Our members say it best:
Andrea Baloun Jenkins – The Threaded Cork
June 13, 2018
What a wonderful chamber community to be a part of! Tons of support and a great group of people. As new business owners, we made the right decision to join!
Trilby Taylor – St. Martin High School Student Advisory Board
26 February 2018
Journey to the Center of Success
The embarking on a journey to reach a personal goal is taking a step into the unknown but can also be very positive in life. There can often be twists and sharp turns throughout the path of a journey, but if followed correctly, they can lead directly to success. Hard work and dedication are attributes that are commonly essential for reaching a goal and they mark the path on my road to success. The summer going into my junior year of high school, was the start of a journey that would change my life forever. I worked hard and finally networked enough to join the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. Although I have reached my personal goal, the path to my success has not always been easy. Through the highs and lows, this essay highlights the personal moments of my journey to success.
The sound of keys vigorously hitting a keyboard echoed through the walls of my bedroom as I nervously e-mailed the Executive Director of the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber. I had asked her if it was possible to involve my high school in the Chamber and I was elated when she said, “Absolutely!” The next month was remembered by washing cars, selling baked goods, and pondering the thought of possibly selling a kidney; all to raise money to join the Chamber. With a proud mindset and two kidneys intact, I successfully raised almost $800 by the end of the summer. One Friday morning, I was shocked to discover new information that would take me off the projected path that I had previously planned. Tina Ross-Seamans, the Executive Director of the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber, clearly explained to me that there was no cost for us to join the Chamber. These words floated into my mind and I came to the realization that I was now sitting on the Board of Directors as the representation of the St. Martin High School Student Advisory Board! The four walls that once held the sound of my nervous typing and saw my stress-induced tears, were now filled with joyous cheers. This moment would only be the beginning of the great things to come!
My heartbeat quickened as I stepped out of my car and walked into the first meeting of the Board of Directors. Walking into the small room filled with well-pressed suits and chatters of small talk, I looked around to see that I am the outsider here. My mother awaits in the hallway as I take a seat towards the back of the room; trying not to draw too much attention to myself. A well-known, and very successful, attorney turns to me and asks, “Are you the famous ‘her’ we have been talking about?” These words rack from corner to corner in my mind as I ponder the question, “What do they all know about me?” The time to introduce myself has come and as I stand up anxiously, it is as if my heart has jumped up and collected in the middle of my throat. I can feel everyone’s eyes turn towards me with the slight feeling of wonder about the new girl. Just as quickly as it came, the time went. My speech goes over smoothly, and I return to sitting down in the background. Words that are well out of my knowledge pass around the table and soon the meeting comes to an end. The drive home was quiet as I reflected on my first meeting. I doubted myself as I questioned if I was important enough to be an insider amongst a close-knit group of executives, business owners, and success-stricken individuals. “I am one of the first people even considering going to college in my family”, I thought. “How do I qualify to be a part of this group?” This question would go on to be asked and eventually proven in a positive connotation.
The following months were distinct with learning experiences and they created the foundation of which I stand on today. I soon became a person that went to events such as Grand Openings, Meet & Greets, and other networking socials. I became more likely to speak to someone rather than just smiling and looking towards the ground. I noticed attributes about my character that I never had given attention to before. Attributes such as my common practice of being too scared to look a person in the eyes when speaking to them. Also, I noticed how my hands made a direct path to my pockets when I started getting nervous. As if they were never there, these quirky, nerve-racking points of my personality soon faded with time. Right before my very own eyes, I became the person I have always wanted to be; the person who stood out from the background. The shy, quiet, and scared girl who I once had been was gone; replaced with a better version of herself. Quickly, I felt more and more vital to this group of intellectuals; wondering how I ever felt out of place.</p
The months have passed, and the days seem to fly by as I approach the end of my time on the St. Martin High School Student Advisory Board. Although I have faith that the journey has just begun for me, I cannot help but to shed a tear of sadness mixed with pride. The Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce has opened numerous doors for me; allowing me to contribute my ideas and thoughts. Just this year, I have had the opportunities of a lifetime. I hold these moments close to my heart and feel grateful for the sharp turns that led to the place where I feel at home. Over everything that the Chamber has offered me, I am most thankful for the sense of self that I have received. I have gained the confidence and the ability to grow forth on my character as not only a student, but as an individual. My personal journey to the center of success is not characterized as easy, however the friendships, knowledge and chances that are waiting for me were all well-worth taking the first step into the unknown.
Philip Hollingsworth – Floor Lord, Owner
My membership with the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce has been a great asset to my business. I started my business June of 2013 while I was still working in corporate America. I wanted to build the business up while I still had a steady paycheck. After one year of juggling these two ventures, with little success, I quit my job and started to pursue my business startup full time. I was a small business with little to no local connections. Being relatively new to the Gulf Coast, I knew very few people.
I joined the chamber in October of 2013 at the suggestion of a friend. There was a business expo scheduled and I could showcase my new carpet cleaning business to a whole audience that had never heard of me. I made a few contacts during the expo, one of which ended in a contract which I still have today.
After joining the chamber, I started receiving notifications of events being promoted; ribbon cuttings, chamber socials, events in the local community, etc. What a great way to meet new people and network. I started attending the ribbon cuttings and with the friendly, family atmosphere you feel at all of the events, I became an ambassador for the chamber without even realizing it.
One of the members of the chamber noticed I was attending many of functions and struck up a conversation with me. She soon hired me to do a job for her. The next event after completing the job, she literally took me by the hand and introduced me to everyone at the event and many events to follow. That’s when my business started to take off. Through the Executive Director, Tina Ross-Seamans, of the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, I was introduced to a facility manager for the City of Biloxi. I now have many accounts through the city that I have been working for close to three years.
I really enjoy attending the ribbon cuttings. Again, it is a great way to meet new people and expose my business to a new audience. Much better than trying to cold call a business. I learn what services and products are available locally and I get to let those attending the ribbon cutting learn about my business. Recently, I attended a ribbon cutting at a senior living facility and left my card with them. Within a week, they called me for an “audition” cleaning. I came in and did my magic, saving them several thousands of dollars in potential carpet replacement costs. Now I am their “go-to” carpet cleaner for a 22,000 sq ft facility. All because I came to check them out at a ribbon cutting and was able to drop my card. Networking is awesome!
Approximately 50% of my gross income has been a direct result of the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. I been referred from the customers I acquired from the chamber or through chamber members who know about my business, telling their friends. The more involvement I have with the chamber, the more jobs I get from the people I meet. Investment-wise, the nominal membership fee has paid for itself so many times over.
My membership with the chamber has created great friendships with other members, brought me out of my shell, taught me how to promote my business, and network with others. I recommend to everyone to join the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. It is well worth their time and money in so many ways.
Dr. C. H. “Hank” Roberts – EDEE, LLC – Solar Systems
I was born in Biloxi, at the old beach hospital. I graduated from Biloxi High. I returned, to Biloxi, to practice dentistry for 40 successful years. Although I was blown away by hurricane Katrina, I would not leave my dear home, family and friends. I have now opened a new business in Biloxi, which centers on Solar Electrical Energy, (EDEE- electrical device for economic energy). There are several Biloxians in the business with me.
There is only one reason why I strongly support the Biloxi Bay Chamber. The Chamber IS Biloxi… It supports Biloxi. It promotes Biloxi. It keeps Biloxi in the forefront of its interest and considerations. It strives to make Biloxi a special place, where not only I, but everyone, would like to call home. The Biloxi Bay Chamber holds us up, stands behind us and encourages our advancements. Ask me about my great great grandfather, my great grandfather, both of my grandfathers, and my father, and I will tell you about REAL Biloxians. That is what I feel the Bay Chamber is doing. Promoting more REAL Biloxians.
Albert J. Henrion, Jr. – AJH Photography“Ambassador of the Year – Two years in a row, 2009 & 2010!”
“Membership in the Biloxi Bay Chamber is important to me because it has changed my life. I was marketing an energy drink that was distributed online when I was invited by a dear friend to check out the Biloxi Bay Chamber at one of their Bay Connects. I joined shortly after. I signed up to participate as an Ambassador, attending all Ribbon Cuttings, helping at Bay Connects and other events held by the Chamber. One day, I was asked to take photos of our FAM tour. I was glad to volunteer. Little did I know that day would change the course of my life? Soon I was the photographer taking photos at all the Chamber events. I received my Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of South Alabama, so I enrolled in their Certification Program for Photography and completed the required courses within a year.Since joining and participating in the Biloxi Bay Chamber, I have served as an Ambassador, VP of Public Relations and as the official Photographer working closely with Tina Ross-Seamans, Executive Director and the Board of Directors. I started my photography business last year and have not had to advertise because of the friendships I have made through the Chamber. Business is all about relationships! Doing the right thing with the right people! I found the right people in the Biloxi Bay Chamber!”