President of Marketing, Member Services and Public Relations. Barnes is also an active leader in the community and has served in such positions as Gulf Coast Community Foundation board chairman, Gulf Coast Chamber board member and Leadership Gulf Coast board chairman, among many others. If you ask Barnes what motivates him to lead, he will never mention trophies or awards. Instead, he will talk to you about service to others and his desire to make the quality of life better for his fellow south Mississippians. He is a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi and is an active alumnus as well as being a leader at Heritage United Methodist Church. Ron and his wife, Angel, have four children – Amy, Hayley, Emily and Taylor.

2018 CEO Awards – 9


David B. Blackburn RJ Allen


avid Blackburn is president of The Blackburn Group, a commercial and residential real estate development company with active real estate developments in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas. He also serves as president of RJ Allen & Associates, a commercial general construction company, and president of Fitness Group, a group of nine ďŹ tness centers throughout Texas. He currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Ole Miss Athletic Foundation, the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the Ole Miss Alumni Association, and the Board of Directors for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes North Mississippi. Blackburn has served in the past on the Board of Directors for the United Way and Chamber of Commerce in Oxford. Meanwhile, RJ Allen has been named to Inc. 5000 ranking of fastest-growing companies in America, awarded Inc. 5000 Hall of Fame Recognition for Making List for Five Consecutive Years with a three-year growth of 58 percent. RJ Allen has also been recognized by Mississippi Business Journal as part of its Best places to Work in 2016 and 2017. He and his wife, Karen, are active members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and have two children, Collins and Niles.

Consumers are at the center with Value-Based Care UnitedHealthcare is honored to sponsor the Top CEO Magazine, showcasing the hard work of Mississippi’s top executives. We are dedicated to helping Mississippians lead healthier lives, working to bring better health outcomes to local citizens. Value-Based Care puts YOU at the heart of healthcare. -RH2FKLSLQWL&(28QLWHG+HDOWKFDUH*XOI6WDWHV


10 – 2018 CEO Awards


Vicky Bratton Home Builders Association of Jackson


icky Bratton joined the Home Builders Association of Jackson’s staff in February 2004 as Sales & Marketing Director, where she assisted home builder members with their marketing and sales

needs. She increased sales in non-dues revenue from $65,000 in 2003 to over $700,000 in 2008. After the Executive Officer retired in December 2013, Vicky was promoted to this position where she oversees membership, marketing, 3 full time employees and an annual revenue budget of over $600,000 this year. The Home Builders Association of Jackson produces many internal member events but also produces events that include the general public, such as, The Home Show and the Spring and Fall Parade of Homes.

Carol J. Burger United Way


arol Johnson-Burger is the president and CEO of United Way of the Capital Area. Prior to joining United Way, Carol was a teacher, human service administrator and a business owner. Burger, a Tougaloo College graduate, has worked internationally with United Way in South Africa and Caribbean Islands. She serves on the Executive Committee of United Way Worldwide National Professional Council and is a member of The Key Cities Leadership Group. Her awards and achievements include: the National Association of Community Leadership Award, Jackson 2000 Friendship Award, Mississippi Business Journal 50 Leading Business Women, National Association of Social Workers Public Citizen of the Year, Mississippi Chapter and 50 Most Influential Black Mississippians, among others. If asked what she is passionate about, her response would be creating an educational environment where every child can be successful. Burger has one son, Marcus and two grandchildren, Nicholas and Logan.

2018 CEO Awards – 11


John D. Calhoun, Ph.D. IMS


r. John D. Calhoun is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of IMS. He is credited with growing the company from a three-person staff into a multi-million-dollar corporation consisting of two divisions - IMS Engineers, one of the largest African American owned and operated engineering firms in the U.S. and IMS Logistics, a tier one supplier for Nissan North America. Dr. Calhoun has been cited by an Entrepreneur Magazine article as one of the country’s brightest young business leaders. In 2008, he was named “Mississippi Small Business Person of the Year” by the Small Business Administration and was later recognized by President Barack Obama as one of 18 “Champions of Change in Business for Innovation.” IMS, now 22 years in the making, has seven offices in five states and provides engineering, emergency management, technical, program management, logistics and operations services across the U.S. and West Africa.

Hal Miller III

12 – 2018 CEO Awards


Suresh Chawla Chawla Hotels, Inc


uresh Chawla is president of Chawla Hotels, Inc. Chawla currently owns and operates 17 limited service hotels in the Mississippi Delta. He recently became the first franchisee of Trump Hotels Group’s new franchise, American Idea Hotels, and he will own and operate three American Idea Hotels, which will be the first three in the world. He also recently partnered with Trump Hotels and hired them to operate, brand, and market the new Scion Hotel development in Cleveland, Mississippi. The Scion of Cleveland will be the first Trump Hotels Group Scion Hotel in the world. Awards for Chawla include three Chawla-Hotels winning Intercontinental Hotels Group Newcomer of the Year, two Hampton Inns winning the Torchbearer Award, and Choice Hotels awarding one Chawla Hotel with a Gold Award. Chawla’s company currently employs more than 300 people, grosses over $25 million in revenue, and creates more than $2 million in sales tax revenue and $1 million in property tax revenue annually.

Scott Christensen Delta Regional Medical Center


cott Christensen became chief executive of officer of Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville on July 1, 2014 after holding various senior leadership positions including Chief Operating Officer since the beginning of 2013. Christensen’s career includes many facets of healthcare management ranging from small community hospitals, large urban hospitals and system-based healthcare. Prior to leading healthcare in rural Mississippi, Christensen’s career encompassed a variety of healthcare leadership roles with experience on the Gulf Coast of Florida as well as the Midwest in Central Illinois. He is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a member of the Mississippi Hospital Association Board of Governors, Vizient Gulf States Board, Washington County Economic Alliance, Delta Trauma Region Board of Directors and the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board.

2018 CEO Awards – 13


Maggie Clark Maggie Clark Media


ackson native Maggie Clark opened Mississippi’s first media consulting firm, Maggie Clark Media Services, in 1989. Prior to opening her own company, she served as Media Director for two of Mississippi’s leading advertising agencies. During her career she has represented many successful national, regional, and local advertisers handling their media planning and placement. Politically, she has handled media planning and placement for many candidates campaigning for federal, state and local office, as well as campaigns for ballot issues and referendums. In addition to representing accounts direct, her company has served as media associate for Frontier Strategies, a full- service advertising agency based in Jackson, for the past 13 years. She served as the media consultant for our state’s PGA TOUR event, from 1995-2015. She is a charter member and past-president of Jackson’s ladies golf organization, the Steel Magnolias. Clark is a past-president and a past governor of AAF District 7. Clark is married to Gene, and they have one son, Ken. She has 3 grandchildren.

JBHM Architecture

Serving Mississippi Since 1970 14 – 2018 CEO Awards


Jan C. Collins Madison County Business League and Foundation


an Collins is the first and only executive director of Madison County Business League has ever had. The MCBL&F was created in 2009 by the Madison County Economic Development Authority and the Madison County Board of Supervisors to serve as the private economic development stakeholder organization for MCEDA. The Pascagoula native has been a proud resident of Madison County since 1979 and has a BS in Marketing from the University of Southern Mississippi. Upon graduation from USM, Collins was selected by McRae’s Department Stores ultimately in the position of Women’s Better Updated Sportswear Buyer affording her the opportunity to travel to markets all over the world purchasing sportswear and designing imports for the wholesale company, Frederick Atkins. She says she believes her greatest professional accomplishment is the development of the MCBL&F from “scratch.” “I was given a cell phone, computer and 5 committed members on my first day. Becoming an empty nester, I earnestly prayed that the Lord would give me a job opportunity in which I could work with people and give back to the county I loved. He answered my prayer by giving me this role. I attribute the success of the MCBL&F to Him, the joy of connecting people, mentoring young business women, and the many outstanding and influential businesses and business leaders who have guided its course.”

Brian Cuccias Huntington Ingalls


rian Cuccias is executive vice president of Huntington Ingalls Industries and president of Ingalls Shipbuilding. Named to this position in 2014, he is responsible for all programs and operations at Ingalls, including U.S. Navy destroyers, amphibious assault and surface combatant programs, and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter program. Cuccias began his shipbuilding career in 1979 with Litton Data Systems, where he served as a financial analyst on several Navy programs, including amphibious assault ships and Spruance– and Kidd-class destroyers. Since then, he has held a number of positions of increasing responsibility. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of South Alabama and has attended executive education programs at Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He serves on the Mississippi Economic Council Board of Governors and on the board of directors for the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development, the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation and the Salvation Army of Mobile.

2018 CEO Awards – 15


Billy Dorgan Jr. Krispy Kreme


rispy Kreme Donuts recently celebrated 50 years in Mississippi. Billy Dorgan’s family has been a part of that for all 50 years and now he carries on the tradition. “At 10, 11, 12, I remember riding along with my dad to the store,” he said. “Just being taught the basic fundamentals of work ethic. I developed a passion for the iconic brand Krispy Kreme.” “Over the last eight years, the Good Lord has shown that this is a God-ordained ministry for me,” he said. “It’s a unique opportunity to serve the people and community where we live. I like that we’re able to create magical moments for our customers.” Dorgan and his family have also given back over the years. Dorgan was a standout place-kicker for Delta State, even playing on the 2000 national championship team for the Fighting Okra. While Dorgan had a record-setting career as a student-athlete, he and his family’s contribution to future student-athlete success is what leaves a lasting impression. Just behind the south end zone overlooking the football field, is Delta State’s premier multi-purpose academic and athletic facility, the Billy Dorgan, Jr. Student Performance Center, thanks to a $1 million donation by the Dorgan family.

Mississippi Trucking Association congratulates our CEO, Hal Miller and board member, Jim Richards, who were recently selected as top CEOs by MS Business Journal. Trucking represents 1 out of every 13 jobs in Mississippi, and we are thankful for Hal’s leadership in this important industry. KLLM has been a leader in trucking in Mississippi for over 50 years. Under Jim’s leadership, KLLM has seen exceptional growth while never losing the primary focus on safety and integrity.



Greg L. Durrell Durrell Design Group


reg L. Durrell is the founder and principal-architect of Durrell Design Group, PLLC, a comprehensive and technology-forward architectural planning and consulting firm located in Jackson, MS. As Owner, Mr. Durrell oversees the strategic planning, team dynamic, and systematic growth opportunities of the firm across the state and region. Born in Vicksburg, Durrell attended Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University, where he received his Bachelor of Architecture. Durrell furthered his training and leadership skills working for a small, 5- person firm and later a large 30-person firm, where he served as project manager and lead designer on over $300 million in new construction and renovation projects. Currently, Durrell has more than 14 years of diversified experience overseeing architectural projects, ranging from planning and design to construction and renovation. He is recognized as one of the first black architects in the State of Mississippi. He is even more proud to be regarded as the first black architect to be Mississippi-born, Mississippi-educated, and now, practicing in the state.

Joey F. Garner TEC


oey Garner’s head for business and heart for people provides the perfect combination to bring advanced communications including data, video and voice to businesses and homes across the State of Mississippi. A 28-year telecom veteran, Garner joined her father’s successful business straight out of college, and she has been integrally involved in TEC’s evolution from a local telephone company to what is now an innovative, full-service, regional communications provider serving Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee. As communication needs continue to evolve, Garner has kept TEC’s focus on providing the latest communications technology. Garner’s business passion to give back includes supporting local organizations such as Stewpot, Operation Shoestring, the Good Samaritan Center, Little Lighthouse and others. She was honored by the Mississippi Business Journal as its 2008 Business Woman of the Year and has served as president of the Mississippi Hugh O’Bryan Youth Leadership Board of Trustees. After growing up in Bay Springs she graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1990. Garner and her husband, James, have three children and live in Ridgeland.

2018 CEO Awards – 17


Jeff Good Mangia Bene


eff Good is the president of Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group, the owner/operator of BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar, Broad Street Baking Company, and Sal & Mookie’s New York Pizza & Ice Cream Joint – three unique and successful restaurants located in the city of Jackson, Mississippi. Along with Dan Rosenthall, Good’s restaurants operate a full service catering business, Mangia Bene Catering, with partnerships in dozens of venues throughout the Metro Jackson area. Good is also a founding principal and managing partner of Soul City Hospitality, a Social Business Enterprise focused on developing Mississippi’s local food economy. Good moved to Jackson from Salt Lake City, Utah in the summer of 1980, when his father became the Dean of Students at Millsaps College, where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration. That summer after graduation, he married his college sweetheart, Debbie McGregor. Debbie is a retired High School Latin teacher and now operates an active residential remodeling business in the historic Jackson neighborhood of Fondren. The Good’s are proud parents of twin college sophomores, Alexandra (Alex) and Caroline (Carly).






@ B E L H AV E N U | W W W. B E L H AV E N . E D U | A D M I S S I O N @ B E L H AV E N . E D U 18 – 2018 CEO Awards


John M. Hairston Hancock Bank


ohn M. Hairston has been the CEO of Hancock Holding Company since 2008 and has been its president since 2014. Hairston served as the CEO of Whitney Bank. He has been the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Hancock Bank of Alabama, Hancock Bank of Florida and Hancock Bank of Mississippi (all are the subsidiaries of Hancock Holding Co.) since 2008. He served as the CEO of Hancock Holding Company from 2008 to November 13, 2014. Prior to his appointment as CEO, Hariston served as an Executive Vice President of Hancock Holding Company and its subsidiary Hancock Bank from 2001 to December 2008. Mr. Hairston served as the CEO of Hancock Holding Co. and Hancock Bank from 1997 to March 29, 2007. He served as the CEO and Chief Operating Officer of Whitney Bank (Hancock Bank of Louisiana). He served as CEO of Hancock Bank. He served as Senior Vice President at Hancock Holding Company and Hancock Bank from 1996 to 2001, Vice President of Hancock Bank from 1994 to 1995 and Senior Operations Officer of Hancock Holding Company from 1994 to 1996. Prior to joining Hancock Holding Company, Hairston served as Manager at Financial Services Consulting, headquartered in Chicago from 1987 to 1994. Hairston graduated magna cum laude from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering.

David Hollingsworth Goodwill Industries of Mississippi


avid Hollingsworth is president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Mississippi, which provides employment, skills, training and occupational development to people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Hollingsworth earned his B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing & Economics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He also completed the Executive Development Program at Goodwill Industries International at the University of Maryland. He previously held marketing positions at Pediment Publishing in Battle Ground, Wash.; The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson; The Green Bay Press-Gazette in Wisconsin; and The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D. In 2005, he co-authored, “Rivalry Saturday: An Odyssey Inside College Football’s Most Storied Games” He has won numerous newspaper marketing awards and is a four-time Gannett President’s Ring winner. Hollingsworth is on the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Mississippi Council on Economic Education.

2018 CEO Awards – 19


Willie Jones Dependable Source Corp. of Mississippi


illie Jones is president & CEO of Dependable Source Corp. of Mississippi, which, since 1995, has provided workforce solutions to the transportation industry by providing certified commercial drivers to manufacturers, distributors and motor carriers in the South. She also is president of Women for Progress in Mississippi, a non-profit, non-partisan community organization that has facilitated the success and upward mobility of communities. Dependable Source Corp. was recognized as one of the largest minority-owned businesses in Mississippi in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Millsaps College with a degree in Public Management. In 2011, Jones launched Dependable Source Corp. Home Health to provide quality in-home care to seniors and others. Her honors and memberships include: MBJ’s 50 Leading Business Women in Mississippi (Top 10 Finalist), 2013; Leadership Greater Jackson, 2012-2013; Leadership Mississippi, 2014; Jackson Greater Chamber Vision 2022; National Association of Professional Women; Mississippi Minority Business Alliance; Women In Trucking Association; Margaret Walker Alexander Center; Jackson Rotary Club International; and Jackson Arts Council. Jones and her husband, Harold Tyree Jones, have two children and five grandchildren.


Brian Cuccias President, Ingalls Shipbuilding

On being named one of the

Mississippi Business Journal’s Top CEOs for 2018 Jackson County is proud of your leadership and efforts to sustain growth at the Pascagoula shipyard. We are grateful to be home to Huntington Ingalls Industries, the state’s largest manufacturing employer and a major contributor to the economic vitality of the region.

The Jackson County Economic Development Foundation, Inc. is a public/private partnership providing a unified and comprehensive approach to economic development in a highly competitive business location environment.

20 – 2018 CEO Awards


Hank Lott MCS, Inc


ank Lott began his career at 21 years old as a licensed residential homebuilder, building 150 homes in 10 years, including several residential subdivision developments in South Mississippi. Lott started MCS Insulation in 2002 and MCS Building Supply in 2009 in Sumrall. In addition, he owns Covington Ridge in Collins, MS and Magnolia Place in Sumrall, MS, both of which are retirement homes. Lott served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 2012-2016 and chose not to seek re-election but to focus on growing his businesses instead. Lott is a member of Sumrall Baptist Church, Greater Hattiesburg Area Home Builders Association, Pearl River County Home Builders Association, Area Development Partnership, Construction Suppliers Association, Nemeon, a cooperative network of independent roofing & siding distributors, Lumberman’s Merchandizing Corporation, Owen’s Corning Certified Energy Experts, and was honored as “Legislator of the Year” by the Home Builders Association of Mississippi in 2013. MCS Insulation has been a member of Insulate America for 10 years. He is married to Melinda Lott, a Registered Nurse who works as the administrator for the two retirement facilities. Hank and Melinda have three children: Lauren (16), Stone (15), Tucker (13).

Deborah W. Martin Service Specialists


n 1998, Deborah Martin and her husband, David, purchased the 30-yearold Service Specialists with a vision of taking it to a new level by branching out and providing new niche of services to government and commercial customers throughout the Southeast. In 2003, the growing company moved to Ridgeland. It now has employees in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. Martin is originally from Kosciusko, and earned her Bachelors in Business in 1985 at Mississippi State. She previously worked at Coca Cola USA in marketing and The Clorox Corp., L’eggs Products and Englehard in various management and human resources roles. Martin has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40, a member of Leadership Madison County, a top woman-owned small business by the SBA, and for her contributions to small businesses in Mississippi. She has been on the Madison County Economic Development Authority Board, Holmes Community College’s Business Advisory Council and the Governors Workforce Development Task Force. She enjoys gardening, and Madison Central High School and Ole Miss sports. She is a member of Broadmoor Baptist Church. She and David have two sons, Will Martin who is married to the former Cameron Burgess, and Sam Martin.

2018 CEO Awards – 21


Richard H. McNeel JBHM Architects


ichard McNeel has been with JBHM Architects for 27 years, and has been president and CEO since 2006. He is a graduate of the School of Architecture, at Mississippi State University. He began his career in Jackson in 1978 and is licensed to practice in 13 states. McNeel has been recognized more than 60 times, including by the American Institute of Architects, The American Institute of Interior Designers and the International Interior Design Association. McNeel was the youngest elected President of the Mississippi AIA at 35, and later became the second president of the Mississippi Architectural Foundation. He has been appointed to the State Board of Architecture by Governors Barbour and Bryant. He is immediate Past President of the Board after being President five times. At MSU, McNeel has been an Adjunct Faculty Member, and an Advisory Board member multiple times since 1991. He has been the Advisory Board’s Chair since 2014. McNeel’s projects include The Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, School of Chemical Engineering at MSU, and Diversified Technologies. McNeel and his wife, Charlotte, have been married 40 years, and both children, Catherine McNeel Florreich and Kirke McNeel Chamblee, have architectural degrees from MSU.


Bobbie K. Ware, MHSA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE

Chief Executive Officer

Mississippi Baptist Medical Center



Thank you for your leadership and service to our organization and the community.

22 – 2018 CEO Awards


Hal Miller III Mississippi Trucking Association


al Miller, president of the Mississippi Trucking Association, is a native of Mississippi. Upon graduation from the University of Mississippi, Miller went to work for his family’s tank truck company, Miller Transporters, Inc. He held several positions throughout the organization during his 30 year tenure, most recently serving as Executive Vice President. Miller still serves as Director of the Miller companies. In mid-2014, The Mississippi Trucking Association hired Miller to lead the association to direct the efforts of being the resource for safety, education, and governmental advocacy as well as promote the trucking industry within the state. Having grown up in trucking, Miller was thrilled to be allowed to represent an industry he knew so well and immensely proud of its heritage of public service and safety. Miller has served as a Director for the National Tank Truck Carrier Conference, Board Member and Chairman of MTA, Executive Board Member of the Business and Industrial Education Committee of Mississippi as well as Board Member of several civic, business and religious organizations. Hal has been married since 1983 to his wife, Tricia. They have three grown sons, two daughters-in-law and two granddaughters.

Adam Mitchell Mitchell Distributing


dam Mitchell is a third-generation CEO of Mitchell Distributing, which distributes beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks in East Mississippi, the Gulf Coast and parts of the Mississippi

Delta. Mitchell holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Louisiana State University and an MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. Mitchell grew up in the family’s beer business, and has also gained experience with three additional Anheuser-Busch distributors as well as real estate and brokerage firms throughout the Southeast. While in Nashville, Mitchell was the on-premises brand manager during the Nashville test market roll-out of Bud Select. He joined Mitchell Distributing in 2006 and held positions of general manager of the Columbus and Tupelo operations and vice president of operations before becoming president in 2010. In 2016, Mitchell was named the CEO. He was also president of the Mississippi Beer Distributors Association for 2017. Mitchell and his wife, Melissa, have a son, Mann.

2018 CEO Awards – 23


Dr. Clyde Muse Hinds Community College


r. Clyde Muse, is sixth president of Hinds Community College, and 2018 marks his 40th year at the helm of the state’s largest community college. Approximately 20,000 students attend Hinds on its five campuses. Muse grew up on the family farm in Benton County, the son of a minister. He attended East Central Junior College, Delta State Teacher’s College and Mississippi State University, where he earned his Masters and Doctorate degrees. He became a high school science teacher and coach in 1952, a principal in 1959 and superintendent in 1969. He became president of Hinds Junior College in 1978. Muse is chairman of the Mississippi Junior College Association’s Legislative Committee, Liaison Committee Chairman of the Mississippi Association for Developmental Education and on the Political Liaison Committee of the National Association for Developmental Education. His civic activities include memberships in Steering Committee of Business/Industry/Education Regional Council, Selective Service System District Appeal Board, Raymond Chamber of Commerce, Jackson Rotary Club, Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce; the Mississippi Economic Council.

Congratulations to

Ron Barnes

Mississippi Business Journal 2018 Top CEO

24 – 2018 CEO Awards


Chris Newcomb Newks Eatery


hris Newcomb is co-founder and CEO of Newk’s Eatery, a fast-casual restaurant with 116 locations in 15 states – and it’s adding 20 sites a year. Newcomb’s career started in 1989 as a hobby while a student at the University of Mississippi. His family purchased and converted an old gas station into a diner, and eventually named it McAlister’s Gourmet Deli. They added several locations in the 1990’s before he sold his share of the business and opened Moe’s Southwest Grill in 2001. He opened Newk’s Eatery in 2004 as the president and CEO. In 2013, Newcomb and his wife, Lori, co-founded Newk’s Cares after she was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer. The Newk’s Cares mission is to create awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. In addition to generating awareness, Newk’s Cares raised more than $500,000 in three years towards research. Newcomb is on the Board of Newk’s Eatery, Tranzlogic, a technology company, and The Meridian at Lakeland, a real estate investment company. He has served on the Board of McAlister’s Deli and YPO Southern 7. He is an active member in YPO Southern 7 and the Fast Casual Industry Council. Newcomb has received numerous industry awards and recognitions such as the “Top 40 Under 40,” Nation’s Restaurant News “Power List” and the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association’s Silver Plate award. The Newcombs live in Jackson and have three children.

Carl D. Newman, A.A.E Jackson Municipal Airport Authority


s CEO of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. Carl D. Newman is responsible for the day to day management of both Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport and Hawkins Field. Newman joined the Airport Authority in 2015. Newman earned his Bachelors in Public Administration at the University of Arizona and a Masters of Aeronautical Science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He previously was General Manager for Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Before that, he was Assistant Aviation Director at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Newman is a board member and immediate past chair for the American Association of Airport Executives. Newman was appointed to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council by President Obama in 2016, and is the Chairman of the Greater Mississippi Foreign-Trade Zones, the Treasurer of the Mississippi Airports Association, a board member of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, and a commission member of the West Rankin Utility Authority and the East Metro Corridor Commission. He was on the board for the Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce and the Central Arizona Chapter of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. Newman lives in Jackson with his wife, Jeanette, and is the father of three daughters and one son.

2018 CEO Awards – 25


Roger Parrott Belhaven University


lected as one of the county’s youngest college presidents at age 34, Roger Parrott is now in his 28th year as one of higher education’s longest serving presidents. During Parrott’s presidency, the private Christian university’s enrollment increased from 900 to 5,000, 10 major buildings were built, full-time faculty quadrupled, and faculty salaries increased to competitive levels. Parrott earned his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland in Higher Education Administration, his M.Ed. at the University of Maryland in Educational Leadership, and his B.S. at Eastern Nazarene College in Psychology He was raised in the Pacific Northwest, educated on the East Coast, worked in the Midwest for over a decade, and has now been in leadership in the South for over 20 years. Parrott was president of Sterling College, vice president of Mid America Nazarene University, U.S. Director for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, and pastor of churches in Detroit and Washington, D.C. His wife, MaryLou, earned her Ph.D. in English and teaches at the university level. Both of their children recently graduated with honors from Belhaven and are currently enrolled in Masters programs. His father and grandfather were both college presidents.


Thank you for leading the way.

26 – 2018 CEO Awards

Joey F. Garner Executice Vice President

TEC.COM 800.832.2515


Dr. Robert W. Pearigen Millsaps College


r. Robert Wesley Pearigen is the eleventh president of Millsaps College in Jackson. A native of Memphis, Pearigen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he earned a bachelor of arts in political science. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from Duke University. His post-graduate study included constitutional law, judicial process and political theory. Pearigen has been a secondary school teacher and trustee and in higher education as a professor, dean of students and vice president for university relations. As Millsaps’ president, he has launched a comprehensive strategic plan entitled “Across the Street and Around the Globe: Partnerships and Influence at Millsaps College,” animated by a growing awareness of the need to make the most of Millsaps’ distinctive strengths, including its location in the capital city of Mississippi, international programs and partnerships (including a 4,500-acre bi-cultural reserve in the Yucatan), and the unique combination of a liberal arts college with an AACSB accredited business school. At Millsaps, Pearigen teaches courses in constitutional law, civil rights and liberties, jurisprudence and political theory.

Jim Richards KLLM


im Richards is in his 31st year of employment with KLLM Transport Services and his eighth year as president and CEO. Richards is also president and CEO of Frozen Food Express based in Dallas, Texas, which was purchased by KLLM in 2013, and Forest Products Transport based out of Columbia. In the last eight years, KLLM has become the second largest refrigerated carrier in the Nation. KLLM, which is celebrating 55 years in business, has also realized record profitability and growth during his tenure as CEO, operating over 4,000 trucks in 48 states and Mexico. KLLM has become one of the most recognized fleets in North America in technology and safety. KLLM has also achieved the reputation for premium service in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Richards is Chairman of the Hinds Community College Foundation, and a Board Member for The Trucking Alliance, Annandale Golf Club and First Responders of Mississippi. He previously was Chairman of Truckload Profitability Strategies Group, the Mississippi Trucking Association and was on the Board of the Mississippi Food Network. Richards earned a Bachelor of Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi. He and his wife Louise, live in Ridgeland and have two sons, Wesley and Peyton. They attend First Baptist Church of Jackson.

2018 CEO Awards – 27


Dan Rollins BancorpSouth


ollins is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of BancorpSouth Bank and recently announced as the Mississippi Economic Commission Chair for 2018-2019. Rollins was appointed CEO in 2012, and named Chairman in 2014. Rollins’ financial services career spans 38 years, beginning in 1978 as a college student and continuing upon graduation from the University of Texas. Rollins received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance from the University of Texas in 1983. He is a 1989 graduate of the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He graduated from the National Commercial Lending School in 1993 at the University of Oklahoma. Rollins is on the board of directors of North Mississippi Health Services and is a member of the finance committee and major gifts committee for the Healthcare Foundation of North Mississippi. He volunteers as the co-chair of the Hope and a Future capital campaign for the Salvation Army in Tupelo. He has been elected to a three-year term on the Mississippi Bankers Association board. Rollins is married to Becky Buchanan and they have two children.

Delta Regional Medical Center Congratulates


FOR BEING NAMED A TOP CEO IN MISSISSIPPI Providing high quality medical services to the citizens and communities in the Tri-state Delta Region

28 – 2018 CEO Awards


Jason S. Siegfried Southern Pine Electric


outhern Pine Electric named Jason S. Siegfried president and CEO almost a year ago. Siegfried has 16 years experience with the cooperative working in engineering, operations, economic development and rate-making. He previously was assistant general manager for five years. He graduated from Mississippi State University in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and completed an internship at the University of Wisconsin. In 2008, he received a master’s degree in business administration at Millsaps College. Siegfried is a graduate of Mississippi Economic Council’s Leadership Mississippi. He received the Mississippi Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 award, and has been the recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow Recognition for his work as a Rotarian. He also has been a director for the Mississippi Burn Foundation, the president of the Rankin County Rotary Club and the president of the Engineering and Operations Division of the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi. Siegfried was born and raised in Jackson County and lives in Hattiesburg with his wife, Marie, and their children.

The Blackburn Group Congratulates David B. Blackburn on being named one of the Top CEO’s in Mississippi for 2018 by the Mississippi Business Journal.

The Blackburn Group, LLC has ownership interests in a diverse scope of businesses throughout the Southern United States, with a focus on residential and commercial land development.

2018 CEO Awards – 29


Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner Phi Theta Kappa


r. Lynn Tincher-Ladner is president and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa, the largest honor society in higher education with 1,300 chapters on campuses in all 50 states and abroad. Tincher-Ladner joined the Phi Theta Kappa staff in 2012 as the chief information and research officer. She has served as the interim executive director of Phi Theta Kappa and as the secretary and an ex-officio member of the Phi Theta Kappa Board of Directors since April 2015. Previously, Tincher-Ladner served more than 20 years in higher education in instruction and information technology and was the Director of Institutional Research and Planning at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Tincher-Ladner is on the graduate faculty for the School of Education at Mississippi State University. Tincher-Ladner holds a Ph.D. in Education Leadership from Mississippi State University and both a master’s and bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is an honorary member of the Omicron Alpha Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and has been recognized for her work in higher education by the League of Innovation, the Southern Association of Community College Research, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.



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30 – 2018 CEO Awards


Bobbie K. Ware Mississippi Baptist Health Systems


obbie K. Ware is chief executive officer of Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, where she oversees all operations at the hospital with more than 2,800 employees. The Oxford native and registered nurse began her career as a nurse in the ICU and Operating Room, and advanced through the years before being named CEO last year. In 2017, Mississippi Baptist Medical Center was designated a Magnet Hospital, which is the nation’s highest Nursing designation. The recognition was the result of a 10-year process, led by Ware, focusing on patient outcomes, nursing professional development and employee job satisfaction. Ware received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Health Services Administration degrees from Mississippi College. Ware received a Six-Sigma Greenbelt Healthcare Certificate of Achievement from Villanova University and she is a member of numerous professional associations. Ware was one of Mississippi’s Top 40 Under 40 Women Business Leaders in 2004, a Mississippi Business Journal Health Hero in 2015, the Mississippi Nurses Association’s 2010 Nursing Administrator of the Year Award, Mississippi College’s Alumnus of the Year in 2011, and Girl Scout Woman of Distinction in 2016. Bobbie and her husband, Robert have two children and three grandchildren.


CAROL BURGER United Way of the Capitol Area



Dependable Source Corp. of MS

selected as

TOP CEO’s in Mississippi

2018 CEO Awards – 31


32 – 2018 CEO Awards


Cathead sustains substantial growth By JULIA MILLER


ince Cathead Distillery opened in 2010, it’s mission has been simple — produce a top-notch product all while supporting Mississippi music. Despite being the state’s first legal distillery since prohibition ended in 1966, Cathead co-founder Richard Patrick said the first eight years of production have been grassroots driven with strong organic growth. “The state has been great to work with,” he said. “They have been very receptive to our efforts and needs for growth.” And grow they have. After just five years, Cathead made a headquarters move from Madison to downtown Jackson. “It’s hard to see our business anywhere but Jackson,” he said. “We love restoration projects, and there are so many great properties in Jackson waiting for someone with some creative ambition. It would be very difficult to build what we have from scratch, this property has so much character.” That growth hasn’t just included their product. From 2016 to 2017, the number of visitors increased by 50 percent. Cathead is open for tours Thursday and Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. at the top of every hour. The facility also offers private tours and is available as a venue for special events. “It’s been great, and Jackson has been an excellent community partner,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of support from the community, and we’ve continued to reinvest in the overall community experience at our events.” The new location also has given enough space for Cathead’s newest product whiskey. The distillery has been creating whiskey since 2011, but the endeavor requires a lot of space and time. At this time, a release date has not been set, but Patrick said it is coming. “That’s the area I’m most excited about,” he said. “We haven’t put out a

34 – Mississippi Business Journal

new product in since 2013.” Like the rest of their brand, Cathead wants to make sure their product meets all quality standards. “It’s a large investment of resources and time,” he said. “We have a very strict checks and balances. We do not rush new products to market. We are students, and we are always looking for areas to improve and innovate.” Currently, their line up includes the original Cathead Vodka, Cathead Honeysuckle, Cathead Pecan, Bristow Gin, Bristow Reserve and Hoodoo Chicory Liqueur, a unique product to the distillery. “Hoodoo Chicory Liqueur is certainly a gem within our portfolio and usually a nice discovery product for people while touring the distillery,” Patrick said. “The idea came from Phillip Ladner, our distiller. Phillip kind of surprised us with this one when he’d been tinkering with [research and development] for a couple of years.” According to the Cathead website, the name Hoodoo pays homage the black magic and mysticism brought to the Southern United States by immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean. Elements of the Hoodoo tradition are deeply embedded in Southern culture, especially blues music. For Patrick and co-founder Austin Evans, their passion for music almost rivals their energy for fine spirits. They give back in every opportunity they can, whether

with foundation support or sponsorship. “It’s a big part of our identity,” Patrick said. They frequently partner with Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, Southern Foodways Alliance, Music Makers Relief Foundation, North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, Magic City Blues Society and the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation. Recent sponsorships have included the soonto-open Brandon Amphitheater and the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale in April. In June, the third annual Cathead Jam will be welcoming festival-goers to the state. “The Cathead Jam is coming into its third year in collaboration with Ardenland,” Patrick said. “Arden has been great to work with and mutually puts a lot of value in wanting to scale the Jam. Thankfully, we’ve had the support throughout the community to give us the confidence to keep pushing this event larger and larger.” Tickets are now available for the event at For more information about the distillery, visit its website,


Mississippi Business Journal – 35






Myra Mirrors more than a ‘gadget’ By CALLIE DANIELS BRYANT


hen one thinks of new technology, a vision of Silicon Valley pops up. But here in Oxford, Mississippi, is a company called Myra Mirrors that invented an operating system that enables people to interact with mirrors. Two University of Mississippi students, Pontus Andersson and Sam Bertolet, founded Myra Mirrors two and a half years ago with a goal of making premier smart mirrors. “The scope of the project shifted over time to not just have smart mirrors – not just something to have in bathrooms, but rather an Apple-esque product that’s an all-in-one device that you put on your counter and turn it on. You don’t have to rebuild your bathroom or hang anything. It’s just an all-in-one smart device and you’re done,” said Sam Bertolet, the CEO of Myra Mirrors. Bertolet had attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this January. There he introduced the Reflective Assistant, a platform and operating system for smart mirrors beyond current functions. “Our design philosophy is that it just works,” Bertolet said. “We wanted to have something that’s simple and easy to use so we came up with a beautiful design and worked for a long time building it. We’re about six months from launching the hardware.” Bertolet was quick to distance the product from the smart house merchandise. “I’m a millennial and I can’t stand the, ‘Oh, you bought a smart piece of equipment for your home’ mentality. And we think this is a big mistake, we think, with other competitors in how they’re approaching things,” he said. He explained that the mirrors are AIO (all-in-one) devices that one can plug in without “a fancy setup.” “It works right out of the box,” he said. There is a knob encoded on the side of the device, much like the Apple Watch input method, to prevent finger prints from dirtying the product. The operating system works for augmented reality meaning there is no camera devices embedded in the mirrors for people’s privacy in bathrooms.

Special to the MBJ

It’s an Apple-esque product that’s an all-in-one device that you put on your counter and turn it on. You don’t have to rebuild your bathroom or hang anything. (Sample above, device below.) “That being said, we can put it on any device we want to,” Bertolet said. The company’s first two mirror models are a 10-inch makeup mirror and a 27-inch wall mirror, but its main draw is its operating system, ReflektOS. With a licensing fee, the developers can use its proprietary software to create new applications that can be ported onto any compatible surfaces. Bertolet said, “We created our own OS (operating system) from the ground up and we wanted a developer environment so people can make facets for the device and we accidentally made this devel-

oper tool chain where devs can create anything for augmented reality on our platform – so we inevitably made an OS for AR (augmented reality) devices instead of just our mirrors.” The company is launching a consumer line of hardware while licensing out its software to OEMs as well as a custom open source approach so people could download the features onto any mirrors they like. Bertolet said, “A lot of Myra Mirror’s business models with the software are to get it into the hands of developers to encourage augmented developer ecosystems.” He said that its overall goal is to stimulate and boost the tech industry in the South with Myra Mirrors. This futuristic company is thoroughly Mississippi-made. Its CEO, Bertolet, grew up in Tupelo and had been a student at both Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi. He had met the company’s co-founder, Pontus Andersson, in Jackson, too. Bertolet said, “I’ve been in Mississippi most of my life. I’ve also worked with technology for most of my life, since I was about eight years old, so it always really interested me. I love the tech industry. I used to think there was no hope for tech industry here in Mississippi and See MIRROR, Page 42

Mississippi Business Journal – 37


Heartland a catfish giant By CALLIE DANIELS BRYANT


atfish is an undeniable part of Mississippi’s cuisine, especially fried catfish with hot sauce. With this in mind, it’s unsurprising that Heartland Catfish Company, a family-owned catfish farm founded in 1995, is the largest single producer of farm-raised catfish in the United States. On March 11 to 13, Heartland will feature vacuum skin-packaged catfish products at the 2018 Seafood Expo North America (SENA) in Boston, Massachusetts. The new packaging will preserve freshness and extend shelf life so Heartland can potentially increase sales in fresh and frozen catfish around the world in restaurants and retail stores. The vice president of sales, Jonathan Mills, said, “We are always excited to go to the SENA every year. We can meet with potential and existing customers. We usually arrive with certain objectives in mind that we hope to achieve, and most of the time we come home with completely new objectives. The food industry is rapidly changing, and we try to respond to our customers’ ever-changing needs. SENA also provides us with an opportunity to see new innovations in processing equipment. It’s a pleasure to represent the Mississippi Delta on a large stage and introduce the versatility of catfish to potential new customers and consumers.” Heartland’s CEO, Danny Walker, is interested in the discussion around U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) enforcing import regulations on siluriforms (catfish and other ray-finned fish) this March which may affect its global competition. Walker said, “As for FSIS, most of the domestic processors are becoming accustomed to the FSIS expectations and procedures. Hopefully the importers of siluriforms will reach a level of full equivalency in the near future. There’s sure to be a discussion of the changes in regulations from experts as part of the SENA exposition, which is going to be very interesting.” The company has expressed strong

38 – Mississippi Business Journal

Special to the MBJ

Sample of vacuum skin-packaged catfish product. support for USDA FSIS inspection program and has worked with inspectors to set the updated industry standard. This level of attention and dedication to quality of catfish from raising to processing and packaging is a discipline the family has honored for generations. “Heartland Catfish Company grew successfully because the Tackett family applied the same basic principles to processing as they have applied to farming since the mid-1960s: hard work and commitment to quality. Once the Tacketts decided to begin processing, they were committed to finding the best team, equipment and relationships (farmers, customers, and suppliers) to consistently supply the highest quality U.S. farm-raised catfish under the Heartland Catfish brand.” The global company has its roots in the Delta in mid-1970s when William Tackett, his son Jim Tackett and his son-in-law Joe Walker began raising catfish on 80 acres in Leflore County. The Tackett Fish Farm grew and sold catfish until 1995 when the three men decided to act on their long-discussed aspiration for a processing plant. Then-president of Tackett Fish Farm, Danny Walker, was asked by the three

original owners to become the CEO of the new processing plant: Heartland Catfish Company. The plant is located on a 50-acre site along Highway 82, just east of Itta Bena. The 135,000 square-foot facility utilizes state-of-art equipment that helps it grade fish by weight to increase meat yields, regulate air and water temperatures to minimize fillet degradation and discourage bacteria growth on the equipment. The facility also utilizes direct-fired water heaters for cleaning crew to maintain a sanitary work environment. After the fish are cut and filleted by size and weight, they are individually quick frozen in minutes. Heartland has same-day access to its in-house storage with a capacity of 2,000,000 pounds of catfish. The company’s website reports that “unanticipated mechanical issues do not halt production,” so the company is able to provide fresh catfish year-round. The company also has its own fleet of 24 late-model Kenworth tractors and 32 late-model refrigerated trailers that drives across United States weekly. Walker knew Heartland was competing with established companies in the

AGRIBUSINESS catfish market, but he, like the family, was no stranger to hard work and commitment to best quality. “We want our customers and consumers to know they can rely on Heartland Catfish for consistently mild-tasting, high-quality catfish products,” said Walker. He added that the Heartland catfish is recognized for its consistent flavor and texture, making it a versatile fish for grilling, baking, sautéing or frying. Mills added that what sets Heartland apart from other catfish in the market is its “vertical integration and experienced staff” in addition to having more than half its supply from Tackett Farms meaning the company has control of the product from egg through harvest. “The balance of our supply is sourced from our trusted partner-farms throughout the Mississippi and Arkansas Deltas as well as the

Black Belt region of Alabama, and our experienced staff includes a dedicated tester who ensures each delivery of Heartland Catfish meets our strict flavor standards,” said Mills. Due to its popularity, Heartland has enjoyed relationships with most of the major grocery retailers in the U.S. It is also poised to increase sales and production on a global scale. “We feel that the largest, most immediate opportunity for growth is within the retail section of the seafood industry. As retail consumers become more and more aware of our products’ versatility, and we continue to make innovative advancements in packaging and product forms, the possibility for increased movement is real,” Mills said. Heartland is looking for ways to expand production provided the sales expand or at least remain consistent.

Special to the MBJ

Heartland Catfish Company, founded in 1995, is the largest single producer of farm-raised catfish in the United States. “Our industry is at its healthiest when supply is stable or increasing, and the demand is moving along with the same path. Fluctuations in either supply or demand can lead to volatility in the marketplace, due to extended grow-out periods, and can take time to correct,” Mills said. He added that Heartland has experienced a moderate

level of sales growth in recent years, and the company is looking forward to the impact of its new packaging on the global scale. As the company sets its sights for the world, it hasn’t forgotten its Delta roots. Heartland has made an economic impact on LeFlore County and it hopes to See HEARTLAND, Page 40

Mississippi Business Journal – 39


Higher yields and lower input costs helping ag By BECKY GILLETTE


ississippi ag producers are headed into yet another year with low commodity prices that make profitability a challenge. But two things offsetting that are lower input prices and higher yields, said Brian R. Williams, Ph.D., an agricultural economist who is an assistant professor at Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension. “Commodity prices have been fairly low for the past two to three years,” Williams said. “It looks like there is probably not a lot of room for upward movement baring having some kind of major disaster. While commodity prices are down, the cost of production is also down and that helps tremendously to offset some of the low commodity prices. Another thing that helps producers in Mississippi and nationally has been high yields. We have been above trends for soybeans, corn and even cotton. I think that is why we are seeing some producers turn at least a small profit even with these low prices.” He attributes some of the higher yields to “pure luck.” But he also gives credit to improved ag technology and better management techniques. “The guys in the agronomy department deserve a lot of credit for helping farmers fine tune and get the best production they can,” Williams said. Early forecasts for total acreage plantings are a bit mixed on corn. Williams said most estimates are for corn acreage to remain steady or perhaps go a little higher. He said signs are that there might be steady acreage on cotton

and probably slightly lower acreage on soybeans. “It is hard to tell now at this point,” Williams said. “I would expect things to stay fairly similar to a year ago. The competitor with those three is wheat and wheat isn’t the most favorable. It isn’t the U.S. driving that as much as global wheat stocks that are at record levels. That is driving down wheat prices globally.” Williams said one thing that makes soybeans so favorable to a lot of producers is the cost of production is lower than some of the other crops. That makes it a little less risky of a crop to grow. “As far as how the different crops compare, it varies by region of the U.S.,” Williams said. “But looking at Mississippi, in particular, it looks like the irrigated Delta corn is going to be a little more profitable than soybeans— corn has just a slight edge given current prices with a $25 to $30 per acre advantage over soybeans on average. But that will probably vary a lot between producers. Some might have lower cost on soybeans than corn, for example. Non-Delta soybeans will be a little more profitable than corn.” The financial outlook for ag is particularly important in the Delta economy because the region is so heavily dependent on agriculture. “So, record yields over the past few years has helped hold up some of the economy in the Delta just because when producers do well, they go to town and they make investments to improve the farm like making purchases at implement dealerships, car

HEARTLAND Continued from, Page 39

upkeep success for its homeland. “The team at Heartland Catfish Company is proud of our Mississippi Delta roots,” Walker said. “Throughout the supply chain, from the farms, to transportation to our processing plant, we’re constantly looking for ways to give back to LeFlore County through jobs, community involvement and local partnerships. The catfish industry is vital to this

40 – Mississippi Business Journal

dealers and other local businesses. A lot of time what producers make goes back into the local economy. When ag producers do well, it helps to float everybody, really. The idea is a rising tide lifts all boats. On the flip side, if the producers struggle, so does everyone else.” He expects overall acreage planted in crops in Mississippi to remain fairly steady. “Prices haven’t been great, but production has helped so I don’t see at this point any reason to take land out of production,” Williams said. Looking at rice markets right now, it wouldn’t surprise him to see a little bit of a bump in some of the rice acreage. “I know price wise with rice we’re sitting well above where we were a year ago,” he said. “Given the right markets, we could see an increase in rice acres. I wouldn’t expect to see much more sorghum than we planted a year ago. We are at a record low for grain sorghum acres. I wouldn’t expect it to change much from where it is right now. I would mention probably for Mississippi, at least, given the recent run in prices, we may see a few more acres of cotton.” The National Cotton Council predicts that cotton acreage might be down a little bit in Mississippi this year. But Darrin Dodds, Ph.D., cotton specialist at MSU, Extension, said his general feeling is that cotton acres will go up a bit. “It depends on who you talk to,” Dodds said. “If the corn price was to go up in the next few weeks, that could change things a bit. If everything remains as it is, cotton will be up some this year. Right now, at least on paper with where prices are and may be going, the profit out of cotton doesn’t look bad at all. We planted 630,000 acres of cotton this past year. If prices stay where they are, it would not shock me to see 650,000 to 700,000 acres of cotton.”

region of our state, and we’re very proud to play our part in strengthening this industry so we can further improve the Delta region.” Walker and Mills are looking forward to the possibilities their new vacuum-skin packaging method could reel in from the Seafood Expo as well as global retailers. “…Through our initial retail partnerships, it seems that we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of the product’s potential. We put our consumers first when considering new products to bring to the market,” Walker said.

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MIRROR Continued from, Page 37

now I’m staying in the state for as long as I can because I want to bring more tech industry and innovation here.” The start-up company was supported by Innovate Mississippi, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to drive technology-based innovation and economic development for the state of Mississippi. For 15 years Innovate Mississippi has coached and connected startups with advice, a group of mentors who will assist on one-on-one basis, and a network of Angel investors who will hear pitches from startups raising money. Innovate Mississippi has worked with over 1,300 startup and helped them raise over $173 million in capital where those companies later created over 6,000 jobs. The organization connected with Myra Mirrors through Entrepreneurial Support staff at the University of Mississippi. Myra Mirrors first participated in Innovate Mississippi’s New Venture Challenge Pitch Competition. After that event, the organization reached out to the startup and has been working with them since.

“Myra is a company that has not only developed a software solution other smart mirror companies don’t address, they have also developed a hardware solution. The founders were students who saw a void in the market and developed protectable solutions to meet the needs of consumers. That is a hallmark of a good idea, one that solves problems or fixes a void in the marketplace,” said Tasha Bibbs, director of entrepreneurial development at Innovate Mississippi. Bertolet believes that support provided by organizations like Innovate Mississippi helps foster a more technology-forward environment within the state. He said, “There are a lot of challenges and barriers in Mississippi. For example, if I go to California there’s a specific process I can do to find good programmers and workers. Not only has that but having a Computer Science degree from anywhere in California showed that you’re a good engineer in your science. As much as I love Ole Miss and State, I don’t think the academics are performing high enough yet. You have to be inside a good, reliable circle before you know anybody who is capable of this tech or that design.”

“But, with that being said,” Bertolet continued, “Mississippi is filled with such potential that there is ever-changing education. There’s the coding base camp in Water Valley where you can go to high school and then college while getting enough Computer Science education to get a job. The cool thing about working in Mississippi is seeing this dynamic shift in industry. If I go to California, there’s not a lot I can do to help on a political level but with Myra Mirrors having success I can put a lot of effort into working alongside companies like C Spire and the bigger tech giants to see what we can do for Mississippi.” The company is poised to make an impact in the tech industry outside of Mississippi, too, as Bertolet shared that they have been asked to attend more tech expo in eight different countries as well as having established strategic partnerships from attending the Consumer Electronics Show last month. Either way, Bertolet is ready to make good on one of his biggest goals with Myra Mirrors: boost and grow the tech industry in Mississippi and the South. For more information, be sure to visit

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42 – Mississippi Business Journal

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Mississippi Business Journal â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 45

Congratulations Hal on being named one of Mississippi Business Journal’s 2018 Top CEO’s! Hal Miller President of Mississippi Trucking Association

Empire Truck Sales and Southern States Utility Trailer Sales would like to congratulate Hal Miller for being named a Top CEO in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal. Hal Miller, President of the Mississippi Trucking Association, is a native of Mississippi. Upon graduation from the University of Mississippi, Miller went to work for his family’s tank truck company, Miller Transporters, Inc. Miller has served as a Director for the National Tank Truck Carrier Conference, Board Member and Chairman of MTA, Executive Board Member of the Business and Industrial Education Committee of Mississippi as well as Board member of several civic, business and religious organizations.

Congratulations Dr. Muse for your outstanding achievement and devotion to the community!

Dr. Clyde Muse President of Hinds Community College

Empire Truck Sales and Southern States Utility Trailer Sales would like to congratulate Dr. Clyde Muse for being named a Top CEO in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal. Dr. Clyde Muse, is the sixth president of Hinds Community College, and 2018 marks his 40th year at the helm of the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest community college. Approximately 20,000 students attend Hinds on its five campuses. He became president of Hinds Junior College in 1978. Muse is chairman of the Mississippi Junior College Associationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Legislative Committee, Liaison Committee Chairman of the Mississippi Association for Developmental Education and on the Political Liaison Committee of the National Association for Developmental Education.


Mississippi Business Journal, MBJ, CEO Awards in Mississippi, Agribusiness, Made in Mississippi


Mississippi Business Journal, MBJ, CEO Awards in Mississippi, Agribusiness, Made in Mississippi