I believe that one of Mississippi’s real economic opportunities is the continued expansion of the creative economy.  The state has recognized this opportunity and has been studying and finding ways to encourage its growth.  In a state commissioned report entitled Realizing the Economic Opportunity of Creativity in Mississippi, it was noted, “Mississippi’s creative people, companies, and institutions, past and present, are a vital part of what defines the state.  Their achievements and talents contribute to Mississippi’s distinct ambiance. But these same creative people, companies, and institutions collectively also add significant wealth to the state’s economy in ways that have been undercounted and under-recognized.” Many of these individuals are inspiring entrepreneurs who turn their creative skills and passions into thriving businesses. David Spurk, owner of Petal Pushers in Ridgeland, is one of those inspiring creative economy entrepreneurs.


David Spurk

Spurk is a native of Crystal Springs and from a young age knew he wanted to be in the floral business. He explained, “Ever since I was a child, I have spent countless hours growing things. Whenever I would get extra money as a kid, I would buy more material for planting it in the ground. It is just who I was, and who I am.” He was hired by a local florist when he was 14 and that’s when his career really began. By 17, he was designing on the panel for the annual state floral convention. He went on to work for a florist in Brookhaven while attending Copiah-Lincoln Community College where he also taught a continuing education class in floral design.

In 1983, Spurk moved to Jackson and worked for a local wholesale florist that gave him additional insight into the floral industry. He also waited tables at night for a fine dining establishment. He noted, “Clients that I developed working at the restaurant later became clients of Petal Pushers when I opened in 1985 and remain clients to this day.”  Spurk is passionate about his craft and shared, “I do what I do as a celebration of life. None of us will be here for long so I feel that we should try to make a positive impact on people’s lives while we can.”  He is considered a master artisan in his field and not only provides floral designs but also develops and manages every aspect of events from customized event floor plans, to the catering, food presentation, and overall visual aesthetics.”

Spurk also uses his gifts and talents to help make a difference in the community.  He is an active member of the Board of Friends of Children’s Hospital, which benefits Batson Children’s Hospital.  He noted, “I really love what I do and, and while it is rewarding in and of itself, it means the world to me that I can harness what I love to support Friends of Children’s Hospital.”  He has worked with the organization since 1999 when he began donating his time and artistry for fundraising events.  He explained his passion for working with Friends, “The families who visit Batson Children’s Hospital have such intense need, and some of them greatly need assistance to secure the health and healing of their child. If I can support life by making a room come to life, then I will always be greatly fulfilled by that.”  Learning about creative entrepreneurs who have the courage and drive to turn their dreams into reality always inspires me.  I come away encouraged by Spurk’s commitment to excellence in his craft and his passion for helping children.  I hope you will be too.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, October 30, 2014.] Read More

With the pace of life today and the pressures of the now, it can be challenging to take the long view. Understanding what is critically important in life and what isn’t can be difficult. I find that remarkable leaders keep a good perspective and have the ability to separate the good from the great. They can break through the tyranny of the urgent and “keep the main thing the main thing.” Dr. Patrick Tucker, owner of Physicians Urgent Care in Corinth and Booneville, is one of those leaders who understands the big picture and focuses his team on what is important.


Dr. Patrick E. Tucker

Tucker is a native of New Albany and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Ole Miss before earning his medical degree at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Tucker was on a Navy scholarship in medical school, and he completed training with the Navy as an intern at the Charleston Navy Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. After his internship, Tucker chose to be a Battalion Surgeon with the U.S. Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He took this position at the beginning of Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and he served as the physician in charge of the medical care of approximately 1,700 members of the Battalion Landing Team which included 55 corpsmen under his supervision. He noted, “I believe this was the time that I began to realize and accept the responsibilities of being a leader. I learned that being a leader means embracing the authority and responsibility that goes with it.”

Tucker shared that one of the most impactful times of his military service was when he and a group of Corpsmen were in the desert during Desert Storm and an outbreak of dysentery developed causing dehydration amongst the troops. He said, “It was 120-130 degrees during the day, and the Marines were deathly ill.  Our team worked for days around the clock with very little sleep. My corpsmen went above and beyond to meet the needs with no complaining and a great attitude. They were all self-starters and did the right thing without being asked.” Tucker continued, “It is situations like those that help you realize that your leadership and the preparation of your team really matters.”

In 1999, Tucker founded Physicians Urgent Care in Corinth, and in 2011, he opened a second location in Booneville. With a staff of 20 including three nurse practitioners, Dr. Tucker and his team treat over 100 patients a day and have continually tried to provide “no wait” service. They were the first group in their area to utilize electronic medical records, and he has strived to keep them on the cutting edge of technology and care.

A man of deep faith, Tucker’s leadership principles reflect his beliefs. He believes in treating everyone with the utmost respect regardless of their position. He leads by example and has a servant heart. He emphasizes to younger leaders, “Live a life you will not regret. Always do the right thing and try to look far into the future when making decisions. Always do the right thing. Character and reputation will grow your business, and a quick dollar goes away as quickly as it comes.” Tucker’s principled approach to life and business have allowed him to build a very successful health care business and be a leader in his community. He is active in leadership in civic and church organizations and is passionate about medical mission work.  Dr. Tucker is a great example of how one can be a skilled physician, savvy business person, and civic minded leader. I know his community, patients and family have benefited from his vision and values.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, October 23, 2014.] Read More

Great businesses are built around knowing what the customer wants, understanding what your company does best, and delivering exceptional value.  This is much easier said than done.  Hall of Fame quarterback turned business mogul Roger Staubach once said, “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” It takes great intentionality and skilled execution to deliver remarkable service again and again.  For companies that do like Four Seasons and The Ritz Carlton, people line up to pay a premium price for premium service.


Andrew (Drew) Adams

Drew Adams and his partner Stephen Miles are building a fast growth client service company because they are committed to that level of service excellence.  They formed Addicus, a multi-family office in 2011, and have experienced substantial growth by understanding the needs of their high net worth and high income earning clients and delivering great value.  Adams grew up outside of Birmingham and Atlanta before getting his undergraduate degree and MBA from Ole Miss.  Adams spent eleven years in the financial services business working in Memphis and Tupelo before joining up with his business partner Stephen Miles to form Addicus.  Adams noted, “Our purpose was to fill what we saw as a void in the marketplace, offering deep advice to families and business owners to optimize their wealth.”

The concept of a family office began in the era of Mellon, Carnegie, Rockefeller, etc.  These families realized they couldn’t get conflict free advice and the attention they needed without employing directly most, if not all, of their advisors (wealth managers, accountants, attorneys, human resources, etc.).  Adams explained, “Today, a single family office is not efficient for families with assets less than $1 Billion.  Therefore, there has been a large shift where single family offices are banding together with other wealthy families to spread the resources and costs to gain efficiency.”  The financial industry has adopted this model which has led to the rapid growth of multi-family offices.  Unlike many multi-family offices, Addicus offers its family office services to clients with a net worth from $25 Million and up, and does not manage money, instead they remain focused on unbiased advice, custom designed solutions, and complete implementation and management.

In addition to their family office services, Addicus provides holistic planning for high income earners as well.  To serve this type of clientele, Addicus has been committed to continually innovating and looking for ways to deliver exceptional service.  What high achievers understand is that they must always be striving to get better personally and professionally.  I noted that Adams participates in the renowned Strategic Coach program personally, and he and Stephen regularly use a business coach for their organization to help it continue to evolve as a team. In addition, they are members of the Family Office Exchange and have industry leading mentors.  Very few people take the time and invest the money to continually make themselves better like that.

Adams shared that he is inspired by the Vince Lombardi quote, “Perfection is unattainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”  Adams credits his father with instilling in him a commitment to leadership and service.  He shared, “I would go to work with my Dad as a young boy, and I was always in awe of the way his employees looked up to him.  He always seemed to have the vision that at first no one could truly understand or see until it was executed.”  I am impressed with how Adams and Miles have turned their vision into reality and how they are building a growing and successful organization.  They, along with their organization, will be ones to watch in the years to come.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, October 16, 2014.] Read More

West Memphis, Ark. — Curtis Lumber officially broke ground on a $5 million store project in West Memphis on Wednesday. Project completion is expected by summer 2015 with a grand opening tentatively scheduled for July.

“This is a big step for Curtis Lumber,” said President/CEO BJ Curtis. “We’re excited about expanding into this area and look forward to serving residents, contractors and business owners in West Memphis, Marion and Downtown Memphis.”

Located on approximately four acres at 1001 Highway 77, the 32,000-square foot home center will feature a full-service Ace Hardware with convenient drive-thru lumber warehouse, garden center and flooring department.

Curtis plans to carry the full line of Ace Hardware brands, including Craftsman, DeWalt and Husqvarna, as well as products by Yeti and Big Green Egg.

Curtis Lumber will be continuing its proven track record of providing the best products and service in the area. “We already deliver materials into the Marion and West Memphis area and encourage new customers to shop with us now. However, having a brick and mortar location will enable an enhanced customer shopping experience, faster local delivery, and more efficient processing of returns.” said Curtis.

In addition to providing excellent products and service, Curtis Lumber is also very proud to be providing local employment.

“We’re looking to hire a mix of part-time and full-time employees for a total of 12 to 15 new hires,” added Curtis.

Curtis Lumber currently owns and operates Caldwell Lumber in Wynne, which will undergo a rebrand in the near future.

Curtis Lumber is a long-time partner with Butler Snow Advisory, who provides financial advisory and strategic consulting services to the growing company.  Other project partners include Suiter Construction Company, Inc., general contractor; Centennial Bank and Fidelity National Bank, financers; and SEACAP Financial, financial advisors.

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Ted DiBiase, Jr.

As regular readers of this column know, I enjoy finding outstanding leaders on the rise in Mississippi and sharing their stories.  This week I was able to catch up with Ted DiBiase, Jr. who is fast becoming one of Mississippi’s entrepreneurial success stories.  If his name is familiar to you, it is likely that you know from his days as a professional wrestler with the WWE or you remember his father Ted DiBiase, Sr. a/k/a “The Million Dollar Man.”  Despite having a celebrity father and getting to hang out with people like Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, Ted had a fairly normal childhood growing up in Clinton and being active in several sports and student government. Ted reflected on the consistent message he heard from his father growing up.  “Son, I came from a small town with one traffic light, and the only one who ever believed in me, my father, died when I was 15. No one believed I would ever leave that town. If you want something bad enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to get it. It won’t be easy, and it will seem very lonely. Whatever you do, don’t follow the crowd. Blaze your own trail, and be a leader.”

Ted has heeded his father advice. After graduating from Mississippi College with a degree in business, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a professional wrestler.  Just because he had the last name DiBiase did not mean he had a free pass to stardom.  He had to work for it.  He moved to Eldon, Missouri and began his training to pursue his dream.  Ted shared, “I worked 4 jobs while training to become a professional wrestler. I would wake up at 4:00 a.m. to go cut 18 fairways on a golf course then go stock produce at HiVee grocery store. On the weekends, I folded underwear and T-shirts at a Polo store at the outlet mall, and I would sweep and mop a gym floor for a free membership. I did this while training 4-5 days a week learning how to wrestle in hopes that I would one day work for the WWE.”  The hard work and dedication paid off.  He worked his way up to becoming a WWE superstar and traveled the world before retiring in 2013.

Ted credits his success to faith, focus, commitment, and sacrifice. He shared, “Without these, I never would have overcome the sleep deprivation, the depression of being away from friends and family, or the fear of failure.” Despite retiring from the ring, Ted has not slowed down.  In fact, he is in high gear as a serial entrepreneur.  He is the co-founder of GiveChat, a tech start-up which is an online platform that raises money for charity by leveraging celebrity’s social media platforms and fan bases to award fans with VIP experiences, and part owner of CollegeGarageSale.com.  Ted is also the co-founder of Dofflin Strategies, a strategic planning and development firm dedicated to producing results through business development. Dofflin has quickly taken off and his company is working with clients from around the country. Ted has a “pay it forward” mentality and regularly speaks to large audiences on the topics of leadership and teamwork.

Ted is one of those rare individuals who dreams big dreams but has the drive and focus to turn those dreams into reality.  As leadership guru John Maxwell said, “The dream is free; the journey is not.”  Ted will certainly be a leader to watch in the years to come as he channels his talents and energy into building great businesses and serving others.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, October 9, 2014.] Read More

I have noticed that there is a certain drive that motivates great leaders to try harder, reach further, and persist in the face of challenges. Famed football coach Lou Holtz once said, “Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.”  We all have challenges in life. The question is how we handle them.  Do we press on and remain positive or do we “throw in the towel.” Author Napoleon Hill noted, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.”

Michelle Phillips, Vice President of Operations with Bladder Health Network, LLC (BHN), is one of those leaders who is driven to persevere and overcome whatever obstacles life may throw her way.  Phillips grew up in Richland, Mississippi and married and started a family just out of high school.  With bills to pay and young family, she decided to pursue nursing so she earned a degree from Hinds Community College.  She spent the early years of her nursing career at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and with Dr. Ken Perry.


Michelle Phillips

In 2001, she received a call from Dr. Bob Harris whom she had met earlier in her career to come work at Women’s Specialty Center. Phillips noted, “Dr. Harris really helped me develop as a leader.  He provided me opportunities to lead in a clinical setting and took time to help me develop my long term goals.”  She also credits Dr. Harris with helping her to always take the high road as a leader and remain calm under pressure.

In 2009, Phillips had the opportunity to work full time for Bladder Health Network, LLC (BHN).  BHN works with ob/gyn and urology clinics around the country to provide cutting edge medical care for patients suffering from incontinence. Phillips shared about former BHN CEO John Spivey, “I originally was managing the clinical operations of the company, and John helped me to expand my business skills and assume broader operational responsibilities.  He is a great people person and modeled for me how to be an encouraging leader.”  Today, Phillips is a senior executive with the company and manages all day to day operations including overseeing over thirty nurses and technicians.  She shared, “I am passionate about what we are doing at BHN because we are helping patients improve the quality of their lives.”

Phillips, formerly a single mother, is now re-married with a family of five.  She noted that it has not always been easy juggling life’s responsibilities, but that she has learned from the challenges she has faced and grown personally and professionally.  She said, “I always encourage people to never let adversity stand in your way. You can achieve whatever you want if you are willing to work hard enough towards your goals.”  As a leader she believes in establishing clear objectives and allowing her team to have the freedom to act independently. She said, “I am definitely not a micro-manager! I try to treat people with respect and expect the best from my team.”

Too often as adults we abandon our dreams and simply go through the motions of life.  I am encouraged by Phillips’ drive and passion for excellence.  It is rare in life that anything worth doing is easy.  Phillips reminds us that we can courageously pursue our dreams in life and not let let’s challenges defeat us.

[Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal, October 2, 2014.] Read More


Suzanne Cockroft

Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC (BSA) is pleased to announce the addition of Suzanne McKay Cockroft as director in the firm’s Ridgeland office. She brings more than 14 years of experience in communications, business development, marketing and brand management.

“Suzanne’s addition to the team further expands the range of services BSA can provide to clients,” said Matt Thornton, BSAS president and chief executive officer. “Her expertise will be a tremendous asset, both internally and externally, as the team continues to grow.”

Cockroft most recently served Butler Snow LLP, the parent company of BSA, in roles as diverse as digital creative and website development, project management, public relations and internal communications, business development and proposal and pricing strategies.

Throughout her career, Cockroft has developed and executed comprehensive marketing plans, including strategies related to digital, social and traditional media outlets. She has advised businesses in various stages from start-ups and early-stage companies on product and service launches to mature firms on market entry and penetration strategies.

Cockroft is a cum laude graduate of The University of Mississippi where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in public relations. In 2012, she completed studies for a MBA and was graduated, magna cum laude, from Mississippi State University.

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